Little Tasks By William Schloss

“When you want something as bad a humanly possible. Morals and the feeble comprehension of human feeling seem to go out the window. Funny isn’t it”.

From the man you all hide from

The car ride was one of great silence, and an overwhelming feeling of loss, the only saving grace being the warmth of sitting shoulder to shoulder with family. My name is Emily Morrow, and the man I loved was found hanging from the ceiling fan on the morning of the 15th of September 2018.

This isn’t a sop story or me asking for a shoulder to cry on, this is my final story I will leave this earth. The events that have transpired over the two weeks following his funeral.

Since the day we buried him, he’s visited me every night. No not my husband, but him. I don’t know what to call him but he’s here with you this very moment peering at every one through those beady yellow eyes.

It undoubtedly, uninvitedly, and undeniably returned each and every night to cast its gaze upon me and whisper its Little Tasks.

For whom it may concern if you experience any of following events or circumstances I covey in this message. Please seek help for you are messing with things far beyond human understanding. If these things occur please seek the help of a priest or something to be honest I don’t know myself. I just pray my words reach someone.

It all started when I got home, I now live by myself in a small house in the little town of Amethyst. The town is off the junction on highway 37 when you arrive at the junction just to the right you can get a nice view of the suburb of Ronan. Ronan is a very large suburb located on the outskirts of Silver City, it’s been on the boom recently with a ton of new real estate.

Well to the left of the junction is my town. Me and my soon to be husband moved there about four months ago and really enjoyed living there. Our house was great everything was great. I work as a real estate agent so the move was very handy for me being that the biggest real estate boom was happening ten-minutes away. My husband was a lawyer fresh out of law school.

Everything began to turn strange about three months into the move, well it wasn’t like the house was possessed, there were no ghosts or bumps in the night. The change began in my husband despite him being a night owl usually. He began sleeping fewer and fewer hours every night.

At the time he was onto his second case, so I assumed he had just been a little more on edge due to the case. One day he came home early and unannounced. I was home preparing dinner, but from the moment I heard the door open to him rounding the corner I could feel a sort of weight in the room.

“Hey would you be a dear and come give me a hand preparing dinner”.

I was met with no reply which was strange for him, he was always quite responsive and was a loud and shimmering figure during social events.

He didn’t reply but I could hear his footsteps coming closer with an almost uneasy rhythm in his step. I couldn’t explain it but it was as iv he was skipping steps, shuffling his feet, and anything else you could picture.

I stopped what I was doing to focus on him as he rounded the corner with a hitch in his step.

“Hey babe is everything alright.” I asked “Yeah fine just a little tired is all.” he replied quite calmly.

His head was bent over facing his black leather dress shoes. I continued to look and said “hey dal can you come give me a hand with dinner.”?

His head slowly tilted upwards unnervingly slow it was as if he had an invisible weight strapped to the top of his head that he was struggling to lift. Then he looked up and his eyes. My god those eyes. His pupils were dilated beyond belief. The whites of his eyes were nearly completely red bloodshot beyond anything I’d ever seen.

I dropped the cutlery I was holding. Leaving it sprawled across the floor. He looked down at it in slight shock.

“Babe are alright.” he had the audacity to ask. “Are you alright. My god your eyes dear”. “What about them” he asks confused by the question.

I grabbed him by the hand, which felt remarkably cold to the touch. I ran him to the downstairs bathroom and flicked the light on. He winced at the light (to no surprise of my own).

“Look, look your eyes are bloodshot dear”. “Wow I hadn’t noticed. Jesus they really do look horrible”. He replies “Babe when’s the last time you went to sleep”

This question seemingly angered him he gave me a Defiant glare before raising his voice at me.

“What! Was it someone else lying up next to you last night or was that not me who was in bed with you”?

I was a little thrown back by the question. He was right I distinctly remember him lying next to me the night prior. It was the longest I’d seen him sleep. I came upstairs after watching T.V. To him passed out.

I remember climbing into bed next to him and gently tucking myself in. But after awhile I remember him rolling over, placing his arm over me and embracing me. Pulling me in. He whispered in my ear “love you babe” which caused a slight smile to cut across my face. I felt as if he had come back to me as if the man I loved had returned from and unexpected business trip.

But the true reality was far harsher. He marched upstairs into the study were he remained until dinner.

