Francine experiences something strange at The Corner Shop, a supernatural store.
|Written for "Invalid Item" The prompt sentence is highlighted in bold.
This is written based on a novella I am writing about a girl, Francine, who discovers that the store she works in is a supernatural attraction. It is called Marked and you can read the beginning here. Do Vampires Sparkle
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
The door to the store was standing wide open. I shivered as I peered into the opening. The Corner Store was my home away from home, the one place I felt most comfortable. Okay, so my apartment is nice, but it’s kind of lonely there, or had been until all this stuff happened. Now, to be honest, I’m not sure I ever want to be alone again. Even Debbie would be good company. She may be annoying, wear to much pink… grow fur with the full moon, but once you got to know her, she wasn’t that bad. She was also the closest thing I had to a friend. Pushing people away was no longer working for me.
Something inside moved. It was towards the back, by the break room.
“Deb?” I called out, hopeful that she was there and it wasn’t anyone, or anything else. I tried not to think about Carl’s creepy dad and how his ghost had been using Joseph to murder supernatural creatures.
Something clattered across the floor, followed by a low, menacing chuckle.
“Joseph, is that you?”
Nothing but silence. Then a light came on. It illuminated the back corner of the store. There was a door there. I’d never noticed it before. I stepped through the store entrance and then jumped as the heavy glass door slammed shut behind me.
Ahead, the light grew brighter. The door it illuminated was red and swayed, as though a breeze were pushing against it. It reminded me of stock doors that could be pushed open in both directions.
The Corner Store didn’t have swinging doors in the back. The storage room had two doors, a heavy wooden one next to the break room that read, EMPLOYEES ONLY, in bold letters, and one that led to the back alley. If you opened it, the fire alarm would sound, unless you disabled it, which Carl did all the time. Penny was always telling him to leave it on, that it was a safety issue, but Carl always forgot and no one really thought Penny really cared. Nothing bad ever happened in the store. Of course I now knew nothing bad ever happened because it was protected by strong magic. Magic that was supposed to keep evil entities outside. Except that it didn’t feel right inside anymore and a chill ran down my spine again, telling me that something was in the store that shouldn’t be. The door swayed again and then opened, inviting me to come inside.
“What the hell are you doing?” I whispered, as I took a step towards the back of the store. “Isn’t it bad enough that you got attacked by a vampire just two nights ago? Okay, so he turned out to be not so bad and super gorgeous, but you really shouldn’t push your luck.” I paused and then shook my head. When had I started talking to myself? If I wasn’t ready to piss myself, I’d laugh.”
“Penny, are you in there?” I stood outside the strange doors, trying to convince myself there was nothing unusual about them. So there had been a heavy shelf against the wall last night. Maybe it had been covering the door and Penny had moved it. It was her store, she could do whatever she wanted.
Except I stocked the shelves and I knew there was solid brick behind them.
“This isn’t funny guys. Come on.”
“I’m in here, Francine. Why don’t you come in?”
I nearly turned and ran. Maybe I should have. The voice was one I knew, I had grown up hearing it. Every day since I was three years old. Until just a few months ago, when my grandmother had passed away, joining my parents wherever their souls had gone. Someplace good, I hoped. Until two days ago I had never believed in an afterlife. Now, having met an angel, vampire, werewolf and seen evidence that ghosts were real, I knew anything was possible.
“Grandma?” I stepped into the room and the door shut behind me. I turned to make sure it was still there and hadn’t disappeared. I imagined myself trapped inside the brick wall and breathed a sigh of relief that it was still there. Taking a few deep breaths, I turned back and examined the strange room. It was empty, except for a hunched figure on the other side of the room.
I took a step forward and then hesitated. Tears filled my eyes and I was shaking with indecision. My memories of the woman that raised me were good. I’d grown up hearing the whispers about her and even though deep inside I knew they were true, she was a witch, I hadn’t been ready, while she was alive, to acknowledge the supernatural world. Now I had no choice, but my experience so far hadn’t been good. I’d only met one ghost and he wanted to kill me.
She stood and watched me. I couldn’t see her face, but I recognized her form. It couldn’t be anyone but my grandmother. I wanted to run to her, feel the safety of her arms and know that everything would be alright. But I couldn’t. Something didn’t feel right.
“What are you doing here, Grandma?”
"Why not come here and take a proper look at me? I am not what you think."
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I said. “Against my will I found my feet moving. The closer I got, the more afraid I became.
“That’s a good girl,” she said.
She opened her arms to greet me. And then I saw her teeth, sharp, ravenous… the teeth of a predator.
I woke, screaming, covered in sweat. My apartment was dark. And then I heard a chuckle outside my window.
I turned on my light, brightening my room and chasing away the shadows. Joseph stood in my doorway watching me. Except it wasn’t Joseph. It was Carl’s dad and somehow he’d gotten past Penny’s spells to keep him out.
Word Count: 1,000