Saturday, March 30, 2013

"This Story Could Save Your Life"


I was shocked to see another story from Charlotte Hamm posted today, but it seems she is becoming more active.  I immediately read it, given the ominous title, and wanted to share it with all of you as well.

This Story Could Save Your Life
I take the subway every night.  Sometimes it’s really late, too, since I work an odd-hour job, and my station isn’t home to many night owls.  As a result, I’m often one of only a few people around when I get off the train.
It was especially late a couple of nights ago when my train finally came grinding into the station, and I was really groggy from a tough shift.  Pushing past the few people still remaining on the train, I stepped off and was soon alone on the platform.  I glanced around; though I was used to arriving at a mostly cleared station, it had never been completely empty before.  The lights above me flickered.  Shrugging off the weirdness of being the only person around, I started for the stairs to the outside world.
I’d only gone a few feet when a sound behind me caught my attention.  It was almost like footsteps, but there was a noticeable “scratching”, too.  I immediate spun around, but, to my relief, only the blackness of the subway tunnel greeted me. 
Resuming my original plan to head home, I had almost reached the stairs when the sign pointing towards the restrooms caught my eye.  I really did need to go, and my apartment was still a ten minute walk away.  On the other hand, the station was exceptionally creepy tonight and I didn’t really want to be here any longer than necessary.  But was I really going to let my silly nerves get the best of me?  In the end, nature had called and I figured I should answer.
The restroom was just as empty as the station had been.  To my right, a sink had been left running for who knows how long.  I turned it off before heading into one of the stalls.
By now I had managed to subdue my wild imagination.  It seemed pretty ridiculous for a grown person to be afraid to use the restroom, after all.  Above me the lights flickered again, though I paid them little notice.  Laughing out loud at my own childishness, I reached for the tissue. 
Suddenly the unmistakable sound of a door opening filled the restroom.  Someone else was apparently here.  I resisted the urge to call out; it was likely another train rider who’d be more freaked out by being greeted from someone in a stall than I was.  A moment later, I was glad I hadn’t.
The scratching sound was actually the first thing I heard, though it was soon followed by the familiar footsteps I had encountered on the platform.  They echoed off the tile floor as whatever was out there seemed to shamble into the restroom.  My blood running cold, I sat quietly, unable to even blink.
Outside the stall, the “thing” would take a couple of steps and then pause to emit a sort of rasping noise.  I swear it sounded as if it was smelling the air, looking for something.  The most logical answer, of course, was me.  All this time, though, I fought the urge to scream or bolt from the stall.
Eventually it stopped and stood still for what seemed like an eternity.  In fact, I could almost have convinced myself it was gone, but for lingering “sense” of it being too great.  It did finally begin to move again, and upon doing so, seemed to focus in on my stall!
Transfixed, I could only listen in horror as it grew closer to my very vulnerable position.  It wasn’t until it began scratching on the door of my stall that I almost lost it and screamed.  The sound, however, caught in my throat.  Now I look back on it and think this may have saved my life.
The thing was now clawing and pounding at the door, seemingly aware I was inside but unable to do anything about it.  I could hear its raspy breath and growing frustration as the entire stall began to shake from the assault.  Just as its rage seemed to reach a fever pitch, though, and I was sure the door would give way, it suddenly stopped.  It took a good minute for me to snap back to reality, but, when I did, there was only silence waiting on me.  I noticed my arm was still outstretched from where I’d begun to reach for the tissue.  I apparently hadn’t moved an inch during the entire ordeal.
Though it was difficult, I eventually summoned up the courage to get up and out of the restroom.  The vibe I’d gotten from the thing was gone now, which helped.  Luckily, I didn’t experience anything unusual as I literally ran out of the restroom and up the stairs.  Bursting from the subway and onto the street, I was grateful to see the surprised faces of a young couple walking by the station entrance.  I’m sure they thought I was crazy, but that didn’t really matter; I had made it out and now everything was back to normal.
Or so I thought.
I’ve spent the last two days thinking about that night, and I can’t make any sense of it.  There’ve been no reports of anything strange happening at the subway station, but there were a few unexplained disappearances mentioned on the news.  One such case involved a man I know I’ve seen once or twice on the train.  I couldn’t have been the only person to encounter the thing and get away, right? 
I’ve actually gone back once—during the day, when plenty of people are there—to try and sort it all out in my mind and maybe find someone else doing the same.  Everyone else, though, seemed to be going about their business, quite oblivious to the person skulking about looking for “clues”.  I’m not even exactly sure what I expected to find.  The thing didn’t leave footprints or something like that, if, in fact, it truly had feet.  I definitely don’t remember seeing anything at all through the slim openings around the stall’s doors. 
However, it’s what began happening last night that truly has me worried.  Afraid to leave my apartment, I called in sick to work before bolting every lock on my door.  I’m used to sleeping during the day, so my body wouldn’t let me rest, and I instead camped out in my living room to watch TV. 
It was around midnight when the lights flickered for the first time.  This made me uneasy, but I reminded myself that I was at home, behind a barricaded front door.  Eventually I did doze off, despite a few more uneasy moments, finally waking as the sun was coming up.  But it didn’t stop there.  All throughout today I’ve noticed odd things that leave me with goose bumps, such as unexplained sounds, fleeting glimpses of something unrecognizable in mirrors, and the same, pervading sense I had in that stall.  I think whatever it was I escaped down in the subway has found me.
As the day wears on, I’m terrified of what might happen tonight.  I’ve made plans to stay out as much as possible over the next few days, but I’m not sure that makes any difference.  I’m also aware that I might be placing other people in danger by simply being around them after dark.
So, here it is, the point of my story.  I won’t be giving you names of the places where I’ll be, the times I’ll be there, or even my real name, but if you’re out late over the next few nights, and the lights flicker, leave.  If you feel an overwhelming, evil presence, don’t ignore it.  If you hear strange footsteps or other, unexplained sounds, get up and get out of wherever you are.  Run and don’t look back. 
I won’t, and I’ll likely have a head start.
This one is more than a little frightening to me. Though the title provided what turned out to be unwarranted hope of some explicit directions, she does seem to be telling me something here.  It appears she is aware of the person stalking me and how he seems to be getting closer.  Her advice, apparently, is to run whenever I feel his presence.  Perhaps she knows more about his nature than I had imagined.

