Summary: A young woman's rash decision leads to deadly consequences.
The roads damp, the air muggy, I drive, north I think. It does not really matter. My only desire is to get away, as far and as quickly as possible. I pass by thick fields of grass on the dirt road, the sun sinking down on my left, it's burning shine in my eye.
The road bumps makes my stomach squirm but I try to ignore it. I did not always suffer carsickness before this. My eyes move down to the rounded lump that is my stomach. This little lump is the reason I must put my dreams on hold. Instead of moving forward to becoming an actress, I must work double shifts at the Olive Garden, the place I now call my death sentence. I once hoped to escape that fate, but now I am stuck. I am only twenty years of age. My life cannot be over yet.
Don't worry, Ali. I'll always be there right by your side, Parker's voice echoes in my mind. I let out a hollow laugh. Now residing at Virginia Tech on a football scholarship, he has likely forgotten what he left resting in my belly. This is my burden to bear while he goes on to live out his dreams. What of my dreams?
"Damn this thing," I mutter under my breath. I feel a twinge of guilt at my coldness to it, but it has caused me so much loneliness and despair. I want to get rid of it and put this all behind me, but my parents as well as the Virginian laws both place an obstacle in my path. Mom says this state required you to have an ultrasound. That's the last thing I need. My parents are strong advocates for Pro-Life. They would never forgive me if I did what I wanted to do, and perhaps even disown me.
I drive by a flowered sign, baring the words, 'Welcome to Maryland.' The sun has long since vanished. At this point I may as well find a motel and drive home tomorrow. I glance at the time and realize I have been driving for over three hours. Since my gas tank is low, I take an exit off the main highway onto a side rode. By the exit rode rests a sign with a red cross. The paint appears to be chipping and the corners look rusty. I wonder if that hospital is even there.
I follow the side road, which leads to a small building. In front of it stands another hospital sign just like the one on the highway though this one appeared more chipped and unkempt. Curiously, I pull into the parking lot, filled with less than ten cars. Surely this could not be an actual hospital. I park the car and walk in. The inside is empty. The hall is bright but the place still has a dark eerie feeling.
My bones jump as I gasp and turn around. Suddenly, I feel ridiculous, as I had walked right past the reception desk with no notice.
A woman with platinum blonde hair and a broad smile greeted me. "How may I assist you?"
I take in a breath, glancing around the area. "Is this really a hospital?"
She smiles and nods. "It may be one of the smallest in Maryland, but yes, we are a hospital." She leans in closer to me, her tone dropping. "We are kind of like a safe haven for those in trouble or have lost their way. We offer anything they need and absolutely do not judge."
I study her eyes. "Anything?"
She nods, sincerely. "Yes, my dear, anything. My name is Jan, by the way. So what can I sign you up for?"
My body begins to shudder but I feel no chill. I take in a lengthy inhale as my head tilts down to the bump down below.
I then look up into Jan's eyes and ask, "Can you get this thing out of me?"
Nineteen years brush by in what seems like only months. I am still stuck waitressing at the Olive Garden. I did land one commercial when I was twenty-five, but that came and went instead of forming a long acting career.
"Ali!" Jenna, the other waitress on, calls out as she rushes over to me, while I am wiping the table. "You forgot your tip."
"Thanks," I say, talking the $1.75. I then let out a grunt remember this table. "Their bill was over $50 and this is the tip?"
Jenna shrugs. "People are terrible these days. I really need to land that record deal soon."
I force a smile. Jenna wants to be a singer. I do hope she can. God forbid, she ends up stuck here like me.
"Have you seen the news?" Jenna asked, holding up a paper she found on the table. "Apparently a guy was strangled in his hotel room. The hotel is only a couple blocks away from here."
"Really?" I gasp and take the paper. "That's terrible. Have they caught the killer?"
Jenna shakes her head. "No, there was no sign of a break in or any struggle at all. The door was still locked from the inside and it had no sign of damage. Pretty scary, huh?"
"I'll say," I mutter. Murders can be pretty scary these days. It's amazing the things people get away with.
After I set the newspaper down, I glance across the room towards a table at the corner. A young girl, who appears not even twenty, sits there alone, reading the menu.
I sigh. "I guess I'll get the next one."
Jenna nods, not even bothering to turn around. "That's fine."
Still feeling a bit shaken up from the murder, I gradually approach the table, trying to push my emotions behind me. This girl appears young. I have no wish to frighten her with a murder story.
