I was invited to stay the night over my friend Jeremy’s house when I was a little boy. I remember the anticipation I had building up inside me all day because he had just gotten the new Super Mario Bros and, though I knew there would be other kids there besides me, I would at least get one turn playing. We were not too big into television at my house and my parents were never the type to allow video games, so events like this were always something to look forwards to. Unfortunately, this would be the last I stayed over anyone else’s house.
The night started off pretty normal. We sat around in his basement and watched a movie with his older brother, Chris. Chris was a decent enough guy – he was 14 at the time and we all thought he was pretty cool, even though he picked on Jeremy quite a bit. We ate a lot of junk food, Jeremy’s mom made a big dinner for everyone, and, as the night came to a close, We grabbed the Super NES from the closet, plugged it in, and started on Mario. We each got a few turns and it was just as wonderful as I had hoped. Around 10pm, Jeremy’s mom yelled down that it was time for us all to go to bed. We all yelled back “ok” in droning unison and turned of the game system.
Making my way to my designated sleeping bag, something felt kind of…off. I remember looking around the room and thinking that it was strange that Chris had decided to go back upstairs, even though he was allowed to stay up later and take the Nintendo to his room if he wanted. I shrugged it off and laid my head down for the evening.
Around 1 o’clock in the morning, I was awoken by a loud thud coming from across the room. I didn’t bother pulling my head up from my sleeping bag, thinking that it was most likely just one of the boys getting up to use the bathroom or something. I closed my eyes, but within seconds the bump returned, this time closer to my bag.
“Jeremy?” I whispered, trying to keep a hushed tone. “Jeremy? Is that you?”
The thud came again, closer.
“Jeremy?” I called a little louder.
“Jeremy?” I said at a regular volume, still not wanting to wake everyone up, but still to let whoever was awake know that I was up and they were bothering me.
Thud. Right next to me. Then again slightly farther away, over towards the closet. Again. Again. The closet door opened quietly, then shut.
“Jeremy stop!” I shouted at him, now waking everyone else in the room, Jeremy hitting the light switch by the stairs. When the bulb from the top of the staircase dimly lit the room, everyone was still in their sleeping bags, rubbing their eyes and wondering what was going on.
“What’s wrong?” Jeremy asked me. “Why are you yelling?” He spoke through his balled fist that covered his yawn. “Do you need me to get my mom?”
Before I could answer his question, Jeremy’s mother came running through the basement door, wrapping a robe around herself, wondering why we were all awake. I tried to explain to them that there was a loud thud next to my sleeping bag and that it was making noises all across the room, but they didn’t want to hear it. Jeremy’s mother said that it must have been my imagination, but I pleaded with her to check the room. She refused telling me that it was going to be alright. I mentioned that the closet door had opened and she said that she had better not find any of us boys going into the closet this late at night – that it was time for bed, not for playing.
We all laid back down and went to sleep, except me, of course, who stayed up staring into darkness waiting to hear more noises that never came.
The next morning we all awoke to a very strange smell. It was a sweet smell, but not like a bakery or anything pleasant like that. It has a pungent trait that made you squint your eyes as you caught a wind of it. We all looked around the room, thinking that maybe someone had soiled the bed, but at that age, we were all beyond that stage. We ran up the stairs for breakfast, laughing and accusing each other of passing gas, shoving one another up the staircase, and leaving our mess of sleeping bags and blankets covering the floor of the basement.
Jeremy’s mother went down to straighten up a bit and heard her scream. She ran back up the stairs, telling us all to go outside and wait on the sidewalk, which we did, while she grabbed for the phone. I remember that was the first time I had actually seen an adult cry outside of the movies and it scared the hell out of me.
