With a subtle click of a deadbolt lock sliding free, the door swung open into the foyer. A figure silhouetted by a flash of lightning filled the doorframe. Raindrops splashed across the threshold onto to reddish-brown tile. Black thick-soled boots entered the house spreading more water on the floor. In one fluid motion the figure entered and shut the door behind him. He removed his saturated coat and placed it on the rack with practiced ease. For a moment he stood there to perceive the surroundings. Dathan, satisfied that he is alone, ran his right hand through his too damp hair, brushing it away from his forehead.
He stepped left into the darkness of the sitting room. He navigated the darkness past a chair and a table. Several more steps and he reached into the darkness where his fingers found a shelf. His hand found a familiar shape and fumbled upwards until he reached a small knob. A deft twitch of his fingers sparked light and the lamp revealed this small world. A cursory glance of the room and he cut a path across to a small island bar. He moved behind the bar and opened the left cabinet door. Within the cabinet were three short glasses resting upside down. He selected the one furthest right and nearest him. Dathan held it toward the light and inspected the inside. He set the glass atop the bar and opened the right door, simultaneously closing the left door with his knee. From the right cabinet he pulled a greenish bottle filled with scotch. This bottle he did not inspect. He merely removed the cap and with a steady pour filled half the glass. Not through with it, he set the bottle on the bar. Picking up the glass, he downed half it’s contents in one quick drink.
Dathan surveyed the room while he contemplated the glass in his hand. To his left and furthest from the door in which entered was a desk and chair. Behind the desk was a large picture window from which the street outside could be seen. Over the window were drawn heavy red drapes. The drapes had not been opened in a very long time. The far side of the room was occupied by a modest bookshelf filled with dusty volumes that Dathan might never read. At the right side of the shelf, midway from the floor was a lamp. Dathan couldn’t remember from where it came. A bit to the right and in front of the shelf was a chair and a table where someone, if one were so inclined, might enjoy a cup of tea while doing some light reading. The only other piece of furniture was the cabinet bar behind which Dathan stood. In Dathan’s mind, it was the only functional furniture in the room.
Dathan clenched his left hand into a fist as a memory of what would happen next splashed through his mind. The telephone rang. Dathan set the glass down heavily on the bar. He moved to the desk and stared at the phone. It was a dull pea-green hard plastic rotary phone. At the fourth ring, Dathan stood and wondered if he should even bother answering it as he has done over a hundred times before. He cut the sixth ring short and put the handle to his ear. He said nothing and the phone gave only a faint hum. This happens every time, as it has done over a hundred times before, except this time will be different. This time there is a voice.
“Dathan,” a woman said faintly, “you must,” getting louder, “let me go.” The call ended with a sharp click and then silence. No dial tone nor busy signal, just silence. Dathan moved to replace the hook on the cradle but then simply let it fall from his hand.
A dam had broken in Dathan’s mind. Five words ricocheted through his brain shattering his reason. Those words last spoken by his wife before she died. Annabelle had never lived long enough to see a phone, much less call him on one., but he was certain that was her voice delivering salvation.
Two truths became clear to Dathan: First, he was no longer trapped in this time and place and second, that Phillip Neuman must die.