Melanie Carver was exhausted after her new, daily 45 minute run. So, as per her usual after-workout regimen, she threw her 5’3″, 150lb ass on the couch, requiring the next 45 minutes just to catch her breath.

The house was warm, quiet, lonely – exactly what she had become accustomed to. The bonus of living out of the way of people, miles away from civilization, kept her diets short and without motivation. Without friends to impress, self-confidence had only gotten her so far.

Tonight’s run had been particularly interesting, though.

The wildlife had been silent, unearthly so. Her favorite segment of the run, the part that took place along the trail near a serene, beautiful lake, had been so eerily still, she had felt someone was following her, appropriately causing her to increase speed and burn a few extra calories.

And when that family of raccoons had sped by suddenly from a patch of bushes along the path, she had nearly had a heart attack.

But she was back home now, lost within cotton comfort and melty milk chocolate. She knew it was kind of a contradiction to eat junk food after a light run, but Melanie figured she had earned it.

She reached toward the other end of the couch, the simple task seemingly more adverse than any exercise. She nabbed the television remote that had been lying there. She clicked the power button, forcing a subtle ‘click’ from the LED television directly in front of her. The local news slowly faded into view.

A blonde woman stood in front of a terrible accident, “I am standing here on the corner of Garret and Talson where there’s been an eight car pile-up,” she spoke in monotone.

“Three are dead after an armored transport overturned in the middle of the road while transporting serial murderer, David Stern. Police advise EVERYONE to lock their doors tonight and refuse entry to anyone whose identity you aren’t sure of until this is resolved.”

Melanie quickly pushed the power button on the remote once more. She was not in the mood for the news tonight – it was only ever depressing news or bad news and she didn’t want it ruining her good mood.

She placed the remote back on the arm of the couch, lifted her fatigued body from it, and strolled into her bedroom. She glanced at the digital alarm clock that lied on the nightstand by her bed.

10:47

Not too late. Not too early. Melanie knew if she went to bed now, she’d wake up feeling pretty refreshed. She undressed herself, her sweaty clothes reluctant to peel from her chubby body. She turned on a hot misty shower and enjoyed the droplets as they swept over her face.

Once she was done, she stepped out and dried herself. She brushed her teeth (the only routine she seemed to be able to keep). Back in her room, she took off her robe, turned on the rotating fan she strategically placed in front of her closet, and crawled under the warm cozy blankets. Sleeping nude was another benefit made riskless by a lack of neighbors.

No one around for miles.

Soon, Melanie was adrift in dreams thanks to her sheer exhaustion. That night she dreamt the marshmallow dream again — the dream where the marshmallows wanted to eat her. She knew this was a stress dream, telling her she would regret it if she didn’t lose that weight.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Melanie was jolted awake by a sudden rapping at her front door.

She rubbed her eyes, pissed at who could possibly want her attention this late in the hour. As she angrily threw on her robe and opened her bedroom door, she froze.

There was a serial killer on the loose.

She recalled that few seconds from the news almost too late. For all she knew, that man was out there right now, wanting to be invited in so he could slit her throat and hideout here or take her stuff. Or worse – he’d probably kill her and slice off her skin and wear it like that buffalo bill from The Silence of the Lambs.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Shit! She panicked. She quickly ran through a list of all entry points in her home, making sure she locked them all before she went to bed. Front door. Check. Back door. Check. Windows. Check.

She felt a little relieved. She might just be okay.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Still, she panicked. Melanie just knew that the person outside her door was that killer. The corner of Garret and Talson was only five miles down the road. And she didn’t even recall hearing an exact time when the pile-up took place. Hell, that serial killer could be anywhere!

Even at her door.

Desperate, she threw herself under the blankets in her bed and poked her face through a small opening. She would wait. In her panic, anxiety and nervousness, she would wait. She glanced at the clock instinctively.

2:33

Shit, shit, shit!!! She tried to play the denial card, to cheer herself up by convincing herself that it was a distant relative stopping by or some late Jehovah’s witnesses. But, in the back of her mind, she knew that it couldn’t be those.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

There it was again.

Dammit! This person just isn’t going to leave, no matter how hard she tried to wish them away.

She began to formulate a plan in her head, some sort of contingency just in case worst came to worst. If that maniac actually persisted and tried to get in by breaking a window or busting down the door, she would run for the opposite door, keys in hand, hop in her car and floor it out of there before he could get to her.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

This time, the rapping came from the back door. She could hear someone speaking, but she couldn’t understand what exactly they were saying. But, worst of all, she heard them rattling the doorknob.

Her heart pounded. Her whole body ached. She felt like she was having a heart attack. She had to get up now. She had to get away – there was not a second to spare.

She grabbed the keys from the nightstand beside her and ran for the front door. She opened it as quickly and as quietly as possible to avoid her assailant’s unwanted attention.

She ran into the car, closed its door quietly as well and locked the whole car, then she slipped the keys into the ignition. Before she could turn the keys, sharp pains from her scalp and face forced her hands to find what was causing her grief.

They were cold, hard hands. One held her mouth shut, the other was pulling her hair so hard it felt as if her head would come off.

Then, the pain from her scalp relented, but she immediately felt a cold sting at her neck. She peered down, her heart nearly giving out from the rapid beating.

It was a knife.

Then, she heard a harsh, yet satisfied voice behind her say, “You should’ve opened the door.”

As the blade cut slowly at her neck, forcing a hard stream of blood from her throat, she peered through the windshield to see two police officers standing at her backdoor.

They were knocking.

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