The Voice in the Void
Lucas’ car sputtered as he turned the corner, leaving the confines of his apartment complex behind him. An orange glow irradiated the dashboard of his nineteen ninety-something piece of crap. The check engine light had been on for months now, but Lucas simply didn’t have the money to get the car looked at; he barely had enough money to get by as it was. Still, that didn’t stop him from driving it, though it seemed to grow worse with each passing day. He wondered when it would just stop working altogether.
After a few minutes of driving, Lucas was approaching the first traffic light– red. He hated catching this light; it always took five minutes to change, even when there were no other cars on the road. Such was the situation this evening as he slowed to a stop in his time-worn relic. The car let out a strangled gasp, as if the presence of the red light imposed a crushing, unseen force on the antique. Minutes passed and snow fell in silent flurries as he waited at the traffic light, but it remained red. Lucas’ eyes shifted upward, peering into the rearview mirror. An orb of incandescent white revealed itself in the reflection, haunting the atmosphere as its sole presence. A blurred green appeared in his peripheral vision and he looked down, noticing that the light had changed. As Lucas shifted his right leg to the accelerator pedal, his knee let out a soft pop, its joints had grown stiff during the wait. He pressed his foot down anxiously, and the car produced an agonizing groan, followed by a lurch that may as well have said, “I am defeated.” The lights in the car faded and the pedal remained rigidly fixed, unmoving despite Lucas’ efforts.
“Shit,” he muttered, twisting the key back and forth into the ignition, yielding no results. The light turned red again, faintly illuminating the dark concrete below. The inside of Lucas’ car, however, remained black. His toes grew cold in the darkness of his car, he wiggled them for warmth but it was really a hapless effort. His mind began to stray as he tried to process all that had just happened, what had driven him to leave in the first place. He closed his eyes tightly, clenching his hands around the patchy, leathered steering wheel. With his eyes shut, Lucas could notice a musty scent that was lingering in his car, invading his consciousness now that his sense of sight had been switched off. A woman’s face appeared before him, tears rolling down her cheeks uncontrollably.
“I’m done,” she told him, the words echoing throughout his mind, causing his hands to tense up as Lucas gripped the wheel more firmly. The corners of his eyes dampened as he thought of her hands, so soft, yet so volatile. He could see those hands, throwing things off of shelves, pulling the TV down from its stand causing a loud crash followed by broken glass. Everything ruined; knives on the floor of the kitchen, its drawers pulled out and cast down on the tiled floor, revealing their silvery contents.
“Don’t,” he would attempt to say as he reached out to her, only to be pushed aside by those hands. He reached out again, in another attempt, but this time was stopped by a resounding slap to the face, which caused Lucas to recoil. He pressed his own hand to his cheek, it was warm, and began throbbing underneath his cold touch. “Fine, be done,” he countered, having recovered from the blow. “I don’t care.” he took his hand away from his face and reached for his keys, gathering them up swiftly. “I don’t fucking care anymore.” His hand closed around the brass door handle of the front door, inviting the cold, night air in as he turned the handle and swung it open. He looked back, his home in tatters and the woman he loved in tears. “We’re over,” he told her, stepping out into the night; the words resounded in his head.
Just then, the radio turned on– static. The abruptness of the sound jolted Lucas back to consciousness. Lucas opened his eyes– red again. After releasing the steering wheel from his grip, he turned the FM receiver dial, trying to adjust the station. More static. After getting over his initial disappointment, Lucas grew hopeful since the radio had come on. He twisted the key in the ignition one more time, although again, his effort was futile. He didn’t know anything about cars, so looking under the hood would do him no good. After a moment of thought, he switched his car to park, and pulled the handle of the door hesitantly. The night wind chilled him to the bone; this was the coldest December in years. Lucas’ feet moved, one after the other, as if reacting to a mind separate from his own. One, two, one, two… he couldn’t stop himself from moving. His mind went blank. He wasn’t thinking, but he moved all the same.
