The Glimmering Swamp

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic


Cindie Claud is a typical hard working woman, slaving away in her office every day, answering phones for a living. Her story begins to be less than typical when her co-worker Ted begins to display
some strange and erratic behavior.

Submitted: October 30, 2017

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Submitted: October 30, 2017

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“Hello, thank you for calling West County Calling Center, my name is Cindie Claud. We can link you to Gateway Insurance for payment and introduction, and Wortersworth Billing Agency for hospital bill payment. We can also assist with Gold Score Insurance payment and introduction, as well as Freedom Applewood Home & Auto Insurance, H.E.A.T. Insurance, and Oldfield Car Insurance payments. Who would are you trying to reach today?”

 

The days go on and on, with almost no breaks, and hundreds, if not thousands of people to redirect. Pushing buttons and talking for a living sounds easy, but it is almost a nightmare.

I sit at my desk in my small cubicle, pushing buttons and taking calls, repeating the same paragraph each and every time I pick up the phone, every day but Saturday and Tuesday. To the left of me is my friend Barbara Baker. To the right is an acquaintance, Ted Annisburg. I don't really know him very well, and he is kind of odd, but I like to try to make friends with everyone in the office, so I talk with him every now and again to keep on friendly terms. I won't lie, I like him. He is even kind of attractive. However, he has always been quiet. Except, recently, he has especially bad days which cause him to be a bit volatile. He paces back and forth, each time he comes behind Barbara and I, she jerks a little. She used to be in an abusive relationship, every time someone nearby does something even slightly erratic, she becomes restless and anxious. Ted's usual flat expression is now sunken and hollow, his eyes are dark and rigid. He clenches his hands tight when he walks, gritting his teeth. I've been wondering for awhile now if I should confront him. He's told me some brief things that lightly paint a picture of what his life is like; divorced, living with his brother who is in and out of jail a lot, consumed by debt, but still finding time to enjoy things like woodworking and sailing on his father's boat. His life isn't perfect, but he's never brought such a foul attitude to work with him before.

 

 

 

 

It's been about 3 weeks now. Ted is only getting worse, and the frustration is contagious.

Barbara is on edge every day thinking he is out to get her. Carlton, our branch's manager, is thinking

of letting him go. I barely know Ted, but with all the debt he's told me about, he needs this job.

I'm just too nervous about just asking him what's wrong. No one else has, maybe that's just what he's waiting for. Is it any of my business, though? Who else is going to help him?

 

 

 

 

“Pssst, Cindie.”

I tried to ignore Barbara as I finished typing out my schedule to send to my mother.

“Cindie. I think I'm going to have to resign.” Barbara was sulking in her seat.

“You don't have to quit, Barb. I'm going to talk to Ted.”

“But why? He would probably just hit you or something. He's always so mad.”

“Do you think it's a bad idea?”

“I wouldn't.”

“You'd rather just quit??”

“I don't want to, but it's not my place or my problem to check up on my co-worker.”

That made me kind of angry. There have been plenty of times that Barbara had panic attacks and had to be assisted by at least a quarter of the staff on our side of the building. Steven, Starra, Michelle, Ben, and Mikayla even threw an office party for Barbara two years ago just to cheer her up.

 

 

“I think you're forgetting about all the people in this office who have helped you out of panic attacks, Barbara.” I sternly said as I drew my eyebrows down halfway over my eyes.

 

“I never asked for that.” She rolled her eyes back.

“Well, I'm 27 and you're 32. We aren't kids. I'm going to check on him.”

“You'll probably regret it.”

“Not more than you.”

 

 

 

Ted was standing by the water cooler, getting hot water for a cup of tea.

His face was red, and his suit jacket was slightly torn, to the point it was unsightly. On the walk back over to his cubicle, he tripped on a computer cord and dropped the tea cup onto the printer.

Of course, it instantly sparked and blew out a foul puff of black smoke, and made one final chirp.

And, Ted, of course, wasn't having it. He picked the printer up in an instant and smashed it on the floor.

Then he picked up the top piece and carried it outside. A few people from the office followed him to see what he was doing, and I was one of them. He threw the piece of the printer at his own car, breaking the right mirror off. He then picked up the mirror and threw it at Ben, one of our co-workers.

Ben's face lit up, he took his tie off, and ran for Ted, but I grabbed his arm before he got very far.

 

“Go back inside! Get the fuck away from him!” I screamed as I waved my arms.

Ben threw his fists down and slumped over. Everyone flocked back into the building.

