You climb out of bed and immediately fall over. Both of your legs are completely numb—fast asleep. You wait for a minute or two, massaging them back to life. Your head aches, but not as if you’re hungover or anything. Not a headache. It’s more as if you hit your head at some point. Or as if someone—or something—hit your head, you think. Your legs feel mostly normal now. You stand and feel the back of your head. There’s a huge lump that’s sore to the touch. Ouch.


The noise. You hear the noise again. It’s someone coughing. You’re sure of it. At first you have to convince yourself. It’s definitely a cough, you think. But it doesn’t stop. And then it’s just definitely a cough. It’s a woman coughing. You pull on some jeans and a sweatshirt and step into the hallway. The wood floor is cold against your bare feet. You can feel a breeze from the kitchen. The coughing hasn’t let up. It, too, is coming from the kitchen. You pause at the threshold and it only just then occurs to you to wonder: should you have grabbed something? Some sort of weapon?


this installment was written by gordon shumway