“Brainfreeze ahh…” Amy whispered to herself pursing her lips and rubbing her temple.
She was alone in the diner as usual at this hour on a Monday. Friday and Saturday nights there were always 2 on duty. Why Sacky insisted on them staying open to midnight every night was a mystery. She carried on sucking on the thick, sweet chocolate enjoying how it rolled and melted on her tongue.
“The best perk everrrrr” Amy mumbled to herself, tapping her foot to the 60’s music on the surround sound. They could eat and drink as much as they liked at the diner and Amy had a different milkshake every night before closing up. She always added a little extra topping to hers, it was her treat. So what if her arse was spreading a bit. It was her one indulgence at her new job.
Hearing the door open, Amy turned to welcome her last diner for the evening. There was no-one there. She laughed at herself “It’s getting late Amy, let’s not lose the plot now girl!” She finished her milkshake wiping the last of the cream off the rim of her glass with her finger, licking it with relish. A quick wipe of the counter-tops and everything was ready for her to go home. Amy switched off the sound system, locked up the back and checked the windows and rest area, humming away. It had been a slow evening and she was looking forward to getting home.
Returning to the front Amy got the shock of her life. She screamed and dropped her handbag, frozen to the spot. Every single chair had been lifted off the floor and placed onto the tables. She stared but nothing moved, there was no-one there. It must have taken several, very quiet people to do that in the time she had been out of the main area.
“Very funny” she shouted into the diner, her shaky voice echoing off the walls. Silence. Still nothing moved. Suddenly the music started up again giving her another fright. She just stood there not knowing what to do.
Amy spotted something moving slowly along the tiled floor. Catching her breath, she realized it was a feather. She was terrified of birds after her experience with Casper. Casper was her parrot. A funny, lively bird that she got as a gift from family when she was 14 years old. She agreed to take care of her herself, which was the only way her parents consented after Amy had begged and begged to keep it. She soon lost interest tho and that summer they had gone on holiday and she had forgotten to arrange with someone to look after Casper. Poor Casper slowly starved to death. When they returned 2 weeks later Amy quickly found out Casper was dead. She smelt something terrible and remembered. She ran to his cage but ended up vomiting on the grass. The smell of death stayed with her for a long time and she wasn’t allowed pets again.
After what seemed like an hour but was only a minute or two, Amy pulled herself together. “I’m going now and I’m locking up” she said aggressively to the empty diner. Her brave words were belied by her shaky voice. Leaving the chairs, she put off most of the lights, put the alarm on and locked the door. Amy waited a few minutes, the movement sensor would pick up if someone was there and automatically send a signal to the response. It was eerie how quiet it was and Amy started feeling like she was hallucinating. She left still feeling spooked.
The next evening she was off and by the time Wednesday night shift rolled around, she had convinced herself she had made it all up. No-one said anything about the chairs or told her about anything unusual happening. Amy tried to put it all behind her. She needed this job. Having had a series of waitressing jobs for nightmare bosses, Sacky was a pleasure. He left her alone and she carried on with it, just as she liked it.
That evening was busier than Monday and it passed quickly. Before she knew it, she had cleaned up, packed up and left. No funny business. Amy sang loud all the way home.
Monday again. Amy had all but forgotten the last Monday’s excitement. It was busy and Amy gratefully sat down at 11h30 to have a milkshake, rubbing her achy feet. Strawberry this time with extra sprinkles. It was cool and the sweetness slipped down her throat like heaven.
The phone rang. “Boogalloos hello?” if they wanted a take-away they better hurry she thought to herself, I’m closing in half an hour.
“Hello?” the static on the line sounded so creepy.
“Hello?” she said again more forcefully this time. Static. She put the phone down. It immediately rang again.
“Boogalloos hello?” she said politely. Static.
“Please go and waste someone else’s time!” she threw the phone down. It rang the instant she put it down. Amy stared at the phone. Eventually she couldn’t handle the ringing.
“Stop it! This is not funny” she said trying to sound intimidating. She put it down and again it rang. Amy pulled the plug out of the back of the phone, it was silent.
