Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
Identity By Catherine Bundy
The lightbulb’s slow burn offers little respite from the darkness closing in. Ellen pours herself a generous glass of wine; satisfying splashes of crimson settle to dense ruby.
She collapses into her scruffy computer chair. Still in her work clothes; thin floral blouse buttoned to just the right height. Dark hair tied into a neat ponytail.
A string of emails from Steve dominates her inbox. Their virtual relationship has blossomed slow, but patient.
The alcohol creeps into her cheeks to shine rosy through foundation. Her eyes begin to glaze, judgement relaxing.
It is time to finally meet in person.
Ellen has unwittingly spoken to a different Steve. She might wonder which of the men will appear tonight. I already know.
She is pretty, even through the unflattering filter of her laptop camera.
Blue lights burn through the darkness to seep through thin curtains.
An urgent knock at the door. I shiver under a blanket and wait for them to leave.
Intrusive, they burst into my home. One of today’s empty bottles offers some protection.
“Get the hell out of my house,” I wave my weapon, almost blind in the dim hallway.
“Calm down, or we will have to use force,” the voice of authority looms.
“You have no right to be here... What are you doing here?”
The warrant blurs into oblivion. I try to piece together the fragments of my thoughts. My shouts rip through the night; the noise almost fractures their car.
“You can’t arrest me. I’ve done nothing wrong.”
I struggle, defeated by the icy cut of handcuffs.
Exposing lights of the interview room will offer reason.
“Do you recognise this woman?” A weary face peers down, his expression cold – accusing.
A young face, framed by dark hair and red lips, beams out of the photo. Suffocating silence waits for my slow response.
“We talked through a dating site, never met though.”
“Emails from your account suggest that you did meet up, last Friday at 7-o’clock.”
“That’s not possible…” I desperately search for the lost time.
“…I was fixing my computer.”
Two weeks ago an email link spewed its hateful virus.
“I've done nothing wrong.” My chair tumbles to the floor.
They drag me away. My limbs flail as I scream;
“It’s the hacker. Someone’s framed me.”
The hard cell bed offers no comfort. I shiver under the blanket and wait for sleep to arrive.
Instead, Ellen finds me. Blood pools on the floor around her feet. Her face is impassive – accusing.
She approaches with slow steps. Shadows form between the slats of the bars. No one can save me from the premonition.
“I'm innocent!” My pleas echo hollow into the static.
She does not believe me. The man she met that night had my name.
Her hand grips my wrist. Real, and cold as the ground she rests in. Fingernails scratch. Something familiar in the sensation.
Claws rip my skin until fabric restraints prevent movement.
Ellen stays to haunt the man she believes killed her.
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