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I had to grow up when I was six. I had two little brothers that depended on me. Liam was two and John was just a baby. Our parents were going through a nasty divorce and suddenly the children were just a burden that neither wanted to tend to. I was the one who made sure we ate, bathed, wore clean clothes, changed diapers, and taught the boys how to pee in the potty when it came time for that.
I also stopped believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Sugar Plums and Gum Drops. Which meant I also didn’t believe in anything that went bump in the night. I couldn’t believe in those things. I had to be the grown up. I had to be Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and I had to chase away the things that went bump in the night.
My brothers were terrified of the dark and the things that lived under the bed and in the closet. So every night before bed I would take a brown paper lunch bag and chase away the things from under the bed and in the closet. I’d catch them in my bag and then I’d stomp on the bag, thus killing the monsters, with lots of praise from the boys. We all slept in the same bed. It was easier that way. I knew where they were at all times then.
Things stayed that way as we grew up. The boys knew they could count on me above our parents anytime they needed something. Even after the divorce the neglect never stopped. We sort of fended for ourselves.
When I graduated high school things started to change for me. I started to become angry at the way my life was. I resented my parents. And I hate to admit it, but I started to resent the boys. Even though none of it was their fault. So I ran away. I ran away with a boy my age who had joined the Marines.
Our life together started in Florida. And ended in North Carolina. The boy was secretly an abusive drug addict. I came home broken.
That’s when I met my husband Tim. Who was different than anything I had ever encountered. He’s kind and gentle and works hard to make sure I know I am loved, which was a feeling I never knew before. I had two children with him. Two girls. Gena and Melany.
That is when the nightmares started. That is when I started to believe in the things that went bump in the night.
I don’t know if the process of child birth makes one feel and know things they previously thought didn’t exist, but after Gena was born I started having horrible nightmares. The nightmares were so vivid they would put Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street to shame. Then the day after the nightmare I would see the subject of the nightmare out and about. As if I were being stalked.
Normally the nightmare was of a man in all black choking me. His hands gloved wrapped tightly around my neck. My husband normally wakes me from these dreams. I scream out, I fight, I kick, and punch. I woke with cold sweats.
But the next day out in town. I’d catch glimpses of him here or there. Over the years I thought it was just coincidence. That there must have been someone in town who wore a black jacket like the man in my dreams. It wasn’t until the man started being literally everywhere I was, that I started to worry.
One hot summers day at the farmers market I saw him. The man in black. I saw him across the market place briefly. It startled me so that I dropped my basket. I quickly retrieved my belongings and looked again and he was gone. It had to be the man. Why would a man be wearing a black leather jacket in 90 degree heat?
That night I had the nightmare again. Same man in black with his hands around my throat. I scratched his face under his right eye. The man yelled a curse and bit me on my left shoulder. My husband woke me again. We turned the light on and he ran to get water while I caught my breath. He came into the room and looked at me and said, “Baby you’re bleeding” I was confused but he ran up to me and put pressure on my left shoulder.
Once the bleeding had stopped we were able to see what the cause of it was. I had a deep bite mark on my shoulder. I broke down and told my husband of my dream. How could something that happened in a dream appear suddenly on my body. I could understand a random bruise, since I tend to wrestle the air, but a physical bite mark was unexplainable.
I called my best friend in the morning and Shawna and I agreed that I could use some time away from the house. Shawna and I went to the mall to walk around and people watch. People watching was a fun past time of ours. We quite enjoy picking out morons at the mall and secretly laughing at them. It always makes me feel better.
While we were people watching I saw him again. He looked right at me. And he had scratches underneath his right eye. We stared at each other for a moment before he turned to leave. He was leaving Hot Topic and heading towards J.C. Penney’s . I needed to know who he was. Why he was everywhere I was, and why he was in my head. I tried getting to him, but a gaggle of teenage girls suddenly burst out Claires in front of me and he was gone…again.
I didn’t know what to do. This was getting very real. Why would he have the scratches? Why did I have a bite? I needed help. Shawna, who is also clairvoyant told me I need to speak my mother. I asked her why, but she said all she knew was she was getting a strong feeling that I needed to talk to my mother and that was all she knew.
I hadn’t spoken to my mother in 15 years. As soon as I graduated high school I left and never looked back. But I trusted Shawna. I knew if Shawna said I needed to do something I needed to do something. So I called my mother.
“Hello, is this Donna?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“Elizabeth, your daughter”
“That’s impossible, my daughter is dead.”
“No I am not, I am alive and well, I am married, I have two children, and I need to speak to you.”
My mom sighed heavily on the other end of the line. “I thought you were dead and that is why it had ended, not because you had children.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked
“You are being stalked by a man in black aren’t you?”
I stayed silent for a minute or two. Before my mom went into the story of the “The Man in Black”
Apparently he is a curse. He has been haunting women in my family for generations, so long the reason for the curse was no longer known. He will follow/haunt the mother until the next daughter has children or the next daughter is dead. This is the reason for my parent’s divorce. This is the reason my mother was distant while we were growing up. She didn’t want to get close to me. She harbored homicidal thoughts towards me my entire life to end the curse that was upon her. She hated herself for it so she didn’t want a relationship with me. There is no other way to break the curse. When I asked my mother how she survived the curse without a spouse to wake her from her nightmares, she told me she had her alarm clock go off hourly. It took a toll on her, but at least the man in black couldn’t claim another victim.
I knew what I had to do. The man in black is after blood. He will not stop until he takes a female of my bloodline. He will continue to torture us until that day. So that night I bought a bottle of sleeping pills and crushed 3 or 4 up into Tim’s tea being careful not to give him a lethal amount just enough to keep him asleep when the man in black comes. I tucked my daughters into bed and kissed them one last time. And then I went to sleep myself.
The man in black came as predicted. He took my life as predicted. My cause of death went down to undiagnosed sleep apnea. I watch over my family now. Their sadness keeps me here. It’s odd, I thought I’d be tethered to the man in black for all eternity but once he took me I never saw him again. At least I am free of him.
23 years later
That bastard. That sorry bastard. Gena had a baby. She had a baby girl. And now the man in black is back. He is haunting my daughter. There is no way to break the curse. And my curse is to watch it happen to my family for generations to come.