The night was solemn and quiet with very little being said. After dinner I went to sleep a little earlier than usual, this was definitely a rarity for me, but I felt the need to just forget today and restart tomorrow.

I was naive to belief that this was nothing more than him being a little on edge. If only I knew this was going to get worse, maybe I could’ve changed something. I have not confided in anyone about whats occurred, as I’m nearly certain they would find it strange and probably push me to seek help.

I know I’m not crazy. I know what happened, what really happened and it’s not something I simply made up as a figment of my imagination or a “coping mechanism” with the grief of losing a loved one.

I truly understand that what happened was truly out of mine, my husbands and anyone else’s control. Days later I noticed he was looking thinner I asked him if he would hop on the scales for me. He did so with no more than a slight suspicious wince at the idea. He was a decently large man (in height) and was still quite broad in the shoulder.

Usually he sat around the 90 to 95 kilogram range, but not to day he was an abysmal 80. Only days ago he looked fit as a fiddle apart for the piercing red eyes.

“LIFT UP YOUR SHIRT!”. “W…why hun”. “NOW!”

He lifted up his white buttoned up shirt slowly to reveal a clear cut rib cage, flat nearly inverted stomach. But there was also massive welts and bruises across his chest. At first I thought he might of been attacked. But each welt and bruise held a perfect circle almost unnervingly perfect in its symmetry.

I leaned back solemnly and held my hands to my mouth muffling my gasps. I shook my head while he stands there seemingly unaware of what I’m worrying about.

“How…how did you get those?” I answered with a shaky raspy voice “What are you talking about dear?” He said as calmly as anything with an almost childlike Innocence. “Don’t play dumb how did you get those marks and bruises. And why do you look like a fucking skeleton”. “Oh those” he says with a laugh. “I see you’ve noticed iv lost a few pounds. These marks are from the weekend when me, Mark, Jackson, and Phil went to play paintball.”

For a moment I paused unsure of whether I was being paranoid, but as I glanced at his sunken red eyes and slowly deteriorating physique I knew something was wrong.

“We’re going to the doctor tomorrow. You need to get looked at”. I proclaimed “Why go through all that trouble over some bumps and bruises”. “Just do it for me hunny. Please”. “Fine”.

He never arrived at the appointment. The next morning I awoke to a very uneasy feeling as if there was a snake gently coiling around my throat slowly getting tighter.

To the right of me is an absent indent we’re he should of been. It was around 6:00AM but he usually despite his lack of sleep would still only wake at around 7:30.

I moseyed out of bed with sleeping sand still firmly attached to the corner of my eyes. I went to the upstairs bathroom assuming he must of just been up needing to use the bathroom. But it was absent no one had entered since the previous night.

I crept downstairs. Uneasiness growing with every passing step. A bleak and unrecognisable aura seeped up the stairs it was so strong nearly visible.

Each step towards its direction (being the living room). Was like walking through thick vines with each step breaking parts of the vine only to become ensnared by larger and greater vines with the following step.

The last couple of steps were hell I was sweating bullets, short of breath, muscles felt like they had just been put through the ringer, and worst of all a headache that felt like a mallet was pounding away at it.

I rounded the corner, then everything seemed to shift into slow motion. And there he hung. The sight of it was so strange it made everything seem unreal. I didn’t scream, I didn’t run, I just stood there staring trying to comprehend what that was hanging from the ceiling. Just as that though passed like a scene out of a horror movie his body spun until it faced me.

He was as white as a ghost. His head and eyes arched upwards staring at the roof with a half smiling, half crying expression on his face. His dark brown hair was now a pitch and desolate black as it ran down the sides of his face. His stomach, chest, and back were covered with bruises welts as if he’d been horribly beaten.

It was horrible. The sight of him in that state was unbearable but at the same time there was some clarity amidst the situation. It was clear that someone or something had done this to my husband.

As I regained my bearings or what was left of them, I noticed a note neatly placed on the table with another adjacent to it under a coffee cup. I grabbed both reading the one I’d spotted first.

Dear Emily My fire

I’m sorry that iv left you to attend this world alone, you’re probably sad, confused, and angry but you must understand that I was forced to commit these actions. He came to me every night and had me conduct his deeds and now I will pay for it with my life.

