Someone Has Been Narrating My Life (The Narrator)

Audiobooks have always been a big part of my life.  I started listening to them when I was a kid - my parents weren’t exactly the “bedtime story” type of people - and simply never stopped.  Growing up, while most of my friends blasted Greenday or Blink 182 in their headphones, I was content enjoying the exploits of Harry Potter or Eragon.  I subscribed to Audible when it first came out and never looked back.  Whether I’m in the shower, driving to and from work, or doing chores around the house, I’ve got an audiobook playing.

I came across this particular audiobook when it popped up as a recommendation for me.  The book was called “The Life of Benjamin” and as far as I could tell, the only reason that it was recommended to me was because my name is Benjamin.  No author was listed, no genre, no similar books, and no price.  I figured I’d give it a whirl and if it sucked, I wasn’t out anything but the time it took to get from the beginning to the point I decided I didn’t want to finish.

The beginning was a bit strange as well, because instead of introducing the book, author and narrator, it leapt right into the story.

It starts out explaining the background of the main character, Benjamin, which was to be expected.  Benjamin lives in the same small town he grew up in, having been fortunate to purchase a house shortly after the market crash of ‘08, and although he never intended to stay in that same small town, he found that as he grew older and more mature, he appreciated the familiarity. 

Benjamin had his fair share of girlfriends throughout his life up to this point, but was never married, and secretly wondered if he would ever find “the one” or if he’d continue to bounce from relationship to relationship until he became too old and too tired to keep looking.  He works in a dead-end job as an insurance salesman, and hopes one day to be a full-time writer, although he understands that that particular dream is one often dreamt, but seldom realized.

The first chapter goes on just like this - explaining how Benjamin got to where he is and how life wasn’t what he thought it would be.  It seemed a bit dull to me - the introduction of this character didn’t really explain WHY the reader (or listener in this case) should care about this character.  This Benjamin person may as well have been named something ridiculously generic like “John Everyman” as far as I was concerned because nothing really stood out about him.  Sure, I related to the character, having shared the same name and a few of the same qualities, but that was mostly because those qualities were the same things that every adult in their thirties has. 

I put the audiobook down and elected to give it a chance for redemption the next day while I was mowing my lawn.

Chapter two started out MUCH better than the first.  Now that Benjamin was introduced in all his mundane glory, we could finally begin some decent scene-setting. 

“The sun had begun to set over the Oquirrh mountains, casting shades of crimson and gold across the summer sky, but the heat that the sun had brought with it that day lingered like a fog as Benjamin set out to complete his least-favorite chore.”

I cranked the lawnmower and began to push it across the overgrown lawn.

“Benjamin pulled on the cord of the lawn mower, bringing the machine to life, and began to push it across his overgrown lawn.”

I frowned and chuckled to myself - that was a bizarre coincidence.

“Benjamin paused suddenly, a puzzled look crossing his face.”

I stopped the lawnmower.

“He released the shut-off lever and the lawnmower came to a halt.”

“What the hell?” I muttered.

“‘What the hell?’ he said to himself, wondering if what he could be hearing was some elaborate joke.”

I pulled the earbuds out of my ears and looked around.  Someone had to be messing with me, right? 

Someone was watching me and was tapped into my app somehow narrating everything I was doing.

“Hey!” I called to the empty street.  “Very funny!”

Silence answered me.

“Seriously, this is a solid joke!  Bravo!”

Again, nobody answered.  If my neighbors were watching, they didn’t let on.  Not that I could blame them - I wouldn’t answer the crazy neighbor yelling at the wind either.

I finished mowing the lawn, keeping an eye out for whoever was watching me, then went inside for a shower and a beer.

Once inside, I popped the earbuds back in my ears, curious to see how this “audiobook” would go now.

“After mowing the lawn and finding no sign of surveillance, Benjamin placed the earbuds back into his ears to see what would happen next.”

Not bad.  This had to be one of my friends - Adam maybe, or Brent - someone who knew me well enough to anticipate what I would do.

