Yours Truly | Teen Ink

Yours Truly

December 7, 2021
By winter275 SILVER, Seoul, Other
winter275 SILVER, Seoul, Other
7 articles 2 photos 0 comments

The clock struck twelve.

Calvin Miller looked out the large office window to the right of his cubicle: the sun was teasing down from the sky’s center, every so often playing peekaboo behind the silently scrolling clouds. A perfect early autumn day. I should take the kids out to the park after work today, he thought to himself. He sat staring for a long time, being a man who appreciated such things as beautiful weather and culinary delicacies. Many described Calvin as a soft, kind, respectful person, though firm when need be: the type of person that would leave some milk for a stray cat or save an insect instead of killing it. He worked an office job and lived nearby (with his wife and kids) in a quiet suburb. Though a little modest, his home was nothing short of comfortable.

Ring, ring! He picked up the desk phone, and after a moment, he stood up and walked over to Jack’s room. Calvin knocked on the door, heard the muffled “come in!”, and entered. “Sit down, sit down,” Jack said in his amiable fat man’s voice, gesturing to the seat opposite him. Calvin took a seat. “How you doin’, Cal?”

“Just fine, thanks,”

“Good to hear, good to hear. Cal, you're a great lad, never missed a deadline, always producing the best quality documents, prompt, smooth communication. And I’ve been hearing some great things about ya from your colleagues. They love you, Cal, say you’re easy to work with. I know you still got your mortgages to pay, and you have a family to support. I’ve thought it through, and I’m going to promote you to product manager with a 650 dollar bonus for this month.”

“Thank you so much, Jack,” Calvin said, beaming. He’d been anticipating this moment for a while, imagining what Jack would say. To Calvin’s great delight, it rolled out exactly as he had conceptualized it.

“It’s only right, Cal, it’s only right. Keep up the good work.” Jack said along with a rather unusual hand gesture, which was his unique way of saying, “you can leave, now.” 

Cal got back to his cubicle and surveyed his desktop; his gaze locked on the picture of his daughter Kayla’s fourth birthday party. Manager! 650 dollars! He already knew how he would spend the extra pay and 650 dollars; he had been planning what to do with it once he got it because he had known, really known, that he would get the position. He even had a feeling in the morning that this was the day it was going to happen. So it was.


After work, Cal took the kids out to the park, and the two joined the swarm of other children, which then organized a big game of tag. Cal watched from a bench, which he shared with the father of one of the older children. Cal fired up some small talk with the other man, who later told him about how “your kids will grow up so fast, sometimes faster than you can keep up.” Cal tried to imagine Kayla all grown-up but couldn’t. She was too sweet and innocent; perhaps she would stay that way? She definitely inherited many of her father’s temperamental traits and light brown hair, but she had her mother’s sea-green eyes. Those eyes, he knew, would be able to win over any boy when the time came. Adam was more like his mother personality-wise but looked almost exactly the same as his father. He tried to imagine him all grown-up and could see it clearly. Is it because he looks like me? he wondered.

His eyes searched the crowd of scurrying little ones for Kayla and Adam. Once he found them, he smiled and thought about his promotion and the extra money he would be earning from now on. He'd save it up and use it to send Kayla and Adam to the best private school that would accept them. He’d buy them the nicest clothes so that they won’t feel left out among their friends, because the kids at those schools will have nice clothes and fancy toys, without a doubt. He’d pay for anything they’d need for pursuing their interests. Kayla was artistic: she loved painting and designing clothes. Adam was more intrigued by science, but he also played sports very well. I guess we’ll see what happens, Cal thought.

He was snapped out of his reverie by Kayla. She must have tripped and fallen badly on her ankle because now she was on the ground belching at the top of her lungs, tears sailing down her cheeks, her ankle twisted at an unnatural angle. Cal shot up and rushed over to her. He didn’t notice the man in black who slithered out of a nearby bush and slipped into a dark alleyway.  

Cal dropped off Adam at home (his mother was back) and drove Kayla to the hospital. Once they got to their floor, the receptionist told him to wait a couple of minutes and that the doctor would see them shortly. The two sat on one of the benches. “Daddy, I want water,” said Kayla with a hurt look in her sea-green eyes. 

“I’ll get it, baby, wait here.” Calvin rushed to the water dispenser, which was down a corridor outside the waiting room, and was just picking up a paper cup when the lights went out with a booming thump. He heard a tingly static noise, and with it came a weak, flickering, soft green glow that radiated the halls. Suddenly, there was absolute silence, save for the static. It was an almost freaky silence that gave Calvin the sense that he was the only person in the whole building. 


He ran back to the waiting room. 

The room was empty. 

His heart skipped a beat, and his blood seemed to freeze in his veins. He shook out of his shock. “Find her, before he does,” said a voice inside his head. Who was he

“Kayla!” Calvin screamed out. This was the loudest he’d ever spoken; the veins on his neck were sticking out. His throat burned. “Kayla!” 

“Daddy!” Kayla’s voice echoed through the deserted halls. 

“Kayla! Where are you? Kayla, keep calling out to me! I’m going to you!”

“Daddy! Daddy!”

Calvin sprinted through the hospital’s twists and turns, following his daughter’s calls. He turned a left and found himself facing a windowless double door. Kayla’s voice was coming from the other side. He tried the door. It was locked. “Kayla, I’m on the other side of this door! I’m gonna jack it open, just hang on.”

“Daddy, help me!”

