Originally posted on Creepy Catalog on June 27, 2016.

———

I didn’t mean to actually act on the idea that had festered in the back of my mind. I wouldn’t have done it if I knew this was going to happen. I couldn’t have known that my life was actually going to be in danger, in fact, as of now, I am a dead woman; all thanks to my sick guilty pleasure. Right now I am trapped in my own car, watching as a man grins at me, his front tooth chipped. He douses the car in gasoline; the smell is strong and putrid, my head begins to pound. I close my eyes, hoping whatever will happen in the next thirty seconds will go by fast.

I think back to how I had gotten myself into this situation. I had just finished up at the school I work at as an advisor — the last student I met with had cried in my office, fearing she would not get accepted into any of the colleges she had applied for. As a guidance counselor, you become attached to these students, it’s as if they become your children – or in my case, siblings. At twenty-four years old I landed a position at my old high school as the guidance counselor — I was the youngest to be hired. After watching as this girl helplessly wiped the snot from her face, I told her that I would do everything I could to help her out. The stress of college application deadlines was not only affecting students, but it was eating away at me too. My regular eight-hour days had turned to twelve-hour days with no breaks. I had decided I was finally done. I packed up my belongings, snuck out the back door, and got into my car.

I took the same route home, nothing ever changes in this sleepy town — the most exciting thing to ever happen here is when a new restaurant opens. Given the small population of the town, restaurants don’t even tend to last very long. Turning into the driveway, I parked my car and sat there for a minute. Lately, my life had felt like a routine – there was nothing exciting happening anymore. My boyfriend of two years had dumped me a week ago, the stray cat that comes by every evening had stopped doing so (I’m blaming coyotes on that one), and my parents decided to take a month long vacation to Australia — we aren’t even on the same time zone to have proper conversations. I had friends, but they all seemed to be too busy for me.

Sighing, I got out of the car and walked to the front door, and into my house. I threw my belongings on the couch, and sat down. Grabbing my laptop beside me, I powered it on, the familiar whir of the machine comforting my loneliness. Some people watch crappy reality television to feed their guilty pleasure, I lurk on true crime forums, and judging by everyone else, I’m not the only one with this particular guilty pleasure. I scroll through the topic titles: “I think my neighbor killed his wife”, “What Do I Do? I have A Stalker!”, “I matched on Tinder with a serial rapist”, and so forth. I came across one title that stopped me mid-scroll: “I Want to Write to Charles Manson — Will I Get a Reply?”

I rolled my eyes, sure, write to the infamous Charles Manson, who probably gets a hundred letters a day — that’s original. I entertained the thought for a moment, what if I did write to someone in jail? Someone who is not as well known, but has had significant amount of media coverage? The thrill of it all excited me as I proceeded to do some Google searches.

I found someone: Rob Caygon. He was convicted in 2006 for second-degree murder, and would be released shortly for good behavior. He had one hell of a defense team, because after reading all those reports, it sure sounded like the three murders he was pardoned of was done by him, and not whomever else they accused. Picking up some spare paper from the coffee table, I began writing – no thinking, just writing. Twenty-minutes later I was sitting in the midst of crumpled paper balls, staring at two words on the paper in front of me: “Hello Rob, my name is Anna” – that was it. I was hit with a massive writer’s block.

I sighed and walked to the fridge, taking out an open bottle of wine. I looked in the sink, there were a couple dirty dishes, but I didn’t have the energy to wash a glass. So, I drank from the bottle — very classy. Walking back to the couch, I sat down, pushing the crumpled papers away. I took a couple sips and began to write:

‘Hello Rob, you don’t know me. My name is Anna, and I am a high school guidance teacher. I find out what makes people tick, and how I can fix them, so maybe that’s why I’m writing to you. Do you get many letters? Letters from your victim’s family? I can’t imagine what that must be like.’

I read over my letter, it wasn’t detailed; it was more like an introductory letter. I shrugged; I didn’t even think the letter would get to him in the first place.

beetlejuice

It had been eleven days since the letter was mailed off. The days dragged on, and I found myself obsessively checking the mail twice a day. I looked at the clock on the wall, it read half past eight. Mail time.

Walking to the front door I had noticed the porch light was off. Odd, since I vividly remember turning it on. Opening the mailbox, I felt around the edges, my finger catching onto something sharp. “Ow!” I exclaimed, immediately taking my hand out. My index finger had a paper cut on it, the blood beginning to come through the skin. I peered into the mailbox, using my phone’s flashlight and couldn’t see anything at first, but once more I put my hand in there and when I felt the corner of the envelope, I pulled it out from its wedged spot.