“He suspected one of his friends was the mastermind behind the elaborate prank.  Someone who knew him well enough to anticipate his every action.  This, he would soon discover, was not the case, because while a close friend might be able to accurately guess his behavior, it was statistically impossible to predict his thoughts.

“‘Blue, nineteen, Uma Thurman,’ he thought to himself, astounded with how quickly the narration in his ear echoed the thoughts back.  He pictured the Eiffel tower, the first time he’d had sex in the backseat of the family station wagon - he’d always told everyone it had happened at her place while his girlfriend’s parents were out of town because he knew if his father found out about the station wagon he’d be in a hell of a lot more trouble than he was in when his parents finally did discover his teenaged sexual activity - and still everything he heard was precisely accurate.”

My heart began to beat faster.  How was this possible?  

Just then, I heard a strange scratching sound coming from my front door.  As I approached the door, the sound suddenly stopped.  I peered through the peephole and saw nothing but twilight staring back at me.

“Stepping outside once more and standing on the front porch, Benjamin surveyed the empty street for the source of the sound.  The summer breeze played with his hair as he searched for signs of life and found none.”

I turned around to go back inside and stopped suddenly when I saw the marks in my front door.

“Deep gouges were set in the door, precisely where the scratching had been heard moments ago.  They were at eye level - far too high for most dogs to scratch into the door, and even if that weren’t the case, the lines were surprisingly deep.  He doubted he could have done the same damage in such a short timeframe, even if he were using a knife or perhaps, looking at the distance and grouping of each line, a four-pronged garden rake.”

There was no way this was real.

“But it was real,” the narrator said in my ear.  “And the horror that Benjamin was about to face was just beginning.”

The narration stopped, and I looked down at my phone to see that the chapter had ended.  I tapped on my phone screen to continue the story, but saw that there was a note on the next chapter that read:“Unavailable, please try again later.”

***

I checked just about every hour of every day for a week to see if the next chapter was available.  I thought about bringing it up with my friends, but I wasn’t completely convinced it wasn’t a prank and I refused to give them the satisfaction.  I’d tried to go back and listen to the other chapter again, having realized after the initial shock wore off that even the first chapter, which I am now embarrassed to admit had bored me, was exactly how the first thirty years of my life had been, but that was also unavailable.

Exactly one week after I finished the last chapter, the next chapter became available.  I was simultaneously terrified and excited to press the PLAY button.

“Benjamin was filled with a terrified excitement as he launched into the next chapter from the book that strangely mirrored his life.  He’d written about it online, wondering if anyone else could offer some logical explanation for what he had been experiencing, but so far nobody had.  Almost nobody believed his story was anything other than pure fiction, and those who did believe his story were somewhat crazy themselves.

“He’d spent the last week obsessing over the idea that an audiobook could narrate his life with such vivid detail, and had obsessed further still about the claw marks left in his door and that last line from the previous chapter about the horrors he would soon face.”

I’m not sure I would use the word “obsessing” necessarily, however I had been thinking a lot about both the implications of this strange recording, particularly the part about the horrors that I would soon face, and I think any homeowner would be pissed about the vandalism to their front door, especially since it’s not something a can of paint can fix.  

But were the two related?  That much wasn’t clear to me.  They say that correlation shouldn’t be confused with causation, and that seemed to be what was happening here.  Could whoever was narrating this story have vandalized my door, or was it simply a coincidence?  

Moreover, with regards to the final line of that last chapter, was this story now telling the future as well as the present?  Was this an ominous message meant to frighten me?  Or could it, perhaps, be a warning?

I noticed that I could pause and resume “The Life of Benjamin” whenever I felt like it, and the story would continue as if I hadn’t paused it at all.  I could, for example, pause the audiobook, take a shower, and resume it, and the narrator would say something like: “Benjamin returned from the shower and resumed the audiobook, curious to discover if he’d missed anything.”

The buttons to move ahead or rewind were grayed out, and the progress bar at the top never moved, so whatever I heard could only be heard once and I had no idea how much further I could go before the chapter ended.  I did try to record part of it, wondering if I could share it online to see if anyone recognized the voice of the narrator, but every recording I tried ended up with mostly just muffled static.

