We all feel alone sometimes. It’s especially easy to feel alone when you perk up in your bed at 1 AM, unsure of whether or not you just heard your door creak open. Are you alone? Is someone in your room, waiting for you to drift back into dreamland, just so they can take you?
It’s pitch black outside, you are home alone, and you get out from underneath your safe haven of covers to investigate the hopefully imagined noise coming from your doorway... so you creep to the door. You cower behind that wooden door that blocks you from whatever is in your house right now. It is the only thing separating you from what lies beyond the threshold. What you don’t know is that the door would serve as much purpose as using a wooden shield to block a dragon’s breath. Useless. You hear something, or someone, in the house shuffling through your kitchen. You keep telling yourself that no one is in the house, that you’re safe. But paranoia sets in. Or is it a built-in sense, leftover from when we were hairy little chimps, that let you know when a crocodile was stalking you. When you feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and your stomach freefalls to your feet with a reverberating pounding sensation, that shoots through every nerve ending in your body. But maybe it is just paranoia. Did you lock all the doors? Maybe you forgot one, and someone just walked into your house with ease, laughing quietly to themselves, thinking, “How stupid IS this kid?”
You remember locking each door, as you mentally check each one by memory. But… then you realize. Maybe you left a window open and the intruder climbed his way in through your sister's bedroom. She lives on the bottom floor and absolutely needs to sleep with a breeze. Her window is always open. He, no… IT, must have seen that. No. No, there’s no one in the house, you think to yourself almost laughing at how naive that sounded. After what felt like hours, but was most likely just minutes, you feel confident enough to open the door and perform the classic leap across the hall, into your bathroom. Typically, that leap is performed in fear of the unknown. This time, it was in fear of what is known. You shut the door as gently as humanly possible so as not to alert the intruder of your presence. Hopefully, he thinks the house is empty. But you know deep down he does not care. You hear something drop and shatter from inside the bathroom. Just behind you. Your body freezes with terror, you feel the paralyzing toxin that is pure terror shoot down your nervous system, causing you to sweat profusely as your Lizard brain sends every possible signal to fight, but the terror… the terror has you locked in place. You close your eyes, breathe what would be your last breath, and force 12 yourself to turn around, almost painfully. When you open your eyes, for the first time, you can breathe. A sigh that decompressed such excruciating tightness built up in your chest leaves your body when you realize it was the cat that knocked it over. Whiskers must have been making all this noise the whole fucking time. Finally, you are convinced you’re alone in the house, and that it was just your instinctual reaction to behave in such a way. You open the bathroom door with a liberal push. A non-fearful push, nearly braggadocious. You head into the kitchen and grab some cold cuts from the fridge, so you can roll them around some cheese like a true Austrian. They’re rotten. Mom hasn’t stocked up recently. She also hasn’t been home in a month. Your fault. Wired with enough energy to jumpstart a small sedan from your intruder scare, you retreat to your covers and stay up doing the schoolwork you’re behind on. Fuck math.
For some reason, your parents still have a house phone, and it starts ringing in the kitchen. At first you jump in fear, still a little wary of what could be out lurking in your home. Thinking nothing of it you walk into the kitchen and pick up the phone. It’s your mother.
“Hey, Mom, is everything okay?”
“Yes, honey I’m okay, Vienna is beautiful in the winter. I just wanted to remind you to let Whiskers out.”
“Oh right, yeah. Yeah... I’ll get on that. Thanks for reminding me. And mom, it’s the middle of the night, can you call me at a different time please? I was asleep and you scared me half to death.”
“Yeah, yeah I know. By the way, Johnny is your phone dead? I tried texting you, but it didn’t go through.”
“Uhh let me check, I’ll call you back okay?”
“Okay bye honey give me a call when you’ve figured it out.”
You go to your room to check your phone. It’s not on your bed where you left it. You walk back into the kitchen, start picking up all the mail on the counter looking for it, when you pick up the note your mother left with chore instructions. Before tossing it, you notice something on the page that catches your eye. On the bottom of the page is a handwritten note. Not your mother’s Times New Roman… The paper falls from your hands as you read it.
You hear your ringtone go off on your phone from behind you and your heart drops to the floor so hard you could hear it. “Don’t turn around” speaks a voice of unknown origin.
(c) Alexander Gerolimatos