I suffer from short term memory loss, or at least I think I do. See, STML isn’t exactly how it’s portrayed in the movies. No, I don’t go to bed at night and wake up the next day having completely forgotten the events of the day prior. For me, it’s more so the little things.
It started about 6 months ago, when I woke up at 6 A.M. to go to the local gas station and fulfil my daily routine of a morning coffee before work. The thing is, I couldn’t find my keys. I know for some that may sound like nothing, and most people will just chop it up to me having misplaced them. To be fair, they’re not completely wrong. But please, hear me out for a second. I am very organized, some may even classify it as OCD. However, I like to think of it as me being very careful with my items. I mean, for God’s sake; I have a key holder for car, I’m single — nobody is coming in and out of here, I own one car, and the key holder can hold up to 10 keys, though that’s bit ridiculous in my opinion. The point I’m trying to make, is that I would never in a million years not put my keys back on the holder.
I spent that entire morning in a frenzy trying to find them. I kept trying to recount my steps from the day prior, but everything felt so fuzzy. It wasn’t your typical, “I can’t remember something”. No, it was like I had a complete gap in my memory. I dug through drawers, pant pockets, couch cushions, the trashcan, I almost even went as far as pulling up my floorboards in hopes of finding some hidden treasure in the form of my keys. Of course, I had to call work and tell them I would be a few hours late. Finally, my panicked pursuit came to an end, for the time being at least, and grabbed my spare keys. That was only the first of many similar incidents to come.
A few months went by and I continued to search for my keys, to no avail. Part of me was paranoid someone had taken them, giving them access to my car and front door. Logically, I knew that couldn’t happen, why would anyone break into my house simply to take my keys? So, I let it pass and to keep my paranoid mind at bay I changed the locks. The thing that irked me most about it was losing the keychain. My girlfriend, or now ex-girlfriend, gave me the keychain at the start of our relationship two years ago, and it had this white rabbit’s foot on it.
When she gave it to me she said, “Since you made me the luckiest girl, I only thought it would be fair to give you some luck back.” Yeah, I know it’s cheesy, but sometimes cheesy can work. She really was great, and it still amazes me how something as great as our relationship can turn sour in the matter of a few weeks. We have now been separated for around six months. I would be a liar if I said I still don’t think about her everyday.
It was almost Christmas time when the next STML incident would occur. This year my office was throwing a fairly big party and since the party would be the best time to rub shoulders with upper management, I thought I should try to look my best. So, I had mentally planned out my best outfit; a black buttoned up shirt, expensive dark grey dress pants, with my ‘not-too-flashy, but still stylish’ Prada belt, and my best pair of shoes. This was a very expensive outfit, one that I have rarely ever worn and only for the most important of events.
It goes without saying that it would come to my complete and utter shock, that when I went digging through my closet to find the outfit, it was nowhere to be found. At first, I didn’t believe it. I almost refused to believe that it could just vanish like that. I spent at least an hour tearing my closet apart, clothes strewn across my room, looking for the outfit. My once tidy room now looked like a literal tornado had come through and tore it apart. After searching the closet top to bottom, I went and ransacked every inch of my house. None of this made sense. I get maybe if one part of the outfit was missing, like the shirt, but not the whole thing. That doesn’t make sense, right? I grabbed my spare keys and went to search my vehicle. I had no real reason to believe they would be anywhere near my car, but I was desperate. Of course, it wasn’t there.
I knew I had only one place left to look: my ex’s house. I stared at her name on the contacts of my phone with my finger hovering above the “call” button. I stared for what felt like an eternity, debating whether I should call or not. “She’ll just think you’re desperate and want to get back together, or just looking for a quick hookup.” I told myself. Finally, I took that leap of faith and called her. Each pause before the next series of ringing gave me what felt like a mini heart attack. I even said, “Hello” a few times, thinking she had actually picked up. I should have seen it coming, but after sometime it went to voicemail.
I let out a quick sigh of relief before starting my voicemail, stammering, “Hey Maggie, it’s Aaron. I, uh — This is going to sound strange, but I… I think I may have left that outfit I wore to your uncle’s wedding at your place? You know, the one with the Prada belt you got for me from last Christmas. Anyways, I really need it, so if you happen to find it give me a call, or… like a text, or something… If it’s not there, sorry to bother you. Have a good day.” I hung up the phone and immediately covered my face with my hands, trying to allay the embarrassment, as if someone could see me.
