It was late and Casey was tired since she had to cover Alicia’s shift who didn’t turn up for work.
She didn’t blame her. Making burgers all night wasn’t exactly fun but after college Casey needed a quick job and this was as good as any.
And it was walking distance to her apartment.
Her eyes watched the clock.
Just a few minutes to go and she’d be done.
The store was unusually empty and it was dark outside. Her eyes kept focusing on a busted street light that flickered on and off.
Every time it flickered she tapped the counter, gradually forming a beat.
As she went went cleaning up the tables she tapped out a song in her head.
It wasn’t much, but enough to pass the time.
“See you tomorrow, Casey” said Mac.
She smiled as she went into the back room to get her stuff.
Mac was an odd manager and a little creepy. Sometimes she felt him staring at her when she worked.
When she looked over - while most people would avert their eyes - Mac didn’t. He kept staring at her.
While it was a little unsettling Casey chalked it up to Mac just being socially awkward. And considered him a harmless giant.
Casey grabbed her coat and walked out into the cold.
It was a dark November night and she wanted to get home quickly.
Her eyes scanned the parking lot.
While in the day it bustled with activity at night everything went quiet.
It was practically empty, a few cars here and there.
As she crossed through the lot her eyes went ahead to the short-cut she’d often take.
To use it you went around the backs of the stores and then quickly through some trees -which would get you onto the main road in half the time.
Behind the stores at this time of night was certainly…a challenge.
No one would ever be there since it was only used for shipping and receiving and that ended once the other stores closed.
There were a few places people could hide but Casey was always very vigilant and aware of her safety.
She maintained a hand in one pocket, carrying a small knife should she encounter anything…unfriendly.
She walked thought the parking lot at a brisk pace. But before she got to the back of the first store she stopped.
On the edge of the parking lot was a dark van.
It appeared empty, possibly abandoned.
It’s windshield was cracked and front tires appeared deflated.
Growing up she always took her mom’s advice to avoid these vans.
Especially in crowded supermarket parking lots.
She knew too easily someone could be in there waiting to pull her in.
Her eyes glanced at it’s darkened windows.
It was almost certainly abandoned.
Was it worth her turning around and taking the long way home?
Because someone had dumped a van here?
Other thoughts ran through her head.
What if a killer put the van here so she went one way…and that’s where the killer was really hiding?
She shuddered at the thought.
Something was unsettling about it and she always followed the one advice her mom gave her, if anything creeps you out just walk away.
And walk away quickly.
The wind picked up. It was fierce, whistling around her. Time to go. she turned and…
Spun around, quickly to notice the van swaying.
Hold on…had she just heard someone call for help or was that the wind?
She couldn’t really tell as the wind roared loudly now, beating up against her and the van.
Casey…you’ve already made the decision to leave…get out of there…
Casey’s eyes focused intently on the van. It did just move, right?
Or was it the just the wind?
For a moment, as if on command, the wind mellowed…and the van swayed again.
“HELLO?” shouted Casey. ”HELLO?”
The van lay silent.
No one answered.
I’m pretty sure it was the wind and my imagination Casey kept telling herself…but…but what if it wasn’t.
What if someone was in there and needed help?
Why aren’t they answering me? If there’s someone in there…they’d answer me.
So what if someone is in there trying to draw me closer…what if some killer was whispering
“help” to draw me closer?
Hundreds of things rushed through her mind all at once.
The wind had now died down completely and the van swayed again.
Someone or something was definitely in there.
Then…a whine rippled through the silence.
A pleading, begging high pitched whine that sounded like please rescue me.
It’s a dog?
There’s a dog in there?
The van again lay silent.
She was so focused on the van she hadn’t noticed a large figure coming up behind her.
Just then she felt someone else’s presence and turned quickly. She jumped back in shock…
as Mac overtook her, carrying a bowl of water.
“Sorry, Casey. Sorry.”
He approached the van.
She remained in her place.
“I found this dog but don’t know what to do with him. They won’t let me keep pets at the home.”
Mac approached the back door of the van and took out some keys.
“You want to see him?” He waved her over.
Casey stepped forward, then stopped.
No, no, no Casey. This is…there is…something wrong here.
I don’t know what it is for sure…but listen to yourself…don’t go over there. Don’t get lured in by a cute dog.
That’s death avoidance 101.
“Nah, I have to get home”
Mac opened the back of the van.
Suddenly a little black dog raced out and ran right up to Casey.
He warmly licked her face.
“ahhh…he’s so cute” said Casey.
“You want him? I can’t keep him. I didn’t know what else to do but keep him out here.”
The dog wagged his tail, happy for Casey’s affection.
“He have a name?”
“Cute name” said Casey.
Just there and then she made a decision.
“Yeah, I’ll take him.”
Mac smiled, leaned into the van and pulled out an empty drinking bowl and leash.
He handed them to Casey.
She leashed him.
“You’re really ok with this? So i can just have him?”
“Please do” replied Mac. “He’s a good guard dog.”
Casey and Kruger walked off - taking the long way home.
Tonight had been a good night…for both her and for Kruger.
It only wasn’t a good night for the girl…who was tied up in the back of Mac’s van:
Alicia, who hadn’t gone to work that night and who had cried for help.
Mac closed the doors and watched Casey disappear into the night with Kruger.
Maybe one day it would be Casey’s turn to visit inside his van…
If you would like to see/hear this one narrated, you can by clicking here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty06Dr2f70w