His eyes darted around and spotted an emergency-use hatchet in a glass box in the wall. He broke the glass with his elbow and grabbed the hatchet. With all his might, he came down with the hatchet on the crack between the pair of doors. Again. Again. Each swing sounded iron on iron, the clunks reverberating through the seemingly empty halls. The lights continued to flicker their ominous green glow, occasionally sending sparks alongside the static noise. 

Clank. The doors cracked apart. Cal dropped the hatchet and flung the doors open. What he saw made his heart leap into his throat.

“Daddy, help me! Daddy!” The room was not very large, around fourteen by fourteen feet, and in the center of the room was a tape player hooked up to a speaker. Nearly nothing else was in the room. One last “Daddy! Help me!” came from the speaker before the tape player’s reels stopped turning and the player shut off with an otherwise satisfying click. Calvin stood in front of the audio setup, staring down at it. Staring, just staring.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


Cal whirled around. The hallway ahead of him stretched on and on: soft green glow, sparks, static noise. 

Tap. Tap. Tap. 

It sounded like the metronome he used when practicing piano. Cal suddenly thought, this man might know about my daughter, maybe he is my daughter. 

No. No, there was something about this person (person?), the regularity of his step. Whatever it was, it gave Cal the most uneasy feeling. 

Tap. Tap. Tap.

It was getting louder. The footsteps were getting louder. It was coming to him. It knew where he was. 

Tap. Tap. Tap

His heart hammered in his chest. Run, he thought, run while I still can, before it gets me. By saving myself, I’m saving Kayla. If it gets me, who’s going to save her? He picked up the hatchet and ran in the opposite direction from that of the footsteps. 

After a couple of minutes, Calvin stopped running when he was halfway along a corridor because the footsteps had come to an abrupt halt. He was panting for breath, hands on knees. Suddenly, an understanding dawned on him: the disturbingly even footsteps -- which he knew by the sound were those of a man, his missing daughter, her sea-green eyes. Adrenaline rushed through Calvin. His terror was displaced with rage. The knuckles on his left hand, with which he was gripping his hatchet, turned unnaturally white. He was done playing games. Cal shouted out, “WHO ARE YOU? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY DAUGHTER? SHOW YOURSELF, YOU COWARD, FACE ME!” The echo of his voice glided away from him like a placid wave, and a moment later, the silence was once more. After that, a few moments passed in which nothing happened.

Then, Calvin froze. Until now, he had had a constant feeling of solitude, even during the footsteps. Not anymore. There was someone right behind him. Calvin knew, could feel it in his very bone marrow. Though he did not know how the man managed to get there so stealthily, Calvin was in no state to even begin to contemplate such postulations. Very slowly, Calvin turned around, as if delaying the confrontation would somehow make the man disappear. His hands trembled; the anger was gone, and in its wake was left a sense of dread. He was sure that his pounding heart would be clearly audible, might even jump out of its place. 

Calvin was now fully turned. His hand went limp, and he dropped his hatchet. It crashed against the hospital floor with a loud, sharp clang; rattled a bit, then settled. Standing in front of him was a lean man of above-average stature with light brown hair, hazel eyes, and a straight, narrow nose bridge. He held a machete in his left hand and smelled of dried blood. Calvin was looking at his doppelganger. The doppelganger grinned.


Click-clack. The front door was opened. Melissa put her women’s magazine down on the tea table and stood up from the couch. She walked over to the vestibule, mentally preparing herself to attend to her daughter. Calvin was hanging his coat. “Cal, where’s Kayla?”

“I dropped her off at my parents’ place,” he replied. Melissa frowned. Our parents’ place? Cal’s never left our kids anywhere other than at school before. And today, Kayla’s even injured. And why didn’t he let me know? Calvin got close to her and gently placed his warm hands on Melissa’s waist. He put his lips on her hairline and said, “Well, they were nurses back in their time.” His touch instantly relaxed her, just like it always did. Why would this time be any different? “I’m going to call her,” said Melissa. 

“She’s asleep,”


“Honey, don’t worry, my parents are taking much better care of her than we ever could, especially given the state she’s currently in.”

“Yeah, I’m sure they are. It’s just that... she’s never been away from us before.”

“She would’ve had to do it eventually.”

“I guess you’re right.”

“Where’s Adam?”

“In bed.”

“Honey, I got the big promotion today, didn’t have a chance to tell you until now.” Melissa beamed her reserved-for-special-occasions beam. “I’m not even surprised, I knew you’d get it,” she said. Just at that moment, she thought she saw a very peculiar look flash across his face for a fraction of a second, but it was gone before she could even begin to process it. “Have you eaten yet?” he asked, snapping her train of thoughts. 

“No, not yet.”

“I’ll fix us some dinner.”


After dinner, the couple spent an hour or two watching TV before Melissa started getting ready for bed. “Cal, you coming?” she asked.

“I think I’m gonna spend some alone time, it was a long day today.”

“Oh, okay.”

“I’ll join you in a bit.”

“Okay, goodnight, Cal. And good job today, you know, at work.”

Calvin smiled. “Thank you.” Once he heard the door of the master bedroom close shut, he exhaled and looked back on his day: first smiled, then chuckled, then barely suppressed a laugh. He got up from the couch and went to the kitchen.

The author's comments:

I intentionally dropped in several extended metaphors and links throughout this piece, and I hope that these will help tie the various elements of the story together to ultimately make for a more interesting, and enlightening, reading experience.

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