Hellraiser

Steve Gerlach is one of Australia's few thriller writers. Born and bred in Melbourne, his fast-paced, cut-to-the-bone style is a refreshing voice in the dry, barren Australian literary scene. Steve's background includes many varied roles. He has worked as an editor for a book publisher; as the editor-in-chief of an Australian motorcycle magazine, Turn One; editor and publisher of an international crime magazine, Probable Cause; a researcher and columnist for a major Australian daily newspaper; a Technical Publications Officer in the security industry; marketing executive for an international telecommunications software company; and currently works in the field of international transit producers. He also worked as the Historical Advisor on the Australian film, Let's Get Skase. His novels include The Nocturne, Love Lies Dying, Rage and Hunting Zoe. Steve is currently working on a new novel, Lake Mountain, and his official website can be found at www.stevegerlach.com  (The full version of this tale can be seen in Shadow Writers Vol. 2).

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The phone is dead.

It can't be.

I hang it up.

Still nothing.

The light flickers above me as I stare out into the darkness. The musty aroma of the phone booth fills my nostrils. My stomach turns over and I don't know whether I'm starving or going to be sick. The grimy phone booth windows are smudged with handprints and dirt and grime.

A mosquito buzzes across the glass, as desperate for escape as I am.

Its buzzing fills my ears.

I pick up the receiver once more.

Listen.

Nothing!

It can't be dead!

I shuffle around in the enclosed space, my eyes searching the darkness for any sudden movement. Any sign out of the ordinary.

Any sign of...

Who? What?

I can't remember.

Like the phone call I can't make, I can't remember who or what I'm running from. I can't remember who I'm trying to call.

It's dark and cold and I rub my arms, trying to warm them in the night.

How did I get here?

I can't even remember that.

I hang up the phone once more, turn around and face the doors of the phone booth. I stare out into the night. My eyes searching the darkness.

The light above me flickers loudly.

The mosquito buzzes.

I search the pockets of my shorts again.

Still empty.

Nothing.

How could I leave home dressed in only my shorts?

I can't remember.

I have no idea.

The light flickers off one last time and then doesn't come back on. The darkness surrounds me and the temperature in the phone booth seems to drop suddenly. I'm sure I can see the breath from my mouth in the half-moonlight... although I can't be sure.

The mosquito still buzzes.

I have to get out!

There's no other option. But I don't want to. I know going out there into the night is even worse than staying here.

I have to!

I pull open the door. It clunks loudly in the night. The cold air enters the booth in a wave as gooseflesh prickles up my arm.

It's the middle of summer! Why is it so cold?

I step forward, my heart sounding loud in my ears.

One step.

You can do this.

Another step.

Yes!

I hear the sound in the distance. Like a high-pitched wail.

And the memories start to seep back to me...

 

 

(C) Steve Gerlach 2003

   

                                                                                                                         

© Paul Kane 2003-2017. All rights reserved. Materials (including images) may not be reproduced without express permission from the author.