by Thadd Presley
He shivered. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so rattled. The sound of his voice calmed his nerves a bit, but he knew sleep wouldn’t return. For the time he could only sit and look at the door.
After a long silence, sitting in the red gloom of the heater’s glow, he listened for something to happen. A trip to the bathroom was beginning to become urgent. If not soon, at least before he could sleep. He wasn’t old by any means, but the drugs had done a good job wrecking his system. He knew he wouldn’t make it the entire night without a couple pit stops.
It took another five minutes and mighty strong convincing from his bladder to get him to leave the warmth of the heater. The gas on the fourth floor was turned off, so the only warm room in the apartment was the living room, and only in the vicinity of the heater.
He tested the floor with his bare feet and found it absolutely freezing. But it had to be done; there was no stopping nature. In the old days he would have used a bottle and tossed it in the morning, but he didn’t have a bottle, nor did he feel like living that way. After giving up everything in his pursuit to live a new life, such things now seemed out of character and would lead him right back to the past. He felt that a new life demanded new actions.
He crossed the room, only thinking of his urinary duties, when he heard the high-pitched, quick voice again, like the snap of a rubber band.
Hearing the voice again and being awake when he heard it shook him to his bones. A bit of pee squirted down his leg and he had to squeeze everything together so he didn’t piss himself completely.
He walked faster and felt the burning urgency.
That voice was not his imagination, he nervously realized. “You heard that with your own ears,” he told himself in a whisper, “and it called your name.”
He turned and looked at the locked door.
Fear tried to grip him, but he fought it. He no longer felt alone, but he couldn’t let whatever it was scare him out of his apartment. What would Adam think if he called and said he couldn’t stay in the apartment because he was scared? He smiled in spite of himself, thinking how easy it was to frighten yourself. How many times did he do it as a child? Every night? Whether it was something under the bed or in the closet, something always seemed to be out to get him. And as he got older, the monsters just got scarier and more dangerous. A simple dream or a spooky moment had a way of sending the blackest fear upon him. It was worse now, since Caroline.
Help us, Jack.
This time he jumped hard enough for his feet to leave the floor. It was louder, closer, and there was absolutely no denying that the voice came from behind the locked door.
With a flick of his hand, the light in the bathroom broke the darkness, and he saw himself in the mirror. He didn’t like the look in his eyes and looked away. He turned on the water. It was as cold as he knew it would be.
As he waited to see if the water would get warm, he tried to push the idea of ghosts away. But, there was no mistaking that he’d heard the voice. It called to him three times.
The fear forced its way into his mind.
He let the water run and listened as it gurgled down the pipes. If
it started to run red, he warned himself that it would only be rust.
Not blood. That only happened in movies. Old pipes sometimes have
rust in them.
The urgency of getting to the bathroom was gone, replaced with fright.