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“Redfield” – Fiction by Stephen Langlois

1906FireA mysterious name turns out to have a sinister history in “Redfield,” Stephen Langlois‘ chilling short story from our Spring 2016 issue. (And now, you can hear Stephen read this story & chat with Ilana Masad on The Other Stories podcast!)

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FIRST TIME SHE SAID IT—well, it hardly sounded like anything at all. She was aside me, asleep. Her eyes were doing that thing–that rapid movement thing–and her lips kinda pursed for a second before going all slack like she was struggling to tell someone something real important. The second time it was just two disconnected syllables. Third time there was words. There was definite words that third time.

“Red field,” she was saying and what it brought to mind was like a field of thick reddish grass like what you might see in a painting of some distant countryside somewhere. That, or it was like a field which had caught fire—ablaze is what they’d call it—radiating a deep red hue there in the twilight.

“Redfield,” she said again and that’s when I understood it was a name. A man’s most likely. For a second my brain even latched onto the idea of another lover—like how in movies they’re always accidentally confessing to secret affairs—but there was a kinda fearfulness in her voice that made me decide otherwise.

I was wide awake by this point. Had been really for hours. It was the medication I suppose. The doctor said if we was to keep upping the dosage it’d start interfering with my sleep cycle and he was right. It did.

“You know anybody goes by the name of Redfield?” I asked her in the morning.

“Redfield?” she said, thinking on it for a while. I liked that about her. She was what you’d call a deep-thinker. “No,” she said. “No Redfield.”

 

Next night, though, was the same damn thing. “Redfield,” she kept on saying and it was like she was unconsciously –or is it subconsciously?—trying to issue a warning about this individual. It was unsettling laying there in the dark, listening to that. It was like maybe this Redfield was out there, leaning against the chainlink between the yard and Riverside Park, looking up at the bedroom window, just kinda enjoying the fact that someone was up here uttering his name with what might be described as a sorta dread.

“Sure you don’t know anybody by the name of Redfield?” I asked her over coffee.

“I know Redfield,” her kid said, coming into the kitchen in search of breakfast. “I know about Redfield anyways. I had a whole dream about him last night. His name’s Redfield,” she told us, “and he lives in a field. A red field,” she said.

Though I knew I weren’t supposed to—not after what happened the previous time—I decided to skip my meds. I was getting sick of laying awake after working my ass off all day and come eleven o’clock that night I pretty much passed right out. Stayed that way, too, for a good two or three hours before waking up like I ain’t never been asleep in the first place. I’d been saying his name. I knew it somehow.

“Redfield,” I said—trying it out like for investigative purposes—and I admit I was a little spooked by how familiar it sounded coming outta my mouth. It was like probably I’d spoken his name quite a bit before that night. Like I was trying to speak to him directly almost, a prayer you might say of the unhallowed variety.

“Redfield,” said a voice, louder this time, and I figured it was my own before comprehending it was the woman aside me, still asleep. It weren’t too long before another voice could be heard from down the hall joining in—it was the kid’s—and I tell you it was almost like Redfield was there in the house now. It was like our late-night utterances really had somehow gone and conjured this man a body with all the fleshy weight that came along with it, the unrestrained limbs, the brain matter sparking with what it is they call cognition. I could picture Redfield peering around the doorways into each room, envisioning to himself what sorta devastation he might someday bring about to this otherwise unharmed space.

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