Elizabeth Foshee's story 'The Face in the Window' won first prize in February's 2014 short fiction contest.
The Face in the Window by Elizabeth Foshee
When Sarah saw the face at the window, she thought at first that it must be a hallucination.
As usual, she was at her desk sorting through the stacks of paper that had accumulated during the day. A glass of chardonnay and a small plate of gourmet chocolates sat near an open laptop. This was her favorite time of the evening because she liked to use the time to relax and finish up paperwork. She was going through a stack of unopened letters when she saw movement from the corner of her eye.
She looked in the direction of the movement and gasped. Her eyes grew big and her breath caught in her throat. The face was a culmination of evil masquerading behind a twisted parody of humor. It must be a mask, she thought faintly. Surely nothing that hideous could be real. She tried to stand but couldn't find the strength to move.
The face was painted white with green triangles painted around eerily glowing eyes. The nose, round and bulbous, was painted a bright cherry red. The lips had also been covered with bright red paint. The lips pulled back in a menacing grin, revealing white teeth with wickedly pointed canines that were much too long to belong in a human mouth.
Night pressed at the window, making the face appear to be floating. The glow of the streetlamp should have been visible from the window, but she saw no light other than the glow of eyes. How long would it stay there before deciding to come in? The grin widened as if the face could read her thoughts. The glowing eyes mocked her. She felt as if her chest contained a small frightened bird beating its wings frantically in a futile effort to escape.
She heard dark, wet laughter from behind her and her paralysis broke. She staggered up from the chair and whirled around to face the open door, knowing what she would see. The face.
The doorway was empty. She stared at the empty space in disbelief. She didn't know what she had expected to see, but it was not this emptiness. Her legs were trembling and her breath was coming in ragged, uneven gasps. She placed a hand on the desk to steady herself and felt something warm and wet beneath her palm.
She snatched her hand up in revulsion as she looked down at her desk. Blood screamed up at her from the surface. Her eyes moved jerkily across the desk. There was blood splattered across the laptop, smeared around the stem of the champagne glass, and dotted around the chocolates.
She looked toward the window again. There was only her reflection. Her St. John's suit was covered with gore. Terror stole into her, turning her blood to ice that moved sluggishly through her veins. She suddenly knew why she had seen the face in the window. It was the grinning face of insanity. It was her face.