Then a blast of fetid wind hit him. The smell was unbearable. It closed in all around him, stagnated, and threatened to choke him right where he sat. The smell-a mixture of rotten eggs and putrid flesh-was unbearable and he almost gagged on it. Perhaps the lamp posts couldn’t stand the smell either because all around him their lights flickered and sputtered, struggling to keep steady.
Then there was darkness in an instant. Too dark to see. Tom could hear something faintly but couldn’t tell what it was.
“H-hello?” he called through the collar of his shirt. There was something nearby; its unnerving presence raised the hairs on his nape. He turned quickly but there was no one, listened but there was nothing. Darkness and silence.
His name materialized on the edge of his consciousness. He wasn’t even sure if he heard it with his ears or if it was all in his head. It must have been in his head. It was the stress. Yes, he thought. My wife is ill, I feel useless, and now I’m hearing things.
“Who’s there!” he said.
You’re the one who called me.
Now Tom was truly confused. He closed his eyes even though he hadn’t been able to see anything since the lamps flickered out. Took and deep breath and composed himself. Apparently, that didn’t help.