Of course, I never got a call or text back. I really should have seen that coming. To be honest, part of me was really hurt, but my ex wasn’t the first thing on my mind. Currently, it was consumed with trying to figure out why I can’t remember these things. First it was my keys, now it’s a whole outfit. This just didn’t make sense. It was so out of character for me to misplace things, especially ones that are as expensive as my nice outfit.
I eventually caved and bought a whole new and equally as elegant outfit for the party. The event was as nice as you would expect an office party to be. I saw my co-workers, Jeremy and Martin, standing around near the back and decided to approach them. I really enjoy both of their company, even though I never had a chance to hang out with them outside of work. Or at least, that’s what I thought. This leads me to why I believe I’m suffering from short term memory loss. After a few minutes of small talk with the guys, Jeremy looks over to me and says, “Hey Aaron, we all had such a good time at Skip’s Bar, you should come back again and kick it with us!”
“Skip’s?” I asked, puzzled. “What are you talking about?”
“No way you got that drunk, man!” Martin chuckled.
Utterly confused at this point, I said, “I’m sorry, but I really don’t know what you guys are talking about.”
“Uh, you went out with us back a few months ago.” Jeremey responded, a blank expression on his face.
“Yeah, it was your idea. You called us up, saying you just broke up with your girlfriend and wanted to clear your head. You asked us if we knew any good bars and Martin recommended Skip’s.” Jeremy continued.
“Yeah,” Martin chimed. “We were out pretty much all night. We were shocked how much of a partier you can be. Since you’re typically so… quiet.”
It felt as if my whole world had been picked up and smashed down on the earth, shattering into a million pieces. I didn’t remember a single thing they told me that happened that night; Not one damn thing. My heart was racing and I felt as if I were about to have a panic attack. “I’ll catch up with you guys later.” was the only thing I could muster before walking away.
I soon left the party, and any plans I had previously of getting in the good graces of upper management went out the door the moment I did. But I didn’t care, I was more concerned with trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. This wasn’t just a little item I misplaced or lost. This was a whole god damn night that I have no recollection of. The next day, I called in sick and went to my regular doctor to see if he could help. I explained everything to Dr. Roberts, the best way I could at least.
“Uh-huh, so you think you’re suffering from some sort of brain abnormality?”
“Maybe? Why, do you think I am?” I asked, concern clear in my voice.
“Aaron, do you know what STML stands for?” Dr. Roberts questioned.
“No… I don’t think I do.” I replied.
“It stands for short-term memory loss. Tell me, have you suffered from any recent head injury?”
“No, I haven’t.” I responded.
“What about sleep deprivation? Have you been getting a full night’s rest?” He continued.
“Yeah, I get a good eight hours about every night. Why, do you think something’s wrong?”
“Before we jump to any conclusions, one last thing. Have you suffered from any recent traumatic events?”
“Traumatic?” I repeated, stopping to think. “No, I haven’t… I mean, I did recently break up with my girlfriend, but I wouldn’t say it was necessarily traumatic.” I explained. “So, what? You think I have short term memory loss? STML, or whatever you call it?”
Dr. Roberts gave me a reassuring smile, shaking his head. “No. I don’t think you have STML. I think you’re a healthy young man who probably puts too much stress on
himself. Here, I’ll give you a doctors note. Take a few days off work and get out of your head. You’re a nice young man, don’t worry about all this.”
I looked down at the note before asking, “So, you think I’m fine?”
“I think you’re too stressed for your age. Especially over things that are so minor.”
I took the Doctor’s advice and took a few days off work. I wish I could say it helped, but if anything, it made it worse — whatever “it” was. Over the next few weeks, I was completely paranoid. I second guessed every decision or memory I had. It was like I didn’t fully trust myself, or at least not my brain. The days I wasn’t at work I would spend hours still trying to look for my keys. I was completely obsessed.
I finally made the decision that work was taking up too much of my time, distracting me from finding my keys. So, I quit. Finally, my time could be fully spent on my search. I know it sounds odd, but I felt that if I could find my keys, then the whole world could make sense again and this nightmare could finally be over.
The next two months I barely left the house, or took any phone calls. Though to be fair, I rarely received any calls in the first place. Soon, I forgot I even had a phone, which would make sense, as I had forgotten to pay the bill for two straight months and the phone service had been shut off. Over that time, I had the same dream, or rather nightmare, every single night. In my dream, I would see my keys on the rabbit’s foot keychain that Maggie gave to me, spinning in the air above my head and out of reach, taunting me.
