An Unusual Shop
written by Amira K. Wolf
“Oh, I really shouldn’t be here...” I murmured to myself.
The walls of the store were old, peeling, and smelled of burnt glue somehow. The windows could barely cut through the dust-filled air, let alone brighten the place up. If I hadn’t pulled out my phone’s flashlight I might have run into several hanging bird cages with dried poop pouring out the sides like fossilized candle wax. I didn’t even know poop could do that!
I tiptoed over the splintered flooring, less out of fear of tripping and hurting myself, but more out of fear of tripping and falling on bird poop splatter. There weren’t even any birds around! I attempted to take in a deep breath, but all I got was the potent smell of rotting everything. I never wanted my grandma’s moth balls more than right then, but I had to stand my ground and keep moving forward. This was the last place Jake went before he went missing, and I’d bet my entire student loan that the owner knew what happened to him, if not be the perpetrator.
“Ah!” I screamed, sweeping my phone to the side. The flashlight illuminated a cobweb-covered hole in the wall where something definitely scurried away. I moved back and again asked myself why I, me, was there. The intellectual thing to have done would’ve been to let the cops know about this tidbit of information, but they already did and had given up despite my begging and gut feeling. Okay, so I answered my own question, but I really should’ve dragged Kayla or Lee with me. Brought the muscle to tussle, ha ha... God, what am I doing?
The sudden rush of 80’s rock then pierced my ears as my phone rang. “Are you kidding me?” I cursed after jumping a good half a foot into the air. It was Lee calling, speak of the devil, but I didn’t answer. “I thought I turned you off, damn it!”
It was then, after the brief silence, that a guttural voice travelled through the store, carrying with it a malevolent rumble that raised each individual hair on my body. “You rang?”
My chest tightened as my breathing came to a screeching halt. Warmth fled my hands and feet. At a snail’s pace, I glanced from my phone to the back of the store. For a moment, no one was there until the beaded curtains moved aside.
“Having trouble finding something?” it said as it stuck its head out from the back room. Horns curved down the side of its face, almost coming together at its chin. Hair was non-existent on its head, and star-like tattoos covered its dark skin, like constellations.
I couldn’t speak.
“I can help you find what you’re looking for,” it continued then took a step past the beaded curtains. Something hard and strong made contact with the floor.
I couldn’t see its feet past the counter, but the sheer sound of the impact caused me to stagger back, almost falling over. Sweat began to gather at my hairline.
A second impact resonated.
I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t stay anymore. And before I knew it, my legs were carrying my body in the opposite direction of that thing. I burst out the front doors of the store, screaming, and ran down the street until I was at least three blocks away. When I finally stopped running, I looked back, heaving like a dog left out in the sun for far too long.
“I’m... I’m going to need backup...”