I’m not sure why I’m writing this. There’s a large chance that this won’t even be real to you. Of course it’s real to me, but then again, my definition of the word “real” has never been cloudier. Despite the potential waste of time, I am where I am in this moment, and writing this seems like the most important thing in the world.
I haven’t been able to think about that day in so very long. Or at least it feels like forever ago. I no longer possess a concept of time. At all.
I was with three friends, none of whom are still alive, or at least to my knowledge. We were foolish, brazen, and sixteen year olds. In our damned innocence, we thought we owned the world. We were invincible. Nothing could hurt us. Laughable.
It was late one night, and with a disturbing amount of naivety, we wanted to get drunk. To a sixteen year old, there is a certain aura of adventure that surrounds drinking. A new and fresh world. We asked around, in the nervous, clandestine way sixteen year olds try to find alcohol. It was getting super late, and we were getting pathetically desperate.
It ended up getting to the point where we were willing to steal alcohol right out of someone’s garage refrigerator. In our eyes, all the more adventure. Again, laughable.
We snuck out of my house. It was almost one o’clock in the morning. There were no street lights on my street, and the stars could only shine so brightly. I was nervous, anxious almost, but my friends were all giddy with excitement. I just couldn’t let go like they could. And besides, who on Earth would have their garage door open at one in the fucking morning?
Fruitlessly we walked around my neighborhood, eyes peeled for open garage doors. It seemed hopeless. And then the first drop of sweat dripped down my face. My friends swear they didn’t see anything, but boy would they have believed me now.
We were walking on a street, parallel to mine. One house had its lights on still. An ominous orange glow poured out of the front windows. We all walked past it, just like any other house, but I couldn’t help but stare at the orange light. It was like a relentless, seductive melody, pulling and pulling on my mind. Once we had reached the house, I shot my glance to the front window, the one that was emitting the luminous glow. As my eyes fell upon the light, my blood instantly went sour, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, and my stomach did a swan dive deep into my being. A middle aged man was standing there, his hands on his hips, a furrowed brow; a dirty wife beater on. He was standing in front of his curtains, peering out into the night. But there was something else to this man. His eyes were abnormally large and wide, and they were fixated right on me. I was breathless. I couldn’t conjure a single word. The only thing my body managed to do was pick up the pace. I passed my friends, without saying anything, and sped my way in a fast half-walk, half-jog down the street. When my friends caught up, they were beaming.
They ran up to me with stupid smiles on their faces, all spurting words about an open garage door they saw halfway up the street with a recycling can out front, full of empty beer cans. They wanted to go back for it. Still trying to search through my head for something to say, anything to say, they already made the executive decision to go back and check their fridge. I reluctantly followed their footsteps, knowing damn well whose garage was open.
They were all about twenty feet in front of me. I could hear their fucking chuckles and their childlike murmurs from back here. Their voices all sounded surreal to me, like they were in my head. I heard them scheming and plotting a stupid plan of attack, blueprinting their every move. First, they would quickly walk past the house one more time, scoping out their destination. They would then wait five minutes and make a quick sprint for the door. Then, they would each grab as much beer as they could possibly carry and run full stride, through the neighbor’s yard, hop my fence, and reconvene in my driveway. Fools.
As I lifted my head from my sneakers on the sidewalk to the pristine rows of houses on the street, I noticed something odd. The orange light, the hypnotic glow from the middle house was gone. Had I imagined it? Did I really see that man? I wasn’t so sure anymore. Maybe it was just the nerves getting to me. For the first time in minutes, I was able to take nice, deep breathes. Until we walked past the house again.
The lights were off. There was no sign of life coming from the house at all. I thought that I must have imagined the man before. When I decided I was brave enough to look at the front window where I thought I had seen the man, I looked up, and I felt as though I was going to pass out. My legs felt like they were going to give way. I felt an involuntary pull at the back of my neck, raising my chin above my gaze, making the skin on the front of my throat taut as a kite in the wind. All I could do was make a rattling sound, as I managed to stumble over to my friends, dizzy and disoriented.
