Hide and Stalk
a short story by Sam Vest
a short story by Sam Vest
The stairs creaked. The pads of feet podded down slowly. Don knew it was her. Kerr (pronounced ‘Kair’) had escaped and she was coming down the stairs now.
He sank into the sofa, beads of sweat squeezed out his temples. A chill crawled up his spine. He wished he would sink into the sofa altogether and disappear.
Don lied down on his side. Perhaps she hadn’t seen him yet. A wall partially blocked the stairs in the hallway from the living room. He curled up into a fetal position.
The firm cushions made sounds of collapsing leather. Air hissed out the seams. The chill on his spine had reached the back of his neck. He felt faint.
Footpads thudded on the wooden floors at the entrance of the living room. The hairs around the rim of Don’s balding head stood on end. He launched himself off the sofa and ran into the kitchen, never looking back.
“KERR! Stay away! Get out off my house!”
Don pinned himself against the kitchen corner next to a cabinet and counter. He held his breath. His heartbeat echoed through the kitchen into the living room.
Don lost his hearing. Such was a symptom of paranoia paralysis a condition wrought by Don’s weak heart. When Don lost his hearing his heartbeat did not make a noise, but rather a thudding sensation which heaved his chest.
Don eyed the door less passage into the living room. If Kerr was in there she was probably just around the corner, waiting for the opportune moment to scare Don so badly it would cause a cardiac arrest.
Don had a bad heart and Kerr knew it. She’d never physically abused him before. She did not have the build. Don was a big guy with a vivid imagination. It was much easier to cause Don pain by putting out the lights or scratching walls.
Kerr had grown her nails long since her and Don got back together. She was a woman of ambition who wore the pants. Don was a dreamer who needed someone to carry his fragile imagination.
Don had managed to muster the courage to ask Kerr for another shot three years ago. At the time Don thought it was his fierce romanticism that had won her back, but now knew marriage was a social status Kerr needed to climb the social ladder at work. She was a news anchor for FOX and had climbed steadily to the top ever since college when Don first dumped Kerr because she put her sorority and career before him, and Don was a needy dreamer.
“Kerr, please. Come out slowly where I can see you. I know you broke free of the St. John’s, but don’t worry, the security guard will live. I know it wasn’t you who jabbed him with the pencil.”
Don’s voice didn’t sound like his own. In fact, it didn’t even make a sound. Don knew what he said, and felt it in his chest, but the words were lost to his paranoia induced paralysis. He glanced at the counter for a weapon. The porcelain tiles were barren. The glass cabinets were empty as well.
“Have they taken everything?” Don thought.
The banks foreclosed the house when Kerr went crazy three months ago. Don’s video work wasn’t steady enough to support a home and his son Henry. Kerr had always been the breadwinner, and now she wanted to take back what she’d worked so hard for.
Don couldn’t change Kerr. Not back in college when she stopped caring about anything other than her ambition. Not three months ago when she blamed him for soiling her rise to the top, whatever that meant. Kerr would stop at nothing to keep her paycheck from increasing and her network of friends from increasing. She used people to get what she wanted, and Don hadn’t given it to her. Don could only provide love and companionship, but what Kerr wanted was world domination.
Don pulled a plastic spoon out of the back of a drawer. He tossed it into the living room. It clanked to a halt. Don heard that. The initial kick of adrenaline had settled and now Don had super senses.
Though sunlight illuminated the dust mites hovering near the windows, Don imagined the room was all black and the contours of the walls and kitchen and house were all green lines. He could see through them like wireframes. Through the wall in the living room he could see a warm mass of red standing just around the corner of the door less frame.
“I see you there, Kerr.” Don surprised himself with his confidence.
“You can’t scare me now. I’m coming out there.”
Don and Kerr had been intimate once. They were high school sweethearts and enjoyed a passionate romance as teenagers. The sex was good when they married three years ago. Foreplay had always been an important step of the ritual, and in the six months leading up to Kerr’s breakdown, foreplay had become a game of hide and seek. The night of Kerr’s breakdown, foreplay had become stalk and scare the shit out of Don.
Don came home late at night after spending overtime on set. He went straight to the fridge for a snack and weird shit began to happen.
There was a loud thud upstairs then a knock on the front door. Don sneezed up milk he was chugging out of the carton when he heard the knock. He put the chain on and opened the front door.
Womp! The washer door in the basement slammed shut.
“Jesus Kerr! Why the heck are you doing laundry at three in the morning?”
Don opened the basement door to darkness that seemed to suck him in. Don jumped back.
“Jesus Kerr! If this is some kind of joke it’d better stop now!”
Don slammed the door shut and preceded to turn on every light in the house. He grabbed the broom out of the kitchen and swung it violently around corners before hitting the light switch. He turned the basement lights on last but didn’t dare go down.
Broom in hand, he plopped down on his Lazy Boy chair in the living room and switched on the Television to full blast. SpongeBob pranced gaily around an equally queer starfish.
Don pulled out his iPhone and called Kerr. Don thought he heard the phone vibrating so he switched off the TV.
There, shaking on the open windowsill was Kerr’s phone. Don ran to the sill and grabbed it. Kerr leapt up from the bush and hollered a blood-curdling scream. Her tangled-black hair covered most her face.
Don fell backwards and collapsed on the coffee table in front of the couch. The wind got knocked out of him. His heart sent a jolt throughout his body rendering it useless. Kerr dove through the window and crawled toward him. She dragged her feet behind her and clawed the floor with three-inch nails. She mounted atop Don and sat there in a smart blue dress.
Don felt her weight over his genitals, but it was cold. She leaned over and kissed Don’s limp lips then proceeded to undress him. Don knew what it was like to be raped after that night.
He would have called the police the next morning, but Kerr was already locked up at St. John’s Institute of Mental Health. She tried to kill herself on the morning show by jumping into the newly opened freeway she was reporting.
Don took the drawer out of the cabinet and inched toward the living room. His super powers were gone and the paranoia paralysis tempted his limbs like a vice grip. Don took a quick breath and leapt across the threshold. He swung the drawer like a battle-axe. It smashed into splinters against the wall. A quick survey of the room and no one was there but him and the splinters. His heart throbbed and he grunted made wafts of air. An idea struck him.
He pulled out his cellphone and punched Kerr’s number. Her iPhone vibrated on the open windowsill.