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Mortal Dilemmas

by Elisha Allman 7 months ago in Short Story
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Hidden Horrors

Mortal Dilemmas
Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

8AM Thursday

My eyes flew open and I could see the white ceiling of a hospital room above me. Where was I? How did I get here? Why can’t I remember anything? Did I go to sleep here? Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. Whipping my head to the side I saw my husband, Bobby, standing next to the bed. He was reaching for my hand and held it firmly between his own. I began to smile. Bobby always had the power to calm me, but wait...

I looked down the length of my body. I could see my feet so I wiggled my toes. Well, my feet work so that’s a plus. Then I caught myself. Where was my baby? I had been 8 months pregnant. Where was the baby? I put my hand on my stomach and knew there was nothing in there anymore.

I could feel my eyes well up as I looked back at Bobby. Leaning over to kiss me he brushed my hair away from my face in a comforting motion. “It’s going to be OK honey. Do you remember anything?”

“No,” I could barely speak as my voice was ragged with heavy sobs. My mind was racing. What had happened? What had I done? How could this be? Where was my baby?

In a flash it all came flooding back. Bobby had been missing....when had he come back? What had happened to him? I pulled away from him and began to ask all the questions that were relentlessly running through my brain.

He held his hands up to stop me. “Yes. I was missing, but it was you who brought me back. You made the ultimate sacrifice for us. I know you’re worried about the baby, but please remain calm.

7PM Tuesday

When had I last spoken with him? My mind was racing like a muscle car as I tried to pinpoint the last time I had seen or spoken with my husband. This just wasn’t like him – I mean that man never misses a meal! He was always home promptly at 5 so he could shower and be at the table when supper was ready. Looking over at his empty chair, I looked back at the clock, 7PM, something was definitely wrong.

I got up from the table and grabbed my cell phone, unplugging the charger. Gary had to know where he was. They were like Fric ‘n’ Frac, if you saw one, the other wasn’t too far behind. Scrolling through my contacts I found Gary and hit the call button.

“Yello, Ana! What’s the haps? Where’s Bobby? He with you right now?”

“With me? I was calling to see if he was with you! You haven’t seen him either? When was the last time you spoke with him Gary?” My anxiety was growing causing my heart to drop like a stone to my feet. I sat down and began rubbing my forehead trying to think where my husband could’ve gone.

“That’s not like him at all! Let me think...when did I see Bobby last? Um, I know he came to work today. We had lunch at the diner like we do every Tuesday. Then I... you know what? I never heard from him after work. He usually calls me on his way home, but he didn’t tonight. Have you called the bar? Maybe he had a rough day and went to drown his troubles. Lemme call Jeremy and see if Bobby is there. I know you’re worried, but let’s not get too stressed until we know for sure what’s going on.”

I thanked him and we agreed we would only call each other once Bobby was found. We hung up and Gary was calling Jeremy, the pub owner and favorite bartender to everyone within a thirty-mile radius. I hoped with all my heart Gary was going to call me back soon. I waited ten minutes and began calling his other friends and usual haunts.

After calling four of his co-workers and getting the same uncertain response I knew my anxiety was reaching an all-time high. All of them had worked with Bobby and saw him leave after work, but no one had seen or heard from him since then.

I sat on the couch and began to take deep breaths trying to calm myself. Where could he be? My cell rang and I about jumped off my couch and onto the ceiling fan. It was Gary! I picked up before the phone could ring for a third time and blasted Gary, “You found him? Where was he? Is he ok? Does he need help? Does he want me? I can be on my way now,” I headed toward the door, keys in hand.

“Hold on, Ana! I need you to calm down. Do me a favor and take a breath please. You’re going to stroke out from all the stress. Please calm down for the baby’s sake. I’m pulling into your driveway as we speak, but Bobby’s not with me.”

I heard a door slam and I ripped the door open as Gary came up the walk. “What do you mean he’s not with you? Where is he? I told you not to call me unless you found him. Why aren’t you out looking? I’m about to go out shortly and drive around the tri-town area.”

