Thank you all for participating. I loved everyone’s and it was a tough decision but the winner stuck in my head after I read it and kept making me think about it. To everyone else, your stories were fabulous. I’m so glad I got to read them! And now, here is our winner:
The bus stopped with a jerk. Passengers closest to the windows crammed their faces to the glass while the rest pushed themselves up to see what the commotion was about.
Zoe bit back a laugh. They were looking the wrong way. Oh, they’d see him out there. He’d step out from within a shadow, and smile with only his dead black eyes, and they’d scream and cower and wish they’d never looked out the window.
But they wouldn’t see her. They never did.
And even if they did, they wouldn’t think anything of it, except maybe, why is that little girl sitting all by herself? Where’s your mommy, sweetie?
Zoe concentrated on making him appear again. It wasn’t easy to summon something from nothing, a monster from a shadow, but Zoe was good at it — just as they’d known she would be.
There. There he was, wearing the shadow she made him from like a cape, tilting his head as if asking a question, and every person on that bus heard it as a whisper in their own thoughts: When did you realize you were going to die today? The screams started almost instantly and Zoe drank their panic in like thick, pulpy juice.
She wanted to make it last forever, but that’s not why she was there. Zoe scanned the frantic faces. One of these would not be like the others. Somewhere in here would be someone having fun.
You think you’re looking for me.
Zoe calmly weighed the words in her head. It was in her own voice. Had she thought them without meaning to or…?
Are you jealous of little sister?
Zoe smiled. The one she was there to find was far more advanced than she had been told. Good. A challenge. Zoe cleared her mind with practiced ease, let white space fill into the cracks like cement. When she finally formed the thought, it echoed: Come play with me. I’ll show you horror you’ve only dreamed of.
Zoe scanned the people in the crowd again, more carefully this time. Nothing. She tried not to worry, but she knew that time was running out, that at some point she would falter and the veil of fear she had shrouded the people in would slip away. And then, the people would blink, and she would lose everything.
You’re dead. You’ve already lost everything.
Still no one in the crowd stood out to her. How could this be? She was the best. They’d told her that. They’d said they had never seen any human take to death like she had, not with such thirst, with such craving for more. She had never had trouble finding anyone she had been sent after before — finding and eliminating them. Then again, none of them had ever spoken to her in her mind before.
You think I’m like you. But I’m not.
You are me.
Zoe wasn’t sure which of them had thought it. Her voice, her mind, but how could it be true? They had sent her to find herself?
Everything spun. And then she heard it. The whisper. She laughed.
When did you realize you were going to die today?