Short Story | Stalking the Dearly Departed Sophie Caine Written By Samantha James
Sophie is working hard to make herself an accomplished member of society. What will happen when it is all taken away? It starts with a single rose left at her door but quickly the situation escalates when Sophie begins to receive threatening messages and then finds her car vandalized. Who is trying to scare her? Sophie begins the fight of her life …
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STALKING THE DEARLY DEPARTED SOPHIE CAINE
A Short Story by Samantha James
When I was eighteen years old, I graduated high school and moved away from my small town to attend college. It was a high point in my life. I was over exuberant to be alone and in my very own apartment. My parents were better off than most and could give me the best. They not only paid my university tuition and living expenses but they ensured I had a good place to live in an upper-class condo in a well-to-do neighborhood. I was set and ready for school. I had everything I could need to begin my semester.
I moved at the beginning of summer so I could get used to my new surroundings and make friends before school began. My parents stayed with me the first week. When they left to go back home, I missed them but was eager to explore Florida and spend the summer at the beach. The first week alone I spent most days cruising along the boardwalk. It was pleasant hanging around the shops and beaches. I met a couple students who were attending summer classes. A new friend gave me a tour of the campus. I was having the time of my life. There was two months of nothing to do but enjoy my new place and have a good vacation. I could blow off steam before I had to buckle down and study.
It was not until school began that this changed. My classes were harder than I ever expected and my new job at the coffee shop on campus left me with limited social time. I ended up staying home most nights and weekends studying more than I felt any other student had too.
It started one night when I heard a knock on my apartment door. It was weird that someone would be knocking. Thinking it was perhaps a neighbor, I looked out the peephole but saw no one. After a few moments, I decided to open the door and looked down the hallway. There was no one out there.
When I looked down, a single red rose was laying on the ground. That was all that had been left. I picked the flower up and went back inside bemused. There was a lot of questions running through my mind. Why had someone left me a rose? How had they vacated the hallway so quickly? I looked the rose over musing and felt flattered. I put the flower in a vase from my kitchen. I never gave the rose much thought at this point. It was added existing flowers I already had sitting on the counter.
The days went one and I continued to struggle with school but was trying my best.
It was about a week after the anonymous flower was left on my door I found another one. This time, it was on my car door. I had seen it one morning when I left my apartment to head to the campus. I had a morning shift at the coffee shop then classes until the evening. I took the flower off my car and threw it in the backseat. I was once again flattered like the first flower but still never gave them much thought.
That evening when my last class let out I walked to the parking lot with all the other students. This is when I saw people surrounding the area I had parked. They were giving incredulous looks and talking about my car. I was very confused at first until I saw a sight that set flames in my eyes and fear in my heart.
There must have been hundreds of roses covering my car. Some were scattered throughout the window shield and others taped all over my side windows and the car’s body. I do not think there was a spare inch not covered in roses. The roof also had a wedding cake topper attached with some kind of super glue. The little white bride and groom were literally stuck to my car’s roof. I was creeped out and furious. I went to my car fuming and ready to throw punches I was so upset. I frantically shoved as many of the flowers as possible off my car to the ground. A couple people in my class who could tell I was not happy about my car’s “decorations” helped me pull flowers off. One girl questioned me asking if it was an ex-boyfriend or someone who liked me that had done it. I had no answer. I had dated no one, and this was more than a little frightening.
Originally I had found the one pretty flower left by my door to be sweet and thoughts of a secret admirer were cute. When I saw the first rose I had pictured a tall dark-haired mystery man who might have noticed me at school or hanging out at the coffee shop. I was okay with being admired. I even thought a week later the flower on my car was equally sweet and assumed the same admirer leaving me the rose was adorable; however, this was too much.Who does this? I hadn’t thought too hard on the roses at first but now that my car had been literally vandalized, my full attention was on who it might be. What did they want and why were they targeting me? My mood plummeted into dark depths of fear and defeat. Dread and danger were all I could think of.
I finally, after removing all the flowers, drove away. The wedding topper was still glued to my roof but I couldn’t pull it off. I tried and tried and so did some of my classmates but to no avail. I would need something to remove the glue. It was a stupid thing of this person to have done and now the paint was going to be ruined. This was my first car.
Once I made it home, I went to where the maintenance man’s apartment was located. He was a nice older gentleman who had helped me when my closet door became unhinged. I figured he may have something that could remove the topper on my car roof. The man’s name was Terrance Ortiz, and he had lived here for over ten years. When I knocked and explained my problem he walked out to my car. He let out a whistle as he inspected the roof.