I am also bothered by the monster in this one.  The deliberate movements, scratching, and stalking are all very similar to what she's already written about.  It also conjures of images of long-armed fiends, their hands grinding against the ground as they walk.  Very unnerving.

Please feel free to post your own impressions of the story and what it might mean.

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Lost Workers


While doing some research into Pale Forest, I stumbled upon something quite interesting.  The library here in town, which I frequent, has a large, leatherbound book that chronicles the city's history, and though I had previously thought it too archaic to read, my recent quest has changed my mind on the merit of deciphering the behemoth.  To that end, I have spent many hours recently, staring at the browned pages.  My fear is I will eventually be restricted from the library (if, say, Mayor Huntley were to intervene), so I've read rather feverishly of late.

During my session with the tome yesterday, I came upon the record of a plan to open Pale Forest to an influx of immigrants in an attempt to expand the mill's facilities and business.  While the story is of course a familiar one (my family moved here when my father obtained a job at the mill under similar circumstances), it caught my eye because it isn't referring to the events that led me to Pale Forest.  This occurred in the 1840s.

Apparently, back then, Pale Forest was even more closed-off from the world than it is now.  In fact, a single road ran into and out of the town, and it was dangerously unkept-- it was actually part of Skeleton's Walk, which, at the time, came down out of the mountains.  Despite this, however, the town council voted to go ahead with their plans to increase the papermill's production.  They did not, however, vote to improve the road itself.

I suppose most of you have figured out where the story goes from there.  The night before the new workers (mostly immigrants and escaped slaves from the South) were supposed to arrive en masse, there was a terrible storm that, as luck would have it, centered over the mountains and the already precarious roadway.  Unable-- or perhaps unwilling-- to help, the people of Pale Forest waited to see if the mill's new workers would be able to brave the conditions.  The next morning, the awful answer was all too apparent.

Not one of them ever stepped foot into Pale Forest.