I found myself listening to “The Life of Benjamin” at every opportunity I could.  The writing was so eloquent and the descriptions so vivid that it gave me an appreciation for the beauty of the world I lived in.  It described the scent of the morning that I normally wouldn’t give a second thought about, and the way it described the city streets working like veins as they carried blood toward the heart of downtown Salt Lake.  It even accurately expressed my frustration when I was cut off in traffic, and my anxiety as I prepared a presentation at work.

The narrator expertly summed up my developing appreciation of “The Life of Benjamin” with a single line: “For the first time in his life, Benjamin felt truly heard.”  It wasn’t long before the ominous message was nothing more than a bad memory - one I was beginning to doubt.

Although the value of this audiobook had already made itself clear and I was already enamored with it, a new experience I hadn’t yet considered quickly doubled that value in an instant.

“As Benjamin made his way home, enjoying the warm breeze coming through the open window and again marveling at the shades of color being thrown across the sky by the setting sun, he noticed something that gave him pause.”

Strange.  I HAD just been thinking about the beauty of the sunset, but nothing had given me pause, except for maybe that line in the story.

“A discarded shoe on the side of the road near the jogging path that ran adjacent to the canal lay in the dry dirt.”

I looked toward the jogging path and slowed the car down.  It was a little hard to make out, but there really was something lying in the dirt.  I pulled over and got out of the car, jamming an earbud in my left ear so I could continue the story.

“He approached the discarded sneaker with apprehension, not knowing until that moment that the sneaker belonged to Colton Fisher, an 8-year-old boy whose parents were on the phone with the police that very moment desperately describing their missing son.”

“The hell…” I said to myself.  I looked around for signs of a kid missing their shoe.  There was something about the dirt though, the pattern there…

“As he searched around for signs of movement, his gaze drifted downward, toward the canal.”

I then noticed a red shape in the running water.  I crawled down the side of the canal and stepped into the water.  I had wondered if the red was maybe part of a shirt or a hat, but as I approached I noticed then that the red shape was moving with the water like ink.

“It was blood.”

I hurried faster as I watched the water become a deeper shade of red.  I stumbled on a rock and fell down, splashing myself in the face and covering most of my body in the dirty canal runoff.  I pushed myself up and felt the rock at my feet give a little - it wasn’t a rock, it was a foot.  I plunged my hands in the cold water and felt the body of a child.

“He pulled the body of Colton Fisher out of the water and scrambled back up the rocky side of the canal.  He had never been formally trained to perform CPR, but he’d learned enough about it to try, all while screaming for help.”

I hadn’t even realized I was screaming until the narrator in my ear told me, but he was, of course, right as rain.

I compressed the boy’s chest a few times, then blew air into his mouth, bellowing for someone to help. 

Moments later I heard a car stop behind me and a car door slam.

A woman’s voice approached - she was already on the phone with 911. 

I asked the woman if she knew CPR, and she said she did, so I told her to switch me and I’d talk to the police.  She did so without hesitation.

Minutes later an ambulance showed up.  I was desperately listening to the narrator in my ear, hoping for direction or at least a sign of whether or not Colton was even alive, but he seemed to be deliberately avoiding spoilers.

The paramedics took over immediately and continued CPR.  They pulled out tools and instruments and began to work faster and more efficiently than another other team I’d seen.

“I’ve got a pulse,” I heard one say to another and I felt dizzy with relief.

A police officer showed up and asked the woman, whose name I learned was Karen Harvey, courtesy of the audiobook, and me a series of questions.  I answered the questions, deliberately leaving out the part about my own personal narrator giving me the heads up that there was a kid in the canal with a head wound moments away from death, and soon found myself driving home.

I showered, changed, then went immediately back to listening to “The Life of Benjamin” - I’d had to put it on hold while the police were asking their questions.

“Still coming down from the rush of adrenaline that came with pulling a child from the brink of death, Benjamin resumed his audiobook with a new sense of wonder.  Had he not been listening at that precise moment, there was no doubt in his mind that Colton Fisher would have died that day.”

