I moved to a new town about a year ago. I was offered a job and was at a point in my life where I felt restless and eager all at once. A new job in a new town was exactly what I had been waiting for.
In two weeks time, after saying goodbye to my friends and family, I packed up and made the four hour drive to my new apartment.
Turns out, it’s tough to make new friends once you’re out of college. I settled into the job just fine, my co-workers and daily routine both to my liking. Meeting new people was difficult though. I didn’t go to church, I didn’t really go out much, and I wasn’t part of any club.
After a couple weeks of maddening isolation, I forced myself to go to a bar, determined not to leave until I met a few locals. I’m glad I went because that’s where I met Lydia. I happened to sit down next to her and, after I ordered my drink, she noticed me and smiled, commenting on my shirt.
That sparked our conversation and eventually, after a few drinks, I summoned the courage to ask her out to dinner. She said yes and my life was suddenly exciting again. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, couldn’t spend enough time with her. She was amazing and our date turned into two, then three, until finally she came over to my place for the night. In the morning, there was no question of how we felt about each other.
As the weeks turned into months, our relationship only got better. We never fought, we never argued. Hell, we hardly frowned at one other. I knew that we hadn’t been dating that long, but even so, everything was so perfect that I was convinced we would stay like this forever.
One thing that did strike me as odd though, was that she never wanted to spend the night at her place. We always ended up at my apartment, which was fine, but it struck me as kind of strange. I had seen her place only once and it seemed perfectly fine. Her apartment consisted of an entire top floor of a three story house, fairly old, but well kept.
I asked her about this once or twice, suggesting we end the evening in her bed, but she always wriggled out of it. I didn’t press her too much, her excuses always mildly valid.
Well…all that has changed.
You see, we did end up at her place for the night.
And Christ, I wish I had listened to her.
We were fairly drunk, the energy in the bar slowly winding to a dull murmur. I heard the bartender make last call and I groggily looked at Lydia on the bar stool next to me. She gave me a tired, tipsy grin and I asked her if she was ready to go.
She said yes and as we made our way outside, I realized that I was in no condition to drive. My car was parked behind the bar and as we clung to each other for warmth, I voiced my concerns. She told me she was too drunk to drive as well and suggested we call an Uber.
As I thought this over, I realized where we were in correlation to her apartment. I told Lydia that we were only a couple blocks from her apartment, why don’t we just crash there? She seemed to be waiting for this, knowing full well how close we were. I had only been there once so my slogged mind had taken some time for that fact to catch up with my brain.
After a long pause, she agreed, warily.
It wasn’t a long walk, the streets around us empty except for a few late night stragglers. She lived pretty close to the center of town and as we walked the brick sidewalk, I asked her how long she had lived at her place. She said three years, but she was looking to move. She wanted to get a place a little quieter, a little more out in the country. I expected her to casually bring up moving in together, but she never did.
After a few blocks, we arrived at her place. It was a large three story house with each floor rented out individually. She keyed her way into the front door and I followed her up the flight of creaky stairs. At the very top was her door, and after glancing at me, she unlocked it and we went in.
This was only the second time I had been here and as I looked around, I wondered why. She kept it very clean and organized, in fact, it was way cleaner than my place. The furnishings were elegant and crisp, modern in style, contrasting with the older building.
I commented on how nice it was and that we should spent more time here. She shrugged off my comment with a “maybe” and we began to settle in for the night.
It was already late, so we cleaned up in the bathroom and retired to her bedroom. As we stripped and climbed into her queen sized bed, I noticed that she left the door open a crack. I thought that a little funny, seeing as how deliberate the action had been. I said nothing though and gratefully pulled the soft sheets over me. Lydia curled up next to me, casting a glance at her door, and then settled her head on my chest. I pulled her tight against me and let out a long, happy sigh. I kissed her on the head and I could feel her body relaxing against mine. It didn’t take long before the two of us were fast asleep.
It didn’t last long.
I jolted awake as someone pounded on the front door of her apartment. I blinked and opened my eyes in the darkness. What time was it? Who the hell was that? I reached over to the night stand and checked my phone. It was 3:30am, way too late for someone to be stopping by unannounced.
