Hello?

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This post was originally published through Patreon on August 22, 2018.

Alex woke to his cell phone ringing and answered just before it went to voicemail.

“Hello?”

“It’s been a long time.”

“Who’s this?”

The voice sounded familiar, but Alex couldn’t place it.

“You know who I am. You haven’t forgotten.”

“Kevin?”

Laughter was his only reply.

“Susie?”

Again, that laugh, hollow and dry.

A memory flashed before Alex’s mind like a shard of bright stained glass, a missive from the distant past: a pair of sunken eyes and a toadstool smile. Alex couldn’t remember who it was, but he was certain that face matched the voice on the other end of this call.

“Hello?”

A moment later, a name materialized to go along with the face. Not a normal name, not in the least, but just as familiar as that awful poisonous smile.

“Melthane.”

“You see?” said the voice at last. “I told you you hadn’t forgotten.”

Now, memories were piling one on top of the other. Flashes of another life. Flashes of another world.

“What do you want?”

“A marvelous place, Earth. We had all the magic, but this science and technology—this miraculous ability to build, to organize, to brute-force one’s ideas into existence—that’s its own special kind of magic, wouldn’t you say? Arguably more powerful than the sort you and I once dabbled in.”

It was all coming back to him now. His home, along with the reason he’d left it. But oh, God, he didn’t want to remember. The darkness. The destruction. Until Melthane reminded him of who he was, he’d managed to forget. Now, the peace of ignorance was gone, and it was never coming back.

“What do you want?” Alex said again, locking the bedpost beside him in a white-knuckled grip.

Melthane maintained silence a moment longer, but Alex could sense his deepening smile as if it had made a sound.

“My dear Alex, I only wanted you to remember.”

Click.

“Hello? Menthane, are you there?”

But Alex already knew the line was dead.

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