Arson colored the bricks. It was messy and hard-to read.

I stepped inside. Then a dark figure appeared out of nowhere, pushed his way in, wrapped a skillful hand around my waist, and locked the door.

What the fuck?!

I screeched, "Out! Get out!"

"Sorry for this, lovely," he muttered.

Lovely? Who was he, an old-fashioned gangster?

The lights clicked on automatically, over the mirrors. It gave the whole bathroom a harsh light, like a mad scientist lab. The empty stalls stood limp and sagging, glinting with dirty green plastic.

I shoved him off me. "Who are you?"

The man smirked in the dim light. His frame was tall and skinny, like an elegant skeleton. He reminded me of my Aunt's creepy ex-boyfriend. I stared at him, and before I could do anything, he bit into my shoulder.

It hurt. Oh, God. Oh, God...

He pushed me against the wall. The man's bony fingers felt like clamps, and they were so cold.... I shivered. A searing burn shot down my arm, like a funny bone ache in reverse. The iron smell of blood filled the air.

Then he began drinking.

I yelled out, but my voice caught in my throat. I bucked against him, but his grip turned to iron. His eyes were closed. Yet his breathing was fast, like he was getting high.

Why was his face so pale against the darkness? It was like he was a zombie. It was worse than seeing my dead grandma at her open-casket funeral.

I needed to get home. I needed him to get off. But when I opened my mouth, all that came out was a wordless scream.

It didn't perturb the man. He didn't move, and drank like he was dying of thirst. He kept his body pressed against mine. I struggled to break free. A sob rose in my chest.

I had one image in mind. That of me escaping his grip, calling the cops, and getting my well-deserved coffee.


No fucking response. My whole body was trembling. Tears welled in my eyes.

After he was done with me, what would he do? Would he pull out a knife? Start ripping off my clothes?

I struggled to claw at him, like I was his cat who needed my nails cut. The man dodged easily, shoved my arms behind my back, and pushed me backwards, still drinking. My arm throbbed like it was being lit aflame. It stung, growing brighter and hotter with every second.

An image rose in the back of my mind. I was somewhere else, somewhere above this. Floating up to the dirty ceiling... Barely hearing the rapid animal sounds, wrenched deep from my chest... Disconnected, detached, at peace...

Get off! I tried to say. But all that came out was wailing moans.

The man with lips pressed to my shoulder ignored me, like he did this every day. A dreamy half-smile was on his face. His muscles were taut, like concrete beams, and he was leaning against me, biting me, eating me...

I shivered violently, and I was back to reality again. I struggled to push him back. My gaze darted around the bathroom, head turning, as if looking for answers. The porcelain toilet and dirty sink were so far away. The tiled walls pushed against my back. Goosebumps cascaded over my whole body.

Okay. I was fine. My shoulder wasn't a part of me. The man wasn't real. He wasn't pressed against me. I fingered the scratchy brick behind me, wondering when I was going to wake up.

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