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Insomniac Nights - 11,500 words - Also in Fiction Workshop (1 Viewer)

BrandonTheWriter

Senior Member
Disclaimer: Adult and disturbing themes throughout, some strong language, mental health issues highlighted.

Also to any mods/admins. I hope it is okay to post my story in both sections. I am not trying to protect my work, it's simply a hobby of mine. I am not trying to be published. I want everyone to be able to read it, if possible. I know some people use these forums as guests, and a lot of guests seem to enjoy reading.

Just a few things before you read (thank you for that!):



I haven't tried writing a story in about five years, maybe a bit longer. I'm likely to be very rough and that is fine. I'm open to honest critique. This is actually the first story I've actually finished properly. They have always been abandoned projects or draft concepts. So I'm very proud of that! I hadn't expected to write so many words. This was intended to be a short story, but I got a tad carried away as I was writing it.


The story may have triggering moments for some, there is some mental health themes used throughout. There is occasionally strong language used, but it is very rare. I tried to keep it minimal and only be used in sections where it made sense. This is a horror story, so expect some unsettling themes throughout.


I have no intention of being published. Writing is a hobby of mine, and I have no interest in making a career out of it. So whilst I will take all advice on board with open arms, it is not a project I'm trying to meet deadlines on. I will keep working on it and refining it out of passion and love for the craft. I would welcome anyone to use my characters, plot or anything they would like to recreate my story and make it better if they would be interested in that. That is fine. It's a free story and any possible future stories by me will always be that way. All I want to do is share my stories, and hope that someone else enjoys them and enjoys it as much as I did writing it. I truly hope that shows in my work. I had a blast.


One last thing, I have attached my username to the story rather than my real full name because I am not comfortable sharing my full name online or on the forums aside from a first name. It is a mixture of anxiety and privacy that I would wish to keep.


Thank you for your time, and hope my story can bring you some entertainment during these tough times. I will likely take a break now until another idea comes my way. It is nice to enjoy writing again.

- BrandonTheWriter


Insomniac Nights
A fictional story by BrandonTheWriter


Chapter 1
Sleepless Nights


There I was thinking that sleep was my only problem, but then I started to see things too. At first, I didn't think much of it, it only started out as minor after all. It sometimes felt as though I was slightly drunk, I would get blurry and double vision. Time seemed to move in a strange way, and the lack of sleep would make me feel like I was floating above my bed. I spent so much time just laying there willing myself to sleep that I sometimes wondered if I was dreaming or not. Occasionally I'd hear a car pass on my street which confirmed my suspicion that I was still out of luck, still awake, still feeling exhausted but unable to shut down. I was like a malfunctioning robot, still stuck performing autopilot duties despite barely even functioning.


I honestly can't remember when this all started. Up until a few months ago, my sleeping schedule was at least acceptable, if you could call it that. I would sometimes stay up longer than I should, but I would always get enough sleep to feel normal. I think this confidence of being able to sleep with relative ease meant I took more liberties with my sleep, in a way maybe I deserve this punishment. Perhaps it is karma.


5am was the usual cut off time for me. If I hadn't slept by then, there was no point in even trying. I found myself growing increasingly more frustrated the closer I got to this time and becoming hyper aware of exactly where I was, that it became even harder to drift away. I was fighting a losing battle with my brain, and getting my ass kicked every single night. If only I got paid for it like an actual boxer, wouldn't that be something. I had to be at work by 6am and between breakfast and getting ready, I just had no time anymore to try to sleep.


I work as an early morning cleaner cleaning offices and other such businesses before they open up. I rarely interact with others, in fact I haven't spoken to a single soul in about a week. In a way I was fortunate to have the job that I did as I was in no position to face people in my state, with bags under my eyes and not really knowing where I was half of the time. A part of me was just waiting to be let go from my job, as I'm pretty sure I can't be doing a good job of it. I did the bare minimum required of me, like most things in my life.


Tonight was another chasm of hopelessness. I was beginning to lose track of how long I had been awake. The ticking and changing of the clock taunted me, like it was laughing at my expense and my feeble attempts to sleep. I often considered smashing the damn thing to pieces and enjoying it, who needs time anyway when you don't sleep? Psh, what a made up thing. I wasn't even sure I had the energy to smash anything, even if I wanted to.


It was approaching 3am when I started to get this overwhelming sensation of paranoia. Another symptom of sleep deprivation? I wondered to myself. I pulled the phone from my bed stand, opened up the internet browser and squinted as I searched 'Sleep Deprivation'. I had already been doing research the night before when I started having vision problems. People always told me you shouldn't search up symptoms, but it's not like I had anything better to do at 3am. Anything was better than looking at these dark walls that felt like they were closing in on me every second. There it was, 'paranoia' clear as day... Oh boy. Great, that's all I need.


Chapter 2
A Dose Of Paranoia


Tick tock, tick tock. The taunting of the clock haunts me once more. Once again, I was here, awake. Again. Internally I just wanted to rage and scream at the top of my lungs, even if it woke my neighbours. My bedroom had begun to feel like a prison cell, and I was in for the crime of not sleeping. I felt stuck to my bed unable to move and just helpless having to live through every single minute that passed by. I hoped I would wake up eventually and this was all revealed to be some nightmare, some prank played on me by the sleep overlords.


The paranoia had gotten worse, I was sure I kept hearing things outside and they seemed to get louder and louder the more agitated I grew. I could see the window from my bed and could hear the wind howling and the leaves rattling on the trees, and that eased my mind a little. It was just the wind surely. Then I heard it, clear as day, a little girl and what sounded like blood curdling screams. I shot up out of bed, my heart was pounding and I was sweating as I raced to the window.


Nothing.


The street was completely empty, the neighbours were asleep like normal functioning human beings, I couldn't help feeling great jealousy at that. I was sure I heard it, it pierced my ears. I kept scanning the street for at least five minutes and nothing.


Was I having a nightmare?


I got back in bed and wondered if I had just squandered my chance at actually sleeping and was woken up by a damn nightmare catching me by surprise. Why couldn't it just be a normal damn dream? Why does Freddy Krueger pick me? I tossed and turned out of anger, bashing my feet in to the bottom of the bed.