I saw the man again. He was outside, standing exactly where he was standing before, except on the other side of the window. He was outside. I only managed to get a brief look at him this time, but it was enough to really notice the horrifying nature of this man. His lower lip was split down the middle, and it hung in two parts over his chin. His eyes were disturbingly disproportional to the rest of his face. In the darkness, I couldn’t see any color in his eyes; just white and black. His nose looked strangely small. He didn’t have much hair on his head. But what terrified me most was how he stood there, he just fucking stood there, exactly the way I had seen him the first time, hands on his hips, wearing a dark, saddening scowl.
My friends didn’t even notice.
I don’t remember much of the next few minutes. Fear had truly taken over my body. And not the kind of fear that leaves you sleepless at night, it was the kind of fear that makes you question your sanity. I was slipping into a veil of psychosis before my very eyes. Was the man following us? Did he know what we were planning?
I have fragmented memories of standing silently in a circle at the end of the street, surrounded by my friends who were all snickering with excitement. I heard one of them mutter that he was ready. The rest of the idiots were agreeing. I was frozen in paralyzing comatose. None of my friends paid any mind to me. I was in a nightmare. Before I knew it, I was listening to their sprints on the concrete, and saw the backs of their shoes kicking up twilit dust from the street. I couldn’t help myself. I followed.
I noticed my steps were awkward. I wasn’t in control of my movements anymore. I was in a mesmerized state, slowly making my way towards the garage that my friends were all barreling towards. My vision was distorted. I can’t describe the feeling in any other way than just truly horrified. I made my way to the front of the house and stood in the driveway. My friends were all clicking and clacking inside the garage. The sounds seemed to reverberate off of the sky. We were going to get caught by that man. I knew it.
I looked to my left, almost on impulse. The man wasn’t outside of his house where I had seen him last time. He wasn’t in the window where I had seen him the first time. But I was damn sure I knew where he was going to be. My feet started moving again toward the darkness of the garage.
I made my way in. I navigated my way around the clatter of a deranged man’s storage with effortless care and saw my friends. Those stupid smiles on their stupid faces, arms full of shining, silver cans. And at once, things would never be the same again.
We were all blinded by an enveloping green light. The lighting felt almost tangible. My friends and I stood frozen. I knew what I was going to see when I lifted my gaze from my friends to the door that led into the house. He was going to be standing there with his fucking scowl and his hands on his fucking hips. I then heard what I would consider the last “real” sound of my existence. It was a spine chilling moan. It was low, gurgling. Very quiet, but just loud enough to widen your eyes. That fucking moan.
There the man stood. His eyes wide on me. His hands on his hips. His dirty wife beater. Moaning in that unearthly tone.
My friends and I were frozen. Frozen in that enigmatic fear. This was certainly not real. There is no possible way, no humanly possible way to feel this amount of fear. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t cry. I could only stand there and peer into his demonic eyes, my eardrums bouncing with the sound of hell. That fucking moan.
He started to move towards us.
It’s hard to portray with words this man’s movement. It was almost like a sway. A very subtle sway. His arms stood stick straight by his sides. His legs bowed a little, then returned. His head just swayed. Subtly swayed. Eyes wide as can be.
He stood amongst us. His gaze never left mine. He reached his hand out. He slowly stretched his arm. Slowly. So slowly. It was the longest minute of my life. I then saw what he was reaching for. It was a beer.
He grasped a can right out of my friends arms. Pop. He opened it. This whole time, he never stopped looking at me. His humongous eyes.
He started to move closer to me. The green light of the garage lighted up his face and shadows hung beneath his eyes. He got closer to me. The moan grew louder and louder. I was numb. I was just an observer in a human body. He was three feet away from me. I couldn’t hear myself breath anymore. Two feet. My heartbeat slowed to a low murmur. Twelve inches. His eyes looked bigger than ever, staring, staring, staring. Six inches. That moan. That fucking moan. The skin of his nose touched mine. And then he continued. He leaned in closer and closer. That fucking moan. His mouth was as close to my ear as it could possibly get. He stayed there for a moment. Moaning. It became a part of me. Every cell of my body sang that note. That disturbing, alien note. And then. He stopped. The moan stopped. I could hear his solemn breath slipping his teeth. He then spoke.
