The office was dead silent while she continued to stare at the ad she was putting the final touches on. Her boss had given her suggestions to make the toilet paper ad more appealing. In other words, she had to change the ad to follow his specifications.
Her job is one that requires everything to be perfect, and the hard part is that her perfect is not another's perfect. She has to, essentially, guess and check to see what others would like. She often meets up with clients to see their take on her ad, and even her family sometimes. Many would find it funny how complicated the job can be.
She was hemming and hawing over one font from another that were barely different, when the scratching came. Oof, she thought. For the past month, the scratching had been on and off. Luckily, it only seemed to come on when she was bored or stressed. Ever since the day the sky suddenly turned dark, and when her purse was stolen, her life has been horrifically strange. On that day, she did call her husband to have him pick her up, even though he had work himself. When he had gotten to the facility, he suggested she get her cell phone which was in the car. She never brings it into work with her. She had to use the spare keys he had, and when she opened the car door... there was her purse on the front seat. Ever since, she has been in denial that the events of that day ever happened to her. But, she couldn't deny that the scratching was very real. It made more sense than the sky suddenly turning dark or her purse being stolen, and then put into her car... because people have headaches, so inner head scratching isn't such a big jump.
She stopped her work for a moment because of the pain from the scratching. She has gotten rather used to feeling it. She vowed a week or so ago to continue to do whatever she was doing, or start doing something, if the scratching started, but the scratching was often hard to ignore.
For a minute, she stopped thinking about the pain when she saw one of her coworkers come into her cubicle. "Hey Cindy, there's not much left of Julie's brownies." After finishing, he left, and her eyes perked up. Everyone in the office knows that her brownies are to die for. She started to walk into the break room, when she overheard a conversation. But she only heard, "...and she's been told that she's going to die soon..." She could have sworn that he looked at her when he finished that phrase. She shrugged off the thought, understanding that he obviously was just looking around, and simply noticed her.
Then she was in the break room. She saw the brownies right away, in the left corner of the 'food table', where they always were. She took one of the two brownies left, a plate, and found a seat. She took the first bite of it, and closed her eyes. Bliss. Then, she heard music in the background, which was strange. Music is forbidden at her workplace... well, it really was an unspoken rule, but no one ever dared to break that rule.
She tried her best to ignore the music in favor of concentrating on the chocolate happiness in her mouth. But, the music became so loud when the male singer started to sing, "and death came seven days later..." The music faded into the background, and she shook it off, though the words were seeping into her soul. Death, death, death.. She looked at her brownie and scarfed it down, as if eating would make her forget it. She smiled when realized that the scratching had stopped.
After work, she got into her car, turned on the music, and forgot all about the subtle strange things that had occurred. Instead, she tried to listen to the words of the songs that played and attempted to understand the meanings of the songs.
In the middle of one song, she heard the singer say, "and don't you forget it." She stopped humming to the song for a minute. He's never said that in the song before, she was sure of it. It was one of her favorite songs, actually, and here he was saying a new phrase. WUIT, the radio station, must have been having some sort of a contest. Perhaps it was something along the lines of guessing which words don't belong in one of the songs played throughout the day?' Surely it wouldn't be too hard to find those words spoken by him on the web. And, isn't auto tune able to fix voices well enough to make it sound like someone is singing even if he isn't?
When she got home, her husband kissed her in greeting.
"How was work today?" He always made sure to ask her about her day before she did.
"Oh- right... it was fine." There was no way she would be able to explain to him what happened... Every strange thing that had ensued throughout the day was odd enough in her mind, if she spoke it, then it wouldn't seem like she was serious.
"Oh, same old, same old. But... Bob got a haircut."
He had always been interesting to hear about... He always described him as being this clean cut Harvard-like graduate with nice hair. They both moved to the couch to continue their conversation.
"That's... nice." So he got a haircut. Could he say anything more uninteresting?
