YOLO, Kayla Conner thought as she gazed at the clock upon the drab gray wall, her long, angular jaw resting in the upturned palm of her hand. She sighed, blowing a wayward strand of dirty blonde hair away from her face, and leaned heavily on the countertop; her elbow was sore as fuck, but she didn’t trust her neck to support the weight of her head.
You only live once, and her you are, wasting your life.
God, she was tired. She hated Fridays. Sure, it was the last day of the week and all, but it was also her day to open, and the Pico Mundo post office opened early. Six in the morning, every morning. She didn’t get it. They barely did any business anyway (which is why hours were being cut), and never anything before nine or ten. The Post Master, however, was old school, stuck in the days where snail mail was the shit. She liked Don enough, but dude was old fashioned.
Get with the times, grandpa, she thought, and smirked. Sounded like something he’d say. Groovy, daddy-o.
“Fuck my life,” Kayla sighed. She looked longingly out the window across from the counter; the day was hot, bright, and dry, like they always were in Pico Mundo. The last time it rained was...after that mall shooting? She couldn’t remember. She knew it was a loooong time ago, which was fine with her. She loved the desert. If it were up to her, she’d be out there with her boyfriend right now, sitting around a bonfire and drinking cheap beer. But no. She was here in the stuffy-ass, sleepy-ass post office waiting for four.
The door opened. Company, she thought wearily as she straightened up and tried to smooth the wrinkles out of her uniform shirt.
Minutes passed. The door dinged again. Just someone checking their P.O. box.
She looked at the clock again. Ten ‘till noon. Her lunch break didn’t officially start until twelve, but she was taking it now. Fuck Don and fuck his schedule.
Kayla pushed away from the counter, went out through the door flanking it, and locked the front door. She then went back into the mailroom, past bags and totes and computers, and retrieved her lunch from the dayroom ‘fridge. She went back into the mailroom and sat down in front of one of the computers, her lithe frame swallowed by the large rolling chair looming around her.
As she ate, she checked Facebook, liked a few statuses, and commented on a picture she was tagged in (the pool party last week at Jeremy Blake’s house...man, she was shitfaced. She thought she may have slept with someone that wasn’t her boo, but she couldn’t remember).
At one, she unlocked the door and went back to the computer. She was just sitting down when the bell above the door dinged.
Check your box and fuck off, she thought exasperatedly.
Mrs. Johnson appeared in the window. Just the person Kayla wanted to see.
“Hi!” Mrs. Johnson said perkily. Somewhere in her late fifties, she played the organ at the Methodist Church on Dean Road and talked about nothing but God. The Lord this, Sweet Jesus that. Stupid nigger bitch.
“Hi,” Kayla said, trying her best to veil her contempt and largely succeeding. “How can I help you?”
“I need to send this off,” Mrs. Johnson replied, holding up a bulky envelope. Kayla got up and went to the window. “Okay.”
Ten minutes later, everything was all set...and Mrs. Johnson was still hanging around, talking a mile a fucking minute. Kayla nodded, made polite little sounds to indicate attention, and commented here and there. Finally, thank God, she carried her black ass out the door.
Shaking her head, Kayla went back to the computer, and was in the middle of logging back into her Facebook when someone else came in.
Mr. Warner was already in the window when she looked up, grinning like the big, child-molesting retard he was. He looked like one of those guys who hung out in his mom’s basement playing World of Warcraft or something. Tall, blond, goofy, most likely virginal.
“Hi, Kayla!” he piped.
“Hi, Mr. Warner,” she said, getting up. “How can I help you?”
“I have this,” he showed her a manila envelope. Kayla took it and looked at it, trying to decipher the childishly bad handwriting.
“It’s going to New York,” Mr. Warner said, “I’m entering a House Fancy contest. If they like my house, they’ll take pictures of it and put it in their magazine.”
“Cool,” Kayla said patronizingly. Inwardly, she rolled her eyes.
While they conducted their business, Mr. Warner’s eyes never left her chest. She wasn’t wearing a bra, and her nipples most likely showed through her shirt. When he finally left, she went to the bathroom and washed her hands. God, that creep made her feel dirty.
Back in the mailroom, Kayla made a B-line toward the computer when she noticed an old man standing before the counter, patiently and vacantly.
Forcing a smile, Kayla greeted him. “Good afternoon. Can I help you?”
The old man stood there for a full five seconds before answering, seeming to stare off into space. He was short and fat, his hair short and snowy white and ugly black hipster glasses pushed high up his nose.
“Yes,” he said, almost as if just realizing he’d been spoken to. He turned his head and favored her with a stomach-knotting glance. “I’m sending this to San Francisco.” He sat a package on the counter.
“O-okay,” Kayla said, an inexplicable chill running up her spine. She picked up the package and studied it. THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE.
She looked up at the man. His eyes were...weird, vacant and faraway.
When he handed her the money, he ran his fingers across the palm of her hand and grinned. “Have a nice day.”
As he walked off, Kayla shuddered.
For a long moment, she stood at the counter praying that he didn’t come back in with a gun or a grenade or something. When it looked like she was good, she took the package and brought it into the mailroom; it was wet and slimy in her hands.
Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. What the fuck!
She dropped it into a chair and looked at her plams; they were red. Kayla’s heart burst against her breast. It looked like blood.
Gagging, she rushed to the bathroom, barely making it.
Her lunch literally down the drain, Kayla washed her hands and looked at herself in the dirty mirror above the sink. Was that fucking blood?
She washed her hands several times more before she felt sufficiently clean. Done, she went back into the mailroom and stood over the package as if it were a spider. Something wasn’t right here.
She went to the counter, retrieved a letter opener, and came back to the package. For a moment, she debated with herself. Should she open it? What if it was a bomb? She should just call the cops.
But, then again, it couldn’t be a bomb. Mrs. Johnson’s letter was heavier the package by a long shot. There was no way there could be a bomb in there.
Decided, she cut the tape and opened the folds. Inside were two items: a red ball of fabric and an envelope. She withdrew the envelope with her thumb and forefinger and tore it open.
The letter within was three pages long; the handwriting was blocky and unsteady. It began:
July 6, 2014:
This is The Zodiac speaking. I am back for more. Enclosed, you will find the pantys of a thirteen-year-old girl I stabbed and killed...
Kayla dropped the letter. Where the fuck was her cellphone? She couldn’t remember. She checked her pockets. Not there. The desk. Right. She had to call the cops.
When she turned, however, she found that The Zodiac was back indeed.
Joseph Rubas is the author of over 200 short stories. His work has appeared in The Horror Zine; Nameless Digest; Thuglit; All Due Respect; Under the Bed; The Storyteller, and many others. He currently resides in Florida.