John J. Barnes
The phone on the corner nightstand of Benjamin Naryett’s bedroom started to ring with a piercing
shrillness one did not want to hear at seven in the morning on a Saturday. He lay sprawled over his bed
with the comforter and sheets tossed all around him from a restless night’s sleep. He reached over to
pick up the phone and recoiled, picked up his head and looked at it with a sense of dread. He knew it was
his ex wife, calling to give him grief of what he might have forgotten to do, or worse, did do during their
daughter Julian’s visit to his Colorado cottage last night. He turned his head and muffled his ears with
the pillow. “Please”, he said hopefully face down in the pillow. He sprung his head up, pulling the receiver
to his ear.
“Still in bed Ben?” The voice said calmly and sarcastically.
“Morning to you too, Miranda, so what do you need?” Ben pulled himself to the side of his bed and
rubbed his eyes with his free hand while staring into the few rays of sunlight peeking their way into his
“Need Ben, I hardly think you have anything I could use. I’m just calling to ask you if you could drop off
Julian’s bag today, she said she left it in the den last night.”
Still not fully awake, Ben shook himself from a tired trance he got staring into the window, “What, uh,
her bag? Right, uh, what color is it?”
“I’m sure it’s the only bag in your cabin, but black with a yellow stripe down the side if you can’t
remember. She needs it to finish her homework before Monday.” Miranda now had more of a friendly
flowing tone than her sarcasm before.
“Homework on a weekend huh? That teacher of hers is a slave driver. What kind of person with a soul
gives homework on the weekend?” Ben got up from his bed, walking to the window; he felt a tingling itch
on the back of his neck and scratched grinding his teeth.
“Mr. Schroeder is a very goal-driven man and a great teacher, so can you bring the bag or not Ben, I
really can’t stay on for too long.”
“Sure, sure,” he said mid yawn and felt the tingle again. “ I’ll, uh, bring it by this afternoon.”
“Alright, if no one’s home just leave it by the front door. Carl and I will be gone most of the day and I’ll
have Julian with me.”
“Fine, give Carl all my best.” Ben said sarcastically. He hung up the phone and threw it on the bed.
Looking out the window, he could see fine dew covering the foliage of pine in the woods and in the
distance, a fine mist forming on the hills. He scratched the back of his neck again with a distraught look
on his face. Maybe he rubbed up against some poison oak or something; he thought, scratching more
fiercely. Gazing around he could see the remnants of the campsite Julian and he made last night. An
Emerald green tent covered with dew, an old charred piece of ground where the campfire stood and an
old transistor radio laying on its side which he knew now was probably ruined by the weather over night.
After his morning shower and a big bowl of oats, Ben made his way outside on the front porch, dressed
in jeans, hiking boots and a white shirt. The morning proved colder than things looked from the warmth
of his bedroom and the wind was picking up a little harder now. He scratched the back of his neck again
and started walking to the campsite. While cleaning up, he couldn’t stop thinking about how this has
become a part of his routine now. Cleaning up after his day with his daughter was hard in the right that
he would not spend time with her like that again until next week. This was the third weekend in his new
life now that he and Miranda finally came to an agreement in the settlement but Ben was feeling it harder
every week to say goodbye and thought he’d gotten the wrong end of the deal. He scratched his neck
hard again, this time feeling as if he’d dug into some skin, and shrieked in pain.
Dropping the pieces of tent, he ran back into the house and straight to the bathroom. He cupped cold
water in his hand and rubbed it on the back of his neck and while looking in the mirror, tried to twist his
head to look at it. He pulled a hand mirror from the vanity drawer and held it to the back of his neck, still
looking into the bathroom mirror. It still wasn’t clear, but he could see a red bump swollen and outlined in
white. Probably poison oak; he thought. He thought of calling a doctor, but dismissed it just as fast. He
always ended up with something every time he left the cabin and to call a doctor this time would be
After cleaning up the tent scene, Ben spent pretty much the rest of the afternoon trying to keep busy.
He watched daytime sitcoms, went for a hike; in which he had a friendly encounter with a deer, made
himself a turkey sandwich in which he got to make his delicious apple wood bacon he was eagerly looking
forward to, and spent time in the work shed on his hobby, carving wood with a band saw. The carvings
weren’t for functional purposes, but designs, patterns and sculptures he enjoyed making. The shed was
decorated with jackrabbits, moose, bear and just about any other animal he could think to carve along
with some shadowboxes. And it was here where it first started, here where Charles Naryett would receive
Charles had a look of extreme concentration on his face as he pushed a board of timber down the
shutter of the saw. Small bits of splinter and sawdust struck his face, bouncing off his safety glasses at
high speeds. Amongst the deafening screech of the saw and the blinding cloud of dust a shadow
emerged in the corner of the shed. A startled Charles moved just enough to catch his finger in the
serrated edge of the saw and threw himself back, gripping his bleeding hand in pain. He looked up again
to see nothing but hanging garden tools and shadowboxes in the corner he swore stood the silhouette
of a man.
