Jim’s Not Here

📅 Published on August 27, 2020

“Jim's Not Here”

Written by Max Voynich
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 10 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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29I leave dinner to pick up the phone, cupping my hand over my mouth in the hallway.

“Who is it?”

There’s a second of feedback, a high whining noise, and then a response.

“Jim’s not here.”

“Sorry? Who’s Jim? In fact, who is this?”

I ask a flurry of questions, but as I ask the third the line goes dead with a click.

My mouth is a little dry. Something about the voice unnerved me. It had been so unplaceable, so vague, and, as I try to remember, I can’t place whether it was male or female, young or old, British or American. I close my eyes, try to recall it in greater detail, but whenever I hear snatches of it in my memory they make me feel sick, uneasy, and so I stop.

The thought obviously keeps building momentum in my mind because as I enter the room again, I sit down, and in response to my wife asking who was that? I look her colleague’s husband (whose name I am supposed to have remembered) dead in the eye and ask: what’s your name again?

He looks startled: Martin, it’s Martin.

Oh, I respond, I thought, maybe-

My wife raises an eyebrow, and I fall silent.

I try and play it off as a joke, but it falls flat. The rest of the dinner is a mess of awkward silence and the brittle sound of cutlery on china. Try as I might, I can’t get those words out of my head, those words in that impossible voice:

JIM’S NOT HERE.

I’m sitting on the bus the next day, heading to the station to work on a few forensic reports when I take a peek at the young man’s phone next to me. It’s nosey, sure, but sometimes I can’t help myself. There’s something so thrilling about peeking into a stranger’s life, however brief it is, and you never know what you might read; apologies, filthy messages, a strange medical search history, mundane accounts of their day. But this time, there’s only one message on his phone. His thumbs aren’t moving at all, and, instead, he’s staring at it.

Crisp, and clear, at the top of his mobile phone, in a little white bubble:

JIM’S NOT HERE.

I’m taking extra hours here and there, trying to squeeze in time with my family when I can.

Work passes in a flash, at the speed of routine, and when I think on my day as I travel home I realize I can’t remember a single thing about it: like forgetting your commute the moment you arrive, or realizing you haven’t heard a single lyric of your favorite song. I apologies to my wife, again, for embarrassing her. She’s still a little grumpy, but she pecks my cheek when I start cooking, and I know that it’ll only be temporary.

I read to my son, Jake, for half an hour, and my wife comes in to say goodnight. My wife tells me she misses me, once we’ve put Jake to bed, saying it softly and quietly into my neck: so close that her lips move against my collarbone. I know what she means.

I miss her too.

I tell her I’ll be one moment – I need to check I double-locked the door, and as I head down the stairs I hear an ear-splitting scream.

Jake’s room.

It takes both of us a few seconds before we’re at Jake’s door, opening it, to see him in a ball, in the corner of his room, wide-eyed and pale, shaking. My wife bends down to hold him whilst I give the room a quick scan: no-one. My wife’s trying to find out what’s wrong, asking him over and over and over again, stroking his hair, holding him. He can’t speak for a while, and instead he just sort of moans, this low, cracking moan that comes from his stomach.

But, when we’re both sat on the floor with him he opens up.

“He’s here. He’s here. He’s here and I saw him, I saw him at my window, looking in, he was watching me and smiling and, and, and-”

He starts crying again, his small confession obviously taking all his energy, and I make a show of peering out of his window, checking all of his closets, under his bed. I think I’m running on adrenaline at this point, discounting the possibility of there actually being anyone real there, seeing as Jake’s room is on the second floor, and it’s only when I turn to comfort him that it clicks.

Attempting to calm him down, I crouch down in front of him, and, as proof that I’ve surveyed his whole room I say:

“He’s not here.”

As soon as those three words leave my mouth I feel sick, my hands go clammy. They have some significance, I’m sure, but I can’t place exactly what. I don’t know who he is, or why it’s so significant, but the fact that I’m saying it now too makes my chest tight.

I said he, but it was all too clear who I meant – what I meant:

JIM’S NOT HERE.

Something is wrong.

I sleep in fits for the rest of the week, tossing and turning.

A few days later I wake to the sound of a loud creak, footsteps on our wooden floor downstairs. I listen for a while, trying to determine whether it’s Jake grabbing a drink from the fridge, but as I strain to catch more I feel a chill. Cold air sneaks its way under my blanket, up my thighs until I’m shivering, muscles tensing from the cold.

