Christopher Nadeau is the author of the novels Dreamers of Infinity’s Core and Kaiju as well as over three dozen short stories in various anthologies and magazines. He received positive mention from Ramsey Campbell for his short story “Always Say Treat,” which was compared to the work of Ray Bradbury and has received positive reviews from SFRevue and zombiecoffeepress. His work has appeared alongside the likes of Mike Resnick and David Gerrold. Chris has also served as special editor for Voluted Magazine’s The Darkness Internal which he created.

He promises Echoes of Infinity’s Core was finished years ago and will someday see the light of day. Until then, enjoy his many short fiction offerings.


by Christopher Nadeau


I looked into his blank, ice blue eyes. He sneered, taking two slow steps in my general direction before I turned and ran. Even as I went, I knew he would not chase me. He didn’t need to.

He would find me no matter where I went.

Something floated on the breeze as I rounded the next corner and joined the throng of walking morning commuters. A feeling. A sensation. Not exactly a thought that entered my mind in the form of words, but it somehow communicated its intent anyway. Amusement. Somehow both gentle and sinister, it followed me deeper into the crowd, lasting several seconds before I felt as if I had placed a bit of distance between myself and it.

And still I did not relax or stop or even pause.

My legs were spindly Jell-O, my arms useless and hanging limp at my sides. Yet my feet propelled me ever onward, away, towards who knew where. I knew they would give out soon and I would collapse wherever I found myself, but I didn’t care. I had to keep going, to get as far away from him as I possibly could.

How long could I keep doing this? How long before I ran out of places to hide, or room to run? The world was huge but it was finite, unlike his doggedness and determination. Running wasn’t enough. I had to outthink him.

As my knees buckled and I fell onto the soft ground of a public park, my last thought before passing out was how I wished I’d never stolen that package.


I was stupid in those days, like all twenty-something edgelords desperately trying to create shock value at every opportunity. No dare was too over the top, no comment too offensive. It was all in the name of good fun, and if it hurt somebody’s delicate sensibilities, even better. To hell with them. People needed to loosen up and get over themselves.

It never occurred to me that I did, too.

Filled with equal parts nostalgia and liquor, Jake and I cruised the old neighborhood on the lookout for anything that reminded us of our childhoods. We’d both recently suffered minor traumas, him the loss of a great job and me having been dumped by a woman I hadn’t even liked all that much, and the good old days became the prevailing topic of the evening.

“Hasn’t changed much,” he said, slowing his Chrysler down to a crawl. “I don’t remember that house, though.”

Peering through an alcohol-fueled haze, I squinted around my friend to the house across the street from our parked vehicle. “Wait. Where did that come from?”

Jake shrugged. “We were kids, bro. Maybe we forgot…”

I shook my head. “That was an empty lot.”

“So, somebody built a house there?” Jake snorted. “It’s not a conspiracy, dude.”

I couldn’t stop shaking my head as if it had come loose from its mounting. “I’m telling you, that lot was way too small for a house that big. And look at it! It looks like it’s been there for decades!

“They build them that way sometimes.”

“They what?”

“Yeah. It’s like, the style for some people.”

“The hell are you talking about?”

Jake belched, loud and wet and resonant. I stared at him for a moment, realizing that was his reply. I didn’t say anything else. Human memory is an inconsistent, whimsical thing. What meant something to me might have been something Jake never even noticed. We were close friends but very different kids. Jake was all about the big picture, always pressing forward with his grand ideas no matter who didn’t like it. That was how he’d lost his job. For me, it was the little moments that added up to making life more interesting. I could tell you where stores had once been that nobody could remember despite having been there many times.

So, if there was one thing I knew for sure, that damn house had not been on that damn lot when I was a kid.

“I wonder who lives there?” I said, more to myself.

“Some rich butthole,” Jake said.

I chuckled. “Hey, maybe it’s your former boss. How awesome would that be?”

Sneering, Jake said, “Real awesome after I left a huge brown surprise on his porch.”

Laughing, I squinted my eyes at the front of the mystery house. “Speaking of brown surprises…there’s a package on that porch. Not the kind you were talking about. Maybe we should find out what’s inside.”

Jake followed my gaze. “Bro! You can’t be serious!”

I smiled. “I am so serious.”

Jake’s eyebrows rose towards the sky. “You wouldn’t!”