“Hello,” he said quivering. “Is there anyone in here?” No reply. There was nothing but the faint hum of
the running saw to answer him back.
He cut the power to the saw and left to take care of his wound, stopping one more time before he turned
the light out to glance around. It was time to call it a night; he thought as he searched his bathroom for
antiseptic ointment. After a failed attempt, he went to the kitchen, turning on the television on the way,
and searched the cupboards. He found a tube under the sink and cleaned his cut, straining his head
toward the living room to see what was on TV. A dark silhouette in the shape of a man was standing
outside staring at him through the window behind the TV. Fright ran all through Charles Naryett to the
point where he couldn’t move, he just stood motionless with the water still running staring back at the
silhouette. Just as he slightly moved his hand to shut off the water the phone rang, causing him to break
eye contact with whatever it was standing outside his window.
“Ah!” He yelled with exasperation. “God damn Miranda,” he said in a fit of rage while pacing heavily to the
He picked it up and slammed it to his ear; “What Miranda!” But there was nothing on the other end, just
the sound of heavy breathing. “I can hear you breathing, now who is this?” No answer.
He slammed the phone back on the charger and went to the fridge. Looking inside, there was nothing
quick he could make. As he grabbed some leftover sandwich fixings, he thought of what it was he saw
standing outside his window. The cottage was fifteen miles from the nearest town, so someone would
have to be lost or crazy to walk out there in the middle of the night. A hunter: he thought, spreading
some mayo over a slice of bread. He supposed the right thing to do was to see what it was, but what if it
wasn’t what he wanted it to be. Yes, it was safer to just assume the rational and get on with his night,
hoping it would never come back.
The phone startled him again and broke him of his deep thought. He dropped the knife and bread. This
time when he answered, he put the phone slowly to his ear and hoped it would not be what he thought it
was going to be.
“Charles, you there?” A familiar voice said on the other line.
“Miranda,” he said, exhaling in relief. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and took a deep breathe.
“You forgot didn’t you?”
“Forgot? Forgot what, what are you talking about?” He spoke mildly while frantically looking around the
cabin for any sign of the shadowy figure.
“Julian’s bag- she needs it for her homework. You forgot didn’t you? She said scolding.
“Oh, oh right, right the bag. I-I-I’ll drop it off in about an hour or two. Sorry, got caught up in some
stuff.” Charles walked to the living room window, cautiously pulling a curtain aside and staring into the
“That’s you in a nutshell Charles, always getting caught up in stuff. I’ll be expecting you.” Miranda ended
her sarcastic statement with a chuckle of pity.
“Right, hey listen I’m kinda busy right now, I’ll see you then.” Charles hung up the phone and placed it
on the corner end table.
After his sandwich and some rummaging around the house, looking for his daughter’s bag, he was finally
starting to calm down and forget the episode he had earlier. He found the bag under the living room
coffee table and threw it in his silver 2005 bronco. Just as he started the engine, there it was again. A
cold chill ran up his spine. The visitor was back, standing on his front porch and waiting patiently for
something. There was no face, no movement, and no life coming from the emanation. It just stood there
as if it were staring at him, but there was no stare because there were no eyes and there was no
movement, not even in the wind that had picked up that night-Just a cold, hard nothingness. Charles got
out of the Bronco hastily; “Who are you, why are you on my porch?” Nothing.
He paced heavily towards the figure showing his dominance over the situation, but the figure didn’t
“You have about the time it takes me to walk over there to start moving sir!”
Charles dug in his pocket, pulling out a swiss army knife and flipping out the blade. He paused midway,
thinking about what the visitor might have on him. “ If you don’t tell me what the hell you’re doing on my
porch sir-I’m gonna call the cops.” Nothing.
Charles started pacing again, this time faster. He quickened his step until he got up to a slow jog and
finally met face to face with the man. But it was not a man, it was still a silhouette. Everything; face,
hands, hat, coat were all just blackness. In a panicked fright, Charles backed away in a rush, falling down
the steps to the porch. When he got his composure back, it was gone.
“Jesus!” He hurried to his feet and ran back into the Bronco. Slamming the door shut behind him, he
rested his head on the steering wheel and clutched it with a death grip. I must be losing my mind; he
thought solemnly. He peeled out of the driveway, kicking black soil and granite rocks into the wheel well.
