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Roommate Troubles

May 15, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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This actually happened to me a few years back at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

My sophomore year, I roomed with a girl named Kara. She was a jazz vocalist, but her main interest was opera. We had a small room on the sixth floor of a dormitory called Juniper Hall. The walls were thin, and her late night singing and voice practices would keep me up late. After a month or so of lost sleep, I convinced her to move her late night practices to the music studios in the Merriam theater building a block away.

Around eight o’clock one evening, Kara announced that she would be practicing late for an upcoming recital and probably wouldn’t be home until around midnight. Great, I thought, that means I can go to bed early (I was beat… I had a horrible day in acting studio, and was ready to pass out as soon as I had dinner). She said goodnight and left, coffee and sheet music in hand.

I made some grilled cheese and soup, gobbled it down, and immediately began to prepare for bed. By the time I got out of the shower, my eyelids were so heavy I could hardly brush my teeth. I pulled on my PJ’s and crawled into the top bunk of our bunk bed. I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I should take a second to describe the layout of our apartment. When entering the apartment, the bedroom was through a door immediately to the left. Our bathroom was inside the bedroom, just past the bunk beds (UArts is nice in the sense that you don’t have to share bathrooms).

Anyway, I woke up to the sound of the apartment door closing. I opened my eyes, and groggily checked my phone: midnight on the dot. I rolled back over and closed my eyes. I heard Kara enter the room and stop in front of the bunk bed. Checking to see if I’m actually asleep, I thought. She flopped down on the bed below me, which was strange, as she was a stickler for brushing her teeth and washing up before bed. Then again, exams were just around the corner, and we were all exhausted. The mattress below me creaked, and then was silent. I couldn’t even hear her breathing.

I started to drift off again. I was just on the edge of deep sleep when I was startled awake again by a noise.

A key in the lock. The door opening.

And Kara entering our apartment, humming an opera tune.

The mattress below me creaked.

Credit: Jessi Cosgrove

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Darkness in the Rear View Mirror

May 5, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Rating: 7.6/10 (456 votes cast)

I have always been uneasy driving alone at night. It was worst the first few times, when I had just gotten my license, but the nagging fear has never gone away to this day. It’s disorienting to look into the mirrors and see nothing, and I mean nothing but the consuming blackness of the night. It makes me hesitant to check the mirrors should I see this dark void, or worse, someone sitting in my back seat staring at me.

In the summer of 2013, I found myself driving home alone on highway 902 from a party. It was almost midnight, and needless to say it was pitch black. As was usual at night, I was on edge. I had the radio off, and could hear nothing but the muffled roar of tires on pavement and the dull hum of the engine. I stole a glance into the middle rear view mirror, and saw nothing but darkness through the back window.

I know that I looked backward and saw nothing. I’m sure of it. Just the seemingly endless blackness of the night. I remember it so clearly because not ten seconds later a car passed me to the left. Headlights on. I had one of those sudden adrenaline rushes like when you think you see a person outside your bedroom window when it’s just a tree, or when you start awake at night with the feeling of falling. Ten seconds earlier, nothing had been behind me. Suddenly, a car. I drove all the way home shivering and knowing something was off.

The next morning, I found two sets of scratches near the back of my van. One was on the left rear, one was on the right. The car was pretty old. They could have been there for months, but that was the first time that I distinctly remembered seeing them.

In hindsight, there are two possibilities for what happened that night. Possibility one. By some glitch in reality, or something paranormal, this other car had somehow appeared behind me within ten seconds of me checking my mirror. Like some weird ghost crap or something. However, the second option is what makes my blood run cold whenever I consider it.

It didn’t even occur to me until months after the fact, but it makes me dread driving alone at night even more. Possibility two. The car was normal. It had approached me from the rear and passed me to my left. However, something large, and wide, and as black as the night had been clinging to the rear of my car, obscuring my view through the window and leaving deep scratches on the sides.

And I had inadvertently driven it home with me.