Lucas found himself staring at the door to his apartment, number 303. He didn’t know how he got there; in fact, the last thing he could remember was staring at the red light in his car. His eyelids felt heavy and his vision was bleary. He looked down at his hands. Were they there? Were they his? He could see them, but they appeared distant, and his eyes had trouble focusing on them. They didn’t feel like his own, no, he couldn’t feel them at all. They were just there. His brain could send signals: open, close, but his hands did not respond. They just stayed there, floating, as if attached to imaginary arms. But they were his arms, right? He couldn’t even tell anymore. His body felt alien to him, like he was no longer in control. Suddenly, he felt his right arm move, it was heavy, and the sudden movement surprised Lucas. His hand was a ghost, its pallor only matched by the snow that had painted a layer over the town, concealing it from the rest of the world. He could not feel his fingers move, and yet, he felt the coldness of the knob as they slowly grasped the door handle.
Lucas’ mind was torn. What was he doing here? He didn’t want to be here, anywhere but here. She didn’t love him anymore, and he despised that. But he loved her; at least, he thought he did. Nothing could be certain anymore. Hate, love, he could no longer tell the difference; the line had been blurred and the damage seemed irrevocable. The ghost hand twisted the knob slowly, as if trying to be subtle, but the knob stopped moving. Jammed? This seemed unlikely. No, he thought. She must have locked the door.
Lucas awoke with a headache. His eyes remained shut, but it was the pain, he supposed, that had stirred him from sleep. His entire body tingled as the blood surged back to his appendages, he could move his hands again. Cracking his eyelids open, Lucas saw a beige ceiling, a white ceiling fan. He shut them again, wincing at the pain in his head. He felt a sticky warmth on his neck, and his ears began to ring incessantly. “What happened,” he thought aloud, struggling to regain his bearings. His right hand began to tremble as he raised it to his head and rubbed the source of his pain. Sticky? A troubled look took over his face. Shutting his eyes again, he withdrew his hand and brought it down to eye level.
His eyes were fixated on the bloody palm that quivered before him. Why am I bleeding? He asked himself, squirming his body in an effort to sit up. Lucas groaned as he reached an upright position, leaning his entire body weight on his hands that were stamped in the bloodied carpet beneath him. The sudden transition caused blood to run straight to his head, causing a split-second blackout and a fit of dizziness. As Lucas began to look around, he realized where he was. His home, though in tatters, was immediately recognizable; however, patterns of crimson now adorned the walls, floors, and furniture of his modest apartment. Thump, thump, thump, Lucas’ heartbeat accelerated, eyes darting to each corner of the room as he took in the horrific new décor. An indescribable pain shot through his chest, pulsating with each rapid beat of his heart. With each shot of pain, the feeling spread throughout his body, and the more it spread, the heavier his stomach became. Lucas scrambled to his feet, but his knees betrayed his growing fear as they wobbled under the pressure of his weight. The floor creaked as Lucas inched his foot forward, his shoe squelching in the blood-drenched carpet.
Beads of sweat formed at the corners of Lucas’ brow as he made his way from the living room to the bedroom, leaving a trail of red footprints in his wake. The omnipresent scent of oxidized iron gradually grew stronger as he approached the unlit bedroom. It was one of two bedrooms in the unit, although the other was just a guest room that was seldom used. Lucas ran his hand along the inside wall, fumbling for the light switch. Click his fingers found the tiny, plastic switch and flicked it upward.
A loud humming noise sounded as the power in the apartment went off. Although the apartment was quiet before, the absence of light seemed to fortify the silence in the room, slashing away any notions of security that Lucas may have felt. Nothing could penetrate this silence, he thought as his eyes squinted in an attempt to adjust to the darkness. I could scream, and no one would even hear me.
Static fractured the silence and the alarm clock next to the bed began blinking, 12:00. The red glow of the numbers faded in and out, but the static continued without interruption; shadows stretched and waned in time with the sporadic flickers of the dim, red light. As Lucas adjusted to the darkness, he noticed a mysterious silhouette that appeared to be suspended in the air. Despite the ongoing static, Lucas discerned a slow pitter patter that was coming from the center of the room. Moisture gurgled beneath Lucas’ shoes as he shifted his weight from one side to the other. His left hand reached out to his side instinctively, running along the familiar wall of his bedroom once more, before reaching the smooth, plastic plate which housed the light switch. The switch hovered between Lucas’ ring and middle fingers, as he hesitated to make any sudden movements.
