It was a cold day in the beginning of January, right after New Year's. I was sitting on the kitchen table sipping coffee as I stared outside of the window to my front yard. The atmosphere was very peaceful and almost ethereal. I had had a feeling like this many mornings before. It was always after I woke up and I was almost half asleep and I felt detached from the rest of the world as if I was still dreaming. It felt as if I was living in a different world. I would eventually snap out of it and be a part of the real world again.
That morning I was even more relaxed than usual and I could feel the warmth of happiness burning inside my chest. Nothing particular had happened recently, but I had been in a good mood for the past few weeks. I had just turned seventeen and things just seemed to go upwards since then. You know, I wasn't an adult yet, but I wasn't considered as a little kid either. I could still avoid many responsibilities of adulthood for a year but still be slowly introduced to the world of adults.
I had celebrated my birthday at the local restaurant. I actually met my first boyfriend, Thomas, there because he worked as a part-time waiter there and he had asked for my number. I also met many new friends through him. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift than new friends.
My cat jumped on my lap and purred as she poked me with her paw. Little Cece was such a loyal cat. She had helped me through some really hard times in the past and she was actually like a best friend to me. I petted her gently and put her on the floor. I gave my coffee cup a quick wash and put it in the sink. I put my coat on and went outside to get the mail. Snowflakes danced around me and fell on to my hair. It was so quiet. I had lived in the middle of the woods with my parents ever since I could remember. The trees formed a circle around my house. It seemed like they were protecting this place. Everything was always so still in this place. It was otherworldly beautiful and the whole place seemed like something out of a fairytale. As a little kid I was convinced that fairies and elves lived in the forest around me and that the trees sometimes whispered back at me when I talked to them. Sometimes I wished I could go back to those careless old days.
I took small steps and looked around. I wanted to absorb every bit of this moment the best I could. That was the way I had always been. Living everyday like it was the last day of my life and enjoyed every single thing to the best of my capability. You see, I had a weak heart. When I was a baby, the doctors told my parents I most likely wouldn't get to see my 3rd birthday. A miracle happened and eventually I turned 4 years old and the years started passing by and I was still fine. My parents were convinced that someone or something was watching over me. Me and my parents weren't, and never had been religious, but dad and especially mom always believed that there must be more to the world than what everyone sees. I, on the other hand, was just simply happy that I was still alive and that I still got to see a new day and at least so far live quite a normal life. That was enough for me.
My fingertips felt the cold plastic of the snow covered mailbox as I opened it. I picked up a few letters and a newspaper and walked back inside. I threw the newspaper to the kitchen table and looked through the letters. One of them had my name on it. This was unusual, since no one really sends letters to anyone in this day and age. I assumed it was just a cute little surprise from Thomas, so I opened it. I felt confused. The letter simply said:
I didn't know who sent it, since there was no name, but I thought it was probably just one of my friends. I just let it slide and forgot about the whole thing for the rest of the day.
Next day I went to school, painted on my free time and met some friends. Things went on like they normally would. I asked my friends if one of them had sent the letter to me but none of them admitted to it.
After a while the letter was completely erased from the back of my mind. Then I received another next month on the same day. Again, it didn't have a name of the sender or an address. Just my name. It read:
"How are your parents, Ellen?"
I noticed a drawing of me on it. In the drawing I was wearing the exact same clothes as I wore that day. A black sweater that had a blue pixel heart on the middle of the chest and ripped gray jeans. The drawing was messy, but skillfully done. The scribbles of the letter still gave me an eerie feeling.
I felt unnerved. This time I was sure it was my friends playing a prank on me, because no one else would have known what I was wearing that day. I tried to ask them about it again when we met at a cafe after school. They still acted like they didn't know anything about it. They just told me I was too paranoid.
"If this continues, I think I'll contact the police," I replied, "unless one of you guys confess to this horrible crime you have committed," I continued sarcastically whilst smiling, hoping for someone to admit it was just a bad joke.
All of my friends looked at me seriously.
"So it really wasn't you?" I asked.
"Of course not," uttered Sarah, one of my closest friends at the time.
She was one of the people I had met through my boyfriend. Even though we hadn't known for that long, we had formed a pretty trusting relationship. She had gone through some horrible times herself and seemed pretty understanding of me. I wasn't sure if I should've doubted my friends or not. Still, I apologized and asked them to just forget about the whole thing.
We talked for a while and I did my best to act normally and forget about the whole thing myself. If it indeed was one of my friends, they would know by now that they really shouldn't mess with me like this. I had enough problems as it is. They were smart enough to know to not cause me any trouble.
