The night was black, the wind howled, and Stacey was home alone. She was a curvy, gorgeous, seventeen-year-old blonde and the envy of every other cheerleader at Cherry Creek High.
She only drank diet Coke and always used a straw to avoid smearing her lipstick. On that particular night, she was taking a quiz in the back of Teen Glam magazine that would supposedly reveal her secret celebrity crush.
As she colored in the answer bubble under “Avocado Toast”, the phone rang. She decided to let it go to voicemail. It was probably for her dad who was out for the evening. She was completely and totally alone.
The phone rang again and Stacy ignored it.
It wasn’t until the phone rang a third time, that she rolled her eyes, threw down her magazine, and marched over to pick it up.
“Hello?” she said.
Heavy breathing sounded from the receiver.
“Hello?” Stacy repeated.
She heard only a few more heavy breaths. She slammed the phone down.
That was weird. Must have been a wrong number.
She had barely stepped away when the phone rang again. She twirled around, grabbed the receiver, and shouted, “Hello?”
For a few seconds, the breathing continued, then a low, gravelly, demonic voice said, “I’m watching you.”
The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She looked around the kitchen.
“Whe-where are you?” she breathed.
But the stranger hung up. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadow move outside the kitchen window. She charged forward, cast the curtain aside, and saw… nothing. Just the gentle branches of the dogwood, dancing in the night breeze.
The doorbell rang. Stacy swung around in the direction of the sound. She was blonde but not an idiot. There was no way she was going to answer that.
Some psycho was toying with her. She was going to call the police. She grabbed the wall phone. She pushed the nine button. Just as she was about to double-tap the one, she heard a voice coming from over her shoulder.
“The police aren’t coming, Stacey.”
She froze in terror. She didn’t want to turn around, but she could feel his breath on the back of her neck. It wasn’t warm like the breath of a living being, but cold like frost.
She stood, petrified. The voice… it was that same evil, awful voice she heard in the receiver…
“Aren’t you going to turn around?” the specter asked impatiently.
Stacey did so, slowly.
A cloaked figure towered over her, his black robe billowing in some non-existent breeze. Beneath his hood was only a great yawning darkness.
Stacy screamed and shrank down against the wall, blocking her face with her hands. The evil creature let out a low laugh as it raised some sort of weapon. Then it struck.
“Ouch!” Stacy cried, grabbing a scraped patch of skin on her arm.
The creature raised the weapon for another blow and this time, Stacy got a look at it.
It was a…cheese grater? The cloaked demon monster was trying to murder her with a cheese grater? Stacey kicked it in the knees.
“OOF! came the gravelly voice as it stumbled over. Stacy ran across the kitchen and withdrew a butcher knife from one of the drawers. Then she swung back toward the creature holding it out defensively.
“Don’t hurt me!” the specter begged, throwing the cheese grater to the ground.
“Are you kidding me?” Stacey exclaimed. “Why were you trying to kill me with a cheese grater?”
“It was supposed to be my signature weapon!” the specter explained.
“Lame!” Stacey answered.
“I wanted something unique, you know?” the specter defended. “No one else uses a cheese grater.”
“Um… because it’s stupid!” Stacey exclaimed.
The specter hung his head in shame and then seemed to dissolve into the air leaving Stacey alone.
The police did a thorough investigation but could find no evidence of the attack. Stacey’s dad attributed her story to hysteria induced by his recent divorce. He firmly reprimanded her for acting out and the matter was dropped.
The following evening, he had to leave her again to have dinner with a wealthy client.
“Don’t go, Dad!” Stacey begged. “I don’t want to be here alone!”
“Look Stacey,” her dad sighed. “I know you’re upset about what happened with your mom, but that doesn’t give you the right to act out. Now I have important business things to attend to. If I hear one more word about this serial-killer-with-a-cheese-grater nonsense, you’re grounded.”
So Stacey was alone for the second night in a row. It was even darker, windier, and generally creepier than the previous night. Stacey placed the entire knife block on the table next to her, picked up Teen Glam magazine, and proceeded to read an article about how mashed avocado made an excellent chemical-free shampoo alternative.
The phone rang. Stacey ignored it. It rang again. Still, Stacey ignored it, shrinking behind her magazine slightly. Again and again, it rang and again and again. Stacey picked up her butcher’s knife and continued reading.
