Long black hair draped down in twisted, wet tendrils, her head cocked to one side as the TV blared in front of her.
“HEY!” I shouted again, trying to project my voice over the noise, “HELLO?!”
Her head didn’t move, not so much as an inch, just stayed utterly stagnant, facing away from me, her body sitting upright on my couch.
“HELLO!?” I again cried, slowly setting down my keys in the entryway, yet keeping my shoes on as I began creeping forwards hesitantly. “WHO ARE YOU?!”
The TV was so loud it vibrated the room, thundering the floor as it flashed whatever infomercial was playing on it.
My advance into the room slowed to a crawl as my heart began to hammer. Someone had broken into my house in the middle of the day, someone was sitting in my living room as if it was their own… But that wasn’t what caused my blood to grow sluggish and cold.
Something else wasn’t right.
I could only see the back of her head, but it was enough.
Her sickly hair was wispy, greying and mangled, so rotted it looked like it might fall out at any second. Even though tilted at an awkward angle, her head didn’t so much as waver an inch as I shouted one more time.
As I began rounding the couch, I could see her hands perfectly on her legs, rigid fingers forcefully pressed against her knees as her body stared straight ahead.
My pulse pounded in my ears, nearly drowning out the TV as I half expected the gangly form to jump up and attack me as soon as I stepped in front into its gaze.
What actually happened was so much worse.
The dead eyes stared ahead like piecing knives, eyelids stretched open unnaturally wide, a horrific smile starched into its ghastly face as the lifeless corpse watched the TV like a doll.
I staggered back, stealing a glance further into my house in panic, nearly fainting on the spot.
The corpse didn’t move an inch, it looked as if it had been stuffed, rotting flesh embalmed and stretched over a wire frame. Its neck was slit to the bone, but there was no blood visible anywhere in the wound, the only blood long since having dried into the dull clothes like brown rust. I gagged on air, quickly turning off the TV, unable, or unwilling to tear my eyes from the corpse.
One of her hands, I now realized, was gripping the remote on top of her leg, the device crudely jammed between her stiff fingers.
Turning off the TV made it so much worse. Silence instantly consumed the room, leaving just this horrible body to stare forwards at me, the only breathing my own. I grabbed my phone instantly off its base in the corner of the room, still not allowing my eyes to leave the figure for more than two second intervals as I called the police.
“911, what’s your emergency?” The operator spoke, the phone’s plastic hot against my face.
“There is a- a, body in my house,” I coughed into the device, my hammering heart trying to lurch into my throat to stop the words from coming out, “the- the killer may still be inside, I don’t know. I’m at 8897 Surrey Dr. Littleton, Colorado. Her throat was slit and, and, and… I, I, I don’t know what to do.”
“Alright sir, please stay on the line,” the operator continued, “if you believe the killer is still inside, you should exit immediately and wait outside for help to arrive. We’re sending help now. The police will be there in 10 minutes.”
“Ten minutes?!” I coughed, “That’s… That’s… Okay, okay, I’ll go and-”
The TV turned back on.
I nearly dropped the phone, my hand flailing with the device in horror as I flinched.
My gaze flashed back to the corpse on the couch, seeing its hand still motionless atop the remote. Its eyes remained frozen in a ghastly stare, corneas already decayed to an extent, pinprick pupils piercing through the rust. Its severed neck bent its head like a broken mannequin, its limbs horrifically stiff and rigid. The smile was enough to make vomit slosh into my throat, so genuinely appalling and out of place that the decaying teeth remained in my vision even when I blinked. Some of its hair was already lying in clumps around it, having fallen off like dead leaves. I could smell traces of decomposition, vomit and feces mixing into the heavy air that seemed to drip with decay.
I slapped the TV off again, feeling my skin crawl with ice as I suddenly realized I was utterly trapped. To get out of my house now, I would have to cross into its stare again…
“I don’t…” I stammered like a child into the phone, “I don’t think I can wait… I don’t think I can get out… I can’t- I’m not sure… if she’s dead.”
“Did you check for a pulse?” The operator spoke, “is she at all responsive?”
“N- No…” I gagged, seeing how its bare feet lay perfectly planted on the ground, “I didn’t check… I don’t want to go near it.”
“That’s okay, that’s okay,” the operator soothed, “why can’t you get out?”
“I don’t know,” I coughed, starting to feel tears build in my eyes as my limbs began shaking, “I just… It’s staring straight ahead…”
I couldn’t blink anymore. I was certain that if I looked away for even a second, closed my eyes or let them wander, when I looked back to the corpse, its head would be turned towards me, horrible smile widened even further.
“It’s okay,” the operator spoke, “the police are on route, but it is imperative that you get outside if you have reason to believe your life is in danger.”
“Okay, alright,” I breathed, “just… Just keep talking please…”
I began inching to my left, my back to the TV. The operator’s voice continued talking, but was reduced to a low, haunted drone as blood rushed past my ears and I inched closer and closer towards the corpse’s stare. My eyes were watering from a combination of being held open, and an overpowering, primal fear I couldn’t comprehend, nor suppress.
The bulging, grisly eyes were staring directly at me now, the dead skin of her face stretched so tight it might tear off at any moment. My heart was slamming against the confining ribs of my chest, adrenaline making my hands shake.
Who had been able to break into my house and put a body here? Who would even think to do that? And in such an unnervingly lifelike position…
The TV flicked on.
I didn’t care if I was overreacting, I didn’t even care if I was imagining the TV shrieking to life, the most surreal, raw fear had seized my muscles in a vice grip, and I instantly tore my eyes from the corpse, sprinting around the couch and tearing into the entryway without looking back. I grabbed my keys in a sloppy flail and wrenched my front door open, slamming it behind me seconds later. I jabbed my keys into the door, locked it, and scrambled out onto the street.
My lungs were flattened and weak, my free hand clutching at my heart as the operator spoke out, clearly having heard the commotion.
“Are you alright?” He asked, “What happened? Police will be with you in five minutes.”
“I-… I’m fine,” I wheezed into the phone, now simply keeping watch on my front door, “I’m outside… I’m…” I couldn’t help but let out a strangled chuckle, waves of relief crushing the sounds out of me.
“I’m fine.” I again breathed.
The police showed up only a minute later, my earlier panic likely have speed things up a bit.
I had done nothing but stare at the front door, and only when I heard the sounds of car doors opening and closing behind me did I finally release my stare and turn to the approaching officers. They called out, asking if I still thought the killer was inside and I responded that I didn’t know.
The four men walked towards me, faster now, two with guns drawn as they circled around to the back of my house.
“Back door unlocked?” One of the officers spoke.
I thought for a moment before quickly nodding.
“Front?” He continued, nodding to his partner as they drew their own guns.
“Uh… No,” I stammered, quickly offering them my key.
He nodded and grasped it, quickly tossing it to his partner and beginning to approach the house.
“Stay outside,” he affirmed, “if you hear gunshots, get as far away as possible.”
I hastily nodded, watching the two of them scramble to opposite sides of the front door. One of them quickly put the key into the lock and turned it before tossing it aside and placing his hand on the handle, giving a silent countdown to his partner.
3… 2… 1
He wrenched the door open… Partially.
The wood shuttered with a hard impact, bouncing back and nearly closing again.
“All clear!” Voices rang out from inside the house, “no one but the cadaver inside, confirmed dead.”
The officer tried the front door again, forcing the door against the obstacle.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” one of the inside officers yelled, “Stop, Johnson, you’ve got the cadaver leaned against your door.”