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Thank you all for coming here today on such short notice. It’s very kind of you, and I wish I had something better to say to you all, or at least something that won’t sound so crazy and so, uh, creepy. But it is what it is, and what it is, is something I have to do. Have to. Even though it may not help me. It’s what’s right is all. It’s the truth. So here goes.
I am not a hero. That’s the thing of it. What I mean is, I am not going to say that it wasn’t really me that was there that night or anything, or that I was in cahoots with that sicko, or anything like that. It’s not some elaborate hoax …in fact it’s even more horrific than you know. Also, I’m not being modest. I promised the truth and it’s hard, it’s hard to say this, but it’s just got to come out the way it is in my head. So I’m going to ask for your patience, and to hold your questions for the end.
As you all know, I drive a bus by that old house. It’s part of my route. And as you have all heard, I saw something suspicious that night, and decided to do my civic duty and here we are. But there is a lot more to it than that. What I saw was a hell of a lot more than suspicious, and when I went into that house, civic duty was the furthest thing from my mind.
You see, I had known something weird was going on there for months. What exactly, I did not know. What I mean is, I thought some completely different weirdness was going on. Nothing like…
I think it was early spring when I first saw the girl in the window. Cute as a button, young but not too young -I am not that flavor of pervert- and wearing nothing other than a white shift. I say I saw her, but I didn’t really. Not then. Back then, she was just kind of a hint of motion in the darkness. A bit where the dark wasn’t completely dark. Some motion that might have been the wind, or a bit of fog, or some papers blowing around. Indistinct. Easy to ignore, or to rationalize. But I guess my mind kind of took hold of that hint and built on it. Maybe that caused what happened next.
You see, what none of my fine customers will say, now that I am the darling of the press, is that I am a creeper. It’s on record at my job. I have been reprimanded for staring too long, or making flirty comments to the wrong people. I have never committed a crime, nor have I been actually punished. Never took it that far. But I have to say that, because you need to understand that I don’t date much. Ever, really. I am kind of a big guy, handsome enough in my way, and I even have women friends that hang out with me. Everybody says I am a nice guy, if a bit quiet, and it’s true. I let people slide on bus fare and make up the difference myself sometimes. I come help friends in the middle of the night when they are in trouble, and I don’t get stupid when I’m drunk.
But I don’t have girlfriends. Because I guess I want certain things too much and they sense it. They sense the desperation and the, the anger I guess. And they stay away. So I suppose I think about women a lot, and I imagine things. I think maybe at first I thought I was just imagining the girl.
It was like that for a while. The bus would take me by that house at night, and I would stop at the stop, and I would look around like I was looking for traffic or something on that lonely road, at that empty intersection. I would look around real slow, slower than at any other intersection. What I was really doing was sneaking a glance at that house. At that one room at the end of the new extension. At that window. Because inside that window I could see or imagine a little bit of motion. Some darkness that wasn’t completely dark. Something that kind of resembled a girl, dancing all slow and sexy. And when I did that I swear to you I could feel… something. A connection. Like I was feeding something, even if it was just my own imagination. And each time, it seemed like I could see a little more.
Yeah, it was weird and unexplainable. I mean, it wasn’t like the bus was on time every time; how could she know just when to be in that window? And why would she be dancing in the dark? But every time, it seemed like the room got a little brighter, a bit more real. I guess I figured she had a room light on a dimmer switch or something. I don’t know. But after a while, I began to make out details.
The girl, at first, of course. Long, jet black hair, with long bangs. I couldn’t see much of her face, maybe just an eye, or the corner of her mouth. Just enough to know, that when I looked at her, she looked right back at me. And smiled, just a little.
Yeah, I know how that sounds, but that is what I honestly believed back then. I never added up how I could see a facial expression that far away in the dim. Never wanted to, I guess. I was focused on other things.
I could see her slim body -not ideal, I usually prefer women with more meat on their bones- with her hands up above her head, doing that slow shimmy in that white shift that covered everything and hinted at everything. I was sure she wasn’t wearing nothing under it. I was sure she was teasing me. After all, what could I do? Pull the bus over and hop out, walk up to the door and ask for a date? I was totally safe to mess with. To make a fool of.
After a while, I could make out details in the room. A dresser. A bed. A single light fixture with a beaded chain. Old wood paneling on the walls. And after a while, her room went from being a dark room in a dark house, to being the only lit room in the dark house. She was keeping the light on for me, like it says in that radio commercial.
I guess at that time of night, it made sense for there never to be another car in the driveway or nothing. No clue that maybe she lived with somebody or anything. My mind took that and ran with it. Maybe she danced in a bar somewhere. Maybe that was how she paid for that ramshackle place. Maybe she had gotten tired of the usual customers and sworn off of men, so she lived alone. Maybe that had gotten old, and she had gotten lonely. So she was throwing a little bone -heh- to a lonely bus driver before she went to bed in that ramshackle house all alone at night.
