Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
While I have some scary incidents that happened throughout my younger life, this one has probably stuck with me the most.
I remember when I was a little boy, and my parents used to live in this crummy apartment somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio. I reminisce to the days of the constant smell of mildew and mothballs, as my parents lived in a pigsty of clothes and old trash. They’re not bad people, no, they’re just not the cleanest in the world.
My parents room had one TV, one bed, a near empty dresser, and the rest of the dresser’s clothes scattered on the floor. They had decent jobs: My mom was a clerk at at this big grocery store that had hundreds of people storm in a day, and my dad worked as a valet for this fancy hotel, so he always got good tips.
It’s just that, my family never cared much for buying furniture, or anything that would liven up our home, so we stayed in that pigsty for a year. Wasn’t the greatest of my childhood memories. But, not because of the ugly environment, or the tiny, but effective smell of dirty clothes and a hint of fruity air freshener. I mean, the mixture of those smells made the room smell slightly of rotten fruit. It wasn’t those things at all, in fact, I didn’t even mind the smell that much.
No, it wasn’t any of those. It was the bathroom that terrified me. I remember being at a height where I could just see a tiny spec of my head when I walked past the mirror, and seeing a black shadow sitting in the corner. I was too short to see the full figure, and when I would do a quick jump up to get a glance, it’d be gone. On days when my parents were alone in their rooms, and I would be left alone in the other side of the apartment, I’d go to the bathroom to go pee and see that the mirror would be fogged up like someone had just got done taking a shower. Even the heat you feel basking around after the shower was present. But I specifically remember my parents not even using the bathroom that day, as both of them were most likely napping after a long shift. I mean, even if they had used it, they didn’t take showers in the evening.
I always felt like I was being watched, but not by a bad presence. But rather a presence… Of comfort. I never felt scared when I felt this sense overwhelm me, rather I’d just smile and go back to playing with my Tonka truck or whatever I was doing. The reason I’d never feel worried, is because I was just a tyke then, and never took a second chance to think that a sudden change of emotion in a room would be something horrible.
However, I had a feeling that warm presence wasn’t the only one nested in our apartment. Sometimes I’d watch Looney Tunes in my room with my tiny little television, and feel a cold chill go up my spine and I’d feel like something wasn’t right. When this feeling happened, I would usually run to my mom and dad and hang out with them instead, watching game shows and occasionally looking out their open door, nervous. But I never saw anything suspicious.
When my parents had to do night shifts, or when they were both working, I was dropped off at my Aunt’s till they returned. Both of the random feelings of warm comfort, and dread disappeared when I would enter her house, and the feelings would instantly come back when I came back home later in the early morning.
Let me get to the bathroom again. It was right next to my room, and it’s door was always opened, as my mom preferred, and since I didn’t like the idea of closing my door at night, I kept mine open, too. So every night, I could hear every little thing that went on in there. Whether it be my parents going in there to do their business, the occasional automatic air freshener which sprayed once every five minutes, and sometimes even the drippy tub faucet. Those things were like white noise to me, and it would help me go to sleep. Weird right? You’d figure a constant drip would keep your eyes wide open, each drop annoying you more and more, until you couldn’t take it anymore and would stop it. But, the sound soothed me.
One night, I was hearing the occasional spray and drips, when my TV flipped on. I jumped out of my bed as I figured maybe I rolled on the remote in my sleep, and I turned it off. When I whirled around to walk to my bed, it turned on again. It wasn’t showing any film either, just the static and white noise. I turned it off again and lied down. I woke up a few hours later in the early blue morning, and the TV was on again. A little creeped out now, I unplugged it and went into my parents to snuggle next to them. My mom opened one eye and caressed her warm arm around my body, making me drift off into a loving sleep.
The next day, I told her the weird incident and she shrugged it off by telling me it was an old TV, and most likely did stuff on it’s own like that. She said next time, just unplug it again. I agreed.
Strangely, the TV never had anymore problems like that, but the next night, I remember hearing the faucet water drip like usual. But it was at a higher speed this time, and it grew to annoy me instead of soothe. I got up, adjusted my pajamas and walked into the bathroom. The light switch wouldn’t work, and I figured it must’ve burned out. However, the hall light provided a good enough glow inside the bathroom for me to see my way. I turned the faucet to the left, tightly, slowing the drip and was about to leave when I heard a short distorted giggle of a woman. I stopped dead in my tracks and whirled around. Nothing. I shrugged it off as my mom watching a funny show and laughing at it.
