Become a Fan
Away from the Hourglass--Preview
By Tom A Schafer
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Intro and Chapter 1 of "Away from the Hourlgass" Coming sometime in December from Authorhouse. (Apologies for the odd format...I don't know why it's showing up like this.)
"As the living do not know what death is, they can only describe it through their imagination."
When our last breath passes from our lips, does it carry us away to some mystical, unseen place? Or does it merely flutter away on the wind, fading with the memories of the next generation?
I would like to believe the latter, although the proof in front of me does not settle the feeling that there is something more. Something we could have now, but somehow cannot reach, and I believe it is something that we have all felt. When your grandmother was lying on her deathbed, gazing up at you with pain-filled eyes, she knew. She knew that there was something better waiting for you on the other side, she wondered why you could not see it, feel it. She sensed the coming goodness, the escape from the reality we call life, founded by riches, based on false, newfound beliefs. As her life faded, she knew that the world we now lived in was somehow false. We were missing something, something important.
Somewhere in the cold, damp earth, the dead cry out to you and wonder why you cannot hear them. For most of us, the answer is simple, because we choose not to. But, for a select few, the voices of the dead cannot be silenced.
Imagine where you are now, sitting in your favorite chair, late in the evening on a cool, fall night. Perhaps curled up in bed, reading a book while patiently waiting for your spouse to return home after a long day at work. Now take a moment to ponder this thought. After all these long, tumultuous years of life on this earth, the chances are good that someone has died in the spot that you now occupy, or at the very least, they lay entombed below you.
Now imagine that the sound that you thought you just heard, the one that you told yourself was only the wind rattling your window, was not. Someone wants in.
Now imagine that what I just told you did not cause the icy chill that just rode down your spine, but instead were the hands of the dead, reaching out for you, grasping for your attention.
A cold blast of air greeted Sam Cothfer rudely as he slid out of the passenger side door into the brisk, night air. The chill of it felt as if it would freeze his face to the bone, and he almost swore aloud. Cold weather pissed him off beyond comprehension.
Another gust followed immediately, lifting his thick, brown hair up, twisting it around in the air as if trying to form some miniature tornado, before dropping it back down in a mess, ruining the twenty minutes that he had spent combing it.
Itís too damn cold! He thought as he shivered and slammed the car door behind him, turning to gaze across the hood of the nineteen-ninety, maroon Mercury Cougar toward his date, Dina Burns.
Sam had to strain his neck to see her. She was about two inches under five-feet-tall, but so far she was five-feet of fire. Sam had always thought that redheads were supposed to be the fiery ones. Maybe that was just a cliche, maybe it was all short people who were driven to act that way.
It had taken Sam the better part of six months before he finally garnered enough courage to ask Dina out on a date, although she waited on him almost every day. She worked at the Beer Port, a drive-thru convenience store on the western edge of the city of Fremont, Ohio. He had driven through one rainy day and ordered a bottle of Pepsi. Dina gazed at him oddly before finally laughing, telling him that he should buy a can of it instead. "It tastes better," she insisted.
Sam, being the socially crippled introvert that he was, had to force himself to respond. His words were less than witty.
"Bottles last longer." He said with an awkward clearing of his throat.
Sam had never been much good at talking to women, and probably never would be either, but somehow his horribly weak statement had managed to make Dina smile. The sight of it made Samís stomach turn and his palms grow wet, which was nothing out of the ordinary, most social encounters had that effect on him, but this one was ten-times worse.
From that day forward, Sam attempted to drive through the carry-out every time she worked, just to get another one of those queasy "I feel like an idiot compared to you" feelings. Sometimes he would make the trip twice, or even three times a day, although it was out of his way. Finally, as his nervousness subsided and his comfort around her grew to where it was manageable, he worked up enough courage to ask her to dinner.
"I donít eat in front of people," Dina answered.
Sam felt many emotions when the words left her lips, embarrassment and utter confusion being the top two. It wasnít quite the rejection he was expecting, but at least she hadnít said: "Ewww, get away from me."
Just as Sam was about to floor the pedal and head off down the road, never to be seen again, Dina added, "How about a movie instead?" In his excitement, Samís foot raised off the brake and he nearly crushed Dinaís coworker-ironically enough, a cute little redhead who didnít seem to care for him much-beneath his red Chevy Blazer as she passed in front of him.
