Timothy Forbeck rubbed his eyes, leaned back in his chair, and tiredly stretched. For over two hours, he had poured over countless documents produced to him by counsel representing a major tobacco company. Which one? He couldn’t remember after the mind numbing trial that was document review.
But, a quick cup of coffee and he would be ready for the good stuff, a memo file that he saw earlier that day in his office. A file that he could use, or twist the information, against opposing counsel. Forbeck smiled. In a court of law, he could make a fender bender look like a multi-fatality car wreck.
And the jury would just eat it up.
That act would score him the big bucks. However, he ultimately knew that that probably would not happen. Corporations, even as big as they were, were nothing more than giant cowards. Instead of using their money to utterly crush the little guy, they were more concerned about the cost of defense and profit ratios. They would rather settle quietly than get the screws put to them by uneducated, lazy sheep whose underlying motivation was to get the Hell out of the court. And that was what Forbeck was hoping for.
Grinning to himself, he began shunting papers and other unruly piles of documents aside to look for the memo file. The grin quickly faded from his countenance when it appeared that it was nowhere to be found. His mind shuffled through its short term memory and gave him a photograph of his desk at the law firm where he worked, with the memo file bookmarked between his monitor and his phone.
“Shit,” he said out loud, rubbing his eyes. “I thought I brought everything I needed home.”
He thought about just giving up for the night and going to bed. But, he remembered that his boss wanted an update on the results of the document review the following morning. Rather than have his ass chewed, he decided to leave the house, walk over to the firm and bring the file back. The walk would do him good, he was out of coffee, and the night air might clear away the cobwebs.
Locking the door behind him, Forbeck nipped down his front steps and broke into a decent stride. He bought the house for a steal. Property values in the area were low for two reasons. One, the city didn’t have enough money to keep the roads up and that depressed real estate. Two, there was a crumbling, ancient cemetery about a block away from his home. Normally, walking past the cemetery didn’t bother him. But tonight, there was something about that old mausoleum, which looked like a tent spike keeping the cemetery in place, seemed to give him something to fear. He quickly picked up the pace and before long, the mausoleum was far behind him.
Slowing down to take a bit of a breather, he stopped and looked to the sky. The firmament was filled with haunting stars, causing Forbeck to tarry at his spot for a while. Just as he was going to continue walking to his place of work, a clap of thunder and lightning completely startled him. Meanwhile, he noticed an ominous black cloud spread across the sky. Again, something like that wouldn’t have bothered him normally.
But it was the fact that the cloud not only started blotting out the stars in the sky, it also started blotting out the streetlights with its aphotic form. Before him, and slowly moving towards him, was a wall of pitch darkness. A chill ran up his spine and his primitive instincts told him to do a quite logical thing in the face of an unexplainable phenomenon.
He turned and ran. Fear straddled his heart like a cruel jockey, flogging it to beat faster. He had little control on his direction, his feet just moved of their own accord. He didn’t stop running until he heard a mournful train whistle. While catching his breath, he began to try to get his bearings. Train whistle? There’s no tracks anywhere near my neighborhood, Forbeck thought to himself. Next, after fully taking in his surroundings, he knew why. He was in a neighborhood quite a clip away from his home, well known for being the bad part of town. Mysteriously, the area he was in was strangely silent. Then, he heard it.
The unnerving, hidden scurrying.
His heart began to race once more, pounding in his chest, almost desperate to get out. His eyes scanned the landmarks, trying to give him answers as to best get away. After several moments, his instincts won and he simply turned to run back the way he came.
He was only able to turn before he screamed. There, standing before him mere inches away, was a frightful apparition. A being caked in dirt and accompanied by a bitter coldness that sank into Forbeck’s bones. It moved slowly to him, as if drawn by his fright. His mind imperiously commanded him to run, but his feet disobeyed. It raised grime encrusted, talon like fingers to touch him.
That’s when self preservation finally won out. Dashing like an Olympic sprinter, the frightened lawyer ran, and ran, and ran. He stumbled and collapsed, Lord knew how far away from the phantom. Breathing hoarsely, he looked quickly around.
The apparition was nowhere to be seen.
Forbeck wiped sweat off his brow and felt his forehead by happenstance. A fever had sprouted up out of thin air. Chuckling weakly, he tried to reassure himself that the things he saw were nothing more than fever induced hallucinations. He walked home quietly, repeating that as a palliative mantra.
Only his instincts weren’t buying it.
End of Night 1. Night 2 to follow