The Orphan

The Orphan by Christopher Ransom Read Free Book Online

Book: The Orphan by Christopher Ransom Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christopher Ransom
worse, the kitchen lights were off, except for the little ones under the cabinets.
    The bright white letters dissolved and she was left standing in the dark.
    Instinctively Raya pivoted and looked back, past the bathroom, to where the hall angled into the laundry and mud room that connected to the garage. She felt like she was being observed by someone, or something. But it was too dark to see to the end. A draft of cold air swept by her and she decided the door to the garage must be ajar. It was always colder in the laundry room.
    None of which had anything to do with her phone, but still…
    Who was sending these messages? Chad wouldn’t play a trick on her like this. The messages bore no resemblance to his tone of voice, or his sense of humor.
    The phone vibrated in her hand again. Raya’s entire body tensed, as if the air were alive and something around her was pulling on her skin. Her mouth was open and she felt short of breath.
     
    once you are dead you can never come back
    ‘Okay, stop,’ she said, needing to hear a voice of sanity, even if it was her own and she did not feel sane. ‘Who’s doing that?’
    No one answered her. The house was silent.
    As if to scold her for shifting her attention, the screen flashed bright white, glowing like a bulb in a lamp for several seconds, then instantly turned black.
     
    once you let him take it all away he will kill you kill you kill you
    Raya dropped the phone on the floor and covered her mouth to keep from screaming. She felt watched, stalked, and she had the craziest idea that if she made a sound, whoever was doing this would find her, show himself, pop out of thin air. If her phone started ringing right now she would have a heart attack.
    Kill you?
He will
kill you? Kill you kill you kill you
… there was something desperate, threatening, even enraged about the last one.
    The hall was dark, the phone on the floor no longer glowing. Raya didn’t know whether to call for her parents or run to her room. She was paralyzed by the cold around her and a growing, throbbing sting in her eyes, behind her nose, a sensation she could only describe as a hot headache.
    The white glow emanated up at her once more.
     
    the orphan is coming home
    The screen went black, faster than before, and a new message surfaced.
     
    he needs to come home
    The white glow seemed blinding, then there was blackness.
     
    his entire family is dead the family is dead
    Blackness.
     
    the boy is coming home soon
    Blackness.
     
    the dead boy
    Blackness.
     
    soon
    ‘Stop it!’ Raya startled herself by yelling. ‘Mom! Wake up!’
    The screen turned black and she heard someone crying. Not her own tears, which had come in a series of whimpers, but the crying of a lost little boy. The sound made her want to scream and she turned to the front door, certain she had felt a draft of cold air beside her, but he wasn’t there either and —
    Footsteps thumped to the end of the bridge, into the living room.
    A shadow person stood there watching her.
    ‘Raya? What’s going on?’ The shadow slowly resolved into the shape of her mother. ‘Did something happen? What in God’s name are you doing up at this hour?’
    Raya was too shocked and relieved to speak. She was trembling, toilet-paper rolls spilled around her feet.
    ‘Raya? What is it, honey?’ her mom said, hurrying over, hugging her.
    ‘Someone was here!’ Raya blurted, though she knew this was not strictly true. But it felt true. ‘The boy! I heard him crying!’
    ‘What boy? Here, in the house?’
    ‘Someone was talking to me, sending me messages – there, on my phone!’ She pointed at her phone where it had fallen in the hall.
    Her mom picked up the phone. She looked at the screen, at Raya, then back to the screen.
    ‘Do you see it? He was talking about killing, saying he will kill you, he’s coming home, horrible things…’
    Her mom clicked through, checking her messages. ‘There’s nothing here,’ she said. ‘Just texts from

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