It was coming for me.
I knew it. I just knew it.
I clutched the sheets tightly, my knees knocking together underneath the covers. Sweat pricked the back of my neck. There was a revolver tucked away underneath the bed, but I was too frightened to pick it up. It’s here. It’s going to get me.
I started taking in shaky breaths, each one shallower than the last. Then I heard the footsteps. It was moving towards the door.
‘’Stay back!’’ I screamed, though it was a warning in vain.
The doorknob turned. “Leave me alone!’’
Tears began running down my face. I screamed again. ‘’STAY BACK!” The door opened, a clammy hand on the knob. Its bloodshot eyes stared back into mine.
I woke up in cold sweat. My eyes squinted at the light that was coming in through the curtains. Sitting up, I surveyed the scene. My sheets were soaked, and my boxers stuck to the mattress. Everything else in the room--the wooden dresser, the mirror, the empty nightstand—all looked the same.
My gaze traveled towards the bedroom door. It was still shut, locked from the inside. Ever since I started having the nightmares, I locked it every night.
I sighed, stood up, and walked into the bathroom. I splashed cold water on my face, just as I did every morning after waking from a very realistic fright. When I reached for a towel to dry myself, I caught a glimpse of an old photograph shoved in the corner of counter. The photo was of me and my ex-fiancé, Jules. It was taken on the day we moved in together. Jules.
Jules had been the reason I bought the old Victorian house in the first place. We had planned to move in together shortly after we got married, but buying the place ahead of time had been her idea. She figured we’d live a long, happy life together, maybe even have a couple of kids. My hopes were just as high as hers—after all, we had been dating for three years.
Yet, we had only lived in the place two months before the fighting began. ‘’You have to find a stable job!’’ she’d say. ‘’ We can’t live off of your guitar gigs!’’
‘’But babe, the gigs pay good money. These songs that I write-‘’
‘’Are lucky that they get looked at in the first place.’’
It was one thing to yell at me, but insulting my work was another story. And she was only insulting it because she was agitated. ‘’Look,’’ I began, anger rising in my voice, ‘’my songs are what put the bread on the table. You can criticize them all you want, but they’re the reason why you’re carrying around that Gucci purse.’’
Her mouth dropped open. She looked appalled. ‘’I bought this with my own money, and you know that!’’ she spat.
Arguments like that seemed to happen all the time. They drained me. I started buying a 6 pack of Bud Light just to get through the week. Though my drinking just ended up straining our relationship even more.
‘’Again with the beer?” she’d say.
‘’It helps me, Jules. Besides, I’ve only had two.”
The fight that broke us up occurred only a few weeks after the first one. I had been in an especially bad mood on that day because two gigs scheduled for the end of the month got cancelled. We had been standing in the hallway, shouting and cursing at each other. Jules kept going on and on about our upcoming mortgage payment due date. ‘’…and how are we supposed to pay for it, huh?’’
I exhaled, clenching my teeth. ‘’We’ll find a way.’’
She rolled her eyes. ‘’That’s what you always say when there’s no solution in sight.
“God Jules, you think I’m not trying?!’ I shouted, slamming my fist against the wall.
She knew I was getting angry. Taking a more calm approach, she began, ‘’Look, all I’m trying to say is-‘’
That’s when something inside of me snapped. I was tired of hearing what she had to say. Whether it was because my gigs were recently cancelled, or I was tired of repeating the same cycle all the time, I didn’t know. I just remember swinging my hand, hitting Jules’ right cheek. The slap stung the skin on my palm.
She looked shocked. And I was shocked too. A fresh, red handprint formed on her check. She placed her fingertips on it, her eyes getting watery.
‘’Babe-‘’ I started.
‘’Don’t you dare touch me!’’
I had never seen her that upset. She stormed out with her car keys, driving off to God-knows-where. The fighting never got better after that. We split up only a few weeks later.
With all of her stuff gone, the house felt open and barren. Every night since she left, I started having the recurring nightmare. It was as if my imagination liked to run rampant, just to provide a way to fill the empty hallways. At least, I hoped it just my imagination.
After taking a shower, I went down to the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. Then I went into the living room and sat down on the couch, picking up the pen and paper I had left on it the night before. I opened the can and took a sip. Drinking always seemed to help the songwriting process flow better. But before I got a chance to write down even a single word, the phone rang.
I scrunched my eyebrows together, irritated by the sound. Whoever it is can just leave a message.
When the answering machine picked up, I heard her voice. ‘’Hey,’’ she began, ‘’it’s me. I know we haven’t talked in a while, and I was just wondering if, you know, maybe you wanted to, um, catch up? It—I know it seems silly, but I was wondering…how are you? Call me if you get the chance.’’
As the answering machine clicked off, I crumpled up the piece of paper in front of me. Even though Jules wasn’t in the house, she still managed to get under my skin. Like hell I’d call her back after she left me.
That night the creature returned.
My legs shook violently, my heart pounding in chest. ‘’Stay back!!!’’ I screamed, just as I had done before.
The door knob turned. ‘’Stay back! Please!!’’
The creature’s angry eyes bore through the now open door, its clammy hand on the knob. Bile rose in my throat. In a moment it entered the room…
I woke up the next morning drenched in sweat. It happened so often, you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Yet for some reason the stickiness made me cringe.