“Better tell my feet that,” I said, already halfway out of the vehicle.

Jake started yelling the words to Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” except he changed “I’m” to “You’re.”

Laughing and stumbling forward, I took one brief glance around the street before trotting over to the house. Half-expecting alarms and lights to go off, I made my way to the front porch without incident and crouched down lest some passers-by who knew the owners saw me there.

I stared down at the large package wrapped in brown paper bag material. There was no address written on it, nor any corporate logos or seals. There wasn’t even a name. For all I knew, this thing wasn’t even intended for the persons or persons living in this house that shouldn’t exist. That made this a little less fun.

Then it occurred to me that maybe someone they knew had left it there. Or, maybe the residents had left it for a friend or family member. That was definitely a moral gray area and, had I not been tipsy, I might have stood right back up and left the package where I’d found it.

But the liquor and Jake’s comment about a “rich butthole” and our shared losses and getting older and missing the simpler times and this house not making any sense and the limitations of human memory and my desire to always be seen as cool and unconcerned and God knows what else pushed all moral and ethical considerations out of my head.

Without another thought, I grabbed the package with both hands and headed back towards the car.

“Whoa!” Jake yelled, popping the trunk. “You really took it!”

“Hell yeah, I did.” I got in the car and nodded to myself.

It was about time we regained control over our lives.


I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of that night. There’s only so much drunken meandering and go-nowhere recollecting one should hear about. Besides, nothing interesting occurred for at least a month after that night except Jake bounced back with another job and a mere 1% pay cut while my dating prospects remained in the toilet.

I was fine with it, though. I needed time alone to grow the hell up and get my priorities straight. I hadn’t felt right about stealing that package; I suppose twenty-something me was no longer as unrepentant as teenage me. That didn’t mean I’d returned it to its rightful owner, however.

I wasn’t that brave.

My phone played Jake’s ringtone. When I picked up, a shaky voice said my name. It was Jake, but it didn’t sound like the Jake I knew. It sounded tiny, diminished.

“What’s up?” I said.

“He wants the package.”


“Dude, he wants the package back! He’s going to kill...No! Stop staring at me! Don’t!”

The scream coming through the speaker was unlike anything I’d ever heard. It rooted me to the spot, unable to speak. When I finally found my voice and yelled for Jake, someone else responded to me.

“Not Jake,” it said.

The voice sounded like a broken tire traveling across gravel. I once again could not speak.

“No Jake now,” it said. “See you soon.”

I had to leave my house eventually. Hiding out was a temporary solution at best. Having ignored the many calls from Jake’s mom and sister asking if I’d seen him, I decided enough was enough. I would go to the police, report my crime, and gain their protection against a real criminal. That was my plan and it was a solid one.

Except, I never made it to the police station. I got as far as my car, where I sat in my driveway for several minutes before starting the engine and checking the rearview mirror in order to back up. The pair of ice blue eyes staring back at me induced instant paralysis.

“Did you open it?” the gravel-voice said.

I tried to speak and only managed a choked sound.

“Nosey, nosey.” He took a deep breath and slowly let it out in staccato fashion. “Look what you found.”

I screamed, throwing the door open and nearly hanging myself on my own freaking seatbelt. Something grabbed my shoulder from behind, something bony and ice cold.

“Oh, God!” I scrambled to loosen the seat belt. “Oh, my God!”

The bony, ice-cold thing held on, tearing my shirt as I wrenched myself free and fell onto my side in the driveway. I yelled for help. Somebody called the cops. The whole time, I kept my gaze fixed on the car.

Do I even need to tell you nobody was inside when the police arrived?

The man with the ice-blue eyes found me a few times after that, despite my never remaining in one place for long. He followed me for years, always asking if I had opened the package, knowing damn well what the answer was.

Nobody ever found out what happened to Jake. No body was found, no evidence of foul play except a messy living room that looked as if someone had thrown a hysterical fit. There wasn’t even a record of the phone call. But I remembered his voice and I remembered what he said to the man who I believed had killed him:

Don’t stare at me.”

I knew that the last thing my childhood friend saw before he died was those cold, dead eyes and that unending smile. I wept for him often but no way was that going to happen to me. Not for taking a stupid package off of a porch! How was that fair?

No, I would run until I couldn’t run anymore. And when I couldn’t run, I would figure something out to save myself. I had no idea what but I would know when the time came.


