“Daddy come get me.” It’s four words a parent never wants to hear. I’ve always been worried about these calls. Being her father never gets easier. I don’t even ask her what is wrong. I don’t need to because she’ll tell me what happened when I get there. “Are you someplace safe right now, baby?” “I don’t know. Please hurry.” She might be crying, it sounds like. She gets upset a lot. Most teenagers do… But she almost never cries. “Hide. And keep your phone on okay? I’m coming now, I’ll call you when I’m close.” I say. I take off my apron as a dozen burgers sizzle on the flattop grill in protest, I take off my stupid paper hat too and look around the kitchen. Jimmy is the only one back here with me. He’s slow. He can’t manage the rush alone. Glancing next to me, I can see Read More …
CALL LOGS I’m not the first one to say it and I won’t be the last: I don’t think Brighter Futures Suicide Hotline is what they say it is. The past few weeks, I’ve been gathering as much information as I can find and I’m good at finding things. Damn good. It’s literally my job. I’m a Digital Forensics Examiner. I can’t tell you my name and I can’t tell you the name of the company I work for — I’m afraid of retaliation and not just from my company but others. For the purpose of this post, I’m going by Maddox. I’m beginning to see that this goes a lot deeper than a call center and a bunch of strange coincidences. This is massive. Global. From what I can tell, something is attempting to shift the path of humanity itself. They’re doing it unseen. They’re doing it successfully.
Part I “Hello!” I said as I approached the bench. The man’s eyes shot up with a start looking up over the thing he held in his hand. “Are you talking to me?” He asked. He looked tired and agitated despite the placid mask of emotionless empty the rest of his face conveyed. I felt my insides lurch, instantly regretting the interaction. I had to keep going so I kept smiling until he smiled back. There was no way he could be like all the rest. If he was, there was no hope. Finally, he did smile and I felt my stomach fall. His smile was exactly like the ones I’d left behind. Fake. False. I felt my heart racing a bit in my chest.
There’s a Raffle that’s been going on in my town ever since I was a little boy. They started doing it in the 90’s. People seemed to have a lot of opinions about it. Everyone’s always said it was stupid and they hated it. I think some of those people are lying. People say we should get rid of The Raffle but they never do anything to actually change it. It’s all a bunch of talk and no action. The Raffle’s been going on so long I was numb to it for a long time but I’m starting to feel some way about it again. I started to read between the lines and understand what was actually happening in our city. If you live here too, just be glad you haven’t won yet.
“Let us pray.” “Heavenly father, we are the family of Holy Cross. Bless us and guide us as we pray together in our church. Teach us wisdom and give strength to our community. Keep our family safe and our moral compasses true. We ask this in your name. Amen.” The congregants voices rise in unison to echo off the rafters of the old wooden building off north Main, just outside of town square. “You may be seated.” Pastor Thomas, with his palms up, extended, directs them. His wife Gwen mounts the steps to the podium.
Everyone knows something about these Crow kids. They ain’t sharing whatever memory’s hidden in their stupid collective small-town unconsciousness with me. We’re outsiders. We were accepted until now. I guess. When I needed help and to know what happened to Jenny these past few days, nobody was sharing anything to go on.
“Hello, my class is taking a field-trip and I’m selling magazine subs—” I slammed the door in his tiny, stupid face. He might have been eight-years-old, and my reaction might have been cruel, but the kid’s gotta learn the world is a harsh place sometime in his life. Why not now?
When the window tapping began, Daniel grabbed the gun from the nightstand drawer. We both sat on the edge of the mattress staring at the curtains, drawn closed for the night. “Scott!” I recognized the voice outside calling my name. I’d never forget that voice. I took the gun from Daniel’s hand and told him to hide. He looked surprised and began to protest but at the look I gave him, he stopped. I must have looked so profoundly broken. Lost. Or maybe he saw something else in me that I didn’t know was there. A strength I was unaware of. Without a word, Daniel nodded, then hid. I crossed the room to the window and opened the curtains to face my ex-husband once again.
My grandfather remembered the last Shadow Spring, he told me it happened when he was just a boy. 108 years old and he shared his recollection with me as though it had happened in recent memory. He told it as spry and coherent as he’d ever told me anything.