Jeremy didn’t come to school for about a week after that. When he returned, we all asked what happened and what was going on, since the police had visited each of us, asking us questions about the night. They were particularly interested in the bumping and thudding noise I had heard. He didn’t tell us for almost a month, but eventually it got out from one of the other boys’ parents that they had found Chris’ body in the closet, mutilated into a pulpy mess, a trail of dark body fluids streaking right past my sleeping bag. To make matters worse, who – or what – ever did this had scratched into the wall:
“WE DIDN’T LIKE HIM”
Jeremy and his family moved away after that and we didn’t talk for years. I finally caught up with him briefly online via Facebook. He told me that he was doing well and his parents had finally, as far as he knew, recovered from the incident. He apologized for that night, which was something I never expected him to do, nor did I find it necessary. I felt terrible for him.
After a few minutes of talking, I signed off and that was that. We didn’t talk again. That was about two years ago, but I think I might need to give him a call. As I unloaded my boxes of clothes into the closet of my new apartment, I saw that there were scratches on the inside wall. They said:
“WE DIDN’T LIKE HIM. WE LIKED YOU BETTER.”
I decided to contact Jeremy again and ask him to grab a cup of coffee with me – I figured I should lead with something a little more light-hearted or risk him wanting to join me at all. I can’t imagine he would willingly walk into conversation involving whatever it was that killed his brother. Before you tell me that I’m a terrible person for this, I know. I feel terrible that I wasn’t honest up front, but I needed to know more information and this felt like the best way to get it. I’m sorry.
I was incredibly surprised when he contacted me back immediately and agree to go, but with urgency. He asked if we could meet last night and said he was happy that I got hold of him – that if I hadn’t he was going to reach out to me. We ended up at a Dunkin Donuts around 12:30am, grabbed coffee, and went out to sit in the bed of my pickup to talk. It felt almost like I was with my friends in high school again, but now with Jeremy (who obviously went to a different school than I and certainly didn’t meet up with me for late night coffee runs back then). I asked him what was new and what has up in his world, but before I could finish my question, he interrupted me.
“Has it contacted you yet?” he asked, not looking up from his steaming cup. “Has it tried to talk to you at all?”
I asked him to explain a little, trying to play dumb a bit. I wanted to be sure we were on the same page before I dropped this bomb on him. He looked rough. He had circles under his eyes and his hair was a mess. The truth about his hygiene was more of a mystery. The poor guy looked like a wreck and I didn’t want to throw any more weight on his shoulders just yet.
“The thing that got my brother. It finds ways to talk to people. It isn’t exactly subtle about it either. If it has, you’d know. Did it contact you yet?”
I nodded my head quietly. He took a sip of his drink before speaking.
“Then you need to leave. Soon. Now, if you can. Is there anywhere else you can stay for a while?”
“No!” I said back. “What is this? What are you saying, Jeremy?”
“This thing – this creature. It is looking for you now.”
“What is it?” I replied.
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen it. No one has, I don’t think. But it hunts and it takes down people like you and me. People like Chris. Did you see it that night? Did you see it take my brother?” Jeremy asked.
I told him that I hadn’t seen anything and that it was too dark, however I had tried talking to “it”, if he recalled. “That was a mistake.” he said. “You shouldn’t have let know you were awake. I did and now it hasn’t left me alone in years.”
“Wait a minute!” I said loud enough to startle him. “You were awake too? You saw it?”
“I didn’t see it, but it heard me. It bumped my foot as it moved my brother. I made a noise and the dragging noise stopped. I could feel it looking at me. I convinced myself it was a bad dream and went back to sleep until you yelled.”
“Why didn’t you say anything before?”
“What was I supposed to say? I thought I was going crazy.” Jeremy said. “But it has followed me since. Everywhere I go. I haven’t been able to live on my own or in any place at a time for too long. We have tried to tell the police that I am being stalked and that I need help, but nothing is going make anything better. They can’t do anything. The only person I can trust anymore is my mother.”
I asked him about his dad and if he was still around to help, but apparently his father passed away two years ago. Drank himself to death. He didn’t take Chris’ death as well as Jeremy and his mother had. I didn’t know what to say to him. Luckily, he jumped in with his warnings.
