Amazing story from a talented learner at ILC

‘A Peculiar Encounter’

I hummed a melody to myself while I washed my hands thoroughly before drying them off on my jeans and opening the door to leave the bathroom.

But when I opened the door, I was met with an unnerving sight.

There stood a woman wearing a hospital gown. She had faint wrinkles around her eyes but I couldn’t help but notice how similar this stranger looked to me. The same blue eyes but more dull, the same red hair but more tangled, she had all the facial features that I thought made me unique.

However, the most notable thing about her was the blood… She was covered in crimson red blood. Some of it had already dried, but on her face was a large amount of fresh blood.

Drip… Drip… Drip… She continued to stare into my soul while the blood dripped down her face, painting her. The bright white lights coming from the gas station illuminated her from behind and the more I looked the more my head began to hurt.

“Are you okay?” I asked innocently, trying and likely failing to mask how disturbed I was. Who wouldn’t be?

The woman stopped staring at me and began looking around, her body stiff and her movements clumsy like a baby deer trying to walk for the first time.

“Do you need an ambulance?” I slowly began to pull my phone from my bag, my hands were noticeably shaky as I did

“Marie…”

The lady’s voice was croaky but soft at the same time, It sounded like she was dehydrated or even just tired. Hell, she was covered in blood. Dehydration must be the least of her concerns.

I raised an eyebrow. “Who’s Marie?” I assumed that ‘Marie’ was a friend or family member she wanted me to call for her, but…

“You…” She grabbed me with her limited strength and pulled me into some kind of embrace. “My daughter… Marie.”

I pushed her off of me, gently since I didn’t want to hurt her, and called for an ambulance. “Hello…? Yes I’m at a gas station right now and this lady- I think she’s drunk or something, she seems injured…”

Her face went pale and she began to panic, she then smacked the phone out of my hand before clinging onto me again. “Stop it, Marie… You’re safe with me now.”

My patience wearing thin, I pushed her off of me more forcefully this time. “Listen I don’t know who you are, but my name isn’t Marie.” My annoyance leaked out of my voice, but I did my best to keep calm. “You’re clearly drunk and I want you to leave me alone.”

The woman bitterly shook her head. “They tried to take you from me… But you’re here now. I’m here now.” Her voice was calm as she smiled at me weakly.

I briefly considered if this was a prank, but the distress in her voice seemed too genuine. And the blood didn’t have the same smell as cheap faux blood you use at halloween.

I grabbed my phone and sighed when I saw the large crack that was now there. “Hello sorry- Yeah she’s just saying some really weird things.” The man at the other end of the line assured me that an ambulance was on the way. Until then, all I could do was wait and hope the woman stayed calm.

Hesitantly I placed my hands on her shoulders to comfort her. “I’ve called an ambulance. We’re going to get you to the hospital and they’ll-,”

The look on her face was practically indescribable. She had the same smile but her eyes were full of anger. “No, no… We’re not going back there, Darling. Never again.”

“Who is ‘we’?!” I had reached my breaking point, the frustration I was holding in popped like a bubble floating through the air. “I don’t know you. My name is not Marie.”

She started laughing and grabbed my shoulders tightly. “Then what is it? Tell me.” I could feel the bubbling anger in her voice, and it scared me “Veronica Henderson!” I blurted out. “Now leave me alone!”

“Henderson…” She began to chuckle, and that chuckle evolved into a hyena-like laugh. “Of course… Of course she did.”

I groaned, what now? “What are you talking about?”

“Your ‘mother’… Is the most evil woman on this earth.” She spat. “Evil… She’s evil!”

“I’m not doing this.” I huffed, my face turning hot as I made my way to my car, fury in my every step.

“I’m your real mother, Marie…” She called out pathetically. “Not her… Not Jennifer that despicable-!”

When she said my mother’s name my heart stopped. I slowly turned around while gripping onto my car’s door handle. “How do you know my mother’s name?”

The woman laughed and began to explain. “She was always jealous of me… Jealous of my looks… My brain… My husband…” She huffed. “She was jealous of the fact that I could become a mother too.”

Slowly she sat down on the cold and hard ground. “Congratulations on the pregnancy, Cathy… I’ll always be there to help, Cathy… I was a fool for ever trusting her.”

I stormed over to her, ready to give her a piece of my mind. “You do not

talk about my mother that way, do you hear me?”

“If she’s been raising you all this time then it must be hard to hear but Jennifer Henderson is a nasty… No, she’s a wicked, vicious, DEMONIC person.” She screamed, her face now a bright shade of red. “You don’t know her like I do. You don’t know what she’s put me through.”

I don’t know if it was tears of sorrow or anger but I started to bawl. The lady slowly began patting my back like she was trying to comfort me. “I’ve been through hell to find you, Marie… They tried to keep me away from you, but they’re gone now.”

“Who is ‘they’?!” I snapped. “And what do you mean by ‘they’re gone now’?”

“The men at the hospital.” She clenched her jaw, a malicious look in her eye. “They told me I couldn’t have you… That I was crazy… But they’re wrong.”

The more she revealed the harder it became to tell myself there was no truth behind her words. Even then, so much of what she’s saying is totally nonsensical.

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“Jennifer told everyone I wasn’t fit to be a mother and they believed her.” She revealed. “That woman is evil in its purest form… But she’s gone.”

She’s gone…?

Panicked, I tried calling my mother but was met with no response. My heart started speeding up and my vision began to blur.

I frantically tried to open my car but in a split second… Everything had gone pitch black.

When I woke up, I could hear the hum of a car engine. I rubbed my eyes hoping to see better but everything was so dark. The only light I saw was that of a streetlight from outside the car I was currently in.

At that moment I was frozen. I could barely move due to how unfamiliar I was with my surroundings. I felt dizzy and sore, and my nostrils were filled with the most awful smell.

Once I regained some of my strength, I tried feeling around where I was. It wasn’t long before I could feel something under my hand. I picked it up and tried as hard as I could to make out what it was.

A purse. A purse I recognised.

It was the lilac coloured purse I had gotten for my mothers birthday last year.

My breathing quickened as I recalled what had happened before I fell unconscious. I turned over, and that’s when I realised what that smell was.

The smell of rotting flesh.