I stand outside a pub. Written in large letters on the door is the word, ‘Sweet-Nightmare’.
I push the door open and step inside.
My pointed heels clack against the tiles. Why did I choose to wear these things? Flats, always stick to flats!
The air is seeped with the scent of vodka. I follow the sound of clinking glasses and low throaty coughs until I emerge out into a dark room. The room is ignited with dispersed blazes of red light. These hellish glows emit from skull shaped lamps that sit on the centre of each table. I notice that bigger versions of these lamps hang from the ceiling like chandeliers.
Faint screams play from a large radio that’s pushed up against the right-hand side wall. A tall man in a black trench coat stands next to it and turns the volume up.
I make my way towards the bar with the intention to ask for a glass of water and permission to use the phone.
My heels draw the attention of the man by the radio. He looks over his shoulder with one raised eyebrow. I watch him as he hurries over toward me and puts himself in my path, blocking me off.
He takes out a lighter and lights up a blue flame that he joins to the end of his cigarette. The man closes his eyes and inhales. His eyelashes flutter and I can see the whites of his eyeballs.
I dodge him and he thrusts his arm out in front of me.
“This is not a place for a girl like you,” the man says. I catch a whiff of his breath. It smells of rum and liquorice.
“I just want a glass of water,” I say.
“The water here is as good as poison!” He spits the last word out and specks of wet saliva hit my forehead. I wipe them away with the back of my hand.
The man laughs and then drops his arm. I walk past him.
The woman behind the bar watches me with a disgusted look on her face.
“Can I get a glass of water please?” I ask.
“Sure,” she says. I try not to stare at the pink scorpion tattoo on the left side of her face. Its tail curves under her chin and up her right cheek. I glance at her nametag; ‘Cassandra’.
She takes a glass from the counter and fills it with tap water. She hands it to me with a sly smirk on her face.
“Here you are, pet. Watch you don’t spill anything on that pretty white dress,” she says.
“Thanks,” I reply.
“What’s your name pet?”
“Jenna is it?” the man slides in next to me and holds his hand out for me to take it.
I don’t want to attract any unnecessary attention in rejecting his gesture so I take his hand and he squeezes it like he is trying to crack a nutshell. He smiles and then puts his hands in his pockets.
“This here is Robby,” says Cassandra, nodding toward the strange man.
Robby grins at her and she smiles back at him.
.“She looks lost doesn’t she Rob?”
“Yeah, you’re right there. She does look lost.”
“Aye, look at her. She’s a lost one alright.”
Robby moves closer to me, puffing smoke in my face.
“Is there a phone here that I can use?” I ask, turning my face away from the choking smoke.
“It’s round back…but you can’t use it see, it’s broken…doesn’t work.”
“Oh,” I reply.
I take my glass of water and make my way to the black leather couch next to a crimson door. I sit alone and try to relax a little.
There are six people here in total, including me. Cassandra chats to Robby, who leans over the counter and whispers in her ear.
Three men play cards in the opposite corner of the room. Their cigar smoke rises to the ceiling.
I take a drink of water. It’s bitter.
I swirl it around in the glass. It looks like water, although the red light from the lamp overhead has given it a reddish tint. I take another drink, a sip this time. My taste buds rise to meet the bitterness.
I sit it down and glance over at the bar.
Cassandra and Robby are gone. The men playing cards are submerged in their own intoxicating smoke. I can only make out their shadows behind it. I see what must be an arm waving up in a quick motion. Are they calling me over?
The crimson door next to me swings open and a man dressed in black comes out of it. I peek inside.
A swaying figure hangs from a rope.
The door slams shut.
I jolt in my seat and bitter water spills over my dress. I get up quickly and knock my knee against a bar stool. It topples over.
“Jenna, sit down,” Robby stands in front of me with a grin on his face.
“Oh, I…I just, I just need to use the toilet,” I stammer.
“The ladies are through that door there, the red one behind you.”
“Oh, are they?” I glance at the door and although it’s closed I can still see the dead man swinging from the rope, “Um, actually no what I meant to say was that I need to leave. I mean, I have to leave. I have to be home by midnight and…”
He interrupts me with fits of laughter.
“Cinderella has to be home for midnight eh?”
My heart races and sweat drips down my back. Stay calm.
“Have you met my friends?”
“Guys come on over here and meet Jenna!”
The three card players step out from their cloud of ash.
As they come closer I see that their eyes look as though their skin has grown over and completely covered…Oh God! Their eyes! They have no eyes!
