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I text him.

His profile notified me that he likes cheeseburgers; it’s our second date and Jumpin’ Jacks has the best cheeseburgers around. Gavin is the real deal, or so the twins say he is. Elizabeth and Alyssa are fixtures in this small shithole of a town; they know everyone and probably sleep with everyone for all I know.

No response yet. Jeez, I need to learn patience, I think to myself as I stare at the bright screen of my phone — patience has never been my strong suit. I always end up waiting impatiently for things, like dinner to be ready; sometimes I get hungry and am told I have to wait like everyone else. Such bullshit for a shitty meal to begin with.

My phone buzzes and I open the message. It’s Gavin:

running a little late

Okay, I guess I can wait

I’m hoping this won’t become the norm — late for dinner, late to get home. You can probably guess where it goes from there.

meet you inside

It's about time

Jk lol

There he is, Gavin Larson — the man the twins and everyone else wants for themselves. Again, this is our second date; the first was a walk around the park by the lumber mill he works at. Or so he said; I didn’t dig deep into the details, just because it’s not my business.

When he sees me, he cracks a grin and turns to the hostess at the front of the restaurant. “A table for two, please,” he requests, to which she complies. She leads us to a table in the back corner, as he’d also asked for. He once told me it was some sort of weird fettish. I didn’t necessarily need to know that information, but whatever.

When a waitress stops by, he shifts comfortably in his seat and says, “I’ll have a beer.” I almost scoff. Men and their alcohol. How many beer commercials do you see on the nightly sports games, and why is it that guys always give into those impulses?

I guess I’m no better, considering I order white wine with the complimentary salads we both accept. He wants a burger, as I suspected, and I get another salad — a much bigger one. I’m not much of a meat-eater and never have been.

His eyes locked with mine, taking the initiative to talk. “Glad to see I’m worthy of a second dinner date,” he mentions with a soft voice, sitting across from me with his dark hair and gorgeous green eyes. At least he’s cute.

And a movie. Can't forget the movie,” I remind him.

His eyes contort into one of confusion. “Oh, a movie, too?” He’d obviously forgotten, which makes a black mark on this date. “Well, we can see what's on Vera tonight. They just dropped a ton of new movies,” he continues in an effort to save himself.

I pop my eyebrows upward and hesitate, then mutter, “Sounds great, can’t wait.” What’s the worst that can happen? I think. We watch some cheesy romantic comedy and see where it goes, I guess. Hopefully have a little fun…

Dinner passes by quickly. He asks for the bill before he finishes eating.

Woah there, cowboy. Slow down a little.”

He laughs and queries, “You know where I live, right?”

Oh, I know exactly where you live.”

Not surprising,” he confesses before a chuckle. “Kidding, kidding. Lighten up. I’ll make some popcorn when we get there.


Gavin lives in a 3-bedroom apartment by the old church. I always pass by it on the way to work, at the bank. It’s a nice place, almost too perfect.

He has his own place, the yard’s clean. I could get used to this, assuming tonight goes by well.

The aroma of something burning filled the air as soon as I head inside. It’s a foul odor, but calming in a weird way. “What's that smell?” I ask.

He looks in my direction, wondering, “What do you mean?”

I gesture to the area around me, proceeding, “It’s a weird burning smell that I can’t really describe.”

Oh, I hope I just didn’t turn him off. I go into his apartment and tell him that his home smells bad? I fucked up. God, I fucked up. He’s so cute, too.

Well, you want to see what Vera has on?” he wonders without responding to my comment. I hope that’s a good sign. Vera’s a new movie engine that’s supposedly better than the rest; all the hotshots in Hollywood have had a movie on it at least once during their careers.

Sure,” I accept as I sit on an old couch that looks like it came from the set of The Brady Bunch. He sits down next to me, our legs now touching. I can feel his vibes; he’s ready, but he’s holding back. Ignoring the big-lettered “VERA” on the TV screen, I keep my eyes on him. I could get used to this; I get him every night and watch movies all day. Life would be so easy.

He stops at a movie in particular after flicking through a shit ton of options. “How about this?” he wonders, glancing at me; his profile also said he enjoys murder suspense movies. The one he chooses is called “Cold As Ice.”