That night, I had a dream. I was walking to the bathroom with only the hall light guiding my way. Each end of the hall that would lead to either the kitchen or my parent’s room was swallowed by darkness. I was moving slowly, almost in slow motion, and there was no sound but light classical music. I saw the red painted bathroom door hanging open, the darkness swallowing it just like the hallway. The background music was being drowned with the light sound of drum cymbals being rapidly tapped.
I pushed the door open more only to have the light automatically flicker on. The light had a weird reddish tint to it, and the tub was full of clear water. The sounds of music and drum cymbals stopped as soon as I looked at the calm pool. I felt drawn to the water, almost as if I should lay in the tub. Above me, in the middle of the air above the tub was a hand. It was a pitch black manifestation and looked like a thick smoke, gesturing me to get in the tub, curling it’s fingers in a come hither motion. I extended my hand to grab the figure’s, but as soon as my fingers were about to grasp the inviting hand and it’s long fingers, my other hand accidentally fell in the water, and immediately, a maroon and sappy liquid dispersed from my fingers, having it fill the tub. It was blood. I screamed, but no voice came out, only the sound of an orchestra building up. The red blood lingered in my nose, filling it with the scent of dirty pennies. a strong dream, one so real, you could smell and taste, you might understand how I felt. The light red glow of the area turned into a crimson shine that made the room a horror movie nightmare. I backed up and the hand disappeared into the wall.
The orchestra built up, not even giving proper notes, just playing the instruments with anger. From the maroon tub, the watery blood gushed out the sides as I saw a plasma coated figure slowly rise out of it. It was facing away from me, but it knew of my presence. The orchestra was now deafening with harsh notes that I can’t explain. If you’ve ever heard “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles, you know what I’m talking about. I felt something leaking down my ear as the music felt like it blasted my eardrums.
The crimson figure was sitting upright, facing the wall in front of it. It’s long hair was thick, with clotted gore hanging about. It lifted it’s hand to to rest on the side of the batbtub, and it slowly turned towards me. It’s face, though lathered in the thick, red goop, smiled at me with pearly white teeth. It’s eyes were pure black with two white circles for pupils. Other than that, it looked normal, although it was very fucking far from normal.
It slowly rose up to its feet, and the orchestra just….. just stopped. Instantly, the lights turned out and I ran. I was still in slow-motion, but I sprinted as fast as my slowed down nightmare would let me. I exited the bathroom and saw the white painted hallway walls bleeding from the ceiling. A solitary piano key clicked in a steady pace, like you hear in those Michael Myers movies when he’s slowly following you. I turned around and saw the figure straight ahead of me, smiling with those snow white teeth. It opened it’s mouth and showed me its tongue. It looked like it was snipped in half with a pair of old scissors.
And everything stopped. I was frozen in the hallway, mid step, and the figure was also frozen, giving me that malevolent grin. I expected it to walk towards me, but it never did. I stared at it in a frozen fear, my eyes tearing up as it’s face was being embedded into a memory that would stick with me for years.
And then, I felt a drip on top of my head. I couldn’t tilt my head up to see what it was, and more rained down. It started to leak down my face, and that slight tickle you feel when it does so kicked in. I didn’t know what it was, but I adjusted my eyeballs to stare up. It didn’t work, but the mystery liquid went in my eye. I squinted my eye shut in that intense moment of their irritation and opened them. In my left eye was a blurry red. More drips hit my head as I felt cold blood drip down my face, and hardening like you see with chocolate sauce on an ice cream cone. The figure still gave me that grin, stuck in it’s place. When the drips stopped, it’s smile widened and it took one step before everything went black and I woke up instantly.
I was in my room, looking up at the ceiling. I was wondering what time it was, so I tried to turn over in my bed, but I couldn’t. I was frozen, just like I had been in my dream. It was sleep paralysis, but I hadn’t known at that age. I tried to squirm, but I was frozen stiff, forced to look up at the ceiling. The sound of three quiet bells from my alarm clock told me it was three in the morning.
I was squeezing my eyes shut in utter terror, hoping I’d just fall asleep and have a good dream like I always do. But I didn’t even feel tired anymore. The sweat from my sudden awake leaked down the sides of my head as I heard something in the bathroom.
It was a squeak, and then a heavy sound of flowage. The tub had been turned on, and it was on full blast. My door was still open, and I heard the creak of the bathroom door open, having soft footsteps being crunched on the carpet. It stopped at my door, and although I couldn’t see it, I knew it was looking at me. It stared at me for a few minutes straight, and I laid there in that state, not being able to move, or scream out.
I heard that same distorted giggle, and then it walked away back to the bathroom, humming a bittersweet tune. I still heard the tub water flowing, and I tried my absolute best to scream, but it was just a muffled one that didn’t give much sound. I heard what sounded like the figure entering the tub and then the squeak of the faucet turning off.
