16 Sep Hello
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Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
The doorbell rings, and you get up from where you sat staring stonily into space. You already know who is at your door, and why he is there. You open it, nodding numbly to the man. You make a note in your head that the man looks… sneaky, but you assume that must be because he’s a lawyer. You show him into your living room, dreading what is to come. The man hands you a CD he produces from his briefcase, and sets what looks like a birdcage on your coffee table. You can not see what is inside the cage, as it is covered in a blanket of embroidered silk. The man sits as you put the disc into your stereo and press play.
You hear the sound of stressed breathing from the speakers as you take your seat. The lawyer hasn’t said a word, but you know the breathing to be that of your late friend, the last breathes of your friend. You can hear something in the background, behind your friend’s heavy breathes, as if someone, or something, was scratching at a door. You wonder if you’re hearing things, as the sound is barely audible in the recording. You look up as you hear her voice, as if she was in the room with you, as if she was alive.
“The date is September the first of two thousand eight.” Her voice is shaky, every word she speaks is saturated with fear, “This is my last will and testament. Now, I don’t have much time. They’re almost here, so I’ll dispense the formalities and get on with what I have to say. This is the last day of my life, as you have probably already figured out.”
“This began with the death of my uncle. I had never known him very well, only a few times at family reunions and Christmas parties, but he had left me something on his will. I sat awkwardly through the reading of the document until at last, my name was called. I collected a small box of knick-knacks and a covered cage. On the cage was a note saying ‘Please do not unveil the surprise until you are home.’ So I hurried home without taking the silk blanket off of the cage. What was inside the box is of no consequence, but underneath the blanket – I warn you do not take the blanket off until this recording has ended – is an old birdcage. Inside of this bird cage , is a parrot.”
“I was indeed surprised, but there were more shocks to come. When I lifted the blanket, the bird’s eyes were immediately fixed on me. Its beady eyes shone wickedly upon seeing a new face, and it said plainly in a squawky voice, ‘hello’. I stared back at it, and it repeated itself, ‘hello.’ I dismissed it as a cute trick my uncle had taught it. I was very wrong.”
“The next day, when I took the blanket off of the cage, I was not greeted with a ‘hello’. No, on the second day the bird didn’t talk at all. What it did do was breathe loudly, as if it was hyperventilating, or at least copying someone who was terrified. On the third day the bird did not speak, but made the sound of a grown man crying. I was very disturbed, and covered the cage for the remainder of the day.”
“The fourth day, in a voice not unlike my recently departed uncle’s, the bird cried ‘Oh god. Oh god!’ I thought the bird had learned it from listening to the television, and I resolved to never let it hear the television again. I didn’t turn o n the TV all that day, but on the fifth day, when I uncovered the cage, the bird screamed. Not a normal scream, mind you, and it was nothing I had ever had turned on the television. It was the sound of a man screaming in terror and pain. It was, I know now, the scream my uncle gave when he was killed. When the bird screams again it will be my scream as they tear me apart, for even now the bird is listening to me. It stares at me coldly where I’ve barricaded myself in the kitchen.”
“As you life depends on it, do not yet uncover the cage.”
“The sixth day, yesterday, when I hesitantly uncovered the cage, the bird was quiet. Perhaps ten minutes later it cocked its head to the side, as if it had heard something I could not. ‘They’re coming.’ it whispered, ‘They’re coming’. Over and over again he repeated in a haunting voice. ‘They’re coming’”
“Today is the seventh day, and they are here, just as the bird said. I can hear them scratching at the door and crawling in the walls. The bird is waiting to record how I die, I swear, if it coul d grin it would have been grinning from the moment I uncovered its cage. The noises are getting louder, they’ll get in soon, so I’m saying goodbye now. Take care of the bird; I couldn’t think of anyone else to give it to, I’m sorry. You must take care of him till they come for you. You have seven days.”
The track ended suddenly, and you look around you, startled. You must have been entranced by the disc, for the lawyer was gone. You hadn’t noticed him leave. You stare at the covered cage on the coffee table, and wonder if you had just heard on the CD was real, or just some elaborate hoax. A rustling comes from underneath the embroidered silk. Your curiosity begs you to see what’s in the cage. You slowly raise up the blanket.
Credited to apoisonedlogic.