The Door

The door had been there for as long as I could remember, and there was never really anything ominous or suspicious about it—it was just a door at the end of a hallway in an aging building.

I had been living with my parents in the old hotel-turned-condos since well before the area had been redeveloped. My parents had been longtime supporters of urban revitalization and renovation. As real estate investors, they really could see the beauty and character of old buildings. And they practice what they preach. But, they couldn’t find themselves to give up on this building once they moved in. They had me not long after they bought the place, and between a new kid, renovating the building for new tenants, and life in general, they just never left. “Five years max,” turned into “just one more year,” and that turned into 18 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love where I live, and I love my parents, but something about this building has always just seemed off to me, and it started when I was about 6 years old with my first memory of the door.

The hotel was built in the late 1800s—1898 to be exact. It had once been the premier hotel in the area; the downtown area used to be a hub. The old riverfront town was a prime location for industrial companies—coal, steel, oil, you name it and the town produced it. Smokestacks became common place as more factories established a presence in the town. The light grey mixture of steam and smoke became an iconic backsplash to the town’s vibrant downtown lifestyle. Industrial executives used to stay in the hotel, the townspeople held wedding receptions and executives held business parties in the hotel ballroom. You couldn’t walk into the hotel on a Friday night without being overwhelmed by the smell of cigars and brandy from the party behind a set of closed doors in the lobby. This town was the place to be. In the 1980s, the town started to die off, along with the hotel and surrounding area. Mills closed, factories downsized, properties started declining in value, and drugs became easier to get ahold of. The once bustling river became polluted with bottles, trash, and chemical waste, and the only boat to ever come through was a trash barge. The trash barges also brought some relief to the otherwise abhorrent smell all the pollution caused. People preferred to smell trash over the river. The hotel closed for good in ’92, and sat empty until ’98. It’s an okay area now, on the up and up. Companies are moving back in, jobs are returning, and more people are doing the same thing my parents did 18 years ago—coming in, fixing old and run-down buildings, and then never leaving. The small-town charm here is real.

The hotel has a similar charm. It really grabs you, and holds you tight and makes you never want to leave. The 18-story, dark red brick building with stoic looking dark-stone gargoyles and wide, heavy windows stood its ground through two world wars, 20 US presidents, and multiple economic depressions. Now in 2017, the building stands as tall and as proud as ever.

My parents renovated the lobby five years after purchasing the property. They kept almost all the historic charm: the black and white swirled marble floors, the heavy, dark oak wood reception desk, the gold trimmed elevators and classic iron-clad cage doors (along with the mandated regular elevator doors), and the little arrow that points to the floor the elevator is on right above the frame. My parents did not make any sacrifices with the renovation, and even though it was pricey in the day, the lobby is now a major selling point when people come in to view listed condos for sale.

The condos themselves are made up of between four and five hotel rooms combined. We live on the far corner of the 18th floor. It gives the best views of the city and surrounding area—I guess that’s one perk that comes with your parents also being the building owners. One thing I did always notice was the door that lead to the corridor with the freight elevator. My parents always kept the door locked when I was younger. The freight elevator was mostly there to help new residents move in. Nobody used it outside of moving heavy furniture. My parents have to give the tenants a special key to get in and out of the corridor on every floor.

When I was about six years old, I remember asking my parents about the door.

“Why is that door always locked, mom?”

“Well mostly for safety. The stairs in that corridor are steep, and even though the elevator works fine, we couldn’t get the electrical set-up right on that part of the building, so there are no security cameras. We do a thorough vetting of people before they move in, so we’ve never had to worry about anyone abusing the elevator, but just to be safe we keep it locked.”

That answer appeased me when I was six, and I never really thought anything else of it. Occasionally we would hear a creaking and scratching noise from behind the door, but otherwise the elevator was silent, sans the occasional roar to life when a resident bought a new couch or appliance. It was just a fact of the building.