My mom picked me up from the cafe at six. Just as she was about to drive away, I noticed someone standing next to the cafeteria door, looking straight at me. I hadn't noticed him before, but he stood out from the rest of the people. He looked almost like a shadow. I didn't see his face. He looked extremely skinny and he was wearing all black. He sent shivers down my spine and he gave me this atmosphere of pure anger. I grew suspicious.
Before I went to bed that night, I called Thomas. I suggested we'd meet up soon. We hadn't seen in a week and I missed him. I said we should see each other on Saturday and go see a movie. Just a simple, boring date. He happily agreed and said goodnight. I laid under the covers and tried to put my mind at rest and just think about Thomas. The thought of him always made me feel safe and warm. This time, though, it didn't seem to work and my thoughts wondered to the letters and the figure I had seen earlier that day. Cece jumped onto my bed and curled up next to me. This put my mind in somewhat ease and it took a long time, but eventually I fell asleep.
I woke up somewhere unfamiliar. I was sitting on the floor and next to me there was a paper and some charcoals. I could feel the joy and passion flowing through me as my small hands started to scribble on the paper. I felt like a young child again. I noticed a boy sitting next to me, also drawing. He was about my age and his hair was dark and he had pale blue eyes. I lifted up my drawing.
"What do you think?" I asked. It felt as if I knew him very well, even though I had no idea who he was.
He looked up at the drawing and smiled.
"That's nice. A kitten, right?"
I nodded joyfully and proudly looked at what I had just created. Then I looked at his paper. He was drawing a portrait of me. He was very skilled.
This dream seemed rather real, but something was wrong. The air felt very heavy. When I looked around more, I noticed we were in a completely white room. When I tried to make out more of the things surrounding us, everything looked quite blurry. Like a blurry picture. I knew that it was definitely a hospital room, considering there were lots of hospital equipment there.
All of a sudden I woke up to my alarm. My cat was still snuggling warmly next to me. I carefully got out of bed and tried not to wake her up. I went downstairs to get a cup of coffee. My dad was up and he had just made breakfast.
"Good morning, zombie."
I smiled. He had called me that ever since I was little, because of the way I looked every morning. I poured myself a cup of coffee and ate some bacon. The dream kept interrupting my thoughts. The thought of that boy made me feel... strange. I felt like I had forgotten something important.
"Dad, did I have a friend when I was little?" I asked hesitatingly.
"Of course. You've always had lots of friends." He looked at me questionably. "Why?"
"It's just that I don't really remember anything from my childhood."
"I'm not surprised," he chuckled, "You were quite clumsy back then and hit your head often."
I didn't remember ever being clumsy. He kissed my forehead and quickly left for work. I sighed and tried to put the thought of that memory-like dream aside. My mom came downstairs and greeted me with a warm smile. She went outside to get the mail while I prepared myself for school. I kept getting distracted while I tried to get ready. I started wondering if I had any childhood photos. I mean, every parent always takes a punch of pictures of their kids when they're young to make those memories eternal, right? The funny thing was that I couldn't remember a single thing. When I tried to remember the past and I felt like I finally had grasped some kind of a memory, it seemed like small sort of a dark cloud appeared before that memory. It was almost like my mind wasn't allowed to remember, or that I didn't want to remember.
My mom came knocking on my door. She handed me a letter.
"This one is for you. Do you have a secret admirer or something?" she laughed teasingly. "Just don't let Thomas know, okay?"
Before I could say anything, she closed the door and went downstairs. I didn't know if I wanted to open it. A part of me for some reason wanted to just throw it away. I sighed deeply and ripped it open. This time there was a picture. A picture of my room's window. Instinctively I turned around and walked to the window and looked outside. For a moment, I swore I could see something move between the trees.
I picked up my phone and called every single one of my friends individually. All of them told me, again, that I was just paranoid. Sarah, on the other hand, suggested that I tell my parents about it.
I went downstairs and told my mom someone was possibly stalking me. She was unconvinced at first, but I showed her the letters and the picture and she eventually informed the police. They didn't take it seriously and since there wasn't enough evidence to investigate further, they just told us to keep the doors locked and be careful and contact them if anything else happened. They questioned me and asked if it could have been any of my friends. I wasn't sure so I said no. They figured it was someone I know playing a prank on me. None of this made me feel any better, but I tried my best to manage.
Before going to sleep that night I made sure everything was locked downstairs and upstairs, even my bedroom's door. I admitted that I was paranoid but I thought I had a good reason to be. I took Cece to my room to have her sleep next to me. I didn't want to be alone. When I lied down on my bed, this odd feeling of tiredness took over me and I fell asleep before I even realized it.