It was true - there’s no way that kid would have survived if I hadn’t been listening to that audiobook on the way home from work.  The police said it looked like he’d somehow fallen into the canal and knocked his head against a rock, possibly after being spooked by an animal.  Had I been even five minutes later, he would have drowned.

It wasn’t until that moment that I finally recalled the moment just before noticing the blood in the water and the rush of adrenaline kicked in.  The shoe had been on the ground, but nearby were a series of grooves in the dirt, like the tracks of a large animal.  There would be no way to know for sure, but I would bet my life that the marks in my door and the marks in the dirt were the same size.

And then there was this unnerving feeling I’d felt just before I saw the blood - like I was being watched.  And even more unnerving still was that feeling hadn’t gone away.  In fact, it hadn’t dissipated at all since I left the canal.

“Benjamin knew he would likely never discover the source of the tracks in the dirt, nor the connection, if any, there was between them and the claw-marks in his door.  For now, he was content knowing that his actions had saved the life of a child, and that, for all intents and purposes, was good.”

Again, the narrator hit the nail on the head.  Well almost… It strangely glossed over my sense of being watched.

I climbed into bed, then got up and locked my bedroom door for safe measure.

“The sense of unease Benjamin felt was fleeting with his exhaustion.  As he climbed back into bed, a renewed sense of safety from the locked door covering him like a blanket, he began to doze off.”

I was just about asleep when a sound from down the hallway pulled me from the brink.  What was that sound?  The house settling probably, or even more likely my imagination.

I closed my eyes again and began to drift, when again I heard that sound, louder now, closer.  It was an odd padded tapping sound.  The first image my mind conjured up was from my childhood - specifically when the family dog would walk across the linoleum.

I took a deep breath and turned on the bedside lamp.  Nighttime does wild things to one’s memory.  In the daytime I would have quickly shrugged it off as the sound of the house settling and that would have been the end of it.

I thought for a moment, then put the earbud in my ear - maybe the narrator could tell me what the sound was.

“The excitement from the day, it seemed, had manifested itself in wild imagery from his mind’s eye of large monsters lying in wait in the dark.  Of course, he would tell himself in the morning, this really was nothing more than the house settling - noises he’d heard dozens of times before and had quickly disregarded.”

I laid back down, leaving the lamp beside me turned on, and allowed myself to drift back to sleep.
The last thing I recall thinking before sleep finally came was the memory of the previous chapter echoing through my head - the horror that Benjamin was about to face was just beginning - and again, that uneasy feeling that I was being watched.

***

Days turned into weeks as I waited for the next chapter of “The Life of Benjamin.”  I was beginning to think it would never happen, or maybe that I’d somehow imagined everything.  The only thing I clung to was the news reports on Colton Fisher.  I knew, or at least thought I did, that I wouldn’t have seen that shoe lying in the dirt had the narrator not said something.

I’d taken to checking every hour for the next chapter, even waking up several times a night to check my phone.  When it finally came, I couldn’t help but feel the rush of relief and jubilation as I eagerly jammed my earbuds in like the addict I was becoming.

“By now, Benjamin had realized that his life seemed incomplete without the audiobook playing in the background.  What was once alarming had become not only desired, but essential.  It wasn’t lost on him that this was the same line of thinking that justified the actions of alcoholics and drug addicts, but he told himself this was different, as every seasoned addict does.”

I pursed my lips, not appreciating the jabs but not entirely disagreeing either.

“But with that came the truth that most addicts must confront - that the source of their pleasure would likely be the source of their destruction.

“Benjamin would consider kicking this new habit once and for all - another lie addicts tell themselves - but each attempt would end with him regretfully crawling back because he knew that the only thing able to warn him of the impending nightmare was the voice in his ear.”

“What the fuck?” I said aloud, my heartbeat quickening.

“Even now his palms began to sweat and his heart began to pound in his chest.  What nightmare could this story be referring to?  Was he in danger?  Could this narrator, in fact, tell him of his death?”

