“Ahhh!” The alarm sounded just before the killer struck. “Oops! Forgot to take out the trash. Better get to it now. I’ll run out of time again in the morning…” She paused the movie on a disturbing still, dragged the trash can to the door, put on a heavy coat and boots, placed her keys and mace in her right coat pocket, grabbed the trash bag with her left hand, and left her comfortable apartment.
Apartment door locked. Rattled to confirm. Clipped key’s lanyard to the coat.
She tried to be quiet walking down the two flights of stairs. It was already late and everyone else in the apartment building was probably asleep. She wasn’t going to tiptoe… just a slower pace than normal.
The moon lit everything and there was a chill.
She found the stick near the dumpster and used it to prop the lid open. The scent of the remains of that afternoon’s barbecue escaped, after stewing outside during the beating of the waning fall sun.
Threw the trash. Closed the lid with a crash. Then a hurried dash.
She passed a soiled napkin as she cut across the grass. Probably wasn’t hers, and besides, she was just about at the end of the movie and then she could go to bed. Didn’t have to wake up early tomorrow, but still.
Climbed the stairs. Unlocked the door. Entered, quickly locked.
She unclipped the lanyard from her coat and placed both it and the mace in the dish on the table. Hung up her coat. Took off her boots. Breathed a sigh of relief as she went to the kitchen to wash her hands.
A TERRIBLE BANG. Turned faucet off. Waited for anything.
Nothing had changed in the apartment. The movie was still paused moments before the victim met his fate. Forgot to trash the half-eaten dinner on the coffee table. She instinctively walked toward the mace.
MORE TERRIBLE BANGING. The door dented with each impact.
“Who’s there?! What do you want?” The silence was overwhelming and then a child’s voice called out. “Excuse me, miss! You dropped your napkin. I know it’s not much, but we learned in class to pick up our messes!”
The banging continued. The door collapsed under the pressure.
Standing on the shattered door was a child with an innocent smile. The glowing child held out the same soiled napkin with her left hand. “Yes, yes, I’m so sorry… can you dispose of it for me, dearest?”
The ghostly child considered that momentarily.
“Will you give me a tree-t? How about a toy-?” Surveying the room: “Would you like to finish watching this movie with me? We can start from the beginning if you’d like. It’s one of my favorites.”
“Thanks! But Mummy says it’s past my bedtime!”
The ghost disappeared. The horror fanatic lifted the fallen door back into place, barricaded it, then went to bed. Late the next morning, she politely knocked on her neighbor’s door.
“Oh, she visited you, too?”