Author J.D. Sanderson shares an excerpt of his short story collection ‘Around the Dark Dial’.
Shooting Taye a look of intrigue, Terrance asked,
“Crying? As in whimpering?”
“Yeah,” Stacey said. “I’m crate training him at night.
He started whimpering from across the room in his
“Incredibly common,” Terrance mused. “Dogs have
often shown the ability to sense a wide range of
“He’s a rescue, so at first, like, I just thought he was
being a scared puppy. Then when I opened my eyes, I
realized I couldn’t get out of my bed.”
Terrance could hear the woman’s voice shaking. It
was hard to tell how old she was over-the-air, but the
fear coming out of her would have made some of the
toughest people he knew sound like children.
“Go on…” Terrance prompted.
“Something was holding me down. It wasn’t a hand
or device or anything, it was just pressure,” she
“This is awesome,” he heard Taye’s voice whisper in
his headphones. While his sidekick’s mic was not live,
it was often kept on so he could give feedback on the
fly. Terrance motioned for him to be quiet as he turned
back to his microphone. He could see Taye’s dreadlocks
bouncing with excitement as he continued to listen.
“Did you see anything? Feel anything at all?”
“No. It was hard just to keep my eyes open,” she
whimpered. “I don’t know what they wanted from me.”
“They?” Terrance asked, sitting up straight. “So, you
did eventually see something?
“I did,” Stacey cried. “I saw two shapes. One was
short, one was tall.”
“Humanoid?” Terrance asked as he reached over to
grab his notepad. He often jotted down details from the
more exciting phone calls in case another caller had a
similar story down the road.
“What?” Stacey asked.
“Were they humanoid? Did they look like people?
Two arms, two legs, a head — that sort of thing?”
“One did,” Stacey answered. It was tall, taller than
me. I think it was wearing a suit maybe. The other was
short. Like a little kid.”
“Did you get a good look?”
“I don’t know,” Stacey said. Her voice was now filled
with a soft, trickling terror. Terrance genuinely felt bad
for her. He may have been a true believer in the
paranormal, but he was self-aware enough to know
that at least half of his callers just wanted attention.
This did not sound like one of those calls.
“Take your time, Stacey,” Terrance said. “Do you
need a minute?”
“No, I’m… I’m okay. I’m sorry,” she replied. “It’s just,
this happened a few days ago. I haven’t gone to work or
told anyone. But then I remembered a friend telling me
he listened to your show.”
“It’s alright,” Terrance soothed. “What happened
next? Do you remember?”
“I was lifted off the bed. Moved. I don’t know where.
They were talking to each other, but I don’t know how.
I didn’t see the tall one’s mouth move. The short one
was too low for me to see, really.”
Terrance’s train of thought derailed immediately. He
turned around to look over at Taye, who had pushed
his mic over to the side. Terrance waved his hands to
get his friends attention. Taye looked up, motioning his
hands in question.
The host mouthed the words ‘Did you say something’
to his friend as caller four droned on in his ear. Taye
shook his head.
“Are you there?” Stacey asked.
“Yes. Yes, we’re here. Continue,” Terrance said,
shaking his head. “What else can you tell us?”
“The only other thing I remember was a really, really
bright light. It was painful. My eyes hurt the next day.”
“You need to stop.”
Terrance’s head jerked around as the voice popped
in his ears a second time.
“What?” he said aloud.
“Huh?” Stacey said. “I was trying to say that they put
something on my forehead…”
“What are you doing?” Taye asked through the
Terrance switched off his microphone for a second
while Stacey continued to talk about her horrific
encounter. He looked over at Taye through the glass.
“I heard something in my ear. My headphones!”
“I didn’t hear anything,” Taye replied. “Dude, you’re
missing the best part! C’mon, this is the best caller
we’ve had in three weeks.”
Terrance reached over to flip his microphone on
when the deep voice echoed in his ear a third time.
“Hang up, Mr. Storey. Please.” The voice was deep.
It sounded like there might have been going through a
processor. Something about it sounded off, as if it was
made to sound like a machine.
Terrance froze in his seat as Stacey continued to
recount a procedure done to her eyes, ears, and nose
on a cold, dark table. He was only half-listening as the
voice told him two more times to disconnect the call.
“Stacy,” Terrance interjected, “I’m afraid we are
coming up on a break. Thank you so much for the call.
Very riveting stuff. Call again if you remember
“But this isn’t even half of what happened to me,”
Taye tapped his wrist and pointed up to the clock,
signaling that they had another five or six minutes until
a commercial break was needed. Terrance ignored him.
“This is Late Night Storey, we’ll be back in a minute.”
Terrance reached over and switched off the mic before
hanging up on the caller.
“Dude! What the fuck was that?” Taye asked.
“Sorry,” Terrance mumbled. “Something came up.”
“Jesus Christ, Terrance. Did you get spooked or
“I thought I… I don’t know.”
* * * * *
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