“I think there may be something I can do about this,” He said nodding to himself “I will be right back,” He said before trailing over to the side of the building where the maintenance shed was located.
He came back and within minutes had the offending wedding topper off my roof. Unfortunately, not without damaging the paint on the area of the roof it had been stuck. I was even madder when I saw that because it was worse than I had expected it to be. I thanked Terrance for his help and offered to bring him some dinner as appreciation. He declined and said he had already eaten. I nodded to him as I locked my car up and gathered my belonging. I decided to leave my class books sitting in the back seat.
I went inside my apartment and sat down on my couch. I thought about calling my parents but I did not want to worry them. They would just get stressed out and I could use the credit card they had given me to get my roof repainted. I felt like it shouldn’t come out of my parent’s pockets. I had not damaged my car and whoever did was the one who should be accountable to get it repaired.
I picked up my cell phone to call my cousin so I could grumble and rumble about the evening I had. My cousin Tiffany was a fantastic listener and the ultimate confidant but before I could dial her, I noticed I had five voicemail messages. I Instantly became concerned and worried that something was wrong with my parents. There were five messages! That was not a usual thing. Something had to be wrong. Quickly I clicked on the first message and played the voicemail but it was from a blocked number.
That was strange.
The first message nobody spoke but for thirty long seconds, I could hear slight breathing. Feeling creeped out, I played the second one. As the message played I became pale and shocked. The voice on the line was rough and deep with a distortion that made the voice menacing. The message played:
“Hello beautiful little rose. You are mine”
The next message said pretty much the same thing but the fourth really terrified me. I had never been afraid to live alone in my apartment until I heard the words:
“Rose, you are going to be mine or you are going to be dead.”
I didn’t know who the outlandish voice belonged to nor did I know why he was calling me rose. My name was Sophie Caine. I didn’t listen to the last message. I deleted it before it played. I felt like I was unsafe and did not want to be alone. I called Emily as my stomach tightened in nervousness and fear. She was a friend of mine who lived across the way. I told her all about the messages and what had happened to my car. Emily agreed it was very concerning and said she would be right over. I was relieved and happy she could come over and give me needed company. I did not want to be alone. Chills ran up my spine causing me to break into a sweat as I waited.
When she arrived at my apartment, I played the three messages for her. She was as deeply disturbed by them as I had been. Emily stayed over that night and we had binged watched our favorite Showtime show while gorging on popcorn. Her presence made me comfortable and allowed me to forget about all the weirdness that had been occurring.
The next morning I called my boss at work and told her I needed a sick day to deal with some personal stuff. I told her my car had been vandalized the previous night and I needed to take it to the mechanics. My boss was understanding and told me it was fine to miss my shift that morning. I was happy I did not make her mad by calling out. I knew if I lost my job my parents would be mad. They had wanted me to develop work ethic and maintaining a job was part of our deal.
The first thing I wanted to do was check with the building manager at my condo to see if there was surveillance on the property. I felt sure the school or my building would have cameras and I could find out who the dirt-bag was and perhaps get him arrested. At the time there was this need inside my soul to take action. My world no longer felt safe and I had to do something, anything really, in order to bring back that balance.
My manager told me that there were cameras on the building in the back lot but the one in the front lot had a broken lens which had not been fixed yet. She pulled out the tape from the week before and we sat at her office computer watching around the time there had been a knock on my door but nobody pulled into or out of the back lot. My car was always parked in the front so there was no hope to see who had placed the single rose on my door yesterday morning. The manager, a woman named Carla, was kind enough to set with me for several hours as we checked the cameras the week previous for anything odd. Nothing ever did jump out at us. I felt annoyed but was okay with it since I was certain the college cameras could shed light on the situation and headed to my car.
Once I arrived on campus and explained to the office administrator my request, she directed me to the campus police building. An officer there was very obliging and pulled the camera footage up for me and we sat to watch.
I could see myself pull up in the late afternoon for my first class. We fast forwarded and watched but nobody came near my car. Right before my last class I had run out to the parking lot to switch books and grab the notes I needed for my calculus class. I could see all that as I walked up to the car; however, about thirty minutes after I walked away from my car and had gone off to my last class, the camera suddenly cutouts and was turned in the opposite direction. You could see one white-gloved finger turning the camera. This was strange.
