Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Laura opens her eyes and listens.
“The Devil always gets his due,” Grandma’s last words echo in her memory and she shivers.
The noise below snapped her awake and Laura knows with all the certainty in the world he’s found her. She lies on her side, with her back to the door and the covers pulled up to her chin, listening.
The faint footsteps tell her he’s still downstairs, rummaging, almost like he’s trying to wake her. Never the silent type, she thinks, and glances at the wall clock, three in the morning. The world is silent; the wind doesn’t blow and even the trees stopped creaking.
Laura inches her hand from under the covers and reaches for her phone. Damn! She curses when she remembers it’s in the living room. She holds her breath. He’s still below and by the clack-clack of his boots she knows he’s in the kitchen. What’s taking him so long? For a moment Laura considers it might be a common burglar and not her devil. But no, she recognizes his footsteps, senses the way he moves and shudders as the floor creaks beneath his feet.
Laura’s breath sounds like thunder, her pounding heart booms in her ears, but she closes her eyes and focuses on the noise below her bedroom. A thud on the carpeted stairs tells her he’s begun his ascent, coming for her.
He will never get me.
As a child Laura always imagined the Devil ugly and misshapen, with horns and hooves and trident. But her devil came in a beautiful package meant to blind, confuse and confound, and all that shiny wrapping hid the awful mind that schemed in its folds. She’d only peeled off its silky veneer at the eleventh hour.
“You’ve sold your soul, for what?” Grandma said, “For money? Jewels? Comfort? Is it worth it?”
Laura shuts her eyes tight, Grandma’s words have plagued her for ten years. She knew Grandma was right, and when she escaped, Grandma’s memory gave her strength. She ran far away, became another person, invented another past and left everything behind except the memory of Grandma. But she always knew it was only a matter of time before the devil found her, before he caught her.
The heavy thud of malevolent feet reaches the landing. He stumbles. Laura worms her hand to the nightstand and slides open the drawer, its noise muffled by the imperfect devil’s misstep. The footsteps approach her bedroom and Laura’s fingers wrap around her salvation. His scent wafts in as deadly fingers turn the doorknob.
“If you ever leave me, I’ll find you and kill you,” he said.
A soft click and the door creaks open. A thick shadow looms like darkness filling a void. Laura remains still and silent with eyes wide open and facing the window; her hand hovers above the drawer. She prays the shaft of moonlight won’t betray her.
He stands by the bed and Laura knows he’s grinning by the tiny sound, like a stifled giggle, he always makes when he’s doing something evil. His gun clicks. He won’t kill her in her sleep, he’ll wake her and make sure she knows she’s about to die.
“Laura,” he taunts.
Laura moans as if waking from a deep sleep and rolls over and faces him. A cloud engulfs the moon and plunges the room into darkness.
Two shots ring out and wake the neighbors.
Police find a body with the head blown to pieces. A bloody trail leads out the back door, and into the night.