“Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then.”
― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly
My name is Connor. Up until today, my life was completely normal...well, as normal as you can get. I’m your average 25 year old male who graduated from the University of Washington a little over two years ago. I was born January 23rd, 1989 in a small town in Maine called Belmont. Fewer than 1000 residents, but I loved the place.
The only reason I came to Seattle was because of all the great job opportunities after college, but like all my other plans, things didn’t go the way I’d hoped.
I’m currently working at the Bank of the Pacific in Seattle. It’s your normal bank holding company, it’s fairly boring, but it pays well and I appear to be good at it. But it isn’t what I wanted to do. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. I wanted to become a programer; maybe make it famous as a man who created the next big thing, like John Carmack. But in the end, I landed the job at this bank. Not really the most entertaining life-story ever, but I guess I’m not the most entertaining person in the world either.
Today was Friday, and for the first time in a long time, I actually had after-work plans. My friends and I were planning on going to see a movie later tonight and head out for drinks afterwards. To a lot of people, this might not seem like the greatest night ever, but I’ve gone three months without having a night out with friends, and I needed one badly.
But out of all the stuff I’d be doing tonight, there was one thing I was looking forward to even more. This girl I like, Reyane, will be tagging along with the rest of us. And who knows, maybe if I make a good impression on her, next time it might just be the two of us?
It had been a while since I had even thought about love. I remember having a girlfriend in high school; we dated for around three months before she told me that it wasn’t going to work out. I hadn’t had a girlfriend since, not because there wasn’t anyone I liked, but just because of how I took the breakup. She had it a lot easier than me. I won’t be going into details as it just brings up too many bad memories. It’s been years since then, so I think it’s about time I give dating another shot.
As I started walking out of the office, I noticed the amount of police cars in the area. There were people gathered around to see what was happening, but the police didn’t appear to be giving any information out at the time. It was probably some kind of car wreck, or a fight that broke out. Either way, I had to go home and get ready, so I made my way to my car.
I own a blue 2004 Audi S4 Sedan, and I am one of those people who get overly-attached to their car. It might not be the newest or most in-shape cars out there, but this car has been with me for years now. I get in the car, pull out of the parking lot and head out.
I had arrived at my rundown apartment complex at around 3:30. The place wasn’t in the best of shape,didn’t cost much, but was home for now. I had just graduated when I first started living here, and at the time, it was all I could afford. A few years have passed since then and this place makes me happy, and it has some other benefits as well.
My apartment is at the end of the 2nd floor hall, room 208. I put my key in the lock, only to find that it was already unlocked. It’s this terrible habit I have, leaving the apartment unlocked from time to time. The dorms I used to live in at the college I went to had automatic locks, so I never needed to get used to locking it manually. My apartment itself was nearly as bad as the exterior; I admit, I was a slob. I had clothes lying everywhere, garbage next to the trash can (not in it, but literally sitting next to it), my bed wasn’t made, dishes were piling up. I was living the carefree bachelor’s life.
The only thing I actually cared for was my home entertainment system. It had a Samsung 60 inch Plasma TV, a PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, surround-sound speakers all over the living room, and my giant stack of DVDs and games. It cost me a fortune, but like I said, owning a dirt cheap apartment has its benefits.
I started getting myself ready. I thought that it’d probably best if I wore clean clothes tonight, because from all the magazines I’ve read, girls aren't attracted to guys who wear the same pair of pants for an entire week. I decided to throw some clothes in the washer and dryer, and took a shower in the meantime.
About 30 minutes before I was supposed to leave, I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, enjoying the thought that soon I’d be at the movies with everyone. I’m staring into the mirror, brushing each tooth individually, counting each stroke, kind of like in that movie... what was it called? “Stranger Than Fiction”? Yeah, that was it. I’m nowhere near as insane as Will Ferrell is though.
As I continue brushing my teeth, I get a sudden chill. Have you ever gotten the feeling that you were being watched? Like someone was right behind you without you knowing? Like anyone would do, I take a look around me just to make sure that I wasn’t being watched, even though I knew no one was. It’s like getting soap in your eye while taking a shower, you close your eyes for a few seconds, but then get the feeling someone is behind the curtain.
As I look back into the mirror, I catch the slightest glimpse of a shadow outside my window in the living room; well, at least I thought I did. I knew it wasn’t possible, this was a second floor apartment; getting up here would be difficult. I brush the feeling off and finish brushing.
I still had some time to kill, so I sat down on my pigsty of a couch and turned on my television. A news report was on about the serial killer that’s been on the loose, and how there had been another murder...right outside my office. This was the third victim in the past 2 weeks. Reports say that each of the victims' families had been showing signs of insecurity, like they were being followed by someone.
A chill runs down my spine. That’s what the cops must have been doing as I had walked out of the building. Just the thought that a serial killer was anywhere near me gave me terrible thoughts.
To get him off my mind, I started channel surfing. Nothing really good was on. I flipped to AMC, and it looked like they were airing “The Rock”. It’s been years since I’ve seen that movie, but I can’t get lost in memories now; I gotta head out.
Before I walk out the door, I took one last look at myself in the mirror and started posing like any guy would do. Yup, irresistible. What girl wouldn’t want all of this? All of the sudden I heard something; kind of like the creaking sound you get when you walk on wood. And it had come from my closet. The building was old, someone could walk on the floor from at least 20 yards away and hear it from where you’re standing.
I walked over to my closet, just to make sure nothing was in there, and opened it. Just like I thought, nothing. I closed the closet, headed out the front door, remembering to lock it this time, and went down the stairs.
There were a group of teenagers hanging out near the entrance to the complex, and my neighbor’s dog was barking like crazy. It does that whenever it sees people it doesn’t recognize. It gets annoying at times, because despite the few people that live in this building, we get a lot of visitors. Sometimes the dog will wake me up at night when a group of joggers jog past.
