‘Askew’

    At first it was subtle, the things that were moved about. The toothbrush or the soap dish. Just little things like that. He had a place for everything and it was obvious when something had been moved around. What wasn’t obvious was who moved them. You see, he lived alone. Always had; so that didn’t really allow for a logical explanation. Once you eliminate logic, that only leaves illogical possibles. 

   All sorts of improbable scenarios played out in his head. Leprechauns, elves, fairies, demons. Even if he could get past their mythical status, it just didn’t seem likely. Why would any enchanted creature waste their time on such mundane mischief? The truth was, if such legendary beings were going to reveal themselves to him, he expected a grand gesture. Finding the toothpaste on the wrong side of the sink didn’t rate the risk of violating their rules of deniability. He figured that sacred oath was only breached in the rarest of circumstances. Go big or go home, right?

    The frequency of these curious incidents increased. More and more, he found items around his home in the wrong place. The twist-tie was left off the bread wrapper. The milk carton was in a door pocket instead of the top shelf. The toilet seat and lid were both down. As fastidious and meticulous as he was in his daily routines, each time it happened made him furious at first, and then a little amused. He became obsessed at the idea of catching the inhuman tricksters in the act but had no practical means of doing so. 

   At first he tried pretending to be asleep. When that failed to yield any suspects, he faked a full departure from his home so he could observe their chicanery, sight unseen. To his disappointment, he was never able to catch the rascals moving his things around. On the positive side of things, his increased state of vigil prevented any new incidents. Only when he was really asleep did the pranks continue. Somehow, ‘they’ knew when he was faking! 

   Thought not particularly tech savvy, he installed a motion detecting, night-vision camcorder in the hall to record any evidence. That night he went to bed in hopes that the mystery of the mischief makers would soon be over. His thoughts were restless and filed with apprehension. Not knowing what creature or beast were behind the modest acts of rebellion was troubling. He just hoped that finding out the truth wasn’t actually worse than not knowing.

   The next morning he was in for a real surprise. Some time during the night, the camcorder had been tossed across the room and destroyed! It’s smashed pieces on the floor were the first indisputable evidence that he wasn’t just imagining the whole thing. The nocturnal vandals were not subtle at all about their displeasure. Clearly they wanted to be left out of the spotlight. Ironically, destroying the camera itself didn’t mean that the recorded event was erased. With any luck, it had still captured the events that lead up to its destruction. 

    He nervously fumbled with cables to connect the gadget to his computer. That level of concentration required that he pour himself a large cup of coffee from the programmed coffee maker. Once he had the software up and running, he was filled with dread. There were three motion activated entries recorded! His finger hovered indecisively over the play button for a few moments as he sipped his morning elixir. At last, he clicked the button before he had a chance to back out. 

    In the darkened hallway, he saw a shadowy form approaching. At first he thought the artificially illuminated figure was some sort of wandering ghost. As the poltergeist intruder drew nearer to the camera’s viewing threshold, far more revealing details became apparent. The smiling ghoul with blank eyes waking directly toward the camera lens and then stopped. It was none other than himself! In a deep sleep, in a trance, or possessed by evil spirits he did not know but the first part of the mystery had been solved. 

   For some baffling reason, he himself was the mischief maker! His nocturnal doppelgänger either didn’t share his zeal for order, or disliked his waking choices to maintain it. After all of the fearsome scenarios he considered, the recorded truth was infinitely more frightening to his delicate sensibilities. Seeing his own chilling grin in the greenish dark footage made his hair stand on end. The unconscious version of himself knew that he was being recorded and simply didn’t care. It was that shocking self-awareness which chilled his blood. Whatever the underlying agenda was for all of the foolishness, he didn’t know but the night version of himself did.

   Slowly, he reached to play the second entry. The ‘sleeping ghoul’ shuffled past the hall camera and went into the utility room for unknown reasons. A few moments later, his unconscious self reappeared with a small box in hand; and then went into the kitchen. Both times he would be outside of the camera’s range for a moment and then reappear to complete the unknown mission. The second entry ended as his unconscious self returned to the bedroom. 

    He already knew that the final entry ended with the camera being tossed to the floor but he was curious as to what triggered it. By staring directly at the lens, the sleepwalking version of himself already knew about it. Why would ‘he’ perform this obvious one-sided dance around the surveillance and then destroy the camera after two other recordings were captured? It didn’t make sense but he had to know. 

    The final event took place three hours beforehand. Still very dark, he watched as his unconscious body sauntered by the lens in zombie-like indifference. In his hand he was able to make out a box of rat poison that had been stored in the garage. In the other was his coffee filter. 

   In a stunning example of conflicted self-interest, the unblinking ghoul mixed the deadly strychnine into his pre-measured coffee grounds. The very ones used to make the coffee he was now sipping from. For the very last time, the smiling assassin made direct eye contact with the lens and tossed the camcorder against the wall. His sleepwalking self was a suicidal murderer! 

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About Bo Bandy

Just a creative soul trapped in a world of cookie-cutter pragmatism...
This entry was posted in Controversial topics, Different Perspectives, Fiction Stories, Future technology, Ghost stories, Gothic horror, Horror, Humor, Macabre, Murder, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Twilight Zone Inspired, Uncategorized, Whimsical. Bookmark the permalink.

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