Instantly, my memories take me to a moment that feels as fragile and as distant as a dream. My friends and I were all slumped together, sitting back to back on the floor of this garage, crying and drinking, drinking and crying. There were sounds. Sounds of heavy machinery malfunctioning. Sounds of an orchestra, scratching and scraping their instruments. We were all covered in a smoky, green light. Crying and drinking, drinking and crying. And that man. That man standing over top of us. His hands on his hips. Scowling.
Torture is too calm of a word to describe that night. We sat there for hours on that garage floor. And drank. Drank from those silver cans. Slowly, the mask of drunkenness set in. I felt loose and dizzy. The feelings of intoxication seemed to perpetuate the tears I was shedding. These are the last moments of my sanity. When I fall back into myself, these are the last things I see. The friends I love with bloodshot eyes, crying and crying. The dusty keepsakes of mankind’s dark history, stacked from floor to ceiling. But most of all, I see that face. Those eyes. Standing above me. Looking down. Through the window of my tears and the shades of my own drunkenness, I couldn’t even see the whites of his eyes. Just a blurry, oblong face, with gaping sockets of black for eyes, peering into my soul. And that is what I see.
The drinking went on and on. The familiarity of drunkenness left me. I was now taking a foreign tour through the chasms of my mind. The green light of the garage started twisting and turning. The sounds of distortion grew louder and louder. I forgot my name. I lost all past memories. I just existed in this hell. This place where all I know is disturbing waves of anxiety and crippling rushes of terror. I am nothing but an entity of fear. And this is where I exist. Half of the time. Ever since that night.
My parents and doctors have told me plenty of different things. When I go to that place, I don’t change much. I’ve always been a quiet person, but when I’m in that state, I’m creepily silent. They say I go about my day in a trance like state. I’m unresponsive, it’s like I’m not even there.
I’m not. I’m in hell.
They also say my eyes seem to grow to an abnormally large size when I’m there. And I stare. My mother says it terrifies her. She can’t even look at me anymore. I don’t blame her.
They say I sometimes make a noise too. A low, moaning sound.
When I’m there, in that hell, I’m not aware of the real world at all. Time doesn’t exist to me. Sometimes I’m there for a few minutes. Sometimes I’m there for weeks, even months. But when I come to, the world of horror sort of siphons down to a clear point. And the point is that man. I see that moment in time. He’s looking down on me. I’m looking up at him through the filter of tears. It swirls and swirls and swirls until it’s gone. And when it’s gone, I don’t even realize how long I’ve been in that hell. It feels like I’m waking from a coma. Sometimes when I wake, I don’t possess certain memories. That is why this moment right now is so important. I remember everything. It has never been this clear to me, and it will probably never be this clear to me again. Thank God.
My mother tells me that we’ve visited dozens of different psychiatrists, all in a frenzied search for an unobtainable cure. I don’t remember most of these visits. What happens to me in the real world when I’m in that state of terror doesn’t engrain itself into my memory. It’s like it never happened to me.
I’ve never told a single one of those doctors about what happened that night. Mainly because I rarely have the memory of that night come back to me, but also because it’s hard to put into words. The experience that is. Something so horrifying can only be experienced firsthand; not relayed through a conversation. So I’ve kept it to myself; locked away in the dungeons of my subconscious to forever rot amongst the beauty of suppression.
I can now acknowledge that the reality I lead is hardly real at all. Memories come and go. The only knowing I possess is that I know I’m going to return to the fear. It doesn’t matter if my mind is vacant of every childhood memory, every word I know, every person I’ve met. I always know that I’m going to go back there. Back to that place of torture.
I know that I can fall into it at any time so I’m trying to get this all down. I don’t know who that man was or if he was even real. But in a way, he is the realest thing in the entire world to me. My entire existence comes down to that one man. And now here I sit, a forty-going-on-fifty year old man, not sure if this hell will ever subside. Because one thing is for sure, you never get used to hell.