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"Well, it's November alright..." I think aloud, while walking to campus at six in the God forsaken morning.
Clouds spread across the sky, covering the earth in a greyish white, as the misty air only exacerbates my shivering and my hangover. Should have worn a jacket. Of course I probably shouldn't have gone out with Antonio, Cody, and Josh last night to get wasted at a strip club until 3 AM. But Antonio insisted that it was my re-initiation into the single life. He also promised that he'd help me move into the cheaper dorm that I had chosen after Relena broke up with me and kicked me out. Relena... that bitch. We were together for five whole months, and I thought everything was ok. But apparently she needs "a real man" in her life. And her definition of that seems to be a six foot, muscle bound, Swedish dimwit named Bjorn, who's probably destined to be a lifeguard at the gym for the rest of his life. Whatever. I'll continue to pursue my Doctorate in Psychology, because I'm apparently not a "real man." Whore...
I immediately put on my aviators when I enter the cafeteria to hide my bloodshot eyes from the blinding light. I pick up an energy drink to hopefully wake me up, along with my chicken fried steak, scrambled eggs, and french toast. I buy my breakfast and pick up a copy of the college newsletter and sit down to eat and read before class. I see Antonio sitting in our group's favorite booth, wearing his shades too and holding his head in his hands while eating his salad. When I sit down he looks up at me and asks, "You too, Steve?"
I wince, "Not so loud, you're making it worse..."
Antonio chuckles lightly, "Hey man, it was worth it though, right?"
I start to eat my fried steak and place the paper down. First thing I see is a picture of a student, with the headline, "Mysterious Death of a Student Occurred Last Night."
I do a double take before reading the article. "Holy shit... this isn't the kind of article you see in a college newsletter. Look at this, Antonio..." I say as I turn the paper to where we can both see it.
Antonio looks at it and lowers his shades, his jaw dropping. "Hey, isn't that the gamer dude from psychology class?"
I immediately recognize the thin, olive-skinned guy with short, messy, black hair, who always wore Nintendo or anime t-shirts every time I saw him. "The fuck, man?" I gasp. We both read on:
"Joseph Allan Valdetta, born January 14 of 1989, was found in his bed on the morning of November 17, 2012. His friend Ian Stanley Hutchinson tried to rouse him from his sleep, only to discover that he was dead. Speculation thus far is that Valdetta suffered a cardiac arrest while he slept."
The article goes on to mourn his tragic end to a short life, laments that no one really knew much about him, and reminds students that heart attacks and strokes are a serious issue, etc.
Antonio makes eye contact with me as both of us are left agape. "Dude... he was only twenty-three..."
Antonio finally says, "That makes me even more uncomfortable... We both have two years on him!"
I look at my fried steak and my energy drink for a few seconds before shrugging and saying, "I think I'll have tea and skip on fried foods today..." as I go to throw my unused and mostly uneaten breakfast.
Antonio replies and follows me, "I hear ya man..."
I go to purchase a healthier breakfast and eat before class starts.
Psychology class is fraught with an eerie air today, understandably. Even Professor Stanley has gone off on a tangent, based on Joe's death. The subject of death in dreams came up, as I knew it would. I spend the whole-hour-and-a-half listening to theories about dying in dreams correlating to physical death. Ironically, this is the kind of shit that Joe would have probably talked about amongst friends while he was alive. From what those who were acquainted with him knew of him, once he got to talking to you, he'd go off into all sorts of discussions about parapsychology and supernatural stuff.
I'm neither skeptic nor a firm believer in any of it, and while I'm open minded; I just don't really care enough to pursue those kinds of things. I'm more interested in helping people and understanding how the mind works I guess. But, again, I suppose it would be cool to learn about spirits, afterlife, and dreams. It's a shame he's gone, now that I think on it. We could have been buddies, and maybe even learned some things. Kind of makes me wonder if he was going for psychology like I was, or not? I shrug silently. I guess it's too late for that.
