“Your mother decided she wanted to stop and see a cave system on the way home,” her father said over the phone. She could hear her mother’s voice in the background as she read off what sounded like a paragraph on ziplines. “Apparently, there’s other things we can do there. We’ll be gone about another day or two depending on if your mother finds anything else.”
“That’s fine,” she replied. “Everything is stocked and some.”
“Yeah, I know, I know, but call me if there’s anything you still need, Nora.” She mmhm’d, never having been the best at phone conversations, and he continued. “Considering what I’ve been seeing from the news, I’ll inform you again…”
“You don’t have to do that,” she objected. It came across as nothing more than a suggestion.
Without even a considered pause, he marched through it. “The panic apartment is accessed through the kitchen island. The side panel opens by a button tucked in the corner on the right side near the fridge. When you get inside, close it with the internal button next to it, and proceed down the stairs. The steel door just below floor level will be opened for fifteen seconds after the side panel of the island opens. Proceed through it. It’ll detect you and then close afterwards. In the keypad to your right, input: 1311825. Repeat that for me.”
“1311…” She trailed off trying to recall the numbers. He’d talked so much her mind drifted away, off with the fairies.
“1311825. Repeat. This is serious. It locks the door completely until you unlock it; that way, no one can get in.”
She thumbed the buttons of the remote, itching to turn the volume up again. She could read the headline clearly as it passed along, discussed by the anchor and his guest. Dangerous Creatures Growing in Number. “1311825.”
“One more time, Nora.”
She pressed her fingers to her temples, a throb emerging that would remain after the call would end. “1311825.”
“Thank you. It corresponds to the alphabet; use that if you need it.”
Corresponds to the alphabet, she wondered. MARY, from her mother? “Will do,” she replied.
After a moment, she could hear her mother mentioning a turn to her father. He gave a passing farewell and silence filled the line, concluding with a beep. She understood her father’s intentions, but didn’t believe she’d be seeing what the media spoke about at least any time soon. He worried too much.
She turned the volume up and caught the end of what anchor Frederick Swindon was saying. “... Mr. Sauther, we should be worried?”
The man being spoken to, a portly fellow with thinning hair, paused, weighing his answer. “Yes, I think so; however, I do, wholeheartedly, believe we can prepare for them.”
“How do we do that?” Swindon returned.
“Keep your doors locked. Front, back, even to your garage. Garage doors closed. All the windows—even upstairs—locked.” From what Nora remembered, all windows and doors were locked as suggested anyway. She only occasionally opened her bedroom window to feel the breeze in the morning. “Don’t travel much at all. Get as much as you can when you go to the grocery store; don’t take excessively so that others struggle, but enough to make your trips limited. Sign up to the government rationing system so that they deliver it to your doorstep. All the personnel have the Reddison Pledge memorised, so make sure they repeat it before associating with them.”
“Thank you, Mr. Sauther. Can you tell us more about what we’re going up against? Why do we even have to keep our upstairs windows locked against them?”
“Well, uh, I don’t think I’m really able to give so much detail since we’re still investigating them. We’ve received reports across the country from people seeing faces in the corner of their windows regardless of the floor. Others have noted them starting to position themselves to open it — at least, they assumed that. Obviously, they were able to run and lock it in case they could, but it shows us that it is pertinent that everyone keeps the windows locked. We don’t have evidence that they can open it but we can only hope they can’t.”
Sauther remained quiet and thought about his words. “I’m sure you’ve seen some videos from baby cams of some… of them climbing inside the open window and walking aimlessly around the room. With no child to hunt, they did nothing but look. For some reason, even though they look very similar to us, they seem unable to open doors… though we should still keep doors locked just in case.”
“Do they imitate us, you think?”
“Well, I don’t know about that…” He cleared his throat, taking a moment to straighten his tie. “I would think so since their intelligence does not match ours. It would appear they look like us to hunt us. They are usually very stationary; they’ll just stand at the door. At first, they knock, drawing you to open it. For this reason, interaction with those outside should be minimal unless you know and have anticipated the arrival of someone,” Sauther answered. The screen displayed both of them, both nervous and reluctant. Pallid reflections of persons that had been investigating the infestation of what seemed to be mimicking monsters.
“There’s been several viral clips from porch security cameras of these experiences. I’ve seen a few and it’s just… horrifying. Such dark eyes and their mouths fall open so wide as if they’d swallow me whole.”
“Some of the bodies found have been halved… eaten so that only the upper or lower body remain,” lamented Sauther. “Or maybe not eaten—taken, obliterated. Whatever the case, it’s missing. It doesn’t matter their age. There’s no mercy.” He paused again and remarked: “And also, not all of them are as obviously monstrous. There are those that look like you and I.”
“Where did these creatures come from? Do you, uh, do you know that? Are there theories? Anything…?” Swindon nervously gnawed at his lips. He wanted the answers as much as anyone else.
Sauther shifted uneasily in his seat. “I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows right now. What is the base form of these creatures? Are they actually humans, just ill? Is it a parasite, a virus? I would be grateful for the answers to those questions.” He opened his mouth a few times as if to continue and, defeated, he repeated: “I don’t know.”
Swindon frowned. His eyes flicked away from the camera, to a partner perhaps in the distance. “I think that is all the time we have right now. There’s breaking news of a string of house fires in Coren…”
Nora turned the volume down and tried to process what had been said. She used her time to recheck all of the doors and windows, closing curtains and even considered buying some dark replacements just for added comfort. Shield all the light inside from being viewed outside. Though she’d felt much more confident earlier about her safety, she didn’t know what to think. It scared her.
She sent a few text messages to her father asking they return soon—none would be answered—and spent the remainder of her night watching old movies to take her mind off the outside world.
Obrigado pela leitura!
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