19 May Locked
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"Locked"Written by Connor Schmehl
Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder when I was five. I have always struggled to interact with people because of this disorder, spending large amounts of time attempting to fix imperfections around me. I would lash out harshly at people around me if they touched me or my things, and I became socially isolated.
My father died when I was seven, and so my mother did her very best to raise me by herself despite my condition. She was the one person who I felt that I could talk to about it, and she would always be very respectful of everything that I did to appease my compulsions. We moved farther out into the country when I was 12, which I loved as it allowed me to distance myself from others.
My mother passed away from breast cancer three years ago when I was finishing my online computer science courses. Since then, I have managed to live on my own despite my condition. I live alone in the house out in the country, and support myself through online programming contracts. I only go out when absolutely necessary, to do things such as purchase groceries and medication, and thus I have almost no relationships with anyone else.
I have many different compulsions due to my severe OCD. I always have to perfectly align my cutlery and plates in the kitchen drawers, ensure that all surfaces are spotless, and many other things. The compulsion that is most important in the events that prompted me to post this is my compulsion to lock the doors leading into my home.
Every night I go around my entire house precisely seven times. I have a front door, back door and a door that leads out into my garage. They all have large glass panes in the center, which allows me to look outside while I lock them. My method for checking the doors is to first look at the lock, ensuring that it is in the correct position, and then trying to open the door three times, pressing down on the handle to make sure that it doesn’t budge. After I check each of them in this manner seven times, I can finally be sure that every entrance is safely locked and that nobody can access my home from outside.
As I said earlier, I live in the middle of the country, with the closest house to me being about half a mile away down a dirt road. The only thing that I had been warned about in the area was the coyotes and other such animals that lived in the surrounding woods. There had never been a break in near me to my knowledge, and so I thought that it was one of the safest places to live, and that my constant checking of the locks was just to appease my always uneasy mind.
However, two weeks ago I noticed something outside my door that put me on edge. When I went to lock my back door, a shadow seemed to shift along the treeline leading into the forest on my property. It looked large and stood taller than the coyotes that I have seen around my house from time to time. I paused at my door, staring through the glass at the spot where I had seen the shape. After five minutes, I decided that it must have been a trick of the light and that I had been worrying about nothing. That being said, I performed my seven check routine twice that night to calm my nerves.
I went out the next morning to check the spot in the woods where I had seen the shadow. I knew that I would need to spend an hour cleaning the dirt off my shoes, but I was curious enough to make it worth it. When I reached the spot that I had witnessed the dark shape, I saw that there was nothing there that should have been able to cause such a trick of the light. There were only a few sparse trees, and there was no undergrowth that could have shifted due to the gentle breeze of the night before. More concerned than I had been before I checked, I made my way slowly back to the house, trying not to dirty my clothes to lessen the cleanup I would have to do.
I went about my usual routine for the rest of the day, spending a few hours working on a program for an upcoming contract deadline and ensuring that my house was in order. I approached my nightly locking ritual with trepidation but was more determined than ever to ensure that everything was locked tightly for the night. On my sixth round of checking the locks, I froze when I reached the front door. There was a person, maybe about six feet tall, standing 30 to 40 feet away from the steps leading up to the door. They remained still and unmoving for what seemed like half an hour as we stared at each other.
I eventually broke from my trance and began to move towards my living room where my closest landline phone was. One of the problems I had with living out in the country is that I had no cell phone service at all. My only communication to the outside world was through my wired phone and internet coming from the dilapidated telephone pole at the end of the road. When I reached my phone, I quickly dialed emergency services and reached an operator after several rings.
“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
I was a little slow to respond – I hadn’t spoken to another person in over a month. “H-hello? Somebody is standing in my front lawn. They are just… standing there. They have been there for at least 30 minutes, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Stay calm, sir. We will dispatch an officer to your location shortly.”
The twenty minutes that it took the police officers to arrive at my house felt like days. During this time, I continued to stare at the person outside of my door. As I heard the police sirens approaching I saw the person turn and sprint… except that they ran faster and more disjointedly than any human I had ever seen before. They disappeared into the woods within seconds, and all I could manage to do was stand there, confused and terrified.
