They come in the middle of the night. All of the faces that I’ve loved. All of those that I’ve ruined. But they only come at night. During the day they leave me alone. I think that they’re afraid of the light. They hide in the shadows of the dark, their hands waiting to reach out from under my bed, ripping at the sheets until they can reach my bare skin.
I never meant to hurt any of them, and they know that. Everything that happened to them was circumstantial; it was a part of the job. They were casualties of war. I never wanted them to be. I had wanted them to stay with me forever, for their whole lives. I loved every single one of them. They had all done something to make me a better person.
But now they are all gone. Some left me because they had to. Some of them got left behind. But some of them, not many, but some of them died.
And it was all my fault.
It was because they were with me, traveling with me, sharing their lives with me that they died, or left, or got left behind.
I led a dangerous life. An exciting life, but a dangerous one.
And now, at night, they come to extract their revenge on me, and there was nothing I could do about it because deep down I knew that I deserved it.
I deserved the swears they screamed at me. I deserved the questions they asked that I couldn’t answer because of the knot in my stomach and the dry tongue behind my lips. I deserved the punches, the kicks, the nails digging into flesh and tearing, drawing blood. I deserved it all and more.
People were beginning to think I was crazy. They thought that I was self-harming because the pain had become too much for me to bear. I knew the truth and that was all that mattered. It was my cross to bear. I didn’t care what other people thought of me, I knew the truth. I had a dozen lifetimes to make up for it, and even more people to seek forgiveness in.
And forgiveness did not come easy.
I started to notice that they were coming in schedules. They wouldn’t all show up at the same time. One night half of them would come, the next night the other half. It went on like that for months.
It was the same, until I lost another. I swear I loved her. I loved her more than anything. I was ready to rip the world apart for her. I would have done anything for her. But she was gone, and it was my fault. I wasn’t strong enough to save her, I couldn’t protect her and it weighed heavy on my heart. I stressed over it constantly. I didn’t think I would ever be okay again.
After I lost her, after I lost the one that I loved but never told, they all came at once. They cane in dozens.
I noticed the change when the whispers started. They had never whispered before. They called out to me, calling my name. Their voices were strangled, hoarse, and demonic. They were unnatural and cold. They slowly got louder and louder and I could pick out each individual voice, no matter how warped it was. With each voice I recognized, my heart broke all over again.
They started to slip out of the shadows. I heard the closet door open and close, the hinges creaking above the strangled whispers. I could feel the blankets around me pulling tighter as they crawled out from under the bed and pulled at the covers, trying to pull themselves up onto the bed with me.
The voices got louder as they drew closer and I could feel their nails already starting to dig into my arms and legs. But it wouldn’t stop there. Usually there would be a slap or two that left a bright hand print and small dainty scratches along my cheek.
The first slap came with a shock. I blinked back tears, not from the pain of the sting, but the pain of my heart breaking as I stared up into her face. Blonde curls danced in the darkness around her face. Beautiful chocolate eyes that I loved stared at me with tears flowing out of them like a river.
My world shattered. How could I have let this happen to her?
My hand moved of its own accord. I reached up and tried to touch her face, tried to smooth the hair away from her angelic face, wipe the tears away.
They had never let me touch them before.
But she did.
She always would.
A sob wracked my body as I cupped her face in both my hands. I noticed the pulling and scratching had stopped. The voices had hushed. As far as I could tell, the others had gone, leaving me with her. Alone with her.
“I loved you,” I choked out. A smile graced her beautiful lips that I had never been able to kiss enough. She didn’t say anything but she leaned into my touch, one of her hands rested against mine.
Her skin was icy cold. That’s how I knew it couldn’t be real. She was dead. She was gone. If she had really been there she wouldn’t have been so cold.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t save you.”
She shook her head and curled into the bed with me, curling her body against mine, laying her head on my chest. How could this be real?
We must have laid there for hours. Neither one of us said anything. I just held her and she let me. For once the voices were quiet. For once there was peace. For once, in a very long time I was happy.
I woke up and walked into the kitchen. It was a small thing, barley enough room for one person. I didn’t need a lot of space, just enough to make tea and toast when I wanted it, maybe something sweet in the cupboard for those rare moments when I needed it. The stove only had two burners. I never needed more than that.
