Note: Victoria Lemmings and Nathan Herring wrote this story together from the perspectives of the two characters. This version should be read before Nathan Herring's version.
The scent of burnt goey cheese and cheap tomato sauce wafts through the still night air as I make my way up the cracked cement sidewalk. As I approach the gloomy house before me, I contemplate how much I hate my job. Delivering low quality pizza to hyperactive children was not how I thought I’d end up spending my life. But walking up the creaky steps towards the large house before me, I can’t help but noticing this is not the normal adolescent birthday party which I’m catering to. The windows are cracked in some places, revealing an inner space that’s black and desolate. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that nobody lived in this strange abode. For a moment, I catch a glimpse of a man standing ominously in the upstairs window, staring down. Feeling uneasy, I ring the dusty doorbell and wait anxiously.
I tap my foot incessantly in anticipation. I peel away at the dead skin around my thumb nails, still waiting. No one comes to the door. My eyes wander to the rocking chair next to the door, and I observe how it rocks back and forth, as though by the breeze. That’s funny, I think to myself, the night is without a puff of wind. Suddenly, the door finally creaks open, revealing a dark room with a large, peculiar lump centering the foyer. Stepping into the inner premises, I try to take in my surroundings, scanning for an owner of the house. To the right, I can see outlines of old wooden furniture and fancy grand piano. I enter in further, crouching down to examine the odd item in the middle of the hallway. With the limited light supply, I find it hard to determine exactly what it is. With a sickening sinking feeling in my stomach, I feel myself grasp stringy human hair. That which lies before me is a dead body.
In a horrified daze, my eyes dart around the room, looking for an explanation. This must be a dream, I think to myself. I slap my face to perhaps snap out of my delusions. But it’s not a dream. I drop the cardboard box containing the cheap pizza and breadsticks and fumble around for my cell phone. The thought that I need to call the police is the only thing clouding my brain. But more importantly than that, I realize I need to get out of this house. Terror seizes my body as the room starts spinning. All of a sudden, the sound of a stranger breathing heavily consumes my ears. I’m starting to see spots. Before I know what’s happening, everything goes black.
What might be minutes or even hours later, I wake up with my legs strapped to a cold metal chair and a massive headache. My fingers rush to my poor head to find a tender lump wet with sticky blood. I can’t quite make out my surroundings, but I can hear a faucet dripping water somewhere to my left. After moments upon moments of waiting, a young man appears next to the dripping faucet, holding the slightly battered cardboard box of pizza that I was carrying before. He smiles a wicked grin, baring crooked grey teeth. He strolls up to me until he’s standing inches away from my face.
“David Stranford. Well, well, well. Fancy seeing you here,” he giggles menacingly. His breath smells of onion rings, causing my stomach to clench. I don’t know whether this is from the stench or the fear. In a terrified blur, I wonder how he knows my name. Earlier, I left my ruby red official name tag in the parked pizza car upon walking up to the house. “You deliver pizzas,” he sneers, again flashing his less than attractive smile. “In fact, you’ve been delivering pizzas for twelve years.”
At this point, I do the only rational thing I can think to do- I start screaming. Loudly. My desperate yells are to no prevail, though, because I instantly know that there is nobody around to hear my cries. The room we’re in is wide and deep, so my screams echo aimlessly. My voice goes horse and cracks with terror as I quiet down, fearing what the obviously mentally unstable man will do next.
“At my tenth birthday party, you brought us pizza. That was supposed to be the biggest day of my life. Anna Jones was at that party. Do you know how big of a crush I had on Anna Jones? Do you!?” he huffs at me. In his heated speech he seems to lose control of his facial features, his eyes rolling back into his head and his mouth salivating with rage. I frantically pulled at my leg binds, aiming to free myself from this disastrous situation. I don’t possibly understand what he could be getting at.
“The pizza you gave us at my tenth birthday party gave us food poisoning. Betchya didn’t know that, did you? Anna Jones threw up six times that afternoon. She went home crying. You ruined my chances with her with your filthy, disgusting pizza. And now, this is me getting revenge.”
All of a sudden, a memory comes flooding back to me. It was my first summer working for the pizza joint. I was so excited that I’d been the first out of my friends to get a job, especially at our favorite local restaurant. My first few weeks of work had been cut short, however, when we were forced to shut down for almost five days as a result of unsafe mold in our cooking supplies. There was a nasty lawsuit against us for all the food poisonings we caused, but we eventually got out of it and returned to producing our usually slightly subpar food.