16 Dec Silence
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Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
I tense up at the sudden noise from my headphones that breaks the silence in my dorm room. It takes a while, but I adjust to the noise, letting the video play out with mild interest. My stomach growls harshly, I should get something to eat from the basement. I glance at the clock; 3:06 a.m. About bedtime, Kyle. I think to myself.
I roll over after laying my laptop aside and cover my tired eyes, only more tired by the effects of the glare from a computer screen that has shone into them for hours. The covers are warm against me, and my roommate’s steady breathing adds more white noise to the air conditioning unit above my bed. The air conditioner shuts off and the room is still, even my roommate’s breathing is too light for my sleep-deprived ears to pick up. It seems at night, silence breaks even itself.
So I lay there, for God knows how long. Listening. The silence is good for that. I lay there and adjust to a more comfortable position and as I get comfortable, I am brought back to alertness by the sudden noise of a few drunk friends in the hall coming back from a late-night party. They don’t say anything important; just being extra loud like most of their kind. So, I lay there, listening to one complain about his girlfriend being whiney and another tell him how whipped he is.
After the ramble calms, I close my eyes and attempt to sleep again, rolling over. My stomach growls loudly, ravenously, wolf-like, begging for a snack. So, I get up and slip on some short and flip-flops to go downstairs, pocketing a few quarters as I leave the room.
Newberry is always empty after midnight, but I don’t feel like taking the elavators, they take too long. So I walk across the hall to the stairwell, very reliable and fast when you live on the second floor.
The door closes behind me and the solid thud echoes up and down the eight floors of the stairs. It’s eerie how quiet it is afterwards. Not even the usually annoying, cheap, flourescent lights buzz. Just the sharp SMACK! of my flip-flops hitting my heels as I make my way to the stairs leading down.
I softly climb down the stairs, strangely nervous about being alone. I feel like I’m being watched, so I lean over the side of the railings and look straight up the stairwell. Nothing. And then I look straight down. Nothing.
I must just be getting paranoid at nothing, so I shake it off the best I could and make it down to the first floor, smiling at the only camera above the door and walking into the door leading to more stairs, which lead to the basement. So far so good.
This door is incredibly loud, and the sound rings off the walls for what felt like forever. But there was something else. I listen as hard as I can, but I don’t hear it again. It sounded strange, like a wheeze or a shuffle of something. Just another student, I think to myself, waving off the paranoia, with little effect. My eyes droop heavily, and I slowly continue marching down the stairs, ready to eat.
I make it to the basement and walk through the small maze of hallways into the open area we affectionately call “The Man-Cave,” which is nothing much, just a pool table, some ping-pong, and of course, vending machines. It’s dimly lit, and empty, save a few couches and those previously mentioned.
I walk slowly towards the machines, which stand in the darker area, the shadows seem to twist and stretch. My sleep-deprived brain can’t comprehend much. And out of the corner of my eye, in the hallway, I see a figure. It’s gone now. But it was incredibly tall, and dark. I didn’t look directly at it, because I’m always cautious to not move when in danger. I read The Ranger’s Apprentice… I really may seem weird for it, but I follow a lot of the stealth patterns presented in it. I mark off this sighting as mere sleep-deprivation. But my mind is racing. I don’t feel very hungry anymore… And my hands won’t stop shaking. I have no idea why I’m so scared… I just need to get to the room.
I grab a few snacks and something to drink and head to the elavator. I don’t care how long it takes, I just want to feel safer. So I wait by the laundry room, staring into the obscure room from which I came. Nothing changes, save a few instances of my vision making me believe I see someone standing in the corner, behind the vending machines… Peeking at me from near the top. I don’t think it’s a person, there’s no face, after all. It’s just the light playing tricks on me… But I can’t help but to feel upset at the sight of this. It couldn’t be real… Maybe I should check it out a little more….
DING! The elevator snaps me out of my terrified stupor and I board it with my sloppy groceries. Pressing the “2” on the pad. As the doors slide together, I look and feel both relieved and worried that the “face” isn’t there anymore. Watching me. My nerves are on end as I pace around the dingy little box.