While on the road, he reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a cell phone. Not minding the winding
road, he scrolled down the speed dial list until he came to “ Doc Brandon”. He slammed it to his temple
and resumed to watch the road. Everything was hazy in the night and the wind brought thick flumes of
dust across the beams of his headlights. The trees looked as if they were alive as they swaying in the
wind. Charles grew more impatient with every ring of the phone.
“Hello, Doctor Brandon,” a sharp, raspy voice answered.
“Hey doc, doctor Brandon it’s Charles Naryett.”
“Oh, uh are you alright? You sound a little winded Charles.”
“I wish I was, I really need your help doc, could you meet me tonight, I’m really having some kind of
episode or something I don’t think I can take anymore.”
There was a slight silence. “Well Charles…Do you think it can wait till Monday? I’m out to dinner with my
family right now.”
“No, didn’t you hear me, I don’t know what’s going on but I’m having some weird hallucinations or
Brandon interrupted; “Alright, hold on Charles- meet me at my office at about…Oh ten.”
“Thanks doc, I really owe you.” He flipped the phone off, dropping it in the passenger seat.
Charles glanced at his watch as he pulled into the driveway of Miranda’s suburbian home. 9:35; he still
had time. Miranda was right where he expected her to be, standing just outside the door with her arms
crossed in that obnoxious stance that made him feel just like a child that’s being scolded.
“Nice to see you too,” Charles said, handing her the backpack. “Listen, I’d love to stay and chat but I
have to be somewhere.”
“Be somewhere? Got a hot date Charles?” She said and chuckled.
Her giggle sounded just as annoying as the endless wave of sarcasm he was always fed by her. “No-this
is business. I really can’t stay, tell Julian I love her.”
“Chuck, wait.” Miranda said in a more pleasing tone. “She said she really had a good time with you, as
always and I just wanted to say thanks for staying in her life the way you did.”
Charles said nothing, curtly nodding his head and grinning.
On the road to doctor Brandon’s Charles would see the visitor two more times. Once peaking from an
alleyway and another standing on the corner of an intersection and each time he simply squinted and
shook his head to forget it.
He pulled into the parking lot of Westerland Square Plaza next to Doctor Brandon’s practice, screeching
to a stop. The lights were on inside. Good already here; Charles thought confidently. He swung the glass
door open as he went in.
“Charles, good to see you,” he said amiably, walking out of one of the examination rooms. “You wanna
come in here real quick?” He directed Charles into the waiting room. “So what’s the deal Charles? What
are these hallucinations you’re having?”
Charles made his way onto the examination table and took a deep breathe, looking at the floor. “ I had
more on my way over here, I just don’t know what they are. I see a silhouette of a man, only it’s not a
man. It looks like a ghost if it weren’t so real.”
Doc’s eyes scanned Charles thoroughly as though he tried to find the answer in him somewhere. “Well
how long has this been going on?”
“Just today, but it’s driving me crazy. I feel like if I see this thing again- “
Charles started to gasp and shake like he had seen a ghost. No, not a ghost—his visitor. Just as he
looked up to meet eyes with Doctor Brandon, he met eyes with “it”. The shadowy figure stood in Doctor
Brandon’s place and moved as he moved.
“You okay,” Brandon asked worried. He moved to comfort Charles with his hand.
Charles saw the figure pursue him with spider-like fingers. He had a knot in his throat the size of a lemon
and leaped from table with pep. “Jesus, what the hell are you!” He screamed and ran out of Doctor
Brandon did his best to follow him and calm him down but all Charles saw was the visitor reaching out for
him with eerily long fingers. “Charles wait! Let me help you.”
“I know what you are” Charles yelled dashing through the parking lot. “But I’m not ready to die, you hear
me you Grim Reaper fuck! I’m not ready to die! Charles turned again to see Doctor Brandon standing on
the side of a highway yelling out to him and that’s when he came to realize he ran into the middle of the
highway. The loud noise of the traffic blocked out everything Brandon was trying to yell to him and
before he had time to move, a semi plowed into Charles Naryett at 80 miles per hour.
2 Months later…
The autopsy report on Charles Naryett would soon be concluded to find his hallucinations were caused by
a potent new toxin that was injected into him through what appeared to be a spider bite on the back of
his neck, causing him to go into a widespread panic that eventually led to his death. This would be the
first case of many for that year.
After an extensive search in Mr. Naryett’s cabin, the local authorities and a local anthropologist would find
the spider responsible for this and capture it for research. It was a bulky, grey spider that would be
classified as a new species and named after its first victim and method of defense that causes them to
hallucinate into madness: The Naryett Visitor.
Julian Naryett later broke into the facility it was being held in and killed it.
The Naryett Visitor