01 Nov Sleepwalker
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Estimated reading time — 14 minutes
“NOOOOO!!!!!” I woke up screaming. It was the third time this week I woke screaming ‘no’, and my clothes were wet with sweat, even though the window was open, letting the cold night air in. What was wrong with me? Was I going insane? For the life of me, I could not remember what I was dreaming about. I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes, and looked at the clock.
“5am?” it was two hours before I needed to get up to go to school. Did I dare close my eyes again? My body felt tired and weak, like I had just run a 5K race. Even as I debated whether to sleep or not, I caught myself nodding off. I shook my head, and sat up straighter in bed.
“No, I am not going back to sleep!” I climbed out of bed and headed to the bathroom. A shower would wake me up. I lived with my 23 year old brother. He had been eighteen when my parents died, so I was allowed to live with him. The first few years were rough, but I was sixteen now, and could easily take care of myself. Most of the time, like tonight, he slept at his girlfriends house, so I had the place to myself. Which was good, since I kept waking up screaming!
As predicted, my shower woke me up. I went to the kitchen and made myself some eggs and toast for breakfast, and started working on a report that was due Monday. I’m not like super student, but I tend to get my work done, and get pretty good grades. In order to remain living with my brother, I have to maintain a certain GPA, and not get in trouble too much. Since I didn’t want to live in a foster home, I did what I needed to do. Plus I really didn’t want to spend the weekend working on this damn report.
By 7:30am I started the 30 minute walk to school. My report was almost done, I just needed to type it out. As always, Zoe was waiting outside her house for me. We had been friends since elementary school, but after my parents died, we became really close. Her dad had died a few years before my parents did, that kind of shit brought people together!
“Hey Zo, what’s with the necklace?” Zoe always wore really weird clothes. Today she had on a necklace with a 2 inch rubber chicken hanging off of it.
“It’s a luck chicken, Chem test today.”
“You really believe that shit?”
“Don’t you?” she asked incredulously. I decided not to comment. The rest of the way to school we quizzed each other on our chem test.
I was pretty out of it at school. Lack of sleep, and nightmares were beginning to take it’s toll on me. By sixth period I felt like I was sleepwalking my way to class. Mr. Jenkins, my History teacher, seemed to notice.
“You feeling alright Mr. Silver?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” He raised an eyebrow at me in question.
“I think I’m getting that cold that going around.” The first rule of being an orphan living with your big brother, is never offer too much information. The old ‘I think I’m getting that cold that’s going around’ always works, because there is ALWAYS a cold going around!
“There are definitely some nasty bugs going around.” He still didn’t seem satisfied though.
“Are you sleeping okay?” I almost reacted. How could he know I wasn’t sleeping well? that is, besides the bags under my eyes, and constant yawning. Okay, so maybe I do look tired, it must just be sleep deprived paranoia.
“Yeah Mr. J, I’m sleeping fine.”
“How’s Chip? That brother of yours is something else.”
Happy for the topic change, I responded with gusto.
“Oh you know Chip, he’s still the same.”
“He’s a good kid.” Then Mr. Jenkins grabbed my shoulder and guided me away from the other students. In a whisper he said, “Listen, you let me know if you start having trouble sleeping, okay? It’s really important that you tell me!” He had this crazy expression on his face. I said sure and went to my seat. I couldn’t get that look out of my mind. It stayed with me the whole walk home.
“You okay?” Zoe asked.
“You barely talked all the way home.” I hesitated for a second. Maybe I should tell Zoe about my nightmares, and Mr. Jenkins. To be honest it had kind of freaked me out.
“I’m fine, just thinking about that report for english.”
“Don’t remind me!” We said goodbye, and I made the rest of the trek home.
At around 5:30pm Chip came by to check in. He had two bags of groceries with him.
“Hey kid, you don’t look so good, you feeling okay?”
“Think I’m just getting that cold that’s going around.”
“You sure, maybe I should spend the night here tonight.”
“No!” I said it just a little too fast, but Chip didn’t seem to notice. I helped him unload the groceries and assured him I was fine.
“Okay, if you need me, just give me a call.”
“Will do.” He started towards the door, then stopped and turned around.
“Hey, you’re sleeping okay, right?” He seemed really serious all of a sudden, and Chip was never serious.
“Yeah, of course. Why?” Chip hesitated. He looked as though he were about to say something, then changed his mind.
“Nothing, get some rest, okay kid? Call me if you need anything.” With that Chip was out the door. Was it just me, or did it seem like he couldn’t get out of the house fast enough.