That was three days ago, and now they were here, standing in the rain-washed parking lot across from Paramount Cinema. The queasiness that Sam felt whenever he had seen Dina, was now beginning to play tricks with his mind. One minute he would be relaxed and comfortable, the next he would be a nervous wreck.
Another gust of wind kicked up, this one not as hard as the one that had ruined Samís twenty-minute primping session, but it was just as hard and cold. It swept across Dina swiftly, lifting her perfectly straightened, light brown hair back, only to have it drop back down exactly as it had been.
"What do you want to see?" Dina asked in a soft, yet somehow superior tone as the two splashed across the dark parking lot. They had to hop around large puddles of rain that had gathered there, the reflecting streetlights making the blacktop appear to be some surrealistic swamp made of tar and water.
Rain had plagued the city for almost three-days now and Sam was growing tired of it. He glanced up at the marquis as he hopped over a puddle that separated the parking lot on Front Street from Paramount Cinema. Everything he saw on the marquis looked like mindless drivel so he decided to go with the only preview that he had watched.
"How about ĎThe Saintí?" Sam asked with a shrug.
Dina looked up at him with a grin, revealing a set of perfect, white teeth. "Iíve wanted to see that for a month; Val Kilmer is in it and heís my favorite actor. You just scored some points."
"I didnít realize this was a game," Sam replied with an awkward chuckle.
Dina glanced at him oddly. She couldnít tell whether he was being sarcastic or serious. Sam noticed her questioning stares and the queasiness returned, reddening his face again and causing him to look up at the marquis again.
"Are you nervous?" Dina asked as her eyes narrowed into thin strips. She meant the question to be rhetorical. She already knew the answer by the expression on his face. He looked like he was suffering from a major case of indigestion.
"Extremely," Sam blurted out as the flow of blood further darkened his face. Dina smiled, most men would have tried to downplay the question if not dismiss it entirely, but Sam had not. Maybe he was different. Maybe she had finally met an honest guy. It was still too early to tell though.
"Well donít be," Dina said as she tugged on Samís slender, yet strong, arm. "I donít bite."
Sam nodded, and he felt some blood leave his face. He tried to remember the last time he was this nervous. It was in high school, junior-year. He had to stand up and deliver a famous speech that he couldnít really remember. He couldnít remember because he never bothered taking the time to memorize it, the furthest he got was, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen! Lend me thine ears!" Then he froze up and the air around him suddenly felt like it was pure fire. Weighing the two comparisons, Sam decided that this experience was far worse than his high-school-trauma.
"Ready," Dina asked with a quick wink, bringing Sam out of his thoughts as the pair stopped at the theater doors.
"Iím your huckleberry," Sam answered. It was a perfect impersonation of Doc Holliday from the movie "Tombstone."
Dina beamed. "Thatís my favorite Val Kilmer movie! You just earned a few more points."
"How do I score?" Sam asked with a smile that vanished when he realized the dual meaning of his question.
Dina stared at him in disbelief, shock filling her emerald eyes. Could he really be that stupid? She asked herself as she studied him.
Sam felt his jaw drop open as a rush of panic surged through him. He felt his pulse accelerate again and the redness returning to his cheeks. At this rate, he was going to have a heart-attack before the date was through, he thought to himself as he stared dumbly back at Dina. She wore a look of disgust and glared at him as though he were the devil himself.
"Oh my God, thatís not what I meant," Sam tried to explain as his free hand shot up to cover his mouth. He felt his face growing darker with every beat of his heart. Finally, when it appeared that his face could explode into a million, tiny, red bits, Dina broke out in hysterical laughter.
"I know what you meant," Dina managed to get out between laughs. Sam breathed a deep sigh and felt the color returning to his cheeks.
"Come on, letís get inside," Dina prodded. "Itís cold out here."
The warmth of the theater wasnít quite up to par, Sam noticed as he followed Dina through the entrance. The lobby felt cold enough to be a morgue.
It might as well be; no one is here. Sam chuckled to himself at his thought as he quickly bypassed Dina and headed toward the ticket counter.
