the phone rang.

“Die,” the voice said on the other end of the line.

“Who is this?”

Gwen had gotten two of these calls before from different numbers. The first she didn’t think too much of.

‘Just a prank,’ she thought. The second came from the same area code.

‘Friends pulling a prank,’ she thought. This one was from a different area. Not anywhere close to her hometown of Portland. Now, she was indefinitely frightened.

“You don’t know me too well,” it said. It was raspy, maybe a woman’s voice, but it was hard to tell. It sounded almost as if the voice had gone through an electronic filter. Or perhaps the caller was a heavy smoker. Maybe it wasn’t a person at all.

“Tell me who you are or I’ll… I’ll…” Gwen tried to think of a good threat, but the other line was quick to respond.

“Silent. Be silent, please.” It was spoken at the same volume. A soft, quiet, eerie volume that, when heard, pricks up the hairs on the back of your neck.

“No. Stop calling me! Leave me alone, and if I hear from you again, I’ll call the cops!” She screamed furiously into the phone and slammed it back down in its cradle on her bedside table. Gwen began to cry in a state of emotional fear. She buried her head in her pillow and screamed.

Who was this unknown psychological assailant? Was it a prank? Or was it something else entirely?

The phone rang. Gwen began to breathe faster. She stared at the phone, which was now like a signal to her demise. It rang again, and she let out a soft scream and backed away from it, grasping her pillow for her life. A third time, and by this time Gwen was pushed up against the wall opposite to the phone, right beside her second story bedroom window. It rang one last time. Gwen slid down to the floor and hugged her pillow close to her body for comfort. The ringing stopped.

“Hey! You’ve reached Gwen Fergusons home. Sorry, but I’m not here to talk. You can leave a message after the beep, or you can call my cell at 503-671-4432. You choose!” Gwen’s happy voice laughed in the answering message, contrasting her current emotional state. “Thanks for calling!” Then, the beep came.

The only sound heard in the room was that of heavy, static breathing coming through the cheap speaker of the answering machine. Gwen’s shallow breaths were almost silent. The breathing stopped, and with it Gwen’s heart jumped. It seemed as if the foreboding silence went on for an eternity. This sensation was immediately killed by the window. A small pebble struck the glass right next to her ear, causing her to jump back and face it, holding the pillow out in self-defense.

“I’m waiting…” the voice spoke once again, and the other line was lost to a long, dull tone.

Gwen cried in pure fear, and her breathing became fast and heavy. She approached the window slowly, still holding the pillow in front of her. As she got closer to the glass, she retracted it to her side and stretched her head out just enough to peek at the driveway. A woman’s figure stood in the middle of the drive, staring up at the window with a smile on her face. Gwen’s tension relaxed and she threw the pillow angrily on the bed.

She slid the window open and let out a long, relieved sigh.

“Damn it, Mom! You nearly gave me a heart attack! Why the hell would you do that!?”

Her Mother still stared up, a large grin on her face. She hesitated. “I just like to see your reactions.” Her voice tried to become louder, but it was still raspy.

“Are you okay, Mom? You sound sick.”

Her Mother hacked and replied, “Yes. It’s just a cold.”

“Okay. Well, come inside. It’s freezing out. You’re definitely not helping your cold at all.”

“I can’t,” she said. “I’m…locked out. You should come down here.”

Gwen dropped her head and squeezed her eyes shut in disgust.  She slammed the window shut and turned toward her door. Gwen paced herself down the stairs and onto the shaggy carpet of the living room where the door stood on the far left of the room. She walked toward it, and three quick knocks struck the other side.

“Yes! I’m coming!” She began a slow jog and reached out to unlock the door. The bolt wasn’t locked.

Gwen gained a curious expression upon her face. ‘Locked out?’ she thought. As curious as this was, she shrugged it off and moved her hand to the knob, opening the door wide.

“I’m really mad. You shouldn’t have…” She stopped midsentence. The porch was absent of her Mother. The street was absent of anybody. There was no sign of any human activity, in fact. All house lights were off, all cars gone from the street. The only source of sight was the flood light above the door. It lit up the low fog, giving an unearthly feel to the familiar front lawn. She slowly walked out the door, the wood of the deck squeaking under each step.

“Mom?” she called out, her fear and adrenaline slowly residing back into her veins. “Mom, stop it. You’re freaking me out.” She took slow steps down the stairs to the walkway that curved into the driveway. “Mom,” she said again. “Come out.”

Her bare feet sunk in to the wet, mucky grass, freezing her toes in the chilled winter air. She looked around her, trying to find a hiding spot where her Mom could pop out and scare her. She didn’t see anyone around. She turned toward the chain-link fence that separated her neighbor’s yard from theirs. A body lay in the grass next to it, shriveled into a tight fetal position.

“Mom,” she said, quickening her pace. “Stop it. Don’t you think you’ve scared your daughter enough for tonight?”

Her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, and Gwen gagged in revolt. The body was, in fact, her Mothers. She lay in an inhuman position, her arm snapped back behind her head. A large hunk of flesh was bitten out of her neck, and a pool of blood gathered below her mouth. The facial expression of her death still was carved onto her face. Her eyes were bulged in terror, and a small insect flew around it and landed on her right pupil. Gwen revert her eyes from the disgusting sight, and soon her eyes were adjusted to the rest of the neighborhood. Dead and decaying bodies lay scattered in the street, on the yards and the sidewalks. The smells of decaying human meat flood her nostrils and her eyes watered.

Gwen screamed and bent over, forcing a large amount of puke out of her system. She cried and clutched her stomach.

“Oh, God, what’s happening!?”

A soft, raspy voice whispered into her left ear.

“Die.”

© Copyright Brendan Swogger 2012

Today, I sat on my couch in the middle of a Paranormal Activity marathon when, suddenly, a thought struck me. I need to write a story. Indeed, it had been months since the last time I’d put something up on my website. I’d sat down and written a little in the past few weeks, but not to the point of finishing one. Many of the projects I’d started were headed in the direction of novelettes. I needed to write a short story, something I could pump out in one sitting. So, listening to the little voice inside my head, I sat down and started to write. I didn’t know what I was going to write or where the story would end up. All I knew is that I had to write. What I got in the end was a short story that left the conclusion and unknown factors completely to the reader’s imagination. Whether it be a zombie story or a ghost story, serial killer or creature feature, is completely left up to you. So, where did the story go in your mind? And who’s the next victim? Happy Reading! 😉

About indiealtpdx

Writer for indie.alt and Vortex Music Magazine

Posted on 11/11/2012, in Short story and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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