The sounds of someone moving in the water were heard, like it was trying to find a comfortable place to rest. It finally stopped and then I could move again. Literally right after the sounds stopped, I felt a weight on my chest, and I rose up, catching my breath and trying to stay quiet in fears it would notice that I could move freely now. I was crying silently as I ran to my parents room, not looking back. I woke my mom up and told her everything. The dream, the figure watching me from my door, the tub water. My mom rose to her feet and told me to calm down and go back to sleep, as the entire thing was just a dream. I told her I wasn’t lying and I tugged on her nightshirt. She rolled her eyes and agreed to come with me. My dad was working the night shift for the hotel, as the lobby was having a late night party and needed him more than ever. I stayed by my mom’s side as she rubbed her eyes, adjusting to the hall light.
We entered the bathroom and my mom flicked on the light. It didn’t turn on. She sighed, complaining that she had just replaced it yesterday. She told me to wait there while she got a flash light, but I refused and went with her. We came back and she shined the light in the room. Nothing. Nothing but a tub full of clear bath tub water. I started breathing rapidly, wondering where the monster was. I grew a false bravado since my mother was present, and went to touch the water. Nothing. Just normal, warm water. I turned to her and told her to believe me, but she told me it wasn’t funny to fill the tub like that, and to wake her for such a stupid reason. I pleaded to her I had nothing to do with it, crying, and she looked at me for a minute. She looked around the flashlight lit bathroom with a troubled look and told me to sleep with her for the night.
I remember the morning after, my dad got back from his party, his clothes and tie a little worn, indicating he had a good time. His grin enlightened when my mom walked up to him. They were talking, and I couldn’t hear them. I was watching them from behind the hallway wall while they talked in the kitchen. The only word I really heard was water, and I knew she was talking about the bathroom and the incident yesterday. My dads gleeful smirk turned a sour and solemn frown. He looked a little paranoid as he looked around the room a little, sighing. He said something to my mom and she covered her mouth in shock. A few more exchanged words, and they started walking towards the hall. I quickly went back in my room, acting like I had been in there the whole time.
Later that night, my dad came in my room quietly and closed the door behind me. He kneeled next to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. I flinched when I saw his hand reaching towards me, remembering that demonic one that urged me to follow it’s lead in my nightmare. He frowned and asked me to tell him what I saw. I explained to him and I saw his lower lip tremble a tad.
He cleared his throat, and looked about the room. Beads of sweat were on his forehead. “I saw something in there, too.” He whispered. It scared me that he resorted to whispering, almost trying to make sure that…. that thing wouldn’t hear us.
“Daddy was in there shaving, and I-I saw a hand crawl out of the wall. I turned around and saw a woman smiling at me, standing in the tub. And then she disappeared.” he said shakily. I nodded at him and he looked at me.
“Don’t worry, buddy. We’re getting out of here.” And then he kissed my forehead, and simply walked out. It always freaked me out how serious he sounded, not trying to make me feel better, because he and I both knew there was no use in trying to deny the truth – we both saw the same thing. I had never seen the hand before, besides that dream, but he told me what it looked like to him and I swear to God it sounded as if he was in that dream with me with how accurate he was. We moved out two days later.
A decade later, I found out that sometime in the 50’s, a woman lived in that apartment. Her name was Ivy and she ran this flower shop down the road from the building. That flower shop is now a diner, but when I lived there, it was just an empty lot, with mice and rats infested within, spider webs hung everywhere.
Back when she owned the shop, she met a guy and they did the business, and she became pregnant. Half way through the pregnancy, the man left. And doctors said the fetus wasn’t developing properly, but they’d wait until the birth to see for sure. As you might’ve guessed, the baby died in the womb, and Ivy went back to her shop, silent after all was said and done. With the news around town, fewer people showed up at her shop, and she eventually slit her wrists.. in that same bath tub.
I could only assume the figure was Ivy, but she wasn’t as pleasant as her obituary and story made her sound. When I saw that bloody figure rise out of the top, it didn’t look happy, despite it’s toothy grin, it didn’t look sad, or even angry. It just looked….. utterly insane. It saddens me that such a nice lady such as herself turnedl into a grotesque being, forever wandering the halls and bathroom, wondering where she would be had her baby been born alive. I am still unsure about the other incidents I endured at that apartment, such as the comforting, yet also malicious presence I would feel at the most random of times. Or even the TV. Although my mom could’ve been right about the TV, and it’s old, unreliable set up.
I also wonder a lot of times at night….. what would’ve happened to me, if that black hand had grabbed me in the dream.
Credit: Glitchrodgers (Damian)