Sam found a pasty faced teenager stared back at him mindlessly from the other side of the counter when he arrived.
"Can I help you?" The teen asked with a squeaky, puberty driven voice that seemed really to be saying, "Why are you bothering me?"
Sam had to check his temper. Though normally quiet and reserved, he was also cursed with a very quick temper at times, especially when it came to dealing with idiots. He couldnít stand people that acted like this kid. If you didnít like working with people, then get a job somewhere else. Working with the public didnít give you the right to immediately transform into a prick.
"Yes, you can help us!" Sam answered sarcastically.
The teenís face contorted in surprise, clearly, no one had given him a taste of his own medicine in a while.
Good, reap what you sow, you little prick. Sam thought to himself as he heard Dina giggle slightly behind him. The teen muttered something that barely resembled anything in the English language, but Sam ignored whatever ingenious remark the boy had contrived and continued.
"Two for ĎThe Saintí, please."
"Fourteen dollars." The teen said, or at least those were the words that Sam thought he heard from the mumbled statement. Not caring what the little smart-ass actually said, Sam pulled out a brown, leather wallet, one that had seen too many uses, made apparent by the rounded, cracking edges. He threw a twenty down on the counter and took his change with a forced smile.
Dina tried not to laugh at the teen behind the counter as Sam turned back to face her. As they started across the lobby, the teen yelled at them.
"Dude, your tickets."
Dude? Did he really just call him Ďdudeí?
Sam turned, went back to the counter, and snatched the tickets from the teenagerís boney hand. He had to bite his lip to keep himself from exploding on the ill-mannered punk.
"I donít know why they bother handing out tickets here," Sam whispered as he and Dina made their way across the lobby again. "They never even check them here."
Dina giggled at Samís observation, then promptly ran into his back as he stopped in front of her.
"Shit, sorry," Sam said as he kept Dina from plummeting to the floor. "I was just going to ask if you wanted some popcorn or something?"
Dinaís thick lips curled up, forming a disgusted frown. She had hated popcorn for as long as she could remember, something about it reminded her of old socks for reasons that even she could not explain. "No thanks," she said with a dismissive wave.
Sam nodded. "Okay, well Iím going to get something quick," he said before walking to the concession stand. He returned a minute later, carrying a super-sized candy bar, and a proud, wide grin across his face.
"Look," he said as he held the candy bar up in front of her. "What a wondrous age of wisdom and enlightenment we live in when candy bars have to come with instructions printed on them. This is truly the second Renaissance."
Dina grinned as she plucked the candy bar from his hands and studied it. Surely enough, there were instructions on it. The top corner read: "Hold here" and below that it read: "Lift and peel back to open."
"Quite an astute observation," Dina said with a smile as she returned the candy bar to him.
"Iím a writer. Itís my job to notice things. Especially things that have nothing to do with anything." Sam said as he turned and headed toward the theater doors. Dina patted him gently on the back, causing him to jump slightly and she giggled at him again as they made their way to an old, black door. Sam pulled on it and it squeaked loudly as he stood to the side and let Dina walk in first.
The door led them into the smallest theater in the cinema and Samís least favorite as well. It could hold about fifty people but they were the only occupants there now. In addition, Sam noted that it always had the scent of stale pop, if such a thing existed.
"Oh look," Dina said with a coy smile. "We have the place all to ourselves. What to do?"
Sam cleared his throat uncomfortably and Dina smiled; again amused by Samís nervousness as they plopped down on the stiff, spongy seats. After a few minutes of music--which Sam firmly believed was designed to put people to sleep, just so you would have to come back some other time to see the beginning of your movie--followed by a shameless battery of advertisements to entice you into eating, the lights dimmed and the show finally began.
Sam spent the next two hours in the hell that is a first date. He was afraid to breathe half the time for fear that the smell of his breath would somehow turn stale at just the wrong moment. He couldnít decide whether to put his arm around her, hold her hand, or ignore physical contact with her entirely. His stomach fluttered, flipped, and flopped while the palms of his hands dampened and remained that way throughout the movie.
Finally, right before Samís mind decided to take a vacation into dreamland, the movie ended and the lights came back on, and with it, Samís mind had somehow found normalcy. He could relax again.
