by R.T. Allenson
I pressed my head on the wall and felt the coldness run across my face. One, two, three seconds later, I heard familiar sounds coming from the other room. I felt the need to be there just to prove that I’m right, but the truth is often scarier than what one can conjure in the mind. I closed my eyes, listening carefully, and a tremor of fear came over me as the sound of struggling flesh grew stronger.
Panic coursed through my system, but I couldn’t leave the wall that separated me from whatever was happening on the other room. Someone was struggling in the other side – grunts, pained sounds, and gasps for air. “RAPE!”, my mind screamed, and my heart raced faster and faster. I remember earlier, when I came home that afternoon, that the landlord had been filing an inquiry on the stuff the residents were doing in their apartments.
He told us some kids were shooting an amateur film and that he suspected that they might be shooting porn, but the twitching of his eyes said something else – an air of wrongness like he’d seen something..unnatural and I felt a certain helplessness in his voice. I only started living here for a few months and while it has been relatively normal, I couldn’t stop and wonder what sort of thing usually happens here during cruel summers..
A hard thump on the wall snapped me from my reverie but the sounds coming from the other room seemed to fade into silence. Could they have heard me? I edged away from the wall, taking care to not make a sound, and jumped into my bed. I tell myself that the truth is scarier than what the mind can conjure again and again, but it only serves to heighten the lingering fear that’s crawling over me. I close my eyes and try to think of more comforting thoughts, but the sense of dread would not let go of my senses.
Finally, I let myself succumb to sleep but it was as troubled sleep filled with groaning sounds and nameless horrors. The noise had started again – the sounds of the bed covers shifting under the weight of bodies intertwined together, and what I could hear as hushed gasps and breaths that sounded more beast-like than human. I felt something pique my interest and, out of fear, I hid under the covers of my bed hoping to drown out the noise. I stayed like that for a few minutes until I realized that the breathing seemed to be growing louder and louder, almost as if it was in the room with me. I sprung from my bed and ran towards the door, my mind creating visions of what I think I would see.
Heart racing, I turned towards the other room’s door and, as if possessed, my hand slowly inched closer to the doorknob.
I opened the door slowly and saw the room was dimly lit, but not dark enough that nothing was obscured too much by the lingering shadows that seemed to play menacingly in the corners. I scanned the room and was taken back by the pale figure of a nude woman lying on the bed.
Her face was obscured by the mess of brown that was her hair, and her arms covered her breasts demurely as if someone other than me was staring at her. I crept closely to her and noticed a blinking red eye from across the room; I stopped cold in my tracks and prepared to run until I noticed it was only the blinking of a camcorder on top of a tripod. The woman gasped softly, her body expanding and contracting as her breath softened until it seemed to stopped entirely.
I came closer to her until I heard the all-too familiar thumping coming from one of the corners of the room. Panic-stricken, I fell back on the tripod, knocking the camcorder out of its place and into the shadows. The thumping sound grew louder and I saw the woman shiver as if something touched her skin. Her gasps grew louder until she burst into a scream, her hands clutching her breasts more tightly now. Something was violating her, and I was too scared to move away from the sight or help her.
The thumping sound grew louder and I felt the floorboards beneath me bend and creak loudly like something heavy was padding through the room. The woman thrashed in her bed – or something trashed her instead – and her screams were suddenly muffled as if a hand cupped her mouth forcefully. “RAPE!”, my mind screamed again, in the voice of the woman, and I began crawling meekly towards the door hoping to avoid the attention of the invisible thing that had entered the room. The sounds of thrashing and creaking would not stop, and the whimpering cries of the woman seemed to go on forever…
When I was halfway across the room and close to the door, her screams suddenly stopped. I laid myself limp on the ground and prepared to surrender myself to the monstrous force that was in the room until I heard the most horrific sound – flesh being torn, bones being broken, and a shriek like that of an animal being butchered. I rolled on my back and saw it in all its gruesome splendor; her right leg slowly being torn from its socket, and her skin stretching and snapping like gum.
What finally pushed me over the edge were not the bones breaking or flesh being torn, but of the space in the air where the leg dissolved – painted by blood, I could make out the shape of a mouth lined with knife-like teeth that vanished as quickly as it appeared, as if the invisible thing had licked its lips.
I scrambled to my feet and ran out of that damned room and down the stairs where I think I slipped and fell, knocking myself out.
I awoke the following day sometime in the afternoon. Charles, my neighbor from the other room told me he found me at around 3 am on the floor, bruised and bloody. I told him what I saw that night but he said it was impossible; the kids renting the room had already left yesterday in the morning, and the room had been empty since then. I forced him to check the room, and when he complied and left the room, I felt dread overcome me as I visions of what happened last night played in my mind.
Charles came back a couple of minutes late with a camcorder in hand. I jumped from my bed and grabbed it from his hands, inciting from him an irritated “Hey!” and a scornful look. I fumbled at the camcorder until he finally pointed out the play button on the top corner of the device and promptly clicked it.
We watched the recording. It was about thirty-five minutes long and, unsurprisingly, was an amateur porn film. It was an orgy between three men and the pale-skinned woman. Charles laughed, smacking my shoulder playfully, “The only monster there is that woman, eh?”
I stared at him contemptuously and he settled sometime after. At around the twenty-minute mark, the video suddenly shifted to a scene from that night before, I surmised, had barged into the room and knocked the camcorder from the tripod. The woman was lying in bed just as I had first came upon her, but the men were nowhere to be found. A strange wispy light was flickering in the background which, from the camcorder’s view, could be plainly seen but was invisible from my own view. Presently, I saw myself barge into the room