With any luck all that bashing and huffing and puffing would finally lull me to sleep, but who was I kidding. Sleep was now an inconceivable concept, I had given up on the very idea. It was now a need more than a hope. My body needed it, boy, it needed it, but I had given up grasping on the very hope of ever drifting away.


I began thinking of ways to get out of this mess, and my next option was something I was dreading... sleeping tablets. The idea of it always worried me, becoming reliant on these things and never being able to have a natural sleep ever again. Another part of me was sceptical that they would even work. Perhaps I was an anomaly in the sleep realm. Still, what else was I to do? It was one of my last ideas, I was almost all out of those.


Chapter 3
A Handful Of Sorrow


There they were in my hands, the tablets that I had been dreading. I just looked down on them in misery, and remembered how much I hated taking tablets growing up. Whenever I was ill as a child and my parents made me take them with the promise of 'feeling better soon'. I always had to have them crushed up so it didn't feel like I was actually taking them. Even as an adult, the very idea of swallowing and putting these things in to my body and giving up my sense of control felt like I was truly giving up. Still, I had to do it.


So I did and to my surprise they actually worked. I was lucky it was a weekend, because I woke up in the middle of the day at some ridiculous time. Even after sleeping I still felt groggy, it felt like I had been knocked unconscious rather than actually slept. Still, anything had to be better than not sleeping at all, right? It must be.


So it went on, the swallowing of tablets, the mediocre sleep, and wakeful grogginess. No matter how much sleep I seemed to get, I never truly felt like my normal self. I wasn't sure if I hated sleeping or staying awake anymore. Isn't it weird how that works out? At the very least, it was nice to know where I was at work, it was nice to be aware of my surroundings.


I actually had to see people this week, my parents were coming over for a visit and I had to put on my best act. I showered and tried to the best I could to conceal the bags from underneath my eyes. Despite my attempts to look presentable I still looked awful in the mirror, I had been trying to avoid looking at myself and confronting the reality that was setting in. They hadn't seen me during this whole mess, they had no idea how bad it had gotten. As soon as my mother walked through the door, I could tell she knew something was up. Despair was written all over her face. I wasn't a vey good liar. My dad was always the more laid back one, it was very likely he didn't know my best days from my worst if I didn't make it evidently clear.


Speaking to them felt like such a chore. Don't get me wrong I love my parents but they always expected too much of me. They wanted me to have huge career aspirations, a big house, a wife and children. The whole shebang. I was probably always going to be working some dead end job scraping by, it's just how I was. I had accepted this lifestyle, and it had welcomed me with open arms. I had lost friends because of my lack of energy to do well anything. I hated going on nights out drinking, it just felt like pointless filler to me. Friends felt like too much effort to keep up appearances and entertain. Life itself felt like one huge effort. I just wanted to work, eat and sleep. I could only do two things of those things with somewhat normality anymore, and the eating thing was usually some microwave crap so not so normal after all.


I breathed a huge sigh of relief when my parents left. I felt bad about it, but trying to act normal was exhausting. I kept the sleeping tablets a secret, I knew how they would react to it. They would probably assume some drug problem or something, rather than the innocent fact of just not being able to sleep. My parents always expected the worse of me these days when I had stopped trying to appease their image of a perfect dream son. At the same time, I was growing worried at my reliance on them. I didn't like how they made me feel. They worked, but it felt odd. When I take them I am unaware of anything happening around me, the apocalypse could be happening outside and I wouldn't hear it. That thought alone scared me. I was literally dead to the world, and no different from an induced coma it seemed.


I spent the rest of the day worrying about what my parents were thinking on their drive home. I just know as soon as they got in the car that they had already started talking about me, you can just tell sometimes. Most people aren't very good at hiding how they truly feel, the body language and facial expressions people give off, they just can't wait to let off some steam. As supportive as my parents were growing up, they often used me as their emotional drop-off to dump all of the things about their day that bothered them. I did that too as a moody teenager, more than I'm proud of to admit. The only difference was that I did it in a more passive aggressive manner, where as my parents made it perfectly clear that something was wrong. My mother was especially bad for it, I was always waiting for the next thing to get under her skin. She is a sensitive soul that can't let things roll off her like my father.


The older I grew the more I started to bottle my emotions up as a person. I would rather suffer in silence, and find my own half-baked solutions than have to ask someone else for help. Help sounded nice, but it is a word that came with many more hurdles to overcome. It's not as simple as saying 'I need help'. Help was a terrifying thought to me, it was an admission of failure. It was the passing of the guilt and failures on to another person. I could be on my last breath and I would still be reluctant to ask for help. I am perfectly okay with criticising myself in my own head, my own criticise sidekick lives rent free pointing out all the dumb mistakes I made, but the moment I make that real and open up to someone else is when it becomes overbearing to me. It's a flaw that I should work on, but likely never will. It is much easier to bury everything under the carpet, but there is only so much room.


That night I went to bed as normal, popped my tablets and went out like a light. Only this time something woke me at 3:30am. I had no idea why or how I was awake. I began to wonder if the effect of the tablets were fading. I had used the same amount as usual, it didn't make sense. I was sweating profusely as I woke, my skin felt oily and gross to touch like I had been running a marathon. My head was pounding like the beat of a drum. I didn't know if this was a side effect of the tablets, or if I had another nightmare that had somehow woke me. If so, I didn't remember it. I couldn't work out why I felt so hot, my room was freezing cold and it was definitely not mild outside, it was Winter. I got up and went to the bathroom to pat my face with some water, the cold water felt nice but the effect didn't last long. I felt like walking death and looked like it too. There was no way I was making it to work this time. No chance in hell.




Chapter 4
Delusions Of The Mind


For the first time this year, I had took a day off work. Despite everything thrown at me before I had still managed to go in everytime, but something about this moment just felt different. Even if I had gone in I felt like my body would have collapsed at any moment. I could barely make it to the bathroom without stumbling like a drunk person and resting on the sink and the bath tub. My arms could barely hold my strength and felt like noodles. I returned to my room, and looked at the bottle of tablets sitting on the bed stand. I stared at them for quite a while. I already didn't like them to begin with, but I began to feel a rage building inside. A desire to flush them away. So I did. I made an impulsive decision and figured the tablets were the reason for my grogginess and sickness that I was experiencing, I flushed the whole damn thing down the toilet without a second thought. That was a huge mistake, I knew I was about to regret this.


