Chapter 1: Insomnia
I killed him. I may not have been the cause, but that man died and I was on the other end of that crash.
Why was he driving so fast? Why did this happen to me?
It’s selfish thoughts like this, that haunt me. He’s dead...I’m alive and I am feeling sorry for myself.
No matter how tired I felt I simply could not sleep. I mean I would sleep but never as soundly as I did before the accident. It’s hard to believe I was able to get up and attempt to help that man in the crash with how bad my back was hurt. The doctor says it was adrenaline and that it happens all the time. I am on pain meds now and even those don’t help me sleep. It’s quite the opposite. Its been over a month and I have not been able to go back to work. I feel in constant pain physically and mentally. The medication helps with the body aches but nothing can take the images of that man out of my head.
The accident happened so fast...he came out of nowhere like a rocket aimed at my truck. I knew when I saw him that he wasn’t going to make it so I did my best to comfort him. All he was worried about was his notebook. His...stupid...fucking...notebook. His eyes looked like a man crazed as he forcefully pushed the notebook into my hand, pleading for me to deliver it. What was I going to do...tell a dying man no? Of course not. So here I am.
I have the same routine everyday; I sit around in a medicine stupor watching tv, family gets home I play like I am ok, I attempt to go to sleep but wake up around 2:00 am every night. I usually just go downstairs and put on the boob tube but lately I have been either staring outside or staring at the notebook.
The notebook is still wrapped and covered in the man’s blood. I have not delivered it yet as I am scared as to who it is for. Is it a relative of his that will know what I’ve done?
What if it’s a cop and he knows I took this. How could I explain that?
Either way I don’t think I am ready to take on that burden. The thought had crossed my mind to just throw it away but that would simply add insult to injury. Not only do I kill this guy but I don’t respect his dying wish.
I wonder what is so important about the notebook? Is that why he was driving so fast? He seemed pretty fixed on me delivering it to its destination. Unfortunately the blood soaked wrapping had covered up part of the address so I couldn’t make it all out.
It was going to a Dale Burns from Denver. I am sure I could find him but I have not been ready to do that yet.
So I sit here reliving the crash over and over and deciding what to do with the notebook...every night.
I am tired of looking at the notebook. Its blood soaked cover is a painful reminder of what happened. Fuck it. I am going to open it. I will remove the bloody reminder and see what was so god damned important that this dude blew into the side of my rig.
I ripped the brown paper frantically and tossed it aside. I held the spiral bound notebook in my hands and stared down at it. Not sure I was prepared for what I was about to see.
The cover and back of the notebook was covered with the number 344 all over it. Different sizes, styles, pen colors you name it. It looked like what I would imagine the walls of an insane asylum would look like. This was the scribbles of a madman in my opinion.
I opened the notebook and flipped through it quickly.
Every single page was filled with either drawings or words or in some cases paragraphs that were written in impressive handwriting. Half of the book looked like a lunatics rantings while the other half looked like an English teachers essay.
All of the drawings were quite disturbing. Reminded me of a book I read as a kid called scary stories to tell in the dark. They were sketches in pen and pencil, quite impressive actually. They were all of the same creature it seemed. It was feminine looking with long black, scraggly hair. Its body looked malnourished, like its skin had simply been draped over its skeleton. It had long slender arms that seemed to almost touch the ground. The face was the creepiest part. It had cat-like eyes and no nose really. But its mouth...its mouth was unusually large with huge misshapen teeth.
They were too big to fit in its mouth, quite horrific actually. To make matters worse it seemed to be smiling in every sketch. Not a happy smile mind you, but a devious grin.
I didn’t like looking at it but I could not look away.
I flipped back to page one where there was a few sentences addressed to Dale.
I believe I have figured out the significance of 3:44 AM. It seems that it can only surface after midnight and it essentially disappears at 3:45 AM.
I am convinced it is weakest right before it goes back to where ever.
We need to kill it at 3:44 AM...no sooner...no later.
I am confident that writing or drawing it does not draw it in...it needs to be vocal.
Don’t speak of it.
What the hell is this? They need to kill it at 3:44 AM? What is it?
I continued to flip through the book examining the drawings and reading brief notes throughout. Most of the notes seemed to be times and dates of sightings of what is only referred to as...it. All of the sketches were all the same creature, what I assumed to be it. This thing was horrible. There is no way this thing was real. These guys must have been on drugs or something. Maybe they went crazy from lack of sleep. All of the research took place late at night so sleep deprivation certainly could play a role in the madness. If I wasn’t careful the same would happen to me if I continued with my insomnia while reading what was obviously the rantings of a madman. I turned to the last page where there were four words carved into the inside of the back cover of the notebook. I say the words were carved because whoever wrote them, wrote it over and over and must have really been pressing hard on the cover so that it was etched into it.
Don’t speak of it.
There it was again. Don’t speak of it. The same thing at the beginning of the notebook. This is some crazy shit. I looked at the clock and it was nearly 4 AM so I put the notebook in my desk and made my way to the couch to see if Mr.Sandman would finally pay me a visit.
My wife woke me up with a gentle push and asked why I was sleeping on the couch.
“I didn’t want to disturb you. Trouble sleeping again,” I said with tired eyes.
“While I appreciate that honey, I can’t imagine that is good for your back.”
“You’re right as always,” I said this while giving her a good morning kiss on the cheek.
Beth and I have been married for nearly fifteen years. We met in college and I was instantly smitten. I can’t say that she felt the same initially, but I wore her down.
“Hey! I need to show you something pretty bizarre.”
All at once the images and scribbles from the notebook entered my head as if I had dreamed it all. I found the notebook right where I put it last night all the while realizing that it wasn’t a dream. That crazy book was real. As I got closer to my wife a sudden wave of fear went through my body.
Don’t speak of it.
For a brief moment I considered not saying anything about it but realized how crazy this all was. The lack of sleep was now getting to me to the point I was actually believing this bullshit. The moment of fear passed and I dropped the book in front of my wife who was now sitting at the table in the kitchen.
“It’s that package he gave me.”
“The guy from the accident? You opened it?” she asked sounding a bit alarmed.
“Obviously,” I said sarcastically.
“Check it out, some really creepy shit in here.”
I flipped through the pages starting by reading her the first page and then onto the drawings.
“Look at that thing...pretty creepy, am I right?”
“I don’t like how it seems to be smiling at us. Well, not smiling at us but you know what I mean,” she said while inspecting the sketches.
“I know exactly what you mean...check this out,” flipping to the last page.
“Somebody was really focused on not speaking about whatever it is.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have opened this,” she said sounding disturbed.
“Don’t tell me you believe this shit,” I asked sounding surprised by my wife’s reaction.
“I want you to get rid of that thing please...and for the love of god don’t show the kids.”
“You don’t think I should deliver it to this Dale guy?” I asked straight faced.
“I don’t want you anywhere near that looney...you hear me?”
“Get rid of it.”
“Yes dear,” doing my best impression of a beaten down husband. To this she smiled and poured herself a fresh cup of coffee.
I threw the notebook in the trash and went upstairs to wake the kids up for school.