Look, I don’t know why I’m coming here before I come to anyone else. Maybe it’s because you guys are experts in crazy shit. I know that I’m desperate for someone’s help or guidance on what to do.
So, let me preface this story by saying that as a child I had a really severe fear of the dark. I slept with my door cracked open to let the hallway light in and I always checked under my bed and in my closet, usually more than once, so I didn’t die. It’s not a fear that’s faded much as I’ve grown up.
My vision is terrible and I would be blind without my glasses. Couple that with darkness and strange noises and you have pure fear at night, even when I try to sleep. Unfortunately, there’s not much to be done for it, since roughly half of the average day takes place at night. I shouldn’t joke, though. This is serious shit I’ve dragged myself into.
The only time in my daily life that my fear actually becomes a problem is when I have my late class once a week at the university. The fastest way home from there is a five minute walk through a bush track. This leads over a river, up an unlit staircase that crawls lazily up the hill, and across a flat part of forest, before it comes out near my student flat.
The other way home involves taking a bus from university into town and another one back to my place, looping around the entire forest. It takes at least half an hour, but I was still willing to do it to avoid that night walk. I did that for the first few weeks, but eventually I couldn’t be bothered spending all that extra time.
Usually I bring a torch so I can swing it wildly around like a moron in a horror movie whenever I hear a strange noise. It makes me feel better. But last night I forgot it because when the sun is up it’s easy to forget how scary I will find this walk. All I had was my phone and keys. I put the phone in one hand, ready to call for help, and put my keys in the other, the tips sticking out from between my fingers like Wolverine claws. It’s a pretty useless weapon, but it’s about the feeling of safety.
Both hands, prepared for danger, then went in my pockets. It was cold last night.
Sorry for the excessive detail. I’m trying to set the scene. I guess I want you guys to understand how it all happened so I don’t look like an idiot or a monster.
The walk started normally. The first part is freezing cold, being next to a river, and it’s totally silent. I heard the usual rustling noises and when my squinting turned up nothing I just blamed it on rats and mice. I had to, to keep myself calm.
God, I sound like such a baby when I put it like this.
I passed someone at the base of the steps and looked behind me a bunch of times to make sure they hadn’t turned to follow me. I had immediately forgotten their face and was worried I wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a line-up.
Then I heard a noise ahead of me and froze for maybe thirty seconds. I could have sworn I saw something moving in the trees, just outside my range of vision. Narrowing my eyes and tilting my head didn’t show me anything, and the sound faded away.
I was starting to have trouble breathing. The air was too cold for my asthma to handle and I was breathing pretty heavily. I paused to take off my backpack and find my inhaler, but I’d fucking left that at home too. Already I was getting lightheaded from not breathing properly.
The backpack went back on and I kept walking. I stumbled into a puddle, causing icy mud to dribble into my shoe. I was starting to feel like I was floating away thanks to my asthma. All I felt was hot and cold and fear. I know it sounds like I’m making excuses, and well, maybe I am.
I was distracted by my own panic and that caused me to trip again. My knee crashed into a wooden step, and I got mud all over myself as I pushed myself upright. I started running at this point. I just needed to get home.
I could hear the rustling again and I could hear footsteps, quick and heavy and coming towards me from the way home. I got the keys ready in my hand to fight for my life.
The stairs just kept going. They felt way longer than they had ever felt. Whatever was out there, it wasn’t going to let me leave. I could taste metal at the back of my throat. I was crying, too, certain that this was how I was going to die.
Then I slammed into it, at the top of the stairs. The thing making the noise. It was so sudden that I was stunned for a split second. It smelled bad and its skin was too hot and it breathed heavily, all over me, like decay or rot. I tried to get away, screaming at top of my lungs and punching at it with my hand in a fist. I got it in the head with the wrong hand, the one with the phone, but my punch slowed it down.
It screamed back at me and I wondered what kind of awful fucking monster I had met in the middle of the knight. I dropped my phone and shoved it hard, knocking it to the ground. It scrambled forward and slashed out at me with a limb. I felt claws rake my stomach.
With this second chance I used the right hand, the one with the keys, and got a few good punches in until it stopped moving and I could get away. My throat was burning and I felt like I could drop to the ground at any moment from lack of air. I sprinted at the fastest speed I could manage until I was home. I didn’t feel safe until I’d locked myself in my bedroom and taken half a dozen puffs from my inhaler. Still muddy, I wrapped myself in a blanket, holding onto my pocketknife with both hands.
So I hyperventilated until I was calm enough to sob, then sobbed until I fell asleep. Once the adrenaline was gone I had nothing left in me.
I guess I felt better when I woke up. Partly because whatever had attacked me had been real. There was something in the darkness, and I had defeated it. Sure, it was fucking terrifying that there was something out there, but I had triumphed over it.
I showered, scrubbed the dirt off myself, and ate, although I felt fucking terrible. I was anxious and nausea. I needed to know what had happened last night. Maybe I had only stunned it, and it had followed me home. I needed closure of some kind before I could feel even remotely better. Going to university was off the table. I took a knife this time and went to see in the light of day what had happened.
As soon as I made it to the place last night where I’d met that creature I could see that something was there, a heavy shape slumped against a tree. It had really happened. I wasn’t just going mad.
It took several seconds for the part of me that felt smug and safe to catch up to the reality of finding whatever I had struck down. Of course I knew it wasn’t going to be supernatural. So finding something here meant something awful had happened.
She looks about my age, maybe younger, and her running shirt has spots of blood on it where my keys punctured her skin. She was so pale when I found her except for the blossoming bruises on her jaw. I tried to take her pulse, but she was icy cold and I couldn’t feel anything. I don’t think she’s breathing, either. She was out in the cold all night. She had her headphones in, and they were still blasting pop music when I found her.
I couldn’t figure out how she’d cut my stomach the night before until I saw she had this little pink knuckleduster shaped like a cat head.
Look, I’ve brought her to my house. I don’t know what to do. I killed her and I can’t make this go away. Surely the cops will easily be able to figure out it was me who did this. I was going to post this on r/LegalAdvice but I thought I’d try here first.
Please. I was the monster out in the dark but I’m an innocent person. I was just scared of what was out there.