I resent the fact that I can’t hold your cheek a moment longer and see those Fiery hazel eyes that I could always lose my way in.

The actions iv committed cannot be atoned for. Please don’t worry your little heart on what I’ve done, trust me they will never reach the light of day nor will they impact you and your future.

So this is goodbye my dearest Emily I love you and already await the day I can see you again.

Yours truly Connor.

Each letter seemed sincere and was if the same penmanship as his own. The note startled me by eluding to the fact that there was something going on that I didn’t know about. Why would he do this to me what ever burden he shouldered we should shoulder together, but this was something else it almost sounds like he was deceived in some form or another.

The other note seemed different it was slightly crumpled with folds and slight tears in the corners. The handwriting was readable but slightly childlike in form.

You did well Connor

You did very, very well

Now just one more little task to be completed

Please hang your self and join me in the after-life for you have shown you aptitude as a worthy sacrifice to the cause.

Do not fail me.

At that time I assumed that someone had to of done this. They probably forced him to write the note and had forced him to commit suicide. At this point that’s what I believed and what I was sure happened.

My true nightmare began after the funeral. Family stayed with me for a night or two and the time was sad but pleasant and peaceful. Early the next morning they left leaving a dull silence. I did not mention the notes to my family, but i did give them to the police who said they would make an effort to figure out what transpired in my husband’s life leading to his death.

I was confused for a moment or two I pondered not knowing what to do with myself. It was strange, I tried to distract myself by watching T.V. The shows did little to stop the onslaught of memories of my now buried husband from passing through my mind. I went to sleep early that evening.

The sleep was restless with tossing and turning all night. It felt as if I was sleeping on a rock with sand etched into every fibre of my clothing. Each little movement was met with irritation and distress, thoughts of him bubbling to the surface. I sat up with the moonlight gleaming against the window glass.

Nothing met my gaze except the trees dancing with the wind. As my head turned back to centre the room I heard a voice from the direction of the window. “Hello there” it was a very childish voice that had a faint maturity about it.

I simply shrugged it off as my imagination playing up in times of grief. I gently closed my eyes and tried to ease my mind and sleep.

And there it is “helloooo there”. I shot up in my bed certain it was real I looked around puzzled and struggling to see where the voice was coming from. “Over here dear.” I look out the window to see a little blue hazy figure perched outside my window.

My eyes slowly adjusted in the darkness. I was unsure of what I was looking at, but it looked like a small light blue owl.

“Well iv really gone and lost the fucking plot now”. I mutter to myself. “Oh no dear I’m very real”. An unexpected reply. I motioned back in awe. “How…how can you speak”. “Well you see I have this thing called a mouth well you humans call them beaks but for me it does the same thing I move it up and down and words come out”. The owl says in a playful manner. “Yeah yeah I know how mouths work but animals don’t speak”. “Well Emily that’s simple. I’m not an animal” “Fuck this is a weird dream. Well if your not an animal what are you”.

The owl stood up on its tiny feet and walked straight through the window with seemingly no disturbance to neither itself or the window.

“Well I’m what you people call a ghost”. “I’m gonna go back to sleep and forget everything about this night because this isn’t happening”. “You can try but I will return each and every night. I would consider hearing me out you might get to see Connor again”. The owl uttered before flying away.

I ran to the widow calling out to it to tell me what it meant. My calls went unanswered as the owl gently faded into the night. Sleep that night was nearly none existent. I mean how could you sleep after that, something so vivid yet impossible just occurred.

The next day everywhere i looked all’s I could see was that fucking owl. I would turn and for a brief second I would see it, just out of the corner of my eye either perched on a piece of furniture or peering in from one of the various windows across my house.

At this point I couldn’t tell whether it was paranoia or if it really was there. Just seemingly there to mess with me. That night sleep wasn’t even a possibility, the tapping on the walls, the hollow dripping of the bathroom tap, the faint rustle of the trees outside, all of it was a symphony of noise and queries that just ate away at my very being, and yet it was calming for once I actually felt something instead of this numb empty pain, that even tho insanity was a possibility. It was something rather than nothing.

This feeling began to carry over to my sleep, and the sleepless night from prior began to catch up with me and my eyes bared a new weight as they gently closed feeling my consciousness be eaten by some unforeseen cloud.

