The demon inside
I really need to tell someone this, before I lose my mind. This place, it’s driving me crazy, I just really need to tell someone my story and I hope you believe me because God, no one else does.
Something has been following me.
Well haunting me I guess. Not like an emotional haunting, a real one.
I know I sound crazy and paranoid but it’s true, something is after me. Was after me, I think I’ve dealt with it for good now.
I first noticed it about a month ago, July 22nd to be accurate. At the time I wouldn’t have seen the signs for what they were, to be honest, I thought Stacey was imagining it that first night.
I got home late that Saturday night, around 1am I guess, I’d been at Brian’s party and yes, I’d had a drink or two but that doesn’t change what happened. It was around midnight and pissing it down outside, great buckets of rain chucked from the depths of the churning steel sky. I remember it so clearly because I’d forgotten my umbrella that night and had only just got my hair done- such a stupid detail to remember in light of things, how I wish I could go back in time to when my hair was my only problem. That night, I half stumbled up the steps to my flat, fingers numb with cold, blinking rain and mascara out of my eyes, feet squelching in my wedge heel ankle boots, just dreaming of a hot shower and feeling the alluring pull of my duvet.
I bashed the front door open and dropped my bag onto the hallway table, leaving the lights off in a vain attempt at not waking Stace. I stumbled to the toilet and promptly threw up everywhere. Okay, maybe I’d had more than a drink or two…. I had just decided that having a shower, even making it to the bedroom were too grand of a dream for the likes of me and spending the night hugging the toilet was now more my speed when the hallway light clicked on, spotlighting me in my shame.
“Charley?” The timid voice of my ever forgiving roommate asked, I blinked up to see her shivering in her ex’s t shirt.
“Hey stacey!” I enthusiastically greeted, a little too loud. “I just got in, have a seat”
“What are you talking about? When did you leave?” Stacey replied in confusion.
“Ooohh I went straight to the party from work, didn’t you get my text?” I told her, tugging the boots from my dripping legs.
“I had a migraine again, I’ve been in bed… I heard you earlier, banging around the kitchen”
I laughed it off, sure she had been dreaming plus I was too drunk to care quite frankly, Stacey made me a very strong coffee, put me in bed with a bucket and left me too it. She was such an angel.
The next morning was spent nursing a hangover and reliving every cringey detail from the party. The thing with Stacey was all but forgotten about, until late that afternoon. I had drifted off to sleep on the sofa after binge watching Netflix when something woke me. At first I wasn’t able to point out exactly what it was but after a while I heard it again- humming in the kitchen. Smiling to myself, I hunted under the fuzzy blanket wrapped around me, found my phone and texted stacey to put the kettle on. Closing my eyes I lay my head back, waiting to hear the sound of the boiling water, but I heard my phone vibrate instead. “Had to pop in and see mum, will be back later, how’s the head? X”
The sudden silence was more alarming than if the humming had continued, my skin was crawling with the almost physical sensation I was being watched.
Now seriously Dave, I’m not exaggerating at all when I say, I nearly pissed myself. I was frozen to the spot with fear, my heart was pounding so loud I could hear it. I was desperately trying to think of what I should do. Should I confront the stranger in my kitchen? Should I dash to the bedroom, lock myself in and call the cops? Should I text Stacey someone was here so she could call the cops without alerting whoever was there that I was aware of them? I’m sure I only thought through the options for about 30 seconds when my phone buzzed in my hand. “On my way home, want some maccy’s? X” It was stacey again, wondering why she was coming home so I soon I pressed the reply button, only to see she had last messaged me three hours ago.
THREE HOURS. I had been sat frozen in fear for three hours?!?! I looked around me in confusion and sure enough, the late afternoon sunshine beaming through the windows was replaced by the flat black of an unforgiving night. Forget the adrenaline spiking fear I felt what seemed like minutes ago, this was the heart stopping terror of realising something was wrong with me! Had I had a stroke? Or a fit? Those were the first thoughts to come barrelling through my mind. I replied to stacey, telling her I was still feeling under the weather and locked myself in my bedroom, I spent hours on Google looking into the signs and symptoms of a million different disorders, convinced I was dying.
My usual Monday morning alarm woke me at my desk, face smooshed into the keyboard of the laptop, my heart was still racing and spiking widely in my chest, I decided that was another symptom and added it to my list. My head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool and my throat was like sandpaper, I smelt like death and surely looked worse. Not wanting to face anyone’s questions, I called the office answer phone and left a message saying I was sick and couldn’t come in for a few days. I shoved my hair up in a messy bun, slipped on some leggings and a baggy T and left the house before Stacey was awake.
I should have told her, I should have called you, If only I could have seen where this was all going…
I went straight to Costa, needing a huge injection of sugary caffeine, triple shot, mocha frappe in hand, I camped outside the GP’s office determined to get an appointment this morning. By 8:30 when the receptionist opened the doors there was quite a queue behind me. Little old men and women, frail and vulnerable, some in wheelchairs or leaning heavily upon walking sticks, one man brave enough to be walking unaided turning slightly blue in lips. I could feel their eyes on me, my young healthy body. Asking themselves, Why was I here in their domain? Their eyes questioned suspiciously.
As we filed into the building I reluctantly floated to the back of the queue, head down, trying to appease the judgment in their stares. By the time the doctors got to me it was gone 11, I was tired, hungry and fed up, I had managed to convince myself I wasn’t dying, that’s so ridiculous right? I couldn’t be, I was young, fit and healthy! Miss Charlotte Samson, please go to room 9, the screen ordered me and so I did. I told Dr Hassan that I was a little concerned my drink had been spiked, that’s the only rational explanation I could come up with. I got the feeling he didn’t quite believe my reasoning of the events but he humoured me, took my temperature, pulse and blood pressure then printed out a slip for me to get a blood test upstairs and told me to come back if anything else happened.