When I opened my eyes I was laying on a hospital bed. For a moment I thought something had maybe gone wrong with my heart and my parents had sent me to the hospital. But then I noticed the blurriness of my surroundings. I looked at my hands. They were small, like a child's. Was I having a dream again? But it felt completely real this time, even more real than the previous night. I could feel the warmth of the bed and I felt the heavy air around me. I heard very faint crying in the distance. As I tried to look around and search for the source of the sound I noticed I began to feel extremely cold. My chest was hurting. I put my arms on top of my chest as the unbearable pain took over my body. My body went in shock and I wanted to scream on the top of my lungs but I couldn't make a sound. All I could do was curl up in pain. I felt my heart beat getting slower.... and slower... then it stopped. The pain stopped as quickly as it had started.
I was covered in cold sweat. I opened my eyes and noticed I was sitting on my bed, in my own room. I put my hands on my chest again and I felt my heart beating normally. I sighed in relieve. That couldn't have been a dream. It simply felt way too real. The pain was too real.
I heard a paper crinkling next to me. I quickly turned my head and noticed a letter on my night table. It wasn't there before. Had someone been in my room? I felt a sting in my heart. The letter looked different this time. It looked old. Even the scent of it was old. I just stared at the thing in fear. My heart started pounding at a pace that I knew was dangerous for me. When I finally picked the letter up and clumsily ripped it open, my eyes widened and I gasped in horror. It had a picture in it... of me sleeping. Something was written on the back of the picture;
"How do you feel now?"
I started shaking. I didn't know what to do. Someone had watched me while I slept. Did this person want to hurt me? What did he want? Why was he doing this? Why me? What was he doing in my room? Was he still in my room?
Thousands of questions started raising in my head as I looked around my room rapidly until I finally realized that Cece wasn't there with me. I picked up my phone. I wanted to call the police, but what if this stalker was in my room? Or somewhere in the house? What if he heard me and came to kill me? I sat there in silence for a few moments in case I could hear something. Nothing. It was completely quiet. I phoned 911 quickly. A few moments later someone finally picked it up.
"Hello? I think there's someone in my house. Or at least there was someone in my house. Please, send help,"
I tried to speak as quietly as I could. No one replied.
"Hello? Please, send help!" It was quiet. Why didn't the person on the phone say anything?
I froze. The voice sounded inhumane. It was raspy and deep, it sounded almost like growling. My chest started to ache. Before I even realized, everything became dark. I woke up to the brightness of the sun in my room. I jumped up. I looked at my night table. The letter was gone and the phone was still plugged on my charger. It was all just a dream? My door and my window were still locked. There was no way someone could have gotten into my room. Cece wasn't in the room, though. I tried to call for her and even went outside to look for her but I couldn't find her.
As I gave up after searching for while and started going back to my house, I heard strange noises behind me. I couldn't make out what it was. I turned around and saw nothing. I quickened my pace and went inside my home and locked the door. I called for my mom and dad. No answer. I shouted louder. Still, nothing. I looked through every room in my house and I didn't find them. I hovered in fear, because I couldn't find a phone either. Not even my own one. I grabbed a kitchen knife from the kitchen drawer. There was a loud thump upstairs. I was frozen in fear for a few moments, until I was able to gain some courage and started taking steps towards the sound, my knife pointed forward, ready to attack literally anything.
The stairs creaked as I tried to walk as quietly as possible upstairs. I wanted to just leave and run 9 miles to the town on foot, but I knew if there was some sort of a sicko after me, then he would definitely catch me and most likely kill me. Also, running wouldn't have been good for my heart and I could have died from it. Without even a phone, I had to be brave and take risk. My room's door was slightly open. It was dead quiet. I gulped and quietly walked towards the door, ready to attack. I slowly opened it. I saw no one in there. There was just a letter placed on my bed. I cautiously walked towards my bed and picked it up. I looked behind me one more time before I opened it as quietly as possible.
I didn't understand. Who should I remember and why? There was another thing on the letter. A picture. A picture of me taken from behind, standing there, looking at the letter I had just opened. What the hell? I quickly turned around but there was nobody there. This was impossible. It felt like my pulse was going to kill me. I was too freaked out to do anything. How the hell..? I didn't know what the hell was going on. I was dreaming again, wasn't I? Was I going crazy? The picture fell off of my hand as I heard knocking on the front door. I stood there in horror. My instincts were telling me to hide. Just as I was about to hide inside my closet, I heard a voice.
"Ellen? Are you home?"
My eyes teared up in relieve. It was Thomas' voice. I ran downstairs and swung the door open. I tried to jump into his arms but I fell down. No one was there.
I woke up to extreme pain in my chest. I was in a hospital room. I felt someone holding my hand. I looked beside me and saw Thomas. He was sitting on a chair beside me and laying his head on my bed, sleeping. I felt very lightheaded and tired. I tried my best to keep my eyes open.
