Michael woke up and felt the grey, all-consuming dread that filled his heart whenever he realized that he'd woken up and would actually have to start living, until he remembered it was Saturday.
Michael was indifferent towards the concept of 'living'. Had he been given a choice, he probably would have sooner let life go on without him while he slouched in front of the TV cramming junk food into his body, but there was little chance he could afford to keep doing the latter if he didn't continue his job.
Still lying rumpled in bed, as if someone had flung him there, Michael reached out for the house keys that he regularily left stranded on his bedside table.
One finger crooked itself around the keychain, and as Michael began reeling it in, his hand brushed something in the air.
He propped himself up on his elbows and looked at the space above the table suspiciously. The only objects occupying its surface were a digital clock (which, in accordance with Michael's sedated sleeping patterns, read 1: 47 PM), a bubble gum wrapper and a really ugly lamp. Noting else. He dismissed the incident, flicking the sensation from his memory like a piece of lint, and wandered aimlessly downstairs.
No sooner was the remote control in his hand when the phone rang from the kitchen. He threw the former carelessly into the sofa and went to cease the incessant shrillness of the latter. He picked up the reciever on the third ring. "This is Sain, what do you want?" This was Michael's standard way of answering his calls. His answering machine held the exact same message, albeit with a slightly metallic tone. Most people calling didn't realized it was an answering machine until they heard the beep.
The caller seemed unfazed by Michael's abruptness, and the voice that bridged the unknown gap between the two was smooth and unhurried. Michael couldn't tell whether the caller was male or female. "Hello, Mr. Sain," the voice said.
Michael waited, and the voice continued after a momentary pause. "Mr. Sain, we regret to inform you that you have library material that is overdue. Please return all overdure material to your nearest local branch as soon as possible." The voice stopped, apparently until Michael responded. Michael wasn't sure what to say, so he decided to take the path of least resistance. His hand moved the phone away from his ear and back towards the cradle.
He hesitated. In that moment, the voice spoke again. Its next words floated out of the reciever and, without an ear to block the end, drifted into the air; a spirit without a body. It said, "Fines are accumulating daily, Michael..." A faint click followed this message, and the sound of the dial tone hung like a flatline in the air.
Still trapped in a kind of waiting sensation, unable to move ahead in his thoughts and with nowhere to go, Michael slipped the phone back into its perch in the wall. The tiny green light that indicated whether the phone was in operation reminded him of the insect, flowering its intestines all over the front of his car, and he felt naseous. He wondered if he needed more fresh air.
Strangely enough, Michael was, in fact, currently in posession of library material; granted, it wasn't a day overdue, but there was a lot of evidence to support the possibility that the mysterious caller was not on the staff of any public library of any sort. Still, Michael found himself picking up the yet unread dog-eared paperback, the title of which he'd already forgotten (something about vampires? sex? maybe both?), and making his way downstairs to the garage. Why not? He had some time to kill... and besides, he had nothing better to do.
The door locked itself behind him with a satisfying click, and Michael pulled out of his driveway and into the street, leaving the grey house and its similarily coloured surroundings behind.
He thought he saw the woman in white's sunhat bobbing down a side street and slowed down, but she wasn't there.
Fiction » Fantasy Rated: K+, English, Drama & Supernatural, Words: 20k+, Favs: 5, Published: 5/27/2003 Updated: 5/8/2004}
48 Chapter 2: phone call