The moment the flushing process of the toilet had finished, I looked at the empty bottle that once contained my only ticket to the depths of sleep and knew I was once again back to the beginning of my own little nightmare. They had served as a temporary solution, nothing more, and I was back in the trenches once more fighting for a way out of this hell hole. I went back to bed and just I lay there chuckling to myself in an almost depressing way. I just couldn't believe how quickly I had fallen off the rails. I thought I had it somewhat together at one point but I was just fooling myself. During my episode of insanity I heard it again, that little girl. That scream. Only this time I knew I was awake. I shot up in a flash, and rushed to the window with eyes peering across the entire street like a wild eyed animal.


The streets were once again empty. I don't know what else I had expected.


I couldn't fathom it. There was no way I had managed to sleep, what the hell was I hearing and why did it always stop when I became aware of it? I started to wonder if I was honestly losing my mind, or at least what was left of it. Then I heard it again another scream, this time it felt closer. It pierced my ears like the first time. I rushed downstairs and flung open the door to the outside. The fresh air and wind blasted my sweaty face which was the only part I didn't mind. I just stood out in the street like some crazy person for ten minutes waiting for something to happen, another scream or sound. Anything, please anything. Please let there be a rational explanation for this. Of course, I heard nothing or noticed a single thing. I returned inside and I began to fling things in the house like a crazed rabid dog trying to work out if this sound was coming from a device anywhere. The thing is, I didn't really have any devices that would make a sound like that. I barely watched TV as it is the adverts sucked, didn't own any sort of tablet and my computer hadn't been powered on for a couple of days. I just sat in my trashed room, and quite literally wondered what the hell I was doing. Could I possibly sink any lower? That is a question I wasn't rushing to get the answer to.


I spent the entire day just sat in my trashed living room and didn't even bother trying to go back upstairs to attempt to sleep the following night. It was a pointless endeavour I thought. I was wide eyed that whole night expecting to hear a sound again, but nothing came of it. The realisation of me being back to square one once again and running on no sleep began to set in. This time I didn't have my work day off either.


Work was a real slog. My arms still felt weak, and my body felt like it was ready to power down at any moment. Any small shove would have sent me tumbling over. My paranoia had begun to set in at work too, I felt like I was being watched for some reason. The offices were always dead at this time, it was only the cleaners that were in at this hour. Still, I just had this feeling like someone was breathing down my neck at all times. During my rounds I scanned the hallways like I was expecting to see something or someone all of a sudden. I was just waiting for my mind to start playing some tricks on me, I had given it plenty of room and opportunity to do so.


I was approaching the end of my shift, I usually always left the toilets until last as I hated it. I was mopping up the floor when I was sure I could hear someone walking down the hallways. It was very faint but it sounded like footsteps. I placed the mop in the bucket and approached the door cautiously when I noticed that it wouldn't open. I was frantically twisting the door handle, growing more and more impatient as I began to breathe very heavily mortified at the prospect of possibly being stuck in this toilet until I was found. After many attempts and to my surprise, the door suddenly flung open. I raced outside expecting to kick the crap out of some joker playing a prank, but the hall was completely empty. I finished up my shift as quick as possible. The entire way home I was trying to make sense of what I had just experienced. Was it just a dodgy door and I'm thinking too much in to it? My paranoia had grown out of control. The offices are old and the doors have always been shitty in this place. I was sure I was building all this up in my head to be more than it was and my sleep deprived mind wasn't helping the situation.


As I approached my street I once again felt the uneasy sensation of being watched. The air was cold, the silence was haunting, and no one was around that I could see. Yet it still felt like I was a deer in headlights. My home had become a sanctuary and a curse at the same time. I hated being inside my home, but I didn't feel any safer out here. As I walked in my door I was greeted by the mess I had self-inflicted the other night in my little bout of carnage. I just sighed, there was no chance I was cleaning this mess up anytime soon. The kitchen wasn't any better, I had been living off microwave meals for the past week and dishes were building up in the sink. Living normally had sort of become a thing of the past now.


Chapter 5
A Cold Dark Night


It was another night without the tablets, and I was once again regretting my decision of flushing them. There was nothing I wanted to do more than escape from life for just a short while. I hadn't even attempted going to bed and spent the night browsing the internet and watching stupid pointless videos to pass the time. I practically put the headphones on full blast. To tell you the truth I wasn't even really looking at the screen, I was so sleep deprived that I just sat there with my head resting on the computer chair, audio blasting my eardrums. I had never felt more tired but been so awake at the same time. As I was sitting there in some sort of limbo, I heard something that was different from the video audio. My head shot up and I removed one side of the headphones covering my ears. I heard it again, and it was definitely a scream. That sound I was dreading. I threw the headphones on the desk quickly. The sound grew louder, the screams went right through me, goosebumps quickly rose all over my arms. I peered out of the window overlooking the street and wondered how nobody else was hearing this, no one else had their house lights on. Was my whole neighbourhood deaf? Then I saw something that made my heart race like it has never raced before. A dark figure dragging something or someone in to the house across the street. I rubbed my eyes frantically thinking I must be seeing things, but it was clear and I heard the door thud even from my living room.


I sat there for a few minutes with chills running down my spine and phoned the police. I told them what I saw and I was convinced of it. Through my shaky attempts I conveyed to the dispatcher what had happened. Despite the sleep deprivation, I felt alert, and I know what I saw. Nobody drags trash inside that way, that was a body. That was a fucking body. The police arrived swiftly, and the pounding of the door nearly gave me a heart attack. I answered the door and quickly realised what this looked like. A dishevelled scruffy man with bags under his wild eyes calling the police late at night. What the hell was I thinking? I looked like a drug addict.


