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You could say that my first year of living in Weaver Towers at the Colorado School of Mines was stressful. What with the constant cycle of waking up, going to class, doing homework, and sleeping again. Some days were better than others and I was able to socialize with the people on my floor though I enjoyed holing up in my room at most times. There were eight people to a suite and four suites to a floor, with a mix of male and female suites aside from the 5th floor. Most everyone on my floor were great to hang around with and my suitemates were like family to me. The bridge connecting our suites on the second floor was usually busy with people venturing out to make friends. The East tower was always buzzing with chatter.
After settling into my new living situation, I had noticed something. The fifth floor had only one suite and no bridge. It was as if it was being tucked away to be forgotten. While the other suites had large windows that gave the living area an open atmosphere, the fifth floor suite had nothing but a small circular window. It seemed strange to me as I hadn’t met anyone that lived there or even seen any activity in the suite. At least I hadn’t until October.
One morning I was headed off to my usual 8 a.m. physics class when I glanced up at the fifth floor from our living area. For the first time in months, I saw something in the window. It appeared to be a young looking boy with very pale skin and curly, platinum hair. Within a second, he disappeared. All this time I had assumed that there was no one living on the fifth floor, so this was a very startling sight.
When I got to physics, I asked one of my classmates who lived on my floor if they knew who lived on the fifth floor. They told me that there was rumor that only one person lived in that suite as all the rest of the suites were full by the time he registered. I couldn’t help but feel pity for the mysterious boy forced to live by himself. I wondered if I would ever see him again.
A few months had passed and a new semester began and I had not seen the boy from the fifth floor since October. I began to wonder if he dropped out of the school. But then in February, I saw him again. I was walking back to Weaver after an evening exam and as I passed through the big grassy area of Kaffadar commons, I heard a clicking noise. I whipped around, surprised by the noise and saw that behind a tree, the boy from the fifth floor was holding a Polaroid camera pointed at me. Before I could comprehend this, he hid behind the tree. By the time I reached the tree, he was nowhere to be seen.
I hurried home that night and told Jessica, one of my suitemates, about what I saw. She was taken aback from the story and said that she never knew someone was living there let alone that they were a stalker. I began to think of scenarios as to why this kid was taking pictures of me in the middle of the night. Was he an actual stalker? Did he hang pictures of people from the school around his suite so that he wouldn’t feel as lonely?
I felt strange walking around campus after that night, wondering if this boy was hiding somewhere at all times with his camera. I couldn’t understand why he would want to spend all his time up in that lonely suite rather than making friends on the lower floors. He was just altogether very strange.
The end of the year was drawing near and after not seeing the boy since that night, I started to forget about his existence. No one ever talked about him, no one ever saw him, it was like he was never enrolled at this school. However, after April 28th, everyone knew who he was.
It was late in the afternoon and I was well into working on homework. I had my noise canceling headphones on and blasting music, but not even that could drown out the loud thump that was heard throughout Weaver. The noise made me jump out of my chair and soon after, I started to hear the screams. I ran out of my room and saw everyone gathered on the bridge. I joined them and was frantically asking for an explanation when someone just pointed over the bridge. I peered over and what I saw would remain as a vision ingrained into my brain.
I saw platinum curls and a pale, mangled body lying over a pool of blood that was quickly soaking into the carpet. I fell back in terror and was holding back the vomit that was trying to find its way out.
“He must have jumped from the fourth floor,” I heard someone say.
I was filled with so much disgust and horror that tears began to stream down my face. The RAs attempted to calm everyone but no one really left the bridge until the body was carried out by the paramedics. I returned to my suite and all my suite-mates and I sat in the living area, speechless.
Rumors spread across campus about what happened in Weaver that night. Some said that he was failing his classes and couldn’t handle it. Others said that he tried to attack someone on the fourth floor and got thrown over. No one had ever talked to him and most hadn’t even seen him before. A week later they started an investigation in the fifth floor suite and it was closed off for the remainder of the semester.
Little did everyone know, I decided to explore the fifth floor the day after the incident. I had to know what the boy was doing with the pictures and what would lead him to such a terrible end. I swiped my ID at the top of the many stairs and entered the short hallway. The suite door had been left open and what I saw inside appeared to be a typical suite. A couch, two chairs, a coffee table. It looked like it hadn’t been used for the entire year.
All the doors in the hall were closed apart for the room at the end of the hall. I walked back cautiously, not knowing what to expect. Everything looked normal apart from what were on the walls. Every inch was covered in Polaroid pictures, which wasn’t the biggest surprise as I knew he had taken pictures of me and most likely other students. The strange thing was what the boy drew on these pictures. I recognized some of the subjects of his pictures from my classes and from other floors in Weaver. They were in various poses, some walking, some sitting at desks but they all had a similarity. The boy had drawn dark figures into the pictures. They varied in size but they were present in all of them. Some were in the back round and some appeared to be looming right over the person. Seeing these pictures truly scared me and I began to get chills.
I was about to leave the room when I saw the picture that he had taken of me on the wall. It was positioned in the center of the wall and there was something different about it. There were no black figures drawn on my picture. It was simply me walking on the sidewalk. I suddenly felt like I wasn’t supposed to be in this room, like I wasn’t wanted there. I took one last look at the room and noticed a paper with writing on it on his bed. I picked it up and it looked like some kind of note. I folded it and put it in my pocket and hurried out of the room.
When I got back to my suite I told Jessica about what I saw and I showed her the note. We read it together and looked at each other in shock and confusion.
“What is this supposed to mean?” she asked.
“I don’t know, but maybe that’s why he didn’t draw on my picture.” Since that day, I have been researching and trying to understand what the boy on the fifth floor had been experiencing and maybe one day I will.
This is what the note said:
“I just can’t handle this anymore. I’ve been tormented for nineteen years and I thought I had finally grown used to it. The dark shadows that I see keep getting closer. I’ve begun to feel them, prying at my skin, trying to get inside. And I can see that they’re preying on everyone around me. No one can escape them, no one else even knows they’re there. How can they not see? How can they ignore their presence? I want to be like them. I can’t sleep anymore. I fear that the second I stop fighting, they will tear me apart and take over what is left.
But what am I the most fearful of? The light. The blinding light coming up from the second floor that lingers behind even when I don’t look at it. It never leaves. When I close my eyes, I can still see it, I feel it. It angers the shadows and they quicken their pace to destroy me. I can’t bear to look through my window, at that suite on the second floor, I can only look for a moment before my eyes begin to burn. The shadows never go near this light. It’s almost like a fortress that can’t be penetrated. So the shadows gather into my room, where the light doesn’t reach and do nothing but silently torture me at every moment. I need to escape. There’s something in that suite on the second floor. And I know I can reach it, all I have to do is jump.”