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Alright, here goes. My name's Zachary Watts and I kinda think I might be losing my mind. I mean it's possible I'm not, but that's kind of worse to think about. I dunno, just, if anyone reads this shoot me a message or something? I need someone to talk to, gotta keep myself grounded.
I tend to stay on the computer late, late into the night, right? My computer's this clunky desktop, and my folks make me keep it in the living room, so if I ever wanna look at ANYTHING I don't want 'em to see it's gotta be at stupid o' clock when they're all in bed. Porn, any decent movies or games, chats with anyone they ain't met in person, all happens sometime around three in the morning, like clockwork. Interruptions for the occasional last second homework project notwithstanding.
So, you know that feeling you get, where it's late and the screen's all you see? Your eyes hurt in that easy to ignore way and you know you're dead to the world? Thing is my family, they're a little strict. Kinda luddites, think the internet's a gateway to crime and perversion. So if they see what I'm using it to look up or download late at night I'm pretty much a dead man. Or at least a computerless one.
First time was, Jesus, maybe a month or so ago? I'm enjoying my privacy a little when I hear this noise, real little, sorta like a gasp. Now that isn't exactly different from what's coming through my headphones, but it doesn't really sync up with the video. So I'm sitting there with my dick in my hand thinking that my mom's just walked in or something, I spazz and pause the video and look all over at nothing. I'm kinda frozen, listening, trying to figure out what the hell that noise was. As mentioned, I get caught doing anything questionable and I'm fucked, so I'm jumpy enough to begin with, so eventually I figure whatever I heard's my imagination and get on with a pleasant evening.
Next time's what, three days later? Three AM I've kind of got a paper to finish for class. I've had about half a red bull and an Adderall when I'm certain I just saw SOMETHING move out the corner of my eye, near the couch. I thought everyone else was asleep so I turn to take a look, heart already thudding in my chest thanks to top-of-the-line pharmaceuticals and general finals stress. Again, nothing. Just this brief impression of slow, languid motion, kinda like a sea anemone, and when I look nothing's there. My brother sleeps on the couch sometimes, I figure I just saw him move the blankets or something. I wasn't sure that was him under the blankets, but there's a pillow on the floor that I'm sure was on the arm of the couch a minute ago, and that's all the proof I need to get over it and get back to work. Pulled an all nighter.
Next morning as I'm printing everything out, seven AM, exhausted as hell, I see him come out of his room. I ask him when he got off the couch, he says he was never there.
I don't really think about this again until two days later. Chatting with a friend about Robopon, this shitty Pokémon ripoff I used to love when I was little, when I hear this snap behind me. Not like loud, right, but like how when you accidentally crack your elbow the way you'd crack your knuckle. Coulda just been another bang at the keys, except I was SURE it came from behind me. I don't even care at first, but then I get to thinking about the pillow the other night. There was nothin' there to nudge it, it's not like it had the air conditioner facing it, so what pushed it off? There's this parta me that was kind of sitting back thinking the rest of me was being retarded, but the rest couldn't stop thinking about the pillow. And I was being retarded. I mean, pillows fall. Maybe it'd been sliding off all day, I dunno. But eventually it got to me and I turned to look at where I'd heard the snap.
Nothing to see, just the wall and the bookshelf, and I almost turn back to what I'm doing.
And then the bathroom light comes on, down the hall. I hear this little noise too, like someone putting down a big sack.
I hadn't heard anyone get up, so I sorta just stop and stare at it, right? Only noise is the occasional annoying vwoop noise from my computer while my friend asks where I am. Just this little sliver of light in a pitch black hall, and I watch, and I think, and I finally get back to what I'm doing like thirty minutes later. It isn't until I'm in bed later that two facts sorta rise up in my mind. One, I thought the last time I'd been in that hallway, that light had been on. The second's that I never heard the light switch click.
This nags at me until I fall asleep, a long while later.
So, for the next few days I turn in a little earlier and cut out on the energy drinks. I'm not really used to it so I end up lying awake a lot. Awake until the same time every night anyway, listening to the quiet. I have trouble sleeping in total quiet; I start to listen really closely, you know? With some noise from my shitty air conditioner and the cars passing outside I usually have plenty of white noise to just drift off. Thing is my air conditioner broke a week ago, so I just hear the odd car followed by what feels like hours of deafening silence, feeling the breeze come and go across my forehead.
