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Better in the Dark

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The fear came in ripples. Even in a house full of people, phone fully-charged, doors open, it came down—shivers and unsteady breathing. ‘My parents aren’t too far away,’ you assure yourself. ‘Just one loud scream and they’ll come running for me.’ You’re on the Internet, reading up on Creepypasta after Googling the absolute shit out of it. /x/, Creepypasta Wiki, Creepypasta.com—every single site just about explored, every category uncovered.

You just wanted a little read, that’s all. Just something to do because you didn’t want to go to bed before your parents, and you’re too lazy to get any actual work done. You blink, hard. The screen distorts itself, blazing momentarily, and you wonder if it is a trick of the mind. You must’ve been on this thing for hours. Your eyes water and you’re suddenly aware that if you close them, something will grab you from behind. You mock yourself inwardly, almost sustaining a laugh, but figure against blinking. That stuff’s for chumps. You cringe a little as something rubs on your leg. You reach down to pet your cat, and stop. You look down.

Nothing.

Your throat locks and you can only face the screen, frightened that if you look anywhere else, it will get you. The fear alone locks you in place. Your cat. You need to call him. Silence fills the room, a faint white noise ringing from inside your head. You don’t have the courage to break the barrier—and besides, if you speak, something in the room may wake up. So you just sit, too scared to even call for your cat, unable to look anywhere but the monitor. ‘It’s ridiculous,’ you say to yourself, and, just to prove how wrong you are, you look towards the right. Your eyes widen.

The door. Bland white wood, bland silver doorknob. Same state as when you came in—no demon hands reaching in, no faces imprinted on the slate. Only... You don’t really remember closing it. ‘Relax, calm down, relax,’ you insist to yourself, trying to recount your past activities. 9 PM, enter room. Between 9 PM and 3 AM, close the door while reading horror stories because you know that helps you feel safe.

Nausea washes over you in waves, and you try to still your heartbeat, about to close the browser and maybe look up something on Youtube. Your hand slows. What if They switched your wallpaper for images of dead bodies? Of a demon? Of something horrible, something so indescribably terror-inducing that you’ll go insane and shrivel up like potpourri? You instead type the URL into the search box, wondering why you’re being such a wimp. Another thought comes over you.

What if, whatever you type into that box, just one site comes up? It’ll be the last site you see before you die. You decide to stay on that page—it’s just some mediocre story about someone getting disemboweled in the streets. Not scary. You browse through some others, unaware of anything but your own breathing. The words on your screen are all too bright, all too small. Creepypasta to help you sleep. Good ideas abound at 3 AM. You pause, staring down at the clock at the bottom of your screen. Isn’t 3 AM the witching hour?

Something creeks behind you, uneven and slow.

You freeze up, your heart slamming in your chest. The breath you take hurts your stomach, and your hands freeze up on the keyboard. In front of you is a picture from your latest read: A thing (it’s hardly a person) with a white face and globe-like eyes and an enormous, happy smile. You’re certain It’s behind you. It walked like that on purpose and if you look anywhere else, anywhere other than the screen, It will get you. Its smile will brighten even more, Its eyes widen with a look that could almost be called loving, and then poof. You’re gone from existence. You desperately ache to turn off your computer and just go to sleep—it can’t be that hard.

Your phone is next to you, ready to be opened and used to call someone, anyone, just so you can have company. You can’t be the only loser up at this ungodly hour. Besides, your parents are sleeping next door to you. They’ll come in and, just like when you were five, they’ll barge in and scare the Boogeyman away. You look back down at the counter-clock: It’s 45 minutes past 3 AM, so the witching hour thing is 15 minutes away from over, and you probably shouldn’t sleep anyways, since you’ve got school and you’re an idiot. Maybe doing homework would help. You reach under your desk, feeling for your notebook, when you touch something.

Hair. It’s hair. Long woman’s hair and, you know for certain that if you look, it’ll be black. And big black eyes will be staring back at you—faces, the kind that look back.

