Like any other unprepared college student, my evenings were commonly booked with drastic amounts of work. I always had a habit with procrastination in high school, and that only became worse moving into new classes. Despite my habit, I would always seem to make the cut when the due dates came. Though, there came the times where I would need to abandon my sleep and work through an entire night. I wasn't the kind of person who needed much sleep anyway, but that doesn't mean that I enjoyed the experience.
My roommate was an accepting man, and we would be able to compromise on many different matters of living. He, on the other hand, was one to sleep much more than me, and would never be able to stand me at my desk with the light on all night. During my nights of schoolwork, I would always be at the campus library. I would be alone, but that's not what bothered me. It was walking back to my dorm that would seem to frighten me. My campus was a smaller one, so there was always a habited building nearby, but there was still the evident, lingering feeling of silence along the way.
It was an early Friday morning, with the time being about a quarter past two. I was in the library, the usual spot for my studies. I didn't have any actual work to finish, but there was an exam later that day, which I had done little to prepare for. I had planned to study through until the morning, but I received a text from my roommate. He told me that I've been overworking myself, and that the exam wasn't really one to worry much about. It was one of the few classes that we shared together, and he had one of the better grades for the course. Chances are, he knew the exam better than I would. Part of me still wanted to remain dedicated, and stay studying until morning.
I continued my session for only fifteen more minutes, until my roommate texted me again. This time, he was saying that I should come back to the dorm to get some sleep. I sent a response back declining, being that going back only to get up in another five hours would be a waste. He only sent back one more message:
"Come back. I'm worried about you."
Reading the message stunned my thoughts for a few seconds. Not only was it strange in the circumstance, but it was unlike my roommate to send a message like that to me. I was beginning to suspect a joke, but there was no way he would remain awake for such. It was after that message when I just began to realize how strange it was for him to even be up. He always went to bed earlier, which was the sole reason why I left my room to study.
The whole moment seemed to frustrate me. It brought an unnecessary puzzlement on my mind, one that just gave me a headache. I didn't reply to him, and passed the messages off as distractions. I wasn't excited with the idea walking back to my dorm, especially with limited hours left to the night anyway. It was about three o'clock when I received a final message:
Rather than annoyed as before, I was concerned with the text. As simple and vague as it was, it created speculations of why he might have sent it. Perhaps he was being frightened by something, and was too full of himself to admit wanting company. Maybe there was a personal matter to discuss that he didn't want to put to text. And against all of what I knew about him, maybe he did just care about me. With all of the scenarios in mind, I began to walk home. Though I didn't pay much attention to the environment, I could feel myself shake the moment I was out of the library. I didn't want to look around. My eyes would only begin to play tricks on me, like my ears would. If there was a phobia of being followed, it described me well.
Think for a moment: Try to think of a time where your only desire and dream is to reach the door. In a panic, in sheer terror of being exposed to whatever's behind you, all you can think about is reaching safety. The rest of your lifespan feels irrelevant. It wouldn't matter, as you're not going to make it.
Unless you start running.
At least, that's what I ended up doing. I wasn't aware of it until I was already running out of breath. I was in too much of a panic, in a blindness produced by my own anxiety.
Every shadow seemed to morph to life. They bended into abstract, limitless shapes. Their movements were subtle, but enough to haunt my remaining concentration. The darkness taunted me, as it's always tricked and toyed with victims.
Nearing the entrance to my dorm, I felt as though a stranger would grasp at my neck at any moment. The feeling of cold, extended fingers became more familiar, becoming part of my reality rather than an illusion from stress.
There was close to no doubt: I was going to drop dead from exhaustion alone.
Soon enough, however, I slipped through the door, hardly opening it. Part of me dared to turn around, and look to see who had chased behind me.
A larger part of me only moved forward.
I wasn't running, though I resumed my brisk form of walk as I approached my room. I predicted what sorts of scenarios could be waiting for me in my room: My roommate horribly injured from his own stupidity, or in a great breakdown over something tragic. Perhaps the entire dorm was having a surprise crackdown on alcohol, and demanded everyone to be in their rooms.
Or, my roommate could've been perfectly sound asleep. I wanted to refrain from believing I was sent through hell because of a mere joke. My hand grasped the knob, then turned while shaking. My hands were always the last part of me to relax.
The door opened, and as predicted, my roommate was asleep. He was turned away from the door, silent. He must have been rather knocked out from drinking, as he didn't move a muscle from me walking in. The room was also in a complete dishevelment, as I stumbled and almost tripped as I worked my way to my bed. I had already gone through the trouble of getting back, so catching whatever sleep was available was the most useful option. I was about ready to collapse, after all.
Sleep would come to me quick. It was difficult to keep my eyes open. A faint noise sounded on my nightstand, loud enough to stop my fall into rest.
It was my phone, vibrating on the nightstand, right where I had placed it.
I wanted to ignore it, which is what I did the first time. It went off again seconds after, in which I reached for it with frustration. The message put enough confusion on me to bring me more awake. It was from my roommate.
The first message read "turn".
The second message read "floor".
Had I known my situation, I would've been more reluctant to turn put my eyes to below. At the time, I was convinced that he was still playing some sort of joke on me to get me pissed. The assumption ceased when I saw the sight:
My roommate was on the floor, staring up straight towards the ceiling. His mouth was open, and his body lied in a straight, almost plank-like fashion. For a moment, I suspected him dead. He was still alive, if one could call his state as such. From a quick glance, I wouldn't spot it, but he was shaking. He shivered in bursts, with very small, panicked breaths in between. He never looked at me, nor did he even react when I found him there.
I don't think he even moved when I nearly tripped over him.
There were large cuts on his stomach, to where they looked more similar to incisions. Blood still streamed from it, as it had been for however long he was lying there. It was seeing this that the idea of a joke was still clinging to my mind, praying to be true.
I turned back up, with a strong need to remain silent. A body was still occupying the bed opposite of me. It remained in the same position as before. My options of where to go from that moment were possibly large, yet still nonexistent from fear. My roommate needed attention for his wounds, no doubt. He was unable to speak or move, probably from the combined tension of his injuries and terror from what he had experienced before me.
My phone began to vibrate again. On the opposite wall shined a dim light, right from where my roommate's bed lied. The silhouette that lied there still had not turned around.
I turned in silence, and faced the wall. I closed my eyes, hoping to wake from a dream, as anyone would in the situation. The same panic began to rush over me again, as I wished for the entire night to be over that second. As expected, sleep came over me quick. As I drifted off, footsteps sounded in the room, close by me. The sound of the steps approached, until they ceased right behind me.
Like my roommate, I didn't react.
Written by Emeryy