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Before looking back, I just listen. That noise stops me in my tracks. At the bottom of the dimly lit stairs, I hear breathing. Raspy, raw, guttural, breathing. But I don’t look back. Like every other night, I stay awake the next few hours with my bedroom door locked. Sometimes I swear I hear that doorknob creaking and attempting to turn. As the lock catches and stops the motion I always wait for the next two taps. Like two talons half tapping, half scraping along my wooden door. Like an echoing call waiting to be answered, but I never do. My heartbeat alone will hold me through the night. I keep myself stuck there in that room, always waiting for the day it decides to come in. The day two taps aren't enough. The day I forget to lock the door. The day I give in and wait for it to approach my room and come in and take me. But I never do. Every day I walk outside onto my patio and find my comfortable chair. I sleep and rest outside in the daylight for fear of becoming a target in my sleep. I shelter myself in the safest place I know at night because no matter where I go I feel its eyes on me. Sometimes I walk home at sunset and feel those shadows chasing me home, knowing they won’t catch me in the light of day I run inside. I feel always ready to deny the outside world. Every dark corner, every alley, the non-lit seats at the back of the bus. Every moment near that abyss is a cold hell calling to me, waiting to sink its teeth into me. The fear gripping my very life has driven everyone I know away from me. Instead of fearing the evil itself they are ashamed of what I've become. They’ve begged and pleaded for me to change and accept things the way they see them. The dark house's no creature, the light is no friend. Everything that’s real is real. But the only reality for me is that fear no one else knows. The fear I've known since I was young. I can’t remember a time that it wasn’t there, watching me from afar at first. At the time, I was too small to understand what it was or what it wanted. It took shape slowly, growing as I did. At first, I did not even fear it. It was simply an observer, always staring at me like I was an animal at the zoo that had peaked its interest. Eventually, though things changed. I felt different about it then, what was once a fly on the wall became something that seemed to feed off me. The first time I noticed its evil I was only 12 years old. In my house is where it liked me best, it followed me around creeping into every facet of my life. Those doors always seemed to be ajar in the night. I could see its shape out of my peripherals, only when no one was around. In my mirror or right next to me, empty eyes and emotionless face. Meanwhile, in the quiet it created, the murmuring came. Whispering at me endlessly, as intelligible as it was I felt it questioning me and mocking me. Forcing my mind into the deepest recesses of the human psyche. My eyes flashing images of everything I'd ever done wrong. That Thing. It made me lose myself. *BREAKING NEWS* "Today local law enforcement found a forty-eight-year-old male dead in his home after neighbors became curious due to vile odor coming from the house. Thirty-two-year-old James Bailey had this to say, "….Yeah, I got worried after mine and a couple other guy's dogs started making a huge scene at this guy's house. He's mostly a loner and I only ever saw him sleeping outside in the middle of the day. Anyway, I come home and found my dog and three other dog's literally scratching this guy's windows and howling like I've never heard before. My pup here is the sweetest beagle you could know, but he was going absolutely crazy. He was in a full panic when I got to him, it was almost a screeching type of bark coming from him and that’s when the smell hit me. If you could combine hot compost and dead animal this would be it. I started knocking on his door to see what was up, and that’s when one of the other owners comes up to tell me he saw somebody moving around in there. That was when I called the cops and told them what happened." Once authorities arrived they questioned the surrounding neighbors eventually coming upon the house. After information was taken the door was broken down and police entered the home. They found no other person but the forty-eight-year-old there dead. He had apparently died four days before from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Evidence suggests this, although police are still looking for further evidence to a possible homicide due to eye witness reports. We will stay informed and alert you to any more findings, until then back to you anchors". "HONEYYYY, have you been watching the news?" Sighing under my breath I answer back to her that I indeed had. Though they didn’t mention a name or an address I was almost certain it was my uncle. I asked her what she thought about the whole thing. "Well dear I um, well let's just not assume that’s it is him." I had called him three times this morning but he hadn't answered. This was so unlike him that I knew something was wrong. For the past few days, I'd also had this...feeling. It was like a guttural chill inside me like I was sick but I wasn’t. We were close him and me, and he always answered my calls. The only time he hadn’t was when he made his speedy getaway in the night. He used to stay with us but one night just left like he was being chased down. We thought he might've been in trouble with the law. He certainly was no stranger to that. He used to have a bad habit of wandering around at night, loitering around gas stations, motels, any place conveniently filled with people who didn’t want him. Police were always called as he would murmur things under his breath and frighten anyone near him. That was when he moved in with us. When I was little I'd occasionally sneak into his room at night and he'd tell me stories and indulge in my avid imagination. My mom always said we had that one thing in common. But he also was scary at times, his actions were always erratic and paranoid. Some nights he wouldn’t let me in his room saying "the boogie man is under my bed right now dear. But don’t worry, I'll keep him here and make sure you're safe". Id giggles and skip off laughing, but he'd only smile. He always had that same sad smile on his face, looking ragged and tired all throughout the day. That is when he wasn’t sleeping. When he left and I got older we met less and less. He'd always answer my calls but year by year he'd sleep longer and longer. He always sounded like a wounded soldier, coming home from war. Somehow even more broken and defeated. Which was strange to me. He hardly ever even left his house. I'd only been there once after my mom encouraged me to go surprise him alongside herself. We both noticed a strangeness about the place. Dark, for one thing. He was sleeping outside as well, While inside the whole house was left dark. We woke him up so he could give us a tour. Our unexpected arrival seemed to bother him. Not in a privacy way, he griped to my mom about always telling him before we just show up out of the blue. As he said this he quickly told us to stay outside as he had to "clean up" first. He finished quickly enough so we didn’t think much of it. Maybe he had a little pot laying around, maybe he just wanted to spruce up before we invaded his home. But we weren't ready for the hollowness inside. He had no furniture inside and his explanation was that he just hadn't had the money when he moved in. But we had offered him some furniture which he denied he needed. He seemed really uncomfortable just being inside, he had run around the entire place turning on each individual light. I would've asked him about it but before we knew it he had already rushed us outside. The one place he did seem happy was here on his back porch, he had a tiny fridge along with some potted plants and the old patio chairs my mom had forced on him. Out here he had sat down and offered both of us a drink, he seemed a lot less tense and even told us about a book he had been writing. He seemed shyly optimistic and the difference showed in his face. My mom went on telling him about how the family was doing and saying how proud she was of the progress that he'd made. As we were leaving he finally admitted that he was glad we had come, saying that not much disturbed his day to day life, but that we had made his day. I told him that we'd come back soon. With a smile and tenseness in his voice, he said "Please just make sure to call first. Just so I can get myself and the house ready." As we began pulling away from the house he started going back inside, he turned back to wave. As I yelled goodbye I saw a shiver run down him and the color drain from his face, I swore I saw something move behind him at that moment. But then he just walked back inside. Maybe he had a dog or something in there. Whatever the case was, from that moment I knew something was wrong. But I had my own life, and he was a grown man. He could handle himself and if he needed help he'd ask. Not long after, my mom and I got the call to come look at the body and confirm whether it was Uncle. My mom cried for hours not even being able to drive herself home. We stayed there in the morgue's office until I eventually had to drive us home and inform the rest of our family what happened. It was so surreal to me, I always had a lingering thought that he could do it. But I always hoped that my calls and moms support would get him through the hard times. We all began blaming ourselves and wondering if we could've done more. Wondering why he didn’t talk to anyone and why he didn’t at least have the courage to say goodbye. I sickened myself but more than anything I was mad. I loved him and was one of the closest people to him at one point, I felt like he had no right to do this. He had been like a father to me in most ways. He was my family and he knew mom and I would always be there for him no matter what. I kept asking myself these questions over and over, nothing came of it and all I was left with were more of the unanswerable questions. Over the next few days, it began sinking in and the loss was felt among the whole family. We all began talking about the funeral arrangements and how everything would be put together. A lot of my family sadly has a history of drug abuse but even they called and told us they'd be there and gave us their condolences. At the time it meant very little, their issues in the past we what separated us as a whole family. They couldn’t clean themselves up like Uncle did and never called for anything except when they needed money or were on the street. But mom told me to set my anger aside and welcome them at the funeral. Uncle would've liked the idea of us being back together again, even under such bad circumstances. Eventually, the day came to go to the funeral home. The ceremony was beautiful, most of the family spoke and told stories about him and how much of a good person he'd been. No matter what was happening he'd always have nothing but good things to say about everyone, always trying to cheer others up. This fell hard on a lot of us as we realized just how caring and genuine he'd been to us, and despite this, we never knew how far he had sunken into his depression. There was a lot of crying and sunken faces, I had to excuse myself numerous times. The fact that I would never talk to or see him again was hitting me as every person in the room came up to give condolences. They knew we were close and that I had probably known him as much as anyone ever could. Finally, it ended. He had been cremated which had been his wish. We took his ashes home and found a nice spot to put them over the fire next to a picture of him. Just looking at it made me burst into tears again and again. It was like I had lost a piece of myself, a piece that I'd never gets back. What upset me the most was nobody seemed to know how this had happened. He had gotten his own house, was starting a new life, making progress on his book. We all thought this would be the most beautiful time in his life. But nobody noticed how low he had sunk, and he never told anybody what he'd been going through. The police said they had looked everywhere and had found no note or any trace of a message left behind. They said he had apparently been late with his bills and payments and had overcharged his credit cards in the last few months on food and other basic household things. When the neighbors spoke to them they realized that he apparently had no friends in the surrounding houses and seldom came out except to sleep, get mail, and take out the trash. His car hadn't even been driven in a good while. Cobwebs and dust had taken over the entirety of the garage. When they started talking about going over his will he had apparently left the house to me. He had paid it off entirely on the sale of his last book, and although it was small and had no furnishings I still felt better knowing his last thoughts were of me. Mom told me she'd take me down there soon to take a look at it. She didn’t want me moving in there until she was sure it was safe and didn’t have any issues, I start college in the fall and needed a place to stay anyway. The house was only