Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fiction: LATE NIGHT TELEVISION by M Teresa Clayton

Fiction by M Teresa Clayton

“What in the hell are you watching?” The sound of the television and its endless droning had once again awakened her from a peaceful sleep.
“Cal, honey – please turn that shit off, I can’t sleep.”
Cal was a night-owl and loved his late night creature-feature movie before drifting off to sleep. Beth? Well, she had the fan set on high next to her side of the bed to drown out the screams and howls that were sure to give her husband another nightmare. It was easier to roll over and face away from the strobe light effects the screen would create on the bedroom walls. Every night it would be a rerun of the same old argument.
“I can’t sleep Cal!” she barked once more. “Turn that fucking thing off!”
She didn’t feel any movement from behind her on the bed where her husband laid mindless with the remote clenched in his hand. She sat up and turned to shake him awake; letting him know what it was like to be jolted out of a deep slumber.
“Cal! Turn that shit off!” she howled into his blank expression.
“Cal? Calvin, honey?” Beth sat up straight and touched his face. “Are you okay, baby?”
“Can you hear them?” he whispered, eyes focused on the ceiling; his body frozen.
“Cal… can I hear who?” Beth growled in aggravation as she reached out for the remote.
“The voices. Can you hear them?” he whispered as if he didn’t want them to hear. “I think one of them is… up there.”
She paused to listen. She couldn’t hear a thing, just the static humming from the television across the room. He’s having another fucking nightmare! She thought to herself now fully irritated with him.
“I don’t hear anything except the buzzing of the television. The movie is over and the station is off now.”
Beth watched his eyes as they darted around the ceiling as if he was searching for the source of the sound she could not hear.
She leaned over and whispered into his ear, “Calvin, give me the remote. I’ll turn the T.V. off and then maybe I can hear what you’re hearing.”
“No!” he protested. “It came in through the T.V. and I want to make sure it can find its way back. I don’t trust them. They are talking about me; about taking me when I fall asleep I think – I can’t fall asleep!”
“Can you tell me what they are saying, exactly?” she quizzed, still unsure as to what to do and growing more impatient.
“I fell asleep and something woke me up… a sound” he spoke in a hushed voice so as not to be overheard. “It was one of them coming out of the television. I saw it move to the ceiling and then lost sight of it. The others are still in there I think, but they are watching me. They are watching… it.”
“But, you said they were talking.”
“Yes, I think they are talking and using the charge in the room to carry their voices. Sounds like they are here, then there, everywhere… I can’t move, don’t want to fall asleep, I think they are waiting… watching me.”
She took a deep breath and turned towards the nightstand to reach for the lamp switch.
“Beth! Don’t move!”
His wife froze from the panic in his voice. He didn’t whisper this, he shouted it.
“Cal, you’re scaring me now. I’m going to turn on the light so I can see what’s going on.”
She reached for the lamp again and when she touched the switch a shock went up her arm and stung her chest. “What the hell!” she screeched, withdrawing her hand and holding her arm close to her chest from the pain.
“I told you. They’re here and they’re waiting.” Cal was still watching the ceiling, looking for something to focus on.
“What the hell are they saying, Cal?”
“They are discussing how they are going to disperse the cells and transfer them through the electro-magnetic field.” He answered as if they were having a Sunday afternoon conversation about the weather. “…Seems there is a problem because you are interfering with the transmission.”
“Me?” Beth answered with some surprise. “What… how am I interfering? What do I have to do with any of this? I can’t even hear the bastards.”
“Beth, you have metal inside of you – from the accident – the metal plate they put inside your head after the fall, remember?”
“Yes – but how does that have anything to do with this? This is crazy, Cal” she pleaded. “This is all just in your imagination. There is nothing here… I don’t see anything, hear anything… but…” she didn’t finish the sentence. The truth was she could feel something.
Cal closed his eyes. “I can’t stay awake much longer, Beth. I don’t know what to do.”
“Do you think if we turn the T.V. off it might stop them from being able to take you? We should try something.”
A tear rolled down his cheek and he nodded, handing her the remote. “Go ahead. I’m scared though. I don’t know what will happen and I’m scared Beth.”
Beth raised the remote and aimed it at the television. Click. The television went off. There was still the green glow coming from the screen and she watched as it slowly faded.
“You’re okay.” she reassured him. “Whatever it is you think you heard or saw is gone now.”
Cal rolled towards his wife and whispered, “I love you Beth. Remember that I love you.”
She kissed his face and rolled over so they went to sleep spooning each other. Before she went to sleep she heard something scurrying above them… then it stopped. Nothing, she thought to herself, just my imagination.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The light was hot on Beth’s face as she opened her eyes to greet the morning. There was something odd about the tilt of the room. There was no room. No lamp, no night stand, no window, no wall… Beth was in her bed but the area around the bed did not exist, at least to her mind.
She turned to reach for her husband but he wasn’t there. The only thing left of him was the slight hollow in the mattress where he once laid.
Just beyond the haze that surrounded her she could see her husband holding what looked like a metal plate and sobbing. Beth reached up to touch the old scar from the accident. Her fingers met with an opening in her skull and the tough rubbery mass inside.
“What the hell is going on!” she screamed. “What is going on?”
Then she heard it… the endless humming drone of the television. She realized she was inside of it and looking out at the room where her husband sat clutching the portion of the skull she was missing and rocking to and fro.
“Calvin?” she screamed out. “Cal, can you hear me?”
Calvin looked up at the television and paused for a moment, cocking his head as if to listen.
“Calvin! I’m in the television!”
He raised the remote toward the television and switched it on. “No more interference.” He said out loud. “No more interference.”

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