The Cottage – Part Twenty – (Short Story)

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Part One | Part Two |Part Three |  Part Four |Part Five |  Part Six |Part Seven |Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve | Part Thirteen | Part Fourteen | Part Fifteen | Part Sixteen | Part Seventeen | Part Eighteen | Part Nineteen

It was quiet for a spell. Jim had a week free of chirping and stealthy footfalls. He wondered if Dutch’s weird remedy had actually worked.

The thought made him laugh.

‘Of course they stopped stalking round. They’re part of the same Scooby Doo schtick. I dunno why they don’t just fess up and offer a deal.’

Jim was a stubborn man and held to the drug ring hypothesis with an almost religious zeal.

He’d considered calling the police. But, out here ‘…they’re probably in on it.’ He was no stranger to dirty cops. There were plenty of reasons to arrest him. But, the couple of times he’d actually been busted was a setup.

‘Luck of the Irish, my ass.’ He mused ruefully.

‘No use getting the feds involved either. This is way too boondocks for the suits.’

Besides, he didn’t want to be a rat. It must be hard to scrape out a living here.

Jim sighed and stretched himself out on the couch.

“This shit will figure itself out. It always does.”

He phased in and out of conscienceness as the fire crackled. Soon that pleasant sound was joined by the pitter patter of rain.

It was the perfect ambience for a blissfull sleep.

Except there was something off putting in the rhythm. Rain did not fall like that.

Jim’s eyes shot open and he listened.

‘Yea…rain generally doesn’t fall specifically on the windows.’ The realization sent a chill up his spine.

It wasn’t rain at all. It was tapping. Like dozens of fingers tap, tap, tapping at the window.

‘Do I fuckin’ look like Edgar Allan Poe.’

Slowly, gingerly, Jim sinewed his way snakelike onto the floor and shimmied to the window.

He lay just beneath it listening, considering his next step, and cursing the missed opportunity to take the shotgun.

Pitter…patter..pitter…patter…it was naseauting….he could almost feel the strange rustic fingers on his skin.

‘Gettin goosebumpy…’ Jim smirked at his cowardice in the darkness.

‘Sounds like more than one. Substantially more…’

‘Jesus, how long can they keep this up for?’ The sound had continued for at least an hour.

‘Do they know what room I’m in or they just trying some kinda general purpose fuckery….’

Then it occured to him to seek higher ground.

In the same slow, silent, serpentine fashion, he crept to the staircase and gingerly carefully tried to silence his crackling alcoholic joints.

After an agonizing aeon he found himself on the landing, then turning the knob with Chameleon circumspection he was in Hant’s bedroom.

Pitter…patter…pitter…patter….

‘How the fuck…’ Jim was incredolous.

There were no footholds in the harsh autistic symmetry of Hant’s cottage. The hybrid roof was to awkward for purchase.

The chill in his spine doubled.

He was frozen at the foot of the bed.

Jim didn’t know how long he lay there listening before his temper got the better of him and he shot up to his feet.

It was a brashness he instantly regreted.

Strange grey shapes with inky black eyes, strafed across his window, their impish passage revealing a bluish glow from the meadow beyond.

Whitish sparks, and glowing orbs, flitted in a void where a field had once been.

Jim scuttled away from the window like an overturned crab. Having secreted himself in Hant’s closet he promptly passed out.


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