a six-mile drive from the school and a had many local businesses where I could find work. The thought of being in the same house he died in a kind of scared me though. But at the same time, I still felt so disconnected from him since he passed. Maybe that house will give me the answers he didn’t want or couldn’t give me before he left. My mom thinks it’s a bad idea to go snooping around, she knew him well and was paranoid I'd find myself in a tough spot if he happened to be involved with drugs or worse. Though the coroner never mentioned any of that at autopsy. I need to know what happened and this is the only way. Eventually, I did go to the house, just to investigate and see if this was a place I was emotionally ready to live in. The doors were all locked and the front door had a giant padlock on it. But Uncle had given me the key to his house a long time ago so I decided to sneak through the back door. The whole house was black and they apparently had turned off all the breakers because none of the light switches worked. With no flashlight, I decided to use my dim cell phone screen light to rummage around and see what I could find. Going through the hallways was so strange, the few pictures he had up were taken down and boxes lined the floors of all the rooms. The smell of bleach of cleaner was in the air, I didn’t understand at first until I realized they must've had to clean his room. After he shot himself. I wish I hadn't thought through this because the bleach mixed with bad memories was making my stomach turn. I decided to avoid his room as I looked around the house. But it was so eerie. I kept hearing things outside and the house creaked with every step I took. My footsteps fell on the hardwood floor and made every inch of space boom with noise. It's an odd feeling knowing that nobody is with you in an empty house, I didn’t know anybody in the neighborhood and my phone battery started fading from keeping the screen lit. It reminded me too much of a doctor’s office, smelling clean and sterile but also hostile to everyone in the room. There was a presence to it that I can’t describe, recalling walking through these rooms with him and almost hearing his voice in this empty, dark house. It was comforting but also disconcerting. Sometimes I swear I could feel him there with me. Walking next to me and guiding me. I decided to head downstairs to see more. But I was worried, I had the hair on my neck stand up and my legs started to shake. I felt the blood drain from my face and sink to my toes. I could hear someone speaking. Quietly like they were in conversation, it came from no specific direction but I knew it was there. I began exiting the room I was in, keeping quiet. "There nobody here" I kept repeating to myself. But the paranoia set my heart racing against my chest. My lungs kept filling and emptying rapidly as I started getting dizzy. Maybe the bleach smell was affecting me too much and my anxiety was causing me to panic, hear things. My eyes were burning now as the smell in the house filled me with sickness. I’d never had this kind of adverse reaction but I knew that if I wasn’t careful I would be sick all over the floor, so I had to get moving. Nobody’s even supposed to know I’ve been here. I half run, half fall stumble up every step racing to get to the back door. As I reach the door I stop dead in my tracks, I hear stepping coming from behind me. Tiny thumps on the floor followed by the sounds of dripping water. I turn my neck and look over my shoulder, I don’t see anything in the darkness. With my cell phone dead, I stand and wait to see where the noise is coming from. Slowly I see a small figure sliding and stepping towards me in the dark. To my relief, I see that it’s just a dog. I kneel to pet it but stop, he’s so old. His eyes have cataracts that reflect in the moonlight, his mouth hanging open with saliva dripping down onto the floor in pools. “Hey buddy, what’re you doing here, are you hurt?”. He might be sick so I don’t try to pet him, I decide to leave the door open in case he decides to leave behind me. But as I stand to go I realize he’s not looking at me, but at something behind me. I turn to see what’s got his attention but there’s nothing there. Just more empty space in the house. I try softly nudging him to the door with my foot, but at every light touch he whimpers softly and sits there. Still looking off into the distance. I hate leaving him here alone but I have no choice. With the door left ajar for him to eventually go, I slip out of the house and feel the cold air and moonlight on my face. I feel infinitely better being out of the house and away from the smell. I think to myself how empty it is, and how sad its walls feel now. This is the only thing connecting me to Uncle, even if it’s somewhat in shambles. I decide to talk t mom in the morning about fixing it up and eventually moving in. I think it’d be perfect for me. I will find out some things about uncle, and myself here. After more than a handful of conversations with my mother about the safety of the house and lots of pestering, she finally decided to come with me to see I’d be able to handle it. We had to wait for some time, however, apparently, the dog I’d seen there on my last visit was found dead inside the house. After more reports of a horrible smell coming from the house, the police were again called in to see what had happened. No one had seen the dog before, but he had at one time been uncles. They found a raggedy collar with the name Wallace around the dog’s neck, somewhat entangled in his dirty fur. They found him inside Uncle’s bedroom, lying in the same corner he had shot himself. They suspected that the dog had been living with him for a while as he had been nowhere to be found when the police searched the house. They also suspected he had snuck back in as the back door had been left ajar. I knew this was impossible because I had closed the door behind me when I first got to the house and only left it open for him to leave when I was. My mom told me that uncle had never even liked dogs. But when she heard the news she got emotional, I think she was just happy that something had been there with him when he went, that he wasn’t alone. We decided we’d bury him in the backyard of the house since he had been an important thing to uncle we wanted to give his death some meaning. When the police told us about Wallace’s death one of the officers mentioned something I hadn’t known. “It’s strange because when dogs know they’re dying they often run off to die alone in peace, it’s their pack mentality to remove themselves from their home so as not to slow down people or things they care about”. In my mind, I remembered the last time I’d seen Wallace and reminded myself of when he just sat there staring off into space. Knowing he was dying but choosing not to leave, my hope was that maybe he just wanted to spend the last moments he had been near where my uncle had passed. After this newest death in the house, my mother was even more set against me living here in “the most depressing place you could choose”. She still knew how badly I wanted this though, so she eventually broke and we began the process of organizing the house and preparing it to be moved back into. Time passed and we eventually got the house fixed up a bit, had changed the locks, and gotten a few pieces of furniture in. This was beginning to become one of the most challenging times in my life though. I had put off completely moving in for weeks as I had no roommate to stay there with. Although I had a growing love for that house I still had never been truly alone like this, all my friends were leaving for college as well and nobody in the neighborhood knew me. Many came by and said they were so sorry for what happened to my uncle, and that they were looking forward to me joining the neighborhood. This was just a charade of community however as nobody ever stopped by more than once, to them I was just the relative of a sick disturbed man living in a dead haunted house. That was fine, I had to do this for myself first and foremost. Even if I ended up alienated by some of my so-called friends, I would find the answers I need. Despite all this stuff clogging up my brain I managed to help my mom over the next few days putting on the finishing touches to moving. My friends even put on a surprise party to celebrate me moving away, some of them having spent their whole life with me just don’t the street. A lot of them saying that if I needed anything to call them and they’d be right there. This of course only being wishful thinking as most of them were moving away soon if not already. School started soon and I think we were all thankful and excited to start a new stage in our lives. I was less than excited considering how recently I’d lost someone, but at the same time, I needed something to distract myself from some of the pain. I’d always been able to bury myself in my school work if I had ever gotten myself down. As a result, I had always lingered in the top percentage of my class, my senior year being my best as I was Valedictorian. My uncle’s loss at the time had given me a reason to push myself headfirst into school and was most likely the reason I ended up on top. Even most of my college acceptance letters resulted from papers I'd written following Uncle’s funeral. And as the days closed in I realized nice it would be to get out of my funk and begin attending classes, making new friends, and going to work. I wouldn’t have much time at home but that was well worth it. With my mind wandering objective to the objective I’ll be the most productive I’ve been in a long time. Besides tomorrow I’m moving into Uncle’s. The school is the next day so everything should be going to plan. Mother thinks that I’ll let the place get to me. Towards the latter part of the day following the party, we finally started making headway towards the house. All the while there my mother was giving me advice and reminding me to call her for the first few days to ensure that I wasn’t going to die. She had very little trust in my abilities to run a house by myself, and the house was more than a few miles out of here way so she couldn’t just stop by every day to check on me like she’d probably want to. But all of this anxiety fell away from me as we pulled up to the house, it was like a sense of ease had washed over me. My mom and I carried the last bags I had into the house and she attempted to help me unpack. Amid tears and efforts to let her stay for the first few nights I finally had to kick her out, I had school the next day and had to get my room together before I passed out on the carpeted floor of the bedroom. It was on the main floor and was technically a guest room but the upstairs was where Uncle’s room had been and I was still too emotionally raw to handle that. After he headlights left the front of the house it finally had sunk in that this was now my home and I would be the only running my life from this point on. It was already late so after I got my stuff put away I got ready for bed, I had school the next day and I didn’t want to be late to my first class of the year. I did my rounds of the house and made sure all the windows and doors were locked, I was nervous being in the house by myself and was in this new neighborhood, so it helped me feel somewhat safer. Finally, I went back to my room, put my phone on the charger, and laid my head down in bed for the first time in this house. I surface and feel a strange feeling around me, similar to being weightless. It’s as though I’m drifting in water but without the pressure. Suddenly I feel myself drifting forward but I don’t feel my legs propelling me, I take a moment to scan my surroundings and notice I’m on a bridge. I’m walking alone along the path of the bridge, cars pass by in blurs. My fingers run along the handrail of the path, I glance over to see the water below me. A tiny river meets my eyes, like flowing dark blue concrete. In my peripheral I see something waving. It’s a man, he’s gesturing for me to meet him on the other side of the bridge. As I walk across the busy road the cars breeze by me not making a sound, my hair flying in their direction as they narrowly miss me each time. The closer I get to the man I slowly realize he has no face, he’s just an apparition in clothes. His face you could say was many faces I knew, like an oil painting forever in motion the faces blended features into each other. One cascading over the other, seemingly attempting to come to the surface. I stop in the middle of the road now; his finger raises from his side and he’s pointing at me. Without saying anything he keeps his finger pointed at me as he begins to shake. The shaking slowly turns to a kind of convulsing as the cascading faces change expressions from melancholy to pain. His body transforms into a sobbing, aching, figure. He stops pointing and instead reaches his hand out to me as he goes closer to the edge of the bridge. He rises to sit on the edge of the railing, still reaching out to me. I turn away to avoid seeing what he does next, just as a car comes crashing into me and I wake up. My body lunges forward as sweat drips down my face onto the comforter. I have a uneasy