 

After I graduated high school, I started college at the state university the following fall. Two hours away was far enough way to move onto campus, but still close enough that I could easily come home on the weekends if I wanted to. I decided to study chemistry and psychology. It’s a weird combination, I know, but the two balanced each other out in a sense. The precision of chemistry paired with the ambiguity of psychology provided a well-rounded school of thought. It forced me to think of things logically, as well as think of things outside of the box. I want to be a psychiatrist, and even though that means a lot of school and a lot of debt, I can’t imagine committing myself to something like business and then hating it for the rest of my life. I am motivated by the people who are sick on the inside, who, for some reason, are told they must prove their illness for people to believe them. I never thought that was right, so I decided I’d try to turn my passion and my beliefs into a lifelong career.

In high school, I was more involved in extra curricula as opposed to honors and AP classes, so I started college with minimal credits already earned. I was a good student, mostly As and a few Bs here and there in high school, so I still felt ready for college despite my lack of previously earned credit hours. My first semester of college consisted of calculus, introductory chemistry, introductory psychology, introductory sociology, and a local history class. The area I’m from has a very proud past, and it certainly has its share of historical events. I wasn’t sure there was enough local history to offer an entire college class on it, but I guess the university thought otherwise.

My first semester was going well. Mid-terms had just wrapped up, and everybody was ready for fall break. It was mid-October, the leaves started changing colors, and jeans and a hoodie were a necessity no matter what time of day you went outside. It was easy to see why everyone in this area loved fall so much—the leaves were every shade from vibrant orange to pale brown. The only thing green on campus was the few patches of grass that somehow managed to stay leaf free. Campus was a little old, so there were a lot of mature trees scattered throughout. The leaves never stayed on the sidewalk for long though because university maintenance always cleaned them up almost as soon as they fell. I never understood why, but I guess it was a liability issue or something like that.

The last day before our fall break, the professors were having a hard time keeping our attention…those of us who showed up the class, that is. Understandably, many people left for home to start their break early. Why not if the midterm was already finished? No professor in his or her right mind would introduce new material the day before a university break. My last class that day was the local history class. The class only met once a week, Wednesdays from 1:50-4:30. It was a long class, but I liked only having to go to it once a week. Once the professor got us settled in, he started class like normal. He told us, though, that since it was so close to fall break and Halloween, he was going to be that cheesy professor who did one lesson on ~creepy~ local history. We had an exam scheduled for the Wednesday prior to Halloween, so this seemed like the best time to do a “throw-away” lecture of sorts.

He started going on about war cemeteries, the old county hospital that burned down with no known cause, and then about how terrified the college town was when a serial killer was on the loose for about 3 months in the 80s. They caught they guy and threw him in prison for the rest of his life. I thought the professor was going to wrap up his lecture and let us go early (I mean why wouldn’t he? It’s literally one hour before the university closes for a long weekend). Instead, he started into one last ~creepy~ history story about a riverfront town about two hours away. I began to think to myself “There’s no way he can be talking about my town. I would have heard of something by now, surely. I’ve lived there my whole life.” About half a second after I thought that to myself, he projected a decaying, orange-ish image of the hotel I had called my home for my entire life.

While I was a little bewildered, I kept quiet. I wanted to hear what he had to say. There was no way anything ~creepy~ happened in the hotel at any point in time, especially not while I was living there. Even if it did happen a long time ago, how could I have never heard about it?

“This hotel was the center of the city for a solid 60 years in the city. People would travel hours by train and eventually automobiles to have a stay in the hotel. Industrial executives would host lavish parties in the hotel’s ballroom, and they were the most exclusive parties in the city. Everybody who was somebody would be at that party. Business deals, fine dining, and everything in between went on at this parties,” the professor started.

None of this was anything I hadn’t already heard. Get on with it, professor. What could you possibly know that I don’t?

“When the town started to decline, the hotel went with it.”

Right.

“Around the mid 80s, the hotel was all but closed. It did eventually close in the early 90s, but not before fighting, well maybe “struggling” is a better word, for a few last years—“

Okay everybody knew that, get on with it.

“—but the start of the end was around 1987.”