His fingers pulled the plastic switch down and Lucas closed his eyes, expecting something more to happen, nothing did. After a few seconds had passed, Lucas peaked out, first his right eye opening cautiously, followed quickly by the left. He blinked a few times, trying to notice any subtle changes that may have happened. Nothing. Lucas exhaled and kept the switch firmly nestled between his two fingers. “There’s no reason the power shouldn’t be working,” he thought to himself, trying to muster up the courage to raise the tiny piece of plastic again. A sharp pain pulsated through the back of his head, causing Lucas to twitch in pain and inadvertently flick the switch to an upright position. Light beamed down from the overhead bulbs, illuminating a tapestry of gruesome chaos below. The woman Lucas loved, Isabella, was hanging, suspended by her ribcage which had been ripped out through her back. A deep crimson liquid trickled slowly down the fine structure of her bones, glistening in the incandescence as if morning dew on a new spring morning. Her hands, dismembered, lay pale and lifeless on the floor. Her throat was severed and hollow; all internal organs scraped out and discarded, littering the floor and creating a human wasteland. Blood dripped systematically down from her corpse, creating a slow pitter patter of blood that pooled beneath her. The static had stopped, and the red numbers on the alarm clock stood still, reading 12:01.
Lucas dropped to his knees, unable to keep his composure after seeing Isabella like this. His eyes flooded with salty tears which gushed down his cheeks uncontrollably. Lucas’ chest expanded and compressed with his heavy sobs, and his upper lip became coated in a slippery layer of mucus that he made no attempt to control. “Why Isabella, why? Why did this have to happen to her? Who could have done this? Why?” Lucas’ mind was full of ‘why’s’, but he had no answers.
Police arrived at the scene the next day, after having received a few phone calls from concerned citizens in neighboring apartments. There were loud crashing sounds, one neighbor said; another said that she had heard screams in the late hours of the night. Neither of them had called in that night, however; the neighbors didn’t want to bother police at such an ‘untimely’ hour for what they thought was a run-of-the-mill domestic dispute. The door to apartment #303 had not been locked, and therefore, police had no difficulties in gaining immediate access to the unit. Upon initial inspection, the area had been taped off and deemed a crime scene, calling it a “grisly murder-suicide,” employees at the Silverleaf Apartment complex were very cooperative in this matter. Cops cited bruising on the woman’s wrists, as well as splinters in her hands from gripping a baseball bat was found on the floor in the bedroom. The wooden bat was covered in blood, just as everything else was, but it also had strands of hair and bits of bone fragment lodged in it, likely from the suspects head. The suspect, Lucas Eaden, was young, early twenties, with dark brown disheveled hair. 5’9”, approximately, with a long, steel knife impaling his abdomen. Officials stated that they believed it was that same knife that carried out the severing of the victim’s hands, and the removal of the organs in her throat. The victim did put up a fight, however, as scratches were found on the suspects arms, with bits of his skin wedged beneath her finger nails. Small traces of blood found in the kitchen insinuate that it was where the fight started, before escalating and moving to the bedroom. Police say that it was from the bedroom closet that the victim, young Isabella, retrieved the baseball bat, which she swung fiercely at the back of the perpetrator’s head. Although the blow wasn’t fatal, it caused severe bleeding in the suspect, who bled out in the living room. Police could not confirm whether or not the victim was deceased already when Lucas’ blood poured out into the main room of the apartment, however, it was clear that he moved from the living room back to the bedroom, where he would ultimately commit suicide.
“Shut up.” Alexa giggled, nudging her boyfriend playfully as he turned the page of the magazine he was holding.
“What?” Jake asked through a grin, trying to keep from laughing. “That totally looks like you.” he pointed to a picture of some model striking a cheesy pose in fall’s new hottest fashion.
“Does not,” she countered, putting on a faux pouty face and sticking out her bottom lip. Alexa was a good looking young woman… no, she was “hot,” or “sexy as fuck,” as Jake would say to his friends. She was tall, but not too tall whereas to be unattractive, no, she was just slightly shorter than Jake, who was considered a good height among their peers. She had long, blonde, silky hair that touched the bottom of her shoulder blades, and a nice rack too. Her eyes were a remarkable green that danced in the light. Her face was pretty, yes, so pretty in fact that Jake often pointed out how similar she looked to various famous models and actresses, to which she grew tired of quickly, but it didn’t bother her so much as to actually upset her.
