The Pair of Blood-Red Shoes

She's never seen anything like them. In front of the windows, they seemed to make everything else in the store lose their luster. As she stood standing there, her gaze transfixed on them, she knew only one thing: she's got to have them.

Walking into the store, she smiled as the sales clerk greeted her and immediately went and picked up the shoes. Then she sat down and tried them on: they were perfect. As she took tentative steps in them, she considered their queer element: their color, mainly. They were red- not the placid maroon or a vibrant scarlet, but the same color as blood. The thought gave her the shivers, but they were perfect. What should she fear?

Taking them off, she walked over to the clerk. "Hello, I'd like to buy these shoes." She smiled sweetly, proudly displaying them.

The clerk was taken by surprise and stumbled on his words. "I'm sorry, but those shoes are not for sale. To tell you the truth, I've never seen this pair in my life before now."

She pouted, and rummaged in her pocket for some money. Finding a twenty-dollar bill, she was delighted and replied, "Well, here's some money for them anyway. Don't bother getting me a receipt, I don't mind. Thank you!" And she rushed off, leaving the confused clerk there.

When she arrived back at the dorms, she couldn't suppress her excitement. Taking off her old brown boots and kicking them in the corner, she put on the red shoes and tiptoed out of the room. She spent the rest of the day going about her everyday life, constantly bending over and admiring her new blood-red shoes.

That was the last time we saw her alive.

I watched listlessly as it swayed gently in the breeze, like a dead leaf or a rag doll. My spit caught near my throat and I had a hard time swallowing it, since I was so paralyzed with fear and disgust. We'd never thought that she'd be someone to do it, someone so obsessed with death. None of us would have guessed. Some girls near me were whispering, and it took everything in my power to make them shut up. And then my gaze lingered back onto her body.

I've never known her personally, but I talked to her a bit in the hallways on some days. Now that I think about it, I forgot her name. It's strange that you can't remember the names of the dead sometimes.

The teachers ushered us back to class, telling us that counseling is available if we need it. But before I went back, I stole one last glance at that said sight, of the body hanging by a rope like a rag doll, the head snapped grotesquely back. And the last thing I saw, were those blood-red shoes on her feet.

It's almost midnight. I couldn't sleep, not with the image of her still burning in my mind. My roommate has already left, probably getting a cup of coffee. She couldn't sleep either. I laid there in my bed, listening to the clock's hands making their usual journeys around the circle. I closed my eyes, but the image kept on coming back. Frustrated and scared, I jumped up from bed to turn on the lights, hopefully banishing the horrible specters of my imagination. My hand was almost to the switch when I heard it.

My blood ran cold and my hand lingered on top of the switch, frozen in fear and unable to move. Down the hall, like a vigilant midnight watchman, were footsteps. They were too delicate and small to be a teacher's, and no student wears shoes when walking around the dorms. A shiver ran down my spine and I forced the lights open.

As the glow erupted in the whole room, I saw the shadows, or lack thereof, in the hallway. If nobody was there, who was making the footsteps? They were getting closer, almost to my door now. After several fearful moments of doubt and disbelief, I swung open the door and looked the way of the ghostly walker. Nothing was there.

I looked down and saw a pair of shoes. Blood-red shoes.

I screamed and slammed the door shut. The lights shut off by themselves, but I was too scared to care. Burying my head under my pillow, I shuddered and waited for the morning. Beneath the covers I can hear the eerie stroke of midnight sounding off by the grandfather clock.

"So I wasn't the only one who heard it?" A girl exclaimed, after I told her about my midnight expedition. "Thank God, I though I was crazy for a second!"

"Heard what?" Another girl asked from behind me.

"The footsteps at night." I replied.

"Yeah, I heard them too! It scared the crap out of me!"

"Maybe it was just a freak thing."

"Maybe it was an angry ghost!"

I shook my head. "I saw what was making the footsteps." I waited as a whole torrent of exclamations bombarded me before continuing. "It was that pair of red shoes."

A collective gasp rang through us. But before we could continue more, the teacher cleared her throat loudly and we were silent.

I had childishly hoped that it was just a freak thing, that it was just a part of my rampant imagination. But it wasn't. It came back the next night, and the night after that. Like a rooster declaring the sunrise, they came and left just before the clock struck twelve. By the third night I was almost accustomed to them, if that was even possible. But I still couldn't shake their impenetrable fear and the horrors that they whisper. Insomnia was becoming my ritual, and it tolled on me more than I can say.

I, like all the rest of the students in the dormitory, have had enough.

We've decided to stay up on midnight, in the room furthest from the door. All of us were tense and waiting for the worst. There were muffled whispers, only snatches of conversation: we were too scared to do much. The clock's hands seemed to be taking eternity, and we almost lost hope that it was ever going to reach midnight. It would've been different if that was true.

The clock finally struck. There was muffled silence as my spine liquefied with fear. And the slow, methodical rhythm of the footsteps sounded in the halls. There was complete silence in the room now. We all knew what were going to happen, but we all stifled cries of fear and surprise as the lock to the room clicked open, and the door swung open .

The shoes were there, and I almost expected there to be a person wearing them. How can a mere pair of shoes open a door? The answer was clear and apparent, yet still beyond our grasp. They just stood there, like an ordinary pair of shoes waiting to be worn. But this pair was more sinister, more ominous, and more cursed than any other shoes that one can find.

I don't know how long we stood there, but I knew we stared for a while. I don't know what the others were thinking, but I was screaming inside my head, Oh, God, why me? Why me? My eyes cursed those shoes, and the others probably did the same. We stared in silence, those first few minutes.

Then one girl, who I think was named Laura, spoke up. "I don't know what you want, but I'll do anything so you'll go away." I admired her bravery, and was silently happy. It could've been me who spoke up, me who saved us. Me who died. I was disgusted at my fervent will to live, but it was still there, emerging in this wake of fear. I couldn't let go to this world, not yet.

The shoes were still for a few moments, and then turned and walked out the door. Outside, they paused, as if signaling to Laura to follow. Almost reluctantly, she did, and then stepped into the shoes. For a split second I could have sworn that they bended to her size, because they were a perfect fit.

She gave us one last gaze, and then walked on, a puppet being pulled by its master.

Laura's body was found the next morning, hanged. They say that it's a suicide case, that she had planned it for a few months now. We know better. The same pair of shoes was on her feet, just like it had been with the other. It seemed to have cheated us, because it won't disappear and leave us. We tried everything: burning it, burying it, trying to sell it to passerby. But no one was that stupid. If they had an ounce of sense in them, they would see that this pair of shoes was just pure evil, pure malice. It was cast from hell to torture us, for a reason that I cannot comprehend.

I still hear them walking the halls, every night at midnight.