Finally, the doorbell rang.
Clutching her weapon in both hands, Stacey sank underneath the kitchen table.
The bell kept ringing over and over again with increased ferocity. Stacey kept her gaze fixed on the kitchen entrance.
Finally, the doorbell stopped. Stacey waited for what seemed like forever before coming out from her hiding place.
Tap! Tap! Tap!
Stacey squeaked and twirled around to face the back door.
Tap! Tap! Tap!
Someone was definitely outside it trying to get in.
Stacey couldn’t stand it anymore. She ran to the door, raised her knife, and threw it open. No one was there.
Suddenly, a cold, corpse-like hand grabbed her wrist and twisted. Stacey screamed and dropped her knife.
“Why weren’t you answering my calls, Stacey?” came the low, gravelly voice.
Stacey slowly turned around to see the specter looming over her. His clammy hand forced hers into a fist and then peeled her thumb into an upright position.
Stacey’s voice caught in her throat. She couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, couldn’t breathe. This was the end. With his free hand, he reached into his flowing robe and withdrew… a garlic press.
“We have some pressing matters to attend to,” the specter’s gritty voice proclaimed.
He tried to clamp the pressing end over Stacey’s thumb, but it wasn’t quite the right shape, she jerked free, scooped up her knife, and fled across the kitchen.
“Seriously!” Stacey exclaimed. “You’re trying to murder me with a garlic press? O-M-G! You are like the worst serial killer EVER!”
The specter hung his hood in shame and then vanished before she could further insult him.
The next day unfolded like the previous. The police found no evidence of the attack and her father accused her of acting up. Again she was left alone and again the specter attacked.
This time he tried serrated barbeque tongs that left her with a barely-visible scratch on her nose. Stacey didn’t bother reporting the incident. No one would believe her and despite the specter’s air of undead horror, she was beginning to think he didn’t actually pose much of the threat.
It became a ritual eventually. He would try to kill her with some ridiculously inefficient weapon she could easily counter with a butcher’s knife. She would point out his “lameness” and he’d vanish in shame. The most dangerous thing he tried using was the curved double-sided blade from the food processor. Unfortunately for the specter, the curve on the blade made it awkward for stabbing.
One evening, he found Stacey with most of her kitchen implements in use. She was mixing some greenish batter while referring to a recipe in an open magazine on the counter.
Frustrated, he came up behind her and whacked her on the head with a spatula.
“Oh hey!” she said, turning and snatching the tool. “I was looking for that.”
“What are you doing, Stacey?” the specter demanded in his gravelly, undead voice.
“Trying this new recipe for slimming avocado cookies,” she explained. “Do you want to lick the spoon?”
“What?” the specter demanded.
She shoved a wooden spoon into the yawning cavern under his hood. Even in his ghostly form, the specter could taste the sweet avocado batter. He patted his waist, his body beneath his flowing robes was already skeletal so he couldn’t exactly slim down more. Still, the cookie dough brought out his natural glow and he was surrounded by a slight halo of blue light.
“Wash your hands,” Stacey ordered. “And start rolling the dough into one-inch balls like this.”
She demonstrated, rolling the dough between her palms.
The specter, having nothing better to do, did as she asked. He hadn’t washed his hands in three hundred years and Stacey’s exfoliating avocado hand soap completely cleared the dried bits of flesh from his skeletal hands. He felt positively radiant.
They spent the evening baking together. It was the first time the ghost had ever correctly used cooking implements. He realized he liked it.
“I don’t know if I’m really into this killing thing,” the specter admitted as he gobbled down the last avocado cookie.
“So why do you do it?” Stacey asked.
“I don’t know, it’s what all my friends do,” he shrugged.
“Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to,” Stacey lectured. “You just need to find your unique you and do that.”
“My unique me?” the specter questioned.
“Yeah,” Stacey continued. “There’s a quiz in Teen Glam that will help you figure it out.”
She started rummaging through the recycling bin until she found the issue she was looking for. She opened the quiz and handed the undead serial killer a pencil.
Twenty questions later the specter learned that his “unique me” was a “pastry chef/philanthropist”.
With Stacey’s help, he gave up on his murderous ways and went to culinary school where he became a master of every imaginable kitchen implement and used avocados in ways no one had ever dreamed. He had found his unique self and though he was dead, he’d never felt so alive.