I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for him to go on about what happened in 1987. Nobody had ever told me anything about something happening in 1987. My heart rate started to pick up, and my palms were a little sweaty. I had no reason to freak out (yet), but I still was. What could this guy know that I didn’t? I lived there.

“In the summer of 1987, there was a tragic accident. People still don’t completely know what happened, and the staff can’t answer because nobody else was around when it happened. What you have to understand was this area was really shady in the 1980s. Nobody wanted to be in the town, many people in the town started to leave, and the people who wanted to leave but couldn’t for whatever reason hated being there too and were pretty vocal about it. The jobs were gone, the housing market was falling apart, and there was literally nothing left to enjoy about the river, which had long been polluted by the industrial factories when they closed up shop and dumped everything they had.

So during the middle of the day in the summer of 1987, all we know for sure is that there was a loud slamming noise, like a door that got pulled shut by a body builder who had no care for making noise, the shattering of the glass pane in the door, and then a crash at the stair landing in the lobby.

Nobody knew where the slam, shatter, and crash came from. They just assumed a window on the first floor had fallen out, or maybe someone dropped a piece of furniture. When the front desk worker went towards the crashing noise to investigate, all he saw was a wrench lying on the ground. He could hear a faint * drip, drip, drip * and as he got closer, he saw red drops falling down onto the otherwise unblemished white marble floor. He looked up and saw the viscous, dark red liquid lightly cascading down the gaps between the black hand-rails that lead all the way up to the 18th floor.

Assuming what anyone else would assume, he made his way up the 18 flights of stairs to see what could be bleeding at the top. They had had drug addicts overdose in the rooms before, but nobody had ever done it in public. Regardless, this person was probably already dead, and he or she was not the first and probably wasn’t the last to die in the hotel anyways.

When the hotel worker got to the top, he was shocked at what he saw: nothing but a puddle of blood. The window pane in the door was missing, but there was no shattered glass like they had heard. The door had definitely been slammed because the wooden doorframe had splintered into sharp wooden spears near the doorknob where the frame was hit with a majority of the force.  Most astonishingly, there was no body or trail of blood. Just the puddle and the little bit that was slightly falling down the staircase.”

Okay, weird, but obviously someone had done something shady and somehow cleaned it up before anyone could make it up the 18 flights of stairs. Who knows what people were doing up there, especially in that time of the hotel’s history.

“But the story continues. The hotel worker opened the now nearly broken door, and peered down the hallway. There was still no blood trail or broken glass, but as the clerk stepped into the dimly lit hallway, he heard and saw a door quietly close just a few feet away. Room 1818. He ran up to the door, and knocked hard—so hard the heavy door shook as he pounded his fist onto the sturdy wood. He yelled for the occupant to open up, but to no avail. Deciding it was better to figure out where the hell the blood had come from than to get a complaint for coming into a room he knows someone just re-entered, he opened the door.”

I was on the edge of my seat. This was all brand new information to me. So either this guy was full of it, or someone had done a great job at keeping a secret story from me.

“Now this is where the facts get fuzzy, because nobody believed the guy. The clerk said that he opened the door and found the occupant. It was a tall, young, lanky man wearing dark clothing. At least 6’5”, maybe 150 pounds, mid-20s, soft-looking, pale skin, and the longest, frail looking fingers you can imagine. The clerk said it was as narrow but also as crooked as a black widow spider’s leg. The man’s irises were so dark, then when contrasted with the white of his eyes, it just looked like two holes occupying space on his eyes. The clerk continued that the man looked up, made solid eye contact, and turned a slow grin. The clerk reported that his teeth looked as sharp as blades, and as off-yellow as dried tobacco residue. As soon as he lifted his grin, the clerk said the man threw himself out the window. The clerk ran to the window, expecting to see the worst, but instead he saw nothing. No blood, no clothes, no body, nothing except the shattered glass glistening in the summer’s day sunlight as it sprinkled down onto the sidewalk.”

