‘Good morning, it’s a new day…’ rang the alarm sitting on Martha’s beside table at six in the morning. She waved her hands in the air before reaching for the outdated alarm and dismissing it. She then slowly got up before retrieving her glasses from the bedside table.
Martha was in her late fifties. Her hair was beginning to have patches of gray all over her head. She had a hard time combing it together to keep it wrapped under the delicate wig she loved to wear. The old lady worked at the supermarket as a cashier. With her children living in their own dreamland and her husband long dead, she did not have much to look forward to in life. Her job kept her busy, and she was happy with any human interaction that brought a temporary change to her monotonous life.
Several staff members came to greet her as she arrived at the store clutching her walking stick with one hand and rubbing her glasses on her shirt with the other. Martha was, after all, not just the oldest employee, but also the most jovial, kindhearted grandma her coworkers knew. However, she was a lot more than that – an agony aunt who could offer advice for everything from a broken heart to the fastest cure for a sprain.
She stood by her desk as usual, helping customers bill their groceries. A young man stood in line at the counter and flashed a smile at her as she began registering his items.
“Hey gorgeous, can you speed up? I’ve got to go prepare for a big interview tomorrow,” he said.
Martha’s face brightened as her eyes met the boy’s. He looked just like her son. “I believe I can help you with the preparation, dear boy.”
The young man laughed, “No thanks, ma’am. I’m good.”
Martha helped the boy reload his trolley once she was done with the billing. She wished him a good day before adding, “If you need any help, you know where to find me.”
The boy nodded and waved her goodbye before leaving. Martha worked through the day. At the end of her shift, she was delighted to see the same boy walk in. “Um… I was wondering if the offer’s still open, maybe?”
Martha smiled, “Yes, my boy. We can go over to my home to discuss this further. Would you love to walk with me? My place isn’t very far from here.”
The boy agreed and the two chitchatted while walking, “My name’s Dan, by the way. And you are…?”
“Well, I’m your teacher for today, but you can call me Martha.”
They were soon at Martha’s. Dan helped her unlock the door as she expertly maneuvered through the house, turning on the lights. She then offered him a glass of water.
“So now, Dan, tell me all about this company, and the position that you’re interviewing for.”
“Well, it’s not a big company or position. It’s actually more like a clerical job as a cashier. I might have exaggerated a bit back at the store. It was to impress the girl next in line, behind me.”
Martha smiled, “Happens to the best of us. Would you like to eat something?”
Dan heard a clicking noise outside and turned to the window, “You heard that?”
“Oh, that must be Roger, my dog. He loves to roam around the house. He isn’t really fond of intruders.”
Dan glanced at his watch. It was already half past nine. An hour had passed by. He said rather awkwardly, “Er… I think I’ve overstayed my welcome. Well, I didn’t really learn anything from you about being a cashier. Besides, I’m not really a pet person. I think I should get going.”
Martha, who was busy chopping veggies, stopped abruptly. She looked crestfallen.
“You know, it’s hard for an old lady to manage everything on her own. I seldom get good company. You look like a decent man, and I can tell that you’ll do a good job in tomorrow’s interview.”
Hearing another scratching noise by the window, he asked Martha tentatively, “You sure your dog’s okay? He seems a bit insistent on coming inside.”
“I’ll go check on him. In the meantime, do you mind stirring this pan? Can’t manage everything on my own,” Martha added rather sheepishly.
Dan’s phone buzzed with a text from his friend.
“Where are you?”
As Dan began typing, he heard the dog growl near his ear. He turned around just in time to see that the dog had entered through the window. It was barking incessantly at Martha.
Dan jumped up the sofa and zoomed out the door without turning to look at the house. He went home and fell asleep. The next day, goosebumps erupted all over his arms as he read the front-page news on his morning newspaper:
Police have finally identified the serial killer who was on the loose for a month. It was yesterday night that an old woman by the name Martha, who would lure strangers to dine with her, was arrested by the police. She was potentially preparing to kill her next two victims – the neighbor’s dog and an unidentified person, who would have marked her fiftieth kill.
…now that you’re here
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Anagha likes to make the most of her creativity to come up with intriguing stories. To know more about her, feel free to get in touch with her over her Upwork profile here.