First Draft

Page 4


Benjamin caught and returned her glare as he sat up on the side of the bed. “I’m up.” He looked down at his hand as he rubbed it. A tidy row of little, dark gray spots lined both sides of it. He pulled up his shirt to observe his ribs. Again, he found five dark discolorations on the surface of his skin, these ones larger. Dropping his shirt and returning to his right hand, he rubbed the marks, and then as he watched, they slowly began to vanish, his skin returning to its normal color.

Still seated on the side of the bed, he rubbed his eyes with both hands, resting his elbows on his knees. “It feels like I just fell asleep. How is it five-thirty?” Without lifting his head from his hand, he reached out for the shrieking clock and smacked it with disdain. “I didn’t sleep at all!”

The creature let out another cat-like shriek, partnered with the sound of dinner knives furiously clicking down the drywall, and then across the floor towards Benjamin’s tired, listing body. He didn’t bother to even look at his oncoming attacker. In one smooth motion he stood up, stretched his arms back, extended onto his tippy toes, and then arched his back. The creature stopped just feet shy of where he now stood, though it was once again haunched and ready to pounce at a moments notice. It heeded his drowsy face with distrust. Through a heaving yawn he bawled, “ I’m up, damnit,” as he turned towards the black opening of the bedroom door, stumbling his way out into the hall.

Sighing wearily, Ben stopped for a moment to soak in the silence of the dark hallway. He closed his eyes, his body rocking left and right as though he were about to fall asleep again where he stood. A muttering grumble from the floor behind him jogged his senses, and with his left hand he clicked on the light.

Through squinting eyes, a completely normal hallway presented itself. A stairwell leading downstairs on the right, two bedroom doors on the left (one of which was a guest room for guests that never seemed to arrive, and the other consigned to storage), and at the opposite from where he stood was the bathroom door. Immediately to his right was the working grandfather clock, passed down to him by his grandfather.

With reluctant, short paces, Benjamin began to shuffle his way along the hall. Halfway to the bathroom, centered between the two bedroom doors, was a narrower door, which served as a linen and toiletry closet. As he passed the door, glancing at it for only a moment, a loud crack of splitting wood rang out, as a brawny arm and fist burst through the slim door panel, clocking Ben across the jaw. The fisted arm curled upward menacingly as Benjamin toppled over, just barely catching himself on the handrail to prevent himself from falling into the stairwell.

An angry, incorporeal voice with a thick Slavic accent yelled from within the linen closet. “New towel, you buy!” The arm shot back into the closet and re-emerged moments later with a folded pink hand towel. With a flick of its wrist, the fist unfolded the towel to reveal a large blue ink stain. Benjamin had completely forgotten that last week, he had accidentally left a blue pen in the washing machine, and had ruined the towel, along with a pair of khaki pants. Unfortunately, that was the only matching set of bath towels that he owned, and he’d need to find either that exact towel at the store, or would have to buy a new set that matched the decor of the bathroom.

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