Sleep deprivation. It has to be sleep deprivation. There is no ghost, there is no ghost. I am adamant. They don’t exist – everyone knows that. Or perhaps I’m insane. Three months of never going outside, living in the dark of a tiny, squalid flat in the middle of a faceless city can do that to a man. I can’t deny this possibility, however awful a fate it might be. Still, I think it’s just sleep deprivation.
The insanity is seeming more and more likely as time ticks by. Torturous second by torturous second. Day and night bleed into one now, in this windowless hovel, so I cannot confirm whether or not what I saw was real and not just fantasy. There were eyes on my ceiling. Red eyes, freezing me with its burning gaze. Just for a second. But one second was all it needed; I dropped to the floor, cowering in fear of the brief image of the eyes. I was sure they weren’t real, but everyone’s been scared of the dark. Everyone’s caught sight of something that’s not there in a mirror and had their blood freeze in their veins. I only moved from my position when an hour had passed. This isn’t fair.
I’m not bored any more – the fear lying at the back of my subconscious, threatening to overwhelm and tear me limb from limb is enough to overpower that particular emotion. I will soon sleep and so will my computer. The cheap monitor is hurting my eyes, and ephemeral reflections in it catch my eye and send shivers down my spine. I’m driving myself mad and I hate it. I’m furious at myself. Enough writing. Time for no sleep.
I still think there is not ghost, but my faith is shaken, and so am I. The “haunting” was worse than ever last night. My bed shook in the beginning. Then silence. Icy fingers clawed my back as I reached for the knife I now keep for security (call me paranoid). It was gone. Pure panic as I thrashed around in the darkness, looking for my weapon. I threw the sheets off myself and crashed onto the threadbare carpet. Ouch. Something cold on my stomach, as I lay face down on the filthy carpet. The knife – it had just fallen off. No need for panic. Feeling utterly stupid, I crawled back into bed, wrapping a pillow tightly round my head. Still no sleep. At least now I can chalk it up to sleep deprivation and be half convinced of it myself.
Staring at the monitor, listening to the droning of my hard drive. I’m going to need a new computer soon, but I don’t plan on leaving to get one. Maybe the neighbours will help, though I’ve never actually seen or heard from any of them. I’m not even sure they exist. Pondering. Worrying. Alone.
I’ve decided to venture out. Human interaction is what I need. I just get the feeling seeing a human again will relieve me (to an extent) of this crippling paranoia. I sit idly for a few minutes as I think back through my clouded memory to my family; they’re dead. All of them. They died in a fire at a family reunion. What no one knows is that it was me. They called me unstable; they made me a child of the state, another faceless infant doomed to lead a joyless life. A tear rolls down my cheek as a whimsical scream imbued with a combination of emotions I would not have thought possible resonates throughout my room and the corridor outside. I all but somersaulted out of my chair, startled by the cry. Spurred on, by a mixture of curiosity and pure terror, I bolted for the door, slamming it behind me. Time to investigate.
It’s a brave new world, the outside of my apartment. I didn’t like it. The footsteps clanged loudly on the cold stone floor, no matter how lightly I trod. I felt exposed. Spiders scuttled away, seemingly surprised to see a human in their realm. I don’t think anyone had been there for years. I took steps towards the door directly in my line of sight, carefully, with the utmost caution. Not sure why I acted like that, but recent events have had me on edge. CLACK! CLACK! I swear, I have never heard footsteps that loud in my life. Then again, the last time I set foot on outside ground was three months ago, so I guess I’m just out of tune, so to speak. I rapped quickly on the hard, half-painted wood of the door, my knocking echoing even louder than the footsteps. As I expected, no response. As if on cue, a slight breeze of freezing air brushed my side; no windows were open. Apprehension rose up inside me, threatening to spill out. Too cold, too creepy. The outside – people – seemed a less inviting prospect on this frigid, blustery eve than my little slice of interior hell. I decided to go back inside. Turning to go back into my own personal nightmare, something forced me to stop. I was being watched. Somehow, by some sixth sense, I knew I was being watched. I stood entranced, stock still in that dusty corridor. A footstep. My eyes go wide and my brain into overdrive. It had to be sleep deprivation – it had to be! Or maybe I was right about the insanity. All I knew was that I was scared – scared in that way that makes your blood run cold, the kind of fear that drives a perfectly sane man to insanity, the kind that clouds your mind with dark thoughts of morbidity and death, that tears apart the sacred banks of your memory. Another footstep. It was mere inches away. Trembling. My eyes flickered down; they gazed upon the faintest shadow – the kind of shadow cast by something otherworldly. It exhaled – its mouth felt centimetres away from mine. Almost at breaking point. It moved, I could sense it. I could feel the movement in the air, dangerously close to me: it reached out an invisible arm, taking its time, drafting cold blasts of air in my direction as it moved. It touched me with a ghastly finger and stroked my cheek. That was it. I screamed with abject terror, the waves of emotion spilling forth from my lungs in an endless tide.
After what felt like hours, my vision went fuzzy, forcing me to stop expelling precious air from my lungs. The apparition had disappeared. There are ghosts. I was wrong. I padded softly back to my door, careful to make no noise. I gripped the handle so tightly my knuckles turned completely white and turned. Stepping in, I fell to my knees the moment the door slammed shut behind me. Dragging myself across the rough carpet to my sofa, incurring painful burns on the way, I reached the arm of it. It pulled myself up with my remaining strength, and slumped, shaking as I drifted into the world of a more pleasant nightmare.
I woke up at 4 PM today, feeling no better and just as insecure for all the uninterrupted sleep. Great. Nothing left to do now but count down the hours till the next bout of haunting. Leaving is not an option.