feeling as thought someone were in the room with me, but I didn’t have time to think further on that as I realized my alarm was blaring out the theme for Jaws, signifying I was beyond late. I decided I had no time for breakfast or a shower if I was going to make it to class, so much for being ready for a new life. I slipped on some comfort clothes and decided to forego trying to look presentable today as I raced out of the house. Tripping out the of the house I immediately fell over, dropping my stuff and scraping the entirety of my left arm. I get up and slam the door behind me. With no motivation and highly discouraged I slide into my car and drive the entire way to school in silence trying not to fall asleep at the wheel. I slept through the entire night, yet I’m beyond fatigued. Getting out of the car I feel light headed and dizzy, as I look around trying to find my class a wandering teacher directs me to the right room, all the while explaining how it’s somewhat in-appropriate to show up to class with a hangover. As I tell her it’s just been a bad morning I slink into class just before it officially begins. To the amusement of some of the other girls in the back of room I look around for an empty seat, eventually finding one beside a guy, looking too eager to make room. I sit down and start copying all my notes as the teacher recites them, but I also come to terms with how exhausted I am. What the hell is wrong with me, this shouldn’t be happening I got plenty of sleep, besides that strange dream it was a normal night. “.... um hello?” I glance over and realize he’s talking to me. After apologizing I ask him to repeat what he said. “I was just asking if you were that girl?” I said “that girl? Which one, there are a lot of us you know?” He goes on to say that’s not what he’s saying. “I saw you in the school paper, they circulated a story on the suicide house. So are you that girl?” I quickly turn away and say no that he must be mistaken. Shifting away from me slightly he throws a suspicious look and goes back to reading over his notes. How is it that everyone already knows me as this creepy haunted house girl. This isn’t exactly what I wanted for the start at a new school. As the day went on I got a little more anxious as I realized that everyone was looking at me and whispering in hush tones as I walked by. Nobody else openly asked me who I was but at that point I think the point had been made very clear. This wasn’t going to be easy, and I was going to have to gain a thick skin to combat this year. As the day rolled on I finally left the school to go to work. Back in my element in a place I knew, I figured this is where my day would become easy. Unfortunately, every customer I attempted to help became shot tempered with me on the spot. I can’t necessarily blame them as every time they spoke my mind would be elsewhere. Id acknowledge them speaking and immediately forget what they had initially began saying. Some were understanding as I fumbled through a conversation attempting to still help them, but many complained to my manager. After what seemed like an eternity my shift started coming to a close and my manger pulled me aside to talk about my work ethic. “Listen you’ve been working here for a year now and I’ve hardly had any issues with you as of yet, but today was a shit show. We possibly lost three customers just from having you on the floor “helping” today. I’ll let this one slide, you had your first night at that house yesterday and I now it was more than likely tough. Alongside just starting college your head is rightfully anywhere but here working and I get that. But your next shift better be able to excuse today’s mistakes.” He ended this monologue with a not so subtle hint that the boss does semi-annual drug tests so I should be “ready for that anytime”. Ending possibly the shittiest day I’ve had in a long time, I even had to wait on a co-worker to walk me to my car. Initially I had walked outside but there was a stranger just sitting there in the parking lot. We had closed an hour before, so I apologized and told whoever it was that we’d be open the next day at the normal time. I waited for them to say something but they never did, I chalked it up to him not hearing me. As I was thinking this whoever it was just starting swaying back and forth slowly, still looking in my direction. I went inside to grab my co-worker, I’m sure they were harmless but I didn’t want to take any chances. I asked him to walk me out by the hand and to just make sure I made it to the car safe. But once we stepped outside the stranger was gone, so the entire walk to my car I was told I shouldn’t be inebriated when coming to work, I might see things. But after a day like this I wasn’t in the mood for jokes. But I almost wish I was drugged on something, because I know I’m sober. I know there was someone there. I spent the rest of the ride home listening to a cd of all my mom’s favorite tracks from the 80’s. The thought of the stranger still floating around my head, how their figure somewhat resembled the man in my dream the night before. Maybe the fitful sleep and exhaustion were taking a toll on me. I decided to stop for some fats food, go home, and get to bed early so I could tackle the next day without any issues. Aside from the stress of the day and the bad dream I was feeling good going home until it started getting dark. All the shadows floating around the car as I passed the road going into the neighborhood by mistake. I reminded myself that I needed to get these directions down if I was going to live here. I pulled onto the shoulder and turned around to go home. Finally finding the right stretch of road to get to the house I pull into the driveway. I crawl into the back to grab my bag and set of work clothes I still need to wash. I leave my headlights on until I reach the door to find the lock. That is until I find the door unlocked and slightly ajar. I swear o myself that I remembered shutting it this morning behind me. I figure it’s just my nerves, this day has been strange enough and it’s like me to overlook this kind of thing when I’m in a hurry. Even still, I grab the pepper spray out of my bag as I walk into the house. I settle my clothes and bag down on the kitchen counter as I look around the room. Nothing looks out of order, and the ground is still wet from rain the night before yet there not wet footsteps on the carpet. I decide to do a cautious look around the house to clarify to myself that there’s nobody here. As I step lightly around the house I started wondering how the hell I found myself in such a twisted position. I shouldn’t have to be this scared in my own house. I reminded myself I need to be clear and shut, lock, and double check each door in the morning. I can’t be driving myself up the wall like this every night. Especially looking for something that’s not even there. Running upstairs I check every finally ending with Uncle’s. I haven’t stepped in this room ever since he died, I open the door and step inside. I do a quick once over to make sure there’s nobody hiding in the room. Then I start getting lost in my head as I try to remember his face while looking at his bed and bookshelf. He liked his books more than he liked most people, I walk over and slide my hand over the worn out hardcovers and dusty shelf. These things weren’t stained with blood so here they were. As if nothing ever happened. My mom was probably too scared to touch the last things she had of her brother, and I here too scared to open the last things my uncle cared for. His books and sleeping being the only thing connecting him to any of us anymore. With the tears in my eyes swelling into heavy drops, I open one of the more raggedy novels on his shelf. Opening it up while drops hit the floor. They sound heavier than they should in this empty house. There inside the hard cover of the only book he had authored he wrote two sentences. These sentences addressed to “whoever it concerns”. It said (Eyes flashing images of everything I'd ever done wrong. That Thing. It made me lose myself.) I had no idea what he was saying. This thing who was it and what did it do to him. I was fully breaking down now, chest heaving as I sobbed out onto the floor. I placed the book back on the shelf that way I wouldn’t stain the pages. I kneeled to the floor and cried for a long time. But the longer I did the worse I felt like there was a heavy pressure being laid on me. If the world could’ve been laid on my back I would’ve preferred it to this. I didn’t have enough strength the rise to my knees as I nearly choked on sadness and bubbling snot from the fit I was in. I decide to start shifting down the stairs to get down to my room, no longer concerned with digging around the house I just wanted to lay down and sleep for years and years. Forget about today, the week, the life I’ve lived since I lost Uncle. Without him to talk to I don’t know how to even express how I feel anymore. All of this came to fruition just from opening one of his books. I need to be careful when looking at his stuff, I’ve put myself in a bad position again. I tossed my shoes away as I went to lay in bed, I needed to sleep for a long time after a day like this. I had no school and a short shift at work tomorrow so I could sleep in and get some studying done for the following day. Hopefully, then I’d be able to catch my body up in terms of not being able to function. As I laid my head down on the pillow I thought about Uncle, then I drifted off to sleep no longer crying. I surface into my kitchen in my house, all the walls have turned warped and gray. The room reminded me of a classical film seen through the lenses of a fun house mirror. The walls stretched and bent at the middle creating a spherical shape to the room. I attempted walking to the door of the house but every step resulted in vertigo and my body feeling weighted to the floor. Looking around for a place to go I began panicking as I felt a strong need to leave the house as it wasn’t safe here. Pushing away from the floor I began crawling to the entrance of the house trying to get to the front yard. I wasn’t moving after a while and when I looked behind me my feet had begun melting into the floor. I started thrashing around trying to break free from the house as it began consuming my body, I began screaming as hard as I could for help. I felt the tightness in my throat but no sound came out of me. Quickly my body began sinking faster and faster, the harder I tried to thrash and run from it the quicker I went. I began crying and panicking not knowing what was happening to me just as the house sucked me down into the floor below. I fell into the basement crashing into a glass table throwing broken shards all around my body. Ready to move again I looked around but the lights were off and the walls continued to bend in around me, the house still looking to suffocate me inside its space. I tried moving away from the broken glass to turn on the lights but every feeble crawl away was met with pain as the glass ripped into my arms and legs. Not knowing what to do I glanced around for a clear spot to move when I began hearing doors move around in the house. One by one the door to the basement and upstairs creaked open as figures began slowly creeping into the room one by one. Each figure slowly slinking around me like wolves surrounding their prey. Still on the floor and weak from fighting I couldn’t see their faces beneath trench coats and hats. Many more filed into the room filling the space with a sea of bodies until I couldn’t see the room past all the figures surrounding my body. Feeling vulnerable I started screaming as I turned to see one figures face as it kneeled to look at me. Lifting my chin to stare it in the face it was the man from the bridge. Up close his face even more terrifying than before as its expressions and faces began melting into another at a quickening pace. After making me stare into its face I was lifted by another figure by my hair until my body feet from the floor. My legs dangling above the floor with my toes pointed to the floor, the figures closed in on me squeezing around me until a darkness consumed the space. Slowly my screams slowly became audible for a few seconds before each figure shouted: “IT’S YOUR FAULT”. Just then the figures bodies fell away as my feet sunk into the floor and the sensation of falling took me over and I collapsed into a void. The vortex pulling me down faster and faster as I let out one more scream before I.. ….Woke up motionless in bed. My sheets stained in sweat and tears as I looked around concerned whether what happened moments ago, was real or not. I glance at my clock to see what time it was, my alarm clock began flashing 3:43 am. Just as I thought I might get a good night sleep I found myself lying in bed, sweaty, and with little to no chance of getting back to bed after a dream like that. I get out of bed turning on every light I can find from my bedroom to the kitchen, trying to look for some melatonin sleeping meds. I know my mom stocked some in my cabinet before she left. She and I have always had issues involving sleep, sometimes due to stress and anxiety. Other times due to recent circumstances and situations