I awoke in the park and decided I had had enough of running, enough of living the so-called life of a fugitive. I’d severed so many relationships with family and friends and even potential employers. I wasn’t sure I even knew how to live a normal life anymore. But I knew I deserved to. So what if I’d made a stupid mistake a few years ago? Nobody got hurt by my actions...except Jake, but that wasn’t my fault. All the psycho had to do was demand his package back, assuming it was even his.

It was time to put a stop to this once and for all.

I spent hours on a bench, staring up at the sky, watching the normal, unafraid people around me. People with children and pets and spouses and elderly relatives. None of them knew what one stupid choice could do to them. I hoped they never learned that horrible secret.

Speaking of secrets, there was more to this than I’d initially thought. Thinking was a luxury most days; I was too busy reacting to ponder my situation. But now, in this peaceful locale, I thought long and hard. I replayed scenes in my head I hadn’t allowed myself to relive for a long time. I remembered things the man with the ice-blue eyes had said to me. It wasn’t hard to hear it again in my head. He barely spoke and never more than a few words at a time. Those words held meaning, however. Especially one four-word phrase he’d repeated many times over the years:

“Did you open it?”

Why would he ask that? Surely he knew the answer. It was why he was after me. What other reason could he have? He’d killed Jake—I knew he had—because my friend didn’t touch the package. He needed it to be me he came after. Jake was just a message.

My vision grew blurry, my head pounding as my heart thumped deep in my chest. A message. The evil bastard killed my friend to send me a message. This was a game to him. He enjoyed tormenting me, chasing me, taking my life from me.

“You’ve had your fun,” I said to the wind. “Now come get your package.”


Two more days passed before he found me again, this time walking along a row of abandoned stores in a decidedly dicey side of town. I only saw two other people, one homeless, the other running for a bus, and then there was just me until he came around the corner and broke into a wide grin.

“Here we are,” he said.

I stopped walking. “Yup.”

The man took two steps towards me. “You have it, yes?”

I fought off a smirk. He sensed it. Good.

He cocked his head, those unblinking ice blue eyes fixing me with a stare that made it seem as if he was already picturing my grisly demise. “Did you open it?”

“You already know,” I said.

“Give,” he said, reaching outward. “Give. Back.”

I stared into his eyes, for the first time not scared in the slightest. “Why did you kill my friend?”

He frowned. “Friend?” It was as if the word was foreign to his ears.

I looked him up and down. His face was lined and saggy. His head was bald but didn’t appear shaved. His eyes and hands were his most outstanding feature, the latter looking more like a pair of grizzled talons than the appendages of a human.

“Jake,” I said, my voice rising.

The man shuffled forward a few more steps. “No Jake.”

Nodding, I produced the package from behind my back. The man licked his dry, cracked lips, his breathing growing rapid and shallow. Was he aroused?

“You’ve been asking the wrong question,” I said.

He cocked his head again. “Wrong?”

I smiled. “You should have asked if I was going to close it.”

His eyes widened. “No close. No!”

“Oh, yes.”

I felt as if I could defy gravity. The elation of having been proved right was a natural high. This was finally ending. This thing, this so-called man was connected to this package. Maybe it was how he was brought here. The house shouldn’t have existed either. Whatever the reason, I now knew I could stop it from happening anymore.

Prior to luring him out into the open, I had re-taped all but one corner of the package in anticipation of this encounter.

“Go back where you came from!” I yelled.

The man lunged towards me, screaming incoherent rants, spit flying from his too-thin lips. But he was too late. I sealed the box before he reached me.

It was like watching old candle wax melt. His skin fell from his bones in rivulets of fleshy rainfall, quickly followed by his bones and teeth. Those eyes were the last to go. I would always remember them still staring at me.

But I was free! I had won. My future was mine once again.

I let out a single victory yelp and ran down the street, heading for wherever life took me next.

I stopped at a crosswalk, awaiting the green signal, my mind racing with possibilities. Where would I go first? What would I do? So many things came to mind. So many diff…

“Did you close it?”

I froze. The voice was familiar, but it did not belong to who it should have.

“Please,” I said.

“Sealed?” the familiar voice said. “Sealed up tight?”

I turned around and felt the tears run down my face. “Jake?”

He stared back at me with his ice-blue eyes and I ran.

I’m still running.