Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
Right now, I’m sitting up in my bed. It’s late at night and the only light is the screen of my laptop. I’m sure it’s illuminating my face quite nicely. I just hope my poker face is convincing enough to whatever is watching me. I think as long as I don’t seem scared or panicked, it should leave me alone. It might even leave the house completely. I can’t be sure. Let me explain.
It was approaching midnight when my wife, Mary, awoke. I was just about to drift into unconsciousness when she shook me awake as well.
“Is Jennifer home?” she asked groggily.
Our daughter Jennifer had gone out for some friends for drinks. It was Thursday and she had work in the morning, so we both assumed she would have been back by now. I shook my head. My wife groaned in annoyance. She worried about Jennifer, as did I. We lived in a safe neighborhood, but people are unpredictable. Plus, you never know what can happen on the road. As a parent, your mind tends to automatically jump to the worst case scenario.
“I’ll see where she is. You go back to sleep,” I whispered as I pulled the blanket back over Mary. I grabbed my cell phone and began dialing Jennifer. After several rings it went to voicemail. I hung up, letting my natural paternal instincts stir shreds of panic in my mind. Brushing it off, I began writing a text message.
“Hey, Jennifer. It’s getting pretty late and mom’s worried. Any idea of your ETA?”
Jennifer is on the brink of turning 22. While that is still young in my eye, I understand that she is an adult. I do my best not to seem overbearing. But seeing as she’s our only child, and a young woman in this crazy, depraved world, I can’t help but worry. For a few minutes, the screen remained unchanged. Finally, iMessage notified me that the message was read. The “user is typing” bubbles quickly followed.
“On my way back. Should be home soon,” she replied.
I let out a sigh of relief. I figured since I was up, I might as well make a run to the bathroom. I kicked off the sheets and headed out the door. After finishing up my business, I began walking down our almost pitch black hallway back my room.
I ran into someone. I squinted and saw the long hair of the figure.
“That was quick, Jennifer. I didn’t even hear you come in.” I whispered.
She must be exhausted, I thought. “G’night, hun,” I said as I moved past her and back to the comfort of my bed. I slipped into my sheets and laid my head down. Just then I received a new text. Confused and annoyed, I sloppily stretched out for the phone. I grabbed it and opened the text.
It was from Jennifer.
“I forgot my wallet at the bar and had to drive all the way back to get it! I won’t be back for another 20 mins or so.”
That message was just sent a minute ago. I was frozen. I just saw Jennifer in the hallway, right? I slowly sat up in my bed and began calling Jennifer. She picked up and I asked where she was. She reminded me that she had to go back to the bar and was still on her way home. I swallowed hard and told her to drive safe.
After hanging up, the screen eventually went black. My eyes adjusted to the dark. That’s when I saw her. Whoever I ran into in the hall was standing at our door, peering at me. Her hair was darker and longer than I first realized. Her eyes had an unnatural glow to them and she flashed me a crazed smile. I managed to not flinch or make any sudden moves. I just reached over to my laptop and popped it open. I don’t know what to do. I can’t explain why but I am almost paralyzed with fear.
As long as I don’t make it aware that I know she’s not Jennifer, maybe she’ll leave. I just want that thing to leave. Wait, I just heard something…
The garage door is opening. Jennifer must be home.
* * * * * *
After I heard the garage open I quickly looked up towards the strange woman. Our eyes met for the briefest moment. She broke her gaze and turned her head. She too heard the sound of the garage door. Without making a sound she walked out of my sight, in the direction of the stairs. For a moment, it felt like I had awoken from a nightmare. I had a sense of relief flush over me, as if everything that had just happened was just my imagination. Luckily, my paternal instinct kicked back into full-gear as I leapt out of bed and to the door. I turned the corner and saw nothing. I dashed for the garage, slapping every light switch I passed in order to rid my house of darkness. I turned the last corner before colliding with another long-haired figure. I let out a short but aggressive yelp and jumped back, arms stretched out in front of me.
“Ow, Dad! What the hell was that?!” I heard my daughter ask from the ground. I had knocked her over.
“Oh, Jennifer, it’s just you,” I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Yeah, dude, who else were you expecting?” She got up and collected herself.
I turned on every other remaining light and checked every corner of the house. Jennifer stood nearby, watching me in confusion.
“Dad, what the heck is going on?” she finally asked.
I eventually realized that woman was nowhere to be found. All the doors were locked but there were a few windows opened. She must have come in and out that way. I locked them and went to hug my daughter.
“I just thought I heard something while I was sleeping, hun,” I lied. I figured there was no point in scaring her if the woman was gone. Jennifer hugged me back and laughed. We said goodnight and she headed upstairs. I decided I would look around for another few minutes, just to ease my own mind. I was just about to call it quits when I heard Jennifer screaming for me from her bedroom. I dashed like a madman up the steps and burst through her door. She was at her window, frantically waving me over.
I got to her side. My wife had awoken at this point and also entered the room. The three of us gathered at the window. In our backyard, stood the woman. With our porch light on, I was able to get a better look at her. Her hair was very long, almost to her waist. It was black and matted, with a couple of random braids and sloppy ponytails protruding in different directions. Her skin was pale. Blisters and sores covered her all over. She was wearing a black tank top and a long black skirt. She was sporting the same psychotic smile as before. As soon as she saw me, her arm began to slowly raise up until she was pointing. Pointing… at me. Her smile grew into an opened mouth grin. I saw she missing several teeth and teeth she still had were yellow and rotten.
My wife was watching in shock and terror. Her mouth was wide open and she covered it with one hand. She eventually turned to me and loudly asked, “Who the hell is that?!” I looked at her and told her I didn’t know.
“Guys…” whimpered Jennifer. We both turned to her and she was still staring out the window. Her former look of awe and borderline-amusement was replaced with absolute dread. I looked back at the woman in our backyard.
She was still pointing. But now, it was at Jennifer. Her grin was overtaken by a grimace. Her eyes were squinted in rage. She began screaming in short, high-pitched bursts. Jennifer was covering her mouth in shock. We were all speechless and unsure what to do.
Due to all the screaming, our neighbors lights began to turn on one-by-one before they came out to investigate the source of the commotion. When the crazed lady saw all her new spectators, she quieted down. With one last, menacing gaze to my daughter, she turned around and ran into the darkness. I grabbed Jennifer, who was now in tears and hugged her. A few minutes later we heard a knock at the door.
It was the police. They had been called by one of the neighbors, I assumed. We explained what had happened in the backyard. I pulled one of the officers aside and told him that she had even gotten in the house, but was hoping to not let the other two know. He looked at me in shock and agreed to look around the house. Of course, he couldn’t find any obvious entry point and, like me, blamed it on an open window. He told me he would stay outside the house for a couple hours with his partner, which put us all at ease. That was the end of it.
I know it’s cliché, but I can’t help but think this isn’t over. That woman knows where we live. She was able to find a silent and discreet way to enter the house, despite her obvious insanity. I’m scared for my family. I’m scared for myself. My daughter already carries Mace and a small knife (as I said, I worry about her, so I make sure she is ready to defend herself) but I went ahead and also bought her a small taser. One for my wife, too. I really hope this is the end of it.