It finally stops, and I get off. The doors slide together and I get off and begin to head towards my room, pausing as I look and notice it looks different… A few lights have gone out on my end, I realize. I think nothing of it, but it still adds to my paranoia as I enter the longer halls.
I creep around the corner, and look down the hall into the frightening darkness that embraces the end so tightly. And at the end I stop in slight shock and fear as I notice the tall man standing there. He seems to be bald, and must be looking down, or his face blurred by my vision, for I left my glasses in the room. Either way, I can’t make out anything other than a pale globe on his shoulders… His strangely thin shoulders, I notice as I draw nearer to my door, which is safely away from him… I can’t help but feel fear rising in me as I see him… Standing there. Watching me. I can’t see any eyes but I feel the gaze. I walk faster to my door, and try to open it. The door won’t open with my key, so I look up… Trying to ignore the feeling of his gaze. His horrifying gaze cutting into me.
“406,” the door read. I must have pressed the wrong button by accident. That’s why it looks so different. I look back down the hall and I don’t see anyone. This doesn’t help my stomach at all. I feel even worse now. That man was JUST there. Where could he have gone? I rush to the stairs, for they are closer than the elevator… And I don’t feel like standing in this hallway any longer than I need to.
The door slams louder than any of the others and makes me ears ring. But the ringing doesn’t stop. It just grows louder with each step down. I feel like I’m being watched by that man. I don’t know why, but I feel sick just imagining him. I’m panicking. I feel unsafe. Like I’m in danger.
I pass by the third floor’s doorstop and look through the small glass window for a person to talk to, just to get my mind away from this paralyzing fear… Or maybe to seek help. But through the window I see a man, dressed in a black-tie affair-like outfit, with the longest arms I’ve ever seen, standing there. He is much closer now, and I can see his face… Or where his face should be.
There was nothing. Just a pale white head. No sign of age, or wrinkles. The sight of it causes my stomach to lurch and I vomit on the door. The thing makes no response besides to stand there, as if enjoying my horror. Just watching through a window.
I tear myself away from the scene, as my body feels drawn to this thing. I run down the rest of the stairs and, feeling as if I’m safer, puke over the siderail in fear. As I open my eyes to look at how bad my sickness was all over the bottom steps I see him.
Staring at me. Slowly stepping up the stairs… But his head never moves… His neck just stretches over the side and keeps watching my pain and fear… Torturing me.
“WHAT?!” I scream and throw my food at him. He has no reaction. But the neck draws back under the staircase, and he dissappears from view. I run onto my floor in utter terror, just wanting to go to bed. And I turn around, and there, only a few steps behind me, he stood. Arms outstretched, as if beckoning me to come let him hold me. I choke on vomit as I see his face ripple across and lunge with all my might to my room.
I turn the corner and I see him again. On the far end. Staring. Like an ever-present Guardian Angel watching over me in my pains. I vomit again. This time it hurts horribly, and I can see drops of red leak from my lips as I finish. I start to cry. I feel like I’m going to die. I just want to give up. There’s no hope…
I make it to my door, which was just a few steps away, and open the door. The sound of my roommate’s breathing is all to be heard. No more ringing. Just breathing. I flip on the light and close the door, my roommate doesn’t stir. I close the door and look in the mirror attached to the back.
I look insane. My eyes are red and puffy, my hair a mess, and a tear stuck in suspended animation in my unkempt chin hair. I still don’t feel as safe I as I think I should. I turn around and begin to walk to my bed when I hear a THUNK! in my closet. I stop moving. And stare in horror as a long pale hand pushes the door open and a tall, thin, creature steps out. I turn around. Not wanting to look at it. But I can see it in the mirror.
I watch it stalk toward me on those tall legs. I watch it stop only inches behind me. And I feel it slowly close it’s limbs around me.
Then nothing but silence.
Credit To: Kyle Bailie
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