Jen DeSantis’ Choice: 2
Title: The Monster Within
“Janet? You home?”
The house is eerily quiet. As I pull my key out of the lock and let the door settle back into place, I hear a floorboard creak in the dining room.
No response. I set my bag on the ground by the door and cock my head to the side, listening. The hall clock ticks out a familiar rhythm and the fridge kicks on in the kitchen, humming softly. It reminds me that I need to call the repairman; the ice maker is still on the fritz. But where is Janet? Tonight isn’t her late night at work and she isn’t supposed to be at the gym. I wonder if she’s met a friend for dinner.
I pull out my phone, but see no message or texts. That isn’t like her. I listen for the shower but hear nothing. Maybe she’s hopped into the tub to soak. I know she’s been feeling sick for the past several days. Maybe she left work early and needed to relax. I loosen my tie and walk through the hall into the dining room. There, I pause and blink my eyes, unable to process what is in front of me.
The new hardwood floor is slick with a dark, oily substance. At first, I think it must be chocolate syrup spread over the floor and some of the chairs. Only when my eyes fall onto a smeared seat cover, do I realize the substance is red. My back crawls and the hairs lift involuntarily before I even process what the color red means.
I put my hand on the doorframe to steady myself. The slick, wetness that coats the surface turns my stomach. I pull my hand away quickly and hold it in front of me. The copper tang is in the air now, choking me. I gag and wipe my shaking hand on my pant leg. In the back of my head, every crime scene tele-drama plays stupidly on loop. Don’t touch anything. Call the police. Get the fuck out before whoever did this gets you. But I don’t listen to any of that. The blood … I have to find out who it belongs to. I have to find my Janet.
A sound like sandpaper scraping against wood draws my attention over to the double door. The window beside the door had been broken in some kind of struggle. More blood covers the wall and the floor. A shadow shifts behind the door and I gasp.
I’d recognize the gentle curve of my wife’s hip anywhere.
The shadow shifts again and I nearly trip over my feet backing up against the wall. Janet’s eyes seem to glow in the night. She crouches behind the door, her already pale flesh taken on a strange, grey sheen. She is naked, but the skin hangs on her, limp and unhealthy. When had she gotten so sick? In the joy of seeing her alive, I forget for a moment the blood coating the floor, the walls, and my hand
“Baby? What’s wrong?”
The silver glow in her eyes dim for a moment and I see her brown irises for the last time.
“Help me,” she moans.
As she flings the glass door away from her and it shatters in the frame, I see my wife dislocate her jaw and leap toward me, her mouth an unrecognizable maw of razor sharp teeth. The room becomes hazy as she grabs me with superhuman strength. I do not even think to fight back.
Jennifer DeSantis is a Horror and Paranormal Author and host of the #FridayPictureShow. She lives near Philly with her family. In her spare time is an aspiring ninja.