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After Hours Italian Restaurant

by BP | Score: 5700

The flaps of the box lay open. Janine rose onto her toes and leaned forward. She tried peering into the box, but all she could make out was darkness. Strange, she thought. Without any lights on she expected the inside of the box to be dark. She didn't expect to be able to make out exactly what was inside. But there was enough light that she should have been able to see something. Instead it was as if the box contained nothing. No, that wasn't right. The box wasn't empty. Rather, it was filled with a very real, very tangible nothingness.

Her toes digging into the ends of her shoes, Janine pushed herself to go a little higher, inch a littler closer. Pain shot through her big toe and her balanced crumbled. Stumbling, she fell forward and had to reach out her hands to catch herself against the table to keep from falling. The impact forced the metal legs to scrape across the floor. A shiver shot through Janine's body. Her ears felt like they'd call off.

The metal of the table felt cool against her hands and for a moment she allowed herself to stand there and catch her breath. It felt like she had been on the move nonstop the past few days. Work, school, her parents nagging her to do...everything. And then there was Gino. Would she ever get the courage to speak to him?

It didn't matter. She'd been stupid to come here. At night the pizzeria felt cold and alien. Absent the hustle and bustle of the work day every corner and backroom had an aura of menace to it. Anyone could be hiding there, their backs against a wall, crouched behind a stack of boxes, watching, waiting.

Another chill and this time the cool metal of the table offered no comfort. You're going to drive yourself crazy one of these days. Shaking her head, Janine/Teresa zipped her coat back up and headed for the door.

Funny. A faint whooshing noise, like a distant wind rustling leaves, stopped Teresa dead in her tracks. None of the windows were open. She'd seen to that before leaving earlier that day. And yet, there it was, the distinct sound of wind. Or maybe some appliance, humming with energy because someone had forgotten to turn it off.

No. She would've noticed if anything was on. And yet, there it was. That sound.

Grabbing the ends of her coat, Teresa flapped the ends. It had gotten noticeably hotter in the kitchen. hadn't it? Or was that her imagination again?

Turning back toward the kitchen, Teresa leaned her head forward, stifled her breathing, and listened.

Yes. There was a sound. But she'd been wrong, it wasn't wind. Wind came and went. This was far too consistent. The refrigerator, she wondered.

Stepping to her side she pressed herself against the giant box like it was an old friend. Like the table, the coolness of the metal comforted her and for a moment she wanted to rip her jacket off and press her entire body against it.

How had it gotten so hot? A moment ago she'd been perfectly fine and now she was all but melting.

Could it be the stove? Racing across the room, she approached the stove but quickly stopped in her tracks. Further into the kitchen there was less light. And now that she was there, she could feel it all around her. Like a terrible shroud falling on either side of her, encompassing her, cutting her off from the rest of the world. 

Slowly, she took a step backwards. Then another. Had she simply checked the stove then left she would not have noticed it. But passing by as slowly as she was, she could not help but notice the sound. It was louder here. More distinct.

Without thinking she closed her eyes. A small sound like a hiccup escaped her throat, but she ignored it. She wouldn't be satisfied if she didn't figure out what that sound was or where it was coming from. Scrunching up her face, Teresa concentrated hard on cutting out all other distractions while she tried to zero in on the source of the sound.

Realization came to her at once. Like a stranger's breathe suddenly crashing into the back of her neck, she knew. The box. Her head turned without her permission and soon the rest of her body followed. Something beckoned her toward it. The darkness she had seen earlier could not have been real. Could not exist within a simple cardboard box that Gino had taken in for a delivery man. Space could be that dark. Ancient catacombs. Not a simple box.

Cold. It shot up her arms from her fingertips. She was holding the table. Funny, a moment ago she couldn't imagine the room getting any hotter, and now the walk-in freezer would feel like a sauna.

Peeling her hands back, Teresa rezipped her coat and resolved to leave. She'd already wasted too much time here and if she wasted anymore then she didn't deserve to see Gino.

As she turned to leave, the sound Teresa had been hearing stopped. As if a hand had pressed some silent button, the sound simply shutoff. In its place, the silence seemed even deeper. Had she ever truly heard silence like this before? Silence this profound?

Teresa's breathe reverberated in her ears and the cold she had noticed before had spread throughout the room. She shivered.

The box. Had its flaps just moved? That must be what it is, she thought. A draft. There's a draft from the fan. That would explain the sound and the cold. The heat had turned on, but once the place got nice and toasty it shut off. But since the  

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Location A pizzeria
Words Reach 300 words
Letter Use the letter V
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words

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