Paranoid by Rick McQuiston

Jul 02 2017 Published by under The WiFiles

The little beast attacked him.

Danny cuddled his hand to his chest. He tried to ignore the dull, throbbing pain, but when blood began to seep into his shirt, he found it difficult to do so.

He looked down at his hand. As he had feared, there was an ugly gash stretching from the side of his wrist all the way up to his pinky finger. Dark red blood filled the painful fissure, threatening to spill out.

He hated the sight of blood, especially his own, and he found himself wondering what scared him more: his angry-looking wound or what had caused it.

He decided that it was what had caused it.

Danny thought about the gun next to his bed. It was an old 9 mm, a gift from his late father. If he could reach it maybe, just maybe he’d be able to blow his attacker away. A well-placed bullet would do the trick, right between the…

Right between the…

Right between the what? It didn’t have eyes, or a head, or arms, or legs. It was a vacuum cleaner, a beat-up old thing that he’d used (sparingly he had to admit,) for the better part of ten years.

Now, however, it was a living thing, a breathing organism that was obviously intent on his destruction.

Man killed by vacuum cleaner.

He could practically read the headlines now.

Danny could hear the soft hum of the machine. He couldn’t see it though; it stood in a dark crevice.

Anger started to fester in him. The fact that he, a grown man, was in effect held hostage by a household cleaning item frustrated him to no end.

Standing up, Danny kept his eyes glued to the dark crevice where the vacuum sat humming along. Ten feet was all that separated him from the impossible. Ten feet. A mere stroll across the room and he’d be face-to-face with something that shouldn’t be but was.

He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, wrapped it around his bleeding hand, and took a step forward, all the while tightening his fists in preparation for a fight. He heard a growl above the hum of the vacuum, but continued advancing.

“This is ridiculous,” he mumbled to himself. “It’s a freaking vacuum cleaner.”

With unwavering resolve, he walked toward the darkened crevice.

A thunderbolt of pain seared the side of Danny’s head. Instinctively, he swung a hand to the point of impact, brushed it with his fingers, and looked at them.

They were smeared with blood.

The vacuum cleaner rolled out of the shadows. Its tough plastic covering, scuffed from years of use, pulsed with a wet rhythm that suggested life. Two beat-red eyes blinked furiously from their inset sockets near the top of the bag compartment, and the cord slithered like a tail behind the thing, occasionally swinging out in front or to the side like a blind snake.

Danny glared at his unlikely adversary, trying to gauge its behavior.

Would it attack him again?

A sharp pain slammed into his back then, forcing him to the floor. He rolled over to get away, but only succeeded in moving a few feet, hardly far enough to ensure his safety.

The vacuum cleaner cord swung through the air with lightning speed, lashing out again and again and its cowering prey. It drew blood with each stroke of its fury, etching away at both the life and sanity of the person before it.

Despite the pain Danny bolted to his feet and squared off against his assailant. He stared the thing and its wavering cord. He watched it roll forward in agitated fashion, only to move back again as if gearing up for a final confrontation.

And then it attacked.

The vacuum cleaner lunged at Danny, slamming into him with a powerful impact far beyond its size and weight. It bulldozed him over and rolled on top. A slit extended

down the length of its bag and opened, exposing hundreds of green-tinged teeth that gnashed within the slobbering crevice.

Danny used every ounce of strength he had, and in one Herculean effort pushed the vacuum off. It fell to the wayside and immediately stood itself upright. A thick clear substance trickled from its sides, along where the bag was located, and sizzled when it made contact with air.

Without waiting for it to attack again, Danny went on the offensive and lowered his head. He barreled into the machine head-first, smashing into the body of it with destructive power. Then he continued plowing into it without hesitation, not stopping until the vacuum cleaner was nothing more than a broken hunk of plastic and metal.

Standing up, Danny regained his breath from the onslaught.

“That’ll show you who’s boss,” he panted.

The vacuum cleaner didn’t respond.

But now he had another problem: he had no way to vacuum the house.

He glanced around, noting how filthy his place was. There was dust covering everything, with tufts of fuzzies littering the floor.

He knew he had to find a way to clean it up.

“I know!” he cried. “The broom! I’ll use the broom! It’ll do as good a job as the vacuum.”

He strutted over to where the broom hung in the pantry and yanked it off the hook on the wall.

Instantly, it sprouted sinewy arms that wrapped around his wrists, effectively stopping him from releasing it. Then the bristles slipped off the block and crawled like worms up his legs.

Danny crashed to the floor, taking the broom with him. It smothered him in its strong embrace, not relinquishing its death hold until it had suffocated him.

The broom then slithered back to the pantry and leaned against the wall.

*                      *                      *                      *

The policemen pushed their way through the door. Wood splintered in the frame, creating a mess in the foyer and letting cool evening air into the house.

“This is the police,” Larry Mettde, the senior officer, stated in a no-nonsense voice. “Is anyone here?”

The younger policeman, Seth Rotorde, had only been on the force a little over six months. He stepped up behind his fellow officer. “Doesn’t look like anyone’s here,” he said. “You want me to call it in?”

“Not yet. The guy who lives here has a history of mental illness. He has a friend who’s worried about him. Says he hasn’t answered his phone in days. We need to check the whole place first.”

Seth stepped into the living room and looked at the chaos in the room. He saw upturned furniture, smashed lamps, and a vacuum cleaner that looked as if someone had run over it with a truck. His hand rested on the butt of his gun, ready to pull it out in a moment’s notice.

“It doesn’t look like anyone’s here.”

Larry ignored him. He had ventured into the kitchen and was standing next to Danny’s corpse. His gun was drawn.

“We have a body here,” he called out to his partner. He leaned over the corpse. “Doesn’t look like foul play.”  He noticed a bottle of prescription pills on the floor. “There’s pills nearby. Maybe he overdosed.”

Seth came into the room. He pulled out a pen and bent down, using it to roll the bottle over until he could see the label.

“Pimavanserin, 200 mg, twice a day. Strong stuff. I’d say he wasn’t taking his medication.” He stood back up and shook his head. “Sad. I had a friend who battled personal demons. He was taking pills like these.”

Larry nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I guess so. I’ll call it in.” He stood and was about to talk into his receiver when he saw something move in his peripheral vision. He spun around but didn’t notice anything.

“You all right?” Seth asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“It’s nothing. Just my nerves. Sometimes this job gets to me.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Larry walked over to the pantry and pulled out his flashlight. He clicked it on and waved the beam of light over the inside of the space.

“Something in there?” Seth asked.

“No, nothing but boxes of food and some cleaning supplies.” He aimed the light on an area to his left. “And a broom that looks like somebody used it to kill someone.”

Seth shook his head. “Now you’re just being paranoid.”



I’m a forty-nine year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. I’ve had nearly 400 publications so far, and written five novels, ten anthologies, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors. I’m also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School.  Currently, I’m working on my sixth novel.

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