I approached Ted, and he was almost in tears. He told me to get away, and he got into his car and left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing quite like that has ever happened before,

but I did have to reason with Carlton a lot to let Ted come back. I told him I'd give Ted

a call, so Carlton gave me the key to the employee file cabinet. I thumbed through

several, until I finally found Ted's file. I picked up the phone from the counter and

dialed his number, the cabinet still open, his file laying out next to the phone.

 

 

 

“Hello?” He actually sounded okay. This was only about three or four hours after

his weird explosion.

 

“Uh-hi, this is Cindie Claud. I was wondering if you were doing okay?”

 

“........Yeah. I'm alright. Didn't feel very good today, sorry for yellin' at ya.”

 

“No, it's okay. If you would want to, you can come back in tomorrow..and we can

talk about it if you want.”

 

“Yeah, I'll be back in tomorrow. Sure Carlton's alright with it? And Ben looked pretty pissed.”

 

“I worked everything out.”

 

“Then I'll be back tomorrow. Kinda need to get caught up on these god damn bills.”

 

 

 

 

 

He hung up. I think things have been worked out, I think he just

had a real bad day on top of several weeks of bad days. Which happens,

sometimes, it just does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next day, Ted was there before me, and saw me in the parking lot.

He waved, but didn't smile. I waved back, then he was in through the door and

it slammed shut behind him. I walked up the sidewalk, under the pretty young

willow tree, then past the poesy patch, then to the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara was at her desk already, and from a distance,

it looked like she slipped a small flask into her blue and pink handbag.

 

I approached the lounge room first instead in a quick turn around. I forgot that

I needed to grab a cup of coffee since I forgot all about it on the way to work.

Steven and Mikayla came into the room, Steven grabbing some bagels,

Mikayla sitting at the small cafe style table, rummaging through her bag.

I was just standing there, with my side to Mikayla, Steven a few feet behind me,

stirring sugar and creamer into my coffee.

 

 

“Hey, Steve, could ya bring me some milk from the fridge?

This coffee is insanely hot, even with creamer.”

 

 

“Yeah.” He handed it to me. “Ted is getting pretty weird.”

 

“I remember coming here from rehab, that wasn't very fun, at first anyway.”

Mikayla said as she put on her reading glasses she pulled from her bag.

 

“I think we should just give him a chance.” I said as I quickly gripped my mug

and made my way to my cubicle. Ted was sitting in his chair, dusting off all of

his odd little trophies and trinkets that he'd told me stories about.

 

 

Barbara was sipping out of the flask as I sat down, and I shot her daggers.

 

 

“Barb. Whiskey at work?” I shook my head.

 

“Well, Cindie, it's gin, first of all. And, I'm looking for a new job.”

 

“Ted isn't going to fuck with you, Barb.”

 

Didn't say anything else to her all day. Ted still seemed odd, but I don't think he

is a danger to anybody. Anybody but himself.

 

 

I peeked my head around the corner and said hey to Ted, and he was showing me a bronze

train that he won in a model train contest when he was eleven. He was polishing it enthusiastically.

Everything was almost back to normal, so I proceeded with my day. Carlton gave me a pat on the back for doing the right thing, which, not to brag, but I'm always doing the right thing.

 

 

 

 

Next day coming into work, I saw Ted's car, and grinned.

I did something nice, which always makes me feel nice. I locked my car and started

walking down the sidewalk, again under the willow, through the door, and straight

to the copying room. I had a few things I needed copies of for going to the DMV

later. After that, I paper clipped my files and went to my desk.

 

 

Barbara was still hitting the booze, and I was starting to get really annoyed with

her anyway, so I just ignored her. I looked over to Ted's desk, but he wasn't there.

But his car was in the lot. He probably went to the lounge or the bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

Hours went by, I got a little lost in my calls before I decided to look around the office again.

Ted was still missing. I went to Carlton's room and asked him where Ted was.

All of his stuff was still on his desk, all the trinkets and little plants, the computer was

still on, and even his car was here. Carlton said that Ted quit, and I could clean off his

desk if I wanted to. So I took three big boxes, boxed up all of his stuff, and took it to

my car. I checked to see if Ted's car door was unlocked. It wasn't. The car alarm went off.

 

 

I have no clue where Ted lives, but I'm sure he would at least like his stuff back.

And I want to know what the hell is and has been going on.

I went back to the file cabinet, which was locked, and Carlton wouldn't give me the key.

 

I got onto Carlton's computer instead, while he was on break, and finally found a copy

of Ted's file and wrote down his address. I'm going to wait a few days before I go over

there, though, in case he does come back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's been four days. He's still not here, and we're hiring.

