Words by Tyler Mattson
Art by Abigail Madsen
Meeting Griffin Evergreen was a Christmas miracle. At least that’s what Eve Hollis thinks as Griffin rescues her from an unwelcome suitor at the Bryant Park Christmas Market—stepping in at her exact moment of need, handing her some steaming hot cocoa and taking her free hand in his, pretending to be her boyfriend. Griffin has a distinct confidence about him. He’s tall, dark-haired, bright-eyed, and charming in every way. On the surface, he’s everything Eve has ever wanted. And after spending the rest of the evening together, carrying out the boyfriend charade and having a magical time, Griffin suggests they head back to his place for drinks. Eve agrees without needing too much convincing and the two hop into a taxi and head for his small apartment settled above a run-down antique shop.
When they arrive, Griffin selects his best Rosé and pours the two of them a drink. They sit together talking and laughing. As the night grows darker, they share a kiss. Eventually, Eve realizes the time and tells Griffin she better head home for work in the morning. He pulls her close, kisses her again, and convinces her to stay for one more drink. Without reluctance, she agrees and remains on the couch while Griffin leaves the room to pour each of them one last glass of wine.
Griffin returns, handing her the glass as he sits down beside her. Knowing she needed to get home but still wanting to be polite, Eve drinks the wine quicker than usual, but not quick enough that Griffin would be able to notice. After she takes her last sip, she stands up to thank Griffin and tell him goodbye. But the moment she stands, an invisible force causes her to sit immediately back down. The room suddenly begins spinning, her vision spotty. She can’t get up without teetering side to side, her balance is impaired to the point of collapse. She tries to stand once more, and again she’s unsuccessful. As she clumsily melts back onto the couch, her eyes become heavy, and she drifts off to sleep.
Several hours later Eve wakes up on the concrete floor of a cold, dark, dusty room with her ankle chained to a rusty metal pipe. Still a bit drowsy, she slowly sits up and looks around. Eve’s heart stops when she sees the shrine of photos across the room. Griffin has been stalking her for weeks. He has pictures of her in her home, at work, and at her favorite coffee shop. He even has pictures of her friends and family. Their meeting wasn’t a coincidence at all.
In a panic, Eve looks around the room, desperate for a way out, but all she can see is some ancient looking furniture and countless boxes full of strange knickknacks. That’s when it hits her—she must be in the basement of the antique shop below Griffin’s apartment. As if her realization summons his presence, Griffin glides into the basement with a tray of bone broth for Eve to eat. He kisses her on the mouth and forces the food in front of her. She begs him to let her go but Griffin’s only response is the most blood-chilling smile she’s ever seen.
Is Griffin some sort of psychotic killer, or just an obsessive stalker with a crush? Will Eve ever be able to escape his deranged fantasy and get back to the Bryant Park Christmas Market to celebrate Christmas again?