TITLE: Red Velvet Death
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
It occurred to me how stupid I looked brandishing a toilet brush while preparing to leap out at the intruder in my kitchen. The men's boxers and oversized Hello Kitty tee-shirt didn't help my cause much. I made a mental note to buy myself a baseball bat, should I live through the next few minutes. And maybe some grownup pajamas.
I'm not my brightest first thing in the morning.
I craned my neck around the corner and peered into the kitchen.
My newspaper was tented around the intruder. He hummed to himself, and a cup of coffee disappeared behind the paper. The humming paused for a sip, then resumed its tuneless refrain.
I was irritated, but also curious. I suppose I should have been more alarmed, but who breaks into a house with ill intent and stops to make coffee and read the paper? My guest turned the page, and my throat locked in mid-swallow. The chalky, bony fingers holding the edges of the San Francisco Chronicle were familiar.
I ducked my head into the hallway and leaned against the wall for support, gulping air. I knew those hands. I clutched the toilet brush as if it had the power to ward off nightmares. In the flash of a forgotten memory, I saw the hands grabbing at my closet doorframe, reaching to snatch out my eyes. My most terrifying childhood fear came back to me as the truth it was. I was five again, and monsters were real.