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Aidan M Lucid

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Death in Numbers
By Aidan M Lucid
Monday, August 20, 2007

Rated "R" by the Author.

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When four boys play the Ouija board, they unleash something terrible on themselves: The Grim Reaper!

Popping his grey-haired head out the door, Dr. Wilkins shouted, “Next please!” He was local psychiatrist in a small town in the west of Ireland. Wilkins smoothed down the striped tie on the white shirt.
Slowly Tim, a young man in his twenties with broad shoulders and brooding good looks, got up from his seat in the waiting area and entered. He wore Wrangler denim jeans, a grey T-shirt and Nike shoes. The office was painted in yellow and had pine wooden flooring with a rubber plant in a maroon pot in the corner. A bookshelf stood beside the plant and it contained many tomes. The shutters blew inwards from the minutely ajar window. As Tim closed the door, Dr Wilkins assessed him by his posture and eye contact. He jotted the evaluation down on the notepad resting on the left leg. Tim sat directly across from Dr. Wilkins’s chair. He relaxed in the comfortable leather seat that could be expanded into a couch if one wished to do so. Tim also liked the colour. Surveying the room, he noticed that Dr. Wilkins had a lot of trophies. Some were for tennis and soccer.
“You must like sports.” Tim said commenting on the trophies.
“Yes I do. I won a lot of those trophies in college. You are very observant; that’s good.” Dr. Wilkins made a note of Tim’s observance. He considered this a good characteristic in a person. Putting down the pad on the table, he turned his chair and took a cassette tape and tape-recorder out of the drawer and placed it gently on the mahogany table. Pointing to it, he asked,
“Do you mind if I tape our session? Don’t worry it will be strictly confidential. It’s just that we have to tape our sessions these days for later reference, you know, just to keep a record of our patients.”
“Yeah, it’s ok. Mind you, what I am about to tell no one would believe anyway.”
Puzzled by this and with a concerned expression Dr. Wilkins asked,
“Yes, judging by your phone-call this morning, it sounded like you needed to get something heavy off your chest. What is it that you wanted to say? I’ll turn on the tape now, but before I do, you don’t have to call me Dr. Wilkins all the time, just call me Jake, ok?” Tim nodded and with a smile on his face, Jake pressed the record button. “Time of session is 2.00 pm. Date is 17th August 1999. Patient’s name is Tim O’Connor. This morning on the phone you seemed very stressed and worried. What is the nature of the problem?”
“Well, a lot of things really. Work, home. I guess I am just stressed out.”
Leaning back on his chair and joining his two index fingers under his chin, Jake wore one of his famous “poker faces”. He didn’t believe this reason for Tim coming here.
“Tim, I mean no disrespect or anything, but we’ve all got problems like that but the way you spoke this morning was not the way you would normally sound if you were a man with those sort of problems.” Tim had a look of disbelief on his face. Jake noticed this. “I am in this profession for fifteen years and in that time, I have dealt with people with the problems you state but Tim, you don’t look like you have them. It’s something bigger than that. What is it?”
“Death.” Tim said in a low, quivering voice. Immediately, Jake straightened his shoulders and sat upright in his chair.
“What was that you said?”
“Death.”
“You mean you have a terminal illness or some one is trying to kill you?”
Tim became fidgety and anxious. “No, I mean, well, I don’t know…I guess it was because-.”
Tim paused and tears started to run down his face. In a calm voice, Jake asked,
“You guess it was because of what?” Tim broke down and cried. Jake, putting the tape on pause, went over to his locker and took out a box of Kleenex tissues. Tim was embarrassed to be crying like this in front of Jake. Rubbing the tissue to his eyes, he regained his composure and stopped sobbing. In a concerned voice Jake asked, “Are you ready to continue?” Tim nodded. Strategically, Jake planned his next question,
“Are you ready to tell me what will cause your impending doom?”
“Yeah…it all began on this date five years ago…”