Within a minute two uniformed police officers were knocking at my door. I opened it immediately and told them what had happened. They went to search the area of the woods in which I had seen the person – if it could even be considered human – disappear into. After about an hour and a half of searching, they returned with no evidence that there had been anyone there at all. The officers told me that because the person hadn’t done anything but trespass and hadn’t threatened me in any way, there was nothing more they could do. They told me to call back immediately if I saw the person again and to make sure that I locked my doors securely at night, and then drove off.
Needless to say, there was no need for them to tell me to keep my doors locked that night. I performed my locking routine over and over until I became exhausted, and then I passed out on the couch. When I woke up the next morning, I decided that I needed to do something to help protect myself. I got myself up and out of the door, and made the twenty-minute drive into town. The state that I live in has very loose gun laws, so I was able to purchase a shotgun and several boxes of ammunition that same day. Returning home, I watched a video on how to use the firearm safely and used a couple of trees for target practice. I placed the weapon and ammo beside my bed so that I would be able to access it quickly in case of an emergency.
In spite of my preparations, I did not see the person at all during my nightly locking routine the following week. After several days I began to assume that they had been scared off by the police and began to relax a little. I moved the shotgun from directly next to my bed to a shelf in the closet and managed to finish my program before the contract deadline.
However, three nights ago everything changed. I had just finished my locking routine for the night when I saw the person again. They were standing outside in my backyard, about the same distance from the house as the night I had seen them through my front door. I was stunned and horrified – I had hoped that this all was over after I had stopped seeing them regularly. I quickly ran to the landline that I had in my kitchen to call the police, and when I picked up the receiver, I heard a steady tone – disconnected. I ran around to all of the other phones in my house and heard all of them emitting the same grim tone. I then tried to use my mobile phone to Internet-call the police, but my router was malfunctioning. Going to one of the windows at the front of my house, I realized that the line providing my only communication to the outside world had been slashed… I was completely alone.
I slowly walked back to look through my backyard window, and let out a short yell of shock and horror. Standing with its hands against the window was the thing that had been standing in my backyard. If there had been any doubt before, I was sure by then that it was not a person.
Its wide eyes were the size of tennis balls, with a hole where its nose should have been. Teeth lined its wide, smiling mouth which, under other circumstances, could have been considered comically large. Its hands had only three, long fingers each, and its legs seemed to have three uneven knees. Looking back on it later, I realized this must have been why it had moved in such an odd way when I had seen it run into the woods.
I shook involuntarily at the sight of the creature. It was by far the most terrifying thing I had ever seen, and while I am not proud of it, I lost control of my bladder. Panicking, I sprinted up the stairs to get to my shotgun as fast as possible. I slammed my bedroom door shut, locked it, and fumbled to load the shells. I waited in that room for what must have been hours before I realized something – that my car was in the shut garage, and I could get to it via the connecting door which I made sure to lock so tightly every night.
Moving down the stairs as quietly as possible, so that the creature wouldn’t realize my intentions, I moved towards the entrance to the garage. When I saw the door, I caught a glimpse of something that made me start to cry with frustration and fear. The thing’s horrendous face and appendages pressed against the glass. I remembered shutting the garage door. I knew I had… hadn’t I? Maybe I had overlooked it the seven times I had checked that door, or perhaps the creature had managed to force its way in. However, debating this would not change anything. I was trapped, and the beast was there, grinning at me from my only escape route.
I backed up the stairs again and locked myself in my bedroom once more. I spent the rest of the night pointing my shotgun at the door, listening intently for any signs of forced entry. I waited several hours after the sun had come up before venturing back downstairs.
When I finally did, it was still there.
I cautiously went to look out of my front door, to see if there was any way I could make it to my car, and it there it was, at the front door. When I peered out of the back door, it was there too. No matter what I did or how quickly I ran around my house, it was always faster and always seemed to know where I would be.
It has been three days and nights since I first met with its cold gaze and sickening grin. I can’t look out of any door or window without seeing its face staring back at me. The last time I went out for food was over a week ago, and so I am beginning to run low on supplies. The shotgun that I bought to defend myself is starting to look incredibly inviting, and I am afraid that I won’t be able to stand this much longer. Having been cut off from the outside world, I plan to leave this handwritten note where someone is sure to discover it. If worse comes to worst, at least word of what happened to me out here will get out.
Crazy as it might seem, I had to laugh to myself just now, as I’ve finally realized the irony of my situation. For a long time now, I’ve had the compulsion to make sure that I am securely locked in for the night.
I have never before been so sure, as I am now, that I am truly locked in.
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