The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, I finished my homework, and typed up my report. I wasn’t that hungry, so I just had a yogurt for dinner. I was climbing into bed, when I started feeling the anxiety kick in. Was I going to have a nightmare again. I picked up the phone to call Zoe, but changed my mind. It was already pretty late, and her mom didn’t like her talking on the phone after 9pm. I thought about calling Chip, but what would I say? In the end I turned off my light and hoped for the best.
“NOOOOO!” I woke with a start. I was cold and drenched in sweat, and something sharp was poking my side. I reached around to feel what it was, and my hand touched hardwood.
“What the fuck?” I sat up and hit my head hard on something. I could see stars, as I felt hot blood run down my forehead and cheek. It was pitch black, and I started feeling my way around in the dark.
“Where the hell am I?” I was under a table of some kind. I worked my way out from under it, and continued to feel my way around. On top of the table I felt a box of wood matches. I struck one, and an old cabin of some sort came into view. The table I had been under was very rough made, of heavy wood. I started to look around and the match burned down to my hand.
“Ouch!” I reached down and grabbed another match. I noticed an old style oil lamp and some candles on the table. I lit the candles, and tried to figure out how the lamp worked. In the end I just had to light the wick like a candle. The room, now illuminated, looked even more dingy and old. I felt like I had gone back in time. Like this cabin belonged in the old west. My hand was covered in blood, I must have wiped the blood off my face while I was looking around. I was still wearing my sweats and t-shirt I had worn to bed, and my feet were bare. My clothes were sticking to me from sweat.
Continuing my search of the cabin, I found it to be a single room, with no bathroom. There was just an old wardrobe in one corner, and the table I had woke under. I noticed that my side still stung, and when I felt under my shirt, it was all sticky. I walked over to the lamp, pulled up my shirt, which was also sticky, and realized it was sticky with blood. There was a deep gash in my side, that now identified, seemed to hurt four times as much. I walked back to the table, picked up the lamp and headed for the door. It had a very simple locking mechanism, just a board you latched in a stay.
When I opened the door, it was a dark night. I could hear crickets and frogs, so loud, that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed them before. I also noticed that I felt a little dizzy. I kept feeling like I was going to fall over. I took a step off the porch, and stepped in wet, slimy mud. My foot began to sink in. I quickly pulled it out. The smell of decay reached my nose, and my foot was covered in black mud. I went back into the cabin deciding it was better to wait till daylight. I reached for my phone to check the time, but it wasn’t in my pocket. It must still be by my bed at home.
“How did I get here?” I continued to search the cabin. The wardrobe was empty. There were a few rusted cans on the table, and a huge knife, that was also rusted, and covered in blood.
“Is this what cut me?” I could begin to see a faint glow under the door.
“It must be getting light.” I went back to the door and opened it up. The cabin was on the bank of a small lake. The water was only about 25 yards away from the cabin. It was still pretty dark out, but I could hear cars driving by across the lake.
“The highway! This must be that little lake you can see from the road, but I have never noticed a cabin here before. How did I get here?” I was about a mile out of town. If I cut across on this side of the lake, I could come to town unnoticed. I started making my way home, in the early dawn light. The sun was just coming up when I reached the house, and went inside. I went to the bathroom to clean up, and almost screamed when I saw my reflection. I was almost white, and covered in blood. My hair was matted to my head, where I had cut my head open, and my shirt was soaked in blood. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a trash bag, and put all my clothes in the bag and took a shower. Afterwards I took the trash bag down the street to the dumpster outside of the liquor store.
My feet were sore from walking barefoot, and I had a headache from hitting my head. The gash in my side was still bleeding, so I bandaged it up. The cut in my head wasn’t too bad, and my hair covered it.
My phone had three text messages, one from Zoe, asking me to call her when I woke up, one from Chip, checking in, and one from a number I didn’t recognize, with the message
“What the hell does that mean!”
I texted Chip to let him know I was fine. The last thing I wanted was him coming by. Zoe wanted me to come over and work on the report with her. I told her I finished my report yesterday, and wasn’t feeling very good. I booted my computer and started researching sleepwalking.
A lot of it fit, except it was only supposed to last up to 30 minutes. The cabin was just over a mile away, no way I could have got there in 30 minutes, unless I ran. That would explain the sweat and exhaustion. Could I be a sleepwalker? The article had said some sleepwalkers were treated with drugs, that meant going to a doctor. They also said you could just lock the house up so the sleepwalker couldn’t get out, I was going to try that tonight.
