The Hour – Chapter 3

Chapter 3

 

Glyph awoke suddenly. He sat up in bed and took a look out the window. He waited a few seconds for the sound of the garbage truck, but it didn’t come. Since the trucks weren’t running, it meant today was either Sunday or a holiday, not that it mattered much. Getting up, Glyph casually looked around the room. It was the first time he had done so in a long time. He knew he should be following his daily routine, and cooking breakfast, but for some reason he wasn’t hungry.

‘What do I do now?’ he thought.

He walked down the hall into the kitchen, more out of habit then anything else. It was a mess. Glyph stood the table upright then reached down and grabbed his gun off the floor. He gathered up the stray bullets that had fallen out of the shoebox and stuffed them into his pocket. His gaze fell on the eviction notice once more, and he decided to gather a few things together in case he had to make a quick exit.   Tucking the gun into his waistband, he walked back to the bedroom.

Dust hung thick over everything there, except for the trail on the floor that led from the door to his bed. Pulling a small duffle bag out of the closet, he jammed in some clothes, then opened his top dresser drawer and pulled out his K-bar knife. Glyph slid it out of the sheath part way, checked the edge with his thumb then slid it back in, and chucked it into the bag. Scooping up the bag, he walked back to the kitchen, picked up his pack of smokes, and lit one. Tossing a couple of packs of matches into the bag, he glanced at his watch. ‘Ten minutes.’

‘What do people do when they have extra time?’ he thought. ‘What did I used to do? Read my mail? Watch TV?’ Glyph went over to the TV set and rubbed a thick layer of nicotine-stained dust off the screen. He turned it on, but the set only displayed static. ‘Hmph’ he smirked. ‘Must’ve forgot to pay my cable bill… for about a year.’ Glyph sat down at the kitchen table.

“‘If I survive.’” he said, chuckling to himself as he thought about the hallucinatory encounter with that woman in the woods. ‘Ain’t nothin’ happened yet.’ Glyph thought putting on his shoes. ‘Ain’t nothin’ gonna happen either.’ The more he thought about it the crazier it began to sound. You know it’s really bad when something sounds crazy to an insane man. ‘The forces of evil are out to get me? I’m fucking nuts for buying into this shit. If anything, this is the one place I am safe, at least for a few more days.’ Though he had to admit something was happening to him, he just wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe it was just the fact that he wasn’t hungry.

Just then there was a knock at the door. He crept over to the door and peered into the peephole. ‘Fuck me, it’s the landlord.’ he thought. ‘Might as well get this over with.’ Glyph let out a deep breath, grabbed the duffle bag, and slid his gun around to the back of his pants. Opening the door quickly he stepped outside and closed it behind him.

“What can I do for you?” Glyph asked, but was immediately cut off by the balding fat man’s grip around his throat.

The man pulled Glyph forward and swung him into the far wall of the hallway. Glyph felt the wall shake as he hit, and his air was quickly fading under the landlord’s grasp around his neck. In desperation, Glyph brought his knee up into the fat man’s groin, then flung his arms up and out, breaking the hold on his throat. The landlord dropped to his knees as Glyph began to scramble away, gulping down air. Glyph felt a hand close around his ankle causing him to trip and fall forward. He turned his head back in time to see the man sinking his teeth into Glyph’s calf. Letting out a shriek of pain, he kicked the landlord hard in the face with his free leg, but he wouldn’t let go. After several more stomps to the head he heard the sick crunching of bones as the fat man’s head turned grotesquely to one side under the pressure of Glyph’s foot, and his body fell limp.

Other doors in the hallway began to open. People started to poke their heads out to stare at Glyph and the lifeless form of the landlord. He pulled himself free of the body, quickly grabbed his bag and fled down the stairs toward the main entrance. He was breathing heavily as he slammed open the front door, and began to run down the sidewalk.

‘What the fuck? What the fuck!’ His mind screaming as he ran. ‘Did I kill him? Why did he attack me?’

Glyph had gotten about a block when he started to feel as though someone were watching him. He crossed to the opposite side of the street, and kept glancing back to make sure no one was following him. A raggedy bum stumbled from an alleyway just behind him then turned and lunged at him. Glyph sidestepped quickly and pushed the man away from him, but the man spun around and jumped at Glyph once more.

“Get away from me!” Glyph shouted at him, but the man pressed forward, and Glyph turned and ran. The man chased him for two more blocks, until they neared a major intersection. Glyph slowed as he approached, trying to time a break in the morning traffic to cross to the other side. He stole a quick look behind him, but saw no one. He came to a stop, resting his hands on his knees as he bent over, breathing hard and trying to calm his nerves.

Suddenly the man was there. He punched Glyph hard on the top of his head. Stars filled his vision as he stumbled backward several feet, barely catching his balance on a streetlamp. Glyph stared at the man charging toward him; his eyes looked black, without even a trace of white anywhere. Glyph dodged right, then bolted swiftly down the next street. Suddenly he heard tires screeching around the corner behind him. He looked back to see a car speeding right at him. Glyph leapt backwards into a narrow alleyway. The man appeared in front of him just as the car jumped the curb, plowed into his pursuer, and slammed diagonally into the alley’s entrance.

“Holy shit!” Glyph screamed as he looked upon the wreckage; it had missed crushing him by inches. The car had impacted the corner of the building, and was nearly split in half. He couldn’t see the driver, just blood and gore dripping down the inside of the crackling windshield. The man chasing him was reduced to a smear across the alley wall, with an arm and leg dangling out of the twisted metal grill and hood, a mere gory pulp pinned against the brick wall. Unsure of what to do, Glyph followed his instinct to run and retreated down the alleyway. Climbing over a dumpster that blocked the other end, he walked into a larger alley, turned right, made his way out toward the street, and tried to act casual as he rounded the corner.

