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This is the tale of an incident that occurred to me a few years ago, when I was a younger man, and convinced that the world was exactly as I saw it, and worked exactly as I was told it worked.
I had just finished my undergraduate degree at a college I shall not name, in the middle of Wales. Though my degree was interesting enough, I really wanted to leave behind the books and the academia, and immerse myself in the study and practical research of the paranormal. Though my funds were slight, at best, and my student loan needed repaying, on returning to London, I placed an advertisement in my local gazette, asking for anyone who had experienced paranormal phenomena, and didn’t mind talking about it to give me a call. I couldn’t offer anything in the way of a reward for their troubles, but I did promise to buy them a drink or two while we talked over what they had experienced.
It didn’t take long for me to receive my first and only caller, and to be honest, I was quite surprised that my ad had this much success. But I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. The call came while my mobile was turned off, but a number had been left on voicemail, and a few days later, I called back. I didn’t want to respond immediately, though I don’t know why. Perhaps I wanted to seem more professional. Like I had a hundred people on a waiting list or something.
Anyway, I called the next evening, and was greeted by the voice of a young man, who identified himself as Theo Twining. I asked if we could meet, but he declined, with a dry and solemn chuckle. I told him that it didn’t matter, and that we could conduct the conversation just as easily by telephone. Perhaps he was shy, I told myself. His situation was this:
Since about two weeks ago, he (and he paused for a good minute or two before recanting his tale, repeatedly telling me that I would think him stupid) had started to see worms, regular earthworms, across his path. I at first thought him a little bit paranoid before I heard the particulars of the tale. Not just outside, not just crossing his path, but in all manner of places. If he made a cup of coffee, there would be an earthworm, dried and boiled at the bottom of the cup. When he woke, he woke to find himself covered with five or six of them, and when he sat at his desk, they would crawl toward him from beneath the monitor screen, and from under his keyboard. He told me of how he lived in a neat-ish studio apartment on the third floor, and how this only happened very recently.
I listened to all he said with a rapt silence, alternating between deep fascination and a nagging guilt. I was finding such thrill in hearing this tale while Theo was undeniably suffering over it. Naturally quite hooked on his story at this point, I asked again if we could meet. Maybe he was more at ease with me now? But he seemed even less inclined now to meet. However, he did promise that he would call the next day. We agreed that I could take the call at 7pm, after I got home from work.
I work in a not-so-busy estate agent’s, so I spent most of the next day’s office hours mulling over what he had told me, and even went as far as to run an internet check on Theo Twining. What I found made revulsion rise in the pit of my stomach, a hot and acidic feeling of sickness. I don’t know for how long I sat there, still and shocked, until a co-worker shook me out of it, asking me if I was okay. It was all I could do to lie, though before me the screen gave details on Theo Twining.
A young man of (…), the same area of London in which I lived, had committed suicide in his apartment two weeks ago. The obituary and funerary notice was in the very same paper in which my advertisement appeared. I ditched my mobile as soon as I could, tossing it into a hedge, and I took the next few days off work. I went off to visit friends, not wanting to be alone.
As of writing this, I am studying for a master’s degree in my undergraduate subject. I never tried to investigate the paranormal again, after that. The world doesn’t work the way I am told it does.
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