At this point, my heart was racing even more. I had a feeling in my stomach like I had swallowed 90 pounds of lead. I really wanted my professor to start laughing and say happy Halloween. I wanted him to have somehow known that I lived there. I had never mentioned it before in class, and that made me feel worse. But I still had some hope that my professor was just playing a prank. He had to be.

“Obviously by this point in time, police had arrived as well as the ambulances and firetrucks. An investigation was started, but they closed the case with no conclusive evidence. Even though the clerk insisted he was sober, the investigators decided he had to have been hallucinating the whole thing. They couldn’t explain the glass other than it had already been broken and cleaned up, and something that sounded like glass had broken in the area, so the clerk assumed that someone had broken and cleaned up the door at the same time. The door had been slammed, probably by some junkie who expected it to be a lot heavier, and he somehow managed to cut his hand when the door closed on it. He ran back to his room before the clerk could get there, and then stayed there because he didn’t want to get arrested for possession. Like I said, some shady people were staying there at the time. Everyone believed the story and moved on. Every now and then, some conspiracy theorist will come along and suggest otherwise, but the town has moved on. Some young couple bought the place in the early 90s and turned it into high income housing. Clearly no jagged toothed man is hiding out in there anymore!”

At this point, I felt sick. My palms were past the point of being clammy. Chills ran up and down my body, almost like I was in between two rollers, and some invisible force was moving the rollers up and down. I couldn’t stop them. The feeling in my stomach had only gotten worse. I needed to leave. I needed to talk to my parents, immediately about this. Surely they had to have known about this, right?

The professor dismissed the class, told us to have a good break, and I sprinted out of the room. I was going straight home, having a discussion with my parents, and getting to the bottom of this story. Someone, somewhere along the way had to have told them about it. I ran to my already packed Prius, pushed the button to bring the silent engine to life, and started the two hour, anxiety filled drive home.

 

I pulled into the freshly paved parking lot and stared up at the building. The skylights on top of the building made the gargoyles seem even more ominous in the early evening sky, but still weirdly protective. I unpacked my car and carried everything up through the front elevator. The door to the top floor condo unlocked with a click, and I was greeted with the familiar smell of incense burning in the living room and the familiar sound of the radio playing softly in the kitchen. I called for my parents.

“Mom, dad? Are you guys home?”

“In the study!” My mom replied.

I dropped off my luggage and bag in my bedroom off to the side of the long hallway leading into the study. I continued down the dark grey hallway. The radio progressively got louder as I got closer, and it began to drown out of the soft thud of my feet against the hardwood floor. I approached the door to the study and peered in. My mom was reading and my dad was on his computer, researching local properties he could buy and flip for profit.

“How was the drive in?” My dad asked.

“Fine. Uneventful. About as exciting as the drive home can be,” I responded.

“How did your mid-terms go? Any problems?” My mom asked.

“They went well. I’m not worried about them,” and I continued before they could ask another question, “I did hear something interesting about this building though. In my local history class. It was about something that happened right before the hotel closed. How much did they tell you about the history of the building?”

My dad stopped his work at the computer and my mom looked up from her book and started to ask, “Nothing that really struck us as odd. A few drug overdoses and some other small crimes, but nothing crazy. Why?”

“Well my professor told us this story about something that happened on this floor. Apparently, there was a shattering noise, a crash, and blood that spilled down the stairwell of the freight elevator corridor. The clerk ran up the stairs, and found nothing but a puddle of blood on the ground and door frame shattered. Then he heard one of the doors close a little farther down the hallway. He ran to the door and opened it and just saw a man standing there. He had sharp teeth and was really tall and lanky. Then apparently the man just smiled and threw himself out the window. The clerk ran to the window, expecting to see the man dead on the ground, but there was nothing there. No body, no blood. Just glass falling down onto the sidewalk below.”

My parents both stared at me.

“You sure are paying a lot of money for someone to tell you made up stories as fact. Don’t you think we would have heard that story by now if it was true? I mean honestly you’ve lived here your whole life, and we’ve lived here for a quarter of our lives. We would have heard that by now. Besides, I just had the freight elevator serviced today by the same man who has been servicing it since before we bought the building. He would have said something by now, I’m sure,” my dad replied.