The officer who sat watching this called in his supervisor who also watched the turning of the camera. They pulled up other cameras in the area but as we watched, none of them had an angle to see who had turned that one camera. The two officers were quite outraged about this and profusely apologized. They recommended I go to the city’s police department and file a report for vandalism. This would be my only option since there was no evidence they could use against another student.
Going to the campus police had left me feeling so dejected and disappointed as I walked back to my car. I knew the real police would say the same thing. It was impossible to know who was harassing me. I went anyway because I wanted the harassment on file in case it was ever discovered who was behind it. Once my claim and report were made, I headed to the mechanics and left my car to be painted. They told me I could pick my car up in a couple days. I got food and sat on the pier for a while.
I ended up running into some friends from school as I was eating. They invited me to go see a movie playing a few blocks away. The movie was great and hanging out with people made me feel secure. It helped me forget my trouble for a little while.
One girl gave me a ride to my condo. When I entered my building and got to the hallway, I noticed an envelope stuck on my door. I picked it up with shaky hands and slowly opened it. I sighed in relief when it was a note from the lady next door asking if I could feed her cats because it was bingo night and she would be late. I laughed at my ridiculousness and called myself a drama queen before I walked over to my neighbor’s apartment.
When I returned from cat feeding duty I made a few calls and took a nice long shower. I felt refreshed and grabbed one of my school books to read. It was a nice night so I sat out on my balcony while I studied. I had made some coffee and was feeling rather content. I was out there enjoying the warm evening until after one before I decided I needed a few hours of sleep. I instantly fell asleep once my head hit the pillow and I stretched out all comfy and exhausted.
I was woken up from a dead sleep as I heard my cell phone buzzing loudly and playing the lyrics of my favorite song. I did not recognize the number reading on my phone’s display. I was reluctant to answer it and decided after a few seconds against it. If it was an emergency they would leave a message. I was afraid it was him calling. I got up and started turning lights on throughout my condo. All the blinds were closed and I knew all windows and doors were locked. I waited for my screen to display a voicemail pending message but none ever came. I decided it must be a wrong number or telemarketing call. I went back to my room annoyed to get a few more hours of sleep. I left the kitchen stove and hallway light on but turned all the others off. Once I had made it back to bed and was about to turn off my nightstand lamp I heard a distinctive *Tap* *Tap* *Pound* *Pound* on my bedroom window.
I jumped up immediately and screamed at the top of my lungs. I made my way to my front door and after a few seconds fumbling with the two locks I managed to get out and pound on a neighbor’s door. They rushed it open and in sheer panic I explained someone was trying to break-in through my window.
After my apartment and the surroundings were searched, nobody was found. I knew I could not stay in my place alone. I was just too scared and packed a bag to stay with Emily at her place across the street. She had told me her spare bedroom was mine for the taking.
The next morning I called and informed my parents all that had been transpiring in a very serious and long phone call. They wanted to fly out immediately to be with me but I told them to wait until the following week because it would be spring break and I would have school off which would allow me to spend more time with them. They had already been planning to see me that week anyways and had purchased their tickets. There was no need to rush right to Florida.
After a long debate with my mother, I convinced them to stay put. It was finals week and I promised them I would stay with Emily the entire time and would not sleep alone at my place. Emily and I for the next week took turns staying at each other’s apartments and thankfully nothing had happened out of the ordinary. I took all my midterms and felt confident I would not be failing any of my classes. The days passed uneventfully. No weird calls or roses. I was relieved and began to feel like the whole thing had been blown out of proportion with my active imagination. That was until Friday night.
Emily and I had just returned from a sorority party and were celebrating the end of midterms. We had worked hard so it was good to just blow off steam. An older classmate bought us a couple bottles of wine so we returned to Emily’s place to drink and have more fun. It was a little past midnight and the two of us set up a game of cards out on her balcony. We sat playing and drinking our wine. After some time had passed I just happened to glance over to my apartment. I could see my windows and balcony quite clearly from where I sat. I found something odd as I was looking it over but I couldn’t quite put my fingers on it.
I was racking my brain for what was wrong. I just knew there was something.
Then out of nowhere it hit me. I could see into my apartment through the double doors of my balcony. When I had left my apartment yesterday morning, I knew I was staying with Emily at her place next couple of nights. I had gone around meticulously closing all my blinds and locking the entire place up. The curtains were wide open though!
