Symbiosis. Short Story.

Jason sighed and placed his cup back where he had left it the first time. This was starting to become more than annoying, it was down right infuriating. He had even started taking pictures now as proof that he wasn’t going insane. That was a legitimate fear for the first few months.

It started off with little things, things you don’t really think about. Keys weren’t on the chest of drawers by the front door but in the kitchen, obviously he had brought them in there. Or his glass being on his right rather than his left, he must have just put it down while distracted. Then his shoes started moving. It took him half an hour to find them, they were under his bed. That had been the most confusing, after all he always took his shoes off immediately after coming in, it was something his parents had made him do as a child. Then the spatula went missing for two days, that was in the freezer, then there was the missing phone, thank god he hadn’t left it on silent, he would never have found it stuffed into the book shelves. He started to make a mental note of where he left things, sometimes they moved, other times they didn’t. He was fearing for his sanity when he started with the pictures, just to reassure himself he really did leave things where he had thought. It was two weeks of picture taking before he finally had a picture of something that was moved. He had left the book on the coffee table, then he went to get a sandwich, as he stepped into the kitchen he paused, turned and took a photo. When the sandwich was made he went back into the living room only to find that the book was gone. He checked the time just to be sure that he hadn’t blacked out or something, but there was no missing time. He checked the photo and there it was, clear as day. He checked around the table for fear it fell, and under the couch, but there was no trace of it anywhere. He found it twenty minutes later, sitting on his bedside locker. That was when he finally started believing that it wasn’t him just being forgetful or a tiny bit crazy. The first thing Jason did was check all the doors and windows, and none of them were open and all were locked. He had a brief fear that perhaps someone was living in the house, unknown to him, but there was no where for them to hide, each room was used fairly frequently, and he would have heard someone moving around the house. No. He was alone. What ever it was was confined to the house, it wasn’t happening in work or anywhere else, it was only the house that was affected.

 

It took another week of careful planning and watching to catch the things vanishing, the items seemed to shimmer for a moment, almost glistening as if covered in dew drops, then they would disappear. He tried to lunge towards the items when this started happening, sometimes it would continue and disappear before he could reach it, and other times it would snap back to normal, sitting there guileless. The item was never damp and never appeared damaged or in any way harmed by the actions that were taken against it. He set up cameras, but the cameras never caught anything. An item would be there one frame and gone the next, seamlessly removed.

 

Jason came to the conclusion that what ever was in the house could observe him to a point, and that it would alter itself depending on what it saw or what he was attempting to do, and, with that in mind, he created the trap. It was a simple affair, constructed at work. A weight would be placed on it, which would activate it, then once the weight was removed, the trap was sprung, hopefully capturing what ever was moving the items, or stopping the item itself from disappearing.
When he returned home, he placed the trap onto his coffee table, then he put he wallet and keys into the small bowl. Both had been favoured targets of late and he left the room to make himself a snack. He was just putting ham onto the bread when he heard a snap. He raced to the sitting room to see that the bowl was covered with the thin netting, inside it was both his keys and wallet, and something else. Something small and vaguely human shaped. Jason stepped closer,

“What the hell?”
He leaned over the bowl, getting close to the netting, the figure stood, shook its head, then launched itself at the netting, but it bounced off it.
“You’re stuck now, what ever you are.”
The tiny thing jumped again and again, trying to escape, it reminded him of a fly banging against a window. He tried not to chuckle as he watched, he had a deep sense of satisfaction. Finally this thing, what ever it was, would stop. He’d release it outside or something and it would go away.

“Ok, here’s the plan little guy, I’m gonna carry this all outside, then I’m going to close my door and let you out. Ok? Just keep calm.”
Jason didn’t know if it could hear him, or even understand him, but he didn’t think it would hurt.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
Jason jumped and spun around, there was no one there.

“The hell? Who are you?”
“I’m the diplomat I guess. If you put it outside, it’ll die.”
“So?”
“Don’t you think that’s cruel? Killing sentient creatures like that? Besides, the others will be pissed.”
“Fine, I’ll move it to someone else’s house.”
“Nope. It’ll die there too.”
“Then what do you suggest I do?”
“Learn to live with it.”
“I can’t. It wasn’t always like this, so they arrived after me, it’s my house.”
“No, not really. They were here long before you and they’ll be here long after you’re gone. Besides, if they leave, or die off, the land around here will die off too. It’s that whole interconnected thing in nature. Do you want to cause all the land to die? I’m pretty sure your neighbours will be pissed.”
Jason sat down on the couch.
“Can I at least see who I’m talking to?”
“Sure.”
A short man appeared, six inches tall, sitting on the edge of his coffee table.
“You’re stuck with them and them with you, unless…you’re not willing to move, are you?”
“No.”
“Then you’re stuck together. It’s not all bad. They’re keeping your fruit and stuff fresh. Haven’t you noticed? Those apples have been sitting there for like two months now.”
“Ok, so what can I do?”
“Bring them offerings. They’ll calm down, stop moving important stuff.”
“What kind of offerings?”
“Nothing too much. Some chocolate squares, marshmallows, maybe some honey and a few biscuits every now and then.”
“What’ll stop them from taking everything in my cupboards.”
“They’ll give you a plate, it’ll be for offerings only. They won’t take anything else.”
“Ok. Fine. I accept.”
“Good.” The man disappeared and Jason stood, feeling ill. He walked into the kitchen, he wanted coffee. Obviously he had some kind of mental break. He’d drink his coffee, then he’d look up therapists online.

As the kettle boiled, he saw a small purple plate sitting on the table. Shrugging, he went to the cupboard and pulled out a chocolate bar, he unwrapped it and gently set it on the plate. Instantly it started to shrink, as he watched he could see tiny bite marks appearing. Behind him, the kettle clicked. He went back into the sitting room and saw the trap was still there. Feeling slightly guilty, he opened it, the small creature leaped out and vanished mid air. He took a deep breath, then went back into the kitchen. Maybe he’d hold off a few days, see if it made a difference. A few quid a week was cheaper than a therapist by far.

 

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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