from the wandering mind of Tamela Buhrke
Charlotte jumped in her chair. Looking around for the source of the noise, she noticed that shadows had overtaken the small office she used for her writing. Only the glow from her computer lit the gloom. What time was it? She flipped on the desk lamp, revealing that she was indeed completely alone.
Charlotte let go the breath she'd been holding. Just in case, she peered out the window. Nobody was on the landing outside her door. Across the yard, she could see the lights on in her house. Her husband stood in the kitchen, warming up leftovers in the microwave.
She paused and listened to see if the sound would come again. She must have heard a tree branch banging or an odd squeak of some animal in the attic. Certainly not a voice saying "Knock. Knock." It was absurd.
The copy machine vibrated softly in the corner. Long-cold coffee sat in the automatic drip coffee maker. A potted plant wilted near the window. All was quiet.
She leaned back in her seat and rubbed at her tired eyes.
“You did hear me, didn’t you Charlotte?”
She jumped up from her desk, grabbing a ruler in one hand.
“See? Clever girl. You heard me.”
The voice had a ring of familiarity. Something about the wording....
“Yes, about that. What kind of name is Sir George? That doesn’t have much panache, now does it?”
She yanked nervously on her ear, willing away the sound of his voice. Across the room, she eyed the closet. Could it be? Was someone was trying to "punk" her, as the kids say?
“Okaaay, what would you like your name to be?” She asked, playing along.
Charlotte crept across the room toward the closet, gripping the ruler tightly. If she survived this, tomorrow she was going to grab one of her son’s old bats from the garage and store it up here.
Her hand trembled on the door handle. Yanking it open, she brandished her ruler. A black object fell on her head. Shrieking, the ruler snapped as she batted the object away.
Dark laughter filled the room.
Jumping back, Charlotte examined the scene. At her feet lay the remnants of the ruler and an old vhs tape of the 1994 trip to Italy she had taken with her husband, as a second honeymoon. There was no one in the closet. Just office supplies, a couple of sweaters and a pile of vhs tapes marking the passage of her life.
“Perfect!" The voice announced. "Something Italian! Baron Di Dannato, perhaps?”
“But you are not a Baron...” she said, examining the Italy tape.
“My dear girl, I can be anything.”
“You are just getting started," he crooned. "And I’ve been going over the story. I must say, it won’t do. No, not at all. It’s all flowery bits and giggles. What we need is something new."
Goosebumps ran up her arms. Charlotte hugged the tape to her chest.
“But I write romance, not horror.”
Red lights danced across the walls. Tail lights, maybe? Was someone driving up the alley?
“No, not horror,” the amused voice answered, “but something with bite.”
Charlotte snorted. “Just what the world needs, another vampire book.”
“Tsk. Tsk. I wasn’t talking vampires my dear.”
The pause lasted long enough for Charlotte to worry that this shouldn’t be happening. Was she losing her mind? Talking to her character as if he were some sort of disembodied spirit?
“Demon,” the voice purred.
She shuddered. Red lights flickered along the walls again.
"My character, I mean."
Charlotte blinked rapidly. A demon? She padded over to her desk and looked at what she had been writing.
“Demons would add a whole new dimension,” she murmured distractedly.
“I thought you’d like that,” the voice crooned. “Let’s make my lady love a bit of an angel.”
“Yes!” Charlotte gasped. “Forbidden love—angel falls for demon. That's perfect.”
Laughter echoed and then faded. The red lights disappeared.
Charlotte coughed and waved a bit of smoke away. Her focus was on her manuscript. Sitting down, she began to type. The voice was already forgotten.
Only a whiff of brimstone remained.