The book goes on to explain their guide, a man by the name of Marcus Pettigrew, was also lost in the maelstrom.  This was of some importance, as he was the mayor's brother and one of the more prominent men of Pale Forest.  His loss devastated the mayor, William Pettigrew, who never fully recovered from his grief or the outrage the incident sparked within the town's population.  William, it seems, had pushed for the very expansion that had become his greatest personal and professional failure.  Disgraced, he stepped down and was replaced by Ichabod Manley who, other than having a truly outstanding name, was a strict isolationist.  Pale Forest was thus closed off once more.

After reading this, my curiosity was piqued.  How many times has the city been opened to outsiders only to close again?  And, if this is a reoccuring theme in Pale Forest's history, is it possible there's some sort of pattern?  I intend to dig into the book even more over the next week, and I'll keep your posted on what I find.

Until next time...

Friday, March 22, 2013

"He's Going to Cut It Out of Me!"


Charlotte Hamm has once more posted a story on her Facebook profile.  I found it just a few minutes and have copied it for you to read.

He's Going to Cut It Out of Me!
I’m not sure if I should share this, really.  It might make me sound like I’m insane.  But after what happened two nights ago, I feel like I have to get it off my chest or I really will lose my mind.
I was sitting at my computer, around ten, when the second monitor in my setup flickered and went black.  This was the third time it’d done this in the last week, and my “secret” repair method (punching it) didn’t work like it had before.  It was time, I guessed, to replace it.
Firing up Craigslist, I immediately noticed something was wrong.  The site was definitely off.  The font was different-- larger and spaced oddly.  Some letters even appeared to be slightly higher or lower than the others in a word.  The effect was a little disorienting.  Assuming this to be some weird glitch, I hit refresh and the page went back to normal.

I put in the search “HD computer monitor”, chose the price range I wanted, and waited for the results.  But instead of a page full of listings, only one was returned.  And it didn’t seem to have anything to do with my search.  The title simply said “Help” with no additional information below it.  Curious, I clicked on the link. 
The ad, which I thought was probably a posting for a job or something along those lines, was empty, offering no indication of what type of help the person wanted.  Disinterested, I back out to the search again. 
This time I took out the price specification I had entered to expand my search a little.  The results were the same, though; the one “Help” listing is all that popped up.  Confused, I backed out again and changed the search to simply “monitor”.  This would definitely pull up something else, I thought.
But it didn’t.
By now I was annoyed.  Not only had Craiglist’s appearance apparently been bugged earlier, but now the search feature was broken.  This was turning into a frustrating night.
Curious if this was an isolated problem, I decided to search for something else.  I settled on “iPhone” since there are always plenty of those listed.  I didn’t specify a price or a model, either, just to be sure I’d get something back, but the “Help” listing was still all that showed up. 
Clicking on the link again, I decided to try and contact the seller to see if there was a real person behind this apparent bug.  To my surprise, there was an email option.  I quickly typed out a question, inquiring if the person knew why their ad was showing up for every search.  Within a minute, the first reply had arrived.  It was rather cryptic, though, and simply read “Please.  Help me.”
A little creeped-out but undeterred, I decided to ask who the person was.  I had barely pressed send, however, when the response “I don’t have much time!  Please, help me!” showed up in my inbox. 
The whole thing seemed like a prank, really, but I couldn’t understand how someone could set this up unless they worked at Craigslist.  Still, I was interested enough to play along.  In my next email, I asked how I could help and what the problem was.  The tone was more than a little tongue-in-cheek, though.
A few seconds later, the reply came and was far more alarming the ones before it.  It read, “Please, he’s coming for me!  I’ve heard the screams in the rooms around me.  He’s going to cut it out!”  I immediately responded by asking who was coming and what was he going to cut out, but there was no reply for several minutes, prompting me to write the entire thing off as fake.  Eventually, I grew tired of waiting and decided to refresh the page to see if the problem had been fixed. 
When the page had loaded, there was still only one ad on the screen, but it wasn’t the “Help Me” listing I had grown to loathe.  Instead, the title read “Man Seeking Women”, a startling change which made me laugh.  I, of course, had to click on the link to see the rest.
Inside was further information, unlike the last listing.  It said, “Ladies, are you tired of looking for love in all the wrong places?  Don’t let dating ruin your life.  Contact me and I promise to steal your heart!”  Again, this seemed pretty cryptic, but I was intrigued by the craziness of this whole ordeal, so I went ahead and sent the guy an email.  I obviously wasn’t looking for a date, though; I simply wanted to know if this was somehow related to the other phony listing. 
The reply came quickly, just as they all had.  I have included the entire thing.
"Dear Sir,
First, let thank you for bringing this to my attention.  You actually did me a favor by doing so, and I won’t forget it.   While I did not send the other emails, I can guarantee you won’t be bothered by them anymore. 
I thought this was really weird since it was the first email that seemed personalized and not just some generic, bot-like response.  I couldn’t bring myself to reply again, though; the experience had just been too strange to keep it going any longer.  Shutting my computer off, I changed quickly and fell into bed.  That night I didn’t sleep well, though.
The next morning, I woke up still thinking about the emails.  All of the tossing and turning the night before had given me plenty of time to dwell on them, and I’d decided to email “Steven” again.  So, skipping breakfast, I went over to my computer and switched it on.  To my disappointment, though, Craigslist was back to normal and I couldn’t find the link.  Even weirder, the emails were all gone from my inbox.  In fact, I had almost convinced myself I’d dreamed the entire thing by the time I left for work.
That hope was a short-lived, though.   Rushing down my front steps, I almost tripped over a small, cardboard box.  It definitely hadn’t been there the day before.  I stooped down to pick the container up, the sound of its contents rolling around inside instantly noticeable.  I dropped it again when I read the card taped to the front.
"Dear Sir,
After our correspondence last night, I felt obligated to make amends for the annoying emails and to thank you in some way for helping me out.  I don’t even want to think about what might have happened had someone else gotten those first few messages.  Please accept this small token as proof the offender won’t trouble you again.
P.S.  This might be my finest work, yet!

