Tyler woke up and puked off the side of the bed. He tried to pull coherent thoughts out of the black sludge that his brain had turned into. Did he drink more than usual the night before? He was pretty sure not. Food poisoning? The flu?
Another wave of nausea hit and produced a series of retching dry heaves. He tried to get up to run to the bathroom, but found his limbs were filled with lead instead of blood and everything hurt.
The effort started him sweating, but he felt cold. Definitely flu…or food poisoning, though he couldn’t remember what or when he had eaten last.
He needed help and fast, as his temperature felt dangerously high. He reached to probe his nightstand where he usually set his cell phone, and a strange tingling went up his spine and he blacked out. Then he spilled over the side of the bed and landed on the floor in a pool of his own vomit.
An indiscernible while later, Tyler woke with his own up-chuck dried and caked to his clothes and skin. He pulled himself up by the bed sheets and managed to climb back on the bed.
His fever must have broken while he was passed out; he was no longer sweating or chilled. And in spite of having smelly dried vomit all over him, he did not feel nauseous.
Then something gurgled in his stomach and he flew to the bathroom, making it just in time to void his bowels into the toilet instead of his pants. It was at that moment that he remembered how badly his body had hurt before he lost consciousness and that the pain was now gone.
When he was finished shitting, he stripped down and threw his clothes in the trash and stepped into the shower. The steaming water brought him out of the fog. It felt like it was the first shower he had ever had in his life.
It washed away not only the filth from his body, but the webs from his mind; and when he stepped out of the tub and into a dry towel, he knew exactly where to look.
Tyler went back into the bedroom with the towel around his waist and picked his pillow up and found the handwritten note. Before he read it, he went around the apartment checking the doors and windows to make sure the double keyed bolts and heavy locks were all in place and that the security bars on the windows were all intact.
The note had to have been placed there while he was out of the apartment. There was no way anyone could get in once he was safely locked inside. He was pretty sure of that.
Tyler went to the liquor cabinet and with shaking hands, poured himself a tall glass of bourbon before he sat down with the note.
Good morning. Obviously the attempt to poison you again has failed or you wouldn’t be reading this. Today I shall increase the dose. You won’t know how, and you won’t know where, but sometime today I will make every effort to kill you. By this time tomorrow, you will most likely be dead.
Tyler brought the drink that he so desperately wanted up to his lips. He suddenly realized that the seal on the bottle had been broken. It could be poisoned already.
“Damnit!” He went to the sink and poured the amber liquid down the drain. This meant that he would have to take very careful measures to leave the apartment again and go to the liquor store.
He couldn’t chance calling out for a messenger; the phones were probably bugged and the killer could pretend to be an errand boy. If he wanted the booze and food and cigarettes that he lived on, he had to go out and get them himself and risk being out in the open. And he had to risk leaving the apartment unguarded.
Tyler started hyperventilating. He covered his mouth and slowed his breathing. Then he wrinkled the note up and threw it in the special basket. The basket with the three hundred and sixty-four other notes just like it.
Dana C. Kabel’s stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Black Heart Magazine, Darkest Before The Dawn, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Muzzleflash, Mysterical-E, Out of the Gutter, Powder Flash Burn, and Yellow Mama. He blogs at www.thenonstopbullet.blogspot.com