The Flying Woman
You ran away from home for the third time when you were eight years old. It normally wasn’t that big a deal, considering your family lived in the suburbs and you were just running to a playground less than half a mile away. But this time, you ran into a strange man claiming to be a friend of your father, and he was so friendly that he was able to catch you completely off guard and force you into the back of his car. He bound you up with lots of duct tape and began driving off.
The last thing you remember before the car crashed and you blacked out, though, was seeing a woman through the front windshield, swooping down out of the sky like a superhero. When you came to, you were lying unhurt on the sidewalk near the crashed car, which had hit a power pole. The man was slumped over the steering wheel, dead, and the woman tore the duct tape apart like it was tissue paper. Emergency sirens howled in the distance.
Just before the ambulance and police arrived, the woman kissed your forehead and said, “Don’t let anyone try to bind you, ever again,” and disappeared. Nobody believed your story about the flying woman, though they marveled over how you escaped the crash unharmed and assumed you must have sliced the duct tape open with a piece of glass. You still have an old, yellowed clipping from the Local Interest section of the newspaper about your attempted kidnapping and escape, the only version that actually published your claim about the flying woman.
Through most of your teenage life, you were struck with the occasional night or two of insomnia every few months. Your parents never knew about your 3:00 AM rambles when this happened, and they certainly wouldn’t have approved.
One night, you wandered farther than usual, and passed an old diner that had been closed since before you were born, the windows boarded up and the paint peeling. Except that night, the boards were missing from the windows, and the paint looked fresh and new. Light spilled out, and when you went for a closer look, you saw the place was packed with customers.
They dressed like characters in a movie set in the 1950s, in the kind of clothes your grandparents called their “Sunday best.” Their flesh was pale and had a strange sheen to it, like wax, and their eyes all had a sunken look to them.
And then you saw a corpse-like waitress come out and lay several plates on a packed table, and each plate had a tiny body on it. Not like a baby, but an adult’s body miniaturized. The dead people in the diner took up their forks and knives and dug in, chowing down on the flesh with gusto.
You turned away to retch loudly into the gutter, and when you turned back the place was dark, boarded-up and run-down once more. You never went out walking at night again until you went to college very, very far away.