White Walker: Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Reaching the hallway her resolve broke, the tears she had been holding back flowed freely, and her vision became blurred as she slipped into the women’s bathroom.  Liz was at the mirror applying makeup when Judy entered. Judy crossed behind her and vanished into the last stall, closing and locking the door behind her. Sitting down on the toilet, she let her emotions take over, allowing the tears to flow freely as she blew her nose on toilet tissue. 

“Are you all right, sweetie?”  Liz asked from outside the stall. “Did you and Teddy have a fight?”

“I’m okay,” Judy said as she struggled to get her emotions back under control. A feat that was becoming more and more difficult as her pregnancy progressed. Thankfully the company provided health insurance and she had used it for her initial doctor visits. Physically she and the baby would be fine. Emotionally, at least for her, was another matter.

“Do you want me to get you anything?” Liz said.

“I’m all right. I’ll be out soon.”

“Are you sure?”

“Just let me get myself together here.”

“If you need anything, just shout.”

“I will,” she said as she took a deep breath and tried to gather her thoughts. She had surprised herself when she walked out on Teddy. The idea had come to her when she followed him into the break room. At the time it had really been nothing more than a what if. But when he started talking about their relationship she realized she had to do something to prove, if only to herself, if they really had something or if it was just a passing fancy. A fling that had lasted for a little more than a year. She was confident that what she felt for Teddy was love.

The door opened and she steeled herself for more probing questions from Liz, or heaven forbid, Teddy.

The soft sound of footsteps came from the room beyond the stall door. From somewhere in her past came the remembered sound of footsteps crunching through the snow. She didn’t know where the memory came from, but with it came a chilling fear accompanied by the sound of a dog barking.

The footsteps stopped right in front of the stall she occupied. On the floor, visible beneath the door, lay a shadow that filled her with fear.

He has returned. The thought whispered in her mind and she cringed as the shadow moved closer, accompanied by slow, measured, footsteps crunching through the snow. Cold air filled the stall around her, chilling her flesh, and she hugged herself to stay warm. It was as if someone had opened a window, letting a wintry wind into the warm interior of the bathroom.

The shadow got closer as the chill deepened, bleeding across the floor under the door to the stall, slowly consuming the light as it drew closer to her feet. She lifted her feet from the floor, pulling her knees up under her chin as the shadows spread across the tile like a black stain.

She was only dimly aware of the door opening. Of footsteps moving crisply across the tiled floor.

“Are you all right?” Liz said, breaking the spell she had fallen under. The shadows retreated and the chill flowed away from her. She struggled to catch her breath, not really sure if what had just happened had been real or the product of all the stress she had been under lately.

“I’m okay,” she said, trying to disguise the shakiness in her voice. The footsteps had awakened an old memory from when she was a child. One she had successfully locked away from the cold light of reality. Her dog Charlie had become lost one winter’s morning. He’d been found shortly afterwards, but the details were fuzzy at best, and try as she might, she couldn’t recall anything more about what had happened that day.

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