Five Years Earlier

The moon was beautiful and provided light for five drunken teenage boys on their way home from the nightclub. Tim, Anthony, Steven, Sean and Paddy were celebrating their Leaving Cert. results. Like always, they’d take the road with the tall and commanding fir trees as their route home. Of course, Paddy had to take this road anyway because he said that it helped him with his asthma, enabling him to breathe better. In a semi-drunken state Paddy said,
“Wait a minute lads, I must go for a leak.”
Trying to keep in his laughter, Tim asked, “Do you want my binoculars?”
“Ha ha, very funny!” Mockingly, the urinating youngster produced the right middle finger as his back was turned. The four boys giggled. Opening his top pocket, Sean offered his friends a cigarette but they declined.
“You know, someday those things are going kill you.” Anthony said as Sean was lighting his cigarette with his new Harley Davidson lighter in which he took great pride.
“I know but hey, you’re going to die anyway so you may as well die happy.” Tim Anthony and Steven agreed that in a twisted way, there was some logic to the answer.
Finally, all five arrived home at Tim’s house where they agreed to stay the night while his folks were away on a business trip. Opening the fridge door, Tim took out a few bottles of Budweiser.
“So, what are you going to do now that we’re finished school?”
“Well, I am going to work with my old man in his garage. He says that he needs help in fixing the engines and he reckons that I am the man to do it.” Steven said boastfully as he was very skilful at fixing engines, almost as good as his dad. The other three didn’t know what they wanted to do. But Tim had his future fixed. He was going to study law. It was his boyhood dream to be like Perry Mason.
After watching T.V. for a while, Tim suggested that the boys play a game of cards. That was a bad idea since all five were too drunk to play and there were no girls around to play strip poker so they had to do something else. Out of the blue Tim made a wild suggestion.
“Hey I know, why don’t we play the Ouija board? I read a book on it last week and I know how to make one.” For a few moments there was silence in the room then Sean broke it by agreeing for the guys to join in. Tim departed from the room for a few minutes and returned with a glass and a self-constructed Ouija board that he made last week in preparation for tonight. He explained to them how it worked. Positioning the board down on the floor, they began.
“Right lads we need to lose the lights, get four lighted candles and place them in the four corners of the room. We must then form a circle around the board and place all our right hands on the glass. Then concentrate on it and I’ll say a few words.” Tim said a few words which the boys couldn’t understand as he mumbled to himself. He looked at the guys and said jokingly that if they heard a knock on the door three times, the Grim Reaper would be prompted to some day take their souls. Reading a statement aloud out of a book beside him, he quoted the icy warning,
“If the party who plays with the board hears three loud knocks on the door three times after performing it and accepts a gift from the Grim Reaper, then that person who accepts that gift, will be the last to die a certain death of the party involved. But beware, the Grim Reaper can come in any shape or form and can trick the most cunning of minds.” Upon hearing the advice, the atmosphere became tense. Everyone swallowed their spit hard. All focus was on the glass.
“Repeat these words after me.” Tim said. The group repeated the words he uttered. Silence was everywhere. Nothing could be heard but only the sound of their breathing.
Suddenly, the glass moved to the letter D. Steven jumped up and shouted,
“Alright, who the hell moved that glass?”
Everybody looked at each other for they all knew that no one moved it. Again there was silence; palms were moist with perspiration and hearts pounded faster. Breathing became stronger. The silence was broken by Tim,
“Look, it could not have moved by itself. Our hands must have slipped or something. C’mon Steven sit down and let’s carry on with this. It’s only a game. No need to be scared.” Staring directly at Steven’s eye’s, Tim said teasingly, “You’re not scared are you?” Steven, being the strong willed person that was always associated with his character and of course the “image” he had to keep, denied that he was afraid and rejoined the group.
The glass was placed in the centre of the board and all hands were placed on it again. For a few moments nothing happened.
In a trice, the object moved to E, A, T, H and 5. The boys’ eyes widened. Everyone recoiled in horror. Hearts began to beat faster. Confused, Steven said,
“What just happened? Did you see what it spelled?”
Anthony was worried but like Tim, tried to keep everybody calm.
“Calm down guys. It’s only a game. Just because it spelled DEATH 5 doesn’t mean we are all going to die.” One of Paddy’s asthma attacks occurred. The panic-stricken individual sucked the air from the inhaler feverishly. Sean accompanied him to the bathroom. By now if there were a chance at all of anyone being drunk, it was gone out the window. All were sober, too sober.
Unexpectedly a knock came to the door! Not one knock however, but three. Three loud knocks! Consternation was rife amongst the boys in the room. Arguments broke out about who was going to answer the door.
“Hey don’t look at me, I’m not answering it!”
“Well Steven, you are always saying that you are the tough one so prove it!”
“Steven, Sean, cool it. Since it was my idea to play this stupid game, I’ll get the bleedin’ door, alright?” Tim approached it cautiously, taking each step with care. His heart was pulsating rapidly. He placed his hand on the brass, shiny door handle and gently turned it. All the participants held their breath. Tim slowly opened the door…a sigh of relief was exhaled.
“It’s fine guys. It’s only Sandra.” Sandra was Tim’s girlfriend. She had brown hair, which was soft and curly. In the breeze it would wave like a flag all over his face. But he didn’t mind. Her hair smelled wonderfully. Those brown eyes that Tim could spend eternity staring into always seemed to fill him with wonder and her face was angelic.
“Hi Tim. How are you, hun?”
“I am fine…I was just expecting someone else.” he replied, laughing nervously.
“Not another girl I hope.” The four boys chuckled. Tim noticed that Sandra was holding a jumper that belonged to him. He forgot to collect it from her house last week.
“I see you have my jumper.”
“Yeah that’s why I came over. I wanted to give it back. Anyway, here it is. I better be off. Goodnight.” They kissed and she parted. Turning to the others he smiled and said, “There you see. It’s only a game. I can’t actually believe that we thought we were going to die.” The phone rang and Tim picked it up.
“Hello.”
“Hi hun.”
“Sandra? That was quick. What did you do, fly home?”
Unsure in how to answer this, Sandra said, “What do you mean?”
“You were just here a minute ago.”
“No, I wasn’t.” Sandra laughed with confusion.
Tim’s face grew pale. “Yes you were. Sure if that wasn’t you then who-.” It was if a bolt of lightning struck him. Tim realized what happened. The passage he read out of the book played in his mind, “That person who accepts the gift will be the last to die… But beware, the Grim Reaper can come in any form and can trick the most cunning of minds.”
By now, Tim was as white as a ghost and dropped the phone. Sean ran over and asked what was wrong. Tim explained the problem and fear that was never felt before, filled the room. The dilemma was that Tim accepted the jumper from Sandra, or who he thought was Sandra, but was actually the Grim Reaper. All five swore never to repeat what happened in the house that night…an oath they would take to their graves.
One thing was uncertain, he knew he’d be the last one to die, but who would be the first?