“Look, man. I know it is crazy, but I am telling you, it is coming for you. And it won’t stop. The best you can do is run. I would recommend trying to do it this week, at the latest. I’m sorry you got caught up in this. I have to go.”
Though I had a million questions, I knew he certainly didn’t have any answers. I let him get back into his car and leave in silence before driving back to my apartment.
I spent last night in my truck across the street from the police station though. It was the only place I felt even remotely safe. I’ll keep you all updated soon, but I don’t know if I can stay in my apartment. Dug into the wall of the living room were the words:
“OLD FRIENDS ARE FUN, AREN’T THEY?”
I woke up in my truck this morning around 8am. I thought about making to work, but that would involve going back into the apartment to get a shirt and tie, which I stupidly forgot when I left the house. I guess you could say I was in a bit of a hurry to get out. I tried to get hold of Jeremy again, and succeeded, however his responses were all the same.
“Leave. Go as far away as you can. It’ll never stop. Trust me.”
I would reply with questions that I knew I should have asked last night, but unfortunately didn’t. I tried to dumb down the messages to simple yes or no type questions, but he still just continued to tell me the same thing.
“I’m not kidding. You need to leave. Once it has found you, it is going to hunt you down.”
The worst message, or at least the one that got to me the most was the one he sent, which simply said:
“Remember what happened to my brother. You’re going to be next. Please.”
That one sent a chill down my spine. I remember the look on his mothers face when she came back up the stairs. I remember how frightened she had look – but more so how whatever she had just seen, was something unfathomable…something beyond death. I can only picture what this…thing…had done to Chris.
I decided to take a look into some of the police records – thank God for libraries and their free internet (I sure as hell wasn’t going back for my laptop). I looked for images of Chris or the body or anything that might give any clues as to what in the world actually happened, but fell short, for the most part. I had never taken the time to actually get any details about the incident – I think we all simply tried to forget that it ever happened. None of us at the sleepover really wanted to remember that night. None of us had even spoken since then, even.
Then it dawned on me. Who else was at the sleepover? Maybe I wasn’t the only one.
I quickly logged back into Facebook and did a little research on the classmates that were there that night.
Sam Jones. Incredibly generic name. Even though we were in a small town back then, there was no telling where exactly he could be now. From what I could see, he either didn’t have a Facebook page or had moved away – and trying to find a specific Sam Jones from years and years ago is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. That wasn’t happening.
Tyler Brixler. Not so common of a name. Found him within a few minutes, but his page was on private and it seemed that he hadn’t logged in or updated anything in years. The picture he used was of a pretty young man, likely not even 20 years-old. I didn’t think that would be of any help, but I added him anyway. Never got a response, at least not yet, so he wasn’t going to be any help.
But finally I got my first clue with Justin Lauers. Justin was a skinny kid that I remembered as being relatively popular. I could only assume that reputation would follow him into his adult life. His memorial page had over 3,000 people following it. Justin had been killed about a year and a half ago in some small Pennsylvania town. Apparently some brutal attack. This, above all else scared me more than anything.
I kept searching.
William Tanner – dead.
Josh Gillin – dead.
Randy Handell – dead.
This immediately explained the absence of the first two boys. From the looks of it, Jeremy and I were the only ones left. And now, all these years later, it was finally my turn to go. It had nothing to do with me seeing it. I was there and that was more than enough of a reason for it to kill. To hunt. To take me down. I wondered if these other boys even knew what was coming. I decided to message Jeremy one more time.
“What have you done?”
His response came in seconds, almost as if he was waiting for me to contact him.
“I did what Mommy told me to do.”
I stared at the screen for what felt like at least a minute. Jeremy said nothing more. I ran through the list of things I could reply with in my head, not wanting to have more of a conversation than necessary, for obvious reasons. Finally I decided not to say anything at all and get my stuff to leave town.
