Normally I would put such stories as this aside, thinking they were nothing more than lies or cries for attention. Now I think twice. What happened that day has scarred me for life.

It was in 2006, around Christmas. Being in my mid-teens I was, admittedly, exited for what was to come. My parents were planning a holiday for us and my friend to America, New York to be exact, that we would depart for the next day. Once I started packing my bags, I grew even more exited, which in my case was not very good, as I am incredibly impatient. But, it had to be done, so I continued. In the midst of packing a pile of clothes that my mum had already laid out for me, I found a single, unused candle. Really I had never used a candle in my life, so I knew I didn't need it. Looking back, I don’t know why I packed it.

The flight was a rough one. Multiple storms caused the plane to stray, only slightly, off course and delay the flight by ten minutes. The landing was a bit rough as well, but maybe that was because of me leaving my GameBoy on during landing, as it ‘interrupts the signals.’ Anyway, we made it there safely and made our way to a cheap hotel, the only thing we could afford after paying for the flight, and my parents went to sleep. I, however, couldn't sleep, so I played a bit of Pokémon until late. I got tired after 10, so I just tried to get to sleep, succeeding after a few minutes. It felt like hours.

Abruptly, I was pulled out of my sleep to complete darkness. I tried to look at my clock, but it simply said “00:0000” and did not move. A low battery was a simple conclusion to draw. It was completely dark and the only light in the room was the faint glow of the digital clock. Not even the crack between the curtains emitted any light. My eyes got adjusted to the dark soon after and I noticed my friend, who I was sharing a room with, sitting up in his bed. Just sitting. I whispered to him, asking what was wrong. He turned to me, mortified, and said

“Was it you? Tell me it was you. It wasn't funny.”

I had no idea what he meant, so I simply answered, “No.”

He walked over to me, looking alert, as if he was waiting for something, and sat down next to me. He pulled out a digital camera and started to play a video.

To start off it was just a video of us both getting into our beds at the hotel. I questioned the need to record it, but carried on. The recording was around two hours long, taking up all the space on the camera’s memory. Again I questioned it but carried on. Around ten minutes in (my friend had fast forwarded, of course) something happened that sent chills down my spine. The locked door to our room opened, a slit of light falling across the room. I suspected that this was what scared my friend. I looked across at him, but he simply gestured to me to look back at the video. After a few moments of nothing, something slowly slid through the gap in the door. A figure, quite obviously a man. It was too dark to see their face, but you could see that they were quite obviously staring at my friend. That wasn’t even the worst part. My friend fast forwarded at x60 speed. The man stood still, just staring at my friend. That’s was, until the end of the recording.

After the man had stood at the door for almost two hours straight, he suddenly turned his head to the camera, and approached it very slowly. It took him almost a minute to get all the way to the other side of the room. My friend pressed play. The man picked up the camera and stared into it with piercing eyes. He whispered into the microphone,

“Checked on your friend, Jacob?”

He ended the recording.

How he… or it… knew my name was a mystery. Maybe he had seen me check in, it wasn't a worry right now. What I was focused on was what he has asked at the end or the video. “Checked on your friend, Jacob?”

I had it. It wasn’t a good thing to realize. To notice you could be killed at any moment isn't a nice experience. I knew what was going to happen. I turned to my right. Looking to the figure that I thought was my friend. He handed me something long and something small. As I brought it closer I knew exactly what it was. Now I knew why I had found the candle. I sparked the lighter and lit the candle, holding it up his face. What I proceeded to see was disturbing. I was greeted with my friends face. Only I wasn't glad. I wasn't glad to the fact that my friends face was being held. I turned further left to see a man. The man. He just sat there laughing quietly and let me leave. I don’t know why. But I was happy that he did. I didn’t want to end up like my friend.