Those thoughts had only begun to cross my mind as the narrator in my ear rattled them off as nonchalantly as he’d narrated the traffic.

“Despite himself, Benjamin believed the narrator could.  And he was absolutely correct.”

I pulled the earbud out of my ear and threw it on my bed.  This was becoming too much for me to handle.  This whole situation was already insanely bizarre, but it was different when it wasn’t so macabre.  And had the voice changed?  It was clearly the same person, but the way he spoke now seemed a bit, I don’t know, spookier?  Maybe that part was all in my head.

I’d considered the question before, usually while drinking with friends - would you rather know when you were going to die, or let it be a surprise?  I’d always answered that I’d prefer to know - that way I could make plans and say goodbyes - but now, starting down the barrel of that exact choice, I wasn’t so sure.  And was it really a choice of knowing when and how I would die, or was it something that would be saved till the end?  Would it be inevitable, or was it something I could change?

I didn’t HAVE to look at the sneaker by the canal, but I did because that’s what the narrator in my audiobook had said.  Did he know that I would do that?

The question, when I really got down to it, was whether this book had already been written, or was it reporting on what was happening as it happened?  Or was something, this narrator perhaps, making me do these things?

I thought about this and more while I showered, brushed my teeth, and got dressed for the day.  I thought about turning it off and forgetting about the whole thing, but the truth was I was terrified that something bad might happen if I didn’t.

Nervously, I inserted the earbud in my ear and pressed the PLAY button on my phone once more.

“Benjamin was reluctant to fall off the wagon not even a half hour after his first vow of abstinence, but he told himself he had no choice - told himself that if he didn’t press that button again, he would be lost in the dark.

“He went about the rest of his morning routine - brewing his coffee, mixing his breakfast protein shake, running a comb through his hair - completely unaware that these efforts were all in vain.”

I raised an anxious eyebrow as I stepped outside, locking the door behind me and taking an exploratory sip of my hot coffee.

“Stepping outside, Benjamin was then made aware that, despite his best efforts, he would never arrive to work that day.”

I quickly hurried to my car and started it.  I’d prove this thing wrong and get to work, one way or another.  I needed to prove for myself that this had the capability of being wrong.

I listened to the book through my car stereo again, this time with the volume down as low as I could make it while still being able to hear what was being said.  I would have my guard up - I didn’t want to miss the sound of police sirens or the honk of a runaway semi-truck.  

I was just about to take my exit, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a large moving van came barreling down the freeway on my right.  Had I not been paying attention, I may have missed it entirely, but I’d heard another car honk at the driver and looked just in time to get over and let him pass me.

I’d missed my exit, but that was alright. There were a dozen ways to get to the office.

“Had he been paying attention to the voice in the car stereo, Benjamin would have been forewarned about the moving truck, and may have not missed his exit.”

“Oh fuck off,” I said to the empty car.

I turned it down further and took the next exit.  There were a series of side-streets I could take that would get me to work with only about a five-minute delay.

My phone began to ring as I navigated the city street and I nearly leapt out of my skin from the fright.  I was WAY too keyed up to be driving.

I picked it up from the cupholder and saw that it was my boss.  My stomach twisted as I pressed the ANSWER button and turned up the volume in my car.

“Hello?”

“Hey Ben,” she said quickly.  “You haven’t left for work yet, have you?”

“Yeah, I’m almost there, why?”

“Don’t come in today.  We’ve got three people in Finance that just tested positive for COVID, and two in Workforce Management.  We’re sending everyone home for a few days to make sure it doesn’t spread around the office.”

“Yeah, alright,” I said, perplexed.  I really WOULDN’T make it into work today.“Don’t sound so glum,” my boss said.  “It was going to be a slow day anyway, so as far as I’m concerned just keep your phone on you in case we need you and go enjoy a day off.”

“Thanks,” I said.  “I think I will.  Let me know if you need anything.”
She said she would, then hung up.

Normally I would go back home, clean up around the house and throw on a movie or something, but I knew that was the last thing I should do.  I needed to be spontaneous - do things I wouldn’t normally do.