That dream consumed me, only furthering my obsession with finding that damned thing. It wasn’t much longer until the worst started to happen. I began to hear a noise. No, not a voice, but a faint sound, almost like a tap. Each day, it grew louder and louder. I couldn’t decipher where it was coming from, but I felt if I could find the source, I could find the keychain.
Then one day, it stopped. I didn’t hear it again for a whole week. That leads me here, to today. It has been 6 months since I lost the lucky rabbit’s foot keychain. Today, I noticed something while looking at my floor. My wood floor panels were off from their pattern. It looked as if the floor had been tampered with on a certain section of my house in the living room. My heart dropped when I noticed this. “How long has it been this way?” I thought to myself, and that’s when I heard the noise again. But, this time it wasn’t a quiet tap; it was a loud, earth-shaking “boom”.
The noise wouldn’t stop. It was so loud, so deafeningly loud, I nearly dropped to my knees in pain. I looked down and finally, knew exactly where it was coming from: Underneath the floorboards where the pattern doesn’t match. I wasted no time, running to my garage and grabbing a crow bar, hastily prying at the floor boards. As I did so, the sound grew louder and louder and my vision began to blur, until I had a flashback.
I remembered breaking up with Maggie on a Saturday night. I was upset, so that night I called up Jeremy and Martin to see if they wanted to grab a drink with me. They agreed, and I decided to wear my nice outfit. It had been awhile since I went out to a bar as a single guy, so I wanted to dress my best. I remembered the bar, the place was called ‘Skip’s’. I got completely drunk with the guys until we all decided to call it a night. I remembered Martin telling me I should get a cab, but I brushed him off, telling him, “I’m okay to drive.” Just as I was on the verge of remembering everything, I snapped back into reality.
I continued digging up the floor and as I did, this stench began to waft out from underneath. In my whole life I had never smelled anything so foul, I nearly vomited. Finally, I had removed all the floorboards and looked down beneath. But that’s when again, I was struck with another flashback. This time, I was driving home from the bar; completely intoxicated, swerving from left to right, it must have been about 3 A.M. That’s when it happened — Standing on the side of the road was a man in his late 30’s and what appeared to be a child who couldn’t have been older than 10. They had their emergency flashers on. Their car must have broken down. Before I knew it, I had hit them.
I was so drunk, I didn’t even know what happened at first. My head smacked hard against my steering wheel as I came to an abrupt stop. I clambered out of my car, not understanding what had happened, and checked for damage. Luckily for my car, there wasn’t a scratch on it. I then looked behind my vehicle, and there on the ground was the now dead and mangled bodies of the young child and man. I stood there for a solid five minutes in complete silence before tears started rolled down my cheeks.
I looked around, checking to see if there was a car in sight. Luckily for me, there wasn’t. I proceeded to load the bodies into the trunk of my car and drove off. I quicly arrived home, but now I was left with the issue of getting rid of them. I paced back and forth in my garage, trying to figure out what to do, until I looked over at my shelf that had some spare wood floor boards atop it. That’s when I got the idea to rip out a few panels and place their bodies beneath it.
I loaded them both down one by one. I remember staring at them down there, feeling like I was going to puke from the sight and from my guilt. I looked down at my clothes, realizing that they were covered in blood. So, I took them off and threw them down in the pit with them, my shoes included. Finally, I looked to my hand and my white rabbit’s foot keychain was soaked in blood — their blood. So, I dropped it down there with them, too. Then I sealed the hole with the new boards. Being the clean freak I am, I had a mountain of cleaning supplies. I spent hours upon hours of the night going over every inch of my car, scraping off their blood. The rest of that night I cried, and kept telling myself, “It didn’t happen”, until I finally fell asleep.
I snap back into current time, as I once again look down at the hole to see two dead bodies that were showing some sign of decay. At this point, I’m far too shaken to care about the odor anymore. On top of them are my bloody clothes, and far down to the right of them is my white rabbit’s foot keychain, caked in dry blood. I bend down and grab the keychain and the moment I do, the noise finally stopped. It stopped, and the whole world feels normal again, even if just for a moment. I fall to the ground and stare at the keychain, trying to process what I had done. That’s when I hear something from underneath. The bodies; they began to come out… I crawl back into the corner, until there was nowhere left to go. I am trapped there, left to await their imminent consumption of me.
Credit: Jagger Rosenfeld
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