Barbara had today off, so I didn't have to deal with her. Steven and Ben have been

smack talking Ted ever since he left, and not even Carlton knows why his car is

still here. In fact, he said he would have it towed by next week if he didn't come get it.

 

 

 

 

So, as I let the door smack hard behind me, leaving the office, I've set

myself up for a mission. I'm going to Ted's house, and I hope things are stable.

 

I have never been to the side of town he lives on, but I did see a picture of his house

when I looked it up. I have only the slightest clue of where I'm going, and what I'm doing.

 

 

 

The ride was long, and confusing, having to backtrack a lot.

I was seeming to see more and more things swallowed by ivy vines and moss.

It was unnaturally quiet, no birds, no wind, rarely any cars, and the people were

so quiet you'd barely notice them. They all stared, too, as if they knew every single

car that ever drove that street, and I wasn't a regular. I feel anxious.

 

 

Now, I'm on Ted's street. White Street. The road goes up a steep hill.

All of the houses are big, and old, and vacant looking, though there were cars

in some of the driveways, and occasionally an older person sitting on their porch swing.

The houses looked uneven, as if you'd walk inside and be walking at a decent slant.

The windows were all thin and dirty, the paint peeling away from each house's exterior.

The vines swallowed everything here, and it looked like few people mowed lawns.

Strange little yard ornaments littered throughout the neighborhood, barely seen

under the intrusive ivy. The further I drove, the more stagnant everything seemed.

The air, the environment, it was almost like I've wandered into an unknown area.

 

I was really nervous. I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to say to him.

It's really not my place to be doing this at all, Barbara was slightly onto something.

Nonetheless, I was going to at least return his prized belongings.

 

Deeper and deeper into what seemed like a ghetto, it just got worse the more I went forward.

I was starting to wonder where the end of this fucking road was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After about 45 minutes, I finally reached Ted's house.

It was very odd looking. The left side was an old hand-laid brick shack of a thing,

with a newer but still old hallway attaching the stone house to a bigger house that was big and red.

Dust covered the whole house, along with the others. The hallway matched the red part of the house, and it looked to be about three stories, the bottom story being a garage, with stairs next to the garage door that lead to a tiny, sketchy looking porch to the front door. A big swampy pond was to the left of the driveway, partially in the driveway, and to the right was a small metal fenced-in area with old looking scrap metal and vehicles strewn about in a tiny spot, next to a gaudy shack.

 

 

Should I be doing this?

How many times have I asked myself that now?

And now I'm here, climbing the rickety steps.

 

 

As I looked out to the left, past the side of the house, I saw a beautiful swamp,

that seemed to be glimmering, with dozens of weeping willows hanging their

long branches into the water. The sun was shining so brightly off of the water.

 

 

 

I knocked. I assumed I'd have to wait a decent while.

But five minutes had went by, so I knocked again, louder, and for longer.

 

 

“Ted? You in there?” I yelled.

 

“It's your pal from work, just wanted to give your stuff back.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still nothing.

 

So I jangled the knob a bit, but it was locked. I went back to the front yard, and knocked

on the garage door. It looked like nothing had been touched in there in ages.

 

 

I high-knee walked through the tall grass over to the old house door, and knocked.

No answer, yet again.

I looked into all the windows I could reach face-level, and everything looked abandoned.

 

 

I didn't want to have to do this, but I went for a walk into the back yard,

hoping to find a back door, and also hoping there are no swamp gators.

 

There were more small shacks out back, and the silence of

everything was really starting to bother me. All that made a sound was my walking.

 

I eventually found a back door, to the old house, it had no lock,

it had no doorknob or handle.

 

I pushed it open, and peered inside. Old, dusty furniture,

in near disarray, scattered around in what looked to be a sitting room
or old living room.

 

 

I yelled out for Ted once more, then started exploring.

There were two bedrooms in the old part of the house, and one of them was completely

bare. The other looked like a grandmotherly room,

much more dusty than all the rest.

 

No one was over here, so I made my way down the hall.

The electricity was off in the hall, so it was nearly pitch black

besides a teeny tiny window with a curtain half covering it.

There were big oak doors at the end, I had to force them open.

I was in the new kitchen, new part of the house.

Food on the table was going spoiled, and it smelled awful.

Newspapers covered the far end of the table.

Obituaries. Several of them, and every now and then a little comic strip.

 

I walked into a small walkway where there were stairs leading up.

The stairs creaked and groaned the more I walked up them,

which didn't make me feel any safer.

I was all alone in my co-worker's house, whose brother is often in and out

of jail for mysterious reasons.

Haven't heard a single peep from anything or anyone.

 

I was led to a skinny hallway with four doors on each side. First on the left was locked.

