Echoes – Interludes Excerpt
I can’t believe I’ve never done this for Interludes, my short published in the Echoes of Terror Anthology. So, here it is!
How often does it happen? How often would a woman totally lose her mind without anyone around her noticing? Particularly when she lives with two other people and interacts with at least a dozen others every day. And to top it off, she tells them, almost daily, that something just isn’t right, that it’s wrong. But she hadn’t seen anyone but him for so long… maybe they weren’t even real? Oh yes, they were real.
Had they listened, things would have been so much easier on everyone. But was she real? Was he?
Kaine read the file the nurse had put in front of him.
The patient was Claire Davis, a fairly successful freelance writer. She had begun to be ‘noticed’ by the print publishers, through her freelance work online. And it hadn’t taken long either; not six weeks after her first article was published on her very immature website, the publisher of a small newsletter had requested permission to reprint it on page two of his next issue. Shortly after her second article was posted, the owner of a large syndicate in the United Kingdom requested reprint rights. If she worked and posted her material on her website, she was fine. Then she was hired by a big-name content provider.
In her file, Claire stated she hadn’t expected to stay as long as she did, nor get as involved as she did. After plugging away at two other content providers, she knew they didn’t last long; one of the places that had published her material had folded within six months of the grand opening. Not this one though. This one had stuck it out, through a couple of changes in ownership and management. She wrote that she’d worked hard for them even when they stopped paying the fee, and began paying in ‘shares’.
And then they fired everyone. No notice, no payment; they’d simply fired everyone. Claire had an emotional breakdown.
Something wasn’t right about this case, but Kaine couldn’t put his finger on it. He sighed as he pushed the file away, sliding it across the immaculate desk.
In the Internet Age, everyone and anyone could publish, and Claire firmly believed that it was this mentality bringing down the entire journalism world. Over half of the other content providers she’d worked with shouldn’t have been allowed to live on their own without ‘special help’, let alone publish the oddities that flowed from their fingertips.
Memories, tinged with nostalgia; it had been a long time. Claire’s fingers brushed the keyboard gently, softly outlining where she had once tap-tap-tapped away the afternoons. Looking closer, she saw the scaly, brown marks over the more frequently used keys. E was almost obliterated by the stain.
She licked her finger, wiped E clean, then put the flakes of… whatever… into her mouth. Savored the taste of long-dead blood. Smiling, she relished the memories the dead moments brought her. And that’s when it had happened, that’s when she realized she wasn’t alone.
Kaine watched from the two-way mirror installed between his office and the reception area.
The woman seemed to be drifting, her mouth open and her eyes glazed. Suddenly, she snapped out of her reverie, smiled politely to the nurse sitting beside her, and turned back to the task at hand; filling out the insurance forms was almost as tedious as writing the introductory story he always asked for.
Kaine. He shivered as she looked up, directly into his eyes. He could have sworn she’d whispered his name, right into his ear. For a moment, he was positive she could actually see him.
The nurse stood and took the clipboard from Claire. Kaine watched as the old bulldog went over the paperwork, shaking her head. She turned away and disappeared from his view – he knew she was going to bring him the forms to go with the rest of the file on his desk.
Claire, meantime, sat with a tiny smile creating lines on either side of her mouth and the shadow of a dimple on one cheek. For a moment, she seemed to try and stifle the giggles which shook her shoulders, but as Kaine heard the door close to his office, and the nurse began to talk to him, Claire began to shake; he heard the laughter and a chill worked its way down his spine.
Want more? Order Echoes of Terror (either from me – signed! – or from the publisher, linked above….)