A Warning

October 16, 2010 at 1:14 PM
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I’m doing this for you. And for Mike, too, I guess, though I don’t think there’s much I can do to help him at this point.

I suppose I should provide some background information first. I’m a sophomore in a fairly good university in Boston – no, not MIT or Harvard, but still one that’s a bit of a chore to get into. My freshman year, I had the option to live in honors housing and decided to roll with it; after all, at least the people would be interesting. Whatever arcane algorithm they use to process roommate requests took in my preferences and spat out the name of my future roommate: Mike, just another random honors kid from St. Louis. The two of us got along fine for most of freshman year – my enjoyment of Miley Cyrus notwithstanding-and so we decided to room together sophomore year as well.

Now, Mike had always been a pretty obsessive guy. He tended to bounce around in his interests; one week, he would devour entire series of anime, only to later start watching random online episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and then begin working his way through the archives of the hottest new webcomic. And, of course, like any real obsessive, he would keep me posted on his latest craze. I humored him; what else are roommates for?

One day earlier this week, he started telling me random scary stories. You know, those random things you find on message boards-I think his main source ended up being some site called “creepypasta” (I never understood why pasta could be creepy, but whatever). I’d hear about a med student eating an arm, or someone being autopsied alive, or some random youtube video that will drive you insane. We usually had a good laugh about them.

The third day of this obsession, however, things got weird. He threw a few more stories my way before hitting the sack, but something seemed a little off. His voice had a sharp edge to it. As the hour got later, his banter got more and more inane, as though he were talking just to stave off having to go to sleep. Eventually, I pointedly got into my bed and rolled over, effectively ending any further chance at conversation. I wish I hadn’t.

I sleep like a log, and that night was no exception. I don’t think I even came close to waking. Usually I can’t remember any of my dreams, but the nightmare I had that night has been clear in my mind for days now. I dreamt I was trapped in a fog so dense I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. The damp air sent chills down my spine. I could hear muffled screams in the distance. There didn’t seem to be any words, just guttural shrieks of pain. Instantly (don’t ask me how), I recognized the screams as Mike’s. I tried my best to run to him, but my feet just slid through the fog; I couldn’t get any real traction on the ground, if there indeed was any ground. The screams got further away and more indistinct, though I could still tell they were Mike’s. Eventually, they faded to nothing and I woke up.

And every last trace of Mike was gone from the room.

Everything. His laptop, his sheets, the “Official Zombie Survival” guide poster on the wall, the heap of trash he let accumulate on his half of the windowsill-everything. A thick layer of dust coated his entire side of the room. Absolutely nothing on my side of the room had been touched-nor had any of his stuff in the bathroom, the kitchen, or the living room of our suite. Only in the bedroom had anything been taken.

I couldn’t believe it. I prayed it was a dream. I pinched my elbow until the skin was red, until my fingernails drew blood. When I didn’t wake up, I dialed campus security, who quickly brought in the Boston Police Department. I was immediately kicked out of the room so they could go over everything with a fine-toothed comb.

I think I must have been in shock. I felt completely numb, like nothing around me really mattered. I’d left my laptop out in our suite’s common room, so I used that to distract myself-or to try to, at any rate. When I popped open the laptop, however, a word document stared at me. Its text was the following:

‘I know this is stupid. I can’t help but think how much I’ll regret this in the morning, but for some reason I’m genuinely scared and I feel like this is the only way I can tell someone why. So here goes: earlier, I was scouring the ‘net for short horror stories-you know, rituals, tales of scary places, and the like. I came across this…warning, I guess it was. I won’t say what, and I won’t say where, for fear of you finding it yourself. Suffice it to say it sent chills down my spine, something not much has managed to do. Still, as has become my habit, I just clicked on the next hyperlink, going ever farther down the rabbit hole.

The warning stayed with me, though. In the back of my head, just nibbling away, waiting until I would focus on something else to rear its ugly head. This was irrational, I knew; my mind was just playing tricks on me. Some ancestral fear had been played upon, some age-old nightmare that was just that-a nightmare, no more and no less. But that didn’t make the fear go away. Only when I looked at the clock to see how long I had until you got back that it dawned on me I had passed the time alloted me by the warning to stop what was coming (any vagueness is out of concern for you, I promise).

And then the real anxiety kicked in. My palms started to sweat, and my eyes refused to stay closed for more than a second at a time. All my hairs stood on end, and I could feel my heart rate start to increase. Instantly, I knew that the warning had been real. And I had failed to heed it. My time was limited.

It was about then that you got back from the TV station. I was so glad to see someone else, I can’t imagine how I sounded. Finally, someone to fight off the dark with, a companion against the now terrifying night. But clearly you weren’t interested; your yawns were a dead giveaway. You headed to bed, and I (to stave off sleep a little longer) decided to write you this. Do me a favor – if I’m wrong, forget this ever happened. If I’m right…warn them.’

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m warning you. Just be careful. Next time you go on an archive binge at creepypasta, or start checking the horror thread of your favorite discussion board, or even just try googling “creepy stories,” if you feel a chill run down your spine at some warning you’ve never read before you might want to heed it. If you decide not to, however – if you just click on your merry way-please tell Mike I’m sorry I couldn’t get to him in the fog.

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