The two of them stood and stretched, allowing their eyes to adjust to the theater lights before exiting through the side door that led them back outside, into a ferocious downpour of rain.
"Shit!" Sam yelled as a gust of cold wind and water instantly combined to dampen and freeze his face. Dina laughed as she pulled her black leather jacket over her head and began splashing toward the parking lot.
Sam followed closely behind her, although his laugh was clearly forced. Being caught out in the rain had a unique way of pissing him off. There was no clear-cut reason why, he liked water, he loved to swim, he even let the water from the shower pelt him in the face for ten-minutes every morning, but God forbid it ever rain on him. It was just one of those things.
Dina reached the Cougar first, unlocking Samís door before darting around to the driverís side and unlocking her own. Sam, playing the gentleman poorly so far, at least had enough sense to allow Dina to get inside first before he entered. He pulled the door shut behind him, wiping his face off before turning with a frozen grin and looking at Dina. The grin quickly changed to a chuckle, then to full-blown laughter as he noticed that her rain-soaked bangs now hung in her eyes. It was one of the funniest things that he had seen in a long time.
"Whatís so funny?" Dina asked.
"Your hair looks kind of funny," Sam answered with a smile. The smile quickly vanished as he saw a streak of anger flash through Dinaís eyes.
"You just lost a ton of points with that remark," Dina said as she reached over and punched Sam in the shoulder.
Sam laughed, relieved that Dina had not taken the comment seriously. He then broke into theatrics, clutching his arm as though he had just received the most ferocious beating of his life.
"What do you want to do now?" Dina asked with a perking of her eyebrows when the moment finally ended.
Samís lips wriggled around his face as they always did when he was in deep thought.
"Thereís a meteor shower tonight," he said when his brain finally produced an idea. "We could go watch that."
Dina stared back at him quietly. The way she was looking at him gave Sam the feeling like she thought that maybe he had just escaped from a mental hospital.
"What?" He asked.
"Are you crazy?" Dina shouted with a disbelieving chuckle as she directed her eyes through the window. "Thereís a monsoon out there!"
"Not out in the country." Sam argued. "Look at the sky; itís clear over there."
Dina followed Samís pointing finger as it stretched out to the south. Squinting her eyes, it appeared that Sam had a valid point; at least from here it did.
"Trying to get me out in the dark, huh?" Dina said with a smirk.
"I should warn you," Dina continued, "This is my Grandfatherís car, and he told me not to come home with any footprints on the ceiling."
Sam blushed again as Dina gave him a wink before turning and placing the key in the ignition. He stared at her blankly as the Cougarís engine roared to life. Her calm flirting was amazing, Sam began to think to himself as Dina put the car into gear and quickly pulled out into the dark, wet street. The sudden burst of speed caused him to gasp loudly, and Dina glanced over.
"Does my driving scare you?"
Sam grimaced and squirmed in his seat. He wished he could relive those last five seconds. He knew how his gasp must have sounded, something like a small child screaming fearfully at an animal at the zoo. Hilarious for everyone around, not so funny for the child.
"A little bit," Sam admitted after clearing his throat.
Dina smiled and refocused on the road. "My mom says they are going to scrape me off the road one of these days."
"Oh God, please donít even joke about that," Sam said with a frown.
Sam shifted uncomfortably in his seat again. "Iím just a little uncomfortable talking about death. I guess Iím superstitious."
Something in Samís eyes changed as he answered her. Something that was strangely foreboding, Dina noted as she saw it from the corner of her eye. She glanced back at Sam who had now shifted his view outside the passengerís window. He was pretending to watch the rain that had now begun to lighten, but Dina knew that she had struck a nerve.
"Did I say something wrong?"
Sam shook his head.
"No, you didnít. Iím just a little afraid of death."
Dina looked closer at the man who sat beside her, something was different about him, something that she had never before seen. It wasnít bad; it was interesting.
"What is there to be afraid of?" She asked as she quickly checked the road again, then looked back at Sam.
"I donít know," Sam shrugged. "Maybe itís because Iím not sure what happens to us after we die."
Dina nodded, finally understanding where he was coming from. He was deep.
