The Worth of Words: Chapter 4

Mom, Dad and Kathy have all been here for a few days now. I can’t say I mind the company, but I’m glad my parents are leaving this afternoon. Unfortunately, Kathy’s staying for a while, but it could be worse. After scouring through a series of Tweets, I found one person who claimed to have seen everything happen: @anthony_abyss. Finding this guy should be pretty easy given that he seems to post constantly on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram. I send him a message and toss my phone in my purse.

After lunch, Kathy and I drive my parents to the airport. Dad pulls their luggage out of the trunk while Mom and I hug goodbye. “I’ll let you know when I’m back home, Amber,” Kathy says to Mom, as she also says her goodbyes. We wave while my parents disappear behind a set of automatic doors. Then, Kathy and I jump in my car. “Alright, Simona, back to your place, so I can get my bags and then I’m off to my AirBnB,” Kathy declares, scrolling through her phone.

“You can stay with me until you leave,” I announce, fixing my eyes on the road. I really hope she doesn’t take me up on it. I love Kathy, but I don’t want her getting involved in any of this. I don’t want to tell her about the Wordsworth, Cannen or Fandellia.  She seems like she’ll blab on social media or post a cryptic comment about how she feels regarding the situation without actually telling me about her issue. “If you want to. No pressure or anything. You’re practically my mom too, you know,” I say, feeling awkward and a bit extra. She remains silent. I clear my throat. Still nothing. After some time, I glance at Kathy and, to my surprise, she’s sound asleep with her phone in her hand. Relief pours out of me with a sigh.

I wonder what could have happened to Jacob. It’s so strange to picture myself without him, or even worse to think that he’s some braindead husk wandering around looking for me. I’d rather him be dead than a zombie. Dammit, red light ahead. This light always takes forever. When I find Jacob, what will we do? I doubt he’d want to go all the way to Montana to get his vocal chords cut. Who knows what condition he might be in too. What if he can’t walk? What if he’s mute or traumatized from his encounter with the Wordsworth? Or, what if I see him and we encounter another one?

We make it back to my apartment building and walk upstairs. What the… The door’s unlocked? Kathy and I freeze. “I did lock it when we left, right?” Kathy asks, pulling her cellphone out. She dials 911, but doesn’t hit call, just yet. She nudges me out of the way. “It could be Jacob, you know. If it is, he could be contagious with whatever 5G symptoms he’s got going on. I’ll go in first. Without Howard, things have been hard and Jacob doesn’t need his mother hovering over him. We’ll be together when the reptilians slither from the Moon with the antichrist anyway.” Kathy turns the knob, slow and quiet. She pushes the door open and pauses, then slams the door shut. “I don’t care about my bags. Let’s just go! Now! I’m calling the cops!” she wails, yanking me down a flight of stairs. She calls the police and urges them to come quickly, then gives my address. We sit on a green, wooden bench in front of my building.

“Kathy, what did you see?” I ask, placing my arms around her. Her eyes are wide and staring at the pavement as if she were in a trance. “Kathy?” She leans over her knees. Her jaw drops as she continues gazing at nothing. Drool trickles down to her chin. “Kathy!” I yell, shaking her until she comes to. “Are you okay?” I ask, concerned and terrified.

“I think so. Why do you ask?” Kathy replies. She rubs her forehead. “I think I’m fine, at least. I remember opening the door and calling the-calling the, uh… um. Wow, I can’t remember what they’re called.” Kathy shivers and then shakes her head. “Sheesh, I just felt a chill. It felt so weird,” she says, sitting up and rubbing her hands, comforting herself. Something in her eyes is missing. She looks like she’s daydreaming. Kathy scratches her long red hair, then shrugs. “Probably the, uh, thing with the cellphone. It’s probably frying my brain.”

“What are you talking about, Kathy?” I ask. Two cop cars pull up to the building. Four police officers approach us. “Ma’am, did you call about a disturbance in your apartment?” one of them asks, adjusting his face mask. He pulls out a note pad and turns on his body camera. Kathy nods. “What seems to be the issue? Dispatch said it was urgent, but didn’t provide us with additional information other than a possible break in. As anyone injured? Is the intruder still in the apartment? What unit?” the officer asks, prepared to take notes.

