Friday, October 10, 2008

Midnight at the Diner

She should have never been at the diner after midnight.

It was her first week, and she didn’t know any better. After the Halloween party had ended and all the staff had packed up their plastic pumpkin buckets and untied their aprons, the manager had looked at her.

“Abby, are you sure you’re ok?” he asked, his forehead creased in a million wrinkles like the wrapper of a butter stick. “I mean, I don’t want you to stay here alone. You’re new and I never let new people close…”

“But I’m not really closing,” Abby replied brightly. “You’ve cashed out the registers and have the deposit with you. All I’m going to do is turn off the lights and shut the door.”

“But you’re sure your boyfriend is coming, right?” the manager asked, biting his lip. He had only known Abby a week, but he liked her a lot. She reminded him of his youngest daughter, full of the same energy and spunk. Turning around, he glanced out the windows. “This isn’t exactly the best neighborhood,” he continued, watching worriedly out the thick glass. “And it’s Halloween. I don’t want some punk kids messing with you.”

Abby’s phone rang and she began to dig in her purse. “I’ll be fine,” she reassured her boss as lipstick and mascara wands flew in the air around her. “I’m sure that’s him now.”

The boss tapped the money bag on his leg. “Promise to call me if he’s not here in fifteen minutes?” he asked. “I’m going to run this to the bank. I can easily come back and take you home. Do you know my cell phone?” Without letting her answer, he pulled a pen out of his shirt and jotted it on a napkin. “Don’t be afraid to call me, ok?” he said, shoving the napkin towards her.

Abby smiled as she continued to burrow through her purse. The ringing stopped. “Drat,” she commented. Flipping up her fine blond hair, she gave her boss a bemused glance. “Joe, don’t worry,” she said. “I promise, I’ll be fine. I’ll probably cut myself a piece of this pumpkin pie right here.” She pointed to the half-eaten pie under the glass cover on the counter.

When Joe didn’t say anything, she felt an uneasy clench in her stomach. Even after a week, she knew he often teased the employees about eating the pie. “Save it for the customers!” he had joked the first time she cut herself a slice of the pecan pie on her break.

“I promise, I’ll be fine,” she repeated, untying her apron. She’d find her phone after he left. She glanced at her watch. “It’s 11:30 now. You better go.”

Joe checked the clock and sighed. “I’ll be back if you need me,” he promised as he slid out the front door. “Call me if anything strange happens.” The door shut with a merry jingle and the restaurant went quiet. Abby exhaled and shook her hair so it fell around her shoulders. Plopping down at the counter, she pulled off the metal cover and cut herself a piece of pie. She pulled out a to-go box from under the counter and plopped the pie in the center. Ripping a plastic package of silverware open, she shook out a fork. Sliding it through the creamy pumpkin goodness, she took a bite and smiled with pleasure.

Then she heard a slight metallic click.


Blinking, she waited for a moment. The air was silent save her own breathing. Shrugging, she took another bite.

This time, she heard a slight thump, like a hard shoe on a rubber floor. She whirled around, hoping the kitchen staff wasn’t playing a joke.

“Hello?” she called. She glanced to her left, than her right. The booths were empty. The tables were clear. There was no one there.

Grabbing her purse, she dug out her cell phone. Punching the buttons, she propped it next to her ear while she took another bite. The dial rang shrilly as she waited.

“Hello, this is George,” her boyfriend’s voice rang in her ear. “Sorry I missed you. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”

“Hmmm.” Abby bit her lip and looked at her missed calls. The number was unavailable. She felt an uneasy feeling snake down her spine. She shoved another bite of pie in her mouth and hunched over the take-out container, her eyes daring around. As she chewed, she felt goosebumps pop out all over her legs and arms. The air seemed suddenly cold.

“It’s just because I quit running around,” Abby muttered to herself. “The absence of body heat is making it cold in here.”

She still looked at the clock. 11:53. George should have been here twenty minutes ago. She picked up her cell phone and dialed him again. When the answering machine picked up, she said, “George, where are you? I really need you to get here. I’m kinda freaking out. Hurry.” Hanging up, she shoved her phone in her pocket. She stared at the napkin with her boss’s number in front of her. Stabbing at the pie, she took another bite. She couldn’t call her boss. She wouldn’t call him. She had just been watching too many movies.

She looked at the clock. 11:59.

Sighing, she lifted up the napkin. Sliding her cell phone out of her pocket, she pushed the first number.

The lights went off. The jukebox flipped on.

It was midnight.


*I'm off to a wedding, Invisible Friends, so it may be a few days until I can visit your blogs. Until then, hope this spooky tale and tomorrow's 7 things about Vivi and Wade will tide you over!

12 comments:

Katherine Aucoin said...

Have a wonderful trip Duckie, we'll miss and I'm reall getting scared now.

Kristen said...

Have a great trip!

Marjie said...

Have fun, Duckie, and you have 3 weeks to finish this tale!

Pam said...

Ugh...that's all your giving us? Now I am scared and curious.

Have a fun trip Duckie.

alexandra's kitchen said...

ahhhhhh. I'm freakin out. what is going to happen? i hate scary movies but i love a scary story. i'm looking forward to the next chapter.

noble pig said...

Have a great time! I can't wait to see what is going to happen.

Bunny said...

I knew it! I just knew something was gonna happen at midnight!! Can't wait to see what it is!!

jenjen said...

Have fun at the wedding Duckie! I love a scary story. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Grammy Staffy said...

OK...I'm hooked....how is this going to end???? I'll be waiting to find out

Enjoy your little trip

Marie said...

You are the Queen of the Cliffhanger Duckie! I hope you'rfe having a lovely time, but I am sitting here thinking I can't wait to see what's going to happen next . . . but alas . . . like all of your other fans, I'm just gonna have to wait . . . sigh . . . Travel safely.

jenjen said...

I miss you duckie. When are you coming back? I hope you had a great time at the wedding!

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