Shit. Someone’s opened the door. Leaving my room, I grab the baseball bat at the top of the stairs and flick on the lights: hello?

There’s no response, and as the lights flicker on I can see Jake, stood, eyes closed, in front of our front door. It’s wide open, and a soft breeze has blown in a few leaves, which twitch on the floor around his feet.

“Jake?”

No response.

I walk down the stairs, silent, trying to see if there’s anyone on the other side of the door, but there’s no one. Jake’s mumbling something, eyes still closed: sleepwalking. Careful not to wake him, I put the bat down, and as I reach to pick him up his eyes snap open.

“I let him in.”

“What? Who? Who did you let in Jake?”

He says it three more times in quick succession:

“I let him in, I let him in, I let him in.”

He then starts to breath faster and faster, and I’m reminded of the nightmares he used to have as a child, the witches and the monsters under his bed, and having to hold him until he fell asleep in my arms. He’s sleepwalked before, this isn’t the first time, and my paternal instincts overcome me.

“Hey, Jake, don’t worry. It’s a bad dream. I’m here – I’m here – I’m here.”

That seems to calm him down a little, and he lets his head rest against my chest as I take him upstairs. But, as I check I’ve double-locked the door after he’s fallen back asleep, I can’t get those words from my mind.

JIM’S NOT HERE

Jake begins to draw in his spare time, the same image, over and over: a face dominated by empty eyes, a wide toothy smile, a sense of malice. He sits in his room, and draws the same face on sheet after sheet of paper, until his floor’s covered.

Trying to take his mind off it, on the weekend I take him to a gallery. I figure that if he’s expending this much creative energy, there might be a way to funnel it into something other than nightmares, something productive. He holds my hand and stays close to me the whole time, even when I try and encourage him to explore. The gallery’s pretty empty, and I know the owner fairly well, so I’m more than happy for him to wander on his own, find a piece that inspires him, make his own decisions.

I’m checking my phone, responding to a text from my wife about what to have for dinner, when I look down to see that Jake’s gone. I breathe a sigh of relief: he’s found something. That being said, I’d still like to know exactly what he’s found, and so I pick up my speed a little, walking round the several rooms to see if I can spot him.

My heart starts to beat a little faster when I can’t find him in any of the main rooms, and as I approach the front desk, the owner must be able to tell that I’m a little scared because he smiles and pre-empts my question:

“Jake’s found a little exhibit he likes. Don’t worry – this way.”

And I follow him through a little doorway I hadn’t noticed, into a room that’s empty except for two things: Jake, sat on the floor, sketching frantically into his notebook; and, in front of him, a giant, cream canvas, that must be about 30 feet long, which displays three words in a clear, black font.

JIM’S NOT HERE

Waking life starts to take on the texture of a bad dream. Daily activities become strange, obscured. I find myself watching milk swirl in coffee for ten minutes, find myself absorbed in fabric swirls on the back of bus seats. And all of this is seeped with an unexplainable terror, a pressing and urgent anxiety that something is deeply and truly wrong and that whatever it is, it’s on its way.

Work’s no help.

The week after the gallery we’re called in to take apart a recent crime scene: a suspected murder suicide. A father went crazy, shot his wife and two kids, and then turned the gun on himself. We arrive as they’re taking the bodies out, and I watch as the two tiny body-bags are loaded into the truck.

My heart breaks, as it does with every crime scene. I take a moment, deep breath in, deep breath out. I am helping. This happens. I am present.

I put on our plastic suit, the mask, and enter the living room. It’s a mess of blood, and the coffee table has been overturned where the wife evidently tried to escape. The flash of a camera, and the hushed conversations of detectives and the other forensic teams take on the rhythm of rain, as if this is somehow natural.

I busy myself, taking samples, working my way round the room. As I take hair and blood samples from the feet of an overturned chair, I find a small, crumpled note. Opening it, I read, written in pencil: not here.

As we move through each and every room, I find the same small notes, tucked away, like some sort of morbid scavenger hunt; not here, not here, not here. For some reason, although I can’t say exactly what, I don’t tell anyone else about them, and, instead, keep them in my palm.

The last room we enter is the twins. We all take a moment outside, mentally prepping ourselves for what might be inside. I open the door, bracing myself to see blood, signs of a struggle – but, instead, nothing.

A normal, tidy girl’s room.

And in the center, a watercolor canvas that they’d evidently been working on.