A flowerpot crashed from the porch to the ground nearby, but I was too focused on the letter – besides, it was probably the stray cat finally returning. Turning it over, I gasped in excitement. It was Rob! He wrote back! I ran inside, my heart pounding inside my chest. I ripped open the envelope, my eyes practically bulging out of my head. There were seven words on the page, written in what looked like chicken scratch: “Hello Anna, I will see you soon”. I re-read the words; it sent chills up and down my spine.

What did he mean by that? I picked up the envelope from the ground and flipped it over. There it was, my address. In my drunken state of mind from the wine, I neglected the fact that I should probably put my P.O Box as an address and not my actual address when writing to a murderer. I looked at the letter once more; it was dated 3 days ago. I ran to my laptop, powering it on and opened up a search website. Typing in his name, I hit search and the worst of my worries had come true.

He was released yesterday.

“Shit, shit, shit!” I muttered, scolding myself. I was just about to grab the phone to call the police when the lights in my house went out.

I froze. The only light illuminating in the room was the logo from my laptop. I stood frozen in the dark, vulnerable to whatever (or whomever) is out there. I set the laptop down slowly, searching the room once my eyes adjusted.

“It could just be a blackout,” I told myself, bracing myself as I looked out the window. Wrong, only my house was pitch black.

I began to panic, my breathing was rapid, and I felt light headed. I slouched against a wall trying to regain strength, I ran two scenarios through my head: whoever shut the power off in my house either did it from the outside, or did it from the inside – I was trapped either way.

The doorbell rang, making me jump out of my skin. From where I was standing I could see a portion of the window looking out to the porch, I tilted my head ever so slightly; I could see a figure pacing back and forth, occasionally peering into the house. I squinted; he seemed to be 5’11”, slim build, around 35-40 years old. I did not recognize this man as someone from the town, instead, I knew exactly who he was: Rob Caygon. He had come for me.

He rang the doorbell once more, he knew I was home – hell, my car was in the driveway. For all I know, he had been watching me since he got released. I peered out once more I couldn’t see him. Had he given up? My phone beeped in my pocket: 1 percent battery.

I don’t know how long I was standing with my back against the wall; my legs began cramping up, my heartbeat echoing in my ears. What felt like eternity must have only been five minutes, but he was gone. I ran up the stairs, making sure I ducked wherever a window was present. I grabbed a small bag, and began throwing everything into it – toiletries, undergarments, clothing, chargers, and passport. My purse was downstairs near my laptop, I would need that – but first, I needed to figure out how I was going to leave without making noise. My car was the only option – but the damn thing rumbles when it starts up; if Rob was hiding out he would come for me. I needed to give the impression that I was still in the house.

There’s three ways to get in and out of my house: front door, back door, and garage. I ran down the stairs, heading for the backdoor and unlocked it. I then ran to where my laptop and purse were, grabbing those. I found my car keys at the bottom of my purse and walked to the garage. I would open the garage as a diversion and sneak out the back door into my car. The sound of the garage door opening was audible, it bought me about ten seconds. I ran out the back door, luckily only a few steps away and straight into my car. I jumped in, putting the keys in the ignition and turning it. The lights on the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree – a tire error showed up. “No, no, no,” I pleaded, tears starting to run down my face. I couldn’t check what the situation with the tires was, but with the way the car was tilted, it was evident more than one tire was slashed.

“I told you I would see you soon, Anna,” a husky voice said, emerging from the darkness. He was standing in front of me; the only thing separating us was a windshield. I took a deep breath and looked at him – his eyes were dull grey, his hair a mix between brown and grey, and he had stubble on his face. At one point he must’ve been attractive. My mouth was clamped shut, my throat dry. I swallowed three times before having the courage to speak.

“Why?”

He grinned at me, his chipped tooth visible. “You reached out to me, remember?”

He walked to the driver’s side, putting his hand on the handle and pulling it. I closed my eyes for a split second, but after two tugs, he gave up. I watched him as he circled the car like a shark ready to attack his prey. He was holding something in his hand, I sat up straighter, noticing it was a red gasoline jug.

“Oh my God,” I whispered to myself realizing he was going to set this car and myself on fire. I put the car in reverse and slammed on the gas, the tires didn’t move, the car jolted but that was it.

My tears blurred my vision, I was going to die here and it was my own fault. I should have never reached out to him in the first place, stupid me! He stood in front of the car, spilling the last of the gasoline on to the hood.