He wasn’t mad or anything. He didn’t seem to be hiding any facts. He just seemed genuinely confused about my story. They both had relatively blank looks on their faces. It wasn’t that they were in disbelief, more so confused. After all, they were right. They had owned the building for a long time. If they hadn’t heard a story like that by now, then it probably didn’t happen. But I wasn’t so sure.

“Do you still have the original blueprints of the building from when before you renovated it? I know you don’t believe it, but I’m curious to see how close my professor was with his story.”

“Yeah I think they’re in the front closet. Probably still in a tube. I don’t think we’ve opened them since we moved.”

I thanked them and left back to the front of the condo. My parents’ place was definitely bigger than everyone else’s in the building. Instead of knocking down some walls of old hotel rooms and joining them together, my parents also joined two sides of the hallway and turned it into one. Since they took up so many of the empty hotel rooms for their own, they decided not to renovate the rest of the floor. It wasn’t worth making one or two smaller ones when theirs was so large. So they left the rest of the 18th floor virtually untouched. A few structural renovations here and there, but for the most part, the hotel rooms remained exactly the same.

I unrolled the blueprints on the kitchen table and turned on the overhead chandelier light. The blueprints were a little faded, and the dusted had layered over the years, but it was still legible. I flipped to the last page—the plans for the 18th floor. My parents had renovated the East end of the floor for their own use, Rooms 1800-1810. I quickly looked to the other end of the page and saw the rooms went up to 1820. What room did the professor say it happened in? 1817? 1818? 1819? I knew it was somewhere up there. Curiosity got the best of me—I needed to go see. Even if I couldn’t remember the room number, part of me felt that I would just know when I found it.

I went back to put the blueprints away.  Hanging on the wall in the closet was the keys to all the hotel rooms on the floor. My parents used to hang them here when I was younger because they were out of reach. Obviously as I got older, it was less of a concern that I’d hurt myself exploring, or maybe they just forgot. Who knows? Either way, I grabbed the keys for the rooms on the opposite end of the building and yelled to my parents that I’d be back later. A soft “okay” came from the other end of the hallway, so I knew they heard me. The door closed with a quiet click, and I briskly walked to the other side of the building.

I came up to room 1817 and tried the key. Surprisingly, the lock turned with ease and the door swung open. The room was underwhelming—noting out of the ordinary. The old windows looked battered from years of weather, and the glass was starting to fog over from being left untreated for so long. Dust was everywhere—probably inches of it in some undisturbed parts of the room. The old king size bed in the middle of the room was left unmade. I guess whomever had been in charge of cleaning the rooms kind of gave up when they realized the hotel was closing. It clearly hadn’t been touched in years outside of the few square feet we used for storage every now and then. I never understood why my parents didn’t at least try to tidy these rooms up. We did still live here, after all, and I would prefer our Christmas decorations don’t smell like moth balls when we take them out every year.

Nevertheless, I decided this room was too lackluster. Room 1817 was not it. I closed the door, and had to give it an extra tug as it had gotten jammed against the floor somehow. It closed with a slight slam, and I turned the key to the left and locked the door back up.

Onto Room 1818, or at least what I assumed was room 1818. The numbers on this door has been taken off for some reason. I could see a faint outline of where the numbers used to be screwed onto the door. If it looked at it in the right light, I could still see the first “18,” but the second set had faded away. I found the matching key and struggled to get it in. After fidgeting with it a few times, I finally got the key to slide into the lock. Now I had to somehow turn it.

