Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CALL (01/14/16)
TITLE: The Haunting of Jeremiah
By Leola Ogle
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Whenever he pressed the call button to summon someone, they declared they heard nothing. One nurse searched the room. She opened the closet, checked the bathroom, and at Jeremiah’s insistence, looked under the bed.
“Nothing, Mr. Carson.”
“But you believe me, don’t you? I’m not crazy.”
“Could it be your imagination? After all, you are the master of horror novels.”
That it might be his imagination frightened Jeremiah more than if it was real. He couldn’t lose his mind. The beginning stages of dementia. Doctors had told him that. And he overheard two nurses whispering in the hallway about it after his fourth time pressing the call button. “It’s his dementia, I think. He’s hearing things.”
He wasn’t in this facility because of dementia. He had fallen and fractured his leg in two places. This was the best, most expensive rehabilitation center for physical therapy. For the money he was paying, someone better take him seriously.
Ghosts. Monsters. Demons. Vampires. Horror. Jeremiah had loved it all since his earliest memories. Some would say he was obsessed with such things – movies, television shows and books that depicted horror and fright factors.
Mostly he loved scaring people with his stories. He had turned his fascination into a nice income. He became an author, and several of his novels had been made into movies. Unfortunately, his obsession had driven everyone out of his life. He had three ex-wives, and children and grandchildren who had nothing to do with him. At least he had his stories.
There had been no one to turn to when he fell except his agent, Harry. Harry was going to drive him to the rehabilitation center that morning, but sent his nephew, Dylan, instead. Dylan was polite, but in a hurry to get Jeremiah settled. “Sorry to rush off, Mr. Carson, but I have friends to see and places to be. By the way, love your books. And movies.”
There it was again. A song this time. Jeremiah could make out some of the staccato words – something about, “getting what you deserve.” The song – if it was a song – ended abruptly. Someone or something was telling him he’d get what he deserved. What did that mean? Were all the monsters he’d penned into existence coming to haunt him?
“Dear God, what my mama tried to tell me has come true. She said my obsession with horror would haunt me one day.” He spoke aloud. It was as close to a prayer as he could mutter. His mama was a God-fearing woman who was disturbed at his obsession with the macabre. “I pray you someday come to your senses, Jeremiah Carson. The only supernatural thing you should focus on is God.”
Buzzing. Then silence. Music. Then silence. Staccato words. Then silence. More buzzing. Jeremiah’s eyes darted around the room. He pulled the covers over his head, his body trembling. Every horrible thing he’d written about lurked in his mind to torment him. For the first time in his life, he feared the night. He tried to formulate a prayer. “Please, God. I’m sorry for getting joy out of scaring people. I…” There it was again. Music. Jeremiah had had enough. He pressed the call button – not once but repeatedly – until two nurses came in. “Get me a supervisor. Either this room is haunted or someone is trying to drive me insane.”
The nurses looked at each other. Did one roll her eyes? Of all the nerve! He was paying good money to be here. He better be treated with respect and not like a doddering old fool. Someone needed to take him seriously about the things he was hearing.
Dylan was on the heels of the supervisor when she walked in. “Hello, Mr. Carson. My staff tells me there’s a problem.”
Before Jeremiah could say a word, music started. “Listen. Surely you must hear that?”
Jeremiah shrunk back as Dylan’s hands reached towards him. His hands patted the blankets. “Ah ha!” Dylan held up a cellphone. “I have been going crazy trying to find my phone. Thank goodness my girlfriend was calling then. I would never have thought to look in your blankets. Must’ve fallen when I helped you into bed.”
Darn young people and their different ringtones.
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