‘Son of a bitch!’ he thought. ‘Something is wrong here, something is definitely wrong. What the hell happened back there? I need to get out of here, and fast’. Glyph’s heart was racing a mile a minute, and the adrenaline rush spurred him into action.

Looking ahead, he spied a woman pulling into a parking space. Glyph raced towards the woman’s car, and just as she was opening the door to get out, he was upon her. He jerked out the gun and jammed it into her face, yanking the keys out of her hand. The look of shock that crossed her face quickly turned to terror as she realized what was happening. Glyph almost hesitated, then pulled her out of his way, swinging the woman into the middle of the street as he leapt in. Slamming the door behind him, he heard the sudden screeching of brakes and glanced out the window in time to see a panel van crash into the woman head on, dragging her body as the vehicle slid another ten feet to an abrupt stop. Glyph shoved the keys into the ignition with shaking hands and started the car. Tossing the gun on the seat he hit the gas and cut the wheel hard, just missing the back of the van that was now stopped in the street and another car traveling in the opposite lane. Glyph put his foot to the floor, running several red lights until he got to the interstate. Cars in the oncoming lane swerved to avoid him as he ran the last light, barely making a wild hair pin turn onto the onramp. Merging into traffic on the highway, he slowed his pace and hoped desperately that no one had seen him.

Glyph was feeling ill. He looked at his watch ‘34 minutes’. The sweat was streaming down his face, and he coughed up a lump of puke into the back of his mouth and swallowed it back down.

Without warning a speeding car cut across three lanes of traffic and slammed into the side of Glyph’s vehicle. The door buckled inward and the car swerved violently with the impact, causing Glyph to sideswipe the jersey wall.

“Shit,shit,shit,shit,shit!” he yelled aloud through clenched teeth. Time seemed to slow, as Glyph caught sight of the other driver; his eyes were black and the expression he wore was pure evil. Cutting the wheel hard away from the dividing wall, Glyph punched the gas, and rammed the side of the offending car. It began to fishtail rapidly, then suddenly went into a wild spin, and began to bounce off other vehicles on the highway like the inside of a pinball machine. Glyph stomped the gas again as the wrecked cars brought traffic to a stop, and within a minute he had left the whole scene behind him.

Glyph was visibly shaken, and tried frantically to get his cigarettes out of the duffle bag. He finally got to them and lit one up. His heart raced as nicotine and adrenaline pumped through his veins. As he drove, at least two different oncoming cars rammed the dividing wall between him and the opposing traffic, and Glyph could tell they meant to hit him; to kill him. After about ten minutes, he passed the outskirts of the city limits. He was driving near ninety miles per hour, and had to lean heavily to the right on the steering wheel to keep the smashed up vehicle on track. Occasionally a piece of side panel would pull free and bounce down the road, leaving him wondering how much further the car could go.

“Now what! Where can I go? I can’t keep driving, I’ve got to ditch this car and find some place to hide!”   Another 5 minutes passed. “Fuck!” he screamed and punched the dashboard.

Glyph noticed the highway was splitting around a huge island of trees and dense under growth. As soon as the oncoming traffic lane was no longer visible through the foliage he slowed down and pulled over to the edge of the median strip. He waited a few seconds to make sure no one was behind him, then floored it, turned the wheel to cut behind the guardrail and drove off into the median down a grass covered embankment toward the tree line. Glyph aimed for a deep thicket and plowed in, slamming his brakes only after he entered. He slid to a stop, hitting the top of the steering wheel with his head as the front corner of the car rose up about a foot and wedged into the side of a tree on the passenger side. He let out a deep sigh and looked at his watch. ‘Fifty-five minutes’. He checked the rear view mirror and couldn’t see where he had entered the trees.

‘It’ll have to be good enough.’ He thought, and began to rummage through the car for his gun. He found it under the passenger side seat, along with the woman’s purse. There were thirty-three dollars in her wallet, which Glyph quickly stuffed into his back pocket. He pulled out a nail file and a pen, and put them into his duffle bag along with the pistol. As he threw the purse into the back seat, a card fell out on his lap. Glyph picked it up and turned it over. It was the woman’s driver’s license. He couldn’t help but read the information. Stephanie Wheeler, 5’9″, then his eyes focused on her birth date. ‘She was only nineteen, and now she’s probably dead, because of me.’ He laid the license down on the seat, and threw up on the passenger side floorboard. After retching a few times he sat back in the seat, wiped off his chin and attempted to clean the blood off his forehead.

“What the fuck is going on?” Glyph said out loud, trying to make sense of everything that had just happened to him. He had just decided to get out of the car when all the air exited the vehicle with a loud whoosh. Everything went deathly silent as the world around him turned into a vacuum and all went dark.

 

3 thoughts on “The Hour – Chapter 3

  1. Argh. I’m sorry, I don’t normally do this, but I can’t read any more. To describe why… The story makes me feel claustrophobic, and I have an intense dislike for stories that use “The Chosen One” cliche.
    There’s nothing bad about your writing style (although I would suggest using italics for internal thoughts rather than quotation marks), but this story isn’t really my cup of tea.

    That said, I wish you good luck with finishing your serial and hope you gain a decent following.

    1. Thanks for the comment. If you had read to the next chapter, you would find that Glyph feels exactly the same way you do about the ‘chosen one’ cliche. As far as single quotes for thoughts,this book was last formatted for submission to Baen. They require as little use of italics as possible. Not sure why, it’s just their rule. I sincerely appreciate the comment though.

      1. I’m going to second the call for italics for the thought lines. It’s an interesting premise, but I’m definitely being pulled out of it by the combination of non-italicized thought lines and the character’s habit of talking to himself in the early chapters.

        Here’s to hoping for more dialogue!

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