Message Recieved 7/05:
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"Ms. Wilson? Hi, this is Alan Clark over at the high school. It's coming around to registration time again, and since we haven't heard from you, I just wanted to call and see how things were going, make sure you were still on for the Fall Semester. If you could give me a call back during my office hours, that would be great. Hope to speak to you soon. Bye."
She raised her head from the carpet. How long had she...? Had she even...? What time...?
It was dark outside. It was always dark outside. She had a vague and bleary memory of having spoken to Alex on the phone...
Or had she dreamt that?
A heavy sound. It came from the side of the house, like something bumping into the wall. Something outside.
She struggled to a sitting position. Her head was mucky and filled with cotton wadding. She did not know what day it was, what time it was, or how long she had slept. Had she slept? Everything was confused...
A heavy sliding sound came to her ears. Yes, it sounded exactly like something moving along the wall outside the house. Something BIG. It was moving around to the front of the house, slowly, feeling across the walls like a blind and idiot thing. Moving toward the front of the house, the door...
The door! She was up on legs she could barely feel, staggering down the hallway like a drunk. She couldn't remember if she had locked the door, or even closed it... How long...? No, the questions could wait. She had to check the door.
The walls of the hallway flowed by her, and she stumbled into the door with a heavy thud.
Something on the other side thumped against it in return.
She leapt back, gasping for air. Animal panic. Her eyes were dialated, her nostrils flaring. There was something, oh god, there was-
Sliding sounds along the door, as the blind idiot felt over its surface. She stood, rooted in place by terror, and listened. Her breath came in short, harsh gasps that seemed loud to her ears. The unseen hands slid across the door...
The doorknob began to turn.
She leapt forward and threw herself against the door, wrenching at the bolt to close it. The unseen thing hit the door from the other side, and she fell to the carpet. It pounded again at the door, and something roared, low and long and so loud it sounded like it was in the room with her. Deborah scrabbled off the floor, bolted down the hall to the living room, and went for the phone. It was on the hook, but when she picked it up and put it to her ear:
Beep-beep-beep-beep...the ominous low tones of a line that has been left off the hook for a long time. She bashed at the disconnector with the flat of her hand, but the beeping didn't stop.
"No, goddammit!" she hissed, and hit it again. Nothing. Just more of that horrible low sound. She took the phone away from her ear, and was about to set it back on the hook-
She heard a click.
She raised the reciever back to her ear.
The room grew cold. Her skin went into goosebumps, then tried to crawl right off her body. The room...changed...somehow, and her ears popped. Her body felt thick and far-away.
A voice came over the phone. An obscene imitation of human speech that nonetheless sounded terribly familiar to her. It was low and high and neither at the same time, as if it had been reflected into the wrong registers somehow, and then forced back into normal speech. It was a titanic sound, and it painted strange pictures in her mind to hear: Angles and proportions all wrong- huge beyond reckoning and minute all at once. Nausea stirred in her stomach.
It said: "OUTSIDE-THE-WINDOW..."
Her head snapped around to the open living room windows. She caught a flash- no more than a flash- of something moving past. A hideous shape, only vaguely man-like. It had been watching her.
She threw the phone down like a poisonous snake, and ran back down the hall to the frontroom. She realized now that there was no safe place to go. There was no one she could call, whatever-it-was, whatever she faced, the thing would not let her. She was alone.
"Fuck you!" she yelled at the closed door, and something outside roared in response. She shrieked, and put her hands over her ears, and ran up the stairs to the second floor. She was all alone. Fine. She would DO something, god-damn-it.
She ran down the hall, and hooked right, into the study. She had to defend herself. She had to-
She looked down at the sprawl of papers, and realized: She had taken the gun already. She had put it in her purse.
"Fuck." she muttered, and turned on her heel.
Below, something hit the door. Hard.
Deborah took the stairs two at a time. She didn't spare a glance at the door- no time- but she knew, with the instinct of a cornered animal, that it was already beginning to give. It would not protect her. Not for very long.
All rational thought was gone from her mind. What was left was wild cunning and cold, desperate will. No explanations. No disbelief. That would come later, and she knew it.
She came back into the living room and swung her head around until she spotted it, sitting on the edge of the couch.
Wham! Another blow to the door, and it shuddered in the frame. It was spiderwebbed with cracks now, although she did not see it. She didn't need to. She could feel the time slipping through her fingers.
Deborah grabbed up the purse, and clawed the gun out of it. So cold, in her shaking, sweating hands...
Wham! A piece of the door came loose, and clattered to the wooden frontroom floor. She had no time left.
She took up the gun in both hands, and ran back down the hall one more time. Loaded, the gun was already loaded...
Thank you, grandfather.
Wham! The thing struck the door again, and it exploded open into the room, and something massive- a creature inhuman and dark with forest-mud- moved with horrifying speed, and Deborah raised the gun and screamed and-
Everything fell away. She was cold.
She pulled the trigger, and her hands were full of fire.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.