“Hey again”. That fucker muttered. I pretended to sleep but could feel his stare drilling into the back of my head. “You can ignore me all you want but your husband would’ve definitely wanted you to hear me out”. This definitely caught my attention. I turned around to see that it’s appearance has now changed from its previous form.

Sunken black eyes so deep you thought you were looking down a well. Frayed and agitated feathers, grey and black with some broken and seemingly burnt. It had a long neck with a gash in it, it’s beak chipped on the left side.

“What did he want you to tell me”. I said curiously. “Well you see he always told me how much he loved you and all that stereotypical human-like pointless nonsense. But what if I told you I could bring him back?”. “I don’t believe you”. “Well why not”. “Because he’s dead”. “Well you could” “HE’S FUCKING DEAD, AND YOU CAN’T BRING BACK THE DEAD!”. “Dear o dear, you silly human. Do you really believe that when people die they truly die”? “Listen I don’t know what your playing at but I know what I saw that night and he’s dead. So leave me alone”. “What do you mean he’s right here”. The Owl then stretched his wing directing my attention to the door”.

There he stood it was him, truly him he had a tear already streaming down his face. He gave a warm smile, by then I was already sprinting for him, he caught me in his arms and embraced me. Oh god the warmth, he was really there. “How did you bring him back”. I asked

“Well as you can see he’s not really back. At the moment I’m not strong enough to bring him back. That is why I need your help”.

A slippery sensation fell before my arms and chest, as I looked back at him I realized he is disintegrating before my eyes. “No…No, No NO NO! You cant go please I NEED YOU!”. And just as soon as he appeared he was gone, his remnants now scattered across the room in a moist-dust like build up. But before he crumbled he whispered in my ear “You can change this, You can right my wrong and bring me back so please help….the…bird”.

I kneel, facing the floor tears streaming down my flush red cheeks. The cold chill of death re-entered my mind flushing out every bad memory, and rekindled the thought of fear and sadness of my boyfriends death. It was like losing him all over again.

The sadness and grief was just as, if not stronger then when he first passed. It was different from before instead of him already being dead it was as if he was being gifted back to me, only to be ripped from me once more.

The cool chill and cold air returned freezing, and killing all the warmth he had just given me. My heart once more returned to its frozen tundra it called me, cut off from the sparkling match which was him.

As the sobbing grew and the tears turned from mere droplets to large ones dampening the carpet below. Then there it was. Glistening in front of my face a silver slightly splintered feather gently floating to the carpet. My head is snapped upwards by some unknown force, it was as If an ice cold hand forcibly turned my head up to face the owl.

“Soooo will you help me?” It says with a grin. “You promise you’ll bring him back?” “Of course that is the covenant we will make in exchange for you helping me I will bring him back”.

The owl began resonating with a faint white light, with a calming serenading ring in the room. I was lured by the faint presence of warmth that now presides over the dark cold room.

“we will begin in due time young Emily”. It says in a now deep handsome voice. “Ok. When’s that and why not tomorrow?” “Because that’s how I work. Now dear hold out your left hand and stop asking so many questions.” “O…ok”.

I held out my hand with little resistance in my mind and abided by its command. The owl now a glistening silver stroked my open palm. Now leaving an image of a feather on my palm the stroke created new lines on my palm forming the feather.

After analysing the new image on my palm I look up to ask yet another question, and it was gone, no noise, no foot marks, absolutely nothing as if it magically disappeared. By now I was starting to get familiar with these strange happenings. I didn’t think or hesitate passing out in my bed with the faint question looming in my mind “what’s he gonna make me do.”

Days passed with a restless feeling of betrayal, all the promises it made seemed like a trick to try and convince me to be apart of something, although I now sit here writing this realizing that. This unrest and eagerness I was feeling was what it was after, slowly pulling my desire to see him closer and closer to my cooling heart. But hindsight is a great thing isn’t it, really goes to show you how many steps and stupid decisions you made along the way leading to this very moment your reading about at this moment. Strange indeed.

Just as I started believing that maybe I dreamt the whole thing up, my left palm would begin to burn as if someone had been holding a lighter underneath it, slowly burning the skin. Then there it would be the feather as clear as day on my palm, its purpose to this day I still don’t know I believe that it was a reminder for me, and a beacon for him showing him where I was at all times.