It went on for months. It became the damned highlight of my day. It was our little secret, she and me. No one else on the bus really noticed her, or even if they glanced over at the little house and saw her dancing there, they never said anything about it. Maybe give a little jump and a shiver and look away. No, her teasing was all for me.
So I guess, in a way, it was inevitable.
One day I came driving along around the usual time, maybe a little early. It was deep dark, not just due to the hour, but because of the storm that blew into town that night. The bus stop up the road had been drenched; buckets of water pouring down from the heavens, and no one had been there. The bus was empty. It was just me.
So it was just me and her.
I knew my bosses would believe me if I told them the storm was the reason I was late to my next stop. I knew the accident camera on the bus wasn’t working. I knew that what I was about to do was stupid, incredibly stupid. I mean, what did I expect? Would she say, “about time” and pull me into her bed? Would we make small talk and find out we had a lot in common? The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. The angrier I got, the hornier I got. I stared through the rain, at what was just a blurry splash of light on the corner, due to the storm. And I pulled over.
I didn’t even pull my coat over my head or nothing. I just walked toward the house. It was like my brain was full of some angry static. I swear to you. I swear to you I have no idea what I would have done.
As you know, I am a big guy. Well, the doorbell didn’t work, and knocking politely didn’t work, and I found myself thinking about just shouldering the old door open and then …something, I don’t know what… I heard something.
Maybe it was just my imagination, twisting the rain and the wind and the trash blowing through the yard into something I wanted to hear. It was indistinct. But I swear to you it sounded like a woman’s voice. It sounded like the word, ‘help’. That was all the excuse I needed.
I don’t know why I was surprised that the inside of the house was dark. It had been dark every time I had seen it. But there was something. Something about, I don’t know, the quality of the darkness just seemed wrong, somehow. Too old. Too easy. I felt around and found the light switch. Clicked it on. Nothing. Storm put the power out? I wasn’t sure; there had been light from the one window seconds ago.
I put my cell phone on flashlight mode and swept it around. It was weird. The place looked abandoned, and not, at the same time. A layer of dust on some things, but not everything. Furniture in the places you would expect furniture to be, but they looked unused somehow. Ignored. There was a faint trail in the dust on the floor. A trail leading to that room; her room. I noticed that there was no light coming from the cracks in her door.
I mustered up a little gumption, and coughed loudly. I figured she must have heard me coming through the front door like a freight train, and I was not sure why she had not said anything. A bunch of thoughts went through my head, each contradicting the other. I spoke up. “Miss? Your power seems to be out. Uh, you need any help?” I sounded stupid and guilty and creepy, even to myself.
I felt a little like I was being drawn toward that bedroom on a string. My heart was pounding, about half of the water on my face was sweat. I didn’t know whether to stomp toward the door so she would know I was coming, or to sneak up on it all careful like, so I tried to do both at once. I musta sounded like a zombie shuffling around.
It took forever to reach that door.
I took ahold of the knob and twisted. It was locked. I hesitated. I listened. I thought. Maybe she was hunkered down in the dark, scared to death of me, some strange bus driver who had barged into her powerless house with her all alone and vulnerable in the dark. But maybe, just maybe, she needed my help, somehow. Could I come all this way and turn back now? I’d feel like a coward forever, and if she decided to call the cops on me, I had already done more than enough to get me arrested.
I swear to you I could feel it then. Like a string attached to my navel, or maybe a straw. I was being pulled into that room. Something was being pulled out of me and into that room. I was feeding something; maybe her lust, maybe mine, I don’t know. It took three tries, but I got that door open. And as it opened, I felt and heard something. A breath. An inhalation.
One moment, I was in utter darkness, except for the bluish white glow of the cell phone in my front pocket. The next, I was surrounded by a soft, warm, yellowish light. An old record player, just like I had imagined, was playing an old love song I couldn’t quite place. The bed looked fluffy and soft and inviting. The dresser clean but old, with a warped and blurry old mirror atop it, and scattered upon it was a tiny jewelry box and some make up containers.
In the center of the room, a beautiful as the night itself, was the girl. Petite, slender, in nothing but a white shift, with her long black hair obscuring her face. Her arms were up above her head as always, and she was dancing, twirling in that slow shimmy. She looked up at me, and she was beautiful, with pouting red lips and big wide black eyes. She looked at me and smiled, inviting.
I don’t think what happened next was her fault entirely. I had my part in it. I could feel that connection between us stronger than ever, like a pipe feeding from her shift-covered belly button into mine. A flow. And I think it was the darkness in me that made it bad. I wanted her, loved her a little, but that anger was there, too. And I think her anger fed into it as well and things got twisted.