Either way, I drove to the entrance and the teenagers made way for me to pass. On the way to the cinema, I was being honked at by some idiot in the car behind me. I was going the speed limit, what did he want from me? That’s when I checked the mirror to see who the guy was. That’s when, for a second, I could have sworn I saw a face in the mirror; not my face, but someone else’s. It was the briefest glimpse of one, but as soon as I saw it, the face was gone.
I rubbed my eyes a little and blamed it on being tired. Being at work so early probably wasn’t the best idea, especially if it’s starting to make me hallucinate. I was about to consider going home to take a nap or something, but I had arrived at the cinema, and there, standing outside, were my friends waiting for me. Reyane was there as well. Once I saw that beautiful black hair and her smile, I knew I couldn’t waste a night like tonight.
I found a parking spot and met up with everyone. Apparently the movie had been delayed due to some problems with the projector, so it looked like we were going out for drinks early. We all decided to carpool and head over to our favorite bar, Kell's.
We ordered a few rounds of our favorite ales, and like the young people we are, start chugging them down. I had been hesitant to do so at first. I didn’t know if Reyane would find chugging beers to be a turn-on for her, but to my surprise she was chugging along with the rest of us. If the bartender hadn’t enforced the “two drinks per customer” rule, we’d all be drunk and die in a fiery car wreck on the way to the theater. I silently thanked whoever made that rule.
Before we left, I looked behind the bartender at the mounds of ale and liquor on the walls. That’s when I noticed a mirror behind all of the drinks. I could scarcely make out a man standing right behind me. I couldn’t see his face clearly. When I turned around, there was no one there. This time I blamed it on the alcohol, but just to make sure I asked the bartender if he saw a man behind me a second ago. He replied that he hadn’t. I really need to figure out a way to stop these hallucinations from occurring.
As we arrive at the cinema, my friend Jeff hands us all of our tickets. Up until this point, I had no idea what kind of movie we were going to go see. After the ticket-taker handed me back my movie stub, I looked down at it to check.
Oh God no.
Reyane comes up to me, noticing my expression. “Scared?” she says as she smiles and walks towards the theater.
I knew I couldn’t pass off this eerie feeling, cause now I’m more paranoid than ever.
The theater was having a “Horror Feature Night” and my friends thought it’d be a good idea to go see a horror movie called “Mirrors”. It was about a serial killer who used mirrors to, like, teleport through them and kill his victims with ease. Now, I know that movies like that can’t possibly happen in real life. But you can’t blame me for not wanting to look at another mirror for a while, especially with the hallucinations I’ve been having today. It would've been nice if my friends could've given me a heads-up on the movie we were going to see.
On a brighter note though, there was one good thing that had happened tonight. Reyane had such a good time with me that we scheduled another date to go out for dinner next week, and this time it’d be just the two of us. We had it all planned out; we’d meet each other next Friday night at Olive Garden (just like me, she loves Italian food), maybe catch a movie if it hadn’t gotten too late, and after that...who knows?
On the way home, I’d noticed how foggy it had gotten. Usually I wouldn’t think about it too much, but it’s the middle of summer, and here in Seattle we don’t get too much fog due to the city lights and everything. It was actually starting to creep me out on top of the recent bizarre events.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of fog. Tons of accidents happen due to the idiot drivers who forget to turn on their lights and end up colliding with another car. But driving alone in the fog after watching a horror movie can make you paranoid beyond belief.
I might not seem like it, but I am a horror movie expert. Everything I’m doing at the moment is screaming “Code Red!”, but there was no one I could really drive home with. If I had asked Reyane to come with me, that might had given her the wrong idea and ruin all chances I had with her.
The drive home was really quiet; it hadn’t been that late at night. There are usually people driving down the streets until at least midnight. With all of this freaky stuff that’d had happened today, I might actually be in a horror movie myself. Then, upon instinct, I checked my rear-view mirror...
Did you ever watch the television series, “The Twilight Zone”? I distinctly remember an episode about a girl who decided to take a trip across the states, and there would always be a man popping up everywhere, just out of the blue. There, sitting in the back, was a man. At least, I think it was a man. He was covered in a silhouette of darkness, but the figure looked like that of a male. For 10 seconds, I just stared. I couldn’t speak, move, or even breathe. I just looked into the mirror and watched as the man sat there silently. I quickly turned around, only to find nothing but empty fast food bags and other garbage.
This was getting out of hand. I couldn’t handle what was going on, my mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening. It wasn’t my brain's fault. I can’t blame it on being tired anymore, because at that moment, I was wide awake. And all I could think about was getting home as soon as possible.
I sped up, and in a matter of minutes, I was home. I checked in my side-view mirror this time, and about 30 feet away, I saw a distinct figure walking slowly to my car. I got out of the car as fast as I could, and bolted up the stairs to my floor. I look over the railing. This time I knew he was real. I see him by the car, slowly walking towards the stairs. He was after me.
I started pounding on all my neighbors’ doors, begging for help, but no one came to help me. I looked over my shoulder; the man was walking up the stairs. I ran to my door, bolted into my apartment, slammed the door shut, got into my closet, and just waited.
It felt like an eternity. I waited in that closet, hoping for some sign that I would be okay. I heard the neighbor’s dog barking outside my apartment, and that can only mean it sees the man as well. Hearing this meant that I was not going crazy; he is, in fact, real. What was going to happen to me? Was he going to kill me?
Then the barking stopped and everything around me went cold. I heard footsteps on the other side of the wall. It was him. It had to be. I kept praying to myself, hoping that everything would be alright.
The footsteps stopped right outside my front door and I realize something...
Had I locked my door?