"So youíre a control freak, huh?"
Sam looked away from the window, stunned by her comment, his mouth hanging open like a confused dog that wondered where the ball went that someone just pretended to have thrown.
Sam continued to stare back at her, silently baffled as Dina leaned over and smiled. "Tell you what," she whispered, "If I die before you do, I will come back and let you know that Iím all right, okay?"
Dina patted Samís leg and he felt all the tension drain from his body. He placed his hand on hers and grinned. "And Iíll do the same."
The two of them remained silent for the last ten minutes of the drive, each perfectly comfortable with the silent serenity that filled the car. Finally, the winding, city streets gave way to the flat, straight roads of the countryside and Dina stopped the Cougar on a narrow path of gravel on the side of the road. Sam didnít know what road they stopped on; he had no sense of direction when it came to driving outside the city, although he had called it home for his entire life. He had always been an introvert and never went out much. When he did, he rarely paid any attention to where he was.
Dina killed the engine and reached into the backseat, pulling out a big, blue blanket and a red sweater. It was her favorite, it was hand made by her mother five years before, and it always carried the scent of home; thatís why she always carried it with her.
"Need help?" Sam offered.
"No, Iíve got it," Dina assured with a dismissive wave. "So where are these meteors?" She asked as she reappeared in the front seat.
"They should be here anytime," Sam said as he glanced at his watch. It was almost 9:30, and if he remembered right, that was the time it was supposed to happen. But that was a big if, because Sam usually had his times wrong.
Dina spread the blue blanket along the hood of the car, not bothering to wipe away the rain first. Sam helped her with it and when they finished, they both leaned back and looked up at the stars.
"Smells nice out here, doesnít it?" Dina asked, noting the aroma of fresh rain that diminished all other smells.
"Yeah, itís refreshing," Sam answered before breaking off with a point skyward. "Look!"
Above them, millions of miles away yet somehow still visible, multicolored streaks of meteors shot across the night sky. They were beautiful beyond description, Dina thought, first to herself, then aloud. The colors were so breathtaking that she could not even describe it in her own mind, instead, she just took in the tranquility of the scene quietly.
Sam switched his view several times during the next hour, alternating between Dina and the sky, wondering to himself which was more beautiful as they snuggled on the hood.
Then it was over, but the two of them continued to stare upward as the last few meteors streaked by, making sure that the shower was finished before either dared breaking the silence.
"That was really romantic," Dina said as she turned her head to face Sam.
Sam could find no words too utter, he only nodded and smiled back boyishly at her, but she didnít seem to mind.
"Iíve got to pee," Dina blurted out suddenly as she hopped out of Samís grasp and headed off into the open field beside them.
"Here?" Sam shouted with a laugh.
"Why not?" Dina said before vanishing into the darkness surrounding them. It was all Sam could do to try and contain his laughter while he waited for her return.
"Youíre crazy," Sam chuckled when she returned and crawled up beside him.
"Iíve done worse things than that."
"Well," Dina began as she put her head on his chest. "One time, I built an anatomically correct snowman on the steps of the police station."
"Oh my God, youíre joking right?"
Dina laughed as she assured him that she was not, then leaned up to whisper into his ear. "Iím cold."
"So are the dead!"
A voice cackled in Samís other ear almost quickly enough to be in unison with Dinaís. It sounded like an old womanís and it sent Sam jumping, knocking Dina off of him and sending her sprawling to the ground with a thud as his eyes scoured the area for the source of the voice. Finding nothing, he quickly reached down and helped her up while she simultaneously burst out in laughter.
"Oh my God, what was that about?" Dina asked with a laugh as Sam lifted her up and began brushing off her back.
Sam searched his mind, frantically trying to think up something to say. Apparently she had not heard the strange voice. Maybe he hadnít really heard it either, he hoped.
"My back twitched," he finally answered. "Sorry. Did you hear something a minute ago?" he added after noticing the look of confusion on Dinaís face.
Dina backed away slightly and gazed up at him, her eyes catching the moonlight just right and producing some calming chemical reaction in his brain.
"No." Dina said as she tried to figure out what was bouncing around inside of Sam Cothferís head.