Afternoon comes earlier with the coming of winter, and the sky gets darker a lot faster with the clouds. Antonio helped me get the last of my shit from my old bedroom at Mom's house into my new apartment. It's a dingy ass place, but I had to go cheap because I'm "just a low life bartender" as Relena so sensitively put it before openly bragging about the Swedish meatball she cheated on me with.
As fate would have it, I got stuck in the same complex as Joe was living in. Lovely. So here I am, dorm 14-A of a small two story dormitory, with dorm rooms about the size of an average bedroom. The kitchen is in the same room as the damn living room, and the only two rooms separate from the main one, are a small bedroom and bathroom. The air in the room just feels... gloomy. I can't tell if that's from the weather or my bitterness over everything that's happened for the past few days. And though Antonio left about an hour ago, I still don't feel like I'm alone in here. I can't really shake the feeling, but I dismiss it as unfamiliarity with my new surroundings. I try to drown out my feelings, hell, everything with a rum and coke. "Take me away, Captain Morgan..."
I don't even remember going to bed, but somehow I wake up in my clothes and shoes, on top of my sheets. Must have stumbled in here, I guess. I must be wasted still, because I can't move my body at all. I then hear what woke me up. I swear I hear... sobbing. I'm suddenly gripped with unease with my inability to move as I frantically look around the room, when my eyes catch what is making the sobbing noise. I see a pale, greyish skinned figure, looking like a somewhat emaciated young woman with frizzy grey hair, huddled up in the corner of the room. I must have made a startled noise, because as I spot her she immediately stops sobbing and raises her head up to make eye contact. I awake with a terrified shout, heart trying to escape through my throat and my entire body trembling.
I try to calm myself and look around my room. I tell myself it was just a night terror. I've studied this in class before, after all. Sleep paralysis occurs when the mind is awake but the body is still asleep, and visual and auditory hallucinations are often experienced in this state. These can sometimes be nightmarish, and especially prevalent in unfamiliar surroundings. Realizing that I was just tripping out because I was wasted and alone in a new, albeit run down apartment, I relax. And yet... I still feel eyes staring at me...
After the night I had, I'm not very alert today. I don't even know if I went to class today or not. Antonio calls me on Skype and confirms that I did indeed go as he asks me, "Steve, you alright? You had bags under your eyes all day and you didn't talk to anyone."
I tell Antonio about my night, "Man, I just got shit faced and stumbled into bed, then had a fuckin' nightmare..."
Antonio furrows his brow at me, "Dude, I know you're still hurtin' over her, but you can't keep punishing yourself man..."
"Psh..." I half-heartedly reply.
Antonio comes back sternly, "I'm serious man, I don't wanna see you end up a statistic like that Joe kid..." I don't know why, but this prompts me to remember my dream.
I tell Antonio about what I can recall, and he retorts with, "See? Man you're fuckin' yourself up over all this! One of those dreams is gonna give you..." He stops, makes eye contact like me, then shakes his head. "I dunno bout all that shit anyway. I ain't ever dreamed where I died before, and I sure as hell ain't had a heart attack yet." I just stare absentmindedly at my screen, when Skype chirps at me. I look in my contacts to see who IM'ed me.
"Who the hell is ForsakenGirl?" I think aloud without realizing it.
"Who?" Antonio parrots, overhearing me.
I look at him and shake my head, "I dunno man, I guess maybe last night I added some emo chick on Skype while I was hammered..."
I click on the message to see what ForsakenGirl sent me, all the while Antonio is saying, "Aww, you dawg, you done made yourself a new little friend, haven't ya?"
Ignoring him, I read the IM. It reads: "Hey, I'm sorry about last night..."
I reply back, not really knowing what the apology was for, "I don't really recall much about last night. To be honest I don't even remember adding you, as wasted as I was. So I apologize in advance for any of MY actions or words."
Antonio's voice intercepts my train of thought, "What's she sayin', man?"
I answer, "She's apologizing for something about last night. I dunno what her deal is or who she is. I told her I was drunk."
Antonio came back with, "Man, don't blow this! She sounds like she's into you!"
I shake my head, "I don't even think she's met me, if it's even a she. For all I know I could be expecting some hot emo chick when it's really some creepy neck-beard!"