“Such assholes, wasting my time.” Humming to break the silence, Amy locked up and grabbed her bag. As she walked to the door, she passed the phone it rang again. Amy stared at the cable lying on the counter. It wasn’t plugged in!
“Impossible!” she said to herself, now curious, she had to answer. With a shaking hand she slowly lifted the receiver, keeping silent.
“Hello Amy” a ghostly, grating voice said. She screamed, dropped the phone and ran. With shaking hands she locked up. Walking backwards away from the diner, she stared, looking for any signs of movement. Nothing.
Feeling sick she realized that she had forgotten to put the alarm on. She stood there feeling dazed, she had to do it. If anything happened and the alarm wasn’t on, she was liable.
Crying now she shakily opened the door and waited. Nothing moved. All Amy could hear was her heart beating in her ears. Suddenly “Rrrriiiiiinnnnggg. Rrrriiiiiinnnnggg. Rrrriiiiiinnnnggg.” Amy ran. She banged the alarm numbers in “Beep, beep” wrong. Wiping her tears of frustration and fear away, she tried to ignore the phone and managed to put the numbers in correctly. “Beeeeep” correct. Breathing a sigh of relief, she turned to run to the door, stopping dead in her tracks.
Someone was sitting at a seat by the window. They must have come in behind her.
“Dammit!” she quickly turned the alarm off again before it connected. The phone stopped ringing, the silence was deafening. The young woman sat staring at the table top, her stringy, white hair covering her face.
Amy didn’t need to check the time, she knew her shift was done and she was too shaken up to take orders now.
“I’m sorry, we’re already closed.” The woman didn’t look up.
“Sorry, I can’t serve you, we are closed” Amy said with more conviction walking closer. “So if you don’t mind…”
Still she sat.
Amy had had enough – she was spooked by the phone and didn’t feel like any crap from this woman. Walking up to her she put her hand on her shoulder, fully intending to walk her out the door. The woman slowly turned towards her. Amy’s breath caught in her throat. Stepping back she slowly backed away. It was Casper. She was Casper. Or her face at least! “Impossible…” Amy whispered to herself, bile filling the back of her throat. The woman stood and turned towards her. Lifting her head, her beak opened and shut constantly as is she was trying to say something. It was horrific.
“This can’t be happening” Amy laughed a little hysterically. “I’m imagining this, it’s not real” she smiled and giggled. The bird/woman kept on coming, slowly walking toward her as Amy backed away. Unexpectedly, she jumped at Amy and bit her on the arm, removing a dime-sized piece of flesh. Amy stopped smiling. She stared at the blood flowing freely down her arm, along her finger and onto the floor. Bizarrely, Amy thought “Damm, I’m gonna have to clean that!”
The bird/woman launched herself at Amy, pushing her onto her back. Amy screamed, kicked and hit at the bird/woman but it had little effect. She nipped and bit at her until she looked like a pincushion of bloody sores. She was bleeding freely at this stage and realized that she was in real trouble. Bird/woman backed off, her beak and chin bloody. Amy tried to stand, slipping in her own blood. Shaking and in shock she stared at the bird/woman wondering what would be next. Tears coursed down her face, she felt no pain.
“I’m sorry. I…I’m sorry Casper” she managed to squeak out. “I was selfish and unkind, I…” Casper didn’t let her finish. She ran at Amy again this time biting her nose. Amy felt the beak tearing at her flesh and hit out weakly. Swallowing, Casper stepped back. Amy felt her face and started to scream, her nose was now a flap of flesh, bloody and ragged. Mercifully, blackness claimed her.
Amy awoke 2 days later. She was in hospital on a drip and in considerable pain. She was alone. Amy felt her face but it was bandaged tight. Everything came flooding back and she felt sick. She didn’t want to see the damage, not that she could stand anyway she was very dizzy.
Hearing a tick, tick she turned her head and shock ran through her body. Casper sat on the window sill just outside, staring at her.
The nurses rushed in hearing her scream, one followed with a syringe. Amy realized that they wanted to sedate her and fought, she lost. A few minutes later after checking that she was comfortable, they left, kindly closing the door so that she could rest.
Casper hopped through the open window. She could now take her time on Amy.