Aside from the foreboding title, I'm not sure we can assume much about this story.  It does weigh on my mind that the story's time frame (2 days ago) could apply to my incident in the woods, but the theme obviously doesn't really go along with anything that's happened.  If Charlotte is trying to warn me about the tattooed man, I would probably be wise to listen; I just wish she wasn't so damn cryptic all the time.

If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments.  I could use the help on this one.

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Watcher in the Woods


I am frusterated.  There's no other way to say it.

The past few days have seen me scouring the woods outside of Pale Forest, looking for the path and the bridge mentioned in my last post.  So far, however, I've been unable to find either.  I am left, then, with anger and confusion over the whole issue.

How can it simply have disappeared?

You also have to bear in mind how reluctant I generally am in regards to even venturing into the forest.  I have to psyche myself up for each trip, and its getting harder every time.  Thankfully I haven't gotten lost again like I did that night, as I've always brought along a compass (the GPS on my phone won't work there for some reason) and only go during the day.  Still, after many hours combing the area I know I was in, there's no trace of the path, let alone the bridge.  Now I'm beginning to think I should just give up.

That decision isn't entirely born of frustration, though; there is another, more palpable reason to not return.  I think the tattooed man might have followed me into the forest this last time.  I'm not entirely sure, though, as the image of him was quite fleeting (that alone is strange, since he generally makes himself quite obvious). 

I was slowly climbing the side of a rather steep hill when it happened.  My eyes were mostly focused on the ground, so I wasn't concentrating on much of anything else.  I happened to glance up at one point, though, and I swear he was already at the top of the embankment, staring down at me. 

The next few minutes are a sort of blur, but I must have toppled backwards in surprise and hit my head on the ground at the base of the hill.  I don't believe, however, that the fall influenced what I saw next.  As I came too, my eyes still adjusting, the sight of his awful, leering face suddenly came into view for a split moment.  It was extremely close this time, too, as if he were kneeling right beside me!  I remember screaming as I sat up, only to find I was alone again.

The question is, of course, was he really there?  I can't believe I imagined the entire thing, but the alternative is perhaps even more improbable.  If he were following me, how was he able to remain undetected?  The forest, as I've mentioned, is ghostly quiet, so I doubtlessly would have heard him at some point.  Also, there's the "small" matter of his disappearance.  I looked around after the ordeal; there wasn't a trace of anyone to be found.  He would have seemingly had to teleport out of the forest to vanish in that fashion.  Of course, I'm not too fond of writing it off as my imagination, as this along with the lost bridge begins to build a compelling case for my insanity.

