A Cold Draft Coming from the Window
by Jon Bishop
A cold gust of wind blasted through the open bedroom window as thirty-two year old Robert McFarland was lying asleep on his old, springy mattress. His wife was at work. It was a blistering hot and humid summer day in mid-July, and it was noon. It was not like him to sleep this late into the day. There was usually work to be done. But since it was his day off, he wanted anything but work. Today was relaxation time. Robert quickly got out of bed and shut the window.
He went over to his dresser and pulled out a pair of old, faded jeans and a tank top. He put them on and then proceeded into the kitchen for breakfast. On his way to the kitchen, he noticed that the temperature in the house was starting to get really cold. Intolerably cold. And the weather man had said that it was going to be 82 degrees today. How can it be this cold, he thought while shivering, I thought I shut the window. Maybe I’m coming down with something? He thought about it for a moment, and then shrugged it off; the temperature of the air wasn’t important to him right now.
As he entered the kitchen, he saw that every window in there was open. How the hell did this happen? Was the house too hot or something? Maybe Laurie opened them up. But Jesus, it’s just so goddamn cold in here. He proceeded to slam all of the windows shut, and then he turned on the heat in the house. It helped, for a little bit.
Robert proceeded over to the refrigerator, and he opened it. He fumbled through the leftovers from last week’s Chinese food dinner, various condiments, beers and other drinks, breads, fruits and vegetables, and something that looked like a dirt clod, and reached for the bag of Lender’s Bagels. Then, he took out the cream cheese, and he made himself breakfast.
As he was just about to take a bite of his food, he felt cold again. He quickly looked up, and he saw that the kitchen window was all the way open, and blasting into the room were powerful gusts of cold air. The temperature outside was 88 degrees.
He flung himself out of his chair, charged over to the open window, cursed, slammed it shut, and then sat back down at the table for breakfast. He tried to eat, but couldn’t; his anger and confusion made him lose his appetite. He walked out of the room and into his bedroom; he needed to lie down for a bit.
Once in his room, Robert decided he would take a nap; it would help him relax. Maybe it would help him get his mind off of this. Maybe I’m just overtired, he thought. I mean, how can it be cold? It’s freaking 80 degrees outside.
He pulled back the covers on his bed, and he slowly eased himself into it. He turned onto his stomach, and he quickly fell asleep. Robert slept for about five hours, and when he awoke he was shivering uncontrollably, and ice was just beginning to form on the inside of his ears.
He got out of bed as quickly as he could, and he wandered into the bathroom. He wrapped himself in a towel, hoping it would warm him up. It didn’t. Failing that, he wandered over to the sink, and he began splashing hot water on himself to warm up. That didn’t help either. In fact, there was no change in his body temperature at all.
He sat down on the toilet, buried his face in his hands, and cried. He cried out of confusion, out of anger, out of sadness, and out of the fear that he may be losing his sanity (He reasoned with himself, again, that it was impossible that he could be this cold in such warm weather). He then took his face out of his hands, and looked toward the ceiling of the bathroom with a desperate expression just as everything went black.
* * *
Robert awoke on the floor of the bathroom; he must have passed out, though he didn’t know how he could have. He grabbed the sink and struggled to his feet. He slowly began to stagger out of the bathroom, when the window there flew open, and a strong, chilly gust of wind blasted into the bathroom, knocking Robert to the floor once again.
Suddenly, the room turned a pale greenish color, a similar color to pea soup or tree leaves, and a bright light of the same color shone eerily through the window. Then a flash, and there was something gliding quickly into the room along the path of the light. It hit Robert, and he felt a strange feeling in his body. He choked, retched and then vomited a milky white liquid all over the floor. He struggled to rise but he couldn’t; he was too weak. Abruptly, his eyes rolled back in his head and he heard a voice that appeared to be talking to him.
“Robert McFarland, hello. I must tell you it is almost time to begin our Task,” it said.
“Wha-what are you talking about? And who are you?” asked Robert, surprised that he was communicating telepathically with this... this thing.
The Voice paused for a brief moment, and then it said, “I will not hide anything from you. I am a demon. And I have been sent to search the planet for the right person to assist me...”
“What do you mean ‘assist you’?” There was a touch of deep rage in Robert’s voice, but it was mostly full of fear, and that pleased the demon.
“The apocalypse is coming my friend. What does this have to do with you? I’ve been observing you for quite some time, Robert Joseph McFarland, and I like what I see. You have a quick temper — that is what drew me to you. But you have many other qualities, you have no will power — you’re a yes-man at work — and you haven’t many friends that are true. So, when I take you, you will not be missed.
“But the only problem appears to be that wife of yours. She’s too strong-willed and will wonder about you when you are gone.” Robert shivered as he said this. “She’ll have to join us as well, and then we can begin.”
“Begin what?” Robert asked the demon, quivering. “Why, we can begin converting every human on this earth to the side of Hell. That is the true apocalypse: when every human turns away from the light, and joins with the dark.” The demon stopped talking for a bit and happily sat back as Robert convulsed violently on the bathroom floor, with a look of severe pain and anguish on his face, as the demon exerted his power over him.
The demon had one last thing to say, “Remember, when she arrives, you’ll know what to do. And remember to get as many as you can before it is Time.”
* * *
Laurie McFarland entered her home with an armful of groceries. She was wearing a light beige blouse with brown silk pants. Her hair was up in a bun as well; she looked like the stereotypical working woman. She walked into the kitchen, and put the bags of groceries down on the counter.
“Robbie? I’m home,” she called. There was no answer.
“Honey?” She walked out of the kitchen and into the hallway. She figured he might have been asleep in the bedroom; he usually napped when he took a day off from work. She began to walk down the hall when Robert popped out of the bathroom, surprising her. He had this weird look on his face that made her a bit nervous.
“Oh honey, you scared me! So, what did you do on your day off?” He responded by smiling.
“Uh... okay,” she said. Laurie gave her husband a quizzical, confused, nervous look. The air in the hallway suddenly became quite cold, and Laurie began to shiver. The cold, for some reason unknown to her, had no affect on her husband.
“Why is it so cold in here?” she asked him. It was now about six o’clock and the temperature had fallen to a comfortable 65 degrees. Robert smiled at her, and there was an odd glowing in his eyes.
“The window’s open in the bedroom. Why don’t you go close it?”
Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Bishop