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It all started on a Saturday afternoon when 20-year-old Tony was interrupted from his video game session in the living room by the sound of three sudden, loud knocks on the door. After pausing the game and setting down the controller, he heaved himself to his feet and crossed the room. He opened the door and peered outside; to his surprise, nobody was there. He looked down the street to see if he could catch sight of anyone walking away, but there was nobody around. Shrugging to himself and realizing it must have been some pranking teenager, he returned to his game.
After another two hours, the sun was beginning to sink in the sky. Deciding he had played enough video games for one day, Tony turned off the television and walked into the kitchen to fetch something to eat. Despite the time of day, he decided on some waffles. He inserted two in the toaster and switched it on. He grabbed a can of soda from the fridge to drink while he waited for the waffles to warm up. But as he took the first sip, he heard something that almost made him spit it out in shock.
“Tony,” a vaguely familiar voice uttered, though he couldn’t quite wrap his brain around it. He froze and stared at the window by the fridge, which was the direction the voice had come from. It definitely hadn’t been his imagination. It had sounded like a teenage female, probably on the brink of adulthood. After a brief period of stunned silence, Tony cautiously approached the window and glanced outside. There was nobody there.
The toaster made a shrill dinging sound, signifying that his waffles were done. As he set the waffles on a plate and squirted some syrup on, he remembered the similar situation with the door-knocking and concluded that whoever called his name must have been the same person who had knocked on his door. He wasn’t sure whether to be relieved that there was an explanation, or fearful that he had some sort of stalker.
He walked to his bedroom with his soda and plate of waffles, and set them on his desk. He sat down and switched on his computer to check his email while he ate. After connecting to the internet and opening the browser, he logged into his email account and was not surprised to find mostly junk mail he couldn’t care less about. But amongst them was a single email that stood out; it was called "Goodbye" and was from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony groaned out loud and rubbed his hand through his curly brown hair in exasperation. He already knew whom this email was from—his ex-girlfriend, Amelia, who broke up with him months ago for consistently cheating on her. They had maintained a long-distance relationship for two years before Amelia learned the truth by coming into contact with his boyfriend. She had been heart-broken and assumed he was gay despite the fact he was bisexual, though it was true that he had lost interest in her due to her extreme possessive and controlling attitude. After a huge fight, Tony had blocked her on every site he could think of and her emails too, but she kept on making new email accounts with edgy-sounding names to harass him with emails he rarely bothered to read.
Tony was about to delete the email but curiosity took over; after all, usually her emails were titled things like "I hate you" or "You are garbage". Wondering why this time was different, he opened up the email and began to read.
"Guess what, scumbag? I am going to kill myself and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT! But one day you will be punished for the crap you did and I will have my revenge…"
Tony read it a few times over, not knowing how to feel. He didn’t really believe that crazy girl had committed suicide, because she had threatened to a few times before but never actually did it. Besides, if she was that devastated over the break-up, she would have killed herself long before now. So, assuming that it was just another one of her dramatic attempts to scare him, he went ahead and deleted the email, making sure to block the email address as well.
So Tony continued to consume his waffles and soda and when he was done, he started surfing the internet and browsing social media sites he was a member of. Eventually growing bored as time passed, he thought he should take a small nap since he hadn’t achieved sufficient sleep the previous night. He sprawled out on his bed, not pulling a blanket over his body as it was summer and too warm for that. Various thoughts ran through his brain for a while before he soon started to doze off. However, just before he could fully reach slumber, he was jolted to consciousness by another unexpected sound.
It was a single thump against his window.
His heart rate speeding up, Tony quickly hid under a blanket in fear that someone was trying to break in. A small part of his mind told him hiding under a blanket wouldn’t protect him from anything, but still he lay there as silent as he could possibly be. A period of time passed, though he wasn’t sure how long. There was no other sound, so he let out a shaky sigh of relief. He realized it must have been a bird flying against the window, and feeling much calmer now, he got up and went over to the window to fully reassure himself.
But what he saw when he pulled aside the curtain made him let out a terrified shriek and leap backwards, painfully bashing himself against the foot of his bed. The pain barely registered, as he was too terrified to even care. There was a dark red handprint smudged on the other side of the pane, and some droplets were still trickling down.
Tony scrambled onto his bed and grabbed his phone, and then hesitated. He wasn’t sure if he should call the police, so he decided to call his boyfriend, Martin, instead. After a matter of seconds, Martin answered.
“Martin, it’s me, Tony,” he breathed.
“Hey, dude, you okay?” Martin asked with concern.
“Weird things have been happening all day,” Tony began. “First I heard knocking but nobody was there. Then I heard somebody say my name. And now I heard thumping on my window and there was a red handprint on the other side…” He started to sob a bit.
“That’s creepy as Hell… there could be a serial killer lurking around your house,” Martin responded immediately. “Call the police!”
“I will…” Tony’s voice trailed off when he started to hear quiet, raspy singing coming from under his house. He listened intently and it was the lyrics to You are my Sunshine. The voice sounded similar to whoever had said his name earlier, except more wretched this time.
“Tony, you still there?” Martin questioned.
“Y-yeah…” Tony whispered into his cell phone, cowering against his bed’s head. “Do you hear that singing?”
“No…” Martin replied in confusion. But then, the singing quickly grew louder until it was practically shouting. “Oh dang, I think I do. Call the police NOW!”
“Yes, yes—“ Suddenly the haunting voice let out an ear-splitting wail and there was a loud pounding beneath Tony’s floor. He screamed and in his panic, he flung his phone across the room. It smashed against his wall and then hit the floor. The wailing and pounding abruptly stopped.
“No, no, no…” Tony mouthed. There was no way he could call the police now. He didn’t care that the noises had stopped. He was still in more fear than he had ever been in his life. He broke down sobbing and clung to his pillow with his eyes shut, wanting for it to all end.
He cried for several minutes, soaking his pillow with his tears, until there was the sound of knocking on his door. At first he flinched at the sound, but then he heard a woman’s voice call out, “This is the police, we got a call from your boyfriend.”
Shaking with relief but still on edge, he clambered off his bed and quickly made his way to the living room. He sniffed and wiped the streaks of tears off his cheeks. Then, he unlocked and opened the door. But it was not the police.
It was his ex-girlfriend, her long brown hair tangled and her face smeared with dirt. She stared at him with irises that were vibrant red rather than the normal olive green. She was wearing an old, torn wedding dress covered in dirt and red stains. Tony was paralyzed by fear, barely able to process what he was seeing before him.
She stepped forward with her arms outstretched, and opened her mouth. A low, gurgling sound emitted from from her throat and then red liquid poured out. Tony clutched his chest and stumbled backwards as his heart pounded faster than he ever thought possible, and he struggled to breathe. He fell backwards and quivered on the floor, his vision blurring, and all he could do was watch as Amelia limped closer and used her bloody hand to withdraw a knife that had been hidden in her sleeve...
Amelia stood over Tony, clutching the knife in her red paint-covered hand, noting that he had stopped moving and whimpering. She had only wanted to scare the wits out of him, but alas, his heart hadn’t been able to handle the shock.
She licked her lips of the water—dyed with red food-coloring—and stretched open her eyelids to remove the red eye-contacts. She glanced down at the wedding dress she had bought in a second-hand shop and had stained with cranberry juice and mud. She brushed some dirt out of her hair and thought about how Tony had fallen for her fake voice, believing her to be a police officer. She pondered… had driving across the state all the way to Tony’s house just to perform this elaborate, vengeful prank really been worth it?
She looked down at his lifeless body.
Yes, it had, she thought with a smile.