Locks are weird sometimes in that you can use all the force in the world to try and turn the key, and it won’t budge. Seconds later, you can barely apply any pressure and the lock opens as easily and as gracefully as a well oiled machine. This was definitely the case with this room. In fact, I was sure I had been using the wrong key on the door; I tried to change out the keys, but after I had cycled through and realized I used all the ones I had grabbed off the wall, I tried again with the original key marked “1818.” The lock phenomenon, that’s what I decided to call it, happened and with little effort at all, the lock clicked open. The door, however, was not that simple. It seemed as if since the door had been untouched for so long, it had become sealed to the frame. The knob was definitely turning, and I could hear the bolt moving back and forth as I turned the knob, but the door wasn’t budging. I threw all my weight into the door, and that was more than enough because I almost fell to the floor as the door sprung open, bringing a few paint chips with it from the door and door frame.

I regained my balance and repositioned myself. After shaking off some of the dust that had also fallen on me, I looked into the shadowy room as a feeling of dread came over me. I couldn’t explain why, but I also thought to myself that this had to be the one. This was the feeling I knew would come. I turned around towards the only illumination, which came from the soft white glow of the overhead bulb a few yards away. I stopped myself though, and reminded myself I was here to disprove my professor, or at least get some sort of closure. I couldn’t just leave now. I got out my phone and turned on the flashlight. This room was different from the other one. From what I could see, it hadn’t been nearly as dusty as the other one. There was still some dust on different parts of the room, but for the most part, it looked as if it had been somewhat maintained.

“That’s odd,” I said out loud, to nobody in particular. “How can this room be so clean, but the door was sealed shut almost?”

As I wandered around and continued to think aloud, I realized another unique aspect of the room: the window had been blacked out with what looked like paint, and then it looked like someone had tried to nail it shut. Someone had also tried to paint the walls black, but it looked like they ran out of pain a quarter of the way through the first wall and just gave up after that.

I turned around and peered through all the furniture. Why was everything black? None of the other empty rooms looked like this, from what I could remember before they were renovated. And the room next door definitely didn’t look like this.

As I thought to myself more and more about what could be going on, the door slammed shut by itself. So hard it almost sounded like the frame broke a little with it. I could hear pieces of the old wood still splintering after the fact. The room was dead silent. I began to panic as I heard a rustle right behind me. And almost as quickly as I heard the rustle, the room was illuminated with bright white light. I don’t know where it was coming from, it was just there.

On the walls, I could see more attempts at painting, all unsuccessful. It never seemed like whoever was trying to paint could never finish the job. As my brain was processing information at a mile a minute, I turned around to look at the rest of the room and dropped my phone in shock when I saw what was behind me.

Standing there in the middle of the room was a man. A man in his mid 20s, wearing all black from head to toe. He was tall, lean, and very lanky. His hair was disheveled. His skin was so pale white that it was almost blinding in the light. The man’s irises were so dark, then when contrasted with the white of his eyes, it just looked like two holes occupying space on his eyes. He began to turn up a slow grin, revealing sharp, pale yellow looking teeth. The sharpest teeth I had ever seen. As his smile grew, he lifted up one of his hands to his face. He closed his snow white hand into a fist with the exception of his index finger—as long and as jagged as a black widow spider’s leg. He pressed his narrow finger to his lips and crept towards one of the walls.

As he moved towards the wall, I realized it was not paint on the walls. It was dried blood. In a quick panic, I turned to look at the window and confirm my fear—it was not paint either, it was dried blood. All the black in this room was not paint—it was dried blood.

My heart started to race. I could feel sweat developing on on my forehead. I wanted to run, but my legs felt as heavy as bricks but as light as feathers. I couldn’t make them work. I stood there, petrified and paralyzed in fear. I tried to yell for help, but nothing came out. The room was dead silent, so silent that I was sure you could hear my heart beating against my chest at a rate well higher than normal.

The man never stopped staring at me. Once I had made the startling revelation that the walls were covered in blood, not paint, I couldn’t break my gaze from the man either. We both stood there in silence, staring at each other, I confused and terrified by him, and him still smiling and telling me to remain silent.

Eventually, he began to move. Slowly at first, and then he was sprinting towards me, full force. I braced myself for impact, but just as he was about to run into me, the room went pitch black again. The door swung open, the soft hallway light flooded into the pitch black room, and suddenly my legs worked again.

