The vision of the lock and its key was a blur. In Aaron Child’s inebriated state, he jabbed the point of the key to where he felt the lock was hoping he would get lucky and it would find its home just so he could enter his. He was successful on his third try which indicated he was not as drunk as he had been on previous occasions...or last night to be frank. The wide spread of scratches around the lock could have been a reminder of tales of stupors far beyond his current condition, but they would have only been suggestions. Even though the evidence was there, his recall of such events had been lost at the bottom of many cheap student bar priced lagers. He smirked as he placed what was left of his money on the kitchen table and took a loaf from the bread bin. The fact that Aaron still had coins in his pocket, and the sensibility to make himself a sandwich, meant two things: the first, he might actually be awake early enough in the morning to prepare himself for when his parents were picking him up, probably around midday. In this context, early was usually around half past eleven. The second was most of his drinking friends had already finished for the end of term and travelled home. He had left his television on and his games console plugged in before he went out, so he carried on with his army shooting game with half a sandwich hanging from his mouth.
Once he had reached the end of the level, he gave himself time to eat it and was about to continue the game when his mobile phone rang. He looked at the time, it was 1:33 am. The phone number was a number…just a number, which was a little confusing. His caller was not saved in his contacts and he certainly did not recognise the sequence of digits. Thoughts of ignoring it and letting it run to voice mail entered his head. It was probably a wrong number, who would be phoning him in the middle of the night if it was not one of his friends? He thought. Certainly, nobody from his family would call him at such a late hour, unless it was an emergency. When he realised the caller was not going to hang up after a few rings, Aaron picked up the phone and slid his finger across the screen. The call connected.
At first there was silence. Aaron listened carefully. The line had definitely connected. “Hello?”
There was more silence before the quiet mewling of a woman crept through the ear piece.
“Hello? Who’s there?” Aaron could now hear gentle breathing. The crackle of static began to break up the connection before the female voice on the other end of the phone whimpered. It was obvious she had been crying. “I know it’s coming, it has come for everyone else. Why can’t we see it coming?”
Aaron Childs put down his games controller and frowned. “Who is this?”
“It’s here, it’s in the room with me. It must be.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“I am being watched, I can feel it. It knows I’m here.”
“Who is this?” There was a pause. Aaron listened to the woman’s quiet sobbing. “Do you need help?”
“I’m cut off.”
“Cut off from where?”
The woman took a sharp intake of breath. “Oh God.” The woman began to panic. “I’ve seen the shimmer. How does it know I’m here?”
“Can you tell me where you are?” The static on the line increased, distorting the connection. “This line is very bad, can you move to place with a better signal?”
“Fog Cottage. It’s the only place.”
“You have to warn others. No one must ever come here.”
“Here? Where’s here?”
“I’ve seen the shimmer.”
“The shimmer? Where are you? I can’t help you if you if I don’t know where you are.”
The woman began to cry a little heavier as the static increased in bursts of white noise. “It’s like spiders crawling on my skin.”
“I think you’ve dialled the wrong number, because if this is a joke...” The static on the line seemed to explode and Aaron pulled the phone away from his ear, wincing as he mouthed an expletive. When he heard the static slightly fade he moved the handset closer to his ear.
“What’s your name?”
Through sobs, the woman mumbled, “Jessic Pu…”
Aaron pulled the phone away from his ear for a second time as the dull thump that followed was itself followed by a shriek of pain. A second, louder thump suggested something had cracked or snapped. The third strike seemed to meld with a groan, an almost muted resonance of a dying breath.
Aaron pressed the phone to his ear. The line was filled with static before suddenly falling into silence.
“Hello? Jessica? Jessica?” Aaron ended the call and fell back into his arm chair. He was unnerved, but his puzzled expression melted away as inebriated sleep took over. Whoever had called him, whoever needed help would have to wait until the morning.