But anyway yeah, so I do this and it's better awhile. There's the occasional noise of the apartment settling, but nothing I can't identify after a couple seconds. No more panic, no more stress, plenty of sleep again.
Few weeks later though, my parents are out of town and I'm up late finishing up finals. My brother, this time, I'm SURE is asleep on the couch. Hell once in a while I go over to CHECK just to be fuckin' sure, all the while trying not to think too hard about the fact that I'm checking my couch for invisible fucking bogeymen. Picture of rationality, pride of my generation. Still a little paranoid, even with the check, and end up turning on every light in the house.
Skip ahead to about four AM, I'm in the middle of writing about the significance of the king's clothes not fitting him quite right in Richard III. Of all metaphors Shakespeare ever used I always thought that one was kind of a stretch, little half assed. I'm supposed to think this guy's such a shitty king because his fucking shirt's too big? Makes no sense. So I'm writing this when I half hear SOMETHING, right? Like cloth rustling. And again, it's little, barely know it's there, but I think back on that pillow again and turn around to take a look.
Down the hall, I see the door to my parents' room open really slowly, inward. REALLY slowly. Like you'd think it was a breeze, except there wasn't actually any breeze.
I freeze up, halfway up out of my chair. You know, I've still kinda got the moment stuck in my mind? It was a just yesterday and I can still feel my hands gripping the plastic, textured arms of my chair a bit too tight to be comfortable, trying to figure out what opened this door like my life depends on it. Door's balance is off, open window left in my parents' room, something. Heard my brother snoring on the couch and that's kind of what convinced me to go take a look. It's that sort of human sound, you know? Made me feel less alone.
So I went into their room. I checked the windowsill, everything's accounted for there. I check the pile of laundry and I check the bookshelf and I even check under the goddamn covers, and while my head is under the blankets I hear it again, a rustling, right behind me. I throw the blankets aside and rush into the hallway again, and I don't see any damn thing. I hear my brother start to wake up, wondering what the hell's going on in that halfhearted exhausted way, but I'm already off to check our bathroom because this fucking thing has to be SOMEWHERE. So now I'm yanking shit out of the hamper in there, checking the cupboards and behind the shower curtains and everything, when my brother finishes waking up and comes in asking me what all the goddamn noise is.
This sorta gives me pause. Freaking out and turning the whole house upside down because I thought I heard something behind me sounded a lot sillier when I had to say it out loud, so I just apologize and try to wave it off like its nothing. He's a good kid, my little brother, he can tell when I'm lying my ass off and asks if I'm okay, but he doesn't push it when I say I just need some sleep.
That night's one of those hot muggy sorta nights. The air feels dense and oppressive, like I'm trying to sleep under a thick rug. I toss and turn trying to sleep, twisting the blankets around myself as I try and fail to get comfortable, and for a while the annoyance kinda distracts me from this paranoid shit I'd been dealing with. After all, it'd been nice and breezy last night. I tried to turn on the air conditioner, and it took a few half-conscious swipes at the button before I remembered that thing was broke.
So I get to wondering, what was that draft from the other night? That rhythmic gusting back and forth, across my hair...
I didn't get much sleep that night.
So all day I've been kind of a mess. My brother's out at a party so it's just me in the house again. I keep hearing things in the background, half-glimpsing motions out the corner of my eye, like something moving to stay in my blind spot. A thump from the other room here, a scratching noise from the vent there... The last straw was when I was brushing my teeth about an hour ago, though.
While I leaned over the sink to spit, I felt something run its fingers through my hair. Once. Just a sudden sensation of a rough palm, entwining thick-knuckled fingers in my hair. I nearly choked on my fucking toothbrush, but when I turned around there was nothing there, again. Just me, toothpaste dribbling down my chin, looking at my hair sticking out at the back in the mirror.
I don't know what the fuck is going on. I don't know if I'm being chased by some invisible fucking stalker or if I'm just losing my mind. I'm trying to ignore the noises, the weird feelings. Not worth obsessing over right? Nothing's actually happened. But it's getting worse. Way worse. Today, in the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of another face in the mirror. Just this slack, staring, apelike thing sticking out of the laundry pile that wasn't there when I turned to look right at it.
I'm freaking out, I really am. Nearly having a heart attack every time my house creaks. I just need someone to talk to, some sort of human contact. My aim screenname's zachscrach, someone shoot me a message. Talk to me, call me a coward, what the fuck ever, I just gotta hear from someone. Gotta not feel like I'm alone in here.
Credited to Boog