"Hello," I greet gently. "My name is Ali and I will be your waitress today. What can I get you started with?
The girl looks up and brushes her long blonde hair behind her shoulders. "Um, I haven't really decided. What would you recommend?"
"Well, our pasta is pretty good," I reply. "Do you like Chicken Alfredo?"
The girl shrugs, shyly. "I don't know. I never really had any kind of pasta."
"Really?" I look at her in utter shock. "Didn't your mother ever make you pasta growing up?"
She shook her head, playing with the ends of her hair. "I don't have a mother."
I frown, thrown off by her response. She must have had a mother at some point. I wanted to ask what happened and who she grew up with, but that would not be appropriate here.
The girl looks up at me. "Sorry, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
I shake my head and smile. "No worries. You know what, I will get you the Chicken Alfredo. I bet you will enjoy it. What would you like to drink?"
"Do you have milk?" she asks.
I nod, jotting her order down. "I'll be right back with that. If there is anything else I can get you, please let me know."
After I bring the girl back her milk, she smiles. "Thank you." As I begin to walk away, she calls, "Hey, before you leave can I ask you something?"
I turn around. "Of course."
She puts her elbows on the table and looks at me. "Do you know if they are hiring anyone here? You see, I just moved into town and I'm looking for some work."
"I honestly don't know," I reply. "You know what, I can talk to my manager later today and see what he says. I'll even put in a good word for you."
"You're so kind," she says.
I smile and ask, "What is your name?"
"Carissa," she answers.
"Carissa," I repeat vaguely, "You know, if I had a daughter I would have… never mind. Where are you staying, Carissa?"
"Hilcrest Hotel," she replies. "It's not far from here."
I look down at her in terror. "Didn't you hear about what happened there last night? Shouldn't you try to find somewhere else to stay?"
Carissa shakes her head. "No, that's the only one I can afford now."
I take in a deep breath. "Well, my apartment has an extra guest room. If you want you to stay with me tonight."
"Oh, no," she smiles but shakes her head. "I couldn't impose like that. I think it will be okay. The security has extended greatly as of today."
"Well," I pull out a piece of paper and a pen to write, "if you change your mind, please give me a call. You seem to young to be by yourself in a place like that."
Carissa took the paper. "Thank you."
"I'm going to go check on your food now."
As I walk away, I could not help but hope Carissa does call or drop by. It would be indeed too dangerous to stay in a hotel by yourself where a mysterious murder took place. For some reason I cannot explain, I feel strangely protective of this girl.
As I head to the kitchen, a familiar gruff man catches my eye. I step closer in his direction and realize I have seen him before, many years ago.
"Parker?" I ask, uncertainly, looking into his eyes. "Is that you?"
"Ali?" He smiles, as relief appears to swarm across his face. "I was hoping I would find you here."
He steps forward and hugs me. I return the embrace, but I am the first to step away.
"It is good to see you again, Parker," I say, trying to conceal by apprehension, "but why, after all this time, why are you looking for me now?"
He speaks in a hushed tone as he replies, "I need to talk to you. You heard about the murder, in the hotel, right?" As I nod, he continues, "Well, the guy that was murdered was a friend of mine. We switched rooms at the last minute. I think I was the one that was supposed to be murdered!"
"Why would you say that?" I ask, observing the beads of sweat on his forehead.
He shakes his head and looks down. "I've been having nightmares lately, about her?"
"What do you mean?" I press on. "Who are you dreaming about?"
He grasps my shoulders, looking me directly in the eye. "Our daughter, Ali. The one we should have had!"
I break free and take a step back. "Parker, I think you need to find somebody to talk to."
"You wouldn't have done, would you?" he rants on, wiping the sweat off his forehead. "Not if I had been there for you. Its my fault!"
"Parker," I motion my hand towards a nearby table, "Why don't you sit down. I can bring you some water." I look over to Carissa, who still sits alone with her milk. "I really need to go check on her food."
Parker looks over to her table and his eyes spread wide in terror. "You see her too! The night Rob died, I saw her, but no one else could. Rob thought I was insane when I tried to point her out."
Rob's theory seems to have a fair amount of evidence. Parker appears to have completely lost his mind. I tell him I'll be right back. I try to think of what to do. Should I call the police? Parker could be a threat. Perhaps he was the one who murdered his friend.
Still thinking about what I should do, I go to the kitchen to check on Carissa's food, which is still not ready. I decide to go tell her it will probably be out in a few minutes. However, once I spot her table, I find she is gone. At first, I assume she just went to use the restroom, but fifteen minutes pass by and she has still made no appearance.