I went to sit up, but Lydia clutched my body, her hands trembling against my shoulders. I looked down at her, confused as to why she wasn’t letting me up. I asked her who was at the door. She didn’t answer, just held me.
Another trio of knocks, louder this time.
I went to sit up again, asking her what was going on, but she looked up at me with fear in her eyes.
“Don’t get up,” She begged.
I was thoroughly confused now, her reaction puzzling me. Who was at the door? Was she keeping something from me? Was she hiding something? I wondered if this was some ex-boyfriend, drunk and trying his luck. Just the thought of that made me want to get up and go see who it was, size this piece of shit up. Who the hell did he think he was? Lydia was mine and I wanted everyone to know that.
I tried to pry Lydia off me, expressing my thoughts, but she shook her head, telling me it wasn’t an ex. I wasn’t sure I believed her, but I could tell that, regardless, she was terrified. She put her hands over her ears as another pounding on the front door echoed into her apartment.
I took her face in my hands, forcing her to look at me. I told her I needed to go see who it was. Maybe someone was in trouble, maybe something had happened. In truth, I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t some asshole ex of hers.
Tears began forming in her eyes and she looked directly at me, bottom lip quivering, “Please…do not open that door.”
Another loud knock, as furious as the others.
As I lay there, I noticed there was no yelling from the other side of the door. Typically, this late at night, the visitor would announce themselves.
Mercifully, it stopped. I waited, unaware that I was holding my breath, waiting for the pounding to continue. But it didn’t. Exhaling loudly, Lydia softened against me. I could tell that whatever had just happened had been a semi-traumatic experience for her.
I tried to question her, but she begged me to just let her sleep. Stuttering, I forced myself to eat the questions crawling up my throat, and instead, put a comforting arm around her. Soon I heard her breathing steady into the deep rhythm of sleep. I stared at the ceiling and wondered what the hell had just transpired.
The next day was Saturday so neither of us had to work. We woke up late and I felt Lydia get up and go into the kitchen. As I enjoyed the warm bed, I began to smell coffee brewing. I smiled and forced myself up.
It was a pleasant morning, both of us lounging on her couch, idly chatting about what we wanted to do that day. I didn’t bring up last nights incident, waiting to see if she would. It was obvious she was avoiding the subject, refusing to even acknowledge it.
She seemed to be in a good mood though so I decided to keep my mouth shut. When she wanted to talk about it, she would. Until then, I just needed to be a good boyfriend and not press her on it. I would be lying though if I didn’t say every part of me was bursting with irritated curiosity. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t some lover from the past, returned for some late night action.
As we finished our coffee, it began to rain outside and I suggested we spend the day here, catching up on our TV shows and maybe cooking dinner together tonight. She seemed excited and agreed immediately (much to my surprise).
I went and put on another pot of coffee as she cued up our show on Netflix that we were watching together. Glancing out at the gloomy day, I smiled and snuggled up next to Lydia, ready for our lazy day together.
The hours slowly went by, both of us in full binge watch mode. As episode after episode was played, the day peaked into a cloudy climax and the dark gray outside began to fade into night. Both of us hadn’t moved much, perfectly content on the couch, listening to the rain and television.
After one of the episodes ended, she suggested we start making dinner. I agreed, feeling my stomach rumbling, and asked her what she wanted to make. After some discussion we decided to try our hand out at home made Chinese.
I turned on some music on my phone as she went to the kitchen and began pulling out ingredients. She tossed me an apron with a wink and I laughed as I tied to around my waist. I went to her and took her in my arms, dancing her around the kitchen, lip syncing the song that was playing. She giggled and told me I was ridiculous, but then kissed me, slowing my dance.
We pulled away from each other and she began assembling the food. I wasn’t much help, but I kept her entertained as she worked her culinary magic. We laughed and cycled through songs, our conversation light and flirtatious.
After a lot of work, the food was finally done. We took our place on the couch again, piling the delicious smelling feast in front of us on the coffee table. I cued up another episode and she shot me a smile, telling me today had been amazing. I whole hardheartedly agreed and kissed her.
Then we dug in with a vengeance. Lydia had outdone herself, everything coming out perfect. I gobbled down a couple of batter fried pieces of chicken and told her we should do this again tomorrow.