As I made my way downstairs I heard the clinking of plates and cutlery. I should be startled by this but the novelty has worn off. Rounding the corner I felt slight anticipation, which was quickly killed by the sight of the little owl sitting at my kitchen table sipping on what I assumed was tea.

“Morning Emily.” The owl said. “Its been five days why no answer I thought I was meant to be helping you.” I was pissed. “And you are dear. Trust me.” The owl said seedily. “So why. Why of all days are you here today.” I said. “Oooo. that’s an easy one. Because I have a task for you.” The owl says in an inhuman voice similar to that of what a possessed child from a shitty 90s horror movie might sound like. “What…what is it.” An anxiety came over me at the thought of what this might be. “Can you buy me a dog.” The owl says with a nonchalant male voice. “What are you gonna do with the dog.” I asked. “Do you honestly think your in any position to be asking questions.” The owl says in disgust. “No I don’t.” I said like an obedient dog “Now get along with it.” The owl says.

I nodded, turned around to grab a cup to make some coffee, when a clink startled me. I spun around to see the cup the owl was drinking sideways on the kitchen table with no sign of it. Vanished without a trace as per usual.

The car ride felt nauseating. My mined raced pondering the thought of what this thing might want with a dog. I arrived at the kennel wondering what dog to get. A young lady greeted me upon entering she was strikingly pretty, she looked 18 or 19.

With the aid of the women she cheerfully helped me pick a dog. With each cage and lonely mutt we passed they each gave the same gaze, it was one of hopeful anticipation, they looked at me with hope that I might be their ticket out. If only they had known that the dog coming with me was not one that was going to be loved, or cared for they might of cast their gazes elsewhere. I decided on a small Pomeranian. It was relatively young only around 2 years old it was a boy named Nexus. I thought it was a strange name, which admittedly played apart in me adopting it.

The paper work and small fee of $150, which honestly doesn’t even matter at this point. I hurried home, but mid drive I remembered that the owl vanished. Now I sit at a red light wondering how I’m going to get this dog to the owl. I tutted with each exiting thought that passed having no clue what to do with this dog.

Once I got home the eerie silence indicated that I wasn’t visited. I decided to let the dog sleep in the garage I prepared a little bed, which was no more then an old blanket laid out in a circle. I left some water and fed him some cooked mince I had leftover.

I waited for the owls return but he never showed,at least not today. The sleep was easy with very little stir throughout. An honest and peaceful sleep had been few and far between these past couple of weeks, but it was nice to get one like this every now and again.

Days continued to pass and he didn’t show. I catered to the dog, which slowly began to grow on me, to the point he would lay next to me while I watched T.V. He was a surprisingly quiet dog, didnt cause much of a fuss or bark at passing noises. I almost wanted to keep the thing after a week.

After taking him to the garage to sleep he began barking ferociously. This startled me as I couldnt see a thing, I quickly flicked the light switch on to see the owl lying in the dogs bed.

“Hello Emily, long time no see. I see you’ve got me the dog. What a scrawny looking mut you got me, shoulda gotten something with a bit more meat on its bone.” He says cheerfully. “You didn’t specify.” I reply quickly “Its fine. Ill be taking the dog now.” “What are you going to do with it.” I ask curiously. “Nothing of your concern.” He replies with a slight agitation. “Well what now.” I ask “You wait.” “Wait for what.” “For your next task.” The owl then grabs the dog and they both vanish before my eyes.

I just stood there for a moment more frustrated than confused. These events seemed like needless speed bumps to getting my husband back. But alas I resigned myself to the fact I was messing with something well out of my control, and decided to just obey and stay patient.

Yet again days pass with no answer except a new burning sensation on my palm that came and went as each day went by.

He returned here and there and asked me to complete very minor tasks such as, buying him a sunflower, or a cooked chicken. After every task id ask what they were for, and each time i was met with silence. It was after the third task he actually confided any information to me, and it was that “the next task will be the last.” He then left right after the sentence was finished.

Another week passed before his return. He flew into my kitchen through the open window and perched himself to the chair beside me. He was looking much larger now compared to our first meeting he was near double in size and had a healthy blue tinge to his feathers. He just stood and looked at me for a minute or two before speaking.