The couple had moved into Silverleaf Apartments a few days back, relocating from their place downtown in order to accommodate Jake’s new job. The cozy, two-bedroom apartment had a great deal going on it as well, there was nothing in the area that was cheaper, and it was a short, ten minute drive from Jake’s office. Jake and Alexa were finally coming into some luck in finding Silverleaf Apartments, a blessing really. Jake looked up from his magazine as a feeble knocking came from the front door. The chrome colored door-knocker hung loosely underneath the freshly lacquered ‘303’ at the top of the door, and a pair of dusty boots rested on a brown, rubber mat that read “Welcome.”
Alexa’s eyes widened and she looked over to Jake, who just shrugged his shoulders. “I wasn’t expecting anyone.” He looked surprised, putting down his magazine and pushing off of the sofa with a shove.
“Make sure you look out the hole first!” squealed Alexa, who had hopped off of the couch as well. Jake turned around with a grin, mouthing the word ‘OK’ as he neared the front door. He closed his right eye, peering through the peephole with a squinted eye. The gnarled face of an old, time-worn man looked back at him. His droopy eyes grew with excitement as he heard the workings of the lock that Jake was turning come undone. The door opened, and Jake stepped out with immediacy, shutting the door promptly behind him.
“Hello…” Jake began hesitantly, not sure of what to say to the stranger who stood in front of him. The old man just stood there, acknowledging Jake only with his eyes, and through the faintest of smiles. His smile soon disappeared though, as the man reached into his pocket, staring at Jake intently through soulless eyes. Jake’s eyes darted down to the man’s hidden hand, his heart began to beat faster. Looking back up, he noticed that the man’s smile was gone and his eyes appeared to him as dark, black holes that led to nothing; they would destroy him if he let them. The old man’s wrinkled hand pulled out a piece of paper, folded over and creased several times. Jake sighed in relief at the discovery of the paper, the overwhelming sense of dread that had taken him so easily moments before had disappeared, and Jake began to focus on what the man had taken out of his pocket. The old man’s hands were trembling as his wizened, skeletal fingers fumbled to open the paper up to its original size.
“H-Have you.” The geezer started, stuttering over his words while he lifted the paper up higher for Jake to see, “Have you seen this girl?” Jake stared at the black and white picture of the young girl on the paper. She had to be in her early twenties, twenty-five at tops Jake thought. She was attractive, with long, blonde hair, and her soft face appeared to him as cherubic but her eyes looked to him, pleadingly, helpless. The word ‘MISSING’ appeared above her picture, in black, bold letters, followed with some of her information, such as the place she was last seen.
“No…” Jake paused, reaching back and grasping the door handle, “I’m sorry. I haven’t.”
“P-Please! Look again!” The man pleaded, shoving the tattered paper into Jake’s face. “Look again, I beg you!” His voice crackled as he implored to Jake, tears forming in the corners of his eyes.
“Hey, look old man, I’m sorry, I haven’t seen her.” Jake twisted his face away from the paper and turned the handle of his door, escaping to the inside of his apartment. He hastily locked the door behind him, both locks, which was unusual for him because they only ever locked just the one. Jake pressed his eye to the peephole, but saw nothing. It was dark, black.
“Who was that?” Alexa asked from the safety of the couch.
“No one… it was no one.” Jake stepped into the kitchen and opened up the fridge, absentmindedly rummaging through its contents. “Just some old guy.”
“Well, what did he want?” she inquired without looking away from the television.
“I don’t know,” he said, “something about a missing girl. He was kinda creepy.” He withdrew a can of soda and popped it open with a loud snap, taking a hurried sip. “What are you watching?”
“When Amish Attack,” replied Alexa, eyes fixed on the screen. “It’s about when Amish people attack other people, for seemingly no reason at all,” she looked over with a dumb grin to Jake who was now making his way back into the living room, “it’s hilarious.”
“It sounds hilarious,” responded Jake, putting emphasis on ‘sounds.’ He thought that would get a giggle out of Alexa, but she just sort of smirked a bit.
Beads of condensation rapidly streamed down the bathroom mirror, creating a winding river that separated itself from the mass of fog that had developed and slowly taken over the oval looking glass. A sharp scream of pain erupted from the standing shower, and Alexa’s hands pushed up against the glass panes with a wet smack. Her arms trembled as she winced in pain, shutting her eyes tightly and bending over slightly, allowing herself some relief.
