Where in the hell are you?
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Where in the hell are you?

 Mark Lowther
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 Mark Lowther
Where in the hell are you?
by Mark Lowther  FollowFollow
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I am a retired soldier, who writes for cathartic reasons. I am surrounded by loving family members, including three fun and active dogs, and...read more one sly cat.
Issue 106 · fiction
horror ·  
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Where in the hell are you?
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Dear Mr. Douglas

   Thank you again for allowing me to work from home while I convalesce from this damn injury. That’ll be the last time I try to cross against the light! My leg and hip will eventually heal (so I’m told), though I may never walk the same way again. I have so many screws and pins in me that I could open my own hardware store. Lol! Total count:

73 in my leg and 24 in my hip. I am slowly weaning off of the major pain meds, though I fear that they will be a part of my life for quite some time.

  Still, it’s not all bad, I guess. At least I walked away from it (pun intended). Lori tells me that most people that get hit by a speeding car while crossing the street never get up again. The cops tell her that they haven’t caught the guy yet, but there is still hope. But after two months I’m not holding out for a collar on this cold case.

   Lori has me set up here in the room so that I can access my laptop without too much discomfort (it’s plugged in and laying beside me here on the bed). I have the TV remote on the nightstand, my cell phone set up on its charger, and I even have a little bell she got for me so that I can ring for her. I think she took this from that old movie “Misery”. You know, the one where the guy with the broken leg (or whatever it was) is helped by a nurse who has other intentions in mind other than his healing. I have the Blu-Ray if you ever want to borrow it. Spooky stuff!

   Anyway, I will get on these case files after the weekend. Thanks again for allowing me to work from home. You know how it drives me nuts when other people work on my cases.

 

Your truly,

Marlowe Wayne

 

 

Dear Marlowe,

 

    No worries. I am just glad you feel up to doing the work. I must say, I was surprised to hear from you. I had heard that things weren’t going so well. Just remember to pace yourself. Healing takes time and you have to allow your body to mend at its own pace. Do what the doctors tell you! I know how stubborn you can be. Lol.

   Everyone here at the office asks about you and wish you a speedy recovery. If there is anything we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Yours truly,

Wesley Douglas

 

P.s. Is Lori able to get you back and forth to the bathroom? Just kidding. I’m sure you have that all worked out. Get better, and we’ll talk next week,

*

 

Hey Marlowe,

 

    Something strange happened today. Trish reached out to your wife to see if there’s anything she needed, and Lori broke down in tears, calling Trish ‘insensitive’ and really blessed her out. Before Trish could get another word in, Lori hung up on her and wouldn’t answer the phone when Trish tried to call back. Is everything alright? Trish didn’t mean anything by calling; she just wanted to check up on you guys. I am sorry if she called at a bad time or something. Anyway, I received your latest reports. Thank you.

 

Wesley Douglas

 

 

Mr. Douglas,

 

   I asked Lori about Trish calling and she said that she didn’t receive any such call. That is weird. I tried to call you from my cell, but there must be a tower down somewhere because of the storm. It seems like it’s been raining here for days. Anyway, I apologize for any crossed wires as far as the wives are concerned. Let’s try a Video Conference when you have a free moment. Lori is bringing me in some lunch so let’s talk later.

 

Marlowe Wayne

 

 

 

 

Dear Marlowe,

   Rain? It’s nothing but clear skies here. Must be one of those Summer storms. Anyway, I have a full plate today. How about I place a call in to you tomorrow? Ask Lori if she wouldn’t mind giving Trish a ring back. My wife keeps bugging me that something’s wrong with you all. You know how women can be. Anyway, continue healing and I’ll place a call tomorrow.

 

Wesley Douglas

 

 

 

 

 

Marlowe’s pc pinged.

VIDEO CONFERENCE  - WILL YOU JOIN THE CONFERENCE?