The power’s out, so this journal is all I really have now. Maybe I should change my clothes – these ones are stained with sweat. Then again, who’s going to see me? Wait, something’s happening.
Knock. Knock. Someone’s knuckles cracked loudly upon impact with the worn-paint surface on the front my door. Suspicion shoots through my mind like lightning. Cautious, I stepped forward slowly towards the door, mind ablaze with worry and morbid thoughts. Knock. Knock. He – or it – knocked again, louder this time. Eyes closed… arduous step by arduous step, I approached the door. Old floorboards creaked as I walked. Two metres away. Reaching for the handle. I turned it and the door opened; I prepared for terror. It was a man – a human. What a perplexing sight. I was naturally distrustful, so I said nothing. After an awkward silence, he speaks first.
“Delivery for a Mr Lucas. It doesn’t say which apartment he lives in. Do you know?” He adjusts his shades – a very strange apparel in this harsh weather – and pulls his cap down a bit further. It’s like he doesn’t want me to see him. The paranoia is rising.
“He… uh,” I stumbled, not at all used to speaking to anyone else after three months of holding my silence. “I’ll give it to him,” I lied, curious. After my outing on Tuesday, I’m certain I have no neighbours. He handed me the package. It was lighter than I thought it would be, given the size of the wide-set box. I turned around to place it beside me, still not setting foot outside. He was gone. Shivers ran down my spine. Maybe I had a small memory lapse and he didn’t just disappear into thin air. Yeah, that was most likely it. I’m sure there is something wrong with my brain, that I’m just addled, confused, and tired, that there is no ghost. I hope.
All right, I’ve mustered enough courage to open the box now. I’m approaching it, journal in hand, waiting to record what I find. I’m setting this book aside now, and going to open it. Crap. The phone’s ringing. Since when did I have a phone? Even worse, since when did I know anyone?
I answered the phone. Heavy breathing, animalistic, but human. I’m going mad. Terrified as I am, I’m still going to open that box. Oh, and now I have a crushing headache.
I sat next to the box, hands shaking madly, head throbbing, vision shaking. I knew I had to do this quickly. I tore the box to shreds, using my dirty, tattered finger nails to slice the tape. I made short work of it and there was nothing left of it after a minute of a frenzied assault by myself. Vision blurred as I regained my breath.
A mirror. There was a mirror inside. Who the hell orders a mirror at a time like this!? That is, assuming “Mr Lucas” is real. I’m starting to doubt his existence. It just seems so convenient.
Studying the mirror, it was adorned with markings, of a kind. The faces of screaming demons decorated the outside, but that’s not the worst of it. The outlines of shadowy, ethereal creatures danced round the carved wood skirting; and it’s the exact figure I met on the landing. This isn’t sleep deprivation. This is real. Then again, what else would you feel if you were truly insane, other than being truly convinced of a lie?
THE MIRROR THE MIRROR THE MIRROR IT’S LOOKING AT ME! HELP! OH GOD HELP! IT’S COMING FOR M
“Doctor, is he alive?”
“Physically, yes. Mentally, well, I can honestly say I have never seen a human brain in this state before. He’ll never recover and may die from the psychological damage.”
“What did he do to himself?” She studied the x-ray scans.
“He threw himself from his second floor window. By all rights, he should have been killed or knocked out from that height, but he was found jabbering to himself when the police arrived. Said there was a ghost.”
“Sounds bad. What caused the psychological damage?”
“Long story. We found his journal in his apartment; we learned far more than we were bargaining for. He killed every member of his family at an early age. Though he was never found guilty, he was declared mentally unstable and likely to gain a serious mental disorder at some point. He was put into care at age 8. He hated it. Three people in his care home died over the course of ten years; one was stabbed; one was poisoned, and one killed himself. He was never found guilty and was released into the world at 18 – three months ago.”
“He wasn’t just mentally unstable. He was a killer.”
“Right. After gaining the apartment, he never went outside. Once. He wrote about “hauntings” that happened each night. He thought he met an apparition in the second floor corridor after knocking on the abandoned apartment in front of him. The security tapes we recovered from the complex showed him fall into a trance halfway back to his door; he then began screaming loudly and nearly passed out from the air loss. The next day, he cut his own power lines after ordering a “Spirit Mirror” from some Ouija nut on the Internet. The delivery man said he was looking shifty and pale. He saw the patient fall over when he went to put the package down, but when asked if he needed any help, the patient yelled at him and pulled a kitchen knife out of his pocket and yelled angrily. He passed out and the delivery man ran away. In the final sequence of events, after picking up the phone when it didn’t ring, he opened the box and found the mirror. It sent his brain into accelerated decay. Very early on Thursday morning, he scribbled something about the monster from the mirror coming to get him. Most of it was gibberish, but some of it we could decipher.”
“How sad. Well, I’d better get back to work. Bye, doc.”
The imposter unlocked the soft room door, where his victim was held captive, against his will, stewing in his shattered mind. The victim knew the truth. The imposter doctor padded calmly towards the struggling patient, who was attempting to scream. His mouth was bound.
“Hush now,” crooned the imposter, “I’ll make the pain go away.”
“MMMPHHH!” The patient was trying to say something. To the trained ear, it sounded like he was trying to bellow “YOU!”
The imposter reached out a wrinkled hand and touched his victim’s cranium. The patient let out a cacophonous shriek as wildfire scorched the neurones inside his mind. He shook violently, feeling his mind collapse in on itself like an avalanche. Foggy memory collided with foggy memory, creating entirely new realities, but not of happiness – of death, of pain and of abject sadness. Soon, nothing remained of his mind. He stopped shaking. He was alive, but dead.
Credit To – Dan