She agreed, but said that she’d like to sleep at my place tonight. I cocked an eyebrow at her, swallowing my food, and asked why we wouldn’t stay here tonight?
She looked at me over her bowl of Lo Mein and said we had been here all day, why not mix things up?
I put my food down and threw an arm over the back of the couch, expressing to her how great it was here today, that we should just put a bow on it and stay here for the night. I was still in my undershirt and boxers for Christ sake!
She looked at me a little unsteadily, wanting to argue with me, but knowing she didn’t have a good reason. At least, that’s what I thought. I could see her struggling to come up with something, anything, to get us out of here tonight. Eventually, she just sighed and nodded silently.
I smiled and rubbed her shoulder, telling her it was going to be great. As I turned back to my food, I wondered if her reservations about staying here had anything to do with the person at the door last night. But what did she have to be afraid of? I was here and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let anything happen to her.
We finished our food and stretched out on the couch, pushing deeper into our show. Lydia laid down on top of me and after a couple hours in that position, I felt myself begin to drift off. I could feel Lydia doing the same, both of us surrendering to the food and steady rain.
Together, they gently lulled us to sleep.
I startled awake as someone pounded on the front door. Lydia sprang up on top of me, her knee thudding into my ribs. I let out an “oomf!” as my side spiked in pain, but she slammed her open palm down over my mouth, silencing me. Her eyes were wide and terrified, all traces of sleep gone from her face.
I looked up at her, waiting for her to say something. Instead, she cowered down into me as another series of loud knocks came from her door.
This is insane, I thought, someone is clearly terrorizing my girlfriend and she’s been too embarrassed or ashamed to tell me about it.
I forced both of us into a sitting position, despite her frantic efforts to keep me in place. I whispered to her that I was going to answer the door and put a stop to this. I told her someone was stalking her and that after I confronted the person I was going to call the police and put an end to it.
She shook her head wildly, tears budding in her eyes. She told me that it wouldn’t do any good, the police couldn’t help. She tried to pull me back down on the couch, but I shook her off.
Another round of pounding on the door.
I told her I was going to answer it unless she told me what was going on. She bit her lip, huddled on the couch, horror stretching her face. She said I couldn’t answer the door, begged me in hushed whispers to just wait until they went away.
“Who is it?! You have to tell me!” I said in a soft growl, leaning close to her. She looked up into my eyes, tears staining her cheeks and whispered, “It’s the devil.”
The way she said it sent a chill down my spine. What? What did she mean by that?
Three long knocks shook the frame of the door. I looked at my phone and saw it was a little after three in the morning.
For a moment, I was completely frozen with indecision. I wanted to protect my girlfriend and confront this head on, but the way she was looking at me, begging me to just leave it alone tore my mind in the other direction.
Finally, I made an impulse move, taking three long strides to the door as more pounding erupted from the other side.
Seeing me, realizing what I was doing, Lydia leaped from the couch, screaming not to open the door, her eyes bulging from their sockets.
As my hand found the door knob, Lydia sprang towards me, still screaming, and grabbed my arm, jerking me back from the door.
It was too late. I had turned the handle and the door popped open a crack, letting in an empty darkness.
But there was something in that darkness.
Lydia shrieked and tightened her grip on me, dragging me backwards into the bedroom, her face swelling with absolute terror. She shoved me into the bedroom, screaming at me, her voice cracking.
Just before she slammed the door shut, I saw something walk into the apartment, dragging shadows behind it.
Lydia locked the bedroom door and leaned against it, sweating and breathing heavily. She looked at me and I saw fear in her eyes I didn’t know existed. She met my gaze and slowly shook her head, unable to believe what I had done, panic dripping from every pore.
I didn’t know what to say, stunned by her reaction and terror. I stood by the bed, slightly shaken and confused.
Something knocked, hard, on the bedroom door.
Lydia let out a little shriek and then quickly covered her mouth. She squeezed her eyes shut and I heard her praying quietly.
I didn’t know what to do. I stood there stupidly, mouth agape. Someone was in the apartment. I had seen him come in. Reality was slowly sinking in, pushing aside the confusion and filling me with the icy cold of fear.
Someone had walked into her apartment and was now pounding on the bedroom door.
I swallowed hard, that icy fear tickling my stomach.
