Mr. Nelson Pugh suffers from crippling anxiety, which is only exacerbated when he travels. So when on his latest business trip he receives ...

Feature Fiction || Calling Mr. Nelson Pugh by Christopher Opyr

Mr. Nelson Pugh suffers from crippling anxiety, which is only exacerbated when he travels. So when on his latest business trip he receives an unusual series of calls from his wife, Eleanor, his anxiety gets the best of him. At first, giving in to his own self-doubt, he attempts to cast aside his growing fears as another episode of paranoid delusion. As the calls continue, however, Nelson can no longer be sure.

Is he suffering from a panic attack or is his family in terrible danger? And if the danger is real, will anyone believe him when he can barely trust himself?

Hundreds of miles away and with no hope of reaching his family, Mr. Nelson Pugh must uncover the truth before the mystery reveals itself with potentially horrific consequences.


As I stood there in my rumpled work shirt, my back to the open window and the phone tucked between my ear and shoulder, I clasped my hands together and literally prayed. When only silence answered, I fell to my knees and prayed some more. Still no reply came.

That is when I heard it: a door opening. At first, I thought that Eleanor had reached our daughters’ bedroom, but then the door clicked shut somewhere deep within that house and nothing changed. I could still hear Eleanor plodding up to the girls’ room. The door had been more distant than her footsteps. Had she even heard it?

My entire attention shifted back to the phone, my prayers discarded. I listened as attentively as I could. My wife’s footsteps echoed up the stairway. I could remember what pride we felt seeing those wooden stairs when we had bought the house so many years ago, moving for the first time out of the carpeted apartments of the early years of our marriage. Elly had been so happy with our new home. We both had. The wood had been a highlight only, however, and we had never been able to afford to install it throughout the entirety of the house, not in all the places that we had wanted it.

Her footsteps softened, the echo diminishing, and I knew that she had reached the top landing, the old carpet there having quieted the sound of her feet. I could imagine her walking through the hall down toward the bedroom door.

As I envisioned her, the imagined image warped, inventing dangers and never allowing her nor my thoughts a moment’s rest. Shadows loomed around my wife, all around her, and someone waited within that dark right behind her.

Focus, Nelson!

Pushing the vision aside like so many before it, I tried to catch any noise that I could, any hint of what might be happening in my distant home. Then, beneath my wife’s steady footsteps, I heard the thing that I had feared. Another set of footsteps sounded in the distance, softer, but most definitely there.

Someone was in the house, someone that did not belong.

Someone had entered as Eleanor went upstairs. No doubt remained. I knew completely, and with every instinct, that I was sane. My family was being stalked and, almost two hundred miles away panicked and dozing off as my pills took effect, I was the only person that could do anything to help them.
With that certainty, I knew what I had to do. I had to call the  pigs.