My Strangeness by Eric Lethcoe

I was at home after work on a normal Tuesday evening. I was in my kitchen, preparing food. I wanted to catch what was on the TV airing at 8:00 PM, so I wanted to get some food made so I could sit and relax and watch my show. I set my food in the oven and reach into my pocket to pull out my phone. I pull it out but it slips between my fingers and falls to the floor and shatters.

I yell and curse out loud. Geez, how can I afford a new phone? I need a phone for work! For work calls! I need one, for many different reasons. I walk upstairs to my room and open my laptop. I check my bank account and the balance reads: $60.38.

How on Earth can I afford a new phone soon? I get paid Friday, but with all of my expenses I still couldn’t afford a new one. Guess I’ll check Craigslist. I’ve heard things about this site… how the people are kind of shady. I’m sure there’s some creeps on there, but I’m buying a phone. There’s no way this could go wrong. It’s just a phone.

I scroll through the website for a little while and find a little flip phone for 40 bucks. I just need it to make calls, it’s not like I text anyone on a regular basis. I set up where I can meet the guy who’s selling it tonight. We set up a time, 6:30 in the afternoon. He says that’s when he gets off of work. Doesn’t seem shady, it’ll be alright. He says he wants to meet in the Walmart parking lot on 5th street. That’s well out in the open, and the sun will still be out. Who would try something shady in a Walmart parking lot? You’d easily be seen by a couple hundred people. It’s right next to the main road too.

Time flew by already. It’s about 6:20, and I’m in the Walmart parking lot, waiting. The guy says he drives a 1993 Honda Civic. Now that worried me. I wonder if it’s maintained.

I waited in my car for about 15 minutes, my dash reads 6:35. He pulls up behind me and parks two spaces away in this ugly green, rusty, beaten down Honda. I get out of the car and walk up to his. He gets out, he’s wearing clothes that you’d see people wearing around the house. Dirty sweatpants and a hoodie, with a black beanie hat. He’s holding the flip phone in his right hand. It looks to be in perfect condition. I have the 40 dollars in my right pocket and I walk up to him to consult him.

“Got the money?” he said, in a raspy voice.

“Yeah, here,” I said.

Without hesitation he takes the money then hands me the phone. After he hands me the phone, he’s just standing there. He doesn’t say a word.

“Thank you,” I said, then made a little nod.

He just kept staring. Wide eyed. Like he was seeing a ghost or something. Uncomfortable, I get back in my car and start it. I pull out of the parking space and he’s still staring. Were his eyes a little wider now? I couldn’t tell. Ignoring it, I drove off quickly. I could feel the frost on the back of my neck.

I get back to my house and start configuring the phone. It’s really nice, perfect condition, as though he just bought it. No cracks on the screen, and going through it, it seems as though he never used it. I started setting all of my work contacts. I sent them all texts, like “New phone. Old one broke.” No reply from any of them. Don’t care though; as long as they read and understood the message. I went to bed for the night around 8:00. I have work tomorrow.

My alarm goes off. I sit up in bed, and reach for my phone on the nightstand to check for any replies from work. I set my hand on the nightstand and start patting around. What the? I put it here last night. I got up out of bed, walked over and turned on my bedroom light. No phone on the nightstand. That’s annoying. Could’ve sworn I put my phone right here. Ugh. I turned around to get out of my room and get ready for work. I reached down for the doorknob and my hand grabbed at empty air. Did I miss? God, I’m too tired for this. I squint down and see my doorknob is gone. Completely ripped, through and through. There’s a hole in my door where it used to be. You could look through and see the hallway outside. Did I get drunk or something last night?

I bent down to investigate and it seems there’s… teeth marks… all around the inside of the door? I reach into the hole in the door and pull it open. There’s nothing to stop the door from swinging freely. I step out of my room and go to get ready for work. I’ll investigate this evening. I don’t have time for this right now.

I got food, got a shower, brushed my teeth, then got work clothing from my room. I walk to the front door of my house and the doorknob is gone there too. Confused, I grab whatever I can of the door, and start to pull on it, hard, and it won’t budge. It looks like there’s teeth marks, all around the outside of the door. The doorknob here isn’t “eaten” all the way through, but the doorknob is gone. There’s a small metal rod where the doorknob should be. This is what the doorknob turns to open the door. I reach down and grab it to turn it, then it starts feeling… weird. I looked down and there’s smoke rising from my fingers. The metal rod starts glowing red. Searing hot pain shot through my body like lightning. I fell backwards onto my back and slid into my dining table, clutching my hand, straining to not yell out loud. The table wobbles and I look up. On the edge is my flip phone. I flinch and it wobbles and falls off into my lap. When it lands in my lap, it flips itself open, and all in the inside is wood shavings.

I’m so confused… what is going on here? I reach for the phone to call 911. There might be a fire outside my house… but that wouldn’t make sense… am I going crazy? I grab the flip phone on the wide edge and pull it towards me.

The phone snapped closed with a vice grip like a bear trap over my palm and razor sharp fangs flung out around the edges and sunk deep. Even though I didn’t understand what was going on, I stand up quick, blood gushing from my hand, and swing my arm a couple times to get it off, slapping it and hitting it a couple times. I swing my arm a fourth time and it lets go, hits the hardwood floor in the hallway and slides all the way to the end… under my bathroom door… into the darkness, leaving a trail of blood the whole way there. My eyes were wide. This has to be a nightmare. I reached down with my good hand and pinch myself hard. All I felt was the sting of the pinch. This wasn’t a dream. I hold out my hand and clutch my wound against my stomach. The pain was hot and overpowering. I turn towards my front door and kick it as hard as I can muster. I keep kicking it over and over, loosening the hinges, the wood giving out and the metallic clanging ringing in my ears. I tired out and couldn’t kick it hard anymore. I kick it one last time and stumble and fall on the floor from exhaustion. The door hardly budged. I scooted around and faced my bathroom door. It was open. It was pitch black on the inside. I stared into the blackness in horror. Beep beep. The sounds from the phone echoed out of the bathroom. I sat up on my knee, planning how I would reclose that door… if it were still in there. Out of the blackness a little silver flash, and the flip phone flies out of the doorway and smacks onto my face with such force it knocks me on the floor onto my back again. It clamps around my face and… CRUNCH.

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