I spent the majority of the day making sure I could lock all the windows and the doors. The front door wasn’t a problem, we had a deadbolt that you had to lock with a key from both sides, but the back door was more problematic. There was only a slide lock from the inside. How sophisticated was I while I slept? Could I figure that out? I was just about to go buy another dead bolt, when I realized the slide bolt could be locked with a padlock. I locked it up with my bike lock. Hopefully Chip didn’t notice, if he came by this evening. The windows were all typical window locks, but all the screens were strong and in place.
“I must have gone out the back door last night.” We normally didn’t lock the back door at all, in case one of us lost our keys.
As dusk approached I began to feel my anxiety rise. I was confident I wouldn’t get out of the house, but I still didn’t like the idea that I was walking around in my sleep! I would have to tell Chip at some point, but I wasn’t ready for that yet. Chip called me in the evening to check in, he wasn’t going to come by. I told him I was feeling better, and was planning on hanging out with Zoe tomorrow.
I climbed into bed for the night, anxious, but confident that I would wake up at home. I left the bathroom light on, and my door open, so there would be a little light in my room.
“NOOOOOO!” I woke up screaming again. It was pitch black again, and I recognized the stale smell of the cabin immediately, as well as the metallic tang of blood. I quickly assessed myself. I couldn’t feel any new injuries. I felt my way to the table and lit the lamp. I was covered in blood, my hands, my arms, and my shirt. Even my pants and feet were splattered with blood. There was no way this much blood had come from me. I remembered from my research that in rare cases, people had committed homicide while sleepwalking. Did I kill someone last night?
I had to get home before light. I was covered in blood, and I had no idea whose. I didn’t wait for first light this time, and started the trek home. When I got home, I found the back door locked tight. The front door was unlocked, and my keys were in the lock inside the door. My phone had one text message “01101,10101,10010,00100,
“Sounds like binary to me.”
“You know, computer language, ones and zeros.”
“Yeah, the computer makes everything into ones and zeros, actually it’s pluses and minuses, but it uses them as ones and zeros. What were the numbers again?”
“Oh, I don’t have them anymore, but that sounds right.” I didn’t like lying to Zoe, but I needed to figure out what these numbers meant on my own. Once again I did research, this time on binary. The numbers were 11,9,12,12,5,18 and 13,21,18,4,5,18. I found a site that had used binary to code messages, so I used a simple alpha-numeric conversion and it spelled “killer” and “murderer”! This was not good! Someone was calling me a killer and a murderer, and it was beginning to look like they were right. Was this what insanity was like? Was I going crazy? Would I know if I were?
It was already almost five, it would be dark soon. I had to stop myself from getting out of the house again. Chip had come by at three, and said I looked terrible. He was going to spend the night here. I needed to stop myself from falling asleep tonight, at all cost. Just in case I set up a video camera in my room, and left the lights on. I wanted to see what I was doing. I didn’t want Chip to know I was recording myself though, so I hid the camera. At around seven, Chip got a call from his girlfriend, and said she needed his help, but he would come back later. I told him I would be fine, I was tired and was going to bed early anyway.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, dude, I’m fine.”
“Okay, well call me if you need anything!” and he was gone.
I fought sleep all evening. I dozed off a few times, but I was sitting up, so when I fell forward I woke up. I leaned my head against my window, trying to see outside and. . .
“NOOOOO!” I woke up in the cabin again. I was covered in blood, and my hands had scratch marks on them. It was already daylight. I had to get home unnoticed, but I was covered from head to foot in blood, and I had no shoes on. I walked towards the door of the cabin, when I heard voices outside.
“Come out with your hands over your head!” The police were here.
“Did you hear me, come out with your hands over your head! We know you are in there!”
“I’m coming out!” I yelled back. I opened the door and 10 cops were standing outside the cabin, guns drawn. One of them began yelling instruction.
“Lace your hands behind your neck! Now get down on your knees! Lie down, face down!” I felt several people grabbing me from behind, and somebody stuck his knee into my back. The wind got knocked out of me. I heard more yelling, and made out Chip’s voice yelling for me.
“That’s my brother!”
I was taken to the police station. Chip was there, but I was in an interrogation room. The police questioned me for what felt like days. It was actually five hours. I told them that I had no idea how I had gotten to the cabin. I explained that it was the third time I had ended up there. They asked why I hadn’t turned myself in. I couldn’t answer that part. They let Chip see me finally. He looked really scared. He asked me if I had hurt anyone, and I told him I didn’t think so. He told me not to tell anyone anything else until he got me a lawyer.