"Thatís weird," Sam said, letting his eyes drop to the ground and his lip wriggle around his face again. Dina smiled at him and stepped a little closer.
"What did you hear?"
Sam took another quick glance around the empty fields that surrounded them. It revealed nothing except the empty rows of already harvested corn.
"I guess it was just the wind," he answered after finding nothing in the shadows.
A playful smile crept across Dinaís face as she fully realized now what had happened.
"Is that what made you jump?"
Samís face grew hot. He could feel the blood surge through capillaries and arteries with an intense burst; far worse than he had experienced at the theater. Denial was useless, and he knew it.
"Yes," he admitted with a huff.
Dina laughed and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Thatís so sweet. Youíre scared."
"Iím not," Sam started to say as he rolled his eyes, looking up to the sky as if to beg God for mercy.
There was no point.
"All right, all right, thatís enough picking on me for the moment. Letís get back in the car; it is getting cold out here."
"She already said that!"
There was no mistaking the whisper for the wind this time. It rang in his ear, echoed in his head like an orchestrated symphony of delusion, and he jumped again.
"What now?" Dina asked as her eyes narrowed into thin little strips of green, catching the moonlight again, but this time failing to make the proper connections in Samís brain to calm him.
"I shivered," Sam lied. Normally a horrible liar, for once in his life this one seemed to work and Dina laughed and gave him a big hug, her head tucking away into the center of his chest. Sam seized the opportunity to scan the fields again, this time more intently, but his eyes fed him nothing.
"Letís get out of here," Dina said as she finally released him. Sam thought that was the best idea he had heard in months and quickly agreed.
Samís hand tightened around the door handle as Dina made her way around to the other side. He made another quick check of the fields but only found darkness as far as he could see. As he turned and opened the door however, he felt a strange coldness creep down the back of his neck.
Someone was behind him!
Sam whirled around but found nothing.
Enough of this shit, Sam thought as he hopped into the car and slammed the door behind him, making sure he kept one eye looking out the window. Dina was already in and was just about to turn the key when the same voice entered his head again. It was clearer this time. It was the voice of an old woman, but it was tinged with the hint of emphysema or some similar ailment that Sam didnít care to try and decipher at the moment.
"Goodbye, Sam. You and Dina come back anytime."
Sam shut his eyes, trying his damndest to keep his wits as the engine roared to life. He had flinched again at the voice but apparently Dina had not seen him this time. Thank God for minor miracles, he thought. He was running out of explanations, and he knew his lies wouldnít hold together much longer.
The drive back into town was quiet, thankfully, and Sam tried to put the strange experience out of his head. Dina looked at him curiously a few times but each he had countered with a smile.
They finally came to Samís apartment, which was really a former mansion that had been converted sometime in the nineteen-fifties into eight separate rooms. Samís was the smallest as far as total square feet-it had been the servantís quarters for some rich family at the turn of the last century-but Sam loved it for the simple fact that it had both an upstairs and a downstairs. Although poorly insulated and chilly in the winter months, the upstairs room served as a great den to which he could escape and work on his writing.
Dina pulled into the steep, private drive and shut off the lights, looking over at Sam in anticipation.
Perhaps it was the angle at which the streetlight reflected off of Dinaís face, or maybe it was a chocolate-induced-euphoria from the super-sized candy bar that he had hogged down at the movie, but when Sam turned to look at her, he found himself completely speechless.
"What?" Dina asked with a red-cheeked smile, a slight feeling of embarrassment washing over her as Sam gawked at her.
"You are so astonishing in this light." Sam said.
"Iím not in any other?" Dina asked as a hint of nervousness poked through her normally calm exterior.
"Thatís not what I meant," Sam began, but was cut off as Dina leaned in and kissed his lips gently.
Butterflies turned Samís stomach as some strange force overtook him. The world outside was lost, all he could think about was the kiss. He moved his hand up and placed it on Dinaís soft cheek; which only served to intensify the moment. He was completely at her mercy now and he could feel it boring into him like the sting of a wasp.
Breathe you fool! Something in Samís mind yelled frantically, causing him to break the kiss off. He took a deep breath and stared back into her green eyes without uttering a word. Dina stared back at him, equally stunned and unable to think of anything to say either. No man had ever kissed her like that before.
