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Whispers in the Hallway

Whispers in the hallway


Estimated reading time — 4 minutes

The last man on Earth heard a knock at the door. This was nothing new. He heard a new knock and a new plea for help every hour of every day. It was the Revenants. The undead. They had come back, and just as they had done for decades in the movies, they were starving for flesh- living flesh. Crying, wailing, screaming incessantly. It had been like this for weeks now. What was new was the door they were now pounding on. It was no longer coming from the outside of his home- it was now coming from his bathroom door. The problem? He was inside.

He had never considered the possibility of something like this happening but, even so, he still had a few supplies in the small 4×8 room. “I can hear them,” he thinks, “I can hear them thudding against the wall and doors, trying to get at me. Oh, God! Why didn’t I die with the rest?” After a few hours of hearing the un-godly sounds of the Revenants shambling about and ransacking his home, he begins to hear a different sound. He inches closer to the door to listen and hears a sound like a low whisper. He inches closer, putting his ear to the door, and listens closely to hear- Words! The undead is speaking! He listens closer but is startled away as the pounding begins again. He staggers back and trips into the bathtub, hitting his head. The pounding stops, and he begins to imagine that it may have been a hallucination when suddenly they speak. “Come out to us” they whisper quietly, almost inaudibly; just loud enough to register. “Come out. We want you. Come here, come to us. Come out.” The man’s skin crawls at the sound of their unnatural, whispery voices. They sound broken, as though each word were being hacked to pieces and then forced back together. He can smell them, too. Their disgusting, decaying bodies hold a sweet and sickening stench of rot that seeps into the room. Our survivor now lies huddled in his bathtub startled at the change in his circumstances; curled up and trembling, eventually succumbing to sleep.

He awakens the next day groggy at first until he begins to rise and recalls all that happened the night before. Terror again fills him, but now he begins to think. Could I make it out? Perhaps if I move quickly enough, I might escape. How many of them could there be? These thoughts are quickly chased away, however, as the whispers begin to resume. The creatures on the other side of the door have heard their prey stirring, and so now continue their psychological assault of the evening before. He hears them and begins to weep inwardly. He knows that they can wait him out. For the wretches, it is only a matter of patience and time before their victim either perishes or willingly rushes out and into their arms. For him, it is a matter of life, death, and sanity. His eyes dart to the bathroom window, but he quickly discards the notion. He could not escape that way- the fall from his second floor would not necessarily be too high but, due to its height and shape, he would only be able to approach it headfirst- not a smart way to exit a window at the best of times. Even if it were safe to climb through, what guarantee did he have that more of the undead wouldn’t be waiting for him below?

The day passes like this- slow, agonizing; consummately miserable. Contemplating escape by any possible means and discarding each idea in turn. At this point, he is numb to their nauseating smell. By late afternoon our survivor is experiencing immense hunger, but his utter horror at the thought of what lies beyond the door keeps him in check; holds him in place. He will not venture out on this day. He goes to the faucet and drinks deep and long. Then, he sits down, back to the wall and facing the door, and weeps until sleep claims him.
As he awakes the next day, our survivor doesn’t experience the same mental fog as he had the day previously. He awakens with fear and anxiety already set deep in his heart. I want out, he thinks, I want out NOW! He lifts his head, sets his jaw, and rises from his supine position.

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He grabs his plunger and takes the two short steps to the door. Placing his hand on the knob, he hesitates. He hears a shuffling on the other side begin as he swings the door open, revealing a horrendously disfigured face- its glassy eyes yellowed and skin stretched tight and torn across its skeleton, with deep pits and gashes abounding in its landscape. The Revenant and our Survivor each pause, momentarily stunned by the sight of one other. Then, stirring to life, the creature lurches forth reaching for the man’s shoulder. As its hand closes about his collar, its icy grip made worse by the oozing sores in its palm, our survivor is galvanized into action by the return of his terror. He raises his knee into the groin of the creature, slowing it and causing its grip to loosen, and then he shoves it away and into the hall. Stepping back, he quickly slams the door shut once again, locks it, and collapses.

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Days go by; quickly becoming a nightmare that spans the course of two weeks. Two weeks like this. Bursts of courage fade and die due to fear. Spurts of resolve fizzle into nothing. There is simply nothing left in the man. His drive to survive is emptied. And every day the whispering- oh the whispering. Each day is more enticing, breaking the man’s resolve down further and further.

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At three weeks he is totally starving- he has by now resorted to eating the bars of soap under his sink in a desperate attempt at gaining sustenance. It is, however, to no avail; the hunger is maddening. Ever since that first attempt to rush through the door the whispers have never stopped. In every waking hour, they call to him, tormenting him. At last, he can no longer take it. He rises, giddy and starving, and again takes those brief steps to the door. Hand to the knob, he laughs; a low, hollow defeated laugh as he opens the door and steps into the hall, into the arms of death, and embraces his fate.

Credit: Nicolas Jeffords

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