I was put in a special cell, since I was under age. The blood on my clothes was determined to not be mine. With my information, they found my other two changes of clothes, and those turned out to be two other peoples blood, and my own.
The second day I was in jail, Mr. Jenkins was allowed to visit me. He asked me how I was. I told him I was as good as I could be, under the circumstances. He seemed really annoyed for some reason, but not at me.
“Mr. Silver, do you know how your parents died?”
“Of course I do, they were murdered!”
“Yes, but do you know any of the details?”
“No, nobody does, their killer was never found.”
“That’s not the case. Your brother decided not to tell you the truth, and since you were a minor under his care, I was not allowed to tell you the truth.”
“What! Chip knows who killed my parents?”
“Yes, as do a few of us.”
“Why didn’t anybody tell me?”
“Your brother thought it best if you didn’t know, I never agreed.”
“Who killed my parents?”
“The truth is, your dad killed your mom, and Chip killed your dad.” I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I was about to say something when. . .
“Your dad was a sleepwalker. He had been for years. He had been to the doctor for it, for many years. They tried drugs, sleep therapy, nothing worked. typically it was no big deal, your mother would just follow him around. But he began to get violent in his sleep. More than once your mom had to wake Chip to help her with him. One evening, Chip heard you mom screaming, he ran into the kitchen to find your dad stabbing your mother. Chip had no choice but to shoot your dad, to try and save your mom. It was too late though, your mom was already dead, and so was your dad.”
“My dad was a sleepwalker?”
“Yes, and that’s why I wanted you to know. I felt if you knew, you could get help before anything bad happened, but Chip was afraid it would be too much for you to know what had happened, and that it would scar you too much to know the truth.”
“And now I’m just like my dad.” I said it more to myself than to him.
“You have no control over what you do when you sleep, how could you know what you were doing?”
Suddenly I remembered the camera.
“Mr. Jenkins, you have to go to my house. I recorded myself.”
“I realized a few days ago that I was sleepwalking, so I set up a camera, so I would know what I was doing. It was just in my room, I was going to set it up in different places every night. It would have recorded everything I did, before I left.”
“I’ll get Chip to let me in your house.” Mr. Jenkins stood up to go.
“Don’t tell Chip, the backdoor is open, go in through the back door. The camera is on my bookshelf.”
The news said it was the biggest story around, perhaps the biggest of the decade. The sleepwalker killer case, they were calling it. Ten unsolved cases over the last 6 years were all being looked at again. They were confident they would all be solved now, and the parents of the victims allowed some closure.
“I can’t believe it.” Zoe said, reading the headlines.
“Zoe!” Mrs. Roberts admonished her daughter.
“It’s okay Mrs. Roberts, I have had enough secrets to last me a lifetime.” Chip was behind bars, and Zoe’s parents had agreed to let me live with them, instead of some random foster family.
I was waiting for my mandatory counseling at school, when Mr. Jenkins came out of the principals office, and called me to him. We went back into the principals office and sat down. Mr. Raymond, the principal was at his desk.
“How are you doing Mr. Silver.” Mr. Jenkins asked.
“All things considered, not bad.” I managed a smile, but I felt sick, like I always did when I had to talk about Chip.
“How did you know?” I had been waiting for Mr. Jenkins to ask me this. There was a good chance he would have to go to court, if Chip didn’t plead guilty. Chip was planning on pleading insanity. He said he heard god telling him to kill the evil girls. When my dad and mom found some blood soaked clothes, he didn’t wait for god to tell him they were evil.
“Every time I woke in the cabin, I remember there being a familiar smell, but it was so buried behind the smell of decay, blood and sweat. It wasn’t until I remembered the camera, that I also recognized the smell, it was the smell of Chip’s cologne. The camera was sitting on the bookshelf right next to the bottle he had bought me for Christmas. ‘Now you can smell like a me, little man.’ he had said.”
“I still can’t believe it was Chip.” Mr. Raymond said, half to himself, and half to us.
“When I watched that video. . . Watched him inject Mr. Silver with something. Scratch his hands and arms up.” Mr. Jenkins stopped and swallowed hard. “Then poor that blood on his own brother! Mr. Jenkins looked at me like he was sorry I was Chip’s brother.
“And the text messages to you! They found his ‘pay as you go’ phone. Have you seen him?” Mr. Raymond asked me.
The headlines today had read “Fallen ‘Hero’ convicted of 12 counts of first degree murder in the ‘Sleepwalker Case’.”
Credit To – Isaac Alexander