I explained what I saw to the officers and I could tell they were not convinced despite their best attempts at staying professional and courteous. Despite this, they took my statement anyway and left. They mentioned that they wouldn't be able to search the house without a warrant, but would pay the owner a visit. I watched as they slowly approached the house across the street and knocked. A man came out, he looked in his fifties at least, maybe a bit older. I hadn't really taken notice of him until now. He was in his sleeping clothes and I suddenly felt very stupid. This man looked frail and small, and certainly not like some crazed psychopath dragging bodies at all hours of the night. The officers spent some time there but I couldn't make out what they were saying from the window, I was too far away. It was faint, yet still I couldn't take my eyes off them. The man glared at my house a few times, and despite thinking this man looked innocent, I found it piercing and unnerving. I felt like he was looking to my soul, judging me. I had just pissed someone off and probably for nothing more than my own wild delusions. Suddenly my confidence and certainty in my vision once again faded. The officers returned and informed me the man had been bringing in his work gear after a night shift, It made sense to me. They looked at me like they wanted to bring me in instead. Send me to some mental asylum perhaps, I couldn't blame them at this point. After they left I decided to retreat to my bedroom and I just laid in the darkness not really knowing who I was anymore.


Flash forward to a few hours later, it's once again between 3 and 4am and my eyes open and I'm sweating. I sat up and felt so much confusion. I started to wonder if this had all been some nightmare, something I had conjured up in my head to make sense of all this. I walked downstairs and noticed the computer wasn't on. It was powered down fully and not on stand by and I couldn't remember if I had turned it off or not. I started to run my fingers through my hair and wanted to tear it out in chunks. My brain felt frazzled, and I had been laying there for so long that I couldn't make out if I was just day dreaming or I had slept. Then I realised, the call log. Of course! I raced to grab my phone off the table and was in somewhat relief to see that indeed a phone call to the police had been made earlier that night. This happened, it wasn't a nightmare, and perhaps I did sleep. I began for a small moment to feel hopeful. A few hours of sleep was in the bag, it felt like a small step to normality.


For the average person running on a few hours of sleep would probably be a walking death sentence of half-asleep torture, but for me a few hours felt like a few days. Sleep was now a luxury. Believe me, that was no exaggeration. I had been craving the sweet sensation and once taken for granted feeling of a natural deep sleep. Still, I didn't want to celebrate just yet. I knew all it would take is one bad night of tossing and turning and being wide eyed all night and mentally I would feel roll back to the the start of these nightmarish stairs once again. My main worry was the screams. I still hadn't pinned down where they were coming from and could not make sense of it. I thought I had it all figured out when I phoned the police, but that part was left unexplained. I never brought it up to them, because I know how it sounded. Not only was I supposedly seeing things, but hearing things too? That was a definite trip to a night with the crazies for me, I would fit right in.


There was one thing I didn't want to consider, but my mind started to work overdrive thinking about it. Was I experiencing a mental break? A mid-life crisis? More worryingly, was I becoming a schizophrenic? It made me feel nauseous thinking of that possibility, but I know it was something I had to consider. If these things I was seeing and hearing weren't real, there was no other explanation to be found. No explanation that was grounded in reality at least, anyways. It could be the paranormal, man, I hope so. It feels weird to say that but I'd rather that ghosts exist and haunt me than myself becoming quite literally insane. My family had no history of mental illness, and despite having our issues at times we had nothing I would deem to be overly challenging growing up. We were a pretty normal family with the usual disagreements at times. The older I grew up the more I realised that I was one of the lucky ones, I had parents that at least tried to push me to do better, I was just someone that wouldn't allow myself to be helped. I had to take everything on myself, for better or worse.




Chapter 6
A Frail Confrontation


I had been getting sleep, to my surprise. It was never more than a few hours a night but it felt enough, for now, I wanted more but I could work with it. I was glad to not be relying on the tablets anymore. It was a quiet week, and I had not had any more strange experiences that I could recall. I was starting to be confident that I was getting better, but there was a part of me still planting the seeds of self doubt. That little voice in my head keeping things realistic. Things seemed to be going too smoothly in my life and I didn't trust it, it's like I was being prepared for the worst yet to come. It was a Friday, I had just finished my shift and was making my way home from work. As I approached my street I noticed that the man across the street was stood on the pavement smoking a cigarette. I stopped dead in my tracks, and didn't want to walk further but had to. I wanted to avoid eye contact but he dropped his cigarette almost immediately as we crossed paths and stomped it out with his foot. I tried to pick up the pace a little and make it inside my home when I heard a distant voice calling me from afar. It was him, and he was motioning me over with his hand. I obliged as I had been half-expecting this conversation to arrive, but I thought maybe he would leave me alone. I approached him and he didn't look any more intimidating in person but still I wasn't much of a fighter, and I wasn't prepared to hit an older man if it came to it. I would take the punch like a man and move on with my life. At least that would settle things. Maybe I deserved it. The man began speaking, and I couldn't help but notice his decaying teeth as he spoke. His voice was gruff like a grizzled war veteran:


'Mike, is it? I know we haven't really met aside from when I moved in, you probably don't remember that. It was a long time ago.'


I really didn't remember him, I didn't take effort to get to know the neighbours, but he seemed to know my name which caught me off guard. I replied and my voice almost gave out on me due to not being used to talking anymore:


'Sorry I don't, if this is about the other night I just want to s-'


He cut me off almost instantly, his eyes seemed to tense up a little, his brows sank, his stare cut right through me:


'Listen, I know it was you who called the police, I'm not stupid, I don't know what you think you saw but stay out of my business and I'll stay out of yours. Deal? Stop watching me. God knows what sort of drugs you have been doing in that crack den over there.'


I wanted to give him a piece of my mind, but honestly he wasn't really wrong aside from the drugs part. My house wasn't far from how he described it, it still needed cleaning and badly. Plus I had woken him in the middle of the night presumably, he had a right to be pissed. As with most confrontations I shakily mustered out a few words and walked away:


'I'm sorry, it won't happen again..'