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Instant Messaging

April 4, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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It all started on the fourteenth night of March, the night of my parents’ 20th wedding anniversary.

It was a wonderful, sunny day, if memory serves. Surprisingly warm for before the beginning of spring. The beautiful weather was perfect for the atmosphere of the day – being married for twenty years is obviously a momentous occasion, so my parents had booked a table at our favourite Italian restaurant.

Of course, this was a formal occasion, so I had my best suit on. It was 5:33, and I was just straightening my tie when my phone went off – I’d received a message. That’s strange, I thought, that never happens. I checked the message: it was from my mum. It was quite a jumble of numbers and letters, but through the vocabulary stew I could make out one legible phrase: “Please help me.” It should go without saying that this worried me greatly, so I immediately replied, “Are you okay?” Just as instantly, I got another text which read, “Oops. Pocket text!” I sighed with all the relief I had and continued to prepare myself.

A few minutes later, I received yet another message, this time from my dad. I checked the text, and once again it was a massive mixture of letters and numbers, with the phrase “Please help me” concealed within. Creepy though this was, my dad was always a joker, so I presumed he was just joking around, until I was sent another text saying, “Oops. Pocket text!” Now this sparked panic. Pure, unmistakable panic. Exactly half a minute passed when I received the exact same two messages from my sister. This could not be coincidental. It just couldn’t.

In a state of sheer anxiety, I started to run to the restaurant. I made it about a quarter of the way before I was stopped by a police officer. “Main road’s closed,” he said, “Huge car crash.” This was the exact moment I realised just what had happened. I demanded to see the wreckage, a request which I was surprised was allowed. When I got there, it wasn’t the remnants of the car that caught my eye, nor the flames billowing from the destroyed vehicle. No. I was horrified to see the lifeless corpses of my mother, father and sister. I asked for the estimated time of their deaths – all three of them were killed instantly by the collision, at 5:32.

A minute before the very first text.

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The Guide

March 6, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I never knew you existed before, but now you’re all I can think about.

From the moment I saw you, something within me said “That’s it! That’s the one!” I was nervous because I have never been a guide before, but I know I am ready for this moment. The last thing I remember before dying was reading a small card, then looking up and seeing terrible red eyes peering into mine. Since this is my first time, I decided to do what my guide did for me.

You finally step outside your car and walk inside, stumbling a little on the icy sidewalk and peering tentatively at the icicles above. If I was able, I would laugh at the memory of my mother… or perhaps it was my grandmother… so long ago warning me of the deadly danger that icicles pose, but now I know better; that isn’t how death works at all. You slam the door behind you, but I glide through confidently, for I know I am still invisible to your eyes.

You turn toward the bathroom, and I blush and choose not to follow. Instead, I explore your house and ponder on what sort of person you must be. I wonder if you will take this gracefully or filled with terror; I wonder if you are ready. I self consciously pull at my long black robe and glance again at the card I hurriedly wrote, making sure my writing is legible. As you exit the bathroom and head to the kitchen, I take my opportunity and lay the card gently on your table, where I know you must sooner or later notice it. Take your time, though, we are in no rush.

You hum “Bohemian Rhapsody” to yourself as you pull a frozen dinner from the freezer and pop it in the microwave. I consider starting a fire to make my first guiding experience more grand, but I think you would prefer it my way. I could almost feel an echo of my long-stilled heart as you turn around and fixate on my note. Peering around anxiously, you bend down to pick it up and read it. I get into place, because I know as soon as you read my name, you will be able to see me, and I must make myself terrifyingly presentable.

This is so exciting!

My name is Death.
I am not the only Death, but one of many. See, most people think of death as falling asleep and waking up on another side, but that’s not right at all. Death is like being pulled by your ankle deep into the depths of the oceans- sudden, inexplicable, and suffocating. I am here to drag you there, for none can achieve death on their own.

You shudder in confusion, and look up to see me. A guttural and unearthly scream escapes your lips (really, am I that terrible?) as I reach out for your hand and pull you through your dimension into mine. As the mortals see it… to your death.