ONE YEAR LATER
17th August 1995

As the rays of the sun seeped through the curtains, Sean, of average height and stout build with a shaved head, tossed and turned in what seemed to be a never-ending nightmare. In the dream, he was running from something hideous and dark. This creature was the definition of fear itself. Panting and struggling to stay on his feet, he continued fleeing and soon came to a crossroad. Unsure of which path to take and with the creature edging closer, he took the road leading to the right. It was long and narrow with high bushes at either side. The trees were old and had branches jutting outwards as if pointing to a certain place.
Abruptly, he arrived at a dead end. Closer and closer the creature drew. He looked at its black, hooded robe. Then in one swift movement, the creature swung a scythe from behind. With every step closer, Sean feared but also hoped in a strange way that he would suffer a heart attack and die before being beheaded. When only inches away, the hooded monster raised the scythe and in a loud booming voice said,
“DEATH…IS…NEAR” He dropped the scythe and cut Sean’s head clean off his shoulders and watched it roll along the ground.
Sean woke up in terror and rushed straight to the bathroom. His face was drenched with sweat and his T-shirt was moist also. He threw water on his face and took a deep breath.
“It’s only a dream. It’s only a dream.” He kept reminding himself of this for the past three months when the same dream would occur every night. Slowly he walked back to bed and sat down on his new satin sheets. He thought about the dream he just had and wondered if it meant that he was the first to die.
The phone rang, causing him to jump in fright. Reaching over his hand, he picked up the receiver.
“He-Hello.” There was no answer. “He-Hello. Who is this?” Again there was no answer. With fury he said, “Is this some sick joke?”
Suddenly a loud voice replied, “DEATH…IS…NEAR!” Recognizing the voice, he dropped the phone and leaped back in terror. Deciding that getting fresh air would be a good idea right about now, he threw on some clothes and went for a walk.
When Sean returned home his mother was in the kitchen.
“Sean honey, is that you?”
“Yeah.”
“Tim rang earlier and said that he wants you to ring him. It seemed important so you better ring now.”
Immediately Sean phoned Tim.
“Hello?” Tim’s voice sounded on edge.
“Hi. My mom just gave me the message. Everything all right with you?”
“No, man. I’ve been having the same dream for nearly three months now and it’s freaking me out!” Riddled with curiosity, Sean asked,
“What’s the dream about?”
“It’s just plain freaky! I am running down a road and there is this big thing in black chasing me and then I come to a dead end and he says this weird line, ‘DEATH …IS…NEAR.’ and cuts my head off!”
Sean could hardly steady himself, he grew pale, “You’re joking right?”
“No, I am serious!” Sean then proceeded to explain that he too was having the same dream for the past three months. Both men were uneasy and said nothing for a few moments. Then they agreed to meet up with Anthony, Steven and Paddy later at the diner.
Anthony and the other boys sat gloomily in the corner near the pinball machine. They all bore the same expression on their faces for Paddy, Anthony and Steven had the same nightmare too. They each ordered a milkshake and a large burger. Tim then said to Sean,
“When I was speaking to you on the phone earlier, I forgot to ask did you receive a call after your dream?”
“Yeah, did you?”
“Yeah, it said-“
“Death is coming?” Anthony interrupted. An eerie silence descended onto the table. The five boys gazed at each other in sheer dread. The waitress arrived with the burgers and milkshakes. Tim spoke.
“Look it’s almost a year, lads. Did one of you tell anybody about what happened?” All four shook their heads. Then they knew definitely what it meant. It had to be an omen, a sign that one unlucky person was going to die. Paddy queried,
“How many times did you get the call?”
The four agreed that they only got the call once. Paddy’s face turned a deathly white.
“I got the call twice. At first, I thought it was a prank but then it rang again and I knew it wasn’t.” The circle of unfortunate teenagers gulped. Sean spoke up,
“Is there any way of breaking this…thing?”
Tim’s eyes dropped to his plate and gave a dooming answer, “No.” Then from that moment on, all five knew that their fate was sealed. Nothing could prevent it.