He looked at me like I was some sort of joke to him, and honestly I did feel pretty pathetic and weak. I didn't get punched at least, my face had been tensing up prepared for it the moment he had motioned me over. I hastily walked over to my house like I didn't want to be seen, and quickly put the keys in the lock. My hands were shaking like a leaf. As I walked in I began replaying the conversation over and over in my head. It was something I did as a person, I would analyse conversations for days or weeks afterwards. That was the first social interaction I had endured since the police officers paid me a visit, so it was at the forefront of my mind very clearly. Something about his words and demeanour bothered me. The way he assumed I had been watching him for a while, the way he described my house like he had been watching mine, and the way he looked at me with a look of pure distain. For a frail man he sure had a lot about him lying underneath the surface. It was almost like a childlike innocence hiding a dark secret. I assumed I was probably just upset that I had got told off like a naughty school boy that was somewhere he shouldn't have been and it made me feel small, smaller than he was. He reminded me of one of my English teachers 'Mr. Peterson' growing up who said I would never amount to nothing if I didn't apply myself. I always hated him after that. I never forgot that conversation, and maybe those words are something that hit too close to home for me to fuel my hatred. Obviously not close enough to change my ways.


The conversation haunted me the entire night, it was almost stuck in a loop in my head replaying and replaying, I couldn't change the record. I couldn't stop picturing his face and the look he gave me and how it just cut right through my very being. I had truly never had someone look at me the way he did, I now know what people mean when they say looks can kill. I was becoming panicky when I realised I hadn't slept yet, it was almost 2am and I could not shut my brain off for the life of me. I had been doing okay all week, I had at least got sleep. Even if it was only a few hours. I couldn't help but keep peering over at his house. All the lights were out, but I got chills thinking he could be watching me from the shadows, maybe give me a piece of my own medicine. I felt violated at that thought, quickly closed the curtains and felt like a bit of a hypocrite as I had been periodically looking at his house all night out of habit despite his plea for me to stop watching him. In a way, that conversation had made it worse. I had not cared to observe him before any of this. He placed the seed in my mind whether he intended to or not.


There was still something bothering me about his words, something just haunting me about them and how he was just waiting for me to arrive home to ambush me. It was like he had my schedule mapped out, he even remembered my name from who knows how long ago. Nobody remembers me, not even the bullies at school. Still, I had nothing to go on or any reason to suspect of him. He had given me a funny look, big deal. Boo hoo. People give out funny looks all the time, we as human beings can be very judgemental and mean. I guess I wasn't used to confrontation anymore. Plus I hadn't heard the screams for a week, not even tonight. That was the only bit of good news I was telling myself, the screams had gone away for now. If this had been any normal day, I would have took more relief in that realisation.


The night was sleepless, I felt horrible. It was another two steps back and my brief return to normality was sadly looking to be vanishing once again. I hated myself so much, I hated how much sleeping had become a chore. It should be the easiest part of the day, all I have to do is lay there and do nothing. It really does sound that easy when you say it aloud. I wasn't prepared to take another day off work, and anything to get away from my house and this damn street felt like a bonus to me, even if I did hate working.


Chapter 7
A Bad Seed


It had been a couple of weeks since the incident. Life had got back to relatively normal. I had managed to clean up my place a little bit, and I was back to getting a few hours of sleep each night. I had more energy and felt like I was finally getting somewhere. Even my parents said I looked healthier than before on a visit. I had given up watching the guy across the street when I realised how dull and uninteresting his life was, much like mine, which was a huge relief. On the nights I couldn't sleep until late I noticed that he always came home and brought in his work gear around the same hour. There was nothing odd about it. He had a schedule exactly like how the officers and myself were led to believe. It was starting to become clear in my mind that I had really blown this all up in my imagination. The screams and the dragging of the work gear created a scene from a horror film in my mind. I quickly realised why he brought it in the way he did. He was getting old, his arms weren't as strong as they once were and it was likely easier on his back after a long shift. He strained a lot whilst walking. I felt dumber the more I watched him, any outsider would have found my suspicions crazy. The screams were gone, the man was normal, and my life was back to the usual daily grind. I was glad. It seemed weird to be glad about a boring life but I had took it for granted. Boring was good, boring was predictable. I knew what to expect with boring, and the less on my mind to think about, the better. A lot of people seem to want a life full of surprises, mystery and drama. I would rather be blissfully unaware, if I could help it.


Things seemed to be going well, until they weren't.


It was a Friday night. I was sat on the couch just flicking through the channels and barely watching TV. I hadn't sat down and watched TV in a while, and I quickly remembered why I hated it and all the adverts that came along with it. After flicking for so long I had given up and decided to just sit on my phone and use the TV as background noise. That was until a news broadcast caught my attention, it had interrupted the usual programming. At first I wasn't really listening to it until I noticed it hit a little closer to home than I liked.


"Have you seen eleven year old Ruby Anne Myers? She was last seen walking alongside this wooded area on her way home from school at 3:42pm this afternoon. Witnesses say they recall seeing a blue pickup truck circling the area before her disappearance. Police wish to speak to the the owner of this truck, and are pleading for any information."


I stopped listening at that point, my heart had quite literally stopped, I got chills down my spine, a million thoughts were circling my mind. The area was not far from my home, and I immediately felt everything come rushing back. It was not just the idea of a little girl going missing and not being able to do anything about it but the fact that a blue pickup truck was involved. I peered over to the house across the street, and the guy drove a truck exactly like described. I really didn't want it to be true. I had watched him come home enough times to know. It was blue, dirty but blue. I kept looking, turning to the side and looking again hoping it wasn't true, hoping it must be a coincidence of some kind or maybe a mistake. Maybe the witness saw wrong. Witnesses get things wrong all the time. My mind was coming up with all sorts of excuses for this guy, but I knew my obsession was back. I knew I had to do something.


I had the phone in my hand ready to call the police, but I kept second guessing myself. The embarrassing incident from the other week had made me feel feelings of self doubt. I also feared what he may do if he knew I was on to him, and he indeed was guilty of this crime. I had been watching this guy for two weeks and he never did anything. Literally nothing, he couldn't be more ordinary. I was beating myself up for not watching him on this one day. The one day I decided he wasn't worth my attention. I wasn't sure if I had heard his truck leave today, I didn't listen out for it. He was still at home and he didn't seem to set off for his shift yet. I sat there for hours waiting for him to leave, he never did. The lights were out, the house was silent. An eerie silence. I began to wonder why he wasn't working today. My brain was so frazzled and I was trying to think of too many things at once. I couldn't pin down if he had a day off on Friday or not, maybe he called in sick, maybe he is in there doing unimaginable things. There is so many options.


