The Phantom Returns
Velvet and Otis jumped to their feet at the same time, chairs shrieking and clattering.
The man just stood there, wearing all black, his face uncovered, framed by dark hair and shining pale white in the glare of the light. He stared right at the camera. Daring them.
Velvet had no doubt in her mind who it was or what he was doing. He’d come back to get them, pure and simple. She knew that the papers speculated the killer might have been looking for something the night before, and maybe he had been. But right now, all he was looking at was them.
At least it felt that way. Velvet felt his stare right through the screen even though she knew he couldn’t see her.
“I think we’re getting fired tonight,” Otis said, reaching for the phone on the desk, keeping an eye on the figure on the monitor.
“I’m good with that,” Velvet said, sounding as breathless as she felt, eyes fixated on the man on the screen.
Velvet heard him punch the numbers on the phone over her heartbeat pounding in her ears. This was the most terrifying stare down she’d ever been part of and that was saying something considering the guy wasn’t even in the building with her, let alone the same room. Worse, the longer Velvet stared, the more the man looked vaguely familiar, and that only added to her terror. She was barely aware of the click of the phone’s cutoff.
“The phone’s dead,” Otis told Velvet as he gently replaced the receiver.
A noise escaped her, something like a low, keening moan, and she leaned forward, bracing herself on the desk, eyes never leaving the monitor. This wasn’t happening. Trapped in a warehouse by a murderer and no phone or gun. Not that she knew how to shoot a gun, but Otis probably did. She would have felt a little bit better if Otis were armed. This was like a horror movie.
Velvet shook her head. If she got murdered in this warehouse, she’d never hear the end of it from her parents.
“I just wanted a normal night at work,” she complained. “This week is shit.”
“Where’s your cell phone?” Otis asked, businesslike as always. It should have been more comforting, but Velvet’s fear was whipping through her like an out of control roller coaster and it was taking everything for her not to burst into tears or laugh hysterically.
“In my car,” Velvet whispered, like the guy standing in the parking lot might hear her. “Mr. Kobel doesn’t let us have our cell phones in the building, remember? That son of a bitch. He probably just doomed us both. Probably did it on purpose, that asshole. That stupid mother-”
“Okay,” Otis said, cutting her off. Probably for the best. Velvet was working her way up to one hell of a rant. He took a deep breath and held out his hand. “Give me your keys.”
For the first time since the man appeared, Velvet looked away from the monitor long enough to look at Otis like he was crazy. He didn’t look like he’d lost his mind, but she was pretty sure he had.
“Give me your keys,” Otis repeated. “I’ll go down there and get your phone.”
“Otis, the killer is standing right there,” Velvet said. She reached over to tap on the monitor to emphasize her point. The man moved just as she did, and Velvet jerked her hand away like he tried to grab her through the screen.
The two of them watched as he walked along the backside of the building and disappeared around the southwest corner.
“He’s going back to the crime scene,” Otis muttered and then louder, “Quick, Velvet, your keys. Now’s the time.”