Justin Rutherford: The Night Softly Whispers

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Justin Rutherford, with muddy brown tousled hair, sat alone in the staff cafeteria at the Pandora Café. He stared out of the window, peering into the darkness of the night with only his reflection looking back at him. He raised his hand to his scattered fringe and adjusted it to a tidier look.

For once in his life, he was annoyed with his own baby-faced appearance. He was lean and good-looking, and prided himself in the knowledge that he had a warm heart, despite the negativity that always seemed to follow him. When he started to lower his hand, he stopped and hovered it over the red mark on his cheek.

'Why do you have to be so annoying?' he asked himself, feeling the tears well up in his eyes. He was so deep in thought that he couldn't hear the noises around him. The lights were dim and the cafeteria was large, which was strange considering his place of work was only a café. To have a big cafeteria was pointless, though it had been explained to him hundreds of times that the café used to be a restaurant. There used to be a lot of staff before Claire and Frank Watson bought the place and turned it into the Lakefield View number-one hotspot.

Justin wished to be somewhere else right now. His eyes traced along the outlines of the shapes he could make out through the window. The bridge, connecting Meadow Falls to the main town of Lakefield View, lay quiet, with only one or two cars passing at a time. They were mainly heading away from Meadow Falls, escaping the neighbourhood like Justin had been longing for. Only an hour left on his shift and then he would be able to go. He wasn't sure whether he wanted to go back home or not. Various conflicting emotions prevented Justin from coming back with a clear answer. He looked at the text he received earlier on his phone again. 'I'm sorry.'

Justin slammed his phone screen-down on the table. He groaned as he ran his fingers through his hair, messing it up again. He was supposed to be off his break by now, but he couldn't find it in himself to stand. Instead, he looked around the empty cafeteria.

The locker room door was open, allowing him to see into the spacious room and into the showers. He could hear the dripping of water from one of the showers that had previously been used by his colleague, Eric Watson, son of the owners of the café. Eric was doing a full day, which Justin felt terrible for considering he was late that afternoon and Eric had to cover. Eric was a gentleman, and at least he had Tiffany Hawkins to entertain him.

But Justin kept replaying the moment over in his head, the terrible moment his boyfriend struck him across the face. It was the most shocking and painful thing he had ever experienced. It had never happened before. It came completely out of nowhere. They had been arguing over Hunter's parents, for some unfathomable reason. Justin wasn't sure why Hunter struck him, but he blamed himself. Justin didn't feel his happy-go-lucky self anymore.

His eyes rolled up to the window one final time before going back to work. Something looked back at him. Justin yelled out in fright and shot up from his seat, knocking it to the floor. His heart hammered against his already fragile chest. He could see a strange-looking face, barely an inch from the window, and noticed the steam from the man's nostrils fog up the window. Justin was now questioning whether it was even a man, when a talon found its way to the glass and scratched down the window. Its facial features were certainly human-like, but its yellow piercing eyes and sharp jagged teeth gave away the true identity of this stranger. It was a creature of the night. The outline was becoming clearer and Justin could see that the thing was huge.

The door to the cafeteria swung open with a bang. Justin's heart dropped; he thought that the monster had a friend who had made its way in to eat him. His heart rose with relief when he saw Christina Mayer walk in, changing her casual expression to a one of concern.

'Justin, are you okay?' she asked. Justin returned to look at the window, but the monster had vanished. Justin didn't reply right away; instead he waited until Christina had reached him before acknowledging her question.

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