"Yeah, but he shaved it all off." She gasped. He never seemed like the type that would shave his head, even if she's technically never even seen him before.
"What's for dinner tonight?" Her husband is the type that briefly mentions something, then changes the subject right away.
She laughed at him. "Why did he get all of his hair shaved off?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe he has that one kind of cancer...." She looked at him with her eyebrows up, and nodded mockingly as she saaid, "that's called breast cancer."
"Oh... right. Well, I don't know. Maybe he's sporting a new look..."
"Or, maybe his wife has breast cancer and lost her hair after chemo, and he decided to shave his hair too so she wouldn't feel bad?"
"You know... death will happen to you soon... that could be!"
She blinked at him. "Wh-what did you say?"
He was unfazed, "I said, you know, that could be!"
"Oh... right..." She blinked hard, and suddenly felt very tired. The stress of her job must be weighing on her. That must be it! She isn't thinking straight. "I'm rather tired, I think I'm going to take a nap."
His eyes bore into hers. "Really?" She doesn't often take naps. "Yeah... could you make dinner tonight? Thanks." He nodded. "I'll make Thursday's dinner tonight, then. Is that cool with you? It's ham and potatoes." They switch off making dinner every night. "Sure, that's fine."
Slowly, she sauntered to her room in the back of the condo. She grabbed the polka dot fleece blanket she had on the chair in her room, and threw it on her bed. She lied on her bed, put the blanket over her, and wriggled around until she was comfortable.
Even with all the strange events of the day- or perhaps 'mishearings' is a better way to put it- she was able to fall asleep quickly.
After getting up from reading the morning paper, she looked out her window. She laughed. It was still dark outside, so why was she even reading the morning's newspaper? She looked at the cover of the paper, and realized that she was reading the one from earlier today. The same creepy man was on its cover. This 'hooded man' was looking at her. Or, more like was looking in her general direction, because his face wasn't showing. His head was covered by the hood... none of his skin was showing anywhere.
She threw the paper on the ground and looked behind her, suddenly paranoid that he could be right there, looking over her shoulder. She backed away from it, now scared that he was going to step out of the paper.
She apparently backed up too much, because when she put her right foot behind her, she no longer felt solid ground. She was about to fall out of the window! She panicked and brought her foot back in. She laughed nervously since she was so relieved! But her laugh was such a pounding laugh that it caused her to lose balance, and she fell out of the window head first.
She started to scream with horror. Before she plummeted to her demise, she saw the hooded man. He simply shrugged at her before she slammed on the pavement.
When she woke up, she found herself with her head on her desk at work. She lifted her head up, and looked around, half expecting for The Hooded Man to show up. But of course, there was no sign of him. No sign of anyone, actually. She looked at the clock, and it said that it was six o' clock. Generally, some people did stay in the office after six, though obviously no one did today.
Slowly, she got up, and started to walk, and she passed a mirror. She frowned at her reflection and fixed her hair. She continued to walk, and decided that she would go home now. She wasn't sure how she had gotten here. Maybe she never did go home. Perhaps she got so bored that she had fallen asleep in the middle of it, and imagined the rest of her day up until her 'nap'. Yeah, that had to be the answer.
When she was in the parking garage, she went to the spot where she always parked, and got confused. Her car wasn't there. She was sure that she had parked there. For a long time, she looked through the whole parking lot, and she refused to panic. She felt around in her back pocket for her cell phone, and her breath caught in her throat. It wasn't there. That's when she realized she forgot her purse on her desk too.
She went back to her desk and didn't see it there. She sighed, and decided that she could just call on her husband with the phone on her desk. She picked up the phone, and dialed her home number. "Hey, could you please pick me up?"
"Libby, why did you leave? Dinner is ready, and it's getting cold. You could have just told me if you wanted to go somewhere."