"Itís getting late," Sam said after what seemed like an eternity of silence. Dina glanced down at the clock on the dashboard and nodded hastily.
"Can I call you tomorrow?" He asked.
"Absolutely," Dina began but cut herself off in mid-word with a nervous clearing of her throat. "Yeah, that would be good," she said instead.
"Iíll call you around eight," Sam said, a stupid smile etched on his face. He wondered how stupid it actually appeared to her. "That sound good?"
"Thatís fine," Dina answered, more collected this time. Sam nodded and opened the car door, sliding out into the cold air once more.
The two of them exchanged goodbyes before Sam finally closed the door, waving at her and staring like a fool looking at something shiny that he found on the floor. It was a good thing no one he knew was watching; he would have caught a rash of shit for that.
Sam watched from the porch steps outside of his door as the Cougar pulled away and plunged through the murky streets, sending water spraying in all directions. When it finally vanished from sight, he turned and began walking toward the heavy door that led to his apartment, his head still spinning with delight.
He realized that he had not felt like this in sometime, perhaps never, he thought as he jiggled his keys in the lock of his front door. It never worked right, as did half the things in his apartment, but it was cheap and it was all that he could afford right now. That was the cost of being an unknown author, Sam chuckled to himself as the lock finally clicked.
The doorway revealed an immense room. Although rundown, it was clean and free from bugs. At least he could be thankful for that, but he still wished he had more things to put in there. All that occupied the living room now was a white, Victorian style couch, with thick, wooden armrests; Armrests that hurt when you hit them, as Sam found out more than once, as he always seemed to be stumbling into them.
In front of the couch sat Samís TV, one that only received any use on Sunday afternoons in the fall, when the Browns were playing. Football was life, or so he had always argued.
Sam sighed, thankful to be alone where he could relax and gather his thoughts. He took a seat on the couch and kicked his Nikeís off into the middle of the floor.
"Welcome home, Sam."
The reception burned into Samís brain, reaching every fear he had ever known and bringing it to the surface. It was a different voice this time though. It was the voice of a man, not an old woman.
Without thought, Sam instantly leaped from the couch and surveyed his surroundings. He looked across the dark blue carpet toward the wooden stairs that led up to his den, then the other way toward the linoleum kitchen floor.
With a quickened pace, his heart racing for about the twentieth time this evening, Sam made his way into the kitchen, carefully checking to make sure that he was alone. He was, there was no place big enough to hide in the kitchen, it was barely large enough to contain his stove and refrigerator.
Sam pulled open a kitchen drawer and grasped a butcher knife, one that he kept there for one of the rare times that he felt like cooking for himself. Retracing his steps into the living room, he stopped at the foot of the stairs.
"Iíve got a gun. If anyone is up there, youíd better get out now."
"Looks like a knife."
The knife fell from Samís hand as the voice reverberated inside his head. He spun around toward the sound of the voice and then realized that there was no direction. It was coming from all around him, maybe even from within him, like an echo.
"Who are you?" Sam muttered as his mind tried to rid him of the fear that gripped him.
There came no response.
Sam threw his free hand up over his eyes. "What is wrong with me?" He asked as he rubbed them.
"Not you. Her."
Sam began to back away from the staircase as the fear began to overtake him. The voice of a little girl had joined the manís and they rang in unison. He searched the ceiling, the floors, all around him, all futilely.
"Who are you talking about?" He screamed.
The picture of Dina as they finished their kiss flashed in Samís mind and he retreated further, stumbling and falling over the back of his couch, his head bashing against the thick armrest. With that, the picture-as well as the rest of his coherent thoughts-were lost.
Sam reached in a daze for the phone on the only other thing that occupied the room: A small, glass coffee table. His head began to pound as he grabbed the phone, and he could not maintain control of his fingers long enough to keep a grip on it.
"Not now, not now. Sleep now, sleep now. We help, we help. He is loose. He wants her."
The words repeated in Samís head as the voices closed in on him. His vision blurred, his head stung, and he fell face-first onto the floor, unconscious.
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|Reviewed by Johan Van Niekerk
|Where is the rest!! One of your best, Tom.
Keep it up