Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
Paranoia can affect anyone, some more than others. For some, it’s disabling, and others it’s just an inconvenience. Sara wasn’t sure where she fell on this spectrum, but she knew she was on it. Or was she? Was she actually paranoid or just being realistic? She couldn’t figure out which it was and it was driving her mad.
Sara lived in an apartment by herself on the third floor. She didn’t want a roommate; she felt as if she couldn’t trust anyone. Her place was pretty bare. She had a living room and kitchen area that only contained the kitchen necessities and a small dining room table with one chair. She never once had company over. She didn’t have any pictures hung on the white walls and her bedroom had a twin sized bed and a small dresser. She didn’t own many clothes. All of the clothes she owned fit in her tiny 4 drawer dresser. Her closet was bare except for the two pair of shoes sitting on the floor of the closet. Sara worked from home on her computer that sat in the corner of the bedroom on a desk that also contained a couple books she liked to read. She was a virtual assistant on a popular tech website. She didn’t really like to speak to people, but she enjoyed typing to help them out on the site. Sara lived a simple life. She worked a wonderful 9-5 job that she didn’t even have to get ready for. Out of bed, and step over to her work. She enjoyed being able to stay home for most of her life. She appreciated the comfort that her small apartment could give her.
Sara was just returning home from her bi-weekly trip to the grocery store. She unlocked the three dead bolts on her door. Each requiring a different key. As she stepped into her apartment, she quickly locked all three dead bolts back and locked the chain lock above all three dead bolts. Crime was high in the area. Sara thought crime was high in the area. It was a peaceful neighborhood that was fairly quiet most of the time. Sara look out one of the windows in the living room. She checked the window lock on the door to make sure it was still locked. She pulled the blinds back down and shut the curtains back. She went and did this with every window. After she finished, she went to put her groceries away. She bought a variety of fruit and vegetables to eat for the next two weeks. She felt as if she were a vegetarian. She didn’t trust any meat. She felt as if she wasn’t going to cook it enough to kill all the bacteria in it, and she didn’t like the taste of blackened steak. She filled one compartment of her sink with hot water and added a fourth cup of bleach. She dumped all the vegetables and fruit she just bought into the water to let them soak. She got a glass of water and went to sit down at her desk in her bedroom. She didn’t own a couch, so this was the best place to just rest. She opened up her messenger on her computer and looked to see if Marshall was on. He was. She smiled and typed to him, “Just got home, did you miss me?” She didn’t have to wait long before he started typing back.
“I did. I missed you very much, glad to have you home.” Marshall was someone special to Sara. Sara met him online through a messaging board 4 years ago. They have talked every day since then. Sara was quick to fall for his charm. She loved him. “Speaking of having you home, I thought we could talk about something.”
Sara’s smile vanished as she read this, as she knew what he wanted to talk about. “What’s that?”
“You know I want to come visit you, and I think it’s time I did.” Marshall had been trying to meet up with her for 3 years now, but Sara always had an excuse.
“I don’t think now is the best time. We’ve got a special running on the website that I work for and it’s been really busy, they’ve extended my hours.” Sara was running out of excuses. She wanted to meet him, she really did, but she couldn’t bare to find out Marshall was someone else. She didn’t want the good thing they had to disappear. She didn’t want Marshall to see her as she really was. She was embarrassed by how she lived. She knew the things she did were outrageous, but she needed to do them to feel safe.
“Look, don’t think I’m crazy now, but I’ve tracked you. I know where you live. It’s Westfall apartments in Elko, Nevada. I’m coming to see you, I really need to see you. I don’t know which apartment number you live in, but I’ll find out. I need to see you! I want to marry you!” Sara’s heart stopped. Literally, she thought. She powered her computer off. She jumped up from her chair fell into bed and put the covers over her entire body.
No. No. No! She screamed in her head. He can’t come here!
She felt as if her security blanket of an apartment was crumbling down. She felt herself breathing hard, she needed to get up. She ran to the kitchen and grabbed a glass of water. She gulped it down and she stood there thinking about what she needed to do.
I need to move. I can’t find a place in that short of time. What do I do? I need to board up the place.
She heard footsteps from outside her apartment. She screamed in her head. “No, he can’t be here already.” She checked the locks on her front door. All locked. She quickly switched off the light to the living room. Maybe he would think she had already left. She quietly tip-toed behind the kitchen counter and squatted down. She held her breath. The steps were getting fainter. Her cellphone rang. She jumped at the sound of it. She quickly dug it out of her pocket. It was him. She ignored the call. She took a deep breath and went back to her bed room. It was almost 10 o’clock. She was tired, but how could she sleep now? She lay down above the covers with her eyes wide open. It felt like an entire year had passed by. She looked at the clock that was sitting on her nightstand. It was now past midnight. She closed her eyes, she needed sleep.
The second she closed her eyes, she pictured Marshall climbing into bed with her. She felt something touch her foot. She screamed, she quickly sat up and curled into a ball. She looked around the dark room. Nothing. She ran towards the light switch and quickly flipped it up. She panned the room. Nothing. She checked underneath the bed. Nothing. She check the window to make sure it was still locked. It was. She went into the bathroom and turned on the light and searched the room. Nothing. She ran into the living room and flipped the light on. Nothing. There was no one here. She searched behind the kitchen island. Nothing. There was no one here! There was something in here. She felt it. She swung open the cabinets. Nothing. Where was it? Where was he? There was nothing here. There was no one here! She ran back into the bathroom and opened the towel cabinet. She threw all the towel in the floor. Nothing. Where was it?!