“Jenna, I’d like you to meet Tim, Tom and Tony.”
I look to Robby, who’s looking at me with an intent glare.
“It’s nice to meet all of you,” I say as brightly as I can, trying my best not to let them see my fear. I had to remain calm. Play their game, play their game and get out.
I glance toward the exit. Cassandra stands there as though she’s guarding it.
“Tim, Tom, Tony…if you will,” Robby says. He nods his head in my direction and the three men lunge toward me.
I push past the smallest one and head for the exit. Cassandra grins and I get ready to barge past her. I’ll knock that bitch over if I have to!
My left heel betrays me and I lose my balance.
A huge pair of hairy arms latches around me and lifts me up off the ground.
I’m kicking and screaming, pulling at the man’s hair, yanking fistfuls of it out and dropping it to the floor. He doesn’t flinch. Now more arms and hands take hold of me. I can’t escape them.
The crimson door draws nearer and it opens up wide. The man still swings from the rope. His tongue hangs out of his mouth like a slug.
I’m thrown to the ground and the door slams shut.
Robby stands still, watching me with a wild look.
“Sorry about that. They like to make a scene but I prefer to do things quietly, with grace,” he says.
Something warm and wet drips onto my forehead, I look up.
“He’s still fresh,” Robby points to the man hanging from the rope. The rope is tied to a pipe that runs along the ceiling.
I back away from under the dead man and stand up straight.
“Jenna, look, you can make this very easy for yourself. Just don’t make a fuss during this and I’ll let you go. How does that sound?”
He moves closer and when he comes to the dead man’s body he pushes it out of his way and it swings back and forth behind him like a pendulum.
“What do you want?” I say. I can hear my voice tremble and he seems to have noticed because now he has a crooked smile and his head is tilted like a barn owl.
He throws off his trench coat and then begins to unbuckle his belt.
I feel an overwhelming sense of panic settle in my stomach, it fizzes up my throat and seeps all over my body. I struggle to breathe.
He is going to rape me and then he will hang me up like a butchered cow, hang me up right next to that dead man.
My throat runs dry and I begin to feel dizzy and drowsy. What’s happening to me?
“That must be the water kickin in. I told you it was poison,” he says with a smile.
“You poisoned me?”
“Well no, technically Cassandra poisoned you. I on the other hand told you that the water was poisoned but you drank it anyway didn’t you? You could have avoided this. You could have walked out and not seen the inside of this room, but it didn’t go that way.”
“Please, just let me go! I won’t tell anyone about him,” I plea.
“You think this is about him?” Robby says, laughing hysterically, “Nah, he was a friend of mine actually, but then he didn’t do what I told him so I had to get rid of him.”
He throws his belt on the ground and begins to unbutton his shirt. He has a tattoo of a centipede creeping up from his belly button, its head stops just below his neck.
I feel sick. I think I might vomit.
I glance down at my feet, at my heels.
Robby makes a quick move and I’m too slow. He pushes me up against the wall. He licks his lips and I’m shocked to see that the tip of his tongue is pointed like the tongue of a venomous snake.
I try to get out of his grasp but he’s too strong. He throws me to the ground.
I reach down to my foot and slip off my shoe in one quick motion.
I feel his hand run down my waist. I glance at the pointed heel and then at Robby’s neck. I hear a hissing sound come from him. I scream as I plunge the heel of my shoe into the back of his neck.
He cries out and I plunge the heel in again, deeper this time. There’s blood pulsing out everywhere, running over my hand and down my arm. He keels over on his back and I stumble to my feet and run to the crimson door. It’s open!
“Cassandra!” he calls out.
The bar is empty. I fling off my other heel and run to the exit.
The door is locked.
I go to the window next to it and grab for the handle. I push it open as far as it goes.
“Stop her!” I hear Cassandra scream. Running steps come after me. Oh my God! Oh my god! Oh my god!
I thrust my body out the window and fall to the ground. I dash to my car and fumble the key around in my hand frantically trying to find the tip of the thing. I unlock it and get inside.
Cassandra and the three men storm out of the pub and run toward me. I put the car in reverse and it swerves around.
I drive forward. One of the eyeless men runs in front of my car and I hit him. He topples over the bonnet and then he’s gone.
I watch the side mirror as I drive away.
The little figures in the glass get smaller and smaller until finally, they disappear.
I'm 20 years old, currently in my second year of University, studying 'English with creative writing' at Queens University Belfast. I've never had anything published before and this is my first time submitting a piece of work, so I'm hoping for some beginners luck!
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