“Oh my God,” she moaned, her pinkish hands pushing at the glass as if the room was shrinking and she was trying desperately to delay her fate. The side of Alexa’s head had been pressed up against the translucent pane in between her hands, and she rested it there for a while as she continued to get fucked from behind. The lights flickered and Alexa’s head was wrenched backwards by her hair, revealing a soft, pale neck. Water bounced off of her angelic body and collected gracefully in petite droplets that adorned Alexa’s bare skin.
Jake’s hips thrust into her violently, producing a rhythmic series of pleasurable sighs from his partner. Alexa could not resist the urge to fondle her own breasts, and began squeezing them, tugging at her tender nipples. Within moments, a tremor overwhelmed her entire body, turning pain into pleasure and pleasure into even greater pleasure. Her eyes rolled back slightly and her body tingled, and she and her partner collapsed to the floor, allowing water to rain over their exhausted bodies.
“I love you,” she said to Jake with a sigh.
“Police are still investigating the mysterious disappearance of the young woman, Emma Samson that happened a few days ago, on the sixth,” a reporter on TV bellowed over the wind. “She was reported missing late on the 7th, as the standard procedure is to report after 24 hours. Her mother has stated that she never returned to their downtown home the night of the 6th, and she is not the type of person to stay out all night.” The TV flashed a picture of the girl, blonde hair, pretty, along with her name. “Anyone with information that could lead to the whereabouts of Emma Samson, please contact us at CRIME BUSTERS, that’s 1-800-CRIME-BUSTERS.”
It was the middle of the night when Jake woke up in his bed with a cold sweat, startled by his dreams, or nightmares, he couldn’t remember which. Instinctively, he reached for his cellphone, which he always kept beside him. Hitting the unlock button, the brightly lit screen blinded him momentarily, and he squinted his eyes to try to adjust to the light. Twelve o’clock? He read to himself before opening up the internet browser to check his Facebook. Feels later than that. He logged into the website and noticed that it’s Jennifer’s birthday today. Jennifer was his ex-girlfriend. Fuck Jennifer, he thought to himself as he clicked inside the status box. What’s on my mind? He read silently, moving his thumb over the virtual keyboard: just woke up, can’t get back to sleep. Fml #insomnia. He scrolled down his newsfeed, reading other statuses and looking at funny memes.
“I love cheezburger cat,” he chuckled as he clicked the ‘like’ button underneath it. Jake squinted and darted his eyes to the upper right hand corner of his phone. Twelve o’clock, but the cat picture was posted at 1:14 am… He put his phone back on standby mode and placed it down on the mattress. “Must be something wrong with the phone.” He got up from the bed and stepped into the dark living room, not noticing the clock behind him that had been blinking. In the kitchen, Jake opened up the refrigerator to find something to eat. “Not shit in here,” he mumbled, rubbing his sleep-encrusted eyes. Through the humming of the fridge, Jake was barely able to discern a small noise in the background.
Tap, Tap, Tap,
He shut the door to the refrigerator and without the continuous droning; he was able to hear the sound louder, and more clearly. There was definitely something tapping, but what, and from where?
Tap, Tap, Tap,
The kitchen is dark, and Jake’s eyes had not gotten used to the blackness yet, so he reached out to touch the wall with his left hand. It was smooth, and cool to the touch, and Jake began to make his way out of the kitchen like a blind man, using the wall as his guide. As he neared the front door, the sound grew louder, until finally Jake realized where it was coming from.
Tap, Tap, Tap
Outside? He wondered, flipping the switch to light up the small lamp that hung outside near their door. He pressed his body up to the door and looked out the peephole, but didn’t see anything. His hand trembled as it hovered over the doorknob, unsure of its next move. Jake didn’t have time to think, though, and he grasped the icy handle and twisted, flinging the door wide open.
Nothing was there. He looked around, and then stepped outside to see if he could spot anyone nearby, but he couldn’t. Looking down, he spotted a small, black bird that appeared to be pecking at something, and Jake exhaled in relief. As he started back inside, a weird feeling overcame him, and his heart dropped to his stomach. Jake turned around, and stared at the bird. Its beak assaulted the object on the ground once more, three taps, yet again. It twitched its small head and looked at Jake with beady, black eyes and a small bit of something red dangling from its beak. Jake tip-toed nearer to the bird, trying to get a better look at what it was eating, but as he began to focus, a blood-curdling scream broke the silence of the night, coming from the back of apartment #303.
Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud
The hairs on the back of Jake’s neck stiffened and he felt a cold chill cut right through him. I locked the door last night, Jake realized, his mind becoming an entity of horrific cognition. Both locks, even the deadbolt… Jake scrambled back inside the apartment, gliding his palm along the wall of the kitchen and flipping the light switch up, pouring white light which stretched and illuminated the apartment until right before their bedroom. Their bedroom remained dark, a black hole that could not be lit, but rather, drained the light from anything that dared to venture near it. Jake retrieved a knife from the wooden block which sat beside the refrigerator, not the longest knife, but the sturdiest of all, one that he felt would not break if plunged deep within the flesh of another.
Jake neared the bedroom in trepidation, the door was open, yes, but the blackness it exuded concealed the darkest of secrets. Fingers felt for the pearly, white light switch as Jake entered the bedroom left-hand first, his right hand firmly clenched around the handle of his steel knife.
I’m still here with you, even now, a woman’s voice whispered as his fingers began to press up on the light switch. Jake’s heart stopped as the faint words were followed up by a warm, shallow breathing that moistened the back of his neck. Frantically, he swung his body around and lashed out with the blade, but it cut nothing but shadows, and Jake was left in silent darkness. After a moment, he warily retreated, taking a few small steps back into the bedroom. He turned and flicked the light switch on, illuminating the room.
“What the fuck!” Alexa groaned as the room lit up, pulling the downy, crimson and white comforter over her head and rolling over.
I swear I’ve heard that voice before, thought Jake as he was leaving work the next day. His black hair billowed in the wind, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his charcoal suit jacket as he approached his cobalt-blue sedan. He lit a cigarette and popped in a cd of The Black Dahlia Murder before starting his car and pulling off. The back of his throat singed a bit as he drew in a deep drag, allowing the pungent smog to loiter in his lungs. Double-bass drums pounded relentlessly, causing the subwoofer to quake the inside of his car, sending shockwave vibrations to Jake’s fist as he clenched the smooth, leather steering wheel. Traffic wasn’t too bad, luckily, though he probably wouldn’t have noticed if it was. Jake’s mind was focused elsewhere.
Jake’s foot pressed against the brake pedal and he came to a stop at the red light before the turn to his apartment complex. He sat there, motionless, waiting for the signal to change. The CD began to skip, distorting the music to an incomprehensible mess. Then static. A cold chill on the nape of his neck caused his hairs to stand on end. He whipped his head around. Nothing in the back seat. He was alone, but he didn’t feel alone. In the rearview mirror a girl stared back at Jake with hollow, empty eyes.
Sleep eluded him every night that week; each time that Jake would close his eyes he would hear her ethereal voice. Alexa seemed not to notice, or maybe she just didn’t care, but Jake was falling slowly in a downward spiral.
I promise not to tell, everything will be alright…
The voice whispered to Jake as he sat on the carpeted floor of his bedroom, head between his knees. He had made the mistake to close his eyes, but he would not do that again, no; at least, that’s what he always said to himself. By now he couldn’t help it, and his body acted of its own accord at times, rendering him helplessly unconscious. It would never last long though, because that’s when she came, in the darkness. He kept the lights on at all times, everywhere. Alexa didn’t seem to mind though, she had been rather quiet as of late, Jake thought that he must have looked like a fool as he was, his attractiveness must have diminished within those passing days.
You said that we would always be together; let me show you what forever means…
Jake jolted himself awake, trembling on the floor in a broken pile of human degeneration. His eyes moved from side to side, surveying the room around him. They blinked, once, twice, each time reminded that she was still there; she was always there. Something is wrong, he thought, trying to turn his head to no avail. No matter how hard he tried, Jake could not seem to get his body to move, and so he stayed on the floor, crumpled. A few hours later, Alexa found him lying in the room, and helped him into the bed.
“There, there, now,” she soothed him, draping a cool washrag over his forehead. He had been running a fever ever since she moved him up to the bed, shivering violently beneath a thin sheet.