like that. I open up the cabinet and look around but come up empty, I take out the basket holding my medications and other medical related materials. I find the bottle of sleeping melatonin pills in the far back, but as I go to reach for it feels a lot lighter than it should be. I unscrew the top knowing fully well that my mom just bought this the other day for me, it shouldn’t even have a popped top but it does. Inside there’s a small handful where there should be a full bottle. My mom must have taken some, which isn’t good she was trying to restrict herself from medications. She’s getting older and needed to live healthier than she has been. Uncle’s death has aged her dramatically these last few months, she needed to be careful and treat her body right despite how challenging it’s been. She had previously been on anti-depressants for many years. When Uncle passed, she relapsed back into the pills and trying to numb herself emotionally to the situation. I decided I have to talk to her tomorrow about it, for the time being, I took these sleep medications as they supposedly were non-addictive. I take the last three capsules in the bottle and wander back upstairs. Turning out the light I look behind me to see if I closed the cabinet, I realized I had but then did a double take. Turning around again I felt crazy, I swore something was there. This whole move has made me so paranoid, I had locked all the doors as I promised myself I would and started walking to my room again. But each step away from the kitchen I felt my body getting fatigued, and I had an uneasy feeling resting on my shoulders. The hairs on my neck stood up as a chill ran down my body, it was like when I left work. As if somebody was hovering over my shoulder and peering at me. I felt disgusted and restless so I ran the rest of the way to my room quickly turning on my light and shutting the door behind me. My heart was racing and my face had beads of sweat pouring down it. I clutched at my chest and sat on the floor. Maybe it was just that it was so late, and maybe the stress from yesterday coupled with restlessness are making me freak out like this. I decided to turn on my closet light as I stumbled over to my bed and turn on my alarm. Laying down looking at the ceiling I couldn’t help but think back to Uncle’s book, and how the stress in his life had caused him to fall apart and think there was nothing left for him but to end his own life. I always felt this leaning weight on my shoulders lately, opening that book was the first time I had cried in a long time. I hope that was enough of a release for me to move on from all this. As I closed my eyes I began thinking of him and began tearing up before slipping into sleep. It was getting hard to remember his face. Surfacing, I’m folding as my body falls to the floor. Not necessarily hurting but having the sensation of escaping a much greater fall. My gut tightening as if I had just taken a dive down a large slope. I was confused as to where I was exactly. I got on my knees leaning against a wall to rise from the ground. My vision blurred in that moment as the room I was in started to crumble away like a house of ash. Blowing away like dust until I was left out in a dark open. No longer scared but uncomfortable being vulnerable like this I sat down to ease the twisting motions my eyes had been making. Once I was laid on the ground I could hear footsteps coming towards me from a distance away. As this thing came closer it began murmuring and whispering hushed questions at me. Unlike before I was no longer being surrounded but rather left out to be watched. I begin calling for help, but my voice kept getting drowned as the whispering got louder coinciding with mine. Eventually meeting a crescendo as I lifted my face to the sky screaming, this only being matched by its scream as it came behind me and dragged me away. My eyelids flash open as the noise from my dreams fade out in my head. It’s 9:00, I just barely woke up before my alarm. This time being able to slowly turn over in my bed and shake away the fogginess in my head, I grab my phone and start shuffling to the shower. Taking my first step out into the hallway and then the bathroom I already begin forgetting the night’s vision as I focus on my tasks for today. I decided on taking a trip to the store and stocking up on some microwave meals and snacks. The shower starts steaming up the bathroom, at this point my mind is far from what happened last night, but this sense of confusion and slight panic still lingers. I make a mental note to pick up more sleeping meds when I go to the store, and to call mother. Ask what had happened to ones at my house. Stepping out of the shower, I wrap a towel around my body and head to the kitchen to get some cereal and make a pot of coffee. I rationalize that yesterday was difficult because of my lack of caffeine, which I most likely had an unhealthy dependency to at this point. Nevertheless, I pour in the grounds and dump the water to get everything brewed together. Reaching for my phone I quickly scroll through my social media. Or see if anyone of my friends had messaged me, they hadn’t but most had taken to their various online pages to say their first day of college had been crazy. Many of them likely not being able to text due to all the work they had been doing. I put my phone down and turn on the ringer in case I get any notifications as I get my day started. Eventually I get dressed and inhaled a couple cups of coffee before locking up the house and heading out. It was raining and cloudy though so I had to crawl back inside and get some thicker clothes on, the weather had chilled up as this front came in and I wasn’t going to get caught soaked to the bone and freezing. Finally, I got in my car, spinning the wheel I pulled out of the driveway, and began heading down the road. I’d never seen these streets when it was raining but they were still quite pretty, although eerie they had a welcoming quality to them. Overall I was really glad I had chosen to move here and had a passing thought of living here for a long time if I were to make long-standing friends in college. I started pulling into the store as I looked to my left to make the left turn in. This had been Uncle’s favorite store to shop in, no Walmart or Target but an old-fashioned grocery that felt much more homey. It had over time become very under-appreciated as bigger corporations took a lot of business, but they still had their own loyal customers and I planned to become one of them. They had always treated Uncle well and it felt natural to come here too. Walking in the older woman behind the counter immediately said hello and said if I needed anything to just ask. I thanked her and decided not to mention Uncle unless she recognized me from the few times I had come here with him. I walked down the aisles, looking around but mostly taking everything in. All the shelves wooden, the lights above brightly lighting up the space. Someone across the store sweeping being the only noise in the store, I stared around and I was the only customer in here. Which I suppose it was raining and early in the morning, probably not their busiest time. I keep going through the aisles picking up things as I go. As I’m walking I hear stepping as someone sweeps the aisles around me. I keep looking around not especially thinking of who it was as I get my food together. I circle around to the aisle over expecting to see whoever was working there, but instead I just see them skirting around the corner as I enter said aisle. Probably attempting to just keep out of my way I continue gathering up my things as I hear them walking around behind me. Still shuffling and moving things about, I even hear soft whistling as they work. A pleasant enough tune, something that had immediately been sunken into my head. As I get to the counter I begin talking to the lady making idle chit chat. “Have I seen you here before young lady, you look familiar and we hardly ever have new customers.?” I tell her about Uncle, not giving her his name but just explaining he had shopped here too. “Huh can’t say I’ve seen him here lately, but my mind wanders a bit as I’ve gotten older. Say, you probably don’t have any interest working, here do you? I know you said you just moved in but we could always use the extra hand. It is just my husband and I here now since our son left for the army.” I told her I appreciated the offer and would keep it in mind but I had another job already. I told her she was very nice, and that I’d love to meet her husband. I had heard him walking around sorting things and sweeping I believe. “Oh no dear, he’s home today repairing our gutter. You’re actually the first customer we’ve had all day. Are you sure you saw someone?” At that I kind of froze in my place, I remembered seeing someone shuffle around the corner but. I asked her again if anyone else worked her, even someone janitorial? “Young lady are you sure you’re okay? I opened the store up two hours ago, and have been sitting at the counter since then. You’re the only one here.” With this, a chill ran down my spine. I quickly paid her and began leaving out the door. She yelled after me that she hoped she’d see me again soon, but I was questioning if I’d even leave the house again. I jogged to my car and ended up dropping my keys on the ground twice before working it into the car door. As soon as I sat down I locked the doors and put my head against the steering wheel, a wave of nausea came over me and I had to choke back the bile trying to come up. My head was spinning as the adrenaline in my body was attempting to push my body further and further from the store. I was really starting to see things, first yesterday and then today. I Began thinking about everything going on at the moment and what was causing this. I couldn’t have just started becoming crazy. I had felt a steady unease come over me these last few months but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I hadn’t taken any medication besides pills to help me sleep but those weren’t supposed to cause hallucinations. Maybe it was the house getting to me, and the emotional turmoil therein. But still, that didn’t make sense, all of this was happening when I was away from home. The anxiety, questioning myself and the people I felt watching me. I jolted in the air as my car horn shook me from this thought. That’s it I thought I need to go home, I’ll call into work ad explain that I’m very sick today and need to take a leave. They don’t need to know the reason, because I need this job and they won’t appreciate me hallucinating and appearing to be on drugs. I put my car in reverse and start my drive home, eagerly waiting to get to my room and lock every door before doing so. I end up speeding on the way there, running more than a fair share of stop signs along the way but I didn’t care. This was urgent and I started feeling so paranoid that I needed to lie down and breathe. No one is watching you, I’d tell myself as I was racing down my street doing fifty in a twenty-five. You’re just scared and these last few days have driven you up the wall but you’re fine, you’re fine. I race into the driveway and run to the door as if I’m being chased, which at this point wouldn’t surprise me. I slam the door shut behind me and lock both locks secure. Then I sprint around the place making sure every single door is locked as well. Then standing alone in the house I waited, and quieted my breathing. Listening around I didn’t know what it was I was expecting to hear but nothing came to me. Terrified still but satisfied I walked into my room and shut the door behind me laying on the bed again and plugging in my phone. Outside rain began pouring down in buckets, the clouds blocking out the noon ay sky and the rain drowning out all other noise in the area. With this dark, loud, monotone, roar I felt almost okay. Clutching my pillow, I began trying to rationalize everything for the millionth time. I decided that I was going crazy today and couldn’t handle work, I dialed them up and immediately my manager answered. I told him that I was having something of a breakdown and couldn’t take my shift. “I understand it’s okay take the time off, it was a pretty short shift anyway. We just wanted to get you hours. You did seem off yesterday as well, just make sure to check the schedule and be in the rest of the week. If not, then you better be dead or dying”. Then he hung up and I had a moment of relief that I could take the day to figure this out. I need to call my mom anyway about the sleeping meds so I decided to tell her what was happening. When she picked up we made some small talk and I asked her about the house and what was going on with her before opening up about my last two days. I left out the portions about the locks in the house, I had figured I had left them undone anyway. But I told her about the strange dream I had yesterday, I couldn’t remember all of it but I remembered the basics. The I told her about leaving work yesterday, seeing a figure then, as well as seeing someone in the empty store today. I must’ve been running through my story, when I was finished I was out of breath and had worked myself into another panic just