During my University years I worked in a Chinese takeaway to make a little extra cash. Nothing quite as thrilling happened to me during my months of working there but it was an interesting experience.
Rachel Hara sighed loudly, she was flipping what seemed like her thousandth burger with her well practiced hands. Five years ago, at the age of 18, when Rachel had started work at ‘The Burger Inn’ it had been a means to make a little extra money while she studied at University; little did she know that life had found a way to make her short term plans into a career. She had graduated from University 3 years ago with a 2:1 in business management, and yet there was little prospect or hope of any future career that didn’t involve cooking greasy food.
“Rachel,” A voice called from around the corner of the kitchen.
“Yes, Gary?” She replied in mock enthusiasm.
“We have an order for 2 double cheeseburgers and a chicken deluxe burger.”
“Sure thing,” She smiled mechanically at him.
Gary was an older man, 10 years Rachel’s senior; he also happened to be a veteran ‘Burger Inn’ employee having worked there for over 15 years. He too had started around the same age as Rachel and was comfortable with the steady income he was receiving. Rachel had pandered him a few times for information regarding his career plans, but Gary seemed adamant to remain where he was and quite content with how his life was going.
“Oh and don’t forget spicy wedges with all 3 of those meals.” He shouted again from behind the screen door.
“What else do I have to live for?” She called back sarcastically, but it seemed Gary hadn’t heard her last comment as she could hear him handing back change to the customers and politely asking them to take a seat.
As she busied herself with preparing the orders in the tiny, grease filled kitchen she sighed again. There was a far too accustomed feeling as she picked things off the counter without looking, knowing exactly where everything had been placed. It was not like a home where there was a comfortable familiarity, but more of a trapped feeling. She imagined this was how prisoners felt, staring at the same four walls, day in and out.
“I am so alone…” She thought glumly as she stared at the burger on the grill. It was blackening around the edges, so she flipped it quickly before it became too burnt. A little oil plashed against her wrist, but she was so used to burns and grazes, after five years in the kitchen, that she didn’t even wince.
“How are those burgers coming along?” Gary asked in an irritable voice. Rachel had worked with him for so long now that she knew he only acted like this when he had restless customers that were in a hurry.
“5 minutes.” she called back annoyed. He knew how much she hated rushing, especially when she was standing over the deep fryer. The wedges, on today of all days, happened to be taking a little longer than usual. She could hear Gary apologizing for the second time to the customers, using his classic excuse: “Sorry, Gents. She’s new.”
Rachel really hated when he used that excuse. She felt bad enough working in a menial job, but then to be made to feel incompetent made it worse.
Red-faced, Rachel pulled the wedges out of the fryer, drained them of excess oil and sprinkled on the ‘Burger Inn’ secret salt mix which was actually just regular salt and taco seasoning mixed together. She boxed up the burgers and added a few sachets of ketchup and mayonnaise before she went to pour the drinks. Her hand was just on the handle of the soda machine when she remembered that Gary had failed to mention what was to accompany the three meals.
“Gary, what were the drink orders again?” She called out. It was strangely quiet at the front but she suspected that he was counting the cash register, or cleaning the counters.
“Gary,” She called again a little louder but was surprised to hear no answer. Her hands were still clutched around the ice filled cups and she stuck her head around the corner to get his full attention.
“Gary, for goodness sake, did you not …” Rachel stopped mid-sentence, she dropped both the cups she was holding, and instead letting out a blood-curdling scream. She backed away into the kitchen slipping on ice chips as she moved. Gary, her colleague, someone who she had known for 5 years had been mounted on the wall with a large blade pierced into his heart; his ‘Burger Inn’ cap was askew and his uniform had been drenched in his own blood. Rachel felt her heart racing, and her blood pumping. Tiny goosebumps erupted on her flesh and all she knew was that she needed to back into the kitchen and barricade the door. She could see no one else on the shop floor and the door was thrown wide open allowing the wind to bellow through, but who was to say that the person who did this would not return.
Her hands swung the white, kitchen door shut she fumbled around, helplessly trying to push stacks of boxes to block the way; each of them was filled with bun sliders and she knew it would not be heavy enough to stop whoever was out there. She grabbed the chair on which she usually threw her coat and propped it up against the handle, before grabbing her purse and fishing out her phone.
Her fingers had only managed to dial ‘9’ before a hand covered her mouth and held her tight.
“Don’t scream.” A male voice warned slowly.
“I’m not here to hurt you.” He sounded oddly calm and did not seem frightened or intimidated. Rachel struggled against his restraint wishing nothing more than to break free.
“Stop!” He said more urgently. “The thing that killed your friend is still out there. “It is here for you.” Rachel did not know what think; her mind was feeling heavy from the constricted breaths. Her arms remained tightly bound around her, but she had stopped struggling to break free. Just outside the door she had a scraping of chairs being moved to the side, and tables being pushed against the walls. She felt the man tense and release the hand that was wrapped around her body to draw something from his side.
“We need to leave now, but you have to trust me.”
His hand slowly released from her mouth, and, grabbed her hand. With great force he pulled her safely towards the back door, just in time to see a shadow of a creature break through the kitchen door and stare intently at her, with its gleaming yellow eyes.