Death Knocks Three Times
by Aidan Lucid
After Tim had finished telling his terrifying story, the tape recorder was stopped. Both men looked at each other. Jake finally got up off his chair in order to release the tension.
“That’s quite a story. What happened after that?” he asked.
“Sean died last year on the same date. He was decapitated. A woman found his body by the roadside a quarter of a mile from his home. His head was beside the body. The Garda Síochána (Irish police force) investigated his death and found no known suspects. But I know who did it, and now I’m the only one left.”
Again Jake’s face was emotionless.
Tim was near his wits end trying to figure out what was going through the psychiatrist’s mind.
“Do you believe me?”
“Well it is an interesting story and you do show enough anxiety to prove that you’re not making it up, but may I suggest that you see someone who is more qualified in the paranormal field? I’ll give you the number of a friend of mine.” Jake scribbled a number on a piece of paper.
Tim suddenly became infuriated by the psychiatrist’s answer. He believed that Wilkins was only doing this to get rid of him. Judging by Jake’s reaction, Tim thought that the psychiatrist thought he was an insane individual who had probably watched too many horror flicks.
“You know I come here, pouring my heart out and I know everything I said sounds crazy, but what I told you is true. Do you know how hard it was for me to come here?”
Jake was speechless for a moment and then spoke softly. “Look Tim, I do believe you, but I’m a psychiatrist and not an expert in the paranormal. I do have a friend who—”
“You think I’m crazy, don’t you? I can see it written all over your face.” The offended young man stood in a rage. “Forget it. Keep your goddamn number. I’m out of here.” Tim opened the door and stormed out, slamming it behind him.
Tim slammed the front door of his house and wiped the tears of frustration away from his eyes.
“Damn him and his psycho crap!” Falling onto the couch, the disappointed man sank his red, angry, face into his hands. His red face matched the colour of the paint on the living room walls that were adorned with various floral paintings and family pictures. The sunshine beaming in through the window, cast his reflection onto the recently varnished mahogany table in front of him and also onto the grey 32” HD TV. Tears rolled down his cheeks and slipped through his fingers onto the cream carpet.
Come on, Tim, get it together, man, he thought. Walking over to the drinks cabinet, he pulled out a bottle of Scotch and a small glass. Lifting the cork off the bottle, he poured the drink gently into the glass. He winced as the Scotch stung a little while knocking it back.
Over in the corner of the room, a picture caught his eye. It was of him and the gang taken a year before they did the Ouija Board. Picking it up with his right hand, he gently stroked the photo with his left index finger.
“I miss you, boys. I’m sorry I ever brought that damn board into the room. If it weren’t for me, you’d still be alive. I hope you can forgive me.”
The phone disturbed his train of thought.
Static prevented someone from speaking on the other end but then it subsided and a man’s voice could be heard, as he gave Tim an eerie message. “Hello Tim, no need to cry. It’ll be all over soon.”
Tim’s hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He recognized the voice, it was Sean! Letting the receiver slip from his fingers, Tim retreated, shaking and staring at the receiver. He decided to leave the house and go for a drive. Anywhere would do, just as long as it was far away from that living-room.
As Tim sat in his silver, ’97 Mercedes Benz, he gazed out to sea and watched the waves rising and falling. The message Sean had given earlier in the day still haunted him.
The Nokia mobile phone vibrated in his jacket pocket. It was Sandra.
“Hi hun.” she said in a soft, affectionate tone. “How did the visit with Dr Wilkins go?”
“I don’t really want to talk about it, babe.”
“You know talking about it helps. What did he say?”
“OK. If you must know, the guy thinks I’m crazy. It doesn’t matter because by this time tomorrow I’ll be dead anyway.”
“Stop talking like that!” she returned rather insistently. “You’re not going to die.”
“Don’t you get it? I’m cursed and there’s no way to break this thing. By this time tomorrow I’ll probably be lying somewhere with my head chopped off and there’s nothing you or anybody else can do about it!”
Tim released a weary sigh and calmed down a little. “I’m sorry for barking at you like that. Look, I got to go. I’ll ring you later. Bye.” Tim pressed the end call button and hung up on Sandra. She phoned back immediately but he never answered.
I’ll never get to do all the things I wanted to do in life, Tim thought. There’s no way to break this thing. I must’ve read that book a hundred times and it’s an iron-clad deal. I’m dead and that’s it.
Then he thought about how death had known about his girlfriend, Sandra and wondered how this was so. The answer came to him from a memory he had since childhood. His grandmother once told him that death was all-knowing and knew if you were good or bad. This, he thought, explained how it was able to form itself exactly like Sandra.
With a hefty sigh, Tim turned the key in the ignition and reversed out of the car park and drove home.
While journeying down the narrow road to his home at 70 miles per hour, he listened to the smooth, velvet, tones of Frank Sinatra singing “My Way.” He hummed along and wondered what would he hear tomorrow on “the other side”?
As Sinatra neared the end of his famous song, his voice became distorted and the compact disc player began to crackle.