recollecting it all. She said “Sweetheart just breathe okay? I understand you’re scared, who isn’t when moving into a new place? Everything can seem really scary and being alone in that house probably hasn’t helped”. I breathlessly told her that this wasn’t just nerves, I’d thought of that, but there’s no way I just suddenly begin seeing things out of nowhere. I asked if she could come spend the next few days with me. “You know I can’t do that dear, I’ve got my business trip already planned. I'm actually packing right now and am about to take a cab to the airport. I mentioned it to you two weeks before we moved you out there.” I did remember that but it had slipped my mind in the moment I was running away from a shadow that most likely wasn’t even there. I told her I understood. “Listen after the trip I can come by and see you, look around the house and take you out to dinner. I can’t just drop work right now and stay at the house my job is too far away”. I began shaking a bit when I realized I’d be here alone for a long time. It shouldn’t be like this, why was I getting into my head this much and overthinking everything. Before I told Mom I loved her and hung up the call. The nervous tension I’d been feeling for months broke. And strangely I laughed. I began thinking back to my childhood. From my earliest memories’ I was a very melancholic kid. Whenever anything close to me at all in the world died. To my heart, forever, it would be tied. Then I asked her about the pills in the cabinet. “What about them dear? You’re not taking too much are you, they may not be addictive but that doesn’t mean you can eat them like candy”. I reminded her I wasn’t a child, then asked her if she had taken any with her before she had gone home a few days before. “No dear I made sure you were fully stocked before I left. I left one in the cabinet and one in the bathroom opposite your room. Now I’ve gotta go honey, my cabbie is honking. Don’t text or call me for the next few days unless it’s an emergency. I don’t want to get extra charges on my phone bill while I’m overseas. I love you lots!” The sound of the dropped call echoed in my room as the rain stopped almost in unison. It was like the planet stopped turning for that moment and I was left with the dead air and ringing in the room. I started breathing really fast then, my heart beginning a bongo bass beat in my chest. Even as fast as I was breathing I couldn’t seem to fully catch my breath, it was like I had an elephant standing on my chest as I laid still in bed. I had panic attacks since I was little but I hadn’t had one in some two years, so this caught be off guard and it was getting bad. It's been so long I first thought I was having a heart attack, which likely worsened the anxiety that caused this. I quickly sat up in bed clutching at my chest, hoping this position would push more air into my lungs. Instead this rush immediately made me dizzy and lightheaded, so I positioned my hand against my bed stand so I wouldn’t fall. My vision began blurring and a soft ringing came to my head telling me I was in danger of passing out. Focused now I threw my legs over the bed and braced myself to start sliding down to the floor. I didn’t want to knock my head in case I faded and fell out of bed. Despite my legs and fingers tingling I managed to get to the floor, I laid down then and turned on my side in the fetal position as I attempted to will myself out of this situation. I began thinking of other things to distract me, and the boy from school came to mind. I thought about what he said “I was just asking if you were that girl?” Amid the heaving breaths I smiled a little, before it faded. This was some introduction I had made to this town. First being the sole occupant of the suicide house, and now the new local freak. First day of college, looking more like a creature out of Night of the Living Dead. Seeing things in the street, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The only sort of honest interaction I had thus far being the older lady at the store. An even she looked at me as if was the one slowly losing her marbles. My body began un-tensing as my heart slowed its rapid beating in my chest. I thought then would be a good time to get off the floor, but then my eyes were shot full of stars like id bee hit in the face. I noticed my hearing fading away again, being replaced by ringing and rush of my pulse pulsating under my skull. Softly tapping my brain with it’s now steady rhythm. Slowly my eyelids started to gain weight, falling in front of me like curtains coinciding with the ending of a beautiful play. Having no energy left I gave in to their pleas, I fell asleep on the floor as the rain once again began falling musically onto my roof. In the back of my dimming mind hoping I’d resurface from this sleep quickly. Then I began floating. Descending, Yet I felt myself rising from the floor. A force lifting me by my torso with my legs and head still dangling, somewhat reaching, back out to the ground. Clinging to the world my body steadily keeps rising, increasing the distance between our home and I. Being afraid of heights I for some reason feel nothing as I ascend through my roof. I feel the rain coming down in heavy drops across my neck. Looking down just before crashing through the clouds I notice the light flicker on in your room. I see a shadow pass by the window silhouetting your figure against the light, like shadow puppets fulfilling fairytales when I was much younger. I sigh. Suddenly the rain stops, the noise stops, my heart, my lungs, the sigh of air just now escaping my body, stops. I’m in a well-lit room sitting up straight in the wooden chair. My feet pressed perfectly, and evenly parallel to the floor. My mouth slowly falls open and I cover my mouth with my right hand as tear rolls quickly down my cheek. He was here. Behind me, a voice falls on my ears like a sweet childhood song you had forgotten. “Hey there Angel”. My eyes slid open slowly as large glass like tears began crawling down my face. I flashbacked to when I was five. I had just gotten off the bus from my first day of kindergarten. With my tiny Disney princess lunch bag in hand, I look up to see Uncle and Mom sitting together on the porch. Both smiling and waving for me to run and tell them about my day. I slowly walked up to the porch steps kicking dirt and stones before reaching them. Then he said, “well how was the first day of this amazing thing we call school little lady?” Being young and profound as any five-year-old I said quietly that it sucked. My mom immediately leaned forward “what was that young lady?” The look on her face told me everything, I repeated that today school had *stunk. “That’s better, you better be watching that mouth of yours at school”. My uncle stood up then and plucked me off the ground and sat me down in his lap. Chuckling softly, he said, “Don’t mind her, she’s just cranky cause she doesn’t get a nap at work like you do.” As he says this he peels off my little sneakers and starts tickling my feet. I try to resist and keep my tiny scowl on my face, but it slowly breaks away until I’m giggling uncontrollably as I squeal for him to stop as my eyes water from laughing so hard. As he wrangles me back in his lap my mother speaks up “So what made your day oh so terrible then?”. Reaching into my bag I pull out plastic utensils, a small tub that once held my chocolate covered raisins, and finally a balled-up sheet of white construction paper. I hand this my mom to my mom and she tells me it’s a wonderful picture. “I especially like the blue wings, is that you?” When I say yes, Uncle leaned forward one hand holding me to him, the other reaching for the picture. “Is this you with wings? They’re so pretty. And you really got the sun’s likeness down pat, though I’ve never seen it smile like that.” I grinned showing all my baby teeth, I felt really proud of my work. Then I explained how towards the end of the day the teacher told us to draw pictures of ourselves as whatever we wanted to be when we grew up. Uncle laughed really hard then, “So I’m guessing you’re what? Some fairy creature? Orrrrr....” Lifting his hand he started lightly poking at my neck, “…. are you an itty bitty bug. Buzzing around and flying into people’s ears!” Then I start giggling again but said no no no. I told them with my head held high that I drew myself as a beautiful angel. But then my posture fell as I told them that all the other kids laughed at me, saying that I couldn’t be an angel when I grew up unless I just went and died. Then my teacher hushed the entire class and told me to try and make a new choice. “Well” Uncle twisted me around so I was facing him, “Your teacher is right of course. You’ll have to choose some other thing to be.” I started scrambling in his lap ready to argue but he just held me tight and looked me in the eyes, grinning cheek to cheek. “You only have to choose something else because since the day you were born you were instantly our angel. I was there with your mom and was the first one besides her to hold you. You had this warm light about you and were of course very beautiful. That was when I knew that god had sent us one of his little angels to keep us happy and safe. He knew we were in a tough spot so he sent you allllll the way down here to help us!” To this day I remember smiling so wide I thought I’d be stuck like that forever. I went back to school the next day and have loved it ever since. I was going to make both of them so proud of me, their little angel. Shaking my head I’m back in that room now, the bright light reflecting over my tear stained face. I knew his voice, but I couldn’t bring myself to turn around. I felt paralyzed and despite how warm this place felt, I began to shiver. Despite the mess I had made myself into, I wiped my running nose and red eyes against my shirt sleeve and tried to clear my throat so that I may be able to force out some words. Staring opposite of his direction I straightened up and asked how I had gotten here. He let his soft laughter slip out before saying “Isn’t it obvious enough?”. Having this ache in my chest and not understanding I shook my head back and forth rapidly. Tears flying into my lap and hair flowing over my face I did my best to not begin bawling again. Through a sly smile, he pauses then says “Angel you flew.” Hearing this I lift my head and pull my hair from my eyes. Thinking for a moment before saying it, I ask Uncle if I am dead. When I don’t get an answer, I falter for a moment. Then I rise from the chair and ask him directly, I ask him if I’m in heaven. I’m still looking away waiting for an answer when I get none. Then after what seems like an eternity he finally speaks up. My world begins melting away, the light dim and the walls warp as he says “No Angel no, you don’t have to worry. This is all just a dream.” In that second my stomach dropped like I was falling, I spun around then screaming his name but was met instead with something else. My hand had been reaching out to touch him, but in his place, just inches from my fingertips was a figure. A shadowy torso meeting my eyes as my body froze in terror. I tried to move away and run but my legs and arms were stuck just reaching out for someone who was no longer there. Then the figure's hand rose to meet mine, in that moment morphing into Uncle’s. Taking my hand just like Uncle would when I was young, he folded Uncle’s fingers undermine. I began slowly turning my eyes up to see what this thing was, then it spoke with Uncle’s voice. The walls slipping down like oil paints put to flame, it said in the sweetest voice “And it’s time for you to fly home little angel”. I began slipping through the floor as the figure let my finger slip from Uncle’s and I looked up to see who it was that’s been ruining my life these past few days. As I slipped away from the room, from Uncle, from that perfect memory my eyes flashed to the figure walking away as I hurtled back to the earth. Despite the hardships here, it was still so beautiful. As I spun around falling faster and faster I began screaming in fear. Not fearing death, instead of fearing and knowing that none of this is real. As I saw my house growing larger on the ground I stop screaming and tighten myself into a ball and begin whispering to myself a prayer my mom taught me when I was young. In my head first then speaking it out loud. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, lord, my soul to take. Guide me safely through the night, and wake me with the morning light. My house comes closer now as I descend to the earth. What was it they said about fallen angels? Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, lord, my soul to take. Guide me safely through the night, and wake me with the morning light. The house is so close now, I can see the figure standing in the window light. Faced towards me, the figure moves away from the light and turn out the light. I’m screaming now. