Thursday, May 22, 2014

Featured Creature: The Rathbone Assignment Part II, Instructions in the Dark

The Rathbone Assignment: 
Part II, Instructions in the Dark

Erica's knees gave way.  Her elbow hit the kitchen counter and her right arm went into the sink, breaking her fall.  The pain was excruciating and she nearly lost her grip on the phone, but it prevented her from collapsing completely.

"Mrs. Wilson!  Are you Alright?!" 

"I'm Okay, I'm Okay.  I just slipped...just- just gimme a second."  She pushed her breath out hard.  She lifted herself up, using the counter for support.  She had not realized that her vision had blacked out until she began to see the dim light from the kitchen window reappear.  She slowly pulled herself up to a standing position.  She held herself there for several moments, focusing on the rise and fall of her breathing.

"Hold on, I dropped the flashlight."  She used the light of her phone to scan the floor and quickly found the flashlight in a corner.  She picked it up and twisted the head.  It shone with a dull yellowed light, creating a small halo around her feet. 

"Okay.  I've got it." 

She moved into the living room, following the small pool of light in front of her.  She bolted the front door then checked the windows, touching each lock in turn.   From the windows, she saw the motion sensor light in the carport turn off.  Only a faint light remained from the street light two houses down.  As she finished with the living room she moved into the hallway bathroom.

"Erica, let me know when you have locked all the doors and windows."  She moved to the bedroom and then the master bath.  She jumped as she entered the bathroom, startled by her ghostly reflection.  She glared at her reflection and locked the window forcefully.  She finished with the office.

"I'm done.  All locked."

"I need you to turn your air conditioning or heat pump completely off."  Erica stepped into the hallway and set the thermostat to off.


"Erica, Do You have any duct tape in your home?  If not, packing tape will suffice."

"I think Derrick keeps some in the office.  Hold on."  She opened the office closet and slid the contents of the shelf inside around until she found the silver grey roll.  "Got it."

"I need you to apply the duct tape to all the edges of the doorways to your home.  Cover them and make sure they are sealed.  It needs to be as much of an airtight seal as you can create, Erica."  Erica felt her heart beating quickly again.  "How many doors are there leading into your home?"

"Just two - the front and the car port."  She moved to front door first.  She lay the flashlight down on the floor and knelt at the base of the door.  She pulled the first piece of duct tape free, cringing at its loud ripping noise.  She lay it across the base of the door and smoothed it with her palm.  She pulled off a smaller piece to complete the length.

"While you are taping the doorways, I need you to tell me about the windows in your home.  Are they original to the home or are they newer, double paned."

"Uh...I don't know."  She couldn't remember.  The house was older, yes.  She ripped several pieces of the tape free in succession and flattened them on the door's vertical seams.  She glanced at the faint shape of the nearby windowpane in the darkness.  As she ripped the tape, she remembered the long discussions she and Derrick had over the price of the new windows versus other upgrades for the house.  In the end, the rot they discovered in several of the window frames had made their decision for them.  "I - wait - yes double paned.  We had them all replaced before we moved in."

"Good, Good.  That means you don't have to worry about the windows."  Erica's jaw quivered as she put the last piece of tape across the top of the door.  The unanswered questions swirling in the back of her mind threatened to rush forward and engulf her.  She focused on the corporal's voice and his promise of information.

"Front is done."  She scooped up the flashlight and returned to the carport door.  She finished in silence except for the harsh staccato ripping of the duct tape.  She leaned back against the kitchen cabinets, catching up to her breath.  It fluttered in her chest like a small bird.  "Carport is done." 

"Excellent.  Okay, Erica, I have officers en route to your location, but I need one more thing from you.  I need you to find a place to hide where you cannot be seen from the windows, but it needs to be close to either the front door or to the carport door so that when the officers arrive, you'll be able to exit the building quickly.  Do you have a spot where you can hide easily?"

"I - " Erica looked at the dining table, but it was all the way across the room and close to the hallway.  She stepped into the living room.  The large recliner adjacent to the front door was wide enough that she could hide behind.  She stood behind it and squatted down.  She could only see a hairs width of the front window, but if she moved over further, her view of the curtains covered it.

"I've found a spot.  I'm near our front door.  We have a large recliner there.  I can get behind it." 

"Good.  Mrs. Wilson, once you are hidden you will want to turn your flashlight off.  I'll let the officers en route know where you are within the home."  There was a pause and Erica could hear what sounded like papers shuffling.

"Now that you are safe...I promised some information to you.  Mrs. Wilson, your husband Derrick has been exposed to a toxic agent.  This agent causes certain psychological and physiological disruptions.  At this time, your husband is most likely en route to your location.  Due to the effects of the agent, he will lack the ability to understand what has happened to him.  He will not be himself.  It is very important that you do not let him into your home no matter what he does or says.  You need to avoid any physical contact with him at all.  The officers en route to your location will be able to get Mr. Wilson the help he needs, to keep him from hurting himself or others.  For your own safety it is imperative that you have no contact with him.  Stay inside your home.  Stay away from the windows."

"Is he going to die?"  Her tears poured freely.

"Not if we can get him to safety."

"What about my neighbors?"  Erica wiped her face.

"Other officers are contacting them now.  They will remain in their homes until everything is safe.  Just hold on Mrs. Wilson and stay where you are.  They are on their way.  I am going to stay on the phone with you until the other officers arrive."  Erica turned off her flashlight.  She curled into a ball behind the recliner and silently sobbed into her hand.

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