University High School
Instructor: Molly Klaisner
Howard had been living in the old house for but a week when the letters began. He heard the doorbell and made the trek across the creaky floorboards to open the door. He opened it to find, to his surprise, not a person, but a soaking wet piece of paper lying on his welcome mat. Giving a quizzical look, he picked up the soggy parchment to see what was written on it. "GET OUT NOW," it read. Howard, always the skeptic, looked around to see who had dropped it. After craning his neck to survey the whole empty field surrounding his house, he went back in and continued pacing around the sitting room. It was just some dumb teenagers blowing off some steam. He didn't know why it was soaking wet, however.
The next note gave him more to worry about. He was reading a book, just slipping into its world, when the high-pitched squeal of the doorbell brought him right back into reality. He sighed and went out to greet whichever politician's supporters he would have to fend off today. He then realized, upon opening the door, that it was another one of these notes. Written on the card was one smeared word. That word was all it took, however. It simply read: "Barbara." This was the name of Howards mother. The thing you must understand about Howard is that he was a bit of a recluse. He'd only venture into town for food, parchment, and ink. He was the stereotype of the secluded novelist. He had moved into a new town to hopefully kick his writer's block. This meant that he hadn't had any real conversations with other people besides trite discussion of the weather. No one in town could know his parents' names. So how did the paper get there? He just managed to stumble onto his sofa before he fainted.
When he woke, he had one thought: "Cops." He should call the police and tell them about this. He went up to his telephone and dialed the number. He hadn't exactly thought the call through. "911, what's your emergency?"
"I've been receiving strange threats at my door," he said hurriedly.
"Notes?" The man clarified.
"Well, what did they say?" The operator said, not fully understanding the urgency of the situation.
"Well, the first one said, 'get out,' and the next one had… well the next one's strange," Howard began to wonder about how to phrase this. "This one said my- it had my mother's name on it. Now, this is strange, as I'm new in town, and I haven't spoken at length with any of the people here."
"Have you made many enemies in the past?" offered the responder.
"No," replied Howard. He was already regretting this decision.
"Never had any ties with organized crime?" the operator said half-heartedly.
"No, I wouldn't be calling the police if I thought the mob were after me." Howard replied incredulously.
"Well, I don't know what you want me to do, Mr.… Mr.…"
"Philips," Replied Howard.
"I'm not sure what there is to do, Mr. Philips."
"Never mind," Howard sighed and hung up the phone. It was a lost cause.
Howard noticed other strange things, like the lights flickering and the radio being overtaken by static. In fact, one day he was listening to the news, when the radio began to falter, the lights went all the way off, and the doorbell rang. What was at the door, but another sopping wet letter. This one had two words. "Richard" and "Cindy" were scrawled on the note. At this point he was numb to the fact that those were his father and sister's names.
Two nights after this, Howard was tossing and turning, and he heard something muffled coming from downstairs. It sounded like… laughing. Like there was someone squealing with delight in his kitchen. He rose from his bed and slowly and quietly made his way for the door. He slowly pulled it open, wincing at how creaky the hinge was. He tip-toed to the staircase. After making it to the bottom, he sighed with relief. His kitchen was empty. Of course it was. His radio, however, was on, but this wasn't a surprise at this point. He moved to turn it off when he noticed two things. First, the dial was covered in a neon sort of goo. It was bright blue-green and looked like it could be hazardous. He carefully turned the radio off, cautious not to touch the slime. The other thing he noticed was another note. It simply read, "YOU WILL DIE HERE." This was frightening, as the threat was no longer implied, and instead it was just out in the open. He looked down, and saw wet footprints, leading from the white tile of his kitchen to his door. He grabbed a candle, lit it with a match, and followed the footsteps. After a few minutes, he finally came upon the end of the tracks. There was a large cliff, with about a 20 foot drop to the ocean. The footsteps weren't dying out. They didn't turn around. They didn't even show a leadup to a jump. Just steady steps until… there wasn't any more ground. Howard decided he was too tired to do anything about this today. He went back to his bedroom and fell asleep posthaste.
He woke up, and immediately regretted doing so. Something was afoot, and he was sure of that now. He went downstairs, with a newfound sense of confidence. He would take the letter to the police station. It was proof of malevolent intent. Someone was targeting him, and he would- but once he got to his radio, he found nothing but a puddle of water sitting next to it. The glowing fluid on the radio dial was gone as well. No matter, he thought. He would just report the B&E, with the other letters and- they were gone as well. Nothing was left but a puddle in the drawer he left the notes in. He sighed and walked to his car.
He got the location of the police station from a homeless man. After a quick drive, he got out of his car and started to walk. He paused in front of a worn-down building. It was decrepit in every sense of the word. The thing was, this was exactly where he was told the station was. He stopped an old lady and asked her.
"Isn't this the police station?" He asked.
"Used to be." She gave a dark chuckle. "'Till the fire of '41!" The station's been out ever since! I tell ya, my friend Sally had a break in last month, and the phone kept on a'ringin', 'till those robbers were gone. She had to go to Faireville to file a report, and it's a 90-minute drive!" This made Howard's head spin.
"Th-Thank you…" He stuttered. He stumbled back to his car. But the homeless man… The 911 operator… He needed to get some rest. He drove back to his house to find his door open once again.