Walking through the doorway he put his arms around me. “You’re shaking! Ana, you have to calm down. I know you’re worried, but this stress is not helping anyone. You need to think about the baby.” As if reminding me, he placed his hand on my stomach. “I called Molly and she’s on her way. We don’t want you out in your condition. The best thing to do is stay here in case he calls or shows up. It’s only been a few hours since anyone has seen him so I’m sure he’s somewhere close. I guarantee he wouldn’t think about whether him being M.I.A. would cause worry.”

Soon, Gary’s wife, Molly came through the door. He moved toward her and they kissed a greeting as she made her way to hug me. “Ana, Molly’s going to stay here while I’m out looking. I called all the guys and they’ve agreed to join me. We know this isn’t like Bobby, but don’t worry unless or until there’s a reason to worry.” I looked up at him from Molly’s shoulder and he said, “I know easier said than done. Molly will help the best she can. That’s what best friends are for, ya know!”

I nodded, holding onto Molly. “Gary, I know you’ll find him. There has to be a logical explanation, but we just haven’t found it yet. Please be safe and let me know as soon as you find him!” Nodding, he closed the door behind him.

3:00AM Wednesday

I was dozing on the couch as Molly was reading a magazine in Bobby’s LA-Z-Boy. Her cell rang and we both leapt up, almost out of our skin. She answered quickly, mouthing to me it was Gary. I could hear his deep voice on the other end as Molly gave repetitious, “OKs,” to what he was saying. She still wasn’t letting me in on the conversation so I sat there anxiously rubbing my belly.

Finally, Molly hung up and turned to me. I could tell this wasn’t going to be positive. She grabbed my hand and sat me down on the couch with her. At eight months pregnant, sitting was practically the only thing I was good at doing.

I prepared myself for what I was about to hear. As if my brain hadn’t already run through all the worst scenarios, my mind was now going to some truly dark places. Darkness like when you’re watching the news and hear about horrific things that happened to random people in random places. Terrifying thoughts were looping through my brain.

“OK, so they didn’t find a body, which makes us think the odds are good Bobby’s alive. The bad news is they’ve looked all over the county and haven’t found him. The weird thing is they found his Tahoe parked down by the shoreline, right next to the local beach. They were going to search it, but Jason, one of Bobby’s friends who happened to be a county deputy, said they were to leave the vehicle untouched. They don’t think there’s been a crime, but they wanted to be cautious just in case. Jason called the police and grabbed his forensic kit allowing him to run a preliminary search. He found nothing, but the cops have impounded the vehicle for a more thorough search.

Pausing, she looked to see where I was at with this information. I must’ve looked to be in shock as she moved closer to hug me. After a minute, she quietly asked, “Are you OK? Do you have questions? Say something, you’re making me nervous.”

I gave Molly a shaky smile as I reached up to grab her hand on my shoulder. “This isn’t the worst news, but it hasn’t made me feel any better. Did Gary know why Bobby would’ve been at the shore? Has he any new ideas as to Bobby’s location?

She squeezed my hand, “No, the guys are baffled, but Gary wanted you to know none of the guys believe there was foul play. After Jason looked through Bobby’s Tahoe he told Gary he saw no signs of struggle. The keys were in the truck and it looked as if Bobby had climbed out to do something quickly before jumping back in to leave. They think it’s odd, but they don’t want you to draw any conclusions until they have more information. They’re determined to find him and you know they’ll stop at nothing.”

I knew she was right, but I couldn’t help wonder about where Bobby had gone. They may not think there was foul play, but I know only something bad would take him away. We were like magnets and nothing could pull us apart. There was only one thing that would keep him away....

6PM Wednesday

There was still no word. I sat at my kitchen table watching the news to see if there were any local occurrences linking to his disappearance. The police and Bobby’s friends had continued the search. Night was closing in and they would soon be unable to continue. I knew they were running out of ideas on how to ...”our top story tonight....Four local men have gone missing over the last two weeks. Police continue to search for clues regarding the whereabouts of these men. None of the missing men have a personal connection to each other. The only currently found commonality is the fact their vehicles were found near the shore next to the beach.”