“Emily this will be your last task.” He says quickly and sharply. “Really what is it.” I snapped back with excitement. “Im going to be truthful with you. If you do this I will return your husband to you.” “Okay what is it then.” I say impatiently. “This will test you.” He paused for a moment or two. “Im going to need you to steal the neighbors newborn and bring him to me.” He says slowly and intently. “What I can’t do that! What do you even plan to do with it.” I ask “Kill it.”he replies calmly. “I cant i wont.” I snap back with. “Listen I cant survive without the tradeoff of life. And you cant see your husband again without it. You have three days to do it I will return when the deed is done.”

The owl vanishes again leaving me furious and distressed. For the rest of the day I cried and sat idle. But slowly I convinced myself it must be done, I mean it was to get my husband back. The first day and a half I was wrestling with my thoughts trying to convince myself to commit the act. On the night of the second day I had resolved myself fully and was going to kidnap the child on that night.

Six PM arrives and the sun begins to set. Iv thought through how im going to get into the house and take the child. After being a real estate agent for some time you learn how to break into a house. Iv admittedly forgotten house keys before. But sometimes a credit card is all you need, if you jam it in-between the door and the doorway and Force it under the latch you can wiggle it backwards unlocking the door. Its really only possible in older houses which is what my neighbors have.

One AM arrives I decide nows the time, the parents should be firmly asleep. I make my way over to the back door, their house is two stories I had to make it through the back door, up the interior stairs and into the babies room. Luckily when we moved they invited my husband and I over for dinner, and gave us a house tour so I knew exactly where the babies room was.

The door unlocked with some difficulty, it was a little sturdier than I anticipated, but after a couple of minute’s I managed to unlock it. I slowly opened the door trying not to creak it, it was an old white wooden door with slightly rusted hinges. I managed to get inside with little difficulty and began making my way up the stairs, and into the babies room.

The house was dead silent apart from the faint noise of the fans chiming throughout the house. I was afraid and anxious, but as those feelings began to emerge, the thought of reuniting with my husband was more than enough to keep my focus. I crept passed the parents room and into the babies room, the door was creaked open allowing for easy access.

As I approached the crib I noticed a couple of toys scattered on the floor, they were the only challenge in getting to the crib. After grabbing the baby already wrapped in a blanket I placed him in my arms, and hurried down the stairs with him only making a noise as we approached the back door, and it was nothing but a murmur.

I was surprised at how well it went. I hurried back to my house as quick as I can, but right before reaching the house I heard. “Well done, well done.” In a cheery and happy voice. It was the owl flying about a metre to my left. “Now hand me the child and your all done.” The baby now awake was just staring at the owl flapping silently before its eyes. It was almost entranced by the sight of the owl, he was quietly glowing in a white light, seemed a little biblical in my eyes. “Okay. . . but you promise to return my husband.” I asked questionably. “Look he’s already waiting.” The owl said while directing my gaze with his wing, he pointed to the road where he stood.

My husband was standing in the middle of the road smiling faintly but honestly at me. I looked back at the child, then glanced at the bird, I reluctantly hand the child over. The bird grabs the entranced child, grins slightly, nods his head in what I interpreted as a sign of respect and Acknowledgement. He grasped the child in his claws and carefully flew away with him before they disappeared out of sight.

The second I could no longer see them I turned and sprinted to my husband, he opened his hands and embraced me I clenched him as hard as I could, and cried into his shoulder. After a minute or two I stopped to kiss him, but as i turned my head up towards his I noticed his eyes fixed on something behind me. He had tears leaking out of both eyes with a sad smile on his face. I asked “whats wrong?” To no answer, I was beginning to feel uneasy I asked once more “what’s wrong?” To silence. I tried to push away from him, but he Wouldn’t let me go, he looked down at me smiled and said “Im so sorry.” In a croaky and distraught voice.

In that moment his eyes snapped back up. He gripped me tighter than before, I looked up into his eyes. In the reflection from his eyes I saw the headlights of a truck approaching, I struggled to break free, but he continued to hold me whilst he was now profusely crying and screaming “Im sorry, im sorry.” I was yelling and resisting until.

Everything went numb and dark. I had been killed on impact. I now know I was tricked, this was all a game to him, that bird was merely toying with us.

My final message to anyone who might read this is. Do not let him into your life, his little tasks are nothing more than steps to your death. He’s a trickster who takes enjoyment in your sorrows. And I pray im his final victim.

The End

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