's 2018 Horror Write-off:

The Advert

Submitted by Rook Lankin

Another morning commute and she is leering at me again, exactly like yesterday. No matter where I sit or in which metro car, I know by now I can just look to my right and that same ad will be there. The one for the new dental clinic. And she will be front and center on it: jaw clenched, lips curled back to show her perfect teeth, eyes narrowed in contempt.

Her skin appears burned. Just looking at it makes me sore. It looks like someone briefly boiled her just before the shoot, but she is smiling. At first I thought it was a forced smile, that it looked wrong because it wasn't genuine, but after weeks of this I can tell that she really is amused. While she leers at me she is thinking, "Fuck you, Alice. You don't know what's coming to you but it's going to hurt. I am going to laugh and laugh."

I used to wonder what happened in the studio when that photo was taken. How did her skin get so damaged and why did nobody care? It can't just be the camera. Part of her forehead is visibly peeling.

Although she is always there in the morning and never in the evening, it is the ride home when I feel the most nervous. As the train arrives, I can already see the doors sliding open, and right across from them she is standing there. The same heat-damaged face, the same spiteful grin. Just imagining it, I can already feel the boiling water engulfing me. When I meet her eyes across the metro car... the fantasy stops, the train is here. She is not in it this time. I don't know what will happen when I finally do meet her. But I know it will hurt. She will laugh and laugh.