 

 

   Marlowe accepted the prompt and Wesley’s face came up on his screen. His boss looked concerned as he scanned the room around and behind Marlowe. “My, God, Marlowe. It is you! I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I sent out the conference invite anyway. Are you okay? What in blazes is going on?”

   “I don’t understand, Wes. Is there a problem with the reports? I know the pain killers have me a little fuzzy, but I’m sure…”

   “It’s not the damn reports!” Wesley interrupted. He seemed very anxious and Marlowe started to get concerned. Before he could say anything further, Wesley blurted out something that Marlowe had to play back in his head to make sure he heard it right.

   “Is she there, Marlowe! Is Lori there? You need to get out of there. You need to get out of there now!”

   “What are you talking about, Wesley? She’s here somewhere, what is the prob…?”

   “Dammit, Marlowe! Listen. You need to get out of there. She’s not who she seems to be! I drove by your place and talked to Lori and…”

   The screen went dark for a moment, flickered before it resumed its normal functions. The conference had been ended, however, and Marlowe couldn’t get it to resume. He was in the process of re-initiating the call when Lori came in with a plate bearing a sandwich and an apple. 

   “Is everything alright?” she asked, setting the plate down on the nightstand. Marlowe eyed the sandwich hungrily as his stomach started to growl.

   “Yes, everything’s fine. Man, that sandwich looks good. It seems like forever since I had anything to eat. You must not be feeding me enough.” He laughed as he reached for the food. 

   Lori smiled and left him to eat. For some reason, he was not as hungry as he thought he was. He took a few bites, but then decided he was tired and he closed his eyes. He dreamed troubled dreams.

 

 

 

 

**

 

Dear Wesley,

 

   I had the strangest dream that you were trying to warn me about something, though I can’t remember what it was. I’m sure it will come to me, but here’s an odd thing: for some reason all of my emails to my parents and friends keep getting bounced back. Another by product of the storm, I guess. I can still reach you, however. Strange days indeed, like in that old song.

   I have been getting plenty of sleep. In fact, it’s hard to stay awake sometimes. My mind goes fuzzy and it’s hard to remember things. I must admit, I am getting weaker, though I’m not sure why. Lori had to spoon feed me last night, like I was some kind of baby. Not an easy thing to admit. I’ll sign on again later. Even this little time on the keyboard had weakened me. My reports may be late this week.

 

Marlowe

 

 

 

Wesley,

 

    I awoke with a start, remembering what it was you were trying to warn me about. Something about Lori, right? Man, these pills are making it hard to think. I can’t even remember taking them. Sure is windy outside. Going back to sleep now. Talk to you later.

 

M

 

**

 

 

Marlowe’s pc pinged.

VIDEO CONFERENCE  - WILL YOU JOIN THE CONFERENCE?

 

   The pinging of the pc woke him and with one hand he moved the mouse about to wake the machine up. He  accepted the call and waited, his head heavy and his eyelids drooping. After a few seconds the screen changed and the face of his wife was on the screen. She looked tired but when she saw him her eyes grew wide and she brought her hand up to her face. Tears began to flow down her trembling cheeks.

  “Hon, is that really you? How can this be happening?” she asked, breaking down into wracking sobs. “This can’t be real, it can’t be real!” She shook her head as her tears began to flow freely.

   Lori?” he mumbled sleepily. “What’s going on? Why are you on the pc?” His thoughts were jumbled and confusing. He was trying to put things in a coherent order when Lori left the screen and Wesley replaced her. He was looking grim and there was a haunted look in his eyes. Marlowe struggled to sit up, his head feeling heavy.

   “Marlowe, listen to me,” Wesley began, his voice strained and in whispers. He kept looking about the room as he spoke, not making eye contact unless he was actually speaking. “I am at your house… with Lori. I needed her to see this. I needed her to know that I wasn’t going mad; that you were real.”