So there you have it.  Between my inability to find the bridge and this, admittedly, questionable sighting of my new nemesis, I have decided to table the search for now.  Perhaps I'll wake up tomorrow and feel differently, but that remains to be seen.  Either way, I still have a lot of questions to answer.

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Bridge


Two days ago I was sitting at my computer, half asleep, when I heard a very distinctive creaking sound.  It was the pet door made into the house's back entrance (I don't have any animals, but the actual owner of the place I'm staying does).  Unfortunately, my mind immediately went to the end of "The Monster on Browning Street", which made it difficult to check the noise out.  Eventually I did manage to pry myself out of the chair and cautiously creep into the back hallway.  To my great relief, there was nothing there, and a quick search of the house turned up little more than empty rooms.  My guess is that the wind, which I have known to sometimes move the pet door, was responsible.

Despite this explanation, my imagination had now been unchained and was already creating all sorts of wild tales.  It eventually drove me from the confines of the house and out into the world to try and distance myself from my irrational fears. Though I had been drowsy before, it was actually still a little before dusk, and my mind was fully awake now.

Not wanting to go into town and risk meeting my shadow, I decided instead to merely drive around for a while.  This lasted for about half an hour.  Slowly, my nerve returned to me as I wove through the back roads of Pale Forest.  In fact, I'd made up my mind to turn around and head back home when an odd sensation came over me.

Passing what at first appeared to be little more than another stretch of nothing on a road surrounded by such, I was suddenly overwhelmed.  It felt very much like the hazy experience of looking at an old photo from before your first real memories.  Was this road, this place, somehow connected to my past?  Almost involuntarily, I found myself pulling over.  I sat there in my car for a minute or two, mulling over what it was I'd just experienced, but was unable to make sense of it.  Eventually it become clear I'd have to investigate.

Stepping from my car, I was immediately greeted by some rather long, wispy grass, this portion of the road having been long forgotten by the city.  There was a somewhat steep embankment a few feet away (though not so much that I couldn't climb it) and then the forest itself.  I shivered at the sight of those hideous trees despite the fact I knew my path would take me into the very heart of them.

Though it was by now beginning to get dark, there was still enough light to pick my way through the forest with little trouble.  I marveled at the eerie silence as I made my way deeper into the woods; even now, as hundreds of nocturnal animals should have been waking, there was only the sound of leaves crunching underfoot.  It was fascinating and a little unnerving at the same time.  This was about the only interesting observation I was able to make, however, as my sense of nostalgia seemed to be growing farther away with every step.  Stopping, I realized I was alone with nothing more than the trees for company, and they would share no secrets.

Now resolved to chalk the experience up as a worthwhile yet fruitless effort, I turned around to head back to my car.  However, as I started my return trip, I quickly noticed something was wrong.  The forest I had just traversed appeared different in some way.  I had taken careful note of landmarks to help guide me back, but now I couldn't find them.  It was as if the trees themselves had been sneaking around while my back was turned.

I wandered for another fifteen minutes or so, growing increasingly anxious.  I had not been very deep inside the forest, I reminded myself.  Why was it I couldn't see the edge of the trees?  Eventually I found a cleared strip of woods that appeared to be a path.  Though I had not noticed it earlier, I rationalized following it would probably be more advantageous than blindly circling around, so I did.  I admit, I was curious about who would have carved the path, but my options were few and the minutes before pitch dark even more so.

It wasn't long before I had confirmed it was indeed an actual path, though I had no idea where it was leading me.  To make matters worse, after just a few minutes of following it, I came upon a fork.  Not wanting to stop and truly contemplate the choice, I simply turned left and picked up my pace.  I was by now quite confused as to what direction I was going and which would actually get me back to my car, so there was little logic used in my decision.

The path now took me through a sort of grove where the trees were densely packed and the light scarce.  Rounding a cluster of these, I stopped, practically mid-stride.  There in front of me was bridge, and though it was short and looked stable enough, there was no way I was going to cross it.  I am not afraid of bridges, so that played no role in my inability to set foot on it.  There was something else-- a sort of dark, foreboding.  The weird feeling of deja vu was back and even stronger, though I don't know on what occasion I would have visited this bridge before.  I stuck around just long enough to take a picture before heading back from where I'd come.