Credit: Amanda Lloyd

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The Sleepwalker

January 27, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I have dreamed more than once that a man may attain immortality by assiduously avoiding daylight, for it is only by the light of the sun that he ages; knowing this secret, one might go on living indefinitely. Only a few hundred people in the entire world take advantage of this arcane knowledge, moving anonymously by night among the larger cities, and actively shun the attention of those who would expose them to the curiosity, or worse, of the masses.

If you have seen one of these extraordinary beings it was without knowing it of course, there at the periphery of your view one evening at an out-of-the-way tavern, eyes half-shut, cigarette dangling from shadowy lips, sweeping the change before him on the bar into his pocket just as you arrived. You didn’t consciously mark him as he shuffled out of sight with the slow determination of a sleepwalker, but something in you did note him, and his memory returns so quickly and sharply because this is so.

Now that you acknowledge you have seen him, study what little remains to you of his profile, his peculiar slouch, for you will never see this individual again, or rather, he will never let you see him. No matter where you search through the blurred end of the night, he will always have left a few steps ahead of you, leaving behind some ashes, a drained bottle next to a sudsy glass, a layer of smoke on the stagnant air; his will be the joke at which the nodding drinkers still laugh, but you will never hear his voice.

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Children of the Moon

January 25, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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In the town of Bisden, nobody leaves their home after dark. As soon as the sun begins to set — shutters are drawn shut, candles are snuffed out, and doors are locked tight. Before the moon is fully risen, the entire town appears deserted, and silence reigns supreme.

“Did you hear that?” whispered Freja, sounding very small and afraid in the dark.
“Shut. Up.” Her older brother, Freud, hissed through clenched teeth as he eyed the black windows of the house nearest to them. They were probably locked. Nobody in their right mind would leave their windows unlocked at night. Not in Bisden, anyway.
“I told you we shouldn’t play in the forest,” continued Freja. “I said we should go back sooner.”
“And I said to shut up,” Freud went on. “Whining about the past doesn’t change the present.” Freud looked at his sister, shivering in the dark. “It doesn’t change the situation we’re in.”

Before Freja could respond, the faint sound of a child’s laughter floated across the wind. Goosebumps erupted along Freud’s neck and arms. Something about the sound seemed…wrong.

“Maybe there’s other–“, Freud clasped his hand over Freja’s mouth. Pulling her in close, he shrank back into the shadows of the alley. Again, the unearthly sound drifted across the air. Freja tensed in Freud’s arms as she realized the magnitude of their situation. A child’s voice, oddly distorted, broke the silence of the night like a fist through glass.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

The Thing lumbered across the mouth of the alley — just a few feet from Freud and Freja’s hiding place. It was roughly the size of a child, yet shuffled with its arms hanging grotesquely close to the ground — making its disproportionate body appear markedly apelike. It was completely nude, and had skin so shockingly white that it reflected the glow from the moon. The Thing turned its shimmering bald head toward the alley as it crossed. Its face was perfectly smooth, and entirely devoid of feature — save for an impossibly wide smile with thin lips the colour of blood. The crimson slash of its mouth appeared to stretch from ear to ear. Freud felt warmth spread down his thigh as his bladder let go.

Freja whimpered.

The Thing froze mid-stride, its body becoming as rigid as stone. Slowly, it turned its torso until it was facing the alleyway. It took a tentative step forward. Freja sucked in a sharp breath through her nose as she began to hyperventilate. Freud clamped his hand over her mouth, but he was too late. Impossibly fast, The Thing twisted its head toward their hiding place, producing a sickening crackle from its neck.

“Found you!”

In the town of Bisden, nobody leaves their house after dark. Every day, young ones are sternly told to be home by dusk. They are told of the evil that haunts the streets at night. They are told to always remain silent, because if they hear you — The Children of the Moon will tear you limb from limb.

Credit: RadLad

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