Thanks, Jake thought, he couldn’t say the words, he couldn’t so much as move his lips or tongue to speak. Alexa giggled, brushing the matted, black hair out of his eyes and repositioned the cloth.
“Isn’t it funny.” Her smile faded, turning more to a thin grin, leaving just one of her tiny dimples showing. “I’m still here with you, even now… even like this.” The washcloth slipped over Jake’s eyes, engulfing him in a sea of darkness and agony as whispers, thousands of whispers flooded his ears like a swarm of angry wasps whose hive had just been knocked down.
Jake woke up the next day with a renewed vigor, able to move and even get up out of bed with no complications; it was as if his woes from the previous week had been left behind him. He walked into the living room, breathing in deeply through his nose and stretching out his body, popping his back in a slow series of loud crackles. A putrid smell lingered in the air, as if something had been rotting for weeks in the apartment, to which Jake attributed to his lack of showering for the past week. Alexa lay sleeping on the floor, which wasn’t unusual for her; she often passed out there while watching TV, she found the couch to be too ‘confining’ and liked to stretch out.
A charcoal grey jacket hung on the coat-rack near the front door, and Jake threw it over his shoulder, grabbing the set of car keys that were hanging adjacent to it. Today’s the day, he thought, today is going to be a good day. Maybe I can finally put all of this behind me.
“I’m leaving, going to work,” Jake shouted out behind him while cracking the door open, “I love you.” He opened up the door the rest of the way and was greeted by radiating warmth and a gun muzzle in his face.
“Freeze, dirt bag,” the gun-wielder ordered Jake from an arm’s length away, pointing the weapon at his face. Without thinking, or even realizing, Jake’s left hand shot forward and disarmed the law enforcer; his other hand then followed up with a devastating blow to the neck, and within an instant the man’s throat had caved in under the pressure of Jake’s crushing right hand. The metal handgun fell to the hard, concrete ground and landed with a resounding clank. The officer clutched at his neck as it fell to pieces, the dark, red blood oozing out from between Jake’s bony fingers.
He couldn’t understand it, he wasn’t telling his body to do these things but it reacted with a will of its own.
This must be a dream, I must be dreaming–
Three shots resounded, piercing Jake through the head and body and killing him in an instant. Jake’s grip loosened on the man’s neck and the police officer’s body slumped over and fell to the ground, his head rolled a few feet and left a bloody trail in its wake. The two bodies lay lifeless in a dark lake of blood that was now consuming the third landing of Silverleaf Apartments. Two other police officers tentatively approached the corpses from either side, their shoes sloshing in the crimson liquid that had pooled on the ground. The door to apartment #303 had small bits of gooey, pinkish brain matter stuck to it, and pieces of bone and skin were dispersed along the doorway and walls like a morbid Rorschach test. Jake lay face down in his own blood, the exit wound on his head still trickling out blood and grey matter, his eyelids remained open, lashes tickling the surface of his deathbed, never to see the darkness again.
Upon entering the apartment, the police discovered the missing body of Emma Samson, lying on the living room floor, decaying; her skin was crinkled and discolored, and her body was giving off a noxious odor that made the whole apartment smell like death. She must have been there at least a week; the officer’s noted as the surveyed the crime scene, based on her physical appearance. In the hallway, right before the bedroom, sat the slumped over body of Joshua Tindel, an older man who was one of Jake’s neighbor’s. His throat had been slit open, and the corresponding blood stains that splashed over the opposite wall were proof of this. Law enforcers found a crumpled piece of paper in Mr. Tindel’s pocket which bared the likeness of the late Ms. Samson. In the master bedroom, police cited blood stains all over the comforter, and trails of blood on the floor leading from the living room. All of the clocks looked to have been reset, blinking repeatedly at twelve o’clock. Just as the two officers were leaving the room, their radios and the alarm clock sitting on the nightstand began blaring a constant stream of static.
“What’s going on here?” one of them shouted to the other, taking his radio out from his pocket and trying to adjust the volume.
“I can’t—I can’t hear you!!” the other one frantically replied, throwing his radio down on the blood-stained carpet and clutching the sides of his head in agony. “What’s that… what’s that voice?” he asked through clenched teeth, tears welling up in the corners of his eyes.