He took a few cautious steps into the old house, the creaking negating any attempt at dicretion, to try to see what was happening. He could hear a quiet rushing sound. It was his faucet! He grabbed a wrench. He rounded the corner to see something horrific before he darted back. There was a monster, of sorts. It was shaped like an octopus, but its flesh was red and bloody, like an open wound, and it was covered in eyeballs, their gazes darting around, and teeth gnashing at the air. The faucet seemed to be running onto it. It had long tentacles with green teeth or stingers on the ends. He would love to not find out. He didn't think it had seen him. As its eyes were still wandering around the place. He gathered all his courage, took a long, deep breath, and rounded the corner once more. As quickly as he could muster, he whipped the wrench at the faucet lever, hitting it out of position, and shutting off the stream of water. Suddenly, every single one of the monster's eyes were fixed on him. Howard froze where he was, and in an instant, the tentacle had swiped a large gash onto the side of his left arm. This was for naught, however, as the monster couldn't live without the water. Howard was able to get far enough away to watch the monster writhe around before collapsing in on itself. Howard tentatively made his way up to the sink, where he saw nothing but a stream of red goop flowing into the drain. He tended to his wound. It was definitely infected, but with what he couldn't begin to tell. He decided that after this, he would finally get that rest he wanted.
He woke up unable to move. He looked up to see a shady figure looming over him. He could see the outline of a robe. Perhaps a hood. It began a low chant, but in some language he couldn't decipher. "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," the figure repeated again and again. He tried to breathe, but he could feel water in his lungs. More and more water. Every time he swallowed or spat there was more. He was drowning. He was drowning! HE WAS-
Dreaming. There was no figure, he could move just fine, and his arm hurt like all get out. He started to think about his situation from an external point of view. This was all an attempt to scare him, that or drive him insane. He'd read a thousand stories like this. When he ate breakfast, the radio started playing again by itself. Some advertisement with a little girl speaking:
"My favorite type of ice cream is…" And then static, and then the girl again, "slit your wrists or we'll slit your throat," It finished.
This didn't scare Howard. He said aloud with a laugh:
"Ha, I know all about this. Perversion of something innocent. The horror is found in the irony." The radio shut off. Whatever thing was out there, it was not happy with this new line of reasoning. He began to look for other reasonable ways out of the horror. The water theme probably means something, he thought. Perhaps whatever was going on is being caused by something in the giant ocean beside his house. Before he could follow this path of inquiry, though, his arm began to sting and he felt queasy. He looked down to his sleeve to see his shirt soaked, not with blood, but with water. Water was seeping out of the wound like wringing out a sponge. He fainted again.
His dreams were not pleasant. More drowning, more robed figures, stuff like that. He awoke to find his arm not nearly as wet. Odd. Or was it? He began to question himself. This was a much more realistic version of things, he argued to himself. Yes, but realism has been out the door since the damned squid-blood-whatever came around. This argument shushed this side of his brain. He went to his basement and grabbed a pistol he'd kept handy since his old house was robbed. He made himself a hasty dinner and went to his bed.
In the past he'd been unable to sleep by circumstance. Now it was by choice. He lay in his dark room. He began to accidentally nod off. He jolted awake, still in his bed. Something was… different. He opened the blinds on his window and was shocked by what he saw. The whole world seemed flooded. He grabbed the gun before returning to inspect the window He saw something moving in the murky water. It seemed to be an arm, a gigantic arm, easily the size of his car. It was hard to tell through the swamp water. The arm became much clearer, however, as it cut through the water towards Howard's window. He dodged getting hit himself, but the window shattered. Tons of water came flooding in. He scrambled to his door, flung it open, and slammed it closed. A little water seeped under the door, but it was not proportional to what he'd seen in there. He checked his windows, and while it was raining, there was no large figure, and there wasn't nearly as much water. He walked over to a chair and sat down to catch his breath. After a few seconds, he heard that chanting again. He could hear it coming from the basement. He took a few tentative steps towards the stairs. His heart was beating out of his chest. He took a shaky breath and made the plunge.
Right off the bat, something was wrong. In the middle of his basement there seemed to be a circular hole about three times the size of a sewer grate. There was water, ocean water from the looks of it, coming in and out lazily. Surrounding the hole was a whole group of robed figures, chanting. In the light, he could see that their robes were cyan with blood red embellishments. They didn't seem to see him there. After a few tense minutes of chanting, they stopped. The water coming from the hole was moving faster now. Something was happening, and while it was safely beyond Howard's comprehension, he knew he needed to stop it. He ran down, shouting angrily, and pulled the gun on the figures. They did not react. They slowly started to wade into the hole. Howard shot at each of them, but the bullets seemed to go right through them. They all gathered at the center of the hole, when suddenly, a green, thin arm shot up through the hole, and then pulled back quickly. No more robes, Howard noted. They had gone down with the arm. He decided his next best bet was to retreat. He tried to run up the stairs when his left side went totally limp on him. It was the goddamn gash! He limped up, at a snail's pace, and began to his garage. He unlocked the door to his car, hopped in, and fumbled with the key. As he got it in, he knew it was too late. The key was never turned.
Three weeks later, detective Hank Jameson, FvPD, arrived at the scene of the crime. The coroners were just leaving with the body. He strode up to the policeman with a notepad, looking at the victim's car.
"How was your drive?" he asked Hank.
"Long. Very, very long," Hank replied gruffly. "What's it looking like?"
"Messed up," the policeman said. "The cause of death was drowning, but- "
Hank interrupted, "Judging by your hangin' round here, the body was found in the car."
"Exactly," replied the policeman.
"So, someone drowned the guy, and moved him into the car?" Hank mused, unconvinced.
"But that's the thing…" The policeman trailed off and pointed into the car. Hank leaned in to take a closer look. He saw the man was pointing to scratch marks all over the dashboard.
"What the hell happened to this guy?" Hank asked shakily.