I made good time back to the fork, this time choosing the other direction.  It was now dark and I was having an increasingly difficult time keeping my footing.  Thankfully the path had apparently been cleared recently, though I was hopeful I wouldn't run into the person responsible for its upkeep.  A few frantic minutes later I emerged from the forest, thankful to see the night sky.  I am still unsure how I'd failed to see the edge of the woods from the fork, as it was actually quite close.  Even more curious, however, was the fact the path actually brought me to within twenty feet of my car!  I am almost certain it should have been in plain sight when I first entered the forest, but I have no explanation for why I missed it.

I drove back out there yesterday with the intend of forcing myself to cross the bridge, but though I am relatively sure I found the same spot, the path to the bridge was no where to be found.  Not wishing to once more become lost in the forest without the path to guide me, I didn't venture inside.  Perhaps I was simply looking in the wrong place, though.  I'll expand my search for the path and the bridge it leads to at some point in the new future, though I'm wary of what I might find on the other side.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Tattooed Man pt.2


Since my last post, the tattooed man I previously wrote about continues to stalk me.  In fact, I now firmly believe the story posted by Charlotte Hamm ("I'm at Your Front Door") was a indeed a warning.

The man, whom I have so far been unable to identify, seems quite dogged in his pursuit.  He shows up randomly, but wherever I am, there's no doubt he's there because of me.  In each instance, he appears to be watching-- studying even-- rather than trying to literally "catch" me.  He could done so by now if that was his intent, but he prefers to keep a certain amount of distance between us, as if merely observing.  Strangely, this is even more unsettling.  I keep expecting him to rush at me at any moment, but he never does, and the anticipation is both exhausting and terrifying.

I still have not gotten a good look at the tattoo on his neck.  He is always at least twenty or so feet away from me when I spot him, and I dare not go any closer.  His clothing generally obscures his neck also, but the tattoo is definitely there.  I can just make out the edges of it, but I can't quite tell what it is.  In my mind, I've concocted a rather elaborate story of how the tattoo has great meaning in all of this, but in reality it's probably nothing more than ink, anyway.

As I elluded to, my attempts to find out who the tattooed man is have thus far been failures.  I initially spent some time looking through newspapers at the Pale Forest library, hoping to spot him.  My theory was he'd likely be in some political photo, possibly with either Stanley Fouts (the mill foreman) or Mayor Huntley.  This would give me tangible evidence on who he was working for.  After several mind-numbing hours of looking through microfilm, however, the idea seemed less plausible.  I had all but given up, in fact, when I did manage to find him.  Unfortunately, it wasn't in an old newspaper, but rather in one of the library's aisles.  This time he even made eye contact.  I immediately left, though I doubt he kept me from finding anything relevant. 

Thankfully he has yet to show up at the house where I am staying.  I'm not entirely sure how I would react if he did, but I have gone to the trouble of procurring a weapon for my protection.  I won't say what it is, just in case this is being read by those I'd need to use it on, but I dislike having it at all.  Hopefully it will remain in its current hiding place.

Over the past few days, I've had time to think about this man quite a bit, and I know what it is that disturbs me the most.  His ability to seemingly appear out of the nether is frightening, as is the very idea of being watched by outside forces, but these both pale in comparison to what really troubles me.  I have studied him, as he has me, and I am unable to read his expressions.  There wasn't even a hint of anger in his face when he found me at the library, though he undoubtedly knew what I was doing.  I couldn't interpret any sense of emotion at all, for that matter.  Still, the sense of danger was palpable as it always is.  This man means to do me harm eventually, and the worst part is, he doesn't seem to think anything of it.  He's completely ambivalent towards whatever he has in store for me, and in my mind, that makes him even more of a monster.  I just hope I don't wake one night to the sight of his empty stare.

Until next time...

Friday, March 1, 2013

"I'm at Your Front Door"


About an hour ago, Charlotte Hamm finally posted on her Facebook page.  It's not any type of direction, though, as I had hoped, but rather another short story.  I've copied it here.

