Don’t open the door. Whatever you do, do NOT open the door. They’ll tell you whatever you want to hear. When you’re hungry they’ll say they have your favorite food. When you’re thirsty they have a big glass of that drink you haven’t had since that trip to Italy.
They copy your voices. Your mother, your father, your sister, that ex you haven’t talked to since that horrible break-up. No voice is safe. You can’t trust anyone.
It starts the same way every time. Three knocks on the door. It’s always three. No more, no less. The same rhythm too, like it’s systematic. They then proceed to say a greeting in whatever form is most familiar to the voice they’re mimicking. Doesn’t matter the language they will sound exactly like them. Even with those same inflections that you only notice when knowing someone for many years. That kind of familiarity where you can pick out someone’s voice from a crowd.
That’s how they got my friend Tom. He called me one day saying that his mother was outside his closet, knocked three times before offering him his favorite homecooked meal; shepherd’s pie. He called me, confused. He was in his walk-in closet with the door closed looking for something when this all happened. His mom lives nowhere near him and she’s not one to show up unannounced. She also always has a telltale knock whenever she’s about to enter somewhere. It’s never three knocks. It’s NEVER three knocks. Something in my gut told me there was something wrong with this situation. I just knew there was.
He called out to his mom and she answered in her perfectly cheery voice saying that she doesn’t normally drop by unannounced and that she brought shepherd’s pie. That it’s been so long since she’s seen him. His confusion cleared he told her he was opening the door. I screamed over my phone to not open it. Dear God, I tried to tell him to not open it. I heard the click of the doorknob followed by the thud of his phone hitting the ground. An ear-piercing scream was shoved into my ear, causing me to recoil from my phone. The sound of ripping and tearing followed by gurgling from Tom caused me to freeze in abject horror. There was brief huffing and puffing from something large on the other side followed by a crunch and the phone call ends.
I sat there for a moment, the realization of what just happened flooding over me. Fear started to rise, my heart beating in my throat. I was about to call 911 when three rhythmic knocks came at my door. My wife’s voice echoed from the other side, faster than it should be like she was in a rush. “Honey, I bought that wine you love”.
I trembled. My hand lowered to my side. My wife was half the country away on business.