My head starts to spin. I taste bile. I feel as if the walls are slowly beginning to constrict around me, and the daylight through the window turns harsh. There, on the canvas, in what is unmistakably a child’s hand, is a painting.

The same face Jake won’t stop drawing; blank eyes, toothy grin, dread. And scrawled where an artist usually signs their name is three words, three words I’ve grown so sick of seeing, that have started to become part of me, like they’re engraved into my skin:

JIM’S NOT HERE.

I take time off work. I say my mental health is struggling. And, in a way, it is.

For a while I tried to tell myself I was finding patterns when there weren’t any. That I must have, subconsciously, somehow, convinced my son to be scared of the same thing that terrifies me. That Jim was not only not here, but was not real at all. But I watched the forensic team, and the detectives make the same note about the painting, asking each other if they had any idea if that was the name of the father.

It wasn’t.

But that wasn’t important. What was important was this: they’d seen it too.

Like a plague, or a virus, those three words start replicating, start spreading themselves all over my life, hiding themselves in dark and secret corners, plastering themselves where they shouldn’t be.

Me and my wife are taking a walk a few days later, discussing therapy options, when we find smoke billowing from our neighbor’s garage. We call the emergency services instantly, and then run to try and prize the door open, heaving at it as hard as we can. Somehow, something catches, and the door, with a groan and a shake, slowly opens.

We find our neighbor, Tom Watkins, in the passenger seat of his car, the window open just a crack and a hose attached to the exhaust pipe.

Suicide.

It’s strange though, because my experience with suicide, at crime scenes, is that usually a method like this leaves the victim with a profound expression of peace on their face. Tom, however, looks terrified.

My wife sobs into my shoulder as we wait for the ambulance, and when I close my eyes I feel as if my body is vibrating. My teeth clench, my back drips with sweat. She turns away as soon as she saw the body, but I spend a little longer looking at it. And I can see three words written over and over again, in the smog that’s caked over the windshield:

JIM’S NOT HERE.

But what chills me most, what makes me want to push my wife away from me and run, run until my legs give out, is that they weren’t just written on the inside of the windshield.

Something, through all that toxic smoke, had taken the time, whilst Tom closed his eyes and waited for death, to write it on the outside too.

In his final moments, Tom hadn’t been alone.

My concentration slips further, I become home-bound. Jake distracts me whilst I’m preparing dinner and I slip with the knife, cut deep into my finger. Blood begins to cover the chopping board, pooling around the onions before slowly flowing over the side and onto the floor. I know I should put it under water, should wrap it in a bandage, but something catches my eye.

I tug at it a little, the flap of skin that’s been exposed. There’s something on the other side, something written, I’m sure, on the underside of my skin.

Blood continues to pool, now on the floor around my feet.

I wince as I pull at the flap of skin, gritting my teeth through the pain. I work harder, pulling the skin loose from the first knuckle, and then, the second. The pain is extreme, it makes my vision explode with spots of light, and I can feel the musculature of my hand spasm.

But, after all of that my suspicions are confirmed, there, written on my skin, are those three words:

JIM’S NOT HERE.

I’m called into work. Made to talk to a psychologist. They say they’re all worried about me. Say that it’s clearly taking its toll on me: I hear someone say under their breath, as I walk past, that I look like shit.

The psychologist works for the force as well, has worked with me before. Says that she’s been given access to some of my old medical history. From my childhood, my teenage years. Says that one name keeps coming up, that maybe it’s a coping mechanism, for horrible things, a mechanism that I first used as a boy and that only comes back in times of hardship or stress.

She mentions that coping mechanisms can just as easily be forgotten as remembered. That the brain doesn’t want us to remember them half the time. But that sometimes the brain gets confused, starts using them in the wrong ways, starts overcompensating.

She asks me if I think Jim’s real.

She asks me if I think Jim’s here.

And, as I open my mouth to reply, I spot a dark figure through the frosted glass behind her. A dark figure that’s almost pressed against the glass, a silhouette, that slowly holds one finger up to its face.

Shh.

My mouth goes so dry I almost can’t speak. My throat constricts. My chest grows tight. I am not alone. We are not alone. The feeling of being watched multiplies, until it begins to feel more like a physical pressure, that’s pushing in on me from all sides, drowning me, making my mouth move the way it wants.

I shake my head: no.

I tell her clearly:

JIM’S NOT HERE.

Even though, I can see now, that he very much is.

He’s here.

He has always been here.

Jim is here,

And he’s waiting.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Max Voynich
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Max Voynich


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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