Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
My fingers are still trembling. I have no idea what I should do now. How long has it been, maybe an hour and a half? All I know is, I can’t set foot in that apartment again. I’m typing this from the library. I have nowhere else from which to tell this story right now.
I’ve been living in that apartment for nine years now, by myself. There is a lot of stuff in there that I would hate to leave behind, but it may not be my choice anymore. Let me back up for a second.
I suffer from chronic sleep apnea. For those who don’t know, sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing periodically throughout the night. Sometimes you go without oxygen for so long that your brain has to wake you up intermittently to force you to start breathing again. It is a deadly condition, or so I’ve been told, but I’ve been reluctant to see a doctor about it. What I wouldn’t give for a doctor right about now.
Last week, my curiosity got the better of me. I was well aware that my snoring was bad, so bad in fact that my two friends with whom I had been rooming at a hotel a few months back had to wake me up because they thought that I was dying. I decided then that maybe if I set up a camera and tried recording the sound of my own snoring, the shock of hearing said sound might be enough to make me want to see a doctor. Little did I know just what a shock awaited me.
After the first night of recording, I woke up bleary-eyed as usual, stumbled over to the camera and ejected the tape. I went about my usual morning routine of spreading butter over my soon-to-be-microwaved frozen pancakes. The tape finished rewinding a bit sooner than I had expected, so over the microwave buzzing, I proceeded to press the play button.
It was going to take some time to get to the point on the tape where I actually fell asleep after consciously pressing Record on the camera the night before, so I punched the fast-forward button. There was no need to watch the TV, as there would be nothing worth seeing. It was more the sound I was concerned about than anything.
The usual bars of distorted static danced across the screen in such a way that would soon be unrecognizable to a generation growing up in an age where VCR’s were all but extinct. In between the distorted bars, though, I could still make out the black silhouette of my body lying in the bed against the dark orange backdrop of the wall, which was slightly illuminated by a street lamp outside. I went about pulling the pancakes out of the microwave and set them on the counter with one hand, with Mrs. Butterworth’s ready to fire in the other hand. That’s when it caught my eye.
On the television, my silhouette was sitting up in the bed.
Mrs. Butterworth’s crashed to the floor, dispersing her contents onto my feet before I even knew what was happening. I hurriedly rushed to clean up the mess and get to the remote as quickly as I could. I punched the Rewind button, back to about a minute before the point at which my silhouette sat up in the bed. I shuddered at the thought of what I was about to hear.
I turned the volume up on my television and listened closely, having completely forgotten about my breakfast already. There was the usual “sawing of logs”, as my mother used to call it, accompanied by a few nasal snorts and what almost sounded like belching. In actuality, the sound was my swollen uvula resisting as I gasped for air. It was definitely worse than I had realized, but I was still waiting for that moment.
I’m not sure why I flinched when it happened. I knew it was coming. Yet still, I had no memory of having done it. I told myself, you don’t always remember what you do in your sleep. You are hardly even aware of it. The snoring subsided a little bit, no doubt because I had to have been regaining some slight consciousness. But the true shock had yet to come. The silhouette spoke.
“Can you hear me?”
The voice was unrecognizable to me. It was a low, gravelly voice that told a tale of cigarettes by the thousands. I haven’t smoked for five years. I could only imagine how bad things would have gotten if I had kept on. The silhouette spoke again, with more urgency.
“Can you hear me?”
Was I dreaming? To whom was I speaking? My ability to recollect the events of dreams had fallen by the wayside in recent years. There was little reason to believe this was going to make any sense.
“I see you listening. Answer me!”
I know it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Surely he wasn’t speaking to me, his future self. I had to have been having some kind of delusions in my sleep. That had to be it. There was no other explanation, I thought to myself.
“Oh there’s an explanation allright,” he responded. With that, the sound of the mattress shifting could be heard. He was turning to get out of the bed.
I stopped the tape.
I didn’t record anything for the next two weeks, nor did I manage to make time for the doctor. I threw myself into work. I stayed busy. I even managed to make it out to the gym a few times. I watched my eating more closely. I erased the tape. By the tenth or eleventh day, I had almost gotten to the point I was making it through an entire day without even so much as thinking about it. By the time two weeks had passed, life was pretty much right back to normal.
Unfortunately, as memories tend to pass, so do the emotions associated with them, and as my fear slowly dissipated, curiosity crept its way back in. I thought maybe the one night had just been an anomaly. Maybe I had just gotten up to go to the bathroom. That’s probably what woke me up to begin with. I had concocted all sorts of excuses and theories as to what might have really happened that night.
So for the second time, I set up the camera, pressed Record, and with surprisingly little trouble, fell into another wondrous sleep.
I arose the next morning and was quickly spurred to action, but not by invigoration. It was moreso the sight of my camera, which was lying on its side on the floor. The entire tripod was tipped over. Another overnight bathroom break perhaps? Whatever it was, I was anxious to find out.
With pancakes in tow (syrup already added) I sat down, a little apprehensive, but content that I had reasonably figured out what had happened last time. I reached the beginning of the tape, and started to fast forward through the first few minutes of me actually getting to sleep. The familiar dancing static bars, and my silhouette against the dark orange wall scrolled in vertical vertigo like stacked symbols on a slot machine. I heard a bloop on my computer nearby, and rolled over to give it a look. It was an instant message from my friend Jon about an upcoming get-together. I formulated a quick reply, and cut the first pancake with my fork. Just as I was putting that first piece into my mouth, I glanced over at the television.
My face was covering the entire screen, half obscured by the darkness. My eyes were wide open, teeth bared, a look of pure inhumane terror. My hands fidgeted at a hundred miles an hour as I struggled to press the “Play” button on the remote. The sound was almost as inhuman as the look on my face. I couldn’t tell whether I was laughing or in excruciating pain. The sound was much like that often heard by zombies in video games or on certain more popular television shows. I could hear every flap of the uvula as my other self growled at the camera. The growls slowly started to turn into words. At first it sounded like “Help me,” and then it changed to “I’m coming for you. I’m coming.” I was frozen in my seat. I couldn’t move. I was petrified. Just then, I heard a loud clunking from the bedroom behind me.
At this point, I sprung into action, but I couldn’t even tell you now that it was I who was doing what I was doing. I wasn’t acting on any logical sense of any kind, it was pure gut instinct. I opened the door to my bedroom just in time to see a completely covered lump in my mattress, about the same size as me. Suddenly, the covers flung wide open, but I could only just barely see it happen as I shut the door and ran past my still growling face on the TV screen, bare feet and all, straight out to my car.
All I know is, it’s a good thing I keep my keys in my car. Otherwise I’d be out there running somewhere with no shoes. I’m surprised they haven’t thrown me out of this library already. I only have about ten minutes left on this computer and about $45 in these pants. With any luck, I can make it out to my sister’s place in Eau Claire.
If anyone happens to see this, these are the events exactly as I recall them. I pray this is not the start of a pandemic, but merely one isolated incident.
Credit To – NintendoCapriSun