The next morning, Alexa had already left by the time Misha woke up. Misha had to work after class and would be home late. She would have to wait until late tonight to talk about the sleepwalking episode with Alexa. By the time Misha got home, Alexa was already in bed. This left Misha feeling uneasy, but the evening went by without incident.
In fact, the rest of the week was normal, no sinister shuffling coming down the hallway. Misha had spoken to Alexa about her sleepwalking episode. Alexa laughed it off. “Maybe I was just getting a glass of water and didn’t notice you on the couch.”
By the end of the week, Misha’s fear had finally dissipated. She had to agree with her roommate. She had overreacted. The following night, however, it happened again. Though Misha was more prepared, she could not prevent the feeling of dread she felt when she saw Alexa’s eyes. She had been wrong before. They weren’t glassy. They were clouded over, like a milky blue orb that looked nothing like Alexa’s eyes in the daylight.
And once again, Misha couldn’t explain the smell of burnt toast. Or the effect these episodes had on Brenna. Especially the fact that as soon as Alexa went back to bed, Brenna acted like she had forgotten the whole thing.
Several weeks passed with the same pattern. At least twice a week, Alexa would stagger down the hall, in a trance. Misha tried her best to get used to it but she had decided to tell Alexa to find a new apartment. The apartment was in Misha’s name and she still had eight months left on the lease.
They both had exams coming up and Misha decided she would wait to discuss it with Alexa.
Misha went to bed early one night and was startled awake to the sound of loud knocking. She went to the door to find a police officer standing there. “Ma’am, I’m officer Spencer. We are trying to identify a young woman who we think was killed by a hit and run driver earlier this evening. Do you live here alone?”
Muddled from being woken, she asked him to repeat himself.
“We found the body of a young female along the side of the road. Do you have a roommate, Miss? Is she here? Can you account for her whereabouts?” the officer asked.
“No, she’s not here,” Misha said.
“Do you have a picture of her so we can rule her out?”
Misha grabbed her cell phone from the pocket of her robe and brought up a picture of her and Alexa, from a football game they had attended last year. Had it been that long since they had done something together?
Not surprisingly, the officer looked alarmed, then somber. “Miss, I’m so sorry. I believe the victim is your roommate. I know this is a lot to ask, but would you be able to identify the body before the medical examiner takes her away?”
Misha looked up at him, unfazed. She did not respond. She knew she did not need to.
The officer’s radio went off and he excused himself and went outside to take the call. When he came back in a few moments later, he was ashen. “Miss, I’m terribly sorry. I…I don’t know how to tell you this, but the body went missing. I’m sure there’s an explanation. I’ll find out what happened and come back in the morning.” He fumbled for the door and made a hasty exit from the uncomfortable situation.
“I’m sure there is,” Misha mumbled, in a drug-induced haze. She sat down on the couch and pulled out the pill bottle from her other pocket. She placed another sleeping pill in her mouth and chewed it dry. It didn’t matter. She couldn’t taste anything after the pills she had taken earlier in the evening to help her sleep.
As she sat on the couch, as expected, she heard the drag of a limp foot coming down the hall. Shuffffle, silence, shuffffle, silence. And when she smelled the burnt toast, she didn’t bother to go to the kitchen to check. She had thrown the toaster out three weeks ago. Right after Alexa’s mother had called to tell her Alexa had been killed when she had tripped in front of the train tracks heading back into the city.
Alexa’s mother tearfully explained that Alexa had looked quite peaceful. The cause of death had been a brain bleed when her head hit the side of the tracks. The only thing that had been injured at all was her foot, which was badly mangled when she twisted it in the fall. Her right foot.
Misha recalled the sad conversation. “She was rushing because she was late. I should have made her sit down for a decent breakfast,” Alexa’s mother had said. “Alexa said she only had time for toast, but she burnt it. The last meal my daughter had in this world was burnt toast. If only I had made her sit down for a decent breakfast. I could have driven her back to school. She would still be here today.”
I hope you enjoyed the story. Because it was a little long, I broke it into two parts. I don’t think many people have a lot of time to read when they are online. Let me know what you think. Do you prefer two smaller portions? Or do you despise the sight of, “to be continued?” Let me know!