I turned into a small sandwich shop call “Pete’s Meats” that I’d always wanted to try but never had.  It was way too early to eat lunch, so that’s exactly what I intended to do.

Ten minutes later I had a twelve-inch Italian sub in a paper bag with a sack of home-made kettle chips sitting in the passenger seat.

Normally I’d go home to eat, or maybe enjoy my meal in the car, so instead I pulled up a list of parks, picked one that I’d never been to, and set out.

I didn’t listen to the audiobook the entire way there, nor did I put my earbud in while I searched for the perfect spot for my impromptu picnic.  This was INCREDIBLY out of the norm for me now, and I found comfort in that.

This comfort lasted all of about three bites into my sandwich, which, by the way, was one of the best I’d ever had.  A cool breeze danced in the trees and I felt the sudden, unmistakable sense that I wasn’t alone.  The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I was acutely aware of my surroundings - the way the leaves sounded in the trees whenever the wind blew, the thrum of traffic in the distance, the laughter of kids playing in the playground on the other side of the park.

I stood up from where I sat under the oak tree and looked around.  I saw a woman with running shoes in a tank top and leggings pushing a stroller on the sidewalk.  I watched a squirrel run across the grass and up a tree.

I heard a muffled voice that I wasn’t immediately able to place.  Looking around, I discovered it was coming from the earbuds in my pocket.  I could feel my heart in my throat and I swallowed it back down while I fished the buds out.  They weren’t supposed to be able to play anything unless they were in my ear - there was a little sensor that told them whether or not they were in position.  

I didn’t have to look at my phone to know what was playing.  I could hear the familiar voice I’d gotten to know well over the past few weeks even before I inserted the bud into my ear.

“...and as he placed the bud back into his ear, he understood better than ever before that this addiction was not one that could simply be kicked.”

I took another bite of my sandwich as defiantly as possible, trying to not let on the fear that had begun to coarse through my veins.

“He could feel the eyes on him as he chewed the last meal he would ever eat.”

I swallowed and again looked around for signs of anyone or anything looking in my direction.

“Except he wouldn’t find the source of his surveillance on the ground, because it had been in the tree above him the whole time.”

I whipped my neck up so fast that I nearly fell over.  Nothing but leaves clung to the branches above me.

“No, fuck you!” I said, earning a concerned glance from the woman pushing the stroller.  “No, sorry, not you” I said apologetically.

I threw the sandwich in the paper back and walked as fast as I could to the car. 

“He was reminded then of a moment from his childhood.  Whenever he was sent to retrieve anything from the basement, especially after the sun had set, he would never run, no matter how badly the dark scared him.  The light switch was on the wall adjacent to the stairs, so every time he had to go down into that room, there were always ten steps between him and the light - five to get to the switch, and five to get back after shutting it off.

“He would always hurry to flip the switch on, but those final five steps after shutting it off again were always taken slowly.  He felt then as he did now, that if he ran, if he showed the dark that he was afraid while it was at his back, it would devour him.”

I sped home, my mind a tornado of thoughts and questions.  I didn’t even know I was going to be there, how could anyone else?  Was I really being followed, or was this narrator lying to me?  Was he capable of lying?

As each of these thoughts crossed my mind, the narrator listed them off.  I hoped for an answer to any of these things, but of course that would spoil the surprise so the narrator danced around the questions like a skilled performer.

I arrived home and rushed through the front door, locking it immediately behind me.  The sight of the still unrepaired gouges in the door gave my stomach another hard twist.

I checked the locks on my back door and windows as well - everything was locked up tight, just as I’d left it.

I went to my bedroom and locked that door as well for good measure.

“Barricaded safely inside his bedroom, Benjamin contemplated his next move.  He had little to go by to prove to anyone that he was being followed.  The best he could do would be to lie to the police about seeing someone at the park and feeling like he’d been followed.

“As he considered this plan, another idea began to form.  Could he force the narrator into giving him more information through inaction?  If he was doing nothing of interest, would the narrator move into foreshadowing to continue the story?”

