Cupcakes and Fingernails – Part Five

suspenseful horror short stories

Horror Story

Shutting the door of her room gave Jennifer an enclosed, cocoon sensation that made her knees weak and her eyelids heavy. She emptied her pockets of their contents and dropped them on her desk, long unused under a pile of junk, before literally falling onto her bed.

Mere seconds from drifting off to sleep, she had a thought. Something had been nagging at her when she arrived home, but had been pushed out of her mind at the sight of her mother. A curiosity that struck her at the end of her work shift that day.

Reluctantly groaning up from the comfort of her comforter, Jennifer pulled herself over to her folding comfy-chair and dredged her laptop from underneath a heap of pants. After wasting a minute or two trying to remember her password, she had pulled up her web browser, opening automatically to the Google homepage.

Hovering the cursor over the text box, Jennifer simply typed ‘Alex.’

Her fingers drummed against her leg, keeping time with the blinking of the cursor.

Alex, she thought. Alex Alex Alex Alex. Alex what?

She scoured her memories while chewing of her tongue, trying to recall any kind of memory about his surname. It had likely never come up in the general workplace. The more she thought about it, Wendy and Alex probably didn’t know her last name, either. So why did she get the impression that the answer was right under her nose?

Jolting upright, Jennifer quickly opened another tab and signed into her email host. Scrolling past an endless number of Facebook notifications and generous offers to enlarge her penis, she finally found a long-forgotten email from three months ago: the Gateau work schedule. Pulling it up, Jennifer scrolled past Dwayne’s typo-littered ramblings until stopping at a list of names, the very first being Alex Crowley.

Tabbing back over to Google, she typed in the full name and hit enter. The first link was a Wikipedia page for a dead man named Aleister Crowley, followed by a number of links for a television actor from the late-90s. Frowning, Jennifer revised the search, adding in ‘+facebook.’ She sifted carefully through a number of profiles, not a single one matching her co-worker. She added the state to her search, then the city, then the county, then adding Gateau, but with no such luck. She backtracked to the homepage and typed the name ‘Wendy Oleander.’ Within ten seconds, Jennifer was able to find her Facebook page, predictably set to private.

Jennifer made a grumbling sound before closing her laptop and setting it precariously atop her mountain of laundry. While there was a near infinite room for error, her Google-fu was strong. Jennifer could easily locate elementary school classmates, their boyfriends, and their teenage wedlock babies(if applicable) in minutes. Reason told her it was up to human error, but she had the sinking feeling that she could search for days and not find a scrap of internet presence for Alex Crowley.

She hit the lights and fell exhausted onto her pile of bed. Still under the covers, Jennifer was able to wiggle down to her underwear and throw her clothes across the room while lying face-down on a pillow. Before finally letting her mind fade into sleep, she remembered that her pockets had still been full. While willing to write off her phone and wallet until tomorrow morning, Jennifer’s mind was instead pulled back to her ankh necklace and was enough of a motivator by itself to force her out of bed to get it.

In bed again, Jennifer held up the necklace to better catch the glow the streetlights and laid watching it sway in her grip instead of falling asleep. Her tattoo was one of her most cherished keepsakes and a carried reminder of her father, but it wasn’t her only one. She wore the ankh around her neck to tell herself that the end may not necessarily be the end after all. She’d be the first to admit she didn’t know much about Egyptian mythology, but what she did brought her comfort. She once read that their afterlife was called something like the “Happy Field of Food.” She smiled as she closed her eyes, imaging her dad going wild in a place like that.

Usually, Jennifer set the necklace beside her bed. That night, she wore it to sleep.

 

next chapter: Cupcakes and Fingernails – Part Six

previous chapter: Cupcakes and Fingernails – Part Four

all chapters: Cupcakes and Fingernails

more by WILL HEMLEPP

photograph by Spectral-Design

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