Later that evening, Paddy went home and watched some T.V. He loved to view Match of the Day. It served as a distraction from the events of late.
A knock came to the door. Paddy looked at the clock and it was 9.30. Thinking that it was an odd time for anyone to be visiting, he answered the door. No one was there. Shutting the door, Paddy sat down. Five minutes later there was another knock. Once more, he opened the door. To his surprise a note was left on the “welcome” mat. It was wrapped in a cream envelope. On taking out the note, the blood drained from his face. It read,
“DEATH IS NEAR!” Dropping the piece of paper in terror, Paddy picked up the mobile phone.
“Tim, I got a note, I think I’m the first one.” He was close to hyperventilating.
“Paddy, take it easy. Stay calm. What did it say?”
“Death is near.” Tim, despite being full of alarm, kept up a brave voice. Sobbing, Paddy asked, “What am I going to do?”
“Look, calm down. I’ll be over in ten minutes all right?”
A knock came to Paddy’s door and both boys were silent. Paddy uneasily looked over at it and little beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead.
“Who’s at the door?”
“I don’t know, but I’m not answering it.”
Instantly, a blade from a scythe hacked through a frame on the door!
“What the hell is going on over there? What-”
Paddy let the mobile phone slip from his grasp and ran in terror. He ran out the back door. Speed never came to him quicker than it did today. Navigating his way down the path, he burst through the bushes, down a grassy field and out on to a narrow road. Continuing on, he went across to another meadow. This was becoming all too familiar. Not daring to look back, he ventured out into a further road. With the pace he was running at he didn’t notice a log lying down on the ground and tripped over it, gashing his leg in the process. Limping, he tried to get away but it was to no avail because when he ran around a corner, he came to a dead end. An asthma attack struck, rendering him useless and caught for breath. The black hooded creature came closer and closer. Paddy was shaking hysterically. There seemed to be no face on the creature, just emptiness. He raised the scythe and said,
“DEATH IS NEAR!” Watching the blade rise, Paddy screamed…and then there was darkness.

The next day, Anthony and the others in funeral attire gathered at Paddy’s house. All the neighbours were present too. Two old women sat in rocking chairs discussing the young man’s death.
“It’s such a shock to this quite little neighbourhood isn’t it, Elizabeth? I feel sorry for Susie. Look at the poor woman; she’s hysterical. Losing her only son. What a shame.” She shook her head in sympathy.
“It sure is Mary but the way he was found was horrific! His head was severed from his body and on the wall it said in blood, ‘Death no. 1!’” The old woman raised her hand in shock to her mouth.
The grim-looking foursome were full of grief and fear.
“I can’t believe the way he was found. Imagine having your head chopped off like that? What a way to go.” Anthony said. The boys remained silent, heads dipped in trepidation, contemplating who would be next to die.
“What do we do now?” Steven asked.
“Nothing we can do Steven, because now…it begins.”
Tim parted from the group, leaving the boys with that chilling thought.