“I-I don’t. We didn’t get hurt or anything. There’s, um, there was a man in there. It’s so hard to remember. I saw someone. Apartment 5D,” Kathy says, struggling to form a coherent sentence.

“Alright, ma’am. The three officers behind me will go and check it out. You ladies stay out here with me until the apartment is clear,” the officer declares. I rub Kathy’s back and console her. Hopefully, it’s not serious, break-ins are extremely rare in this neighborhood. After several minutes, the officers return. They chat among themselves. “We saw no sign or evidence of a break-in,” the lead officer reveals. “Is it possible you just happened to have left the door unlocked?”

I look at Kathy and nudge her. “I suppose… Well, no, actually it’s not. I remember closing it. I did close the door,” she says, pensive. Why is she talking like that? “You remember, don’t you? she asks, turning to me. “I did close it, right? You saw me, didn’t you?”

“Well, as far as we can tell there is no emergency here, so we’re heading out. Here’s the card with the number to dispatch should you remember or identify anything else that isn’t an immediate emergency.” The officers depart with their sirens off. Kathy’s eyes wander in the cars’ direction, almost confused by the movement and unaware of what just happened. She wipes drool from her mouth. “Oh, excuse me,” she says. “I’m not sure what’s, uh, gotten into my, um, this thing,” she remarks, pointing at her head. Kathy smiles and shrugs. “Must be my… age?” she asks. “Yeah, that’s it. My age.”

Is she serious right now? She’s as old as my mom. I doubt there’s anything wrong with her mind. “Kathy, are you okay?” I ask, staring at the setting sun setting over the horizon.

“I think so. 5G. Maybe is in my head. If it is, then it is,” Kathy responds, lost in her own world. She plays with the zipper on her purse and hums. “Oh, I’m sure I’m fine, dear. I don’t even remember what I saw to be honest. For a second, I thought there was young man dressed in weird, uh, like old style clothes, but who knows.”

“What?” Did she see it? Did she see the Wordsworth? I look at her face and it hits me. Ever since she opened the door to the apartment, she’s been acting strange and forgetting words. “Kathy, we need to go, now,” I declare grabbing her arm. I pull her up from the bench and the double doors to the building open and slam shut behind us. Footsteps approach us accompanied by slow clapping.

Kathy stares ahead, frozen in place like a life-sized doll. “To roam so far and return to where we are. To where I am. You are quite brave. Quite brave indeed,” Kathy says in unison with the stranger behind us. “I know your name, your thoughts, your essence, Simona, but if you care for this woman, you would speak your name in full to me,” she continues along with the soft, eerie voice. The man stands next to Kathy who, without thought, tilts her head back. Her lips part and a cacophony of words, sentences and thoughts echo out of her mouth. The Wordsworth inhales with delight as the sounds fade into him. Small lights come out of Kathy as “Philip”, “Jacob”, “Husband”, “Son”, “Family”, “Love”, and “Happy” pour out. The Wordsworth groans with pleasure and places his hands on Kathy’s face. His eyes roll back as more dots of light escape from her mouth and into his. Kathy’s eyes lose their color. Her skin turns pale and she goes limp. The Wordsworth tosses her aside like a wrapper around a burger. “Unlike your betrothed, this one has uttered her last. She shan’t speak again, let alone take a breath or have a thought. Her soul has been wrought to words and now is one within me,” the Wordsworth says in his sinister voice. He chuckles. “You see,” he begins speaking in Kathy’s voice. “Everything you love will be taken from you lest you give me your name. I must have you. You, dear lady, are rather unique. A fragrance, an essence un-paralleled by the ocean of humans near and far. I will consume you. I will devour you. But, first you must say who you are!”

I slap my hands over my mouth and sprint around the building, then jump into my car and shoot a text to Detective Cannen: “It’s back. Heading to the safe house.” This time, I’m prepared. I have a backpack with clothes, toiletries and my work things, as well as my purse. Goodbye apartment. Goodbye Kathy. I’m sorry.

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