Her heart dropped. So, she did go home?.... And yet, she showed up at work? But... how? Wasn't it possible that she sleep walked? She was only a ten minute drive away... couldn't that have been enough time for her to sleep walk to work? She's never sleep walked before, but obviously she did, and her subconscious thought that her work was a good place to go. After all, she hadn't finished the ad she had planned on completing today.
"Um... I don't know. I-I'm sorry. Could you just please come?"
"Where are you? What about your car?"
"I... took a walk... and I'm tired now. I'm at work."
She could practically see the furrow in his brow, "You went to work?"
"Okay... I'll come. You really should think about taking a vacation."
"See you soon, then."
She hung up the phone and looked at a far away wall, zoning out. Even though she took a nap, she still felt exhausted. It must be because she walked ten miles in two hours. She put her head on her desk and breathed deeply. That's when the needle pain came. Oh, yay...
For the next thirty minutes while she waited for her husband, she tried her best to 'rest her eyes', but sleep didn't come. The scratching didn't cease. It was going on for so long that she was getting used to it.
Once it was 6:45, she was still in her seat and was still waiting for her husband. It wasn't like him to be late, especially if she needed him. She decided to call him again, but this time on his cell phone. Maybe he was in bad traffic.
He picked up on the first ring. "Hey, what's up? You in traffic or something?"
She heard nothing in reply, only the static from the sound of nothing on the phone.
She waited a long moment before speaking again, "hel-hello?" Still nothing.
"Alright, I'm going to hang up now." She put the phone back on its base and stared at it. That was strange.... it's not like his phone is even that old...
As a last resort, she decided to walk home- that is, until she saw his car on the road. Surely he was driving, but hasn't arrived because of the traffic...
She walked on the sidewalk home slowly. The confusion was wearing away at her. Why was all of this happening to her? She wish she knew the answer, but none came. Before everything that's happened to her in the last few weeks, her life was relatively normal. She was never terribly confused over something before.
She's gone through so much. After the scratching started and her purse was stolen, many other strange things have happened to her. One day, she felt a massaging sensation like in her dreams, when no one was even touching her. That was one thing she could accept happily. But, most of the times, the things that happened to her weren't that great. When she was home alone one day, the doors kept opening and closing. There's no way the wind had so much as budged them, even though she liked to think that's what happened. The windows weren't even open and no fans were on. It wasn't like the doors creaked, either. The doors were slammed and opened wide.
On another day, she was writing down food items on her grocery list, and her pen kept disappearing when she'd go to check one food item or another. She did look all around on her counters at first, but she ended up going back to the drawer to get another pen when she couldn't find it. When she went back by her list, there was her pen. She had looked at it for a long minute, zoning out. She really had set it down.
Not one of her days had been normal since. She was starting to wonder if her brain was damaged in some way. Since, how could she explain the impossible to anyone? Even her husband wouldn't believe her. She has tried being in denial of what was happening, and made up excuses for these occurrences, even if it was a stretch. And, almost always, there was a stretch. The only explanation was that her brain had gotten damaged somehow... She wasn't about to pounce on the chance to get it checked, though. Of course, she would be asked why she insisted that something was wrong with her. How could she explain to them that strange, impossible things were happening to her? If she did, wouldn't they send her to an insane asylum? Do those even exist anymore? But what scared her most was, maybe she really was going insane. She wasn't about to, essentially, have a professional tell her what she was beginning to believe- that she is losing her mind. What's the harm in waiting it out?
She looked at the cars as she walked, hoping in vain that she'd see her husband's car. The traffic was even lighter than usual.
Since she never did see her husband's car, she had to walk all the way home. She finally got home at about eight o' clock, and she was absolutely exhausted. That nap definitely meant nothing by now.
Once inside, she went over to the couch and plopped down, panting hard.
"Hey, where are you?" He was no where in sight.
"Why didn't you pick me up like you said you would?" There was no answer, and she started to think that maybe he was worried about her being gone for so long that he went to the police or something. If that were so, then why didn't he just pick her up in the first place?
I hope that I improved since the first part.