IRL

I wipe droplets of cold Arkham rain off my phone. Dripping in a rundown hallway at 1 a.m., I text Archmage227 outside his apartment door.

I’m here 

There’s a beep inside, muffled by the downpour. A short shuffle. Strained hiccups.

My phone buzzes:

UNLOCKED COME IN

I open the door. A cat in a carrier mews at me in a dim kitchen.

HES NEMO

There’s a foul odor. “Dude, are you okay?”

I hear a “hic-hic” from the dark adjacent room before a text buzz.

NO. CANT TALK

SEEING BAD

“You need a doctor? I can drive you to—”

NO

“We’ve never met offline in all the years we’ve gamed, Arch. Now you’re hiding after getting me here at 1 a.m. to take your cat. What’s up?”

More hiccups.

ONLY FRIEND BESIDE NEMO

“Then let me help you!”

I don’t know if I heard a sigh or a sniffle.

ITS TOO LATE

I pick up a bottle from the kitchen table with a label in Chinese. “Is this the crap you ordered? To fix your hiccups and health problems?”

LIARS

MADE IT WORSE

SHOGGOTH MILK!

I look up from the messages. “What milk?”

BYE

A thrown phone shatters on the wall behind me.

I run into the dark room. By the light of my phone, I see him for the first and last time at an open window.

Hic!

A fish’s unblinking eyes and maw of fangs. A grey-green manlike bulk with gills flared in labored gasps before he slips into the rain.

Hic! Hic!

Copyright © Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.

Featured Image by Edward Faull

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