It was a dark, stormy night, and the sun had faded beyond the horizon. She was there, in that cabin, all alone. I had told her to wait, to watch the sunset. She had been watching it. And I had been watching her. From outside in the surrounding trees, I watched her carefully through the windows. For a moment I grew worried, as my breath had begun fogging up one window, but she did not see me. I had put on my deodorant and my perfume and I was outside, waiting, the beating of my heart growing louder and louder, as if it would burst with all the anticipation of the plan I had in mind for us.
I grabbed my duct tape, rope, and a carving knife from behind a tree, setting my binoculars gently on the leaf-strewn ground beside the shallow grave I had been digging. As I stepped into the cabin, knowing full well what I was planning to do, I smiled. She greeted me, startled and a little frightened at my sudden appearance from the darkness, the door still standing open, the roar of the wind and the storm practically deafening. I did not reply to her soft greeting of my name. I knew what had to be done. She backed away slowly; perhaps she knew what was coming.
Lifting one of the knives, I used a finger to trace the sharp edge, then glanced at her. As I walked towards her, the duct tape in my outstretched hand, I finally spoke, my smile disappearing with all the coolness of the stormy night outside. "My name is Saeko, and we're going to have a lot of fun."
I shoveled the last of the dirt into the grave, patting the ground smooth with my shovel before setting it up behind the tree. I stood over the grave with a note of sadness now that my fun had ended. There weren’t any people for a few miles, but her screams had been muffled nonetheless, eventually growing fainter and fainter until there was no more screaming. Her eyes had glazed over, still watching me. They always watching me. Even as her body was in the grave, they were still watching me, and I could feel it, that incessant staring! Those eyes, hidden under several feet of dirt, were gnawing into me unceasingly. I wanted them to stop, and I smashed the shovel against the dirt, and just then the laughing started. She was laughing at me! I dropped the shovel, seized with anxiety and humiliation, my hands shaking just as they did when I was out in public. They always laughed at me; all women did. They would stop and stare at me, point their fingers, and laugh at me! My hands would shake, and I would have to hold them tightly together.
The worst thing of all was when they would change in front of my very eyes, their faces warping into strange shapes and colors and forms, their smiles broadening as their laughs continued! Everyone else believed their lies and failed to see the truth behind their human forms. I had realized growing up that other women (except for the one I truly loved) were not who they seemed to be, and had to be stopped at all costs. Maybe I was the only person who saw the true form of other women, their faces warping and laughing at me! I screamed and yelled, my fists hitting the tree, and then the laughing died down to a quiet whisper. I was on to her: she might have been dead but she wouldn’t be tricking me anytime soon. I hit the dirt hard with the shovel, and the whispering became quieter. I always made sure the dead behaved.
I sat the shovel upright against the tree again, trying to ignore the voice that still whispered, too quiet for me to hear, which was good for her. I only took a few souvenirs, and if Katie thought she was getting them back, she could think again. No amount of laughing would make me give them back. I walked back into the cabin, collecting the fingers and the hair I had cut off to be bagged. I had just finished putting ice into one of the bags of fingers for the freezer when I heard a car pull into the driveway in front of the cabin. I began panicking, shoving the bag hurriedly into the freezer, and putting the other fingers and the hair into my pockets. I rushed to find the knife, quickly cleaning it by wiping it on some tape that was lying around. I ran out of the cabin into the back, tossing the knife far into the lake, and shoved the bloody tape into my pocket. I ran back into the cabin as I heard my mother get out of her car and walk to the cabin’s front door. I took a quick glance again around the room to see if I had missed anything, but saw nothing out of place. I wasn’t going to let her catch me this time.
She opened the front door, expecting nothing unusual. Nothing unusual had gone on, after all. Even if I tried to explain it to my mother, that other woman was not a real person. That other woman wasn’t even human. Why don’t people believe me when I try to tell them about that? They always look at me oddly, quizzically. Other women always laugh and stare and point and mock me, their forms changing, no one else looking, watching, seeing their monstrous forms!
I heard the whispering become louder as my mother walked in, becoming a voice with words I could make out. “Everyone hates you! Do it, do it, blow your brains out, make the voices stop, make yourself stop hearing me!” I couldn’t respond to that other woman, couldn’t tell her to shut up and stop talking to me; my mother was here. Fortunately, the woman now in the ground kept her voice down just enough so my mother wouldn’t hear any of her nonsense. As I was cutting, she kept screaming, mimicking the sounds humans make, and calling me crazy. Me, crazy! It was unbelievable.
“Hi Saeko, how did your date go?” She was taking off her coat and putting the keys away on a key ring next to the door, but just then, her face started changing. The bone on her cheek began sticking out, and her skin became striped, colored in shades of blue and yellow. Her mouth became wider and--- yes! She started smiling at me, smiling at all my misfortunes! I did everything I could to not let her see my embarrassment, not let her win, not let her put me down.
“It went well.” I knew she hated short answers. Her mouth started giggling! At me!
“So where’s that nice young woman, did she already leave?” I had to put my hands behind my back to make the shaking stop, I kept darting my eyes around the room to avoid looking at my mother’s changing face.
“She’s around, but she had to go. There was nothing she could do about it.” Just then, I saw a finger was lying beside my mother’s shoe, like a little bloody stump! My heart raced and my hands became sweaty. I should’ve made sure to count TEN fingers!
I began stammering but tried my best to act natural, “M-m-mom, you really should-d go u-upstairs. There’s a huge spider up there and it’s really got me panicked.”
“Sure thing Saeko, but are you alright? You look like someone walked on your grave.” She moved to put her hand on my forehead, but I moved back a step.
“Just go upstairs and kill the spider please, mother.” She looked at me oddly, her face warping even more into a form with huge eyes and a mouth that didn’t stop giggling at me. As she walked up the steps, I pulled some hair out of my pocket, bringing it to my nose, breathing in deeply, feeling more calm and relaxed. Some of it was bloody though, and I had to wipe blood off my nose.
Laughing! She was laughing at me! The laughing had begun suddenly, from the other woman outside under the tree, and my mother upstairs, they were laughing at me again! I ran outside quickly, taking the shovel, ignoring the laughing buried woman as I ran back into the cabin.
“This is for grounding me from the computer last month, mother!” I screamed, running up the stairs with the shovel in hand.
and what would the earth look like
if all the shadows disappeared?