The sounds started again. The heavy and disembodied breathing. The high pitch scraping. “Oh no,” he whispered. He forgot to close his bathroom door before retiring to bed. He glanced at the clock. 3:01 AM, it read. If only he would have remembered to shut it. Now he would have to deal with it again. But why? Why does this happen if a door is left cracked open? Are these some sort of twisted dreams he’s having, or is this real? Questions flowed through his head like uncontrolled rapids on a restless river. How many times is this now? Four? Five?
“This can’t be happening,” he exclaimed. Before he even began to ponder the answers to these questions, he heard a loud crash coming from within the bathroom. It was a slapping sound, as if something heavy and wet suddenly fell onto the cheap linoleum tiles. A few moments passed. He listened attentively and peered at the door. The room was dark, but his eyes had somewhat adjusted since he had awoken. He could see the outline of the door handle and frame. He glanced around nervously. His room was modest. There was a dresser, a desk and a couple pictures hanging on the wall. The apartment itself was older, but in good condition.
His eyes diverted to the closet. What? What was this?? His closet doors appeared to be completely shut, but he looked closer. There were two sliding doors, each one on a separate guide rail. The leftmost door was closed and flush to the wall, but the right one was cracked open ever so slightly. “My God,” he said. Never had he forgotten to completely shut two doors at once.
His pulse raced and his breathing increased. It was difficult for him to hear anything else. All was still in his room as he looked around. There was no movement. Nothing. His eyes focused back to the bathroom door. It was now halfway open. “No,” he murmured. He was stricken with fear. He grabbed his comforter and pulled it slowly towards him. His breathing got louder and louder; almost uncontrolled. His eyes shifted around the room once more, not knowing what would come next. He wanted to jump out of bed and run away but couldn’t. His paralyzing fear had left him to cower under the bed sheets.
A few minutes had passed. Nothing was happening. “Maybe nothing will,” he reassured himself. His heart rate had slowed, slightly. His breathing was still rapid, but gradually subsided. He noticed he could move again, slowly pulling away his covers. He looked towards the light switch, which was near the bedroom door. If only he could muster the courage to reach it and flip it on. It would only take a couple seconds. His breathing slowed to near normal and most of his senses were returning.
He began to sit up, still staring at the light switch on the wall. His focus was entirely on flipping that switch. He knew everything would be okay if the lights turned on. He would be able to call a friend, or maybe his parents, for help. Would they believe him? Maybe, maybe not. Would they think he’s crazy? Possibly. It doesn’t matter at this point. He only wants this to be over; to be safe again. Nothing has happened yet, though. Not like the last few times. It was horrible, he remembered. He still has the scars on his back and stomach. On his legs. Most would consider them unexplained, or even self inflicted. The things that happened to him were just too unbelievable. Fantastical, even.
His mind had wandered, but returned to the task at hand. He needed to get out of his bed and to that switch. He swung his legs around so that they were nearly touching the floor. He looked down to make sure nothing was there. All was clear. He peered up again and started to hunch forward; gaining momentum to stand up and move towards the bedroom door. A sudden noise directly behind him stopped him dead in his track. It was a scurrying sound, unnatural in a way. He started breathing hard again; his body trembled. After a few moments, he slowly turned his head and torso to look behind him. There was nothing. All he could see were his two pillows and the blankets that had been ruffled due to his prior movements. He sighed a little and reassured himself again, “You’re hearing things.” He turned back toward the door, remembering he needed to turn on the lights. A white face stared at him, inches from his own. It was disgusting, almost unbearable to look at. The mouth grinned from ear to ear, sinister in its appearance. Rotting teeth and receding gums emitted a foul and putrid smell, as if death itself was present. The nose was pointed and uneven. The facial lines were too numerous to count. The eyes. The eyes were the worst part. They were black and reflected a glimmer of moonlight from the nearby window. They stared right into his.
He unhesitatingly flinched backwards in one swift movement. The face and its thin, twig-like body followed immediately. He shrieked with horror when he bumped into something behind him. His head reflexively turned around to see what it was. Another white face, near identical to the first, laid its head on his shoulder. The same black eyes stared into his. These two twig-like creatures started to grab him feverishly, almost certainly bruising every part they lay a hand to. Their faces remained, staring within inches of his. It was almost too much for him to take. He closed his eyes and screamed in agony and fear. His eyes cracked open and noticed their grins were even wider, almost impossibly wide. More teeth poured out of their mouths. “Oh please stop, oh gahhh,” he seemingly gargled as they poked and prodded his body. His flesh became sensitive and weak. They began to dig their twig-like claws into his body. His stomach tore open, expelling part of his innards. He screamed again. Another claw ripped the skin on his back. It reached inside and grabbed one of his ribs. It pulled hard, trying to break it from the rest of his chest cavity. He continued to scream and cried uncontrollably. The pain was excruciating. His eyes closed once again. He couldn’t focus on anything except for the pain. It was too much to handle. He just wanted it to be over; he wanted to die.
Through the commotion, he heard a knock on the door. The knocking continued, but it was hard for him to concentrate. The creatures continued to harass him, growing more and more aggressive by the second. The knocking turned to pounding. Pounding and pounding and pounding. It got so loud, the room seemed to shake.
He suddenly sat up in bed, sweating profusely. He looked around confused. The strange beings were gone. He glared at the closet and bathroom. They were still cracked open, although not halfway as seen before. He quickly remembered his wounds and looked down to inspect himself. He felt his stomach and back. There was nothing wrong. No blood. Nothing.
“A dream, just a dream,” he said to himself. It was all just a nightmare. And the other nights. The other instances. They must have been dreams as well, he thought. He sighed in relief. He remember what had woken him. The knocking; the pounding at his bedroom door. He looked towards the door. It was closed. He sat for a moment, hanging his head, thinking. The knocking started again. He quickly glanced up at the door. The knocking continued, growing louder. What? How? Nobody else is here, he thought. “Who’s there?” he asked, not knowing what else to say. There was no answer. “What do you want?” he asked. Again, no answer. The knocking continued to grow louder, its pace intensifying. It was abnormal. Nobody knocks like this, he thought. It stopped, as suddenly as it started. A few minutes passed. Total silence engulfed the room, except for his heavy breathing. “It’s Crystal,” a voice said. Crystal? Why is she here? “What are you doing here?” he questioned. There was no answer. He wondered why she came over. Did he call her in his sleep? How could he? And how could she be knocking on his bedroom door? He locks his apartment every night before he turns in for bed. He makes sure of it; it’s somewhat of an OCD thing, he thought. How did she get in? Question upon question ran though his head. He could not figure it out.
The door handle turned briskly. The door opened, but just a crack. “What are you doing?” he demanded out of fear. The bedroom door remained cracked open. The little that he could see of the room behind it appeared as an abyss, even darker than his own room.
After some uneventful moments, he pulled off his covers and climbed out of bed. Keeping his eye on the bedroom door, he shuffled towards it. His eyes suddenly shifted towards the light switch. He remembered, from his dream, the importance of turning on the lights. “Crystal,” he said nervously. The door was still cracked open, total blackness engulfing the other side.
He finally reached the light switch. He looked at it for a second, then back to the door. He couldn’t see anything. He needed light. His eyes focused back on the switch as his hand moved toward it. His fingers barely brushed it when a twig-like arm reached out from the darkness behind his bedroom door. It quickly grabbed his wrist and squeezed. His mouth dropped as the door creaked open, revealing the outline of his friend Crystal. She was close to him, but the room was still too dark to make out any details. Her head and face moved suddenly within inches of his; her black eyes glistening from the moonlight that peaked through his window blinds.