As I waited for the water to boil in the kettle I collapsed into a chair and looked around the empty space. It seemed like the walls were closing in with their ugly wallpaper. It was a dingy white with stains from experiments gone wrong. One of these days I would have to change it. The fridge was an antique from somewhere around the 1970’s if I remembered correctly. I liked vintage things. There wasn’t much else in the small kitchen.
I realized with a shock that things weren’t very personal around my home. I wasn’t sure if it could even be called a home. It was a place I lived, but that was it. There was no love, no friendship, no life there.
Once the tea was ready I poured a cup and walked into the main room. There was a big, open, airy bay window that I often looked out. It was here that I would think about the nights before, going over and catalog all of the scratches and bruises that I always seemed to wake up with.
I was never sure how I got them. The first morning I had woken up with them I thought someone had broken in while I was asleep and attacked me. As it went on, night after night I began to think that I was doing it to myself, but upon closer examination I noticed that there was no skin under my fingernails, no blood, nothing to suggest I was hurting myself.
Now I just assumed it was pure clumsiness. I was a bit of a danger prone person, it was logical to think that throughout the day I would hurt myself. However, it was starting to really bother me, especially that particular morning when there were no new scratches, no new bruises.
What was going on at night? What was I seeing or fighting? I’d seen a lot of things, but nothing to explain this.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and went out to buy a video camera. I would figure out what was going on, even if I did have to turn my life into a real-life Paranormal Activity.
I was browsing the video cameras at Best Buy, looking for the cheapest one when I noticed another body dangerously close to my personal bubble. I glanced at her from the corner of my eye and something inside recognized her though I couldn’t put a name or a place with her face. I had no idea who she was, but something deep inside told me that she was a very important person in my life.
“Get this one,” she said picking up a Sony model. It was cheap, small, and basically everything I was looking for.
“Thanks,” I mumbled taking it from her to look over. “How did you know I was looking for something like this?”
“Women’s intuition.” She smiled but it quickly faded and I became very uncomfortable from the way she was looking at me. She smoothed her blonde hair away from her eyes and I had a déjà vu moment as I looked into her chocolate eyes. Who was this woman?
“Well, thanks.” I turned to leave but she stopped me in my tracks.
“John, you need to remember.”
I spun around to look at her but she was gone. The space she’d been standing in was vacant. I played it off as lack of sleep and quickly checked out and went back home.
As soon as I was back in the safety of my own home, with the doors securely locked, I went into the bedroom and set up the camera so it was facing the bed. At least now I would be able to catch on film whatever was happing in the darkness at night.
I still couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness I’d been feeling since the blonde had talked to me at the store. There was something about her that just unsettled me. I tried to remember, tried my hardest to remember where she was from, how I knew her, and how she seemed to know me. Nothing was coming and it was only making my head hurt to try.
There was a dull, yet painful, burning in my frontal lobe, just behind my eyes. I rubbed them, and massaged my temples trying to alleviate some of the pain.
Even though I had no idea who that woman was, there was something inside of me, like a deep, gut, instinctual feeling that I knew who she was, that she was a very important part of my life. I remembered the way her eyes had looked when she’d looked at me. They had been so painful. It was like she wanted me to remember something so badly.
The only problem was, I couldn’t for the life of me remember. I lived a normal life; I was a normal person except for what happened to me at night. So what was I supposed to remember? I sighed and looked at the camera. It was time to figure out. I pushed record and climbed into bed, fatigue suddenly clamming me.
Hopefully tonight would be the night that I figured out what was going on at night. Maybe then I could remember what this blonde who was so familiar but a complete stranger at the same time wanted me to remember.
It was like I was living two lives. There was the normal life I had during the day. I was a normal person who went to work, came home and watched television, ate dinner, and went to bed.
Then, there was the life I led at night where things happened to me that I couldn’t remember.
It was time I found out what was going on and put an end to it.
I could only hope this worked.
“Do you think he’ll remember?”
“I don’t know, it’s hard to say.”
“If he doesn’t come back soon we’re all going to be in trouble.”
“I know that Jack, I know that more than anyone.”
Jack sighed and put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to imply anything.”
She shook her head and leaned into his body, seeking the warmth he offered that she couldn’t get from the man she wanted it from. “I know, I just want him back.”
“I know.” Jack kissed her head. “I know.”