Hallowe’en Serial: 2nd Night

Continued from yesterday:

“Ah, Carol!” a familiar voice said at her elbow.

She jerked; breathed a quick, short, loud intake; and clutched at her heart.

“I was just going to –what in the world d’ya do to your desk?” Ever slow on the obvious, Carl C. Carter stood next to his wife at the doorway and surveyed the disarray inside with confusion. Then he noticed Carol. “Oh, hey -did I give you a fright? Sorry. —

“I was just going to head over to that business meeting I told you about. If anyone calls you’ll be sure to tell them I’m up to my eyeballs in work, won’t you?” He touched Carol’s shoulder, smiled a quick, grandfatherly smile, straightened his striped dress shirt, and turned to whistle down the hall.

Carol hadn’t moved; her left hand still on her chest, her right on the door handle. She breathed out. She tested her feelings like a mentalist dipping a toe into physic waters but only felt annoyance. Carl and his design team held meetings according to his whim, and left her to reschedule the pieces.

“That’s what Miss Dollar Store is supposed to be for,” she mumbled, as she bent to begin cleanup. “But, she’s always ‘taking notes’ in your ‘meetings.'”

———-

Hours and phone calls and legal contracts later, Carol walked back out to the lobby. All was dark and silent; she was the last to leave. Her shadow from the outside lights ran over the hideous ceramics perched on the secretary’s desk as she walked past. From her peripheral vision, she thought she saw movement and turned. Were they always staring right at her -no, that was silly- right at the door? Carol could have sworn Miss Bad Taste had arranged them facing each other.

If she hadn’t been the only person in the office, she’d have examined them more closely. She swallowed, and backed toward the outside door. The little, scowling cats and their neighboring scarecrow and crows remained stationary.

Carol exited and locked the door, glanced at the blinds to be certain they were closed, and walked to her car. *Clack* *Clat* *Clunk* echoed from her cheap shoes as they trod across the vacant lot. Her mind wholly on the ride home and the work that awaited her there, she did not think to look back.

She started the car, and shifted into reverse. The radio was playing garbage again; she set it to scan. Her headlights swept a glare across the windowed office front as she pulled out of the narrow parking space.

The swirling numbers of the radio dial settled on the station she’d found that morning, just as the blinds closed back together in the dark office window, and just as Carol pulled out onto the street.

Continued at #3.

Hallowe’en Serial, 2018

Halloween!!! It’s a-coming, whether I’ve actually finished kids’ costumes or not. For the next seven days, at just before midnight, I will post a segment of a SCARY serial story. Enjoy!

———–

Loud static greeted Carol on every radio station -that, or, “So what do you think about terrible bosses, Jean?” from raucous, annoying morning show hosts.

“Isn’t there a single station playing music?” Carol asked her dash. She pushed the Scan button and returned her attention to the stop-and-go traffic around her.

*Bzzzhrrrfffftttzzz*

“And…” Ha, ha, ha, “then he asked me to turn in yet another-”

“Your next stop for tires. You know, when you need tires, you need-”

*Pzzzzschhheeewwww*

“I thought I’d get a break, finally, but that was when he extended my hours to-”

“I’m driving; here, I sit.” ♫ “Cursing my government-“

A pickup truck cut into the too-small space in front of Carol’s sedan; she braked, hard. The radio, unchecked, continued on to, “We’ve got Josh on the line now to tell us about his worst day at the office. Josh?”

Hurriedly, Carol pushed the back arrow. She’d heard music; she knew she had. The display jiggled through a few numbers and rested on yet another set of commercials. She glanced up and only saw the large rear bumper and even larger tailpipe of the pickup truck. Traffic hadn’t moved.

Carefully, she edged the tuning dial up a tick. Static. Up another tick. Static. Vehicles edged forward as she moved her wrist just one more turn to the right. ♫ “When she turns 50 / I might be dead / But acting happy again / For singing his songs about rush-hour traffic jams…”

Paydirt. She smiled, certainly happy despite being in her own traffic jam. And being 50.

The song ended, and another began. This was more mainstream, and she sang along. The station played song after song all the way to work; the last ending just as she pulled into a space on the office building’s left side.

Carol found herself humming as she walked in through the front doors. A verse or two escaped her lips from recent memory. ♪ “There’s a problem at the office,” Hmmm hm hmmm ♫ The front desk secretary glanced up, her expression one of surprise. Carol continued past her and her cheesy Halloween decorations. Carol had hated the secretary since she’d arrived with her short skirts, fake makeup face, and too-high heels. A penchant for black cats and smiling ghosts from the dollar store only made Carol avoid the front desk more.

She walked on to her office, just down the hall from her husband’s. “Carl Carter, head of C & C Contractors,” she said aloud. Pushing open the door, Carol stopped. Her normally tidy desk was overturned, its contents strewn across the floor. Bits of papers fluttered in the air she’d disturbed at her opening, folders flopped and shielded their former contents, and her flat-shod feet crunched on a discarded pencil.

The mess wasn’t the only reason for her hesitation, however. Her entry had created a stir in the papers; a noticeable one, a visible one. Carol could not shake the feeling, however, that she had also interrupted something else; something not so visible.

Continued at #2.