It was a rainy February day, and I was walking down a lengthy, dead-end street back to my fiancé’s apartment. I was passing by an alley when I heard something. I stopped and looked into the deep, man-made chasm.
“Hello?” I said. No response. I took a few steps and continued walking, whistling a cheery tune. Then I heard it again, in front of another alley. It sounded like a whisper.
I swung around, dropping the pizza box. After thinking about it, I took a step into the alley. Then another. And another, until I reached a brick wall, with an oozy green substance dripping down the end of it. I turned around, making the occasional glance to one side of the alley and then the other. It was littered with garbage and dumpsters, which were pinned up to stairways leading to 1-star apartments. I never understood why anyone would live in them, but there wasn’t a soul to be seen. Paranoia started kicking in, so I got out of there before my body wouldn’t let me. Picking up the pizza, I heard the whisper again.
"You’re too late."
I whipped around, staring deep into the alley I just came out of. From where I was, the oozing brick wall wasn’t visible. I could only see as far as an old light illuminating part of the hazy alleyway next to door 24.
“What do you want?” I shouted, gathering a group of glances. I clutched the pizza box tightly, not sure what to expect next.
"Open the box."
I looked for every possible location the reptilian voice would be: the Victorian-style windows, the cracks in the walls of the alley, and even in the drain vents and sewer holes. No one. The only people around were the few poor souls who were also stuck walking on such a day. And they were staring at me.
I loosened my grip on the rectangular box and removed the tape I placed on it, holding it tightly shut, tearing off some of the cardboard along with the tape. I gripped the circular tab of the box, and started to pull it open, with little resistance from the scraping of the cardboard.
I peered in, looking at the pizza. The pepperoni shimmered with the rain, and the steam rose, hitting my nose and condensing on my 5’oclock shadow. Nothing from the box popped out at me; that was a good sign. I started counting the pieces in it that the shadow of the box did not hide.
“1…2…3…4…” I slowly opened the box.
I opened it more. Nothing. There were two pieces missing from it. I slowly wiggled the box shut, needing to push the two cardboard flaps into their place. I raised my head, glaring into the alleyway.
“You wanted pizza? You could have asked.”
"No, I couldn’t."
I tried to pinpoint the location of the voice so that I could see who was talking, but it seemed to have radiated from the alley.
“Um…Okay then. I...I really have to get going now,” I said, creeping away from the alley. The crowd of people that gathered started shuffling to allow me to get by. I hunched over the box I was clutching, and picked up the pace. The voice from the alley spoke again.
"Thanks for the pizza."