I did a stupid thing, I decided to go over there by myself. It was around 2:30am, the streets were pitch black and silent. All I had to guide me was the street lights. I slowly approached his truck and tried to fiddle with the doors but they were all locked. I was praying an alarm wouldn't sound. I noticed that his gate to the back hadn't been sealed, and I foolishly made my way inside. My heart was beating so hard I thought it might pulse out of my chest. I wasn't even sure what I was looking for. I brought out my phone to light the way slightly and noticed that he had stairs leading to a basement from the outside. The door had multiple locks. Whatever he was keeping in there, he didn't want anyone seeing. My mind began racing with thoughts of there being a girl in there and I had to do something. I raced home and phoned the police. I told them about the truck matching the description. It wasn't long before three police cars arrived with their sirens. This time the street was woken up. I watched on in horror as the whole street began to turn on their house lights, my anxiety had never been more present and I knew if I was wrong that I had pissed more than one person off now. This time I felt like I at least had a good reason to do so, but not like the guy across the street would give a shit.


I watched on as he answered the door, once again in his sleeping clothes. He definitely looked like he had been sleeping and wasn't puting on an act. He rubbed his eyes and appeared to look confused as the officers made their way inside his home. The torches were beaming all over the walls, and I grew more anxious as I waited for them to search the basement. Whilst multiple officers were inside, others were leading the guy to the truck and he had opened it for them to search. Knowing all this was caused me made shake uncontrollably in fear and anticipation.


I lost count of how long it had been, but the officers began piling out and that is when I began to lose hope. Nothing looked like it had been found, some of them had arms by their side as if they had their time wasted and multiple of them looked over at my blank stare at the window. I felt like a nuisance. It wasn't long before there was a pounding at the door. They had appreciated me calling in, but had not found what they were looking for. There was nothing to suggest this man had done anything wrong. I felt alone, and pathetic. I wanted to ask them about the basement, but who was I to act like I knew how to do their job better than them. It was likely the first place they check in situations like this.


I spent the night in a spiralling state of depression, I felt I had let that little girl down. I tried to keep telling myself I did the right thing, the truck matched what they said on the news, but my own self critic was having none of it. I had once again shamed myself. I wasn't sure what to expect tomorrow, I wasn't sure what horrors might await.


Chapter 8
Curveball


I had left my house in a big hurry in the morning, I could not stop thinking about last night. My brain was racking with all kinds of thoughts, which meant I had not got a wink of sleep. Yet I didn't feel tired, I had too much going on mentally to worry about that. For once, sleep felt not important. For all intents and purposes I should have been exhausted, but the adrenaline still coursing through my body from the night was still running strong, a part of me was just waiting for the comedown.


I had dreaded coming home after work, I just knew he would be waiting for me. God knows what he was going to do this time around. My suspicions were met and the moment I turned the corner on to the street, he was there once again smoking a cigarette. Multiple stomped out cigarettes were surrounding his feet, it felt like he had been waiting for a while. He was glaring right at me. No words or gestures were needed this time, he wanted to see me. That much was obvious. This time I decided it would be me who confronted him. I say 'confront' but it was more of a shiver walk than anything else. To my surprise, he didn't try to punch or curse me out, he said something I would have never expected:


'Wanna come in for a drink?"


He said it with a slight smirk on his face, and it kind of creeped me out. I wasn't sure if he was busting my balls or he actually wanted me to come in to his home. A part of me was curious to see the curtains pulled away from this house I had been so curious about for so long, so I nodded. He stomped out his cigarette butt and motioned me to follow him. He actually was inviting me in, and I was following him like an idiot. Next thing I know he could be asking me to jump off a bridge, and I'd do it. It was like I was mesmerised, my curiosity had got the better of me. This guy could be getting ready to murder me for all I knew, but I guess I figured he wasn't stupid enough to do something like this in broad daylight, even if my neighbours were oblivious majority of the time.


His house was old fashioned, the walls looked old and it looked like it hadn't been decorated in a while. The house had sort of a musty alcohol smell. Although, I wasn't judging, I had no place to comment on the appearance of anybody's home. Mine was just as bad. He motioned me for to sit on the couch whilst he reached in to a drinks cabinet and pulled out some Jack Daniels whiskey.


'I apologise about the mess, I don't expect no visitors anymore. I'm Robert by the way, I know you don't remember.'


He honestly sounded sincere in his apology, his tone seemed calmer and he passed me the drink like a friend would. We even touched glasses, 'cheers' he said as he downed the whole glass almost immediately. I wasn't much of a drinker, and a part of me didn't want to drink this thinking he may have poisoned it, but I did so anyway. I sipped it like a lightweight, and he sort of looked at me like he wanted to laugh.


'Not much of a drinker, are you?'


I tried to give out a smile and feigned a laugh.


'No, I don't really drink, sorry.'


He sat down in a chair which faced the TV, I assumed this was probably his master chair, his favourite if you will. He poured more whisky in to his glass, but set it down on the table this time. I honestly felt uncomfortable being here, but at this point I felt stuck to his couch. He carried on speaking but his tone hadn't changed since we walked in.


'I don't care about last night, just want you to know. If you had a blue truck and that was my granddaughter. I would have done the same thing. No hard feelings. I'll show you around if you want, if it'll ease your concerns about me.'


He shrugged and let out a groan as he reached for his glass and took a big gulp once again. I hadn't drank anymore of mine, but it kept resting in my hand. A part of me started to feel bad for this guy. He was alone much like myself, seemed to have a drinking problem and there really seemed to be nothing he was hiding. He pretty much laid out his life situation in just a few short minutes, and was not trying to conceal anything. Still I pushed on further, because I couldn't help myself.


'Well, I haven't seen the basement yet.'