I snapped my head up so fast I gave myself whiplash. Cussing at myself, I rubbed my neck and thought holy crap how long has it been since I watched the news? I’ve really been in my own world. Locals have been going missing and I hadn’t even known. I reached for my cell to call Molly when it rang. Answering on the first ring, I practically screamed my greeting into the phone.

“Ana! Have you seen Gary? Please tell me you’ve seen Gary!” Molly screamed back, giving pause to my response. Had I seen or talked to Gary today? I hadn’t gone to work so I hadn’t left the house. I think the last time I heard from him was when he’d called Molly this morning.

“No, I’m sorry Moll. I haven’t heard from him since he called you earlier. Please don’t tell me you can’t find him.” I stood up and began to pace the floor. What was going on here? Something was definitely not right.

Molly burst into tears so I quickly asked her, “Only one way to know if this is like Bobby’s disappearance. You want to take a ride down to the shore?”

Without a pause, Molly said, “I’m grabbing my keys...coming to get you. See you in two minutes.” The line went dead. Yup, she was on a mission and I needed to be ready. Now, if I could only put on my shoes. Bobby helped me yesterday, but that certainly wasn’t an option. She must’ve read my mind because she burst through my door in 5th gear and grabbed my shoes.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at the shore. Molly drove her Jeep along the beach checking for anything unusual, including Gary’s F150. Nothing. We drove out of the beach area and drove next door. We didn’t have to search. Gary’s vehicle was sitting on the shoreline just like Bobby’s Tahoe. I called 911 and Molly got out of the vehicle. Without touching, she looked in the window. No Gary, but his keys were in the ignition.

As I was speaking to the dispatcher I watched Molly have a mini breakdown before she got back into the Jeep and grabbed the steering wheel. Her knuckles were white she was gripping the wheel so hard. I reached out to her and thought, how could this have happened? All the men had been together almost 24 hours, when would Gary have had a window of opportunity to come here alone?

The cops arrived and followed the same protocol as with Bobby’s vehicle. We watched the F150 be towed back to the precinct for further examination. I don’t know how long we sat there, but I started to hear something. Softly at first, but then a little louder. What was that? It sounded like a lullaby. I turned to look out into the ocean. From where was that sound coming?

I scanned the horizon until I saw something move in my peripheral vision. It was way out in the ocean and appeared to be moving inland. What was that? The sun was almost set and twilight was taking control. I squinted out into the ocean and saw a huge tail fin. That’s not a shark or any other normal ocean predator.

Without even realizing, I had been moving toward the water. I may have walked right into the ocean if Molly hadn’t stopped me. She hadn’t heard the singing, but she heard the water splashing. She pulled me back about six feet from the water’s edge and we stood together watching as the creature swam closer.

It was only a few yards out now. I knew I wasn’t seeing what I thought I was seeing. I was too physically and mentally exhausted. I closed my eyes, rubbed them, and shook my head. Only to open my eyes and see the same thing. I felt Molly grab my arm as she realized what it was too. “It can’t be. It’s just a myth...isn’t it?

I put my hand over hers and said, “Apparently where there is smoke, there really is fire.” Hypnotized, we watched as the mermaid swam into the shallows that mere six feet from us. She was more beautiful than any story had ever described. I could see why men were lured by these bewitching figures. I knew then what I had heard was her siren song. She had been luring men out into the ocean, but to what end?

She eyed both of us as if we weren’t what she was expecting either. Scanning the shore, she found no one except us. When she swam in she must’ve thought we were more men under her spell. Holding herself up with her hands in the sand she anchored herself for a better look at us. I saw her focus in on my enormous stomach and I felt the baby kick as if they could sense her as well. I placed my hand on my belly protectively and her gaze snapped to my face. A creepy smile came over her face as she bared two rows of beautifully sharp teeth.

“Yes, I have all of your missing men. Don’t worry, they’re safe, for now. I’m more than willing to bring them back...for a price.” Again, I caught her looking at my belly. I didn’t think I was going to like her price....

Short Story

About the author

Elisha Allman

I love to write and have been the recipient of academic accolades for my story telling abilities and creative writing skills.

Creativity has always been my raison d'etre & I don't see it changing....

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