I got up and washed my face, like usual. Just as I was just about to jump inside the shower, the doorbell rang. Jesus, who could be here now? The fact that I wasn’t expecting anyone made me all the more annoyed. I hated when people showed up unexpectedly.
As quickly as I could, I threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and hobbled downstairs to the door. The doorbell rang two more times before I got to it. When I opened the door, I found myself facing a tall, balding man with a moustache.
‘’Mr.Hourse?’’ he exclaimed
‘’Hi,’’ he extended his hand, ‘’I’m Clark, from Banking Your Way. You set up an appointment. ‘’
Confusion struck me for a moment as I took shook his hand. However, once I realized who he was, I felt like hitting myself. ‘’Ah, crap. Sorry, I forgot about it. This month has been rough.’’
‘’I understand,’’ Clark exclaimed. Though from the tight, business like air he produced, I doubted he had a clue. He just wanted to get the appointment over with. ‘’Though tough or not, you’ve missed your 90 day mark for the mortgage payment. You know what happens if you skip the next deadline?’’
I clenched my fist, trying to suppress the frustration that was slowly building. ‘’Yeah, I know. Look, just give me another week, and I-‘’
‘’I can’t give you anything,’’ Clark interrupted, ‘’except some advice. Skip the next deadline, and this house will be foreclosed.’’
I felt the familiar twitch of anger flicker inside of me. His moustache suddenly made him look like a douche. ‘’Yeah?’’ I challenged. “Well, guess it was useless setting this up since all your bringing is bad news.’’
Clark looked taken aback. ‘’Mr.Hourse, I’m sorry if I stuck a nerve, but don’t forget, it was you who set this up.”
That was the final straw. ‘’Uh huh. Well guess what? Now I’m the one that’s ending it.’’ I stepped forward, slamming the door in Clark’s face. He knocked a few times, yelling God-knows-what to me. It didn’t matter. I had already tuned him out. Making my way over to the fridge, I pulled out a case of 6 beers, and took them into the living room. Everyone always thinks it’s my fault, I thought. It’s always my frigging fault. Then I snatched my pen and paper, and headed up to the bedroom.
I wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but the next thing I knew, it was dark outside. I was sprawled out on my sheets, my sixth can of beer nearly empty. I looked down at the papers with the attempted song lyrics I had written on them. But now the words seemed to blur together. There was no way I could read what they said.
With a grunt, I tossed the papers onto the floor, then laid back on my bed. God, I shouldn’t have drank so much. My head was already beginning to pound, and I could feel a sensation of dizziness wash over me.
Then something creaked. Creeeaaak.
Immediately, I bolted upright.
My heart started pounding in my chest. That noise…
I looked over at my bedroom door. It was slightly ajar. I hadn’t locked it.
The familiar panicky feeling started to overtake me. No, it can’t be. It can’t be! I wanted so badly to believe what was happening was just a dream. That’s not the monster. I’m not sleeping. But I heard the footsteps. Those oh-so-familiar footsteps.
It’s going to get me. It’s going to kill me.
I knew it couldn’t have been the monster. It shouldn’t have been. But my breaths were already becoming shallow, and my legs were knocking together.
‘’Who’s there?’’ I called, as if the creature would answer me.
The footsteps got louder and louder. My heart was racing more than it had ever done before. Then the clammy hand gripped the door knob. I couldn’t take it anymore.
‘’STAY BACK! BACK!!!’’
My hands were shaking, and my fingertips were sweaty and numb. Everything in my body was telling me to move, but I couldn’t. It was if I was rooted onto the bed.
The creature stepped through the door, holding an object in its hands. I gasped when I realized what it was. It was a revolver. But not just any revolver—it was the same exact one I kept underneath my bed.
The creature pushed the door wide open, stepping fully into the room. As soon as I caught sight if it, my breath got caught in my throat. Its eyes were wide and bloodshot. Its hair was a straggly mess, and there was foam at by its mouth. It was wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans. The creature was me.
Though its appearance wasn’t what terrified me. It was the fact that it was pointing the revolver at its temple.
The news reports the following day took the neighborhood by surprise.
‘’Police say Mr. Daniel Hourse committed suicide in his home, late Monday night. There was no suicide note left behind, though investigators found some disturbing messages scribbled down on paper in his bedroom, along with six empty cases of beer. Neighbors always thought of Mr.Hourse as quiet fellow, but never suicidal.’’
An officer in his mid-fifties, along with a team of investigators, were standing inside Mr.Hourse’s bedroom. The old officer scratched his head, holding the papers in his hand. ‘’What do you think they mean?’’
One of the investigators walked over to the older officer, looking at the papers he was holding. ‘’No idea. All these suicide victims are a bit wacky.’’
The balding officer shrugged, placing the papers down on the dresser. In messy, red letters, the same wording was repeated over and over on each sheet:
It’s here. It’s going to get me. I’m going to die!
STAY BACK!!! BACK!!!
An unusual breeze blew through the room, turning one of the papers over. There was writing on the back. In neat, black cursive, it read:
You can’t hide from what’s inside.