I hated the idea of having to move away already. I didn’t want to begin to think of the mess that this was going to cause in my life, but I knew very well that if I wanted to have a life to be messed up at all, that I just needed to leave. I wasn’t going to fight this. I shouldn’t. Obviously that hadn’t worked for the other boys and I didn’t want to be as stupid as to think that 160 lbs me could fight Jeremy off. I thought about how he looked when we met up and tried to do a size comparison, and there’s no doubt that he would have no problem winning that battle – not to mention, I don’t exactly believe that he would fight fair.
I rush into my apartment and grab two or three black trash bags from under the sink. There wasn’t any time for neatly organizing. I just wanted to throw the essentials into the bags and get the hell out of dodge. I threw in some t \-shirts, jeans, a jacket, a hat, my laptop, some pictures of family that I couldn’t be without, and few other little things I knew I would need down the road and started back to the front door of the apartment. As I walked down the hallway, the entrance in sight, I feel a hand take hold of my collar and pull me into the open, dark bathroom.
I go to scream but a hand covers my mouth and quietly shushes me, lowering me down into the shadows behind the shower curtains. I close my eyes and begin to pray that it wouldn’t be painful; that it would just swift and quick and that it would be over before I could register what was happening. But nothing came. My eyes stayed shut and I felt my teeth grinding against themselves as I waited for impact, but there was none. We just sat there in the dark, this hand over my mouth as I heard the front door to my apartment open.
I gather the courage to open my eyes and, in the darkness, I made out the features of my childhood friend. Jeremy tightened his grip over my lips and shook his head to instruct me not to make a noise.
The footsteps from the front door were soft and slow. And coming towards us. I could feel Jeremy’s hands begin to tremble as he reached down into the tub we were now both laying in, pulling up a long, shiny cleaver. I winced again in natural fright, only making his grip on me even tighter. The footsteps were at the bathroom door now as I could see a silhouette standing in the threshold through the translucent curtain. It just stood there, apparently looking in.
“Bring him out, baby.” said the woman. “Bring Mommy the boy.”
I shook tremendously. I couldn’t decide whether to run or to fight, so instead, I just shook. Tears filled my eyes as I awaited Jeremy’s next move.
“No, Mommy.” Jeremy said, in a pathetic, childish whimper. “I don’t want to.”
“Jeremy, don’t be a bad boy. You know what happens to bad boys. Chris was such a bad boy.” His mother’s voice dropped in tone, almost as if her personality had been flipped completely. “And you remember what happened to him, don’t you?”
“I’m not a bad boy!” Jeremy shouted, hugging my head against his chest. “I’m a good boy! You’re bad, Mommy! You’re bad!”
“Give me the boy!” his mother shouted. “You have ‘til the count of three. One! Two!”
And before she could get out the word “three”, Jeremy threw my to the side of the tub and leapt out towards his mother. She gave a shrill scream as I watched the shadowy figure of the blade come down on her, Jeremy crying loudly as he repeated his driving of the knife. I watched the figures both lower to the ground and the screams from his mother eventually stopped, unlike the thrusts of the knife – or Jeremy’s sobbing.
After what felt like an eternity of crying sounds and what I can only compare to the sounds one would hear in the back of a butcher’s shop, I heard the clag of the knife hit the floor and hurried footsteps rush out the front door of the apartment. I came out of the bathroom to find Jeremy’s mother, now nothing more than a bloodied mess on the floor of the bathroom. I called the police.
And that brings us to where we are now. I stayed at the police station this weekend. They are setting me up with therapy, which I think I will find very helpful. They asked a lot questions and I feel like I have told this story a hundred times already to many different people in many different uniforms. They all asked me where I thought Jeremy might have headed, but at this point, I couldn’t give them any idea. I have no clue where is now.
All I can hope is that, wherever he is, he is being a good boy.