The IM chirp sounds again, and I interrupt Antonio's incoming retort, "Hold on, I got another message."
ForsakenGirl replies, "I didn't mean to scare you. I know you were only trying to sleep." My core goes cold as I read this and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.
Antonio chimes in, "You ok?"
I answer, "Dude, this bitch might have actually been in my room! She just apologized for... ugh, I dunno, maybe it's not that..."
Antonio tries to talk, but I cut him off, "Hey man, I'll catch you later, I gotta figure out what the fuck this chick is going on about and get some sleep. I'll tell you what's going on tomorrow."
Antonio looks at me through the screen with a worried expression for a good three seconds before saying, "Alright homie, take care," and hangs up.
I then return to the conversation with ForsakenGirl. I try to call her, but the call keeps getting dropped. She must have a bad connection or something, because it says she's online. I finally give up and just return to instant messaging her. The conversation goes as follows:
Stevie: What do you mean? What did you do?
ForsakenGirl: I just... my boyfriend and I used to live here in this same apartment...
Stevie: MY apartment?
Stevie: So... that was you crying in my bedroom floor?
ForsakenGirl: Yes. I'm sorry.
At this point in the conversation I'm starting to feel uneasy as hell. This... "ForsakenGirl" was obviously mentally ill... I mean yeah, I just got cheated on and dumped by someone I loved, but I don't go crying in what used to be our apartment. But if there's one character flaw I find with myself, it's that I'm too nice. I have this weird desire to help people. Guess that's why I'm going for a psychology degree, huh? So I take a deep breath and muster up the courage to continue talking to her.
Stevie: It's alright. I assume that you and him aren't together anymore?
ForsakenGirl: ... I gave him my heart... and he gave me his... but now he's gone. He just... vanished...
Stevie: Shit, that really sucks. You don't deserve a flake like that. You're too sweet and sensitive to have your heart played with.
ForsakenGirl: You really think so?
Stevie: Yeah. I mean I don't know you that well but you talk like someone who just wants to be loved. And you deserve it as much as anyone.
ForsakenGirl: Thank you. You're very sweet.
Stevie: Aww shucks, you flatter me! I hope this helps at least!
ForsakenGirl: You have helped me a lot. You make me feel like a new woman.
Stevie: Well, I'm glad! Go get 'em girl! lol.
ForsakenGirl: Thank you. Good night, darling.
Not going to lie, I'm starting to get the overly-attached vibe coming off this "ForsakenGirl." I really hope she doesn't show up in my bedroom again tonight. I make a precautionary check of my entire dorm, then I double latch the door. That might have been the mistake I made last night. Tonight I'm not going to bed drunk though. I'm going to have my first shower in three days and then climb into bed for some actual, fulfilling sleep. I wash my hair very thoroughly; shave my three-day beard, get out of my clothes, and this time I lift the covers over my body and close my eyes—without the aid of alcohol.
What seems like a minute after I close my eyes, I immediately feel as if I'm being straddled by a woman. I'm still half-conscious at this point, so the first thought that occurs to me is that Relena is doing that thing where she wakes me up for sex by climbing on top of me. I slowly recall that Relena is a complete slut that I'm no longer dating, and I open my eyes. I see a petite woman with ghostly white skin, covered in claw marks that look self inflicted all over her body, and a gaping hole in her chest. She leans her ashen-haired head down, to look at me with a smile as I see her eyes become clouded. If she was trying to seduce me, she's done the exact opposite.
I immediately start panicking and screaming, realizing that once again I can't move. The woman's smile immediately fades, as her weak croaking voice musters, "You... find me hideous?" I can't even speak. I just stare at her in sheer terror and begin to hyperventilate. The woman's face twists in rage, as she lets out a near demonic shriek. Then, while still straddling my pelvis, I see her arm jab toward my chest, and I immediately feel as if I've been stabbed. My chest burns as I feel her rip something out of it with her bare, bloodied hand. I now breathlessly stare at my still beating heart; as the crazy woman, apparition, whatever she is, shrieks at me again.
"Say you love me!" And as my vision narrows, I choke out a weak croak and a barely audible retort, "I... love... you..."