A car zipped by, a bit over the speed limit. The call was still connecting. He drummed his fingers on the side of the phone machine, his arm draped over the top. Come on, answer already. This job had been weird enough, the sooner he got paid and washed his hands of it the better. The line continued to ring. The hell was with those walls? He opened twenty-three vials before the place was clean. The walls, those fucking walls. They were coated in blood, they were blood. Or were bleeding. And the guy in the tub, what had happened to him?
Fuck, finally. “Yeah, hey, it’s done.”
A pause on the other end. Papers being pushed around, tapping, the speaker cleared his throat. A few more seconds passed, “Yeah?”
“Thing is, ah,” throat clear, “thing is you weren’t hired to hold hands.”
“You were hired to do a basic clean up. That’s it. But you made contact.”
Ah shit. The guy in the tub. Give me a break, he was suffering, all I did was hold his hand as he died.
“I thought you were good. Professional. Do what you’re told, move on, done and done.”
“Sir, if I may”—going to any-damn-ways, you asshole—”he was in pain, serious pain. Looked like he’d been a chewed up and kicked around by a half dozen demons with razor skin. I wasn’t going to ignore him. Not like I could do anything while the place was being cleaned anyways. I just held his hand. He’s dead now, by the way. If that matters any. Not like he could say shit about me if he wanted to.”
“Closer to the truth than you know,” the speaker muttered.
“Listen, have you…”
A lady, okay not a ‘lady,’ but a female, was walking towards him. Looking like a baby giraffe taking its first steps. She waved and pointed, first to the phone booth, then at her ear. Oh come on, don’t you have a cell?
“E-e-ey,” she slurred. “I’ma needa call. You…You done?”
He put a finger up. “What were you saying?”
The speaker on the other end cleared his throat. “Have you seen anything funny?”
“Funny? Ha-ha funny or weird funny?” As the words left his mouth the not-lady’s face changed. Only for a second. A trick of the light? What in the hell? There it was again. Like someone switching TV channels. Now channel Drunk Stripper, now channel Three-Headed Beast. Each one a different monster. One all teeth and sharp things, the other foul and rot, the last fire and smoke. “Yeah, okay, yeah. Not good funny. Yes, yes I have. Right now. What the fuck?” She was stumble-walking her way closer, about twenty feet away now.
“You shouldn’t have touched that guy. Wasn’t part of the job. Don’t come here to get paid, whatever you do. Do not come here.” The speaker ended the call.
Oh no, nononono. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. “Phone’s all yours,” he called and backed out of the booth, keeping his eyes on her. She reached for him. Her arm, a pillar of smoke and barbed wire, lanced through the air towards him. He fell back, landed on his butt. Scrambled to his feet and ran for his car.