What else could happen though? I had cracked the puzzle, solved the enigma. I was drugged. I practically skipped out of the office and sat docily for the nurse to get the blood sample. No longer jittery and on edge, it felt like a weight had been lifted off of my chest. The point of who could have or would have drugged me never came up. As far as I was concerned it happened, I had found out, I was fine.
Why didn’t I put our experiences together? Stacey had told me she’d heard something too. I guess I was just too wrapped up in what was happening to me.
Leaving the doctors office, I strolled down the busy high street, people watching as I went. Mothers dragging reluctant children around shops, teenagers skipping school, women in power suits, striding through the crowd on their way to business meetings, men in suits with bluetooth headsets clipped to their ears, ordering their interns around. The rich tapestry of life filled me with a buzzing energy as I drifted unnoticed through the backdrop of their busy lives.
I dropped into the bakery down the road from mine and picked up a fresh baguette for lunch and some almond croissants to replace the breakfast I had missed. I had a brief conversation with Amie who works there part time whilst getting her degree in food science. Most people consider cooking good food an art, recipes filled with love but not Amie, she saw it as a purely scientific processes, the reactions of certain chemicals, the precise heatings of activated ingredients. I never quite got that approach but I can’t deny the results are amazing. I don’t know why I’m telling you this part, I guess it’s just nice to remember sane things.
Wishing her luck on her exam coming up I popped into the grocers next door for some strong, crumbly cheese and fat, juicy tomatoes. I strolled down the cool isles, basking in the air conditioning, it was late July outside and boiling hot, unusually humid, you could feel another bout rain coming in the oppressive air. I reached the refrigerated section and picked out a west country cheddar, daydreaming about convincing Stacey to cut work with me tomorrow and head for the coast when I caught sight of a black figure lurking behind me. Sucking in my breath I turned, dropping my basket on the floor as I did so. Three tomatoes and a ball of iceberg lettuce bounced down the empty isle, there was no one there.
The shop owner, Mr Patel hurried around the corner to see what the commotion was, embarrassed, I brushed off his concerns, picked up my produce and shoved some money at him.
Stepping out of the shop, the sun blinded me, it no longer seemed like a quiet happy day full of busy people but a threatening rush of strangers, concealing who they were and what they were doing. Any of them could be following me, waiting for me to let my guard down so they could strike. I don’t know where this parania came from, I was feeling fine just moments ago but at the sight of that strange dark figure in the shining metal of the fridge I lost it. I shoved through the crowd, jogging home in a circuitous route, checking behind me every 30 seconds. I was sure no one followed me.
Slamming my flat door shut, I double locked it and put the chain on. I left the shopping by the door and headed straight for the kitchen, grabbing the biggest, sharpest knife from the block by the microwave, I hunted through the house, opened every cupboard, checked under every piece of furniture, even behind the shower curtain, still a little damp from Stacey this morning. The place was deserted. I walked through one more time checking all the windows and locking them, not that anyone could climb up the bare concrete wall to the third floor but I wasn’t taking any chances. Despite the stifling heat, I couldn’t bring myself to let in a breeze, who knows what else could follow the draft in.
Finally satisfied that no one had followed me or was waiting for me in here, I sighed with relief and picked up my bag of shopping from the hallway floor. I was shaky, worn down and my head was pounding, I packed the food away without making myself the sandwich I had craved just a short while ago, my appetite had left me. I went to the bathroom and started running a bath as hot as I could stand and texted Stacey, “Are you at work? X” I didn’t expect her to reply straight away, it was only ten to twelve, her lunch break wouldn’t be for another forty minutes. I put the phone on the edge of the sink and eased into the bath.
The hot water eased my aching joints and my headache started to fade to the back of my mind. My thoughts were still too jumbled up to process what I had been through so I pushed them all away, I’d talk them through with Stacey later. I allowed the hot water to wash me clean, the grime from not showering for a few days, the sour sweat of nervous energy, even my thoughts were washed away. I lathered up my hair with crisp smelling apple shampoo, taking my time to massage the bubbles into my scalp, dunked my head to rinse out the bubbles and carefully combed the conditioner through my hair with my fingers. I relaxed into the tub, my clean hair drifting around my shoulders in the soft currents made by my deep breathing. Eyes closed, I drifted away…
I sat up suddenly, sloshing water all over the bathroom floor, my heart had jumped into my throat… silence… I thought I must have imagined it. BANG. There is was again, something in the kitchen… “Stacey?” I called, hoping she had come home, but how could she? I had put the chain on the door. I jumped out of the now chilly water and wrapped myself in my dressing gown. “Hello?” I tentatively called into the rush of silence. I could hear my pulse beating in my ears, my mouth was bone dry but again nothing answered my call.
I was just about to put it down to my imagination when I heard whispering… at first it was so soft I could barely hear it, straining my ears I leaned closer to the gap between the bathroom door, and it’s cracked, aged frame, I felt a breath of air against my ear and yes definitely whispering. It got louder and louder until it was a roar, a roar of whispered words, unintelligible like the rustling of insects. I jumped back away from the door, fell over the bathroom matt and ended up half in the bath, soaking wet and sloshing more water onto the already saturated floor. The whispering was joined by more banging, bashing, clashing, ripping and tearing. I don’t know what happened out there, I don’t want to know.
I threw on the clothes I had on before, half drenched from a pile on the floor, grabbed my phone and ran out of the door.
I need a break, I’ll write the rest tomorrow.