I stepped out onto the porch after noting the time—2:22 a.m.—and sat on the stoop. It’s odd that for the past week or so, I’ve awakened each morning to see that time, glaring at me with glowing red numbers. I can almost hear the clock say “Up. Up. You have to pay homage to me now.”
The air was heavy and warm, saturating my lungs and sinuses with moisture; a drastic shift in environment from the previous month—August had been positively pleasant.
“You need to hide the manuscript,” came the voice…that all too familiar and annoying intrusion that seemed to always accompany my unwelcome early morning wake-ups.
“Hide it from who?” I asked, not trying to hide any of the agitation in my voice.
Just then, I heard vibration in the air, sneaking slowly toward me from the other side of the house; the thrum of engines, thwacking the air, beginning as a muted thump, thump, thump but then building to a crisp whop, whop, whop. I looked up to see the flashing strobe as it broke the plane of the side of my ancient house and then sped away past the woodline on the other side of the farm.
“Why do I need to hide my manuscript?” I asked again as the floating monster slowly receded from sight and hearing.
“How many of those do you see a day?” the voice whispered into my ear.
I thought about it. I knew there had been more over the past couple of years, but recently, there seemed to be one every hour or two.
“You need to hide the manuscript,” the voice said again.
“Why?” I asked. “Why would anyone care about what a minor author in a Thriller sub genre had to say?”
“You’ve struck upon something,” the voice said.
I shook my head, dislodging a bead of sweat that had collected at the base of my skull. It slid down my spine, feeling like an insect, slowly descending beneath the collar of my Melvins T-shirt. A shiver rose to greet it.
“What?” I asked again.
“You dig too deep into reality,” the voice said. “You’ve drawn attention to yourself.”
I laughed a breathy scoff at the notion. “Not enough attention to make me a best seller.”
“Hide it,” it repeated so quietly I barely heard it that time.
I shook my head again, but rose to go in. Inside, I paused at the staircase, before looking in the direction of my study. Agitation rose up my back and I set my jaw to the side, pissed off that I was actually letting the voice influence my decisions.
“Son of a bitch,” I muttered as I turned abruptly and walked into my study.
There on my desk was the manuscript. Sitting quietly, minding its own business…not a care in the world; comfortable in the knowledge that it was finished and was only waiting on the editor. I stared at it, debating.
“Shit,” I muttered as I grabbed it from the cluttered surface of my desk and then brought it over to my hidden gun safe in the wall. I spun the dial and clicked each number in turn. When I pulled it open, I stood there for a moment, examining my weapons; sniper rifle, assault rifles, several pistols of varying size and calibers.
“Will you let me sleep if I put it in here?” I asked, standing in front of my arsenal—no answer.
I dropped the manuscript on the floor of the safe and quietly closed the door before spinning the dial again.
“I’m going back to bed,” I muttered as I made my way back upstairs.
I was careful not to wake Diane as I got into bed, leaving the covers down so the sheets wouldn’t stick to my sweat clad body. As I began to drift off, I heard the distant, muted thump, thump, thump of an engine in the sky. I turned over on my side as it passed over and then began to recede.
“What did I uncover?” I asked.
No answer came.
“Screw you,” I muttered and then fell asleep.
Originally posted, Sep 2014