   “Of course, I’m real, Wesley. You’re here? Why don’t you come on back to the room? I’m not looking like a million bucks, but we can actually speak face to face.” Then he paused. “And maybe bring me a water. I’m extremely thirsty.” His boss had never been to his house before, and that seemed odd. Marlowe was trying to remember if Wesley even knew where he lived when his boss cut in.

   “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Marlowe,” Wesley answered. Lori was crying somewhere off-screen and Marlowe called out to her. “Lori! Can you come back here, hon? Can you tell me what in the hell is going on?” Somewhere in the house, Marlowe heard some noises; a banging like the sound of something being moved about.

   “Marlowe, listen to me,” Wesley said, repeating himself more forcefully.

   “I’m listening, Wesley. What is it you’re trying to say?”

   “You were in a coma after that accident, Marlowe. And… and you died. You were buried two days ago. That’s what I’m trying to say. There’s no way in hell that you can be here on my screen. There’s no way in hell that I can even be talking to you! Where in the hell are you?”

   Lori sobbed in the background, and Marlowe could hear the sound of someone coming down the hallway to his bedroom. The skin on his arms began to crawl and he found that he was afraid. Of what, he didn’t know. This had to be some kind of cruel joke, he thought. But… why would Lori be doing this to him? Why would Wesley?

   “You’re lying,” he said, though he knew that it wasn’t a lie. Something in the core of him knew that what he boss was saying was the truth. And if Lori was there, in their real house, who had been taking care of him? If his wife was really crying in that other place, the one he could see through his computer camera  (and it was his china cabinet behind Wesley’s head, his dining room chair top peeking out from behind Wesley’s shoulders  he would swear to it), then where was he?

   “Let me talk to Lori,” he shouted. “Let me talk to my wife! I need to talk to her!” He could see Wesley shift the pc and there was his wife, her eyes red and wet, her lips quivering slightly as she reached one hand out as if she could touch him through the screen if she reached long enough, wanted it bad enough. She began to say his name but that’s when the screen went dark; that’s when he lost all of the control he had been mustering and he screamed.

   Something was at his bedroom door and he watched in horror as the handle started to turn. He pushed himself up, swung a leg out from under the pile of blankets, but when he tried to stand gravity took him and he fell out of the bed and onto the bedroom floor. His body ached where he hit the hard floor, his shoulder and hip throbbing, but he quickly started to crawl toward the door, hoping to lock it, but of course he was too slow. The door opened and Lori stepped in carrying a tray with some food on it. Marlowe was able to see past her and what he saw caused his breath to catch and he couldn’t breathe for a moment.

   Past the door frame, where his hallway should have been, there was nothing but darkness punctuated with distant flames. Lori looked down at him, a look of disdain on her face. She toppled the tray and let it fall to the floor where it landed with a crash. A bowl of food had overturned next to him and he saw that it wasn’t chicken noodle soup she had been bringing him, but worms that were squirming upon the rug.

   “Well, that didn’t last too long,” Lori said as she knelt down next to him. The mask of her face slipped a little, just enough for him to see the real her. The face he glimpsed had black holes for eyes and a large mouth full of dozens of tiny sharp teeth.

   He rolled over onto his back and felt his bladder let go, piss drenching his pajama bottoms and pooling around him. She laughed at this and she reached out one incredibly long tapered finger, a finger that she swiped through the urine before bringing it to her lips. “Hmmm…,” she said, moaning with pleasure. “Now, that is good stuff.”

   She leaned in closer until she was inches away from his face. She smelled of smoke and sulfur, and he gagged as she kissed him gently on his lips. “I was hoping to drag this out a little longer,” she whispered. “Oh, well. There are other games we can play.”

   He screamed as she kicked the door closed.

  

 

 

3 comments

Discussion

  2 weeks ago
This was actually pretty great. You could kind of guess what was going to happen but just never enough of how. A satisfying read.
  1 month ago - edited
Nice! I like it. Left me wondering what the next ‘game’ was going to be and how long it would last.
  1 month ago
Hi Mark! An engaging read from Start-to-Finish. Best, Jesse
 

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