PROMPT: Understanding of Time
GENRE: Horror

She awoke with a soft whimper, eyebrows furrowed, feeling a touch of fingers lingering upon her left cheek. Instinctively, she looked to the other side of the bed, but could not recall why her mind compelled her to do so. She clumsily reached for her phone on the end table.

4:53 a.m. illuminated before her.

She removed the covers with one swift movement. Her footsteps echoed throughout the apartment as she walked toward the bathroom. As she switched on the bathroom light, her eyes met a tattooed face in the mirror. She swung around, prepared to face her attacker or scream, whichever became more appropriate.

Her ragged breathing was the only noise in the apartment. Shaken, she switched on every light and double checked the deadbolt on her door. With her breathing steadied, she returned to the bathroom and shut the door. As the shower’s water poured over her, a sense of déjà vu slowly infiltrated her mind.

The face in the mirror.

It was as if she had seen it before. A chill traveled down her spine, but by the time she stepped out the front door, it was gone.

The rest of her day was commonplace. She went to work, stopped at the pub for a drink with co-workers, and headed home for dinner and a quiet night.

It was dark when she stepped onto her street. She noticed there was little to no traffic, but the thought disappeared without another concern. A police officer across the street politely nodded her way. Just as she was entering her apartment building, she sensed déjà vu again, as if someone was watching her. Confused, she stopped to look out to the street but did not see anyone or anything out of the ordinary. She smiled at herself for her unwarranted paranoia.

Later on, she hungered for a snack. She blankly stared at the contents of her fridge but closed the door, unsatisfied.

“Hello Jenn,” a voice sounded behind her. She spun around, a piercing scream escaping her mouth. A hand grabbed her wrist and flung her toward the living room. Her forehead cracked against the coffee table. Blood dripped down from her brow line, blurring her already dizzied eyesight as the figure crept down beside her.

“One might think this is too monotonous of a task, but I do try to take pleasure in it each time,” the voice, distinctly male, whispered. She looked up to see the tattooed face from earlier that morning as well as the policeman’s uniform from her walk home. Mouth agape, she tried to crawl away, but the man grabbed her right ankle. She yelped in pain.

He positioned himself atop her, pinning her body to the floor. Her flailing arms weren’t much for his left hand; the man had taken her last weapons of self-defense.

“No, no, no..” he chided. “You can’t escape this. I need you too much. Don’t you remember?” She hadn’t noticed before, but faced with her attacker, his blue tattoos were apparent. She had seen them before.

She could only manage to get out a few words.

“What… what do you want?”

“Your future.” The man answered. He pushed up his sleeves, revealing more of the tattoos. Her eyes widened in horror as his free hand moved toward her face. She racked her brain for a chance, any possibility to get out from under his body, but his weight held her down.

The tattoos began to glow, lighting the entire apartment with a cerulean hue. Her frame went slack.

It was like getting hit with Novocain all over her body. It started in her head and seeped throughout the rest of her limbs. She did not understand what was happening at first. Select images began flashing in her mind.

Waking up in the morning in different apartments. The layouts were never the same. Neither were her careers. She was a photographer, journalist, business executive, baker… even an actress. Sometimes she had a lover, sometimes she had no one. It was never the same, but it was always similar.

There was the djinn, the genie who always came for her. That’s what she had called her attacker at one point because he had proudly told her his reasons, boasted what he did to survive. Every time he tracked her down and fed upon her potential for future time, he lived on. He fed on her life force, the time she would’ve had, and every death led to her starting a new life in a different reality. It was never the same, but it was always familiar.

She wondered if other people had the same fate.

She felt herself slipping now, the numbness completely taking over, causing her eyes to glaze. His tattoos began to dim, absorbing the last of what she unwillingly offered.

The djinn met her eyes with satisfaction, refreshed.

“I’ll see you soon… Jenn,” he remarked, his right hand delicately holding her head.

Everything went black.

She awoke with a soft whimper, eyebrows furrowed, feeling a touch of fingers lingering upon her left cheek.