"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
~~Franklin D. Roosevelt
He awoke with a start; the dull glare of the lamp hit him in the face as he slowly got his bearings. He still lay on the couch where he'd been reading what seemed like only moments ago. His cigarette smoldered in the ashtray, one long row of ash ready to disintegrate.
Looking around, everything in the room seemed normal and as it should be....except for the nagging feeling that something was different. Not only different, but wrong. The feeling was strong enough to have woken him up; he didn't think it had been a dream. He sat up and poured another drink, the fumes of the whiskey hitting the back of his throat like a comforting friend. Glass in hand, he stood and quietly began moving from room to room, trying to find the source of his discomfort.
As he walked down the hallway he heard a faint noise that sounded like music. It grew louder with each step; a sweetly sinister, tinkling sound. He was repulsed by the sound while at the same time drawn to it. He clutched the glass as if it were a life preserver, inching ever forward past the dark walls. A door was at the end of the hallway, a door he couldn't remember ever seeing in his home before. Puzzled and more than a little afraid, he downed the last of the whiskey and opened the door, heart pounding in his chest.
The room was empty except for a small table. A single lightbulb hanging from a cord in the ceiling gently swayed as if something had just passed by, its dim light revealing dingy peeling plaster on the shadowy walls. On the table sat a toy - a child's plastic windup toy, plinking out the high-pitched chimes of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head." He walked into the room, and as he crossed the threshold the song slowly wound down, its creepy notes hanging in the air even after it had stopped.
He was alone in the room, yet not alone. Something unseen was close by, so close that he could feel its presence pressing in on him from all directions. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, to try and dispel the feeling that he was being watched. Sweat trickled down the side of his face as adrenaline pumped through his veins. Upon opening his eyes, the toy sprang into life again as if daring him to come closer, the innocence of the music mingling with the sordidness of the room. He took a step forward.
There was something familiar about the toy, something that plucked at the recesses of his memory....something he didn't want to remember. Remembering was dangerous, being in this room was dangerous, and whatever entity was playing with him was dangerous. He had to get out, now. He turned to walk, no run, out, but he found he was no longer alone. A small boy stood in the doorway.
They looked at each other, and the man realized he was looking at himself as a child. The child's eyes were haunted, and warily looked around the room as if searching for something, or someone. The menacing presence seemed to have left when the boy appeared. "It's ok," the child whispered to the man, beckoning him to follow. "It's safe now." They walked out of the room together, the man wondering if he was going crazy. "No, you're not going crazy," the boy whispered, in answer to the man's unspoken thought. "We're going to be ok."
The boy lead the man back down the hallway, back to the couch and the smoldering cigarette and the bottle of whiskey. He sat down and the boy stood in front of the man, now at eye level. The boy said, "I have to go back now, but you'll be safe." He looked at the whiskey and looked back at the man with sorrow in his eyes. "Don't let me down, ok?" The man nodded silently, not understanding.
He awoke with a start; the dull glare of the lamp hit him in the face as he slowly got his bearings. He still lay on the couch where the boy had been with him in what seemed only moments ago. He sat up and looked around, noticing that the menacing feeling was gone. Everything in the room seemed normal and as it should be. Still, he reached for the whiskey bottle for some clarity....and remembered what the boy said. He slowly put the bottle down, finally understanding.
Blogophilia Week 22.6 - Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
(Hard, 2 pts): Quote Maya Angelou
(Easy, 1 pt): Mention a past U.S. president