We could be in serious danger. I needed to call the police, but both of our cellphones were by the couch, discarded where we had fallen asleep. I had to do something. I needed to try and take control of this. I took a deep breath and stepped forward, taking Lydia by the shoulders and moving her away from the door. She fought me for a second until I assured her I wasn’t going to open it.
Another sharp rasp on the door.
Heart racing, I pressed my ear against the wood. I didn’t hear a sound between the knocks. Not even breathing.
Summoning my courage, I cleared my throat and asked who they were and what they wanted.
I jerked back as another assault on the door rattled the hinges. I stared at Lydia, looking for guidance, hoping she had an answer to this madness. Every second that passed I felt increasingly scared, the gravity of our position sinking deeper and deeper into my mind.
It’s the devil.
I shook my head, disregarding the thought. That was ridiculous, an impossibility I wasn’t going to humor. And yet, I felt…something…on the other side of the door. I couldn’t explain it, but it was this…feeling…this weight, like there was a black hole sucking me through the wood.
I suddenly heard movement from the other side and I pressed my ear against the door once again. I didn’t hear anything and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, the person had left.
Quietly, I got down on my hands and knees and looked under the door.
A large yellow eye and black face was staring back at me from the other side.
I screamed as soon as I saw it, pain rocketing through my eye socket. I fell back, clawing at my face as my vision swam and stars exploded in my skull. Lydia screamed and dropped to her knees next to me, asking what was wrong.
After a few seconds, the pain receded and I blinked back tears. Lydia just held me, terrified, and I looked at her, rubbing my eye. Her lip was quivering and I could tell she believed what she had said. That whatever was on the other side of the door…she thought was the devil.
I realized my own heart was racing and I took a few steady breaths. That eye…I shivered, not even wanting to think about it. I had never seen anything like it, the way it dilated when it saw me, the sick yellow color…what the fuck was in here with us?
Knock, knock, knock!
Lydia curled up into me, tears freely falling from her eyes. I was so confused and scared I just put an arm around her and stared at the bedroom door in the darkness. What was I suppose to do here? God help me, what was I suppose to DO?!
“He’s come for me,” Lydia wept, sobbing openly now, “I told him I was his if he would just give me happiness. I was a little girl, my parents were so mean…” her big wet eyes looked up into mine, “I didn’t know what I was doing! I’m so sorry!” She covered her face now, “God never answered my prayers and I was so sad…I just…I just wanted to be happy so I thought…oh what have I done!?” she cried, big horse sobs racking her slender body.
I took her face in my hands, forcing her to look up at me. Voice shaking, I asked what the hell she was talking about, a deep seed of terror rooting in my gut.
After another bone shaking series of knocking, she told me that when she was a little girl, her parents abused her. She cried herself to sleep night after night, begging God to send an angel to save her. God didn’t seem to be listening and so, finally, she turned to the other side. She promised the devil he could have her if he would only bring her happiness.
Three days later her parents died in a car accident and she moved in with her grandparents who loved her deeply.
In the blackness of the bedroom, trapped and afraid, I listened to her story and felt nausea churn my stomach like rotten butter. As the words poured out of her mouth, I couldn’t shake the image of the eye, staring back at me from under the door.
BANG BANG BANG!
I jumped as the wood splintered and whatever was behind the door shifted again, a new sound entering the darkness. It sounded like something was dragging nails across the wall, just outside the bedroom. Over and over again, the muted scraping sound pierced the pockets of silence.
I pulled Lydia up onto the bed and sat her at the foot of it. I stood in front of her, sweat trickling down my spine, and asked her what she was talking about, asked her if it was true. She started to cry again, hands reaching out for me, but I grabbed them and pulled them to her sides. I asked her again, trying to block out the scraping sound against the wall.
She nodded and said that it was. She told me that for the past six months, if she was home, the knocking would start around three am. At first, she thought it was an intruder and called the police. But when they didn’t find any traces of anyone after four separate visits, they stopped taking her seriously.
Eventually, about two weeks in, she said she remembered the deal she had made when she was little girl. She remembered who she had made it with. “I didn’t know it would be this soon,” She croaked, looking up at me, her face stained with tears.