I sprinted out into the hallway and the door slammed behind me. I was so shocked about what had just happened that I stayed sprawled out on the hallway floor. In the distance, I heard my parents open the door to their unit. I quickly got up and hurried over to them before they realized what had gone on.

“Oh we were just leaving for dinner. I think we are going to get Italian for dinner, do you want to come?” Mom asked me.

“No, I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll just stay in tonight, maybe go to bed early. Don’t feel obligated to rush home for me,” I replied.

“Okay that’s fine. See you later. Love you.”

“Love you too,” I replied.

I closed the door behind me and slid the lock into place, listening for the familiar “click” that always makes us feel safe. I stared at the wall ahead of me, trying to figure out what had just happened. Did I make it up? Did I hallucinate it? Was it real?

I was overwhelmed with thoughts. I stumbled to my room and decided that Netflix might help me calm down a little and get my head on straight. I turned on The Batman cartoon series and let it play in the background. I still couldn’t focus on what was going on around me.

I walked to my bathroom to get some water, and when I turned on the light, my heart dropped into my stomach.

Written my mirror in (what I’m hoping really is) black paint was the phrase, “just knock” with a small “x” underneath it. It was written hastily, and there was black paint splatter all over the sink and mirror. I quickly grabbed some windex and paper towels and began scrubbing until the white paper towel was midnight black, and the mirror was as clear as it had been the day we brought it home from the store.

I went back to my room, drank some water, and decided I would try to make myself sleep. I don’t know how, but at some point, I finally did drift off. I awoke in a cold sweat, not aware I had even fallen asleep, knowing I hadn’t dreamt anything. All I could remember was darkness. I looked over at my clock. It read “3:18 AM.” I got up to get some water again. I stopped by my parents’ master bedroom on the way there and saw they had returned and were already well asleep. I had some regret about not going with them. Maybe I’ll ask them to go to lunch or something tomorrow.

I came back to my room and drifted back off to sleep. I started to dream something this time. It was me, watching myself shuffle down the hallway of the 18th floor. I was expressionless, staring straight ahead. I didn’t know where my body was going, but my body did seem to know where it was going.  My body stopped in front of room 1818. I was trying to tell my body to stop—go back to our parents’ unit and get back in bed. It was all a legend and I had imagined it all. I tried to tell my body I just was tired from the day and stress of college—I had to have made it all up.

Regardless, my body continued to stare, and I watched as I aimlessly raised my right arm. I formed a fist. And I knocked.

I awoke for the second time that night, but this time it wasn’t random. I awoke and there I was, standing in front of room 1818, fist up against the door. The feeling on my knuckle told me that I really had knocked. I began to panic, but once again, my legs were as heavy as bricks and as light as feathers.

I took a sharp breath as I watched the doorknob turn. The heavy white door creaked open, and even with the light of the hallway, the room was still black as death. I locked a gaze with his black hole eyes. He raised his snow-white hand into a fist and extended his narrow index finger and put it up against his lips as he slowly raised a grin to reveal his yellow, jagged teeth. He extended his pale arm, and unfurled his long, spider-leg like fingers, offering me his hand. I accepted his offer, as if he was an old friend. He led me into the room. Once we were wholly enveloped by the darkness, the heavy door slammed shut, the knob turned, and the last thing I heard was the click of a lock, except this time, the click didn’t make me feel safe. In fact, I didn’t feel anything except the whoosh of the air around me as the man pulled me towards the blacked-out window. We crashed through it, and the glass showered around us as we plunged towards the ground.

I’m sad because the last thing I will remember before dying isn’t when I told my parent’s I loved them. The last thing I will remember is the man’s black-hole eyes, as he stared into mine, and his evil, yellow, sharp-toothed grin, still smiling, even as we hit the ground.

D. Stevens

 

D. Stevens is a graduate student currently living in Kentucky. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and decided to write this story to cross an item off his bucket list. He spends his free time watching Netflix and looking at pictures of dogs because he isn’t allowed to have dogs in his apartment building. Sad!