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The Phantom Killer #JusJoJan 2023

Hello! I’ve decided to join in on Just Jot it January hosted by Linda G. Hill. Today’s prompt is “phantom” by Tuba.

Content Warning: Abuse. If you’d rather not read such a subject I fully understand. I shall not pingback this entry.

The woman on the train sitting across Sybil was very strange. For one, it seemed as though she was dressed for a theatrical play. Her co-passenger donned a blood-red Victorian ball gown. The V neck showed off her delicate collar-bones and the arch of her neck. A vintage photo locket rested at her throat.

The gown dragged under the trimmings of white lace and linen. The woman’s dark hair was pinned into a chignon and a tiny black feathered hat rested on her head. Her face was veiled with a mesh netting that was an extension of her hat but Sybil could make out that the woman was a striking pale-skinned beauty.

The woman’s piercing green eyes caught her gaze. Sybil realised she was staring.

“Uh, hi. I didn’t mean to stare. Your gown is quite lovely. Are you a cosplayer?” Trying to cover up her self consciousness Sybil laughed. Sybil was dressed in faded jeans and a brown turtleneck. Her messy blond hair rested in an untidy mop on her forehead. She drew her overnight bag closer.

The woman flashed her a smile. Soft ruby red lips.

Sybil shifted nervously in her seat. “Uh, I am sorry-”

“I am called Alice.” Alice’s tone was melodious. She relaxed, resting one white gloved hand onto the armrest. Casting Sybil a sharp glance, she uttered, “Are you a run away?”

Sybil jolted. She hugged herself, glancing around like trapped animal. The entire bogey was empty. There was not another soul on the train. Sybil stood knocking her bag to the floor.

“How do you know? Did Marlon send you to-” The questions tumbled out of her mouth in a screech. Her eyes darted toward an emergency chain. If she pulled it, she could still escape-!

“Sybil. Relax.” Alice’s voice penetrated her mind. The alarm bells ringing in her ears faded. The tension left her body. Sybil stood as though in a daze. The train lights seemed too bright. Her surroundings seemed diffused. A scent wafted to her nose.

Ah, ginger tea. That smell soothed her frayed nerves.

“Please sit, Sybil. I know you are tired.” Alice’s voice guided her back to her seat. Woozily her callused fingers encircled a cool porcelain cup. Alice fixed her with a smile and all Sybil focused on was the steady gurgle of the ginger tea filtering warmly into her cup. One of the few noises that soothed her. In that house, she’d been living a nightmare. To the point that even a slightly raised voice made her spiral into a panic attack.

“It is alright. You can trust me.” Sybil greedily drank the contents of the cup. She only had enough money for the train. She hadn’t had a morsel of food in five days. Alice refilled it for her until Sybil’s thirst was quenched. Her awareness sharpened.

“Who are you? How do you even know about me?” Alice’s pretty mouth stretched into another smile. Sybil found a dull resentment building within her. How easy it was for Alice to smile. To wear pretty gowns and don makeup. To appear so bewitchingly beautiful.

“Dearest friend, you must not concern yourself with how I know about you. Only what I can do for you.” Alice drew a piece of paper and a pen from a purse Sybil had not noticed.

Alice yanked the folding table and placed the instruments on top of it.

“Consider me a solution to all your grievances. A name and an address that’s all I require. In return you must guarantee your silence.”

Sybil stared. Her fingers trembled. Despite the fact that she had no idea about what Alice was suggesting, Sybil understood. The realization dawned on her like a powerful headlight.

“You must decide before we enter the tunnel, Sybil.” Alice’s voice echoed firmly.

Sybil grabbed at the paper. She gripped the pen as though it was a lifeline and scrawled the name with pure vitriol. By the time she was done her hands were shaking and a light sweat had broken over her battered body. The bastard never hit her face. He needed her face to remain unblemished so that he could revel in her terror.

Just in time.

The train roared through the tunnel and the bogey plunged into darkness. Sybil froze. Across from her, Alice’s eyes smouldered green, like the eyes of a cat. A stab of fear crunched across her spine.

“Tell me what-” Sybil heard the snap of two fingers. Her eyes fell shut.


“Sybil! The police are here.” Sybil glanced upward from her journaling. Her therapist had told her to journal to cope with her PTSD. In the small backyard of her mother’s house the scent of ginger tea soothed her immensely. Her mother’s voice spoke in a hushed whisper.

“Marlon is dead. That bastard won’t even let you live in peace after he has left the world… they have some questions…” It had been a month since Sybil had escaped. A month of hoping and praying. A month of living like a fugitive, wondering if her abuser would turn up again.

He’d done that several time. She’d “brush” by him on a grocery trip. Or on her way to the park. Then he’d pretend he had changed. She would cave to his manipulation. He would shame her for being an ungrateful wife. When there had been no news from him, Sybil had heaved a sigh. Good. Perhaps this was a turning point in her life…

Now it took her a full minute to absorb her mother’s words. Sybil stood.

“It’s alright. I know I didn’t do anything. You have nothing to worry about, Mom.” The officers waited patiently in the hall. A woman and a man. “Mrs Brown. We have some questions about your husband.”

Sybil bore the interrogation patiently. In a disapassionate voice she told them what she had endured and showed them the scars. They took her fingerprints and departed.

Weeks later, the murder case graced the news channels as “The Phantom Killer Strikes Again.” Sybil watched with a morbid fascination.

“A vigilante seems to have taken the matters of administering justice in Wingstonshire. The victims are abusive partners. All of the victims are found with all the blood drained from their bodies. The perpetrator is dubbed as “The Phantom Killer” for he leaves no sign of breaking or entering. The victims are found dead in their homes and the police are unable to find any physical clues. Such cases are being reported in various parts of the county. Investigations are ongoing…”

Sybil switched off the television.

A few months of legal investigation was a small price to pay for a lifetime of freedom. Not that Sybil would tell. She always kept her promises. She gazed out into the backyard. In the dusk it was quite difficult to make out but Sybil could see a pair of glowing green eyes as sharp as a feline’s.

Sybil blinked and the phantom vanished.

Wooooh boy, this was a dark story. Not something I expected but if you read it, you have my thanks đź’• Yes, Alice is exactly who you guess she is, but shh she doesn’t like her secret being known…


Published by Aboli Mane

Poet. Writer. Blogger. I post short reads, and poetry on A Writer In The Room. I published my debut poetry book "An Aster's Solitude" in 2019. Currently: Writing my first novel, an animal fantasy in a fictional world. Follow me to keep yourself updated.

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