It was worth a shot.

I sat down on my bed and closed my eyes.  I focused my mind on as little as possible - no wild thoughts, no fears, nothing but a soft hum.

The voice in my ear described this plan in detail, then moved about the room, describing each little trinket on my dresser, the books on the shelf, and the photographs on the wall.  This went on for several minutes and the hope that I was getting close kept pushing further forward, trying to squeeze past the deliberate focused hum I was concentrating on maintaining.

“How much longer would this last, he wondered.  How much longer would it take before this story would progress past the present and dip its toe into the future?  He expected maybe a minute or two before either the chapter would end or he would succeed.  What he didn’t expect, however, was the crash coming from the kitchen that shattered the silence of the house like glass.”

As if on cue, the sound of broken glass exploded from down the hall.  I yelped in fear and surprise while the adrenaline squirted into my body.  Had I left something out that could have fallen on the floor?  I didn’t think so, but I’d checked the locks so that was the only logical explanation I could come up with.

Was this enough to convince the police I had an intruder?  I thought so.  I pulled the phone out of my pocket and tapped on the phone icon to dial 911.  Nothing happened.

I tapped again, and still nothing - the phone was frozen.  I pressed the unlock button and punched in my password without a problem.  The app playing my audiobook was up.  I tried to close it out, and still nothing happened.   My phone was frozen.  I couldn’t even shut it off.

Then I saw the progress bar at the top of the screen.

I hadn’t noticed before, or maybe it hadn’t been there, but this chapter actually showed progress to completion.  I had ten minutes until the end of the chapter.

Another crash pulled me from this fresh new panic and into the old one.  I still had someone in my house, and I couldn’t call the police.

I went back to the bedroom door, promising myself that I’d take a quick peek to investigate and if I had no explanation other than an intruder, I would barricade myself back in my room and call for help from my window.

“Thirty seconds,” I told myself.  “That’s it.”

I opened the door and peered through, not expecting to see anyone unless they were standing in a specific part of the hallway.

I clutched the baseball bat between bone-white knuckles and stepped carefully out into the hallway, counting to myself as I did so.

I saw bits of shattered glass at the end where the hallway opened up to the kitchen.  As I approached, I saw more and more glass from what I assumed was the black plate set I’d bought last summer.

“15, 16, 17…” the audiobook counted in my ear.

I approached the end of the hall and peered around the corner into the kitchen.  Bits of black ceramic peppered the floor.  The cabinet where they were housed was open, hanging on a single hinge.

I heard three loud knocks to my right that caused me to jump and simultaneously swing my bat into the corner of the wall.  Drywall and paint dusted my clothes, but I didn’t give it another thought.

I swallowed back the bitter metallic taste that had begun to fill my mouth, then carefully approached the door.  One quick peek through the peephole, and if I saw someone I knew, I’d open the door and run outside, otherwise it was back to the bedroom.

“As he peeped through the hole in the door, he was reminded of that first day when he’d heard the scratching sound that had been caused by whoever or whatever had been trying to get inside his home.  The only difference from then and now, other than the sound having been a knocking instead of a scratching, was that the perpetrator making the sound was not outside Benjamin’s house, but inside.”

I stumbled back, nearly losing balance in my rush to go back to my bedroom.  Not two seconds later I was locked inside my bedroom, pushing my dresser in the way of the door.

I sat down at my desk and I turned on my computer.  Was it possible to contact the police online?  I’m sure it is, but I’d never really thought about it until now.

“If it weren’t for the adrenaline in his blood and the panic in his mind, he may have stopped to check the rest of the bedroom before sitting down.  He may have looked in the closet, or under the bed, or behind the door when he first ran in.  He may have known before being told that he was not alone in that bedroom.  

“The narrator stood in the corner behind him, towering over him with a presence that could only be described as predatory, and Benjamin understands then, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the moment he turns around, his life will be over.” 

That was the last thing the audiobook said before it ended.  I’ve been sitting at my desk now for seven hours, too terrified to move, because in the faint reflection of my computer screen I can see the dark shape waiting behind me.

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