I shot a nervous glance at the door as the scraping sound was followed by more pounding. I forced myself to breath. If what she was saying was true, why doesn’t…it…just come in? What’s stopping it from kicking the door in and snatching my girlfriend? I couldn’t make sense of it and turned these questions on Lydia Still sobbing, she said she didn’t know either. She said that whenever the knocking started, she would just wait until it stopped. Sometimes it would be a few minutes, other times it would last till morning. She said that she felt that…it…was powerless unless she opened the door and let it in. Something about the doors, the separation of victim and prey, stopped it. I didn’t know if it was some super natural reason or maybe spiritual, but either way, I was thankful for it.
But now we were trapped with no way out. We were on the top floor, in the bedroom, with only one window looking out onto the street below. Our cellphones were out there with the thing and we had no way of communicating with anyone from in here.
Again, I didn’t know what to do. My mouth was dry and hot, my breath sour on my tongue. Shooting another glance at the door, I went to the window and looked out. Despite being in town, the streets were empty and the sky dark. I tried to open the window, but couldn’t. My muscles strained as I put all my might into it, but it was no use.
Lydia saw what I was trying to do and came over to help, bumbling that it should open, it always opened. Even with the two of us, we couldn’t get it to budge.
Frustrated, I slammed my fist into the pane as the bedroom door shook, accompanied by more scraping across the walls.
It was useless. We were trapped in here.
Lydia collapsed to the floor, backing herself against the wall, covering her ears against the barrage against the door. Exhausted and terrified, I slumped down next to her.
We would have to wait it out.
It’s still knocking. Lydia is crying in my lap. We haven’t moved. It has to leave us alone, she said it always does, eventually. The sun will be up soon. The clock says it’s five am. Almost there. Please let it stop.
Why hasn’t the sun come up yet? Something is wrong with my clock, it says it’s three am again. That can’t be right. There’s no one outside. There should be cars on the road, but I haven’t seen a soul. God, it’s knocking again.
I’m so tired. Screaming and pounding on the floor hasn’t done any good. No one seems to hear us up here. I still haven’t seen anyone outside. I tried breaking the window, but I can’t even get it to crack. Something is going on. None of this is making sense. It’s still dark outside. Where is the sun? I haven’t heard anything from the door in a little while…I’m praying it’s over.
I’m getting hungry. I don’t know how long we’ve been in here. Lydia is asleep on the bed, cried herself to sleep. The knocking is back. Louder than ever. I can feel it just beyond the door. I’m so goddamn scared. I don’t know what to do. Where is everyone? Why hasn’t someone come to see what’s going on?
I CAN’T TAKE THIS FUCKING KNOCKING ANYMORE
Lydia is crying. She said she’s thirsty. I am too. I feel like we’ve been in here for days. I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in ages. I’m starting to wonder if anyone is going to come for us. Whatever is outside the door, I think its bent reality around us. I think we might be stuck here. There has to be a way out though.
I fell asleep. When I woke up Lydia had her hand on the door knob. I yanked her away, screaming at her. I can’t lose her. We are going to get out of this. When I pulled Lydia away…the thing behind the door…the demon or devil or whatever it is…screamed at me. I have never heard such terrifying fury in all my life. God…please help us, please…
Lydia is getting sick.
We’re never getting out of this room unless I do something. We’re both dehydrated and Lydia isn’t going to make it much longer without some water. It’s knocking, each blow crunching into my skull like a drill. Where is everyone…the clock still says three am.
If there is a God, he can’t see us in here.
Fuck this. We’re dying. I need to do something. Lydia has been laying on the bed for hours. I don’t remember the last time I saw her move. Should check on her, but I’m so tired. The knocking is constant now. It hasn’t stopped in hours. I think I’m going insane.
This is it. Lydia needs medical attention or she’s going to die within the day.
It’s still dark out, the clock still says three am. I feel like I’m going deaf, the constant thundering against the door a relentless assault on my senses. I’m going to open the door. I have to or we’re going to die. Whatever awaits us on the other side of it can’t be much worse than this. I have to try something. I can’t just let her die. I can’t. I’m going to open the door. I can hear it screaming again. It sounds…excited. There’s another noise behind its howls. It sounds like someone quickly flipping through radio stations. I don’t know what it means. It can’t be good. God, if you’re out there, I really could use some help. Please…save us. I’m going to open the door now.