There was a darkness within her. It lurked just beneath her smarmy smile and amusing, hilarious stories and jokes.
But Anika knew better. She didn’t know how or why but she just knew. Or rather, felt. It was there, in her eyes. It was an old habit of hers, to look at the person she was talking to straight in the eyes. And it was an even older, integral part of her to feel a twinge of… something when she did so. Sometimes, she’d feel light and happy; other times, like in this woman’s case, she’d feel a sense of discomfort or foreboding. It was the same thing with places. There had been numerous occasions wherein she would leave a restaurant or a new friend’s house because that tugging feeling of something dark or nasty was too much for her sense to take in.
And now this woman. How could anyone, everyone have missed it?
As Anika watched her new co-worker, Eve, talk and laugh with a customer, she felt the darkness creep out and tease her with a cold sense of foreboding. And then, without warning, Eve whipped her head around and met her eyes. Anika heard insects droning from somewhere near and the faint scent of sulfur assaulted her sense of smell. She wanted to gag but that would give her away. Clutching the menus in her tiny hands, Anika willed herself to not flinch and instead gave a greeting nod to her. Fixing a faux bright smile on her face, Anika turned to her customers and asked what they would be having today. Yes, the apple pie special was available for breakfast. Sorry, no steak. We only offer breakfast at this time. Lunch sets are available at ten-thirty.
“Mommy,” the kid, around five or six years old, tugged at his mother’s red plaid shirt. “I feel sick. Something is burning.”
Anika froze. Didn’t they say that kids were more in tune to the supernatural than most adults?
“Thomas, have a glass of water. You’re probably still dizzy from the long ride,” His mother said, not unkindly. She turned to Anika. “Can you please serve the apple pie first? And quickly? My little boy is hungry.”
He’s nowhere near hungry, Anika thought grimly but she nodded anyway. To the little boy, she said to him brightly, “There’s a playground at the side. Do you like building blocks and boardgames? We have that there.”
“I love building blocks!” Thomas nearly yelled, his small round face instantly lighting up. However, she could still see the uneasiness in his face.
“It’s just past that double wing door on the left,” Anika told the mother. “It’s where the dessert bar and children’s area are.”
Thomas’s mom looked beaten but she smiled. “All right, Thomas. We’ll go there.” With a warm thank you, she headed for the other side of the restaurant, holding hands with her son.
Anika gave a casual glance in the direction of Eve. She caught her staring after mother and child. Anika did not like the intense way she was watching the pair.
“Table six!” The cook, Stefan, hollered from the middle of the room, where meals and drinks were being prepared.
“Six! My favorite number,” Eve called out to him with her famous contagious laugh. “But only triple it.”
“Right. Like in ‘The Omen’,” Stefan laughed right along, as if on cue. “Okay, Damien, get table six’s order here now. We don’t want any delays or there’ll be hell to pay.”
Eve sashayed towards the counter. “Oh, I’m not afraid of hell.” She cooed.
Anika pretended to not hear that as she dragged her feet to the counter and gave Liana, the cashier, table seven and nine’s orders. Of course Eve isn’t afraid of hell. But of course.