The elevator lurches to a stop on the fifth floor and the orderly leads me out as the doors swish open. It’s always quiet up here. The carpeted floors, potted plants and framed paintings on the walls almost make you forget that you’re in a mental institution.
Dr. Quill’s office is the last door on the left at the far end of the hall. Harold guides me down; his hand gently gripping my elbow. In the five-plus years I’ve been here, the orderly has always been decent to me.
We stop in front of Dr. Quill’s door.
There are nice, stained-wood doors up here, while we’re stuck with steel ones painted a sterilizing grey.
Harold checks his watch and at precisely 4:00pm, he knocks.
“Come in, please.” Dr. Quill’s voice is faint and gentle.
Harold turns the knob and pushes the door open.
Dr. Quill’s windowless office appears smaller than it actually is thanks to four large book shelves that dominate the far wall. Each shelf is lined with expensive looking medical encyclopedias and I wonder if he’s even read one of them. There are two fake potted plants in the corners to my left and right.
The good doctor is standing behind his desk, smiling.
“Good afternoon, Xavier,” he says.
Dr. Quill nods to Harold who turns and leaves, shutting the door behind him.
“Have a seat,” Dr. Quill says, gesturing to the single chair in front of his desk.
I take him up on his offer and sit. The chair has always been surprisingly comfortable.
“How are you feeling today, Xavier?” he asks, pulling his chair closer by the arm rests. A yellow pad of lined paper sits on his desk with his expensive pens. He takes the cap off one of them and holds the pen in his hand, ready to write.
I smile. “Fantastic.”
“And why is that?”
“Today is the day that all of this ends.”
He begins scrawling his notes on the pad. “All of what ends, Xavier? Our sessions?”
More scrawls. “What time will this occur?”
Dr. Quill stops writing and looks at his watch, then back up at me. His glasses are resting on the end of his nose and he has to tilt his head down to look over them at me. “That’s a precise time… and so soon.”
“He’s waited long enough and sees no point in delaying his arrival any longer.”
“You are referring to…”
“So Sredna is coming at 4:09?”
I nod. “I’ve told you all about him week in and week out for the last five years. I’ve been his conduit and you still don’t believe that he exists, do you?”
“He’s real to you.”
I giggle. “Very soon he will be real to you too, Doc.”
“What will happen when he gets here?”
“He will eat our reality.”
“You say it so matter-of-fact.”
“It’s what he does.”
Dr. Quill writes some more in his notes and is about to speak when he hears it.
A low hum that’s very faint but we both register it. My fillings begin to tingle and my heart beats faster.
He is coming.
A high-pitched shriek cuts through the air and all of the light bulbs explode in a shower of sparks. Dr. Quill jumps back, letting out a cry of surprise as the entire room is thrown into blackness.
“Don’t worry, Xavier. The emergency lights will kick in any minute.”
His voice is muffled and seems far away. I cannot see him anymore in this blackness.
The blackness is moving, almost wriggling with no distinct shape.
I notice my skin is burning. The pain is excruciating yet I don’t scream as Sredna fills my mouth, rendering it useless. My skin dissolves, exposing muscle tissue and it too is quickly eaten away.
In what I can only guess to be a matter of seconds, the burning subsides and then…
…there is nothing.
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved
16 thoughts on “4:09”
All hail Sredna!! Sometimes it pays to listen to the insane. Great story, Jon! I love tales where the reader is dropped in mid-stream and fed just enough tid-bits to get the full drift of the piece. Short, concise, and not muddled with unneeded words – very enjoyable, FM! 😀
Thanks a lot, Nina! Sometimes you have to wonder if the insane are the ones who actually see the world as it truly is. Glad you enjoyed Sredna!
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That was one hell of a doctor’s visit, Jon! Remind me not to go anywhere near your imagination any time soon! 🙂 Good stuff.
Thanks a lot, Chris! If you do happen to venture by the imagination, just make sure you keep a look out for Sredna!
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Noted, Jon 🙂
Reblogged this on and commented:
4:09 by Pen of the Damned’s Jon Olson
Sredna…Sredna…Sredna…damn, all is still fine with my skin! lol 😉 Great story, Jon! Start to finish, you carry the pace and amp up the suspense, making for one fine read! Kudos, Jon!! 🙂
Thanks a lot, Joe! Your skin may be fine now but if you feel a burning sensation, Sredna may be coming! Glad you enjoyed it brother!
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I really enjoyed this Jon..its short, sharp and sweet, giving the reader just enough rope..I’m intrigued by Sedna…
Thanks Magenta! I love writing these shorter pieces as I love the quick jolt it gives the reader and leaves them in wonder. Glad you enjoyed Sredna!
Great stuff, Jon! An intriguing read that absorbs the reader (in the non-reality-eating-kind of way). I loved the notion of Sredna and could definitely read more about it! (In a prequel, of course!)
Thanks a lot, Thomas! I’m hoping to get back to Sredna one of these days so there definitely will be more coming! Glad you enjoyed, sir!
Great story, Jon! Too late for the shrink now. He should have listened when he had the chance. 😀
Thanks Blaze! He had his chance and failed to heed the warnings! I’m glad you enjoyed it, sir!
One must always heed the warnings. No one listens to me either, Jon. 😀
Love it! I especially love dialogue heavy stories. Must be from reading all those Elmore Leonard books. Well done!