Present Day

After Tim had finished telling his story, a silence lingered between the two for a few minutes. The tape recorder was put on pause. Both men looked at each other. Jake finally got up off his chair in order to release the tension. Finally Wilkins asked,
“That’s quite a story. What happened after that?”
“Well, for the past three years on the same date, a member of the gang who did the Ouija board that night has died. I am the only one left.”
Jake sat down and stared at him. Again he wore another of his poker faces. Tim was near his wits end to figure out what was going through Jake’s mind.
“Do you believe me?”
Dr. Wilkins paused for a moment and spoke, “Well, it is an interesting story but may I suggest that you see someone who is more qualified in the paranormal field?”
This infuriated Tim. He immediately stood up and barked,
“You don’t believe me? Fine! Screw you and your damn advice!”
Tim opened the door and stormed out, slamming it behind him. Jake rushed to try and catch up but he was gone. All he could hear was the sound of a car speeding off. He regretted that he couldn’t be of any help.
Arriving home, Tim slammed the door wiping the tears of frustration away from his eyes. Screaming out loud he shouted,
“How could he not believe me? Damn him and his psycho crap!” Falling into the couch, the disappointed man ducked his angry, red, face into his hands. Walking over to the drinks cabinet, he pulled out a bottle of Scotch with a small glass to accompany it. Lifting the cork off the bottle, he poured it gently into the glass. Over in the corner of the room, a picture caught his eye. It was of him and the gang taken a year before they did the Ouija Board. Picking it up with his right hand, he gently stroked it with his left index finger.
“I miss you, boys. I’m sorry I ever brought that damn board into the room. If it weren’t for me, you’d still be alive. I hope you can forgive me.”
The phone disturbed his train of thought.
“Hello?” Static blocked someone from speaking but then it subsided and a person spoke,
“Hello Tim, no need to cry. You’ll be with us soon.” Tim’s hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He recognized the voice, it was Anthony! Letting the receiver slip from his fingers disquietly, Tim retreated shaking and staring at an anonymous spot on the floor. O’Connor decided to leave the house and go for a drive. Anywhere would do, just as long as it was far away from that living-room.
Taking his mind off the phone call, he decided to listen to some music. Removing the Oasis CD from the CD tray, Tim slotted it into the radio. Humming to the words of the song “Wonderwall”, he nodded his head to the beat.
Without warning, the disc stopped playing. Puzzled by this, Tim pressed eject to check if it was still in working condition. No damage seemed to be caused. He couldn’t understand what went wrong.
Suddenly, in the rear view mirror he saw this cloud of black mass floating in mid-air behind him, and from it emerged a deathly white face with two black slits for eyes. Knowing exactly who it was, he slammed his foot down on the accelerator. The speedometer was doing one hundred miles per hour but still he couldn’t lose him. A lot of cars were on their way home from work. This caused the road to be treacherous. Manoeuvring the car carefully, Tim weaved in and out forcing the drivers to swerve and blow their horns in annoyance.
Unfortunately, to Tim’s dismay, the brakes in the car ceased to work. Losing control of the vehicle, he swerved across the road hitting a tree, which caused him to bang his head harshly on the steering wheel. The last thing he saw before losing consciousness was the dark hooded being standing outside the car door with his scythe poised in the air.

The next morning, the six o’clock alarm beeped on Jake’s radio-clock. Switching it off, Wilkins rubbed the tiredness from his eyes and sat up in the bed. Getting older didn’t make it easier to rise in the morning. Jake took a quick shower and he found it refreshing. Pulling back the curtains, the sun blinded him. It was a beautiful day outside.
It’s a pity I had to waste it listening to a bunch of people telling me their problems. the doctor thought. God knows he had enough of his own! Sometimes he wondered why he ever became a psychiatrist!
He sat at the table and ate breakfast. Gently flicking the on button on the radio, Jake realised that he missed some of the sports news. He grunted with disappointment but then a story caught his attention. A female newsreader announced,
“A crash occurred at 6.00 pm yesterday evening on the N 55. Experts say that the brakes in the car gave way and it swerved out of control. One person was involved in the crash. The driver was killed instantly. The identity of the deceased is unknown. But police are baffled by what they found at the crash site. Written in blood by the damaged vehicle were the words “Death Number five! The driver’s name should be revealed in the next two days. And now for the weather…”
Jake swallowed hard upon hearing this because the name, he already knew….


- Aidan Lucid

© Copyright of Aidan Lucid 16/08/2007


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Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 9/18/2007
Chilling write; very well done!
Reviewed by Frances Lynn 8/21/2007
Quite a gripping story (but watch your punctuation) .... however, not original enough to shake off the Stalk & Slash influence. This writer has promise and should develop stories which are original, not pale shadows of the Halloween ad nauseum horror genre - but, not bad even though the ending is predictable.
Reviewed by Violette Reid 8/20/2007
I enjoyed this modern horror. It reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode. Very descriptive with a hint of supernatural.

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