“What the hell is wrong with this thing?” While keeping an eye on the road, Tim tapped the CD player and pressed the forward button to move onto the next track. In the middle of “Strangers in the Night,” the CD player began to crackle again and then deep inside of him, Tim knew something peculiar was happening. Pulling over into the hard shoulder, he decided to check the Sinatra album. Pressing the eject button, the disc slowly slid out of the player.
Just as Tim was about to touch the CD, the crackling ceased and two male voices spoke from the radio.
The young man froze and couldn’t move. The voices were that of his two dead friends speaking in unison.
“The book... it has the answer.”
“H...H... How?” was all he could muster. The crackling passed and the radio returned to normal. After recovering for a few minutes from the initial shock of what just occurred, Tim gunned the engine and drove home speedily.
The house was quiet and Tim detected an unusual chill in the air. He gulped upon walking into the living-room and then glanced up at the stairs and knew that the book he had used for the Ouija Board was somewhere in the attic.
As he opened the door to the store-room in the attic, light from the hallway pervaded the room driving out the gloomy darkness. It had been a long time since this room was cleaned and the foul, pungent smell was proof of this. Tim pulled the cord hanging by the naked light bulb and surveyed the number of sealed cardboard boxes that surrounded him.
“This is just great. It’ll take me all day to go through these boxes.”
The light suddenly switched itself off and Tim could feel another presence in the room. An unearthly chill dawdled around his neck. Tim momentarily froze as he heard something or someone cutting open one of the boxes. Not willing to stay there any longer, he made for the door but it slammed shut on him.
“No. Let me out!” Tim shouted, banging on it with his fists. The light returned and sensing that the presence was no longer with him, he turned around and there, in the middle of the floor, was an opened box. Cautiously he approached it and on top of the tower of books in the box was the tome he was looking for. The leather cover was smothered in dust. Snatching it up from the pile, he opened the door and ran downstairs.
An hour had elapsed and after vigorously studying the bulky tome, he couldn’t find the solution that he sought. In a desperate bid to save his life, Tim called out to his friends. “I looked through the book and I can’t find anything. I need your help.”
As soon as he said this, an invisible force flicked through the pages of the book and stopped at page 175. Though he was startled, Tim didn’t flinch and remained unusually calm. Leaning forward, he looked into the contents on that page and shook his head.
“There’s nothing here. I’ve already looked at it.” Tim muttered with a tinge of despair in his tone. Then while feeling the page, he noticed that it contained a certain thickness and it was actually two pages tightly stuck together. Using a knife to carefully separate them, the answer he searched for now lay before him.
“Oh, God no.” he felt the words slip from his mouth and then frantically fumbled through his pockets to search for the Nokia phone.
Jake Wilkins sat in his office and was preparing for his next patient when the phone rang.
“Jake Wilkins speaking. How may I help you?”
“Oh, thank God you’re there.”
“Tim... is that you?”
“Yes. Dr Wilkins, you got to listen to me, OK?
“Tim calm down. What’s wrong?”
“Whatever you do, don’t answer the door!”
“I should never have gone to your office. I shouldn’t have told you about what happened.”
“Tim you’re speaking too fast. Calm down. Why shouldn’t you have told me?”
The panic-stricken young man took a deep breath and continued, speaking slowly this time.
“There’s a rule that I didn’t know about until now. Anybody who has the curse is not supposed to talk about it. I told you about what happened and now you’re in danger. I’m so sorry.”
Jake laughed upon hearing this. “Tim there’s no need to be sorry. You have not endangered me in any way and besides, I don’t believe in curses.”
“You better start believing now, doctor, because this one is very real. Did you accept anything from anyone who called to your office?”
“Look, Tim, why don’t you come down again and we can—”
“Just answer the question, please! Did you accept anything from anyone after I left?”
“Yes a postman called with a parcel for me. What has this got to do -”
“Did he knock three times?” Tim could hardly speak now and tried so hard not to cry.
“Maybe he did. I don’t know.”
Jake heard Tim’s voice tremble as he began to further explain the hazardous implications of the curse.
“The first part of the curse was telling you and the second part was you taking something from someone who knocked on your door three times. I’m so sorry, Dr Wilkins. I’m so, so, sorry.”
“Tim, please calm down. I’m going to be fine.” Jake answered, unfazed by the nerve-wrecking revelation.
“No, Dr Wilkins, you don’t understand. I lifted the curse off of me and onto you. Death is coming after you now!”
The line suddenly went dead and the lights in his office began to flicker on and off. The room had lost its warmth and was now ice cold. A sulphuric smell invaded his nostrils. Jake grew worried. His office door creaked open and as he stared down the long, narrow hallway to the front door, from outside a black-hooded figure could be seen moving ethereally towards it. In a matter of seconds in that little office, there was fear, a terrifying scream and blood sluicing off the Reaper’s blade. Death had claimed its final victim.
Copyright © 2009 by Aidan Lucid