I knew for certain I had closed them.
I pointed this out to my friend but she thought I was being over paranoid and that I must have had not closed them. She excused herself to go inside to use the bathroom and get the second bottle of wine. I could not get over the fact I had closed those curtains. I know I had. I remembered specifically doing so. I looked back towards my balcony.
Upon further inspection, I realized that light from my bedroom was seeping through the blinds of my bedroom window and that it must be on. I walked to the edge of Emily’s patio so I could get a better view when I saw a shadow walk past the window. My eyes searched my apartment. Time seem to stand still as I held my breathe watching.
I looked to the balcony doors and saw a woman there! She was in a light blue night robe and was casually brushing her light blonde hair while looking down at a book. It seemed as if she had just gotten out of the shower. She walked to the kitchen and grabbed a soda from my fridge. She popped it open and took a long sip. The ladies eyes never left the pages she was reading in her book. She started to walk towards the balcony as to go out there.
My outrage and shock over this lady freely roaming my home as if it were her own quickly escalated to pure horror.
As the tiny blonde woman turned and walked toward the balcony doors. A shadow appeared from the hallway , then a masked man made his way towards the woman. I screamed in absolutely stunned hysteria.
I was too far away, all I could do was watch as he snuck up behind her and wrapped his long arms around her mouth and slammed her down on my living room floor. He pulled out what seemed like a knife from his back pocket. I watched with tears streaming down my face as he stabbed her over and over again. There was blood everywhere. It was splattered all over my floor, walls, and couch. I began to bawl as the intruder in my apartment made his way to my door. He exited my place.
I did not know who the woman was but surmised the man, the killer, must have been the one who had been stalking me and leaving me roses. He must have thought this blonde woman was me. We had similar hair color and style. Our bodies were not far off from each other either. She seemed to have been my build. What had she been doing in my condo, though? I told Emily who had been in the restroom during this time what had happened. I shouted at her to call 911 as I ran from her apartment to go see if this poor woman was alive or not.
I highly doubted it but felt the need to go anyways. I ran and ran across the courtyard into my building and up the stairs to my door. I opened it up and was faced with about ten police officers and paramedics. They were surrounding an opened body bag.
I felt my heart sink. So she was definitely dead then. How tragic. I looked around and was about to tell them I owned the apartment and explain I did not know the poor woman or why she had been here tonight when I noticed the strangest thing.
In the kitchen wrapped in a blanket was Emily. She was weeping her eyes out and was saying my name over and over again to a police officer holding a pad. It looked like he was taking a statement from her but was not getting anywhere. He was trying to comfort her it seemed. How did she get over here so fast? Heck, how did all these people arrive before I did? This did not add up.
I walked around the couch to look at the girl. I wanted to see if I knew her. There she lay all bloody and pale. No sign of life was left.
Well, it turned out I knew her very well after all.
The dead woman lying in a body bag on the living room floor was me.
I looked down to see my facial features and blonde hair. On the floor next to my body were a spilled soda can and my geography textbook.
Somehow I had witnessed my own death without even realizing it.
I was killed at the age of eighteen by my stalker and was given the chance to see the events unfold. It would be years before the police made any headway. My murderer would remain free to go about and live his life while I could not. It has been hard to come to terms with this and I struggled as I watched time move on without being there anymore for those I loved. There is a lonely quality to watching the world move on.
The night I was killed the police had found a single fingerprint of the intruder on my bedroom window from the outside. It was left from the time he had scared me and tried to get in through my window.
It would be exactly five years after my murder when finally a man would be arrested in connection with my death. The police would find my photo, the knife used to stab me to death, and a shirt covered in my blood buried in this man’s background. His fingerprint matched the one found on my window. It was lucky a construction working had noticed the items while digging. He had become suspicious because there was also bones of another person not far from where the killer had discarded the murder weapon. The man who had killed me had buried the body of another woman in that area.
The man was Terrance Ortiz. He apparently developed an obsession with me and, in the end, was my death. He now faces life in prison without the chance of parole for my murder and the death of two other woman; whereas, I am buried deep in the ground. I do not live any longer because of this man. I had no say in this at all. I was supposed to live my dream life and be a major success. Well, no longer.
It is not enough justice if you ask my opinion.
The dearly departed
© Samantha James and The Chronicles of History: Reading Into Our Past, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Samantha James and The Chronicles of History with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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