I just hope it’s not too predictable, but who cares? I’m not exactly here to watch TV…

The movie starts out with a girl named Carissa, who I assume is the main character — but it’s too soon to tell. She’s in a courtroom celebrating being acquitted for the murder of her husband, named Gabriel.

I sigh and adjust my position next to Gavin. “See? It’s already solved within the first five minutes,” I complain.

He peers at me, a small smile growing on his lips. I stare at them.

It’s never that simple,” he responds, the smirk growing larger and drawing more of me in. Great, now he probably thinks I’m one of those people who’s a critic during movies.

Well, to me she sounds like a pretty cool person; she eats healthy, runs three miles a day, and exercises regularly.” This all comes from her attorney’s closing arguments during the opening credits.

They found another body!” someone shouts on the front steps of the courthouse.

Another follows, “Fifth one this month.”

They’re sisters, according to a newspaper in the background.

Well, that’s just weird,” Gavin mentions as he eyes the screen.

Like most of the suspense films I’ve watched — and trust me, it’s few and far between — this one seems like a very common suspense movie, and that’s coming from a rom-com girl — or I like to identify myself as. News organizations start to warn everyone to lock their doors and impose curfews like there’s some sort of monster on the loose.

The movie continues with Carrissa and a survey of her apartment.

Hey, that's the same movie poster I have in my living room,” I chime in, pointing to the poster. It’s in almost the same exact spot, too. Or is it on the other side? I’m not sure.

Gavin chuckles. “That’s nice.” Carrissa’s now eating her daily breakfast, which is a vegetable soup — or more like parsley and broth. He continues, “That's not healthy, you know. The human body needs protein to survive”

At least he’s cute, I reminded myself again. At least he’s cute. You don’t need to like his personality; just get lucky tonight and leave in the morning. “Well now, aren’t you the health expert?” I tease, suppressing a sigh that would definitely kill my chances of getting any. Carrissa walks about three miles a day and passes a post office on some particular street. Isn’t there a post office on my walks? Maybe — I can’t really be sure; I don’t really pay attention, to be honest.

Now that I think of it, this movie seems pretty familiar. Really familiar.

Hmm… I find it odd that some of the stuff she’s doing is stuff I used to do,” I finally confessed, turning to Gavin, who’s clearly invested in the film.

He pats my shoulder in a friendly way, but just enough to send electricity through my body. I turn away in a blush. “It’s just a coincidence,” he says dismissively. “Don’t overthink it. It’s not that good, anyway; I saw one way better last week.

His reassurance makes me feel a little better, but the hair on the back of my neck still stands. Now it’s starting to get creepy.

I doze off for a couple of minutes, the sound of the movie playing as whitnoise. When I finally realize that I’d passed out in the company of a stranger, my body jolts and I look over to see Gavin.

He’s gone.

How long did I sleep? It couldn’t have been that long, right? Gavin was right here; I swear I was only out for a few minutes if even that.

No, this place is different. This isn’t where I fell asleep.

The TV’s now playing Days of our Lives reruns. I look down to see that I’m wearing some ugly white gown instead of the jeans and T-shirt I’d worn on the date, and there’s some lady screaming at me that my meds are ready.

What the hell? What’s going on?

Gavin, where are you?” I hopelessly call, peering around this foreign room with ever-widening eyes. I end up screaming for him out of fear that I’d been catfished by a serial killer and in hopes that he’d come save me.


I begin to thrash against some sort of restraints as something sharp immediately stabs me right in the back of my neck, and soon thereafter, my mind begins to fog and my body eases. “There, done. That was a close one,” I heard a male’s voice mutter as my vision fades to black.

Everything goes quiet; my mind shuts off in a deep state of unconsciousness.

I wake up with a flinch in a bed that feels so new and strange, but oddly familiar at the same time.

They put the suit on again. It feels so tight this time.

What happened? The room starts spinning. I close my eyes, trying to remember Gavin.

What’s his name?

Gavin. Yeah, his name’s Gavin.

No, not Gavin. Gabriel — it was Gabriel.

I always called him Gabe.


Derek is an aspiring writer from the midwest. He has written a few stories but nothing really substantial. He loves reading and writing horror involving cults, serial killers,, crime and alternate realities. Movie Night. is his third short story in hopes of writing a small collection of shorts.. 


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