The Move

The Move

A Story by C. Harter Amos

A challenge to write a short horror piece based around a telephone book.


     Somewhere at the bottom of the five foot stack of books was what Leila wanted; her telephone book. It was important, she remembered through the haze caused by pure exhaustion, but it would have to wait. A day of packing, two days of traveling by train, plus a night of unpacking had left her too worn out to do more than sleep.

     It was almost inevitable that she would come face-to-face with the man she could hear beyond the walls she assumed were separating her rooms from his. The walls must be so thin they were no more than so much smoke and mirrors, but it allowed a sense of separation and privacy.

     Leaning over, Leila gave one last shove to get the nightstand out of her way before she leaned over and fell, still fully dressed, onto the mattress that lay bare on the dusty floor. Her sleep was a well earned respite from absolute fatigue.


     "I would say you're moody," a voice came from beyond the wall. Leila stayed still and listened.

     "Charming, but moody," he continued.

     "Excuse me?" She aimed her voice toward the space on the wall where the voice was.

     "It's just a guestimation, but I'm usually right." The male voice was so sensual and low that it rumbled through the boards and caused her stomach to tighten involuntarily. His words crawled across her skin leaving a trace of goosebumps. There was something she was supposed to remember about the damned telephone book, she reminded herself.

     In the next room the sound of a baseball game came from the loud speakers of a television obviously connected to surround sound.

     "Do you mind?" Leila said. "I can't hear myself think in here with the t.v. that loud."

     The sound was immediately reduced by at least half.


     Standing in dirty jeans and a torn tee shirt, Leila began to remove the pile of books, one book at a time. She was ten books from the telephone book at the bottom when a pocketbook slipped from the closet shelf.

     "No," she said to empty air, "I won't be haunted." She watched the closet closely and heard crunching in what must have been the corner of her neighbor's room nearest the closet. His movement explained the falling object.

     "You won't be haunted," the voice added.

     "Leave me alone," Leila said a bit more vehemently than she intended.

     "Oooo," he commented. "Moody."

     There had to be a reason she wanted the phone book, but for the life of her she couldn't bring the why of it to her mind.

    "Middle American Health Foundation," the man said. "You were looking for the number for their help. They're a charity and never charge for helping." There was a pregnant silence that lasted too long to be comfortable.

     "You need discipline. Your head is going to explode from high blood pressure."

     "I beg your pardon," she said back and was answered with a deep laughter that was cheerful and not as nerve wracking as the fact that it was an intrusion into her life.         

     A black roach two inches long ran from underneath the board where she stood and she screamed before she could stop herself. She wasn't exactly afraid of the ugly bugs and made herself step on it. It made the customary popping sound, but instead of the white insides she expected, red blood ran from the thing and dripped into the space between the boards.

     "Bugs," the voice said. "Bugs." he repeated.

     "Finally," Leila sighed. She held the phone book in her hand, folded back three pages and stared at the blurred page. Her lack of ability to focus on the words worried her, but she took the three inch thick book with her to the mattress and sat down. For some reason, she was tired again. Tired to the bone. She lay down and closed her eyes. The voice laughed; this time with a sound near insanity.

     "Stop it!"

     "I won't," came the voice, so near her ear that the breath tickled. Leila slapped at it and was surprised to see another black roach fly from her ear to the floor. She hit it with a shoe and again blood ran.

     "It's too late to call for help," the voice continued.

     One of her half unpacked boxes lay nearby and she pulled a mirror from the edge. Her hair seemed to be moving; it shined and glistened in her reflexion. And then she realized what she was seeing and started to scream.

     "There's no reason to be frightened," the male voice reassured her. "You won't feel a thing. We've almost bored to the very center of your gray matter. The cerebrum is under control. You'll soon be without thoughts." A roach stood high on its back legs and seemed to smile.

     Leila remembered. It was the bugs. She'd wanted to call a pest control company. Her elbow slipped and she fell unceremoniously onto the mattress where the mass of large black roaches enveloped her face.

© 2011 C. Harter Amos

Author's Note

C. Harter Amos
Picture by Rafa Navarro

My Review

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Never, never put off the Ughhhhh!!!! that was gross and very well written. Description was good, dialogue was awesome and the story while a bit revolting, was pretty damned funny and gross. Great job, loved it!!

Posted 4 Months Ago

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I like this! I like the way you threw in the cockroaches! Not all would find them creepy or scary but that’s the beauty of this piece! It’ll cater the few special individuals with fear of cockroaches and it’ll stick in their minds like a gum under their shoes. Plus, it’ll give others a reason to fear cockroaches. Well done!

A second draft would clean up the few awkward sounding sentences I think. Your Brit spelling of ‘reflection’ is cute.


Posted 7 Years Ago

this is fantastic. great story. i agree with the other reviewers, a good concept about the roaches.

Posted 7 Years Ago

wonderful to read you

Posted 7 Years Ago

OMG! Love this, Mimi! I love how you have the ghost being cockroaches. It's so brilliant it's creepy! Cockroaches give me the creeps. Way to really embrace the prompt and have fun with it. :)

Posted 7 Years Ago

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5 Reviews
Added on August 2, 2011
Last Updated on August 4, 2011


C. Harter Amos
C. Harter Amos

Lexington, SC

Born in the swamps of the South Carolina Low Country. Brought up on the Classics with a great deal of emphasis on music. I spent about six years at the University of South Carolina in Columbia soakin.. more..