I felt like an asshole, but it was a genuine question. The basement was the key to my curiosity, the last piece of the puzzle. My mind had been coming up with all sorts of ideas of what could be lurking beneath the surface. He looked at me as if he had been half expecting me to ask it. Before I knew it, he was stood up, groaned and pulled out a big set of keys that jangled. He wasted no time making his way to the door leading to the basement and I heard as he unlocked all the locks. I began to wonder if he was going to kill me down there, I was making it so easy for him. Despite my concerns, I still followed. The basement was dark, there was a single light he had turned on that barely illuminated it. The basement seemed unkempt. He stood at the door and welcomed me to walk through.


'All yours!' he said.


With every step I became more unnerved, it would have been so easy for him to slam the door and lock me in here to rot. That was until I heard loud thuds following from behind, the door was wide open still and he was also making his way inside with me. I subtly breathed a sigh of relief so he wouldn't notice. I still had an escape route if shit hit the fan. I would wrestle the keys off him and run upstairs. He didn't seem very strong or agile, I was much faster and younger than he was. He essentially gave me a tour of his basement, it wasn't as big as I was thinking previously. He began to explain what all this stuff I assumed was junk was:


'There really ain't anything worth seeing down here, at least with fresh eyes. I keep a lot of this stuff because they have certain memories tied to them, you know? I keep it locked up because I'd rather lose stuff I didn't care about than all this.'


I noticed that there was a huge dog cage, and got curious considering there was no dog to be found anywhere. So I pushed him further, and I was trying to dial myself back in during the process before I possibly ticked him off.


'You had a dog?'


He looked at the cage and slumped his posture and sighed a little, looking at it seemed to bring back some buried memories for him. Memories he would have rather left unfound.


'Yeah, I did. His name was Boxer, I lost him a while ago. I still keep the cage to remember him by. I was going to get rid of it, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Didn't feel right.'


The more I pushed this guy, the more I felt like I was opening up old wounds. I felt like I was poking a bear that wanted to just rest, I felt regret, and I never expected to feel for this guy. Not in a million lifetimes. We spent a few more minutes in the basement before he looked over at me and put his arms by his side.


'You happy?'


I was. My curiosity had been filled. A part of me wanted to search further, really dig deep because I was quite a thorough person, but I had to give it a rest. The main thing was the basement was not hiding the horrors I had been picturing in my mind. It was like any other basement you have ever seen. Dark, damp and filled with plenty of junk items that can't fit in the rest of the house, so you dump it all out of sight out of mind. I was content and we made our way back up the stairs. Surprisingly, he let me go first. I once again felt relief, but that suspect part of my brain was still expecting to be hit in the head by something. I wasn't, and he locked everything up once more. I could tell he was about ready for me to leave with his body language, so I thanked him and made my way inside to leave. As I was walking out of his front door, he raised his bottle of whiskey and said:


'Same time next week?'


He appeared serious. I didn't know how to feel about this development, but it felt like progress at long last. The issues were ironed out, the past was the past.


Chapter 9
The Lonely Road


It had been a solid month since that day. I had not heard anything further on the missing girl, as far as I knew the police were still investigating it. It had made the rounds all across town but nothing had came out of it. I had largely tried to bury it from my mind, because it pained me to know what may have happened to that poor young girl, I felt helpless. I just hoped wherever she is that it wasn't as bad it seemed. Still, a month with no sight of her was miserable to think about. I thought of the parents and the misery they must feel every waking day, and it made me think about my own life. It gave me some more perspective on my own situation. It made the whole no sleeping thing seem like such a small problem in this big bad world, there was things happening out there that were much worse than I had experienced in my tiny, tiny house.


Robert and I were getting along great. We actually sort of bonded over this, it had reminded him of his granddaughter and how he couldn't see her anymore because of his family pushing him away, and I felt for him. I didn't inquire further, but I could relate on the family front. I felt I was not far off being pushed away too. We actually did share a drink once a week, it had become a ritual of sorts. It was nice to have someone that felt like a friend. It was not something I had anticipated. Life was full of many surprises, it was nice to be on the good side of one for a change. I had learned to enjoy a drink or two, even though I still couldn't stand the taste, it became more bearable. Another part of me felt bad that I was sort of feeding in to Robert's problem, he definitely had a drinking problem, the bottle never left his side. I guess I felt like it wasn't my place to tell him what he should do. He's a grown adult. We were only just on good terms, I didn't want to squander that.


I wasn't prepared to tell him how to live his life. He was much older than I was, probably much wiser and I didn't know the first thing about living a good life. I was only just figuring out my own. On our recent time spent together, he had offered to host me for the night. He hadn't had guests over for a while so needed some time to clean out the guest room. I knew I wouldn't sleep in an unfamiliar place, but I figured he could use the company and I at least felt comfortable enough in his presence now.


Robert seemed happy that day. We watched crappy TV, had some good chats about our upbringing and generally enjoyed each other's company. For the first time in a while I had felt completely relaxed. Later that night, he showed me the guest room. It hadn't really been furnished. There was a single bed in the middle of the room. I was not intending to fall asleep regardless, so comfort was not an issue for me. I had not actually told Robert about my sleeping problem. He left me alone in the room and I heard his bedroom door thud. I stood at the window and had a clear view of my house shrouded in the darkness. It felt weird to be on the other side of the coin. All those sleepless nights in that house, and I could have never imagined I would be staying in the house across the street. It almost didn't feel real. Thirty minutes had passed, I was just laying in the bed when I heard Robert's door thud once more and his footsteps were edging closer to my room. I closed my eyes and acted like I was asleep. He briefly opened the door for what couldn't have been more than a brief ten seconds but felt much longer. I heard the door close quietly, and could hear the patting of his feet as he huddled downstairs. The keys in the door could be heard jangling and the front door went with a click. His truck could be heard pulling out of the drive-way and speeding off.


My eyes opened and widened. I figured he must have gone to work, and I was awake and bored. So I might as well explore whilst I have the chance. Probably won't be another opportunity like this for a while. I felt a bit guilty snooping around his house, but I had never seen his room. In fact, I had never used the toilet here either. His room was depressing. The walls were bare, his curtains were drawn and his bed looked very old and creaked loudly as I placed my hand in to the mattress. Looking in his closet, I found a ton of scarves. They were pretty small, and I couldn't remember ever seeing him wear a scarf but he seemed to have a ton of them. In his bed stand he had all sorts of masks and gloves strewn around. That is when I heard his truck pull up. It can't have been that long, surely. I quietly left his room and stood at the top of the hallway. He came in breathing heavily and straining. I made my way downstairs.