First on the right was just cracked, so I pushed the door. It wailed.

 

It looked like a somewhat normal bedroom, but very, very plain.

The calender's date was very inaccurate.

I looked in the vanity drawer, and saw a little wooden comb,

and a piece of paper that said, “Welcome, Guest!”

 

So, this is the guest room.

 

I went out, into the dimly lit hall, to the second door on the left.

As I was about to grab the doorknob, I noticed I could hear water running.

It sounded like a tub, or a shower, coming from the last door, on the right.

 

I went to it, and opened it, no problem. But, I saw blood. Everywhere.

Splattering the walls, clogging the sink, clogging the tub drain.

But no one was there.

 

The shower was running like someone was in there, but I guess whoever did that

was trying to get the drain to unplug. Stupid idea, because it was starting to overflow.

I turned it off.

The water and blood surrounding the drain gurgled and sloshed.

I grabbed a pair of rusty scissors out of the sink cabinet,

and went for the next door.

 

The second door to the left was unlocked.

 

Pitch black. I had no light.

 

I went for the middle door on the right in hopes it was unlocked.

But, of course, it was locked.

 

 

 

I went back down the stairs to find a light of some kind.

Eventually I came across a box of matches, so I went back to the dark room above.

 

 

I noticed a stench coming from the first locked door.

First on the left.

 

The dark room looked like a slave room. Dirty things in piles around the corners.0

Old dirty plates, the bed had a big yellow stain on it. There was a small table

with a chair sitting at it, and on the table was nothing but a big simmer pot

full of oil, and a bunch of fishing and mechanic magazines.

 

There was a light switch, but it appeared the electricity has been cut off from this room

specifically.

Or maybe someone blew a fuse. I assume this is Ted's brother's room.

 

 

To the first locked door, impatient by now, I kicked it down.

And there I saw Ted. He was hanging from an exposed metal pipe from the ceiling.

It looked like he had cut a piece of the ceiling out just to hang his rope there.

 

There were all kinds of trinkets and trophies and pictures and cork boards everywhere.

Baseball, trains, football, racing, all kinds of memorabilia. Everywhere.

His room was the cleanest one of all. I saw on his bed, he was in the process of writing

something, but it abruptly cut off. Blood slightly smeared the page.

He had gashed all over his skin, bleeding out onto the floor below.

 

He must have been the one that left the bathroom a mess.

But if the water was still running, and the tub hadn't flooded yet, could there still be time?

 

 

I grabbed him and pushed up. He was almost stiff, and very bloody.

I used the scissors to slowly and difficultly cut the rope.

When it snapped, Ted fell onto me and just about killed me.

 

He started to seize, and froth at the mouth. I had no idea what to do.

 

Suddenly, I realize I'm dragging him down the steps to an ambulance.

 

 

 

 

 

I continued to look around the house after the paramedics left.

 

I wanted to know why Ted would do this. I looked for his brother for an hour or so.

In a hidden crate in Ted's brother's room, there was about 15 pounds of .22 ammo.

Then again, there was a poster of a deer. The only poster in the mostly baron room.

 

I take it that they didn't have the best relationship, but Ted still cared enough to

let his brother stay whenever he needed. Ted's a nice guy.

 

 

Back to the obituaries, they were ranging from the 70s to present.

I even knew some of them, one from '82 was my great aunt.

This confuses me intensely. Why was he seemingly frantically looking at these?

Why had he forgotten to eat for days? Or at least clean up the rotting food?

Ted always told me his he liked to keep his house neat.

 

 

I went through every room, kicking down one last door. There were some

strange papers and things scattered in the storage room. Lots of cardboard boxes

full of files, like out of a police room. I didn't know any of the people on the files.

 

Not like missing files or anything, just general files. Name, address, social number.

Definitely weird. There was a child sized hand painted boat in front of the window

on the far side of the room. There was a note on the seat that read,

 

“I'll sail far, yes, I will.”

 

I called the police. I told them everything, and waited for them to show up.

In the meantime I saw all kinds of death-trap looking things in the sheds.

One of the sheds was a prisoner room, bars and everything.

I even saw a dead dog tied up, drowned by the rising tide of the swamp.

 

 

All of this is fucked up. I'm sorry Ted, but you've

got some explaining to do. This doesn't add up.

 

 

I hope to hear from him when he gets to the hospital.

 

I gave the police his box of belongings, except for
a tiny golden painted train trinket.

 

On the way home, I couldn't stop thinking about what in the fuck

I had just witnessed that day. Maybe Barbara was right. But I still

believe Ted isn't a criminal. I hope I saved him, instead of sending

him further into hell.


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