Short story: Change

“There are vocal qualities peculiar to men, and vocal qualities peculiar to beasts; and it is terrible to hear the one when the source should yield the other.” ― H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

I write this down, after the events of today, in an attempt to solidify all that has come to pass. I fear that to anyone reading this it will read like the ravings of a madman. This can only be my hope, for if what I saw exists then I will spend the rest of my life in fear.

I awoke this morning as normal as any other day. My girlfriend’s alarm annoying to my ears, but why wouldn’t it stop?

I wondered why she was not turning it off, so I reached for my bedside table and turned on my lamp.

She lay on top of the covers with her eyes wide open. This was the first thing that struck me as odd because, although it is not winter yet, the air had a chill.

I asked her if she was ok and her response did come quick but it was slightly off. I don’t think a stranger would have noticed it, but there was something odd to the timing of her reply.

She assured me she was fine and seemed to have returned back to her usual self. Normally I would have questioned her as to what she was doing but something in me warned me of being too inquisitive. It was too late to act on this anyway so I passed it off as mere paranoia.

We both got dressed and began making breakfast and the morning’s coffee. On weekends there was always some faux arguing or flirting as to who had to make breakfast that day, but today she made everything without the slightest complaint or bit of fun.

I must add that it wasn’t until much later in the day that I began to truly worry. It is only upon reflection, and in hindsight, that I can now connect the dots.

The morning progressed as normal as any other weekend day and the next abnormal thing I witnessed didn’t come until the afternoon when we were reading.

We often sit outside on the front porch and read together on weekends.

The sun was high in the sky and the air was warm. We sat comfortably with our legs up and both seemed to be reading our books when I got the distinct feeling that my girlfriend was watching me. Goose bumps instantly speckled my skin and I looked over to her. Despite her head and eyes facing the pages of her book I could feel her looking at me. This odd experience combined with the fact that I could tell she was not reading made my chest sink.

At this time I was still trying to convince myself that I was being paranoid until I closely observed her eyes. They did not move in the natural way ones eyes move when they are reading; they moved rhythmically across the pages, an appearance of reading, as though there was nothing to take in. And her movements were too precise. Each time she turned the page it was like she was repeating the same movement as last time.

I picked up my phone and the next time she turned the page I started my stopwatch.

After exactly three minutes she turned the page again. I thought that this must have been a coincidence and let the timer continue. Six minutes passed and, as before, she turned the page again. I let this continue for 15 minutes before I gave in to full blown paranoia.

I got up, heart beating in my ears, and moved into the living room. When I turned around she was right behind me. I didn’t even hear her get up off the creaky outside chairs and I realised that she had not left my proximity all day.

I moved to the toilet, put the seat down and sat on top of it. She could not follow me in here, I thought at the time. It was then that I saw the shadows from under the door that can only be produced by someone standing right outside. My heart rate increased again, but it went nearly out of control when I noticed that the normal shadows that would coincide with two feet were not what was being displayed at the bottom of the door. There appeared to be several limb-like shadows of varying shapes and sizes.

I called out my girlfriend’s name and although someone, or something, was clearly standing outside the door her reply came perfectly from a distance, like she was still sitting in the living room.

This became too much for me and I quickly opened the door.

No one was there, but I am sure I saw something flash around the bathroom corner. Something resembling an arm but it seemed to be far too low to be coming from a shoulder and projected in an upward angle rather than down.

In my panic I grabbed the pair of hair scissors that lay on the bathroom counter and placed them in my pocket and walked back into the living room.

Again, she sat there, perfectly. One does not realise the imperfections of human movement and timing until one is presented with the opposite.

When someone’s movements seem to take the perfect amount of time, when their voice seems to suggest the perfect pitch and rhythm, you realise how wrong it all is.

She was acting as though she was programmed to present as human rather than actually be human.

I thought at this moment that I was trapped by routine. There was no way for me to escape this house without coming across as suspicious. This was until I became aware of the fact that perhaps It was not yet aware of our weekend routine and It wouldn’t find it suspicious if I left for a walk or bike ride in the middle of the afternoon.

I informed It that I was going for a bike ride by myself and would be back soon. Then It gave what can only be described as the perfect replication of my girlfriend’s voice, informing me that it would see me soon.

I took off down the street thinking that I was finally free. I turned around and no one was following me.

I kept biking with no idea of what my destination was. I periodically turned around to make sure that I was not being followed. I still had the goose bumps and the feeling that I was being watched.

After about the seventh time of me turning around I noticed that every time I had turned around someone seemed to be standing at the end of their driveway, standing perfectly at the end of their driveway.

They didn’t look at me but I still couldn’t shake the feeling, that despite their heads being in one direction, their sight was focussed on me.

I was a good ten minutes from home now when I was struck with the realisation that I had been completely caught up in my fear and had forgotten about my girlfriend. I thought that maybe if I raced back as fast as I could that I would beat it back and no one would be there, allowing me to find out what had been done to her.

I pulled up the driveway, panting and out of breath and making my way to the front door I noticed that it was beginning to open. I was greeted by the prefect smile from the perfect girlfriend; perfect lines on her face and perfectly placed strands of hair.

This was when I gave up for I knew that it knew there was nothing I could do.

I showered while looking through the cloudy shower curtain. I saw familiar human limbs but in unfamiliar shapes, on unfamiliar structure and moving in unfamiliar ways.

I gave up trying to glimpse the true form of whatever It was, because I knew that it would change nothing.

I sit right now at the desk in the lamplight writing this passage, my left hand in my pocket, firmly gripping the scissors. It watches me even though it stares at the television, that I know. It’s shape changes out of the corner of my eye and if I look over all I see is perfection. I don’t know what it wants and I will not ask, for I am paralysed in my own mind.

I know that It sees what I write and I know that It does not care, because It knows that I cannot leave and cannot do anything.

I am unsure if I will sleep tonight and I am unsure if I will wake tomorrow. But despite my desperate hope, I am sure that I am not mad.

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