ON TENTERHOOKS by Greever Williams
He picked up his pace toward Maggie’s room. The persistent been-here-before feeling inched darkly toward dread as he walked the dormitory hall. It was dead quiet—unheard of on a Friday night.
And why am I even here on a Friday night?
He always picked Maggie up around noon on Saturdays. He’d take her to lunch or a movie, talk about her classes, life in general. But never on a Friday! He reached her room, the last on the left, and knocked on the door.
“Maggie, honey?” he asked through the door. “It’s Daddy, sweetie.”
No response. He could see light under the door. He knocked again, softly.
“Mags?” he repeated through the door.
He heard rustling. Was someone moving across the carpet? He saw a shadow move under the door, but still no response. He grabbed the handle of the door and turned. Locked.
He pounded the door with his fist.
“Maggie!” he shouted at the door. “It’s your father! Open the door!”
He heard a faint cry — Maggie’s cry. He cursed. He frisked himself, searching his pockets.
“Damn!” he said. He’d left his cell phone in the car. He turned and pounded on the door across the hall. No response. He considered sprinting back to the stairwell, using the emergency phone to call for help. He was afraid to leave her. He turned back to her door.
“Maggie, it’s okay!” he shouted. “I’m gonna try to break down the door, honey! Move away from it if you can!”
The shadow beneath the door shifted. He backed up across the hallway.
“Just like on the cop shows,” he whispered. He took a giant step forward, and then smashed against the door with his right foot using all the power his six-foot five, two-hundred pound frame could manage. The door rattled against its frame, but didn’t budge. The pain in his leg was a firestorm. He cried out and fell on the plush carpet, with its now-faded plaid rendition of the school colors. He’d broken his ankle; the knowledge was as certain as the pain. From behind the door, he heard a girl scream.
“No!” he screamed back. “I’m coming, baby! Hold on!”
He pulled himself up using the doorknob. He backed up again across the hall and gritted his teeth. He knew it would permanently damage him, but he didn’t care. Maggie was behind that door, and she was in trouble.
“Gonna do it!” He focused his mind on the door. He would break it down. He took a deep breath and held it. Leaning gingerly on his right leg, he stepped forward on his left leg. At the last moment, he clenched his thigh muscles, pushing all of his force into his shattered right ankle. He connected with the door, directly above the doorknob. He heard the wood shatter at the same time he felt and heard a wet popping sound at his knee. He screamed again, in sheer agony. The pain was a white light of fire racing through his body. He collapsed in the doorway, as the door flew open wide.
Propping himself up on his elbows, Martin saw Maggie. She was lying on her bed, face up. Her eyes were sunken and glazed, surrounded with deep circles of purple. Her face was a pale gray. Her hair hung in matted clumps around her face, glistening with sweat.
Standing above her was a thin man in a dark suit. He tipped his black-brimmed hat to Martin with a crooked half-smile. Martin’s first thought was that Maggie had died, and this man was administering priestly last rites.
“No!” he screamed. “Maggie!”
At the sound of his voice, Maggie blinked, and she focused on him for the first time.
“Daddy?” she whispered. “Daddy, help!”
Martin tried to pull himself up. The stranger began to pant, smiling and staring at Martin.
Rut rut rut rut
Martin forced himself up, steadied his elbows on the floor in front of him, and tried to crawl toward the bed, his useless right leg dangling behind him. He tried to pull himself across the floor. The stranger continued the vile panting, like laughter, watching with an amused smirk on his face.
Left elbow up, right elbow down. Right elbow up, left elbow down. But Martin couldn’t gain any ground. He was still in the doorway. “Leave her alone!” he screamed. The fire in his leg was intense, and he felt helpless.
The stranger’s laughter stopped and he turned to Martin holding up his hands like a magician. The long, bony fingers were an eerie translucent white. Martin could see ugly blue veins pulsing in the flesh just beneath. Then the man crossed them in front of each other repeatedly until they became a white blur in the air. When he finally stopped, flourishing his fingers like a Japanese fan, each became a massive cluster of foot-long syringes with needles of glistening steel. White tendrils of smoke floated from the end of each needle. Even from the floor, Martin could see bubbling black tar in each syringe.
The stranger tinkled the needless together on each hand. They chimed in time with the rhythm of his hands.
“No!” screamed Martin, crying. He pushed himself up to crawl toward her again.
The stranger turned and stepped up on the balls of his feet. He sucked in air through pursed lips, raising his arms wide, like a giant bird of prey stretching his wings to take flight. With the grace of a dancer, he held his arms up in the air above Maggie, tinkling the massive needles again. Maggie’s eyes followed the movement above her, but she remained still. The stranger cackled once and plunged all of his finger needles into the soft flesh of her belly, through her shirt, through her skin and through her bone.
“Maggie!” Martin cried. From behind, he felt an iron grip pick him up by his left ankle and fling him through the doorway into the wall. Darkness.
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Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author
1) Greever Williams is a pseudonym. Didn't want too much spillover between real life and passion for writing.
2) I have written a very successful non-fic book under my real name, with a major publishing house.
3) I believe that I am only partially prepared for the imminent zombiepocalypse
4) I have been bitten by a snakes and sharks and chased by a bear and I've got the scars to prove it. Amazingly I am stuff rather studly-looking (at least according to my wife).
5) I am a huge fan of new music genres and musical discoveries. Lately I've been hooked on alt country, European power metal and Scandinavian prog rock
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