Sara collapsed in the bathroom on top of the towels. She sat in the fetal position and rocked back and forth. “WHERE ARE YOU,” she screamed. Tears started streaming down her face. She needed to board the place up. If he wasn’t here yet, she needed to make sure he wasn’t able to make it in. She went into the kitchen and grabbed her emergency supplies from underneath the sink in the cabinet. Her “emergency supplies” consisted of board, nails, and a couple hammers. She quickly grabbed one large board, a couple nails, and a hammer from the stockpile and ran towards the front door. She place the board over the door and started nailing it in. As soon as she finished, she went and grabbed another one and did the same thing. She did this several times until she thought it was good and blocked. She was panicking. She was running on adrenaline. She grabbed more supplies and started boarding the windows. I have to hurry, she thought to herself. She was tiring out, but she only had her bedroom window left to do. She carried all the boards and nails into the room and started boarding the window up. She was finished. She felt relieved. She felt calm. She felt as if she could sleep. She plopped back down onto the bed and closed her eyes. She was drifting off to sleep. Soon, she started having a dream, a dream that Marshall was in the room with her, walking up towards the bed. She jolted awake. She ran around the house checking every inch. All the lights were still on.
“Oh god, please help. Did I just lock myself in this room with him or did I lock him out?” she started hyperventilating. This was a panic attack. She sat in the middle of the living room to try and calm down. She was feeling light headed. She laid on the floor and shut her eyes tight. Somehow, she fell asleep.
Sara’s eyes slowly drifted opened. She looked around the room. It was a mess. Sara sat up and looked at the front door and windows that were securely boarded up to keep anyone or anything out. She felt secure here again. She got up and made her a pot of coffee. She then drained the sink filled with water and the food she had purchased the previously day. She rinsed off an apple and began eating it. She got a coffee mug from the cabinet and poured herself some coffee. As she sipped on the coffee, it made her feel more at peace. No one was here. There was nothing to worry about. She went into her room and sat by her computer. It was still off. She stared at it for a moment. She couldn’t bring herself to turn it back on. After Marshall’s last message, she couldn’t do it. He had tracked her down with it, and now he’s on his way here.
There was a knock at the door. Sara jumped and turned towards the door. She didn’t make a sound. Another knock. Sara jumped again and put her hand over her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. She not dare say a word towards the door, she wanted whoever was there to think she wasn’t here. Another knock. Sara was starting to get anxious. She wanted to know who was there, but she not dare try to find out for herself. A couple minutes passed by, and there had been no more knocks. Sara, made her way quietly to the front door. She didn’t hear anything. Was that Marshall? She thought to herself.
Her phone buzzed. It was Marshall. She quickly powered off her phone and threw it across the room. The phone bounced across the wood floor and the screen shattered. Could he track her by her phone? She picked up the phone and tore out the battery and SIM card. She didn’t want him to find her. What else could he use to track her? Sara felt as if she was being watched, but there was no way any one could see into the apartment. Was there a camera here watching her? Did someone plant a camera in here while she was away at the grocery store? Had Marshall already been here? What if he was still here?
Sara went through the kitchen cabinets, tearing everything out of it. She threw the mugs and glass all out onto the counter top and floor. There was something here somewhere. She opened the drawers and ripped out the rags and silverware. Nothing here. She looked underneath the kitchen sink and removed all the bottles of cleaning supplies. Nothing. What about in the cleaning supplies? Were there microphones in them? She opened each of the cleaners and poured them down the sink. Nothing! Were they in the pipes? She grabbed a wrench that was stashed underneath the sink and started to open the pipes to the sink. She didn’t see anything. The cabinet under the sink was covered with cleaner and it started to stink. Had she made a poisonous gas? She covered her nose and ran into the bathroom. She closed the door and took the towels from the floor and shoved them underneath the door. She sat in the bathtub and curled up. Why was this happening? This place used to feel so secure and peaceful and now it was turning her insane. She couldn’t leave the bathroom. She sat there for hours, wide awake as she ran through her head everything that could be happening right outside the door. What if the entire place was filled with the poisonous gas? She couldn’t fathom moving from the spot she was in.
It felt like days had passed. Sara sat in the tub, staying awake. All Sara could do was talk to herself in her head. She didn’t want to speak and reveal her location to anyone that could be around.
It’ll be okay.
Yes it’s okay.
There’s no one out there.
ARE YOU CRAZY. Of course there is someone out there.
You’re right, I need to leave this place.
You can’t leave this place, you are stuck inside here, you can’t move, you can leave the room, this is where you will have to stay.
I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.
Sara screamed. She ran the bathtub and let it fill. She grabbed a razor from the medicine cabinet. She sat in the tub that was still filling with water and put the razor to her wrist. She started breathing heavily as she pressed it into her skin. This is the only way I can be free. Sara drugged the razor across her wrist, and the blood started flowing out. I can be free.
I can be free.
I can be free…
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