"Th-Thomas?" I muttered.
He opened his eyes and looked at me with relieve.
"You're awake! Finally!" He shouted joyfully, "You've been passed out for days now. I was so worried about you."
"I see," I smiled and sighed. It was all just a bad dream. "Where are my parents?" I asked.
"They visited a bit earlier. They went home after a while. How do you feel by the way?"
"Strange. Light headed," I answered.
"Oh. I think you should rest a bit more. Now that I know you're okay, I'm gonna go home too. But after you've fallen asleep," he smiled.
I didn't oppose. I felt strangely tired. How long had I been passed out? When had I passed out anyway? I kind of didn't want to fall asleep in case I saw another nightmare again. My eyes couldn't stay open for long, though, and I was knocked out once again.
In a blink of an eye I was in a different hospital room. Everything was more vivid now. The room was no longer blurry and if I hadn't dreamed about this room before, I wouldn't have been able to tell it from reality. I looked at my hands and they were larger than previously in my dream. Next to my bed there was a small table. It had a letter on it. It looked new and seemed like it had been just recently placed there. I picked it up and opened it. I kind of wish I hadn't.
I didn't know why, but tears started rolling down my cheeks. I couldn't control it. Who was this letter from? My head and heart both ached. The room lights started to change at a rapid pace. There were no windows or a lamp, though. At first, it was dark, then the room became clear again. The letter had disappeared from my hands and two new ones had appeared on my desk.
"You were the only one who stayed with me."
"You were supposed to stay with me."
My vision darkened. When I came back to my senses, I was in my room. I was in my house again. It was completely dark and quiet. I felt like crying but I was too scared to move or make a sound. I saw a tall shadowy figure of a man standing at the end of my bed. No, actually he was floating. He just stared. I couldn't make out any of his features, except his eyes. Those lifeless, cold eyes.. just staring at me. For some reason, I felt sad and scared at the same time.
After what seemed like an eternity he slowly turned towards my door and floated through it. I just stared there in horror. I couldn't leave my bed. I didn't want to face that thing again. I hid under the covers and just prayed that I would wake up from this nightmare. I shivered and I was covered in sweat. I felt something move in my bed, but I didn't want to look. Then I realized I was hovering in the air. Or more like the whole bed was. I held my breath and before I could react, the bed dropped on the ground, almost breaking it to pieces. I screamed, got up and ran as fast as I could.
I couldn't make out anything in the dark and because of that not long after I started running I tripped and fell. The fall was long. As if I had fallen from a cliff. I screamed and my stomach turned. I fell onto a hard ground and I whined in pain. I slowly got up on my knees and the place started to light up just enough that I was able to make out where I was. I was in an unfamiliar room. This wasn't the one from my dreams before.
Then I realized the stink. That god awful smell. I felt like throwing up. It was unbearable. I looked at the one and only thing I saw in the room. It was an old hospital bed. It looked like a body was covered under the sheets and a letter was placed on top of the sheet. I approached slowly, covering my nose from the disgusting stink. I swiftly took the letter to my hand.
At this point I felt like anything could happen and I didn't want whatever under was under those sheets to grab me by the hand. I backed off from the bed and opened the letter, still trying to protect myself from the smell of what seemed to be the stink of decayed flesh.
"Why can't your heart stop like mine did?"
At that very moment I felt my heartbeat becoming slow. I fell to the floor and gasped for air. It felt like something was suffocating me, not allowing me to breathe. As my eyes blackened, I saw the body began to float above the bed.
"Ellen" I heard behind me. I turned around and the scenery changed completely. I was outside this time, in the middle of the woods.
"Hello?" I screamed. There seemed to be no one around, yet I felt some kind of a presence around me.
My instincts told me to walk ahead, as the trees seemed to form some kind of a path for me, so I did. After a long time of walking, I ended up in a cemetery. There were a bunch of people gathered around something in the distance. It seemed like there was someone's funeral going on. I tried to scream but nothing came out. Then there was a voice inside my head.
"It was your parents turn to feel the pain my parents felt fourteen years ago. It wasn't fair for them to get rid of me in order to keep you alive. I deserved to live just as much as you did."
A figure appeared next to me. Now I could see it clearly. I could see him clearly. He looked at me with those cold blue eyes. He had small horns. A pentagram was carved onto his forehead. I didn't feel scared anymore. I felt confused.
The figure handed me a letter. I shakingly took it and opened it. It had a picture of me when I was young. There was a boy next to me. I recognized him. He was the same boy that had appeared in my dream before.
Then my attention turned back to the people in the distance.
I could see my parents. They were crying. It was my own funeral.