We had a downpour last night, complete with thunder claps so loud they frightened one of the cats. I woke to the sound of steady rain this morning and while the rains have paused, the trees and plants and grass are very green, but the gray skies cast everything in a sickly tone. This is a weird day. A creepy day. A day for a free story. I hope you enjoy it.
“Waiting for Anders”
"Time to wake up, Anders."
Stephen blinked his eyes in the darkness and mumbled. "What?"
The voice that roused him spoke in a jabbing staccato. "Time. To. Wake. Up. Anders."
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" He tried to sit up, but felt a finger press down on his tender sternum. "Who is Anders?"
He heard the unseen man chuckle. "Don't play cute with me, Anders. You're all out of time."
Time. What time was it? What was that smell? Stephen sank against the mattress to escape the torturous phalange. “Look, I’m not trying to be cute. I think there’s been a mistake. My name is Stephen Heider, not Anders.” He felt the pressure on his chest ease.
“Heider? Heider…well this is interesting.” He removed his finger from Stephen’s chest. “How can you be Heider when Anders lives here? These are Anders’ things in Anders’ place.”
Frustration overcame Stephen’s fear. “I’m not Anders. I live here and these are my things in my place. You. Are. Wrong.”
The man was silent. “I do not make mistakes and am never, ever wrong. I have been doing my job a very long time and I simply do not make mistakes.”
“Well, you just did.” Stephen sighed. “Please, if you leave now, I won’t call the police. I haven’t even seen your face, I could never identify you. Please?”
The man chuckled again. “It isn’t that easy, Heider.” He flicked on the light, leaving Stephen to cover his eyes with his hands.
“See? I’m not looking at you! You can go and we can pretend this never happened. Nobody will ever know that you made a mistake.”
The man clasped his blood-stained, calloused hands over Stephen’s and pried them away from his eyes. “But I will know. And you will know. That is one too many.” He smiled down into his fluttering eyes.
“What are you?” His words more of a wretch in his throat as he studied the bits of dried flesh speckling the man’s face, the source of the smell, no doubt.
The man shook his head. “No more secrets for you, Heider. I will do what I came here to do.”
“Wait! Can I call my mom or write her a note or something? I can’t just…” He didn’t know what the man had in store for him and didn’t want to offer any options.
“No. The time is now. Farewell, Heider.” He held Stephen’s face in his hands and opened his impossibly large mouth, his tongue searching for the first taste of salty meat.
No screams. No thrashing. The man ate every morsel of Stephen, crunching bones between his teeth. He stood and stared at the pristine sheets, taking pride in his cleanliness.
He slipped his filthy hand into his coat pocket and pulled out an ancient scrap of paper. He opened it with care, the decades-old crease barely holding together. In block letters, the words 'Professor Johnston Anders, Metaphysical Investigator' faded into the past along with the address of the house the man stood in.
“I’ve waited for you a very long time, Anders. There are only four mistakes I have ever made and they are all because of you.” He folded the paper and tucked it back into his pocket.
He opened the backdoor and retreated to the woods. Anders would return and he would be there waiting. There wouldn’t be a fifth mistake.