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, lord, my soul to take. Guide me safely through the night, and wake me with the morning light. I open my eyes slowly, I try to breathe out through my nose and notice that it is clogged up. I sit myself up leaning against the bed and remain there for a few minutes before wiping my nose and standing to go to the bathroom. As I close the door I take a moment to peak around the crack to glance over at Uncle’s room. With the door shut I look at the gap beneath, and see that there’s no light on. I’m relieved. But I almost wish wasn’t, I close the bathroom door. Walking over to the sink I look at myself in the mirror and again wishing I had just avoided it. I wander to the shower and turn on the hot water. One leg at a time I slide out of my rain stained pants. I toss my shirt over my head, it hits the wall next to the hamper. Waiting a minute for the shower to steam up I find my eyes planted on my reflection in the fogged mirror. I begin whispering to myself a prayer my mother taught me when I was young. As I sing sullenly along to the rhyme, I climb inside the shower, slide to the floor, grab my knees to my chest and let the hot water rain down on me. And I feel so tired. I must’ve fallen asleep in the bathroom and somehow wandered back to my room, when I woke up I was lying in bed clinging to my sheets. I had rolled them to my chin and was holding them close like I was clinging to them for life. When I shook, myself awake I had to sit for a minute and think about where I was, what happened last night was so surreal. It wasn’t like a dream, murky and muddy in memory. I felt like I was there just hours ago, in that room talking to Uncle. Or that thing. Remembering its dark body standing in front of me, I was too scared to even look it in the face. Or maybe I was afraid it’d be Uncle’s face staring back at me, that thing using Uncle to get close to me. It terrified me, I hadn’t even thought about that moment in so long. I had lost so much of him, I was losing the memory of him. But this thing was using that to lure me close, and reach out. I thought back to that day, being so little. I still wish I had those angel’s wings. Then maybe I’d see Uncle again. But that was a long time ago, and lately, it seemed I was so far away from that sweet little girl. The one who believed in good things happening to good people and only bad guys died young. Looking back the last time I heard someone call me Angel was at his funeral. Everyone knew he had always called me that, and in the moment, it made me smile. To remember him lifting me in the air so I could fly around and feel like I could do anything. Now I just felt sick, it was here with me. Knowing how weak I was it was clawing its way into my head. I couldn’t sit here in bed like this, tossing my feet over the edge of the bed I tried to gather myself and get ready for school. As I crawled out through my bottle of sleeping meds hit the floor. I must’ve left them on the bed last night when I dropped the bag from the store yesterday. I put them back on my dresser, deciding they might as well be by my bedside. This time I was lucky enough to wake up before the alarm clock. I collected my things in my bag and walked around the house looking for my keys. Grabbing them and my bag I closed the front door behind me and headed for the school. Today was easier than the last, I had rested well despite the dreams. I took all my notes and finished my work in class, still keeping to myself I had a lot on my mind. Thinking about Uncle like this had brought this low feeling to my body. It was like a weight on my soul, pulling me to the floor and making me sick. Once the lessons had ended I gathered up my things and started walking to the parking lot to head home. I was thinking about some papers I’d need to fill out when I got home when someone called out to me. I didn't know exactly what was said but it pulled my attention away from the papers immediately. Turning around I asked a girl following behind If she had called my name. “Huh” I repeated myself asking if she had said my name. “Dude, I don’t even know you, are you losing your head?” Looking past her I scanned the crowd, I knew someone had said it, in my peripherals, there was someone walking against the stream of students going to their cars. Bumping into others as he walked past I watched him disappear into the mob. But I was unnerved, I heard them say, Angel. The next few days passed by in a blur, I did a lot of studying for the initial tests of the semester. I was stressing out about three of them when my friend called me up saying she was in town and wanted to come say hey. I tried to explain to her over the phone that I needed to study but I’d be free next weekend. “I can’t do next weekend, I’m only out here for a few days before I go back out of state,” I said that I didn’t know if that was a good idea, I needed to score well on these tests or else I’d lose my scholarship. “I have that covered too! I’ll stop by get some food with you and help you study in the meantime. Come on, we won’t see each other again for months and you’ll regret it.” Figuring there was no way to get out of this I agreed to see her today if it meant she'd help me. We decided to go to our old hangout an hour away from my place, it was my favorite place to eat since I was a kid. A sandwich spot on the hill looking over a lake. When I got there she was waiting for me, she had gotten her food and had ordered my favorite sandwich. As I sat down she immediately said: “Jesus, you’re looking worse for wear, did you get hit by a bus on the way here”. I explained that keeping up with school had been rough. “No shit, honestly are you okay? You really look sick”. Considering the circumstances of the last week I wasn’t surprised, I decided to shift the conversation to her. In a moment, she forgot all about my problems as she detailed how nice her new school was. Talking about her boyfriend, her car troubles, and a list of other things I lost track of. I just began spacing out. My eyes drifted over her shoulder as her voice fell mute on my ears. The beginning of a headache had come on as I watched shadows of people walking a trail behind her. The thumping pulse in my head matching the steps of the shadows. Each one crawling closer each time, taking new shapes. Some of animals, others into objects. Scenes played out before me and all I could feel was weak and pained. There was…. “hey ae you listening to me?” She has snapped her newly manicured fingers in front of me. I apologized and blamed it on the lack of sleep. “You know girl I’m really starting to worry about you. You’re not acting like yourself, if there’s something going on you can tell me.” I said I was just having trouble sleeping alone in the new house and school had been stressing and draining me. Aside from that, I told her my books were in the car and asked what she wanted to go over with me first. “Hey actually I don’t mean to dip on you but my boyfriend says we need to leave early tomorrow if we want to make it back to school so I’ve gotta dip. But hey I got these for ya.” Getting out of her seat she simultaneously pulled something out of her bag and threw it in my lap. I asked her what the hell it was as I rolled the pill bottle around in my hands looking for a name to the medicine inside. “That right there is your ticket to an A in your class. Take two in the morning and start studying away. Don’t take more than that though it might get you too jittery to focus.” I told her I don’t take drugs as she started away. Turning around still making her way to the car she said “They’re just bennies, my boyfriend’s prescription. Don’t freak out its just to help you focus.” I told her I’d talk to her later as I stared at the bottle at the little blue pills. Just to focus. Right. Getting back home I walked up to my room, leaving the pills on my dresser. I opened my bag and took out my notes and spreading them on the floor in front of me. Lacking all the motivation to study I sat on the floor staring off into space. I began thinking of the figure that had been around me, I had been so focused on school and getting so little sleep I had almost forgotten about it. Mother had probably been right, I was just scaring myself into thinking something was there when it wasn’t. Looking back down at my notes I realized I still hadn’t studied, it was still early though. I was exhausted, too exhausted to think straight. But then I looked over at the pills. I knew better than to just take them, but if I didn’t pass these tests I could easily lose my scholarships. I had no money to pay for that and Mother certainly couldn’t help with that right now after just paying for most of the funeral bills. What had she said, take two? I walked over to the dresser, taking the bottle in my hands and looking it over again confirming to myself that there was no label. I Knew her for a long time, she wouldn’t give me anything unsafe. I had no idea how long these took t kick in, I squeezed and twisted the bottle open and picked two out. I got a glass of water, put them on my tongue. Then they were gone, shit. I decided to hop in the shower to clean myself off before getting down to study. But after a moment in the shower, I started to feel it, tingling in my legs and arms. But it was different than when I had a panic attack. I felt energized, motivated. I quickly toweled off before getting down to studying. Slowly as I began rewriting and organizing notes my hands and eyes seemed to pick up speed. After a while, my handwriting got too fast so I switched to my laptop and began pounding away at the keys. For the first time in a long time, I was able to focus and set my mind to my work and not get distracted or sleepy. After a while, I checked the clock and realized that time had been going by much faster than expected. I'd stares at the computer and keys and get lost in the rhythm, tapping away and scrolling everywhere at once. I hoped I was typing coherently, every word shot from my fingertips and landed down on the screen with ease. Finally, I finished organizing everything and took my eyes away from the computer. Shutting my laptop down, I looked around my room as if noticing everything for the first time. Shadows and corners sharpened, everything becoming very clear. Then my headache came rushing back to me with a vengeance. I decided I needed to lay down as the beating in my head started getting louder. Like a bull wrenching its horns in my skull. I got up from my desk and nearly tripped over my bag walking to my bed. I slithered in between the sheets and squeezed my head between two pillows attempting to close the cracks being made out of my head. As I laid there waiting for sleep I tossed and turned, my legs feeling antsy and my body being uncomfortable no matter the position. I began listening keenly to everything, I could hear it all. I could hear everything going on around me, with my eyes closed and my mind focused every gust of the wind or dog bark sounded roaring in my head. My heartbeat, intermittent or beating fast and heavy seemed to shake my body in my bed. I tried to count the noises around me like you would normally count sheep. Getting into higher number eventually as the people outside my window were yelling, laughing, or just being annoying. Music playing, and my rooms fan swirling air around as it made incessant clicks with each rotation. The bathroom faucet must’ve been left on as every drop rang in my ears like a waterfall crashing overhead. But then, there was silence. And it was sweet, noiseless as I began feeling myself drift off into my bed. Being consumed by my sheets and pillow my body felt heavy and it was time to go. But then I heard it downstairs, the rustling of weight across the floor. Probably just the house settling as it does in the night. I counted it to my list of noises, then tried to turn to sleep. Eyes still closed I hear footsteps on the stairs. No creaking, not heavy but still very present. I counted that too, each step making a dull shift on each step telling me whatever was on it was heavy. Tired and unfocused it didn’t worry me, in sleepy ignorance, it was all part of the game to me. I made a new list for every sound coming in the house. The light flicking off in the bathroom made three. My eyelids darkened telling me I was in pitch black now, not worried I thought I was dreaming again. I heard Uncle’s door down the hall sliding open as there was noise in his room, that being four. Something was looking around in there, moving things around slowly and methodically. I tried guessing at what was being moved, still just a game to me. His closet door creaking open, hangars being slid across the rack. Five noises now, the books on his shelf being picked off one by one, and slid back into place. That was six noises now. I imagined uncles self-published book being taken off the shelf as I heard the bed in his room creak under the weight of something. Maybe something laying down to read it, which made seven. The whatever it was got up and was walking back to the door. I was up to eight now. It was walking down the hall, not subtle like before, making consistent and purposeful steps. Then there was a dragging noise across the hallways walls. Like fingers lightly caressing it as they came towards the door. I was up to nine when I realized what was coming, stepping closer and closer to my door. Coming to find me, when suddenly all the noise stopped. I noticed then that I had been breathing