"I'm at Your Front Door"
I sat in my living room, unable to move.  A few moments before, my phone had buzzed with a number I didn’t recognize and a text that simply stated “I’m at your front door”.  That wasn’t what had me spooked, though.  The knocking which had followed it was a far worse omen.  The creepy, metronome like rapping still ringing in my head, I hesitated to stand and see who might be waiting for me on the other side of the wooden barrier to my house.
Slowly I rose, but I had barely gotten to my feet when the phone in my pocket buzzed for a second time.  “I’m at your back door,” it proclaimed.  Then came the knocking again.  It lacked any sense of urgency, despite my previous disregard, but instead embodied a methodical sense of determination.  Whatever was out there wouldn’t simply give up and go away.  Though I already wanted it to very badly.
Maybe this was a prank.  I wanted to believe it was possible, but my mind told me otherwise.  I didn’t know anyone who would’ve thought a joke like this was “funny”, and besides, I was supposed to be out of town this weekend but had stayed when I came down with the flu.  No one knew I was even still at home.  Now I sincerely wished I wasn’t.

By now the knocking had stopped, but my heart was still pounding.  I stood there in one spot for several minutes, my neck craned to listen.  I couldn’t hear anything strange outside.  Gathering my wits and courage, I crept over to the window.  It was dark, but there was no evidence of anyone.  I still couldn’t bring myself to actually go to either door, though.
I almost jumped as the phone began vibrating for a third time.  Without even looking at it, I waited for the knocking.  It had returned to the front door now.  Frantically I cupped my hands over my ears, unwilling to hear the dreadful portent any longer.  But it reverberated through my very bones.

“What do you want?” I screamed to no one.  I felt silly for having done it, but at least my voice had drowned out the knocking for a few seconds.  Taking a deep breath, I walked towards the front hallway, but felt myself turning around before actually reaching it.  I began pacing, a million thoughts running through my mind.  But it was as if I were in a fog and couldn’t think straight.  I had to get out this situation, but there wasn’t any way to do it without opening one of the doors.  And the person outside would surely be at one of them.
As if by schedule, my phone buzzed again.  This time I read it out loud, “I’m at your back door.”  I had hardly breathed the words when the knocking started, confirming the text.  My opportunity fleeting, I sprinted for the front door and, without a thought, threw it open.

My porch was empty, thankfully, but the cold outside was staggering.  It was unnatural, as if I had stepped into a meat locker.  The very shock of it seemed to force the air right out of me, my breath producing a stream of crystalline “smoke” as I stumbled backwards.  Attempting to right myself, I realized the collision with this frozen wall had cost me my chance.  Clumsily, I kicked at the front door to close it again and fumbled with the lock before dejectedly crawling back into the living room.  This door I also barred, if for no other reason than temporary peace of mind.
Now it seemed as if I were trapped.  Even if I chose the right door to escape, there appeared to be something preventing me from leaving.  Silently I cursed my phone, though of course it wasn’t at fault.  In fact, as I sat there thinking, the likelihood it might actually save me became more apparent.  If all I had was the phone, then I should use it.  Removing it from my pocket, I resolved to call 911 and let the police come sort this out.
I quickly punched in the numbers before placing the receiver against my ear.  But nothing happened.  Shocked, I held the phone out to investigate but dropped it right away in sheer panic.  My hands shaking, I retrieved the phone, only to confirm what I had seen—the battery was dead!  But for how long?  Surely the texts had not come through while it was this way…
A chill ran down my spine as the seemingly worthless device in my hand once more pulsed to signal an incoming message.  Unable to resist, I reluctantly clicked on the text.  Though I felt sick as I read the words “I’m at your living room door”, it wasn’t until a moment later that the last of my resolve gave way and I began to weep.  That was when the knocking, close and deliberate, started.
This seems eerily similar to own experience as written about in my post The Visitor, but of course that didn't end with some sort of ghost or monster getting me.  Perhaps she is referring to the tattooed man I spoke of in my last post.  Or, of course, she might simply have posted a short story without any real meaning.  I'll have to think about what she might be trying (or not trying) to say.  Let me know if any of you have thoughts on it.

Until next time...