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The Telephone

By Michael Berry All Rights Reserved ©

Other

Chapter 15

She brought the television into her apartment, carefully watching her step amidst the chaotic collection of machinery spread across the floor. She looked round for a place to set it down, but there was nowhere. She thought of the kitchen table, then she realised she didn’t have a spare outlet, all she had were took up by the tape machines.

I can’t unplug any of them, I have to get as much as I can.
She remembered she had a spare outlet in the living next to the fireplace. She stumbled over the machines in her way and set the T.V. down on the settee. She took hold of the lead at the back, then she stopped. Why the hell am I plugging it in, its still working right now. I haven’t a goddamn clue why it is, but it is.
She twiddled the wire in her fingers, carefully considering what to do. Eventually, she threw it to one side. She looked hard at the screen of the T.V., silently ordering it to show her something, anything that would get her nearer to solving this thing. She sat on her knees, she held her head in her hands and stared unflinching at the screen, trying to see past the intense haze of static confusion and see whatever was out there and get a good look at it.
A whole hour passed before she decided to abandon this venture, seeing only a fixed screen of static and hearing only an unending hiss. Her head and eyes began to ache, the back of her eyes felt as though they were being stung with needles, her ears hurt from the intense volume of the hissing. She felt incredible cramp in her legs.
What the fuck is the point of this when they don’t show a goddamn thing!?
She stood up awkwardly, her legs found it difficult to move properly. She pushed the television over and felt relief in hearing it crash to the ground with a loud thud. She walked into the kitchen and prepared herself a black coffee. She felt it find its way down her oesophagus and into her stomach. She shuddered as she felt it warming her body to the bone, relaxing her inner muscles.
She looked out of the kitchen window at the endless procession of immensely tall buildings that ventured off into the horizon. The cool breeze lightly touched her skin, she felt goose pimples arise at the cold touch. Early evening had arrived once again and bathed the city in an unrelenting dark pink haze. The pink light somehow seemed to amplify the fact that all the buildings were empty and deserted.
A light came on in one of the many windows of the building across from her. Sarah hardly noticed it, knowing exactly what it was.
Once, a few years ago, someone had activated a small number of small generators and placed them inside a few of the rooms in the building. They had hooked them up only to the lights in the rooms and attached timers to the generators. The result was that the lights went on and off in random order as the individual timers came to a certain point. The point of this was that it gave the illusion that there were more people in the city and the lights was an indication of them moving around.
Sarah took a small comfort in this. While she occasionally longed for company, her nature of being a loner usually prevailed. Now the lights to her were merely a light show meant to entertain. She quickly grew bored of it and refrained her gaze.
She looked down below her at the porch at the back of the building. The immediate area just outside the back door was constructed with concrete slabs, thin blades of dead grass poked through the cracks were they once stretched upward for the light that would give them life. The rest of the porch was small and completely covered in grass, half of it was dead. A small dilapidated shed was tucked into the right side of the small garden, an old rotten wheelbarrow and spade were propped up against the slowly rotting shed.
A large collection of what were once flowers were spread all around the garden. Their once bright and appealing petals were now dried up husks of flowers, silently blowing in the breeze like the dead rotting hand of a corpse.
These were Mrs Hopkins flowers, she had planted them there to give the garden some life and colour and distract the eye from the unused shed and garden tools of her husbands. She would spend most of her time in the garden, sniffing up the sweet aroma as she tended to the soil. She would sit in a deck chair and smell the flowers in the summer heat. She often invited Sarah down to join her. They would spend hours staring at the sky, pondering what lay behind it. Mrs Hopkins would often say that she believed that her husband was one of the many clouds that appeared above. It was a cloud that often seemed to retain its shape, unlike the others and would stay fixed above the garden. Sarah had to admit that its was kind of strange, but nothing other than that. She would nod along and agree with what she said about it, not wanting to dash her belief.
She took another sip of her coffee. She jumped out of her skin and dropped the cup down onto the porch as she heard an incredible sound rip through her apartment and into her fragile ears.
She quickly spun round, holding her hands over her ears. The sound lasted only a few moments before being replaced by the familiar silence.
What the fuck . .?
She slowly removed her hands from her ears, her eyes darting from one direction to another as she sought out the sound. It was only brief, but she swore it sounded like a bomb going off in her very apartment
She started to walk slowly through the kitchen, then she suddenly stopped when she heard it. The faint whispering coming from somewhere. Her heart jumped almost out of her chest, her body went cold.
The whispering seemed to be that of a small collection of people, though how many she had no idea. Her mind refused to work in the sudden intense fear.
She looked round and noticed the knives lying on the worktop. Without hesitation, she quickly picked up the biggest and most lethal knife. She held it a few inches away from her, perfectly ready and able to stab anyone or anything that she saw move. She forced herself to move and she began to walk toward the other rooms, not knowing exactly where the sound was coming from.
Where the fuck are you? Come out here so I can stab you like a fucking pig!
She stopped as she again heard the sound of the raging static emanating from the television. She could see the light it threw across the floor where it lay.
How the hell . . .I smashed it, I heard it crash to the floor.
Refusing to admit anything unusual to herself, she walked briskly into the living room toward the television. The second she was within the distance to see the screen, an image suddenly appeared. She couldn’t help but look, her grip loosened as her body went limp, the knife fell to the floor.
The television screen was still plagued with static and confusion, but an image could still be seen clearly.
The image seemed to be of a small group of people all sat on a bed, how many she didn’t know exactly. They had their backs to the screen, their heads were lowered, the type of clothes they wore were impossible to discern, what with the intense static making the image black and white. The group seemed to be gathered around something on the floor. Through the hiss of static, Sarah caught the sound of whispering.
This was where it was coming from, right here. But, what the hell are they saying?
Beneath the whispering, she heard the sound of a baby. This must be what they’re gathered around looking at.
She shuddered suddenly as a dark thought entered her mind about what they were doing to the baby. She instantly rejected the thought.
She fell down on the floor right in front of the television. Her eyes burned into the strange image as she commanded it to explain itself. Her fists clenched and tightened, she could feel the blood running away from it and her skin turning white.
“Give me something,” she demanded. “What the hell is all this, why are you showing me these things? Where is my father!?”
She immediately took hold of her head in both hands as she felt a strong painful feeling, almost like her head was splitting open. She tightly closed her eyes, gritted her teeth, her nails dug into her skin. She cried out in pain as it intensified. The static on the television became frantic and increasingly louder and louder, the image of the family fazed in and out.
With another final scream of pain, Sarah’s lifeless and unconscious body fell to the floor. The static and hissing on the T.V. continued. A voice came through into the room.
‘Go home, intruder.’ Said the unfamiliar voice.
The television fell silent as the screen went blank.

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