really hard and tears were rolling down my face making it wet and hot under my sheets. Then I heard it reach my room. The door was closed and locked, and I think it knew that, it just pressed its weight against the door than making no distinct sound besides my door creaking under the weight. I was shaking like I was sick with some god awful flu. My face was cold and clammy, my eyes still closed. I hadn’t opened them this entire time yet as I was still petrified by the sounds outside the door. Then I heard its fingers sliding around the door handle not twisting it but just caressing it with its nails, teasing the idea that it could come in whenever it wanted, whether locked or not. Then the murmuring came, soft and low in a whistling voice. Like someone tired after a long day it's exhausting sounds ragged and in-discernable. It grew in volume but was still muffled by the door until I suddenly remembered to count to ten. Then I heard its voice for what It was and it was horrible, in and old worn out throaty tone it was speaking not to me but just itself it seemed. Telling itself it was time to go to sleep, repeating it as the sliding around the door handle becoming louder as it began tried to open the door. Still speaking itself repeating relentlessly that it was time to go to sleep. It wasn’t subtle anymore as I heard it clenching the handle with a vice grip as the door began shaking. My room filling with the noise of the wooden door now crashing against its frame. Then it got quiet again. No motion, no whispers, no noise. I stopped counting and started wondering if I had fallen asleep or died, I couldn’t hear my heartbeat anymore. Then the door was being slammed and jarred around as I heard the splinters started snapped away and the house shake as my door was being broken in like the scene of the shining. Then that voice as whatever it began trying to come through the cracks in the door as it was screaming now. Screaming intensely as I shuddered still in my bed, unable to open my eyes not wanting to know what was waiting for me. It came through the door then, its vocal chords seeming to fight back and tear away as its guttural scream was telling me that “WE NEED TO GO TO SLEEP”. Then I slowly pulled away from the covers and opened my eyes and found the room was empty. I looked under the door and found the bathroom light still on, shining through the slits of the doorway. I sat up in my bed and checked my phone, it was four in the morning. I looked at the door and saw that it was fine. No cracks, no damage, no sign of anything in the room at all. Besides me and my heaving breath, it was silent and empty. I walked into the hallway and looked down waiting, for something. I felt like I wasn’t alone in the house anymore. This wasn’t like my dreams where I woke up and knew where I was and where I wasn’t. This felt like I had never left, my mind was present. Adderal isn’t a hallucinogen, this wasn’t something I could just come up with in my head but. At the same time, nothing was left behind but this feeling of disconnect. I wasn’t alone here, this was Uncle’s house. I was only living here, and somehow while it felt like he was here with me it wasn’t right. I didn’t ever believe in ghosts before I moved in. But if this was him crawling back to me then why did it feel like I was under attack, I wasn’t being welcomed here. Uncle had always been warm, I could feel comfortable around him like wherever he was could be a second home. I wandered over to his room again, just placing my hand on his door. It was cold, like the rest of this house. I never felt more alone physically, I remembered thinking the last day I had seen him that he seemed off. I could’ve called, I could’ve stayed behind to keep him company if he was upset he knew I’d be there to talk. I felt like I had let him down in that way, that I’d never lived up to what he saw in me. I had been like a daughter he never had, I had grown up with him and should’ve known enough about him to steer him clear of falling in a hole that deep. I should’ve been able to save him. I took my hand out the door, leaving it at my side and began walking back to my room. Still scared and shocked about what had happened I wanted to be safe in my room, but I felt so far away from him there. I needed to read his book and feel his presence here to get me through this. I opened my door and stepped back in my room, now knowing I’d be able to fall asleep. I was drained completely and felt totally empty. If he was still alive I would tell him about all of this and the pain I was going through. If he could hear me now I’d ask him why he did it. How could he be so selfish and think that he had no other way to turn when mom and me were always there for him no matter what. I peeled back the covers and crawled into bed and laid my head back down, as I began slipping down into sleep I kept asking myself why my mother and I hadn’t been enough. I surfaced outside my house in the driveway. I was looking up at it almost standing in the street. I was confused and felt like I was lost and was questioning why I was here when the light came on in his room. I saw him walk past the window, as his silhouette was outlined in the dark. The streetlight opposite from me made it hard to see him completely, but I thought I saw him look down at me from the window. I started walking towards the house to get a better look at what was happening up there. Moving down the driveway I walked past his car and looked in, notes were strewn across the front street along with his glasses and backpack. In the backseat I saw different assortments of bottles, liquor bottles. Liquor bottles and pill bottles. He was somewhat of a collector, and he had depression. It was sometime shard for him to part with certain things he felt connected to. I guess lately he had felt connected to these things. His strewn sheets of paper and backpack in the front seat told me he had been writing as of lately. Sometimes that was good, it was how he had found a way to deal with a lot of his issues. He imbued his work with a lot of the pain he couldn’t hold inside. I stepped away from the car and looked up again to try and see him in the window. H was still there, looking down at me. His head was veiled in shadow but I saw his hands laying idle in the window sill. I raised my hand and waved up at him, hoping to catch his attention if he was staring at me. His head turned, I think to see if it was who he thought it was. Then he stepped away, coming back only to look at me once again. I saw his head turn to focus on something else in the room. He seemed distracted, I wonder if he felt as lost as I was in that moment. His body seemed to shake a little then, as he raised his hand in the air. Then slowly he seemed to start waving at me, then motioning for me to come inside. I didn’t know what to do, I felt out of place here. But trusted him and then he pointed at the door to make his intentions clear. I looked around one last time before I slowly made my way to his door, the cobblestone steps leading to it nearly making me slip on the way up. I reached for the handle and felt a pang of fear run through my body, every hair on my body standing straight up as I felt this sense of fight or flight tension come to me. I had a dip in my stomach that made me sick, like I was walking into a strange place that I didn’t understand. The door handle felt cold, like I was reaching into freezing waters. Turning the handle, I walked in despite the fear I had. Closing the door behind me I was then in the house, it felt like I was the only one there. There were no lights present the sun was lying low outside, strips of harsh orange light flew through the window giving the place a sense of emptiness as I looked around. Furniture was nowhere to be seen aside from a cheaply thrown together futon and t.v in the living room. I wandered around for a moment trying to catch my bearings. I heard music coming from the upstairs hallway. Playing low and softly echoing across the silent rooms. An acoustic guitar was strumming along as I moved into the kitchen. I called his name and tried to listen in or a reply. Looking around there were more papers and kick-knacks thrown over the counters like decorations in excuse for the lack of anything real. I ran my fingers along the walls and counters, just aimlessly taking everything as I called his name out again. Feeling a sneeze come up from me I realized a fine layer of dust was covering the cabinets and counters. I went over to the strewn papers and realized it was the same there. Each pile of books, paper, pencils, pens, kicked up dust. Like sad relics in a museum the house was silent, the stroking chords of the acoustic the only thing adding to the atmosphere. It sadly cascaded through a sad song, making me feel low as I left the kitchen. Before reaching the staircase I saw a photo on the wall. It stuck out as the only thing in the house being bright and cheery. I walked over and realized it was a photo of me. My Uncle, Mom, and I had been on vacation years ago. We were all camping out and he had asked us to pose, we had just crossed a creek on our hike and my pants were muddy and wet. I took the frame in my hands to get a closer look. I was a total mess then, my hair thrown together in a ponytail with loose ends flying across my face, I’m next to my mom and Uncle. We’re all standing against a big tree, our arms wrapped around each other. We must’ve been laughing and joking before the photo as each of us look like we are on top of the world. I stood there for a second just remembering that time, when the guitar upstairs suddenly cuts out. Looking up the stairs I wondered what had distanced us so much from that time. The lack of sound caused the house the take on a sense of emptiness that’s indescribable. I looked down at my hands only to see the photo was no longer there. Looking around I couldn’t find it, it had just drifted away. I called Uncle’s name again, and got no yell back. I stood there, in the middle of the house waiting. Calling out again with no answer I started up the steps to see if he was there. Eager to see him as I was, I was also filled with a sense of caution. I took each step deliberately and with purpose. I felt like any sudden move would rip me away from this place. Taking the last few steps a smell came to me that made recoil in disgust. My hand flew out to grab the handrail as the stench invaded my lungs like a poison. Clenching my mouth I grabbed my shirt and covered my face trying to get clean air back into my body. But the smell was around me, enveloping me, and crawling in my clothes until I couldn’t escape it. Looking down the hall I realized what was happening in an instant. Gripping the handrail tightly in one hand I propelled myself forward, my body lurching against the pain I didn’t want to find at the end of that hall. I sprinted to his room, the smell of death growing stronger with every step. With tears welling in my eyes from the smell and sadness growing, I reached his door. Closed but light leaking you from the other side, I fell to my knees and started sobbing. Knowing what was on the other side but hoping for an alternative. Wishing I could go back and change the way things were. I slammed my head against the door as I started yelling his name. Hoping he’d answer this time knowing that he couldn’t. I hit my head over and over until blood ran down my cheeks mixing with tears. The door cracking and splinters shooting away as I kept hammering everything I had into the wooden door separating us. I kept yelling his name over and over and over. I was waiting for him to answer. But he wouldn’t answer. He was dead and I could feel the emptiness in the house devour me as I felt all the hope I had leave my body. I was screaming now as I pictured him alone in there, I pictured the shotgun blast taking away the first friend I ever had. Taking away my Uncle, taking away my best friend. I was screaming, still screaming when the door opened. And it stopped, all the commotion all the pain I was feeling the tears in my eyes halted as I looked up and he was there. He looks down at me with a smile and sees me crying. I’m small again looking up at him when he tells me “what’s wrong Angel?”