Tattoos are Permanent, but so is Death

By Rayia Adams

I sat in my chair, swiveling it in a circle. It was a slow day at the tattoo shop. Usually was on Mondays. Weekends it was pretty busy. 

But then I heard the bell ring, and looked towards the door. It was a customer who came in pretty frequently, but they seemed to have a weird thing going on. Almost every week she came in to get a tally mark on her arm. Sometimes she came in three times a week, sometimes never. But she was a very frequent visitor. It was very odd though, the tally marks. She must have had over a hundred.

“The usual?” I asked, and she nodded again. She didn’t talk much either. Mostly just to pay or to say how many she needed. She only got one a day though, never more. It was just policy to check before you did it. “How many?”

“Twenty seven.” My eyes widened. What did these marks mean. And why was she getting more than one in one day. 

“Alrighty,” I said, “may I ask what these marks mean?” She slowly looked up at me. I kept glancing back up at her, and she was still looking. It was kinda weird for a second, but she didn’t answer, and she kept staring, and it started to get creepy. 

I swallowed. “Sorry ma’am, I won’t ask again.” I started to add her tally marks. The whole 27 of them. This lady was crazy. She didn’t smell too great either. Kind of, coppery, maybe, like a penny? I wasn’t sure. She was weird either way. I tattooed marks all the way up her arm. After finishing, which went pretty fast, I mean, they were just short lines, she got up and went to the counter to pay. I followed her up. She handed me the money, and then left without saying another word. 

I kind of wanted to follow her, but I figured it might not be that good of an idea, horror movie level, because she seemed a little off her rocker. So I just sat around the tattoo parlor the rest of the day, without any business. I guess nobody needed a Monday morning tattoo. I waited until closing time, then locked up and went home. 

When I reached my apartment, I threw some leftovers in the microwave and sat down on the couch, flipping through the channels. Nothing good was on. So I ate my food while watching a dumb infomercial, then decided to go for a walk. I had been sitting all day, anyways.

I grabbed my keys, a flashlight, and a knife. You never knew what would happen out here, the neighborhood close by was a little shady, and I didn’t feel like dying tonight. 

I strolled through the streets casually. It was a nice night, clear, and the air was fresh. I set a very leisurely pace, and when I strolled by an open ice cream parlor, I went inside to grab an ice cream cone. I loved cookie dough ice cream, so that’s what I ordered. I paid and went back outside to wander around some more. I usually didn’t come around downtown, and I never walked. I was glad I had tonight though, it was nice. I walked past a pet store and a few boutiques.

I strolled past the electronics store, and saw something that caught my eye. It was the local news playing on the big TV. I stood outside and watched for a minute. 

“27 people were killed in a freak accident today. Two cars rammed into each other, and the car parts somehow flew everywhere, killing many more people. Firefighters came to the scene and as they were searching through the cars for survivors, both cars exploded in a fashion never seen before. The explosion killed more bystanders, and it caught a hot dog stand on fire.” I stepped away from the window. I hated the news. It was so depressing. I walked halfway down the street. 

Then I stopped. 27? Where else had I heard that number today? Then I remembered the crazy lady. Maybe it was just a coincidence. But maybe it wasn’t. But there was a way I could check. I sprinted all the way back home. 

On Google, I searched “freak accident” on all the days before the lady had come in. There was always one accident, everyday day before she came and got another tally. I sat back from the screen. 

This lady was killing people. The realization struck me like a rock. But how? The news had videos of everything last night, and the cars just seemed to suddenly veer right into each other. I pulled up the video playing earlier, and paused it. I looked closely at the image. In the corner, I see an arm. An arm decorated with tally marks. Lots of tally marks. 

I ran outside, jumping into my car, I had evidence now! I put the car in drive and tore out of the neighborhood and down the highway. This lady was killing people! But why? Did they do something? Did she just do it for fun? Or, what if they figured out what she did, and what if they were gonna tell somebo-

Sirens blare. Glass crunches beneath feet. A news van shows up and the reporters all pile out. 

“Local tattoo parlor owner killed in yet another freak accident,” the reporter says, with a car overturned behind her, glass strewn far and wide, blood slowly seeping from the driver’s side.