Things went to hell.
You see, I don’t think they see the way we do. It’s not like they have rods and cones in their eyes and nerves and all that junk. I think they see spirit or energy or something. I think for a moment, she mistook me for the sicko. For the guy that had put her there, so long ago. She saw that darkness in me that was like his, and she got mad. And all of that strength that I had been feeding her through that connection, through my lust, I think it was that what made her strong enough to …change.
The expression on her face twisted. It became angry and lustful all at once. Her eye, the one I could see, grew. It was eating her face. It was an angry dark pit that she was being sucked into. That I was being sucked into. It was a hungry insatiable force, a scary dark place, bigger than the room or the house or maybe this whole damned planet. Her hair enveloped me, and the scariest part was that part of me wanted that hell.
That was when the sicko showed up.
In an instant, she was gone. The room was plunged into darkness, except for the bright white of the sicko’s mag-light shining in my face. He didn’t say a word, just cocked his gun, and that sound dropped the world into the pit of my stomach. I was going to get shot and die in this ramshackle house by the road, and no one was every going to believe that I wasn’t some sort of… I am not afraid to tell you that I felt tears start in my eyes at that moment. I thought about rushing him, but I could not see anything other than that damned light in my eyes, and I knew the instant I started forward, he would fire. If only he would say something, give me a chance to explain…but how could I explain? Why had I come here in the middle of the night? Where was the girl, who was she? I hesitated.
She did not.
Through our connection, I felt …something… recognition, hate, all of that. I felt something that I could no longer see, rush away from me. And into him.
He jerked, the mag-light swinging away from me. I was still dazzled, blind, but I felt through her that his gun was no longer pointing my way. I trusted that feeling and I tackled him.
I’m a big guy. You know the rest.
Except you don’t. I never wanted anything more in my life than to kill that man at that moment. But at the time, I didn’t understand why. I only knew I was feeling her anger, her embarrassment, her violation, her rage. And something in me, I don’t know, opened up. The lust went away, along with my rage, and I wanted just to comfort her, to absorb her sadness. To tell her that somehow, it was all going to be alright. To help her, not to help myself to her. I stopped myself from killing him. I stopped her from killing him.
It was then that my head began to clear, and I realized that I had just beaten a man unconscious in what was probably his house in the middle of the night. Except he obviously didn’t live here. I took his mag-light and shined it around. The bedroom where I had seen the girl was old, dusty. The dresser and the bed were there, but they had long since deteriorated. The sheets where ratty, with holes everywhere. The mirror had shattered years before. The light fixture above me had no bulb, and hung at an angle with something like a rusty wire noose dangling from it. The window …the window through which I had seen the girl for months, had a thick, dusty blanket nailed across it. Everything in the room was covered in dust, except the throw rug at my feet.
As you all know, beneath that throw rug was a trap door, leading into a soundproofed crawl space with three more girls, still alive, but starving and in danger of drowning from leaking, pooling water. I called 911 and thus became a hero.
What you don’t know is that I saw the girl once more. Twice, if you count the photo online of her, the sickos’ first victim from years before, her bones dug up from beneath the crawlspace.
The bus wasn’t involved this time. I shudder every time I reach that corner now, and I have been known to run that light if there aren’t any cars coming, and there never are. No, one time after that all happened, I drove back there in my own car. I had to know how much had actually happened, and how much was my crazy.
The whole house was dark that time, and I did not dare to go inside, although the police tape and seesaw barriers and the press had long gone. But I strolled around to that bleak black window where I had seen the girl, and I stared into that darkness. And she came to me.
She wasn’t distinct this time, I guess she had used up most of the energy I had given her or something. But I could see her pale face, her splayed hands against the inside glass of that window. Her one eye, staring at me. I was drawn to her, and I stepped up to that window, tears streaming down, glad I had saved those girls but ashamed of why. She was still angry at me, and I could understand why; she had seen the darkness in my soul, had felt it. I came right up to the window and I covered her hand with mine. If she had swallowed me into hell in that moment, well I reckon I would have deserved it. But she showed me a kindness. She whispered to me in that same indistinct but carrying voice I had heard before.
“Tell them the truth.”
And so I have.
Is this enough for her? Is she going to still come after me on some lonely night? Maybe. I’m not really doing this to save myself. Now you all think I am plum crazy, and maybe I am. Maybe now the press will stop calling me a hero, and all those girls who couldn’t give me the time of day before will stop buying me drinks at every bar in town. Maybe now I will lose my job, and not have to drive past that house any more, I don’t know. But I telling the truth is the right thing to do and now I’ve done it.
Thank you all very much.
Credit To – kitsune9tails