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Boys & Girls Come Out To Play. Ch 2. The Calling

by  Shnarkle

Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Word Count: 1333
Summary: This pretty much follows on from chapter 1. It's in a fairly raw form, but I'm pretty happy with the general gist of events.

The Calling
William sat on his bed and strained to hear the details of the muffled conversation downstairs, as his mother showed the doctor out. There was the usual scrape as the front door shut, and then William could hear his mother’s footsteps on the stairs at the same time as the doctor’s measured stride as he walked down their gravel driveway to his car.
The bedroom door opened and William’s mother entered and sat on the end of his bed. Laura was in her late thirties, but William thought she looked much younger. Slim, with an elfin face and long blonde hair she could still dress in the latest fashions without attracting adverse comments. William had always thought of both his parents as being, “pretty cool.” And he felt that he could tell them anything without embarrassment. All his friends at school thought their parents were old fogies, and William was delighted that his were still young at heart without having to try too hard, which would have been the most embarrassing thing possible; an ageing parent trying to be “with it” but only succeeding in making an utter fool of themselves.
William could tell that his mother was worried by the slight frown between her eyebrows. “Well, what did the doctor say?” he asked.
“He said that you’ve been having something called night terrors, Will.” Laura squeezed William’s bare foot to reassure him. “He said it’s quite common in boys of your age, and that it’ll pass with time.” she remembered having bad dreams herself as a girl, but they soon faded; indeed she hardly ever dreamed at all anymore; or at least she could never remember any when she woke each morning. “He’s given me a prescription for some very mild sleeping tablets which should stop the dreams from waking you up.”
“But mum, what about the TV? I was awake then.” William was not convinced.
His mum smiled at him, “The doctor says it’s called lucid dreaming. You think you’re awake but really you’re still asleep.”
“Mum, I’m telling you I was awake!” William used the tone of voice a child used when wrongly accused of something. “None of the channels would work; I kept pushing and pushing the buttons but all I got was snow.”
“Does the TV work properly now?” said his mother arching an amused eyebrow.
“Well, yes it does now,” William argued defensively, “But it didn’t last night.”
“Case closed, I think.” smiled his mother, “Now, as the doctor has given you the day off school, and told me that I must spoil you rotten; would you like tea, and your favourite scrambled egg on toast in bed as a treat?”
“Yes please.” muttered William, wishing the doctor had been there himself last night, and then let him say it was lucid dreaming.
“We’ll tell your father all about it when he phones from Cyprus tonight.” called his mother as she made her way downstairs.
Ben Maddox missed his family so much it hurt when he had to make these business trips abroad. He’d been in Cyprus for two days chasing a supplier for a signature, and had been told he’d finally be able to pin the man down tomorrow. If he could manage to complete the business in the morning he might just make the late afternoon flight back to the UK. He sat at the desk in his hotel room and looked at his watch; it would be 7pm at home, tea would be finished; a perfect time to call.
He punched in “Home” on his mobile and absently counted the rings, once, twice, and then there was a click as the phone was picked up. Ben was surprised not to hear Will shouting, “Hiya, big dad.” or Laura breathing, “Hello Ben darling.” Instead, after a second or two he heard a strange garbled whispering through the earpiece, like you sometimes heard during a long distance call; bleed through from other calls. But for some strange reason he felt that the eerie whispering was personally directed at him. Meant for him. “Hello..?” he said with a faint tremor in his voice. Immediately he heard a number of girls’ voices singing a sort of nursery rhyme:
“Boys and girls come out to play, once you’re here, you’re here to stay
“Skip and jump, and run and hide, forever here you will abide”
The voices seemed out of phase with each other, and there was no soul behind the words; they were just flat. Empty. Dead. And whilst they were chanting the swirling whispering became louder, more urgent, more threatening, spitting hate and bile at him.
Ben recoiled for a second; then gathering himself demanded, “Who’s that, who’s there? Don’t play games with me!”
“Gaaames!” said the voices with relish, lengthening the word in eager anticipation. “Tell William we’ll play games with him soon. Very soon.”
“How do you know William?” Ben shouted, “Who the Hell are you?”
“Hell!” they sniggered in unison, “Hell!” then the line went dead.
Ben threw the phone down on the bed as if it had burned his hand, and stared at it in horror. “What the…?” he said to himself; what the Hell was that all about. He didn’t scare easily, but he was damned scared now. He picked up the phone again and checked the call log. Sure enough the word “Home” stared back at him. So he had dialled the right number.
In a fit of panic he stabbed redial, trembling in case he heard the girls’ strange voices again.
“Hello?” Thank goodness, it was Laura.
“Laura, what the heck is going on?” he tried to keep as calm as possible.
“What do you mean, Ben?”
“Does Will have any school friends over right now?” That would be it, kids having a laugh at his expense.
“No, as a matter of fact he’s been off school today. Ben, what’s wrong; I don’t like the sound of your voice?”
Ben told her the details of the previous phone call.
“Oh God, Ben, Ben! Please come home now!” He could hear the hysteria in her voice.
“Woah, sweetie, take it easy, what’s happened?”
Ben could tell that Laura was barely able to speak she was breathing so rapidly, but she managed to blurt out, “William had a bad dream last night about three girls asking him to play with them and then he woke up and watched some TV but it wouldn’t work and…”
“Honey, honey, slow down; take some deep breaths.” Ben could feel icicles of fear gripping at his guts as his wife told her story; but he had to try to appear strong.
“…and then the girls spoke to him through the TV! Through the TV Ben! When he was awake!” Each breath was now a sob; Ben had never felt as useless as he did now, hundreds of miles away from the ones that meant more to him than life itself, and there was absolutely nothing he could do to help them; to defend them; to make them safe. Tears welled in his eyes as he said, “Where’s Will now?”
“In his room.” sobbed Laura.
“OK,” said Ben, trying to gain some control over the situation, “Don’t let him sleep in his room tonight; take him into our bed. Don’t have the TV, radio, anything on; and don’t answer the phone.” His head was spinning, but he had to make sure he’d covered everything he could to keep them safe, “I’ll get the first flight out of here in the morning; do you think your sister would agree to stay the night with you?”
“I don’t know, I’ll ask her.” said Laura rallying at Ben’s strength.
“I’ll be home as soon as I can, darling.”
Suddenly a gale of whispering broke into the line, followed by girls’ disembodied, cold, dead voices saying, “Say goodnight to William for us, won’t you?”
All Ben could hear was Laura screaming hysterically before the line snapped dead.