Campfire story: Nicole

A scary story I wrote and told around the campfire this past weekend. WARNING, contains strong language and violence. 

Nicole retired from the Seattle police force after a weapons-discharge event turned into an administrative leave and finally an official sanction. The unfairness of it burned in her gut, but she couldn’t continue to tell disbelieving old cops her version of the story over and over again. At her last hearing, she’d explained the series of events that led her to draw her pistol and fire at the man running toward her with a baseball bat. But the captain had just shaken his head and said, “I knew you would say that, Nicole. Jesus.”

So she swallowed the shame like acid and took her pension. With the money she bought a stucco house in an older neighborhood on the east side of town, away from her precinct.

Her first night in the house was quiet, and Nicole let the stress of the past few months carry her into a deep sleep. The next morning, she found BITCH spray-painted across her garage door in dripping black letters.

A neighbor saw her standing in the driveway, rubbing a smudge of the still-wet paint between her thumb and forefinger. Nicole called out to him.

“Sir! Did you see anyone on my property? Anything unusual?”

He was silent.

“Please, sir. I just moved in, and someone defaced my garage. Tell me, what did you witness?”

The man shook his head. “I knew you would say that, Nicole.”

“How?” she shouted. “How do you know my name? You don’t know me!”

The neighbor turned and entered his house, the door slamming behind him.

She spent the day scrubbing at the paint, and by dusk only the faint outline of BITCH was still visible on the door. The next morning, her tires were slashed and flat. Nicole called her father.

“Daddy, I’m gonna come home and stay with you for a while. Something’s not right here.”

“Sweetheart, get yourself together,” he said. “You’re a big girl.”

“Dad, really.” Nicole took a deep breath to steady the quiver in her voice. “I think someone is stalking me. I’ll rent a car and be home by dinner.”

“I knew you would say that, Nicole. So I changed the locks.”

“Daddy, please!”

Silence. Nicole lowered her phone and looked at it, and below her father’s smiling photo was CALL ENDED.

That night, Nicole double-checked the locks on all the doors and windows. Then she shut herself in her bedroom with a golf club and locked that door too, and pulled a chair up in front of the window. When the intruder came, he strolled right up the driveway, a baseball bat in one hand. By the time she heard glass breaking downstairs, Nicole already had 9-1-1 typed into her phone.

Another crash as something heavy hit the floor below.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency,” the bored operator answered.

“Someone’s in my house. Send the police. 846 Blue Heron Drive. Please,” she whispered.

The operator sighed. “Nicole. You’ve got to get some help, sweetheart.”

“What the fuck?” Nicole hissed. “What are you talking about?”

“Can I call you an ambulance? Get you a nice hot cup of psych evaluation?” The man’s voice hardened into a sneer.

“I swear that someone broke into my house. He’s carrying a baseball bat, he’s dangerous! He’s wearing a gray t-shirt and a blue—”

“A blue baseball cap. I knew you would say that, Nicole.”

Nicole sobbed and pressed herself into the corner of the room as footsteps came down the hall.

“He’s telling you these things,” she said desperately. “He’s telling you all this, I don’t know why, he must be the one that I fired at—”

“Nicole. Stop. I knew you would say all of that.”

“Fuck you!” she hissed. “Then what the hell am I going to say next?”

The 9-1-1 operator replied, calm and disdainful, “You’re going to tell me he’s broken your legs.”

Then the bedroom door burst open, and as Nicole dropped her phone and screamed “Noo!” she heard a man say, “I knew you would say that, Nicole.”

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