. I actually am small again as I look down and my hands are small and I reach out to him as he picks me up. We’re back on the porch again like that first day of kindergarten years ago. I’m in his arms clinging to his neck and holding him close, my little eyes wide with surprise filled with shock. He sits down in his chair, prying me from his neck and sitting me down in his lap. Mom isn’t on the porch anymore so it’s just him and I sitting there. He looks down at me with brown eyes amused but his voiced is filled with patronizing concern “so ill miss, whatever has gotten you so upset?” I’m still speechless just looking at him and touching his arm to see if he’s really there. He starts laughing to himself as he adjusts me on his lap and asks “you’ve got to speak up if you want me to know what’s wrong.” Still mystified and looking around to take everything in I lock my eyes with his and say “I had a bad dream, you left me alone. And I was calling for you to come back and I couldn’t find you”. With a grin he tells me “well I’m here now and you don’t have to worry, you know why?” Still looking at him in disbelief shake my head and wait for answer. Leaning forward he pokes my nose and says “you don’t have to worry because it was just a dream, this is all a dream”. Then things grow dark and fade out as I look at my hands and I’m no longer little. I’m sitting in Uncle’s room. It's filled with the smell of gunpowder and death. I panic and star screaming again. I woke up on the floor of Uncle’s bedroom staring at the ceiling I was no longer scared because I knew I was awake. I looked over at his shelf with all his books and things. His tiny collection of things soon to start gathering dust, just like how it was in my dream. His book lying open on the floor, his authors note still on the inside cover. With his red inks and handwriting in plain view, his last thoughts in harsh contrast to everything around it. His choice as always to imbue his books with the pain he couldn’t ever tell his friends or family. I looked back to the ceiling, the same one he had probably seen right before he had ended his life. Swiveling my head around I then realized I was in that same spot. He had shot himself right here, looking at his bookshelf. You could tell because the floor he still smelled faintly of bleach. They had also put fresh paint on the walls after they had redone the drywall. All the new replacing the old he had taken with him. Lying on the floor I wanted to keep crying, but I couldn’t. I had felt a lot for a long time but now just felt lost and out of place here. I didn’t want to move, had no will to leave the room and move on. I still missed him and my dreams felt like the only way I could see him. So mostly I wanted to sleep, for a long time and think about everything going on. Thinking back I tried to recall the last time we had talked. I knew we were fighting then and we were at mom’s house because he had still been living there at the time. He had overdosed a week before, the hospital had kept him as he refused to answer whether or not it was an accidental overdose or not. Mom and I had decided to hold an intervention for him and encourage him to get clean and go to rehab. My mom had her fair share of issues with drugs as well and was understanding of the situation, but I was young and upset that we even had to have this discussion. He needed to go to rehab and he knew it, but he was resisting saying he could get clean on his own. I had been yelling at him, relentlessly. I told him he had no right to do this to himself or us, he knew mom was clean and was putting her at unnecessary risk just bringing drugs into the house. I knew he could get clean if he had help, but wasn’t convinced he’d turn over a new leaf by himself. I had seen many of my friends get involved in the drug scene as I had gotten older, I knew quitting mean hiding things and reverting back to their old ways. Often they got worse trying to quit by themselves, seeing their weakness as reason enough to not care what they did to their body. He told us he had enough money to move out and that he’d buy a new house and take himself out of the area so he wouldn’t feel the pressure to get back into drugs. “I’m starting a new book, I can focus on that and get myself clean in the process. If I have my own time and place to do it I’ll be fine, I can’t nor can you afford a rehab facility. I refuse to put you into debt because of my decisions”. I began screaming at him again, my mom being the healthy mediator said “money is not the issue, listen it's hard I’ve been down this road and without help it's next to impossible. You’re putting us in a worse position by not seeking help than you would financially.” But all he did was shake his head and ignore us, the fighting kept going for the days until he had finally moved out. The he was gone, and we worried and worried. But he did call, told us he was getting better. Mother visited on a few occasions when he had the apartment before the house. He asked me to visit, but I was stubborn and still upset so at the time I had ignored his requests. I was busy with school and used that to justify my behavior. But I just was not able to understand how he could jeopardize his health when he had us to lean on for support. My mother told me he was prideful, and had relied on us for a long time. In a way, she said that he was trying to prove something to himself and to us that he could finally make his own way. Eventually I understood, I called and he’d answer but I wouldn’t see him again until the day of Mother and I’s visit. He seemed distant and lost, and I think I finally understand why. The thing that caused him to lose his sense of self had been around me. I felt it on me making me sick and removing me from myself. These last few months had been hard on me, making me think and reflect on who I was and what I had to do. But in the weeks leading up to the move and since moving in I felt its presence on me more than before. Like someone watching me and whispering to me every flaw and mistake I had made. Telling me the mistake I was. And for the most part I had become so tired. Sitting up on the floor I leaned against my forearms and pushed myself from the floor. I began walking over to the bookshelf and decided to pick up Uncle’s book. I closed it in my hands then and started walking out of the room. My body feeling like it weighed millions of pounds, fatigue taking me over with every step. Stepping into the hallway I immediately felt it come upon me. Like a weighty glance that thing was close, seemingly sitting on my shoulders as I could feel that agony bury itself in my body. Dragging my feet and attempting to avoid its piercing glance I keep my eyes lows as I turn out the lights and make my way to my room. The house around me echoing a deep silence that terrified me, seemingly swallowing me whole like a black hole absorbing all hope and light around it. Making my way to my room I heard the whispers over me, negative and arrogantly reminding me of my past and the mistakes I had made. Every moment I wish I could have changed, the choices I knew were wrong at the time yet I pursued anyway. Like incessant insects gnawing at me the voice dug into my skin and tried to drain me of my life. I stumbled into my room and locked the door behind me. It felt so cold in here, I tried to focus on my moves as I could hear it on the other side of the door. Knowing it could come in and take me at any moment but choosing to toy with me instead. Taking relish in my pain and regret. And I was so tired. My legs and arms yearned to be put to rest and my head ached with all the pressure I’d taken on as of late. Taking small even step I turned out the light and walked over to my bedside sitting down then and staring out my room at the door. Almost expecting it to be broken down just like in my dream. Expecting that shadowy figure, that inhuman thing to come in and end me. I held my gaze for minutes as I heard it outside, its mumbling dipping in and out of audibility. Swearing at me and wishing me dead it told me everything it could to send me over the edge, to get a reaction from me to give me pain. Looking down at my hands I realized I was still holding Uncle’s book. Turning it over in my hands it was black cover and spine, the only color being his red writing inside. That red writing speaking of that thing just outside my door, and what I had done to him. It resonated with me now more than ever of what he had been going through and the pain he must’ve been in. The wrenching pain my heart was in now being the same feeling he had then, and in these minutes, I grew to feel close to him as I began feeling the same way he had in his last moments. And I was so tired. I closed the book and laid it down on my bedside table. My hands trembling as that feeling came over me again, dark and murky. Painful and menacing like a cloud of poison gas suffocating me and turning my insides to pulp. I wanted to cry again but couldn’t force it out of myself, but I needed that relief and that rush of emotion to put the pieces back together. The thing outside my door now howling and raving like an animal waiting to eat. I could hear its hands tracing over the door as I continued its twisted rant. Its body the least fearful weapon it had, its words being the swords in which I was a pincushion. Each word, every sentence, it kept breaking into the room. Telling me in detail what I was and wasn’t. Telling me of every reason I was worthless and useless to the world in which I didn’t belong. And I was so tired. I could hear that thing breaking down the door and I knew it was coming, something I just couldn’t help any longer. Looking around I took in all the sights as if it were the first time, I started recalling past memories of my family and I had. First the good one then the bad. Each culminating together and creating who I was today. Shaping me with the experiences I was given. That thing kept speaking, the door almost broken now. Telling me of why Uncle had passed, how lonely he’d been and why he saw no light at the end of his tunnel. If only I was there and had been able to call, maybe he would’ve lived and I'd be here with him instead of finding myself right where he was. It told me I had killed Uncle. As the wood splintered and the door shattered I felt so tired. I wanted to sleep, and dream of something far away from this. Looking to my bedside table I saw my medications and took them in my hand, unscrewing the lid I spilled some on the floor. Strangely I laughed. The thing reached its hands in the door looking to come in as I began swallowing the medicine. I wanted to sleep and dream another beautiful dream. Feeling at peace aside from the screaming of that thing attempting to reach me I laid my head down, and fell. I turn out the lights and make my way to my room. The house around me echoing a deep silence that terrified me, seemingly swallowing me whole like a black hole absorbing all hope and light around it. Making my way to my room I heard the whispers over me, negative and arrogantly reminding me of my past and the mistakes I had made. Every moment I wish I could have changed, the choices I knew were wrong at the time yet I pursued anyway. Like incessant insects gnawing at me the voice dug into my skin and tried to drain me of my life. I stumbled into my room and locked the door behind me. It felt so cold in here, I tried to focus on my moves as I could hear it on the other side of the door. Knowing it could come in and take me at any moment but choosing to toy with me instead. Taking relish in my pain and regret. And I was so tired. My legs and arms yearned to be put to rest and my head ached with all the pressure I’d taken on as of late. Taking small even step I turned out the light and walked over to my bedside sitting down then and staring out my room at the door. Almost expecting it to be broken down just like in my dream. Expecting that shadowy figure, that inhuman thing to come in and end me. I held my gaze for minutes as I heard it outside, its mumbling dipping in and out of audibility. Swearing at me and wishing me dead it told me everything it could to send me over the edge, to get a reaction from me to give me pain. Looking down at my hands I realized I was still holding Uncle’s book. Turning it over in my hands it was black cover and spine, the only color being his red writing inside. That red writing speaking of that thing just outside my door, and what I had done to him. It resonated with me now more than ever of what he had been going through and the pain he must’ve been in. The wrenching pain my heart was in now being the same feeling he had then, and in these minutes, I grew to feel close to him as I began feeling the same way he had in his last moments. And I was so tired. I closed the book and laid it down on my bedside table. My hands trembling as that feeling came over me again, dark and murky. Painful and menacing like a cloud of poison gas suffocating me and turning my insides to pulp. I wanted to cry again but couldn’t force it out of myself, but I needed that relief and that rush of emotion to put the pieces back together. The thing outside my door now howling and raving like an animal waiting to eat. I could hear its hands tracing over the door as I continued its twisted rant. Its body the least fearful weapon it had, its words being the swords in which I was a pincushion. Each word, every sentence, it kept breaking into the room. Telling me in detail what I was and wasn’t. Telling me of every reason I was worthless and useless to the world in which I didn’t belong. And I was so tired. I could hear that thing breaking down the door and I knew it was coming, something I just couldn’t help any longer. Looking around I took in all the sights as if it were the first time, I started recalling past memories of my family and I had. First the good one then the bad. Each culminating together and creating who I was today. Shaping me with the experiences I was given. That thing kept speaking, the door almost broken now. Telling me of why Uncle had passed, how lonely he’d been and why he saw no light at the end of his tunnel. If only I was there and had been able to call, maybe he would