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I walked inside and placed my usual order. The cafe bustled with people just going about their day. Students with laptops typing away, preparing themselves for classes that would, in turn, help them get jobs. Business people rushing the baristas to work faster, so they could get back to office jobs and big promotions. Mothers trying to quiet their children with colorful toys and picture books. And said children filled the air with giggles and smiles. The rest were simply enjoying a cup of coffee in order to start their day. I turned back towards the counter and observed the barista. As I waited at the counter for her to finish my order, I suddenly felt a strange presence behind me. So close that it was breathing down my neck. It was dark and menacing, and yet at the same time offered relief and exuded a calm aura. My name was called, and I picked up my coffee from the barista with a smile that was not returned.

I turned, black coffee in hand, when I finally saw what caused me to feel uneasy and out of place. A humanoid figure in all black stood just inches before me, its eyes hypnotized me and glittered a haunting shade of vermillion. It stared at me with those glassy eyes, that tried to pull me in. I forced myself to look away and resist that temptation while simultaneously looking for empty seats around the cafe. I nervously darted to a table by the window, trying to avoid looking at it. As I approached the table, it followed me and always stayed in my vision no matter how hard I tried to keep it out of my sight. It was a dark spot on the edges of my vision. I sat down at the table and it sat across from me, staring and waiting. I looked out the window and sipped my coffee, casually ignoring it. Its gaze soon became too much to bear, those eyes almost digging holes into my skin. I could practically feel them drilling into me. I turned to face it head on and looked it straight in the eyes, straight into its soul. The air seemed to cool around me, and I felt a deep chill in my bones. I felt a pain in my chest, which seemed to stem from that chill caused by those vermillion eyes. I tried to strike up a conversation, but it didn’t seem to want to talk. Even the customary pleasantries seemed to bore it. Eventually, I stopped trying to talk to it and we sat there, staring at one another. The silence roared like thunder and weighed on me as if I were under a thousand pounds of granite. As I sat there, I began to feel sick as if I were about to heave. I turned toward more pleasant company, the wall beside me. I began to study the wall and I found small pockmarks, like marbles, embedded in it. They were new and oddly clustered as if all were made at the same time. I once again turned to face the figure in front of me. It was smiling now, showing teeth that were stained the color of wine and gums as black as pitch. I was beginning to regret not moving to another table.

I went to take a sip of my coffee when suddenly, I coughed. A fat crimson dollop of blood splattered into my coffee, almost like a mound of whipped cream. My eyes widened, I quickly glanced up at the figure, looking for an explanation. It continued to smile. I chose to get up and order another coffee, yet strangely all of the baristas seemed to be gone. In fact, all of the customers were missing too. I walked back to my table, puzzled and worried. I could not stop coughing, crimson and vermillion were both pouring out of me. I once again looked at the figure, I questioned it, I asked it what was happening. The figure began to sneer. Its eyes burned into mine, permanently scaring themselves into my memories. I knew that if I closed my eyes, they would be ingrained within my eyelids. I suddenly felt the chill once again, this time from deep in my heart. I felt another pain in my chest and I felt as though I could not breathe. I opened my mouth to speak, but only blood came out. I stumbled into the table and knocked over my coffee, though it now looked more like blackened coagulated blood. I could no longer support myself and fell to my knees, my hand still on the table.

I then really opened my eyes and looked around the cafe. I noticed that the pockmarks on the walls were filled with gleaming lead bullets. My chest, punctured with two of them. One in my left lung, the other near my heart. People were strewn across the floor, all in various stages of death. The room would have been silent if it were not for the pained moans of ordinary people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were no longer typing away at laptops, appeasing their children, or pushing the baristas to work faster. They could no longer enjoy a quiet morning coffee. I looked back up at the figure, still sitting in its chair by the window. It was simply watching as all of those people died, it did nothing and helped no one. It watched and waited. I tried to speak to it, to beg it for help, but all that came out was blood and gurgling sounds. I reached out, and as I lost the strength to kneel, fell to the ground. The floor was the color of oxblood, along with my chest. I looked up at the figure once again, desperately stretching out my hand in a silent plea. My mind grew foggy as the world faded first to vermillion, then to black. The last thing I laid my eyes on before I died, was death.

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