Sitting home alone late one night, after a long day of work, all I want to do is crawl into bed, but I know I have a sit-in coming up in the morning and I have yet to get started on my digital presentation. I make myself a pot of coffee and I begin to work. So many files to go through, so many papers to proof read and grade. (Did I mention I’m a professor at OSU?) Quite a bit of work I have ahead of myself indeed.
I had finished grading and I’d just started looking through my notes when there’s a faint rapping at my door. Looking at my wrist watch I see the time reads 12:30am. Thinking aloud, “Who on earth could that be at this hour?” I get up to answer the door only to find that no one is there. I was just about to close the door and dismiss it as some kid pulling a prank, when I look down to someone had left a large yellow envelope on my doorstep.
Thinking maybe it could be a late delivery of sorts, I look at the envelope. I soon notice there is no postage stamps, nor a return address, only my name spelled in big red letters, “PROFESSOR MICHAEL A. CLINTON”. The ink is still wet, and smells a bit metallic. With closer examination I see what I had thought was ink at first, seems more like a thick paint. Not wanting to make a stain on my freshly cleaned white sectional sofa, I take it the kitchen.
I open the envelope and pour the contents out onto my table, I see a disc sleeve and what appears to be a CD inside, along with a letter. I’m just about to open and read the letter when something catches my attention out of the corner of my eye. I thought I saw something move in the dark corner of the kitchen. Upon closer inspection I find nothing, thinking maybe it was just Ripper, my very black and very sneaky cat. Upon returning to the table I notice something that I hadn’t before.
The letter, once a blank white envelope, now has one single sentence, wrote in the same paint as the large yellow envelope. The sentence reads, “Watch first, read second”. Momentarily confused I return to the living room to collect my laptop. After making sure I’d saved all my notes, I’d hate to lose all the information I needed for my presentation over a random CD, I put the CD in the disc tray.
At first nothing, black screen and no sound. Thinking I’d put the CD in the wrong way, I eject it to find it was in fact in the correct way. So I try again, soon I hear what sounds like static, I turn up my volume and realize they are screams but the screen remains black. I paused the CD, thinking maybe they weren’t coming from the CD but rather somewhere outside. Once paused the screaming stops.
Being a grown man, I feel a bit of embarrassment for being frightened. I eject the CD and throw it on the coffee table. I’d forgotten about the letter. I finish up my presentation and was ready to burn it to a CD (seeing as how my classroom has no smart board until next semester and I’m still stuck using an old DVD player and projector). Looking around my mess of graded papers, I find a blank CD in which to burn the presentation on.
I burn my work onto the CD and set it aside. My watch now reads 3:45am and my class starts at 7:00am. With heavy eyes and a feeling of success I retire to my bed to catch up on a little sleep before work. Once in bed I can hear faint screams again, too tired to investigate I fall asleep. I awake to my alarm buzzing at 6:00am.
After gathering up all my papers and such, I set off to work, ready to start the day. As I’m driving to the university, I can’t shake this feeling of having forgotten something. I arrive at the school and make my way to my classroom, setting everything up for my presentation. My students walk in and settle down in their seats, my boss, who is sitting in on my lecture today, Mr. Jeankins arrives shortly after I’ve handed back all the student’s graded papers. I put the CD in and press play.
All that plays are those horrible screams once again. Knowing now that I’d made the mistake of grabbing the wrong CD last night, I immediately remove the CD…
I inform my class, and my boss, that there must have been a mistake with the CD. I assure them that I will have the presentation ready for Monday. My boss doesn’t look to happy, but understands that these things happen from time to time. The day goes on normally, I give my lectures and assign assignments for the weekend. I arrive home around 8:30pm.
Once again I put the CD into my laptop and press play. Only now the screams sound like they’re coming from behind me, in my kitchen. I quickly turn off the laptop, leaving the CD in the tray. I remember the letter that arrived with the CD, seeing as how I’ve “watched” the CD I see no problem in reading the letter. Oh how I wish I hadn’t watched that damn CD, oh how I wish I hadn’t read that damn letter, oh how I wish I hadn’t let all those innocent people hear those horrible screams.The letter reads:
“Tag, it’s your turn. Whomever hears this shall understand true fear and terror when ‘She’ comes for you. For she knows fear better than all. “Who is ‘She’? “, you may be asking yourself, for ‘She’ is the mother of all darkness. You’re time will come. Do not try to hide your fear, for it will not help. ‘She’ knows all.”
I quickly throw the letter into the trash and run to my room. I open my closet to get out my bat and the handgun I keep in my safebox on the top shelf, (better safe than sorry for all I knew this could still only be someone’s sick, psychotic idea of a joke,) only to find my cat Ripper, dead inside my closet, torn to shreds. I hadn’t seen him since Thursday morning and now I understand why. Recalling the red “paint” I quickly retreat to the kitchen to grab the yellow and white envelopes from the trash, only for them to be missing. I know now this is no joke, something is seriously wrong. I know in my heart that the “paint” wasn’t paint at all.
I hear the screams again and think of the CD, and how I’d left it in my laptop disc tray. I run into the living room to find my laptop, broken, lying open screen down on the floor, disc tray open, and the CD, gone. Again I hear a soft rapping at my front door. Although now it seems as though the knocking is coming from every door and window in the house. I know ‘She’ is here, I feel her darkness enveloping me from all around.
‘She’ is coming for me, then for all those students that I let hear that damn CD, oh those poor kids. How could I have been so reckless? But it wasn’t my fault you see, I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was the wrong CD. I didn’t know that what I had first though was static was actually the sound of so many people, so many people’s whose fears she had fed on. All those souls, trapped within her. To think, I’m going to be one of those thousands of voices and there isn’t a damn thing I’m able to do about it.
These screams that ‘She’ listens too and swoons over as if they’re music to her ears. Even now, while ‘She’s’ staring into my eyes from the other side of the livingroom, she’s swaying back and forth to the screams that seem to be coming from all around me now. My time is up, and soon theirs will be too.
This is all my fault and I’m so sorry to those poor students whose blood is on my hands. I’m so sorry to my boss, who had just received twin grandbabies. I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault. “She’s” right next to me now. I didn’t know that my voice would one day be included with these horrible screams, and so soon at that. I got two days, I should have thrown it in with the rest of my mail, at least it would have saved me a little more time.
Just know, if you ever receive a large yellow envelope, in the middle of the night with your name in red “paint”, no postage stamps nor a return address. Do not open it, if you open it do not listen to the CD. If you listen to the CD do not share it with anyone. Return it to the sleeve it came in, she feeds on fear, we need to stop feeding her. Stay and wait for ‘Her’ arrival.
If you’re like me it was too late, I reeked of fear. But some are strong and have evaded ‘Her’, letting little to no fear in, ‘She’ couldn’t keep their scent. There’s no hiding from ‘Her’ once ‘She’ has your scent, and no escape, accept your fate and do not share it.
Just know, I’m so sorry I grabbed the wrong CD.Re-Written by: Long Time Reader, First Time Writter.
-I like(d) the general idea of the short story that I had come across, but I thought it was poorly executed, and a little short for my taste. Hope this is enjoyable.