“If only you hadn’t been home…”

I watched him pull out a cigarette box from his pocket. I unlocked the car – I could run, but how far would I get? He lit the cigarette with a hot pink lighter, his eyes focused on me the whole time. I would wait until he was done smoking, for the cigarette to fall to the floor, and then I would act — I had a split second to do this.

He took a couple drags. It was clear he wasn’t going to finish the whole cigarette. The ash was still hanging at the tip, he grinned at me. It was so an unsettling grin, as if he had been wanting to do this since the minute he got out of prison.

He dropped the cigarette.

I opened the door and jumped out, running as fast as I could, screaming for help. I could feel him right behind me on my heels. There was a loud burst, as the blazing fire engulfed the car. Something hit me on the back of the head – I couldn’t tell if it was debris from the car or Rob. All I know is that I saw black, and that was it.

beetlejuice

My head was pounding; it had felt like I was shot in the head numerous times. I touched the back of my head, pieces of my hair smudged with blood and dirt. I cringed, trying to remove small rocks that were mixed in with dirt, only to cause more pain to my head. I was still in the woods, but I had no idea how long I was out for.

I panicked, Rob – where was he? I lifted my aching body off of the ground. Something was stuck to my left leg, I looked down; my jeans had caught on fire, skin scorched. I fingered the hem of the jeans, slowly pulling it up towards me, wincing as skin came off with the material. I gagged at what I saw – lots of blood, burnt skin, some to a point where it looked like it was something out of a movie.

A twig snapped nearby, I turned my head looking in the direction. I couldn’t see anything. I had to get moving, if I remained here any longer I was just waiting to die. Rob didn’t come all this way to stalk me and set my house on fire, no, that would ruin the fun — sadistic murderers liked to torture their victims, see how much they can suffer before reaching their breaking point.

I stood up, the weight of my body on my burnt leg sent waves of pain, making me fall back down. I was not going to let him get the best of me; he was not going to win. I tried to regain my strength, using a small rock to push myself up. I looked down at the rock and bent down to pick it up.

I began to limp towards one direction, unsure if I was going deeper into the woods or going towards the edge, where civilization was. The only light to guide me was that of the moon, my phone was in the car – or whatever was left of my car now.

“Good morning, sunshine,” a voice from nearby the trees said. I turned my head, watching as Rob snuck out from the shadows. He walked towards me, instantly I tensed up, holding the rock out of sight behind my back.

“Hm, you’ve hurt yourself.”

I began to back up, his face turned from pleasant to angry almost immediately.

“If you run, I will cut through your neck until I feel bone,” he snarled.

I gulped. Nodding, I understood.

“Good. Now, let’s begin. When you reached out to me, what did you think would happen? No — don’t answer, it was rhetorical. I’m a murderer, prison didn’t change that.”

He inched closer; I was frozen in my spot. I knew better than to move. He looked me up and down briefly, smirking. He kept his eyes glued to me as he bent down picking up a stick from the ground and held it out for me.

“I can’t imagine the pain you’re in,” he said in a soft voice.

I was hesitant to grab the stick with my free hand, but I knew that this could benefit me in two ways; put the pain on my leg on pause, and use it as a weapon. I took the stick, putting the rest of my weight on it. “What are you going to do with me?” I asked, tremor in my voice.

He looked at me, smiling as he walked closer. We were nose to nose, he was about to say something. I brought the rock up, and slammed it down on his head. He staggered forward, his eyes bulging. He lunged for me; I stuck the stick into his stomach, deeper and deeper, blood spilling out. Rob fell back; I needed to finish him off, despite how weak I felt. Straddling his body, I pushed the stick further into his stomach, blood coming out of his mouth. He had stopped screaming; instead he was smiling now, blood coating his gums and teeth. His arms reached out to my neck, digging deep, closing my throat. I gasped for air, trying to fight it.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the rock beside his head, my fingers reached for it, my vision blurring. My fingers wrapped around the rock and I brought it up over my head down onto his. The sound of bone crunching would haunt me forever, but I had to keep going. I stared at his bloodied figure, waiting for him to come alive somehow, but there was no movement. My own arms and face were covered in his blood. I rolled off of him, lying beside him in a pool of blood. I turned my head to look at him, his eyes open, dead and cold.

A tear rolled down my cheek, I couldn’t believe I made it out alive. Noticing a small bulge in his pant pocket, I reached in, pulling out a throwaway phone that looked like it was from seven years ago. Dialing 9-1-1, I let the phone ring out as I closed my eyes and entered a blissful darkness.

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