Helena never really liked people. In fact, being around them would make her stomach turn with anxiety and stress. It wasn’t that people themselves were a problem. It’s that they provided no guarantees of anything and Helena was nothing if not risk-averse. So, she would stay inside, day after day, avoiding human contact and maintaining her safety in her routine. The same time waking up, the same meals, the same television shows on repeat over and over, the same one drink of gin before bed, the same bedtime. It was neat and calm and predictable.
When the doorbell rang one day, then, she nearly fainted from the disruption. It was not only unexpected but unwelcome. This wasn’t like getting a phone call she had been dreading, like from the bank or anywhere else to whom she owed bills. This wasn’t even the forced contact of the few people she considered friends coming over and sharing a meal or a drink and talking about their lives which she could not relate to in the slightest. This was completely out of the blue and it shook her down to the very marrow of her bones.
With trembling in her muscles, she approached the door and asked who it was. From the other side, a voice – low, smooth, calming – responded that he was someone who knew how to help her finally get away from people. This gave her pause. Not because it was a stranger, but because she had rarely shared her desires with anyone. Not even her friends knew. For him to somehow know that she wanted to be truly isolated, free from social obligations and niceties, was concerning and yet…something in his voice relaxed her and she opened the door.
He was tall and slim and dark in every way one could imagine. He smiled at her when he saw her and brilliant white teeth glinted down at her. He introduced himself as a Mr. Berry and told her that he solved problems that most people were unable to tell anyone else. He explained how he had heard of her concerns through a friend of a friend of a friend that he had helped long ago and that she was not the first to need his gentle hand. He asked if he could come in and she agreed.
Over the next couple hours, she explained, using her voice more than she had in years, her desire to really be alone and he nodded sympathetically. He knew all too well her feelings but had found a way to bring them to life. Relieved, she smiled and he asked if he could have some coffee. When she stood up to get some, he placed a hand on her head and everything went black.
When she awoke, she was confused as she could not see anything or hear anything. Had he done what he promised? How could she be truly alone?
That’s when she reached up and felt the wood of the coffin lid.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.