You don’t feel like homework after all. Your body feels too tight and tired, and you want to sleep so badly that it’s painful. But what about the nightmares? You know for certain that you’ll have nightmares, all vivid and memorable and inescapable. You’ll be trapped in an eternal sleeping hell, and everyone will think you’re in a coma and you’re a goner and they’ll turn off life support and you will be a gone.

You won’t be able to escape. Your fault for reading these things, after all. ‘I read these all the time,’ you desperately explain, as if the monsters needed an explanation. ‘I’ve never died, never gotten cursed. I’m fine, I’m alive, I’m just scared because I’m tired.’ It doesn’t work. You’re an unconvincing liar. You know It’s behind you. You know It’s under you. You know if you stare up at the ceiling that It’ll be staring back with wide eyes, or no eyes, or no face, and It will jump. Or crawl. Or scream.

What if your parents are dead? A blast of cold air hits your knees, your neck, your face, and it’s fall and there’s no air conditioning and it’s a ghost. A ghost is in your room, your parents are dead and your neighbors will be too slow to save you. Yours will be an isolated death, a lonely death. It’ll seem like you killed yourself when really, really, They’re creeping up on you, and They made you, They gave you the reason, the weapon, and you needed to because it was better than being in a room alone with Them. Out of the corner of your eye you see something. You can’t tell exactly what It is but you know It’s pressing something against the window.

They’ll never even bury you. They’ll never even find your house. It’ll disappear from reality, same as anything, and no one will remember you because you wanted this. You wanted to be scared and now you want to cry out and scream. You don’t want to look ridiculous but you want to scream. You can’t. In the one moment you need to, your mouth is sewn shut.

The sun is coming up in two hours, you tell yourself. Hold it together. You can survive this. It’s just fear, the kind that ripples. Your legs go to sleep. Just fear, you say, and you agree. You type Youtube.com into the browser and instantly pops the usual website, the un-scary, video website, and you watch the hell out of some comedy videos until your fears abate. The sun rises, as it’s want to do, and now you can relax.

Your muscles stop tensing and bright sunshine fills the room. You get up. It’s nice to be able to stretch out after a long night of freaking yourself out. You wonder if you should go get an early breakfast, yawning contentedly, and then you see It.

A girl, small and in a white dress, her face white and rotted and oh, it’s real, They were real. The sun hits her and it doesn’t do anything and she’s still there only, only you see her clearly, and it was her hair, you know it, it was her hair you touched and go away, it’s all you can think and she walks. Oh she’s creaking towards you, the same sound from last night, the shuddering, the long, uneven drawl. No, it wasn’t her hair. She was the one behind you. Then... Under your desk....

It grabs your leg. It has no gender. Hair, hair, hair, it’s all over your room now. The thing’s got an interesting face—globe-like eyes and a happy smile and it’s not a woman, no, you wish it were something, an existing thing, but it’s the thing from the picture and now it’s got you. With the only courage you’ve ever kept inside yourself, you scream and throw open the door.

They waited outside for you, so politely. It came down from your ceiling, holding both your parents in Its enormous black mouth, Its crooked limbs almost exactly like a spider’s. This one might’ve been a woman, once, long ago, but the eyes are so black, everything, black and white, and the teeth aren’t there and you imagine It just sucked on your parents or something, they look like they’ve been mashed so maybe It just swallows and oh God It reaches for you. They’re all reaching for you.

The window. If you can just jump, you can just jump, anything, let the window be okay.

Laughter echoes in your head as you realize your mistake. Yes, the demon was holding something against the window. Its face. Its face. The face is smiling and you realize they’re all smiling. Everything. You remember all the Creepypastas, all the demanding chain-letters, all the campfire yarns, and you realize that, in one night, they’ve come to get you. They creak out of your closet. They slide out from under your bed. They smile at you and it’s morning and you can see them. It’s light now.

You wonder why people always associate light with safety. You wish it were dark again. They always make the night look scary, always make the darkness intimidating, but you can’t see your fears as easily. They’re shaded, and they can be passed off as illusions. You can’t do that with the sun shining. They’re all here, standing and accounted for, and you know it. No more convincing yourself. Goner, goner, the Donner Party landing. A funny thought hits you.

Maybe they were afraid of the dark.

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