His eyes widened as he saw me. The closer I looked, the more I realised he was carrying a body. I couldn't move, I couldn't speak, I just looked on in horror as he just glared at me.


'Grab her, now.'


I stood frozen, he grew impatient, he looked at me with pure rage in his eyes. It was like the first time we met, but only much much worse. I was still trying to make sense of what I was seeing, my heart was pounding out of my chest, I felt so stick to my stomach that I just wanted to throw up. He pulled a knife out of his coat pocket and once again looked at me. Eyes glaring at me with pure hatred.


'I won't ask again, basement, now. Fucking move.'


I still stood there, frozen. Unable to move, unable to speak. He groaned loudly with exasperated breaths.


'NOW!'


I snapped out of it, only barely. He held the knife close to me, instructed me to pick up the body of what appeared to be a small girl and motioned me to walk forward. I carried her and felt like breaking down. I could see her face just barely, and it was Ruby Myers, I was sure of it. I hadn't been able to forget her face since the news report. She was completely unconscious. Robert was trailing behind me with wild eyes. sweat dripping from his brows and the most heinous of looks I have ever seen.


'HURRY UP!'


I nearly jumped from the increasing tone of his voice, I wanted to shriek. He unlocked the door and pushed me in, I nearly dropped her in the process. He kept pushing me further and further until I was stood in the middle of the basement. He kept the knife in one hand as he dragged the dog cage with his other. For that split second, I had considered running. Then I thought of the girl, I was not going to make it far with her in my hands and I was not prepared to leave her. I considered closing the door sharply on him but I had her in my arms and didn't have the keys. I just stayed frozen. The dragging of the cage across the floor pierced through my skin and hurt my ears. He motioned for me to get in, I had no other option. Before I got in, he reached in my pocket and took my phone away from me.


'You should have stayed away from me, Mike. I warned you. You caused this.'


He closed the cage with a padlock, barged up the basement stairs and slammed the door with force. I heard all the keys rattle in the door. His truck could be heard faintly taking off. He had left us here to rot. I sat with her and sobbed. I had trusted him, and he had been everything I first feared and worse. I began to kick the cage with all my strength but the padlock was fitted tight. I didn't have it in me, my legs gave out. I felt I was about to die in here.




Chapter 10
Revelations


It had been what I assume a couple of hours, but it felt like a lifetime. The darkness was consuming me, I felt life flashing before my eyes. The girl had not moved since we got in here. I could not see her well. On occasion I would attempt to kick the cage again, but all my attempts felt futile, this basement had become my tomb. I heard his truck pull up again. I had to think fast, I acted asleep. I had no other plan. I was praying and hoping he would unlock the door. I heard the keys rattle, I was trying to control my heavy breathing and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do, I had never been more scared.


He chuckled as he walked down.


'How cute.'


I heard his footsteps approach the cage as he opened it. He grabbed my face, slapped me and made me 'wake up'. He had a dark mask concealing his face, the knife was still in his hands. He began to walk over to a wall on the side of the basement and started pulling away some of the items. There was a hole in the wall that had been hidden. He laughed maniacally as he pulled out what looked to be a human bone.


'This is where you will stay.'


I was horrified and shaking. I was in disbelief at how sick and twisted this man was. He was going to kill us and leave us to rot down here, so we'd never be found. He wasn't as frail as I once thought. Maybe it was all an act to entrap me. He had completely changed his personality overnight. He just glared back at me, his wild eyes could be seen through the mask.


'Are you ready to die, Mike?'


He walked over to me closely, held the knife right to my throat as I closed my eyes. I had accepted my fate. Then I heard a small voice from right next to me, it was her.


'Where am I?'


His eyes shot to the side in an instant, Ruby had started to come to. It was now or never. Adrenaline coursed through my body as I charged forward and tackled him like a freight train. I strained as I tried to remove the knife from his hand, he was holding on to it with all his might. I hit him with a knee in the gut as hard as I could, he bent over to his side and the knife fell out of his hands. As I went to grab it, he grabbed my foot in an instant and pulled me away. My legs grazed across the floor. He groaned in agony as he tried to reach the knife. I had to move fast, I sat up and punched him in the back of the head as hard as I could muster, his head hit the concrete, he once again groaned loudly. The knife was within my grasp, I grabbed it.


Robert chuckled to himself as he lay on the ground in pain, almost impressed at me fighting back, I grabbed the girl and threatened him with the knife.


'Hand me the keys motherfucker!'


He shot up once more and charged towards me, I had to push Ruby away to safety. He now had blood rushing down his neck, his eyes were bloodshot and menacing. He was prepared to kill. He pushed me hard and hurt my back on the shelves, I held on to the knife as much as I possibly could. He grunted and groaned loudly as he tried to wrestle it from me. I once again hit him with a knee, this time in the groin. It wasn't hard enough, only enough to release his grip from my hand. He repositioned himself and continued to put pressure on my neck with both hands. I felt myself fading.


I only had one choice and I had to do it before I fainted. I stabbed him directly in the chest with the knife. He walked backwards, the knife was buried deep in his chest. He fell backwards on the floor with a loud thud. I quickly grabbed the keys and phone from his pocket and made my way to Ruby at the door. My hands stopped working when I tried to unlock the door, and I had to hold one of them with my other hand to stop it shaking so much. I quickly raced outside and locked the door behind me. Ruby's face was completely blue, she was confused and frightened. I quickly rushed her inside and phoned the police.


We made our way outside and both sat on the pavement waiting for the police to arrive. I placed my coat around her to warm her up, and watched on as sirens began to beam in to view. The sounds were overwhelming, my heart had not stopped pounding for a minute.


I closed my eyes and hoped things would be okay now. I prayed that I could find some peace in my life at long last. Most importantly of all, I prayed that the girl would be okay.


The End.
 
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