I check the restroom, which is empty. Where could she have gone? I go back out and look at the table in wonder. Other than the glass of milk, which appears as though it had not been touched, there is no sign anyone was even there.
I sit alone in my apartment, thinking of today's events. I wonder what happened to Carissa. She likely got a call for something and had to abruptly leave. That would be the most logical explanation. Parker also took off without even staying for his water. I wonder where he is now.
I hear a light rapping on my door. When I go to answer it, I see Carissa.
"Hi Ali," she says. "I decided to take you up on your offer. I hope you don't mind."
"No, of course not." I open the door wider. "Come in. What happened to you earlier today?"
"Oh, sorry about that," she says as she walks in. "I got a call from the hotel. Apparently, I forgot to check out before the deadline so I had to go straighten that out. I hope I didn't cause too much trouble."
I smiled. "Oh no, you didn't. The bus boy was pretty happy about the free food."
Carissa laughs as she drops her bag by the hallway and walks towards the couch.
"Can I get you something to drink?" I ask. "I don't really have much here. Do you like soda?"
Carissa sits down and looks up at me. "Actually, do you have any milk?"
"Yeah," I reply. "Is 1% okay?"
As she nods, I walk into my tiny kitchen. I then hear another rapping on the door, this time more urgent. I go to answer it, this time finding Parker.
"Ali, I need to talk to you," he insists. "Please, it's important!"
"What is it?" I ask, keeping the door open just a crack.
"Can I come in, please?" he begs.
I shake my head. "Parker, I don't think that is a good idea. Just wait here. I'll bring you a bottle of water."
Parker slams his hand on the door, pushing it open. "Ali, please!" His eyes grow big once he catches sight of Carissa sitting on the sofa. "Why did you invite her in, Ali? She wants us both dead!"
"Parker, you are not making any sense." I try to push the door close. "I think you need help. I'm going to find you someone, okay? Just wait here."
I shut the door and lock it. Parker continues to bang on it, screaming my name.
I walk straight to the phone and begin to call the police. The only thing that stops me is just before I dial the last digit, the banging ceases. I set the phone down and walk into my living room. Carissa is gone. I slowly step towards the front door, which has been pushed open, an arm lingering by it. I take in a breath and open the door. In feel Parker's body. I screamed, jumping back. Around his neck is what looks like a bloody flesh string that strangled him. It reminded me of an umbilical chord.
I push the door closed and cover my mouth. Tears burned in my eyes.
"Mother," a soft voice calls.
I walk back into my living room to find Carissa standing by the fireplace.
I wipe the tears from my face and stare at her in horror. "You did this, didn't you? You killed him."
She merely nods, her cold crystal blue eyes reflecting mine.
"Why?" I demand in a choked voice. "Who are… what are you?"
"I am your daughter," Carissa answers, "the one you should have had."
I gasp, my hand flying over my mouth. "But how is that possible?"
"Well, since I was never really born, I never died either," she explains. "My soul has been trapped in Limbo all this time. I grow up all alone, unable to reach anyone, without a mother or father."
Parker was right. This is our fault, my fault really. What have I done?
Carissa continues, "Every so often we are able to cross over to extract revenge."
"That is why you are here," I conclude, looking horrified at the door, "First Parker, and now…"
As my words trail off, Carissa takes a dangerous step towards me.
"Carissa, please!" I beg, as the tears returned. "I am so sorry about what I did! I didn't mean for you… I didn't think…"
"That is just the thing," Carissa says, taking another step closer to me as I step back. "The mothers never think about us, only themselves. They don't care. Everyday I have nightmares of the tube sucking the life out of me!"
I keep stepping back until I feel a bump. I realize I am by the window. I glance down. I am at the 7th floor.
I turn back to Carissa. "Please, just give me a chance. Maybe there is something I can do to make it right."
She shakes her head. "There is nothing you can do now. What's done is done and now you must pay the price."
Carissa shoots her hand forward in my direction. I feel a gust of chilled wind push me through the window. My heart gives a sharp jolt as I begin to fall. I look to Carissa. The last image that I see before I fall is eyes, the same blue eyes as mine.
A/N: Hey guys, thanks for reading! I just want to take a moment to explain that this was just a random creepy idea I had. I am not trying to scare people into pro-life. If you have had an abortion, you are probably not going to be haunted by the vengeful spirit of the fetus. Just saying. Don't let this story influence a big decision like that.