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(© Joseph A Polega)

Page 2

Not without help.

She had half a bottle of Ambien leftover from a bout with insomnia two years ago so she took one with splash of water from the bathroom tap.

Cindy didnít know if it was the potency of the drug, or the psychological comfort if provided, but she soon found herself drifting towards sleep - already forgetting about her mysterious friend and hoping he was doing the same.

The phone woke her up at four in the morning.

It sat buzzing on the table beside her head, next to the clock radio that flashed the time across the room with extra large digital numbers. The clock was made for seniors but Cindy liked being able to read the time in the middle of the night without the help of her glasses.

She swung her feet off the side of the bed and made fists with her toes against the thick carpeting. The effects of the drug hadnít worn off; manufacturers suggested getting at least eight hours of sleep before becoming active and Cindy had barely managed four.

It was hard to read the screen with her blurry vision but as she did the memory of last night drifted back in a haze.

There was another incoming message.

Cindy looked from the phone down to the table, over to the drawer sitting slightly ajar, then back again.

She closed her eyes pondering, began to sway, and would have fallen back asleep if not for the buzz in her hands.

She read the message with a head full of cobweb.


Cindy jumped out of bed, now fully awake. She looked around the room expecting the worst - only to curse her girlish anxiety when she found nothing.

Then she noticed that Butch was gone.

The dog normally slept in bed with her all night; eventually claiming most of it as his own, and usually didnít get out until Cindyís morning was in full swing.

The bed was empty as was the floor all around it.

"Butch?" She called out to the empty house.

His bowl was in the kitchen next to the back door and Cindy hoped to hear him lumbering back down the hallway dripping water from his snout.

But there was nothing.

She walked over to the door, leaned her head out into the hall, and peered down towards the dark kitchen.

"Butch?" She could only muster a faint whisper; if Butch were around he probably would not have heard.

The phone vibrated, catching her off guard, and she dropped it as if it were electrified. A new message stared up at her from the floor.


Cindy stared down at it in disbelief, and then backed up against the bedroom wall watching the phone like it was a bomb about to explode. She slid down to the floor; pulling her knees close to her chest and rocking like she was trying to keep warm. A sick realization grew inside her head.

He was watching.

She crawled across the bed, keeping low, over to the window facing Canal Road. Other than a few parked cars, the street was empty and dark as were the houses across the way. A dog barked a few doors down. It wasnít Butch. His bark was deep and thumping as opposed to this oneís high-pitched yap.

Cindy closed the curtains after taking one more cursory peek outside. She turned quickly and screamed as she caught her own reflection in the full-length mirror that lined the closet door.

She didnít recognize herself in the darkness.

The phone came to life again across the room. Cindy walked over to it gingerly, ignoring the urge to smash it into a thousand pieces, and picked it up with badly shaking hands.


The message was flagged out with an attachment. Her gentlemen caller had sent a picture. Cindy heart raced; she took a couple of deep, ineffective breaths and opened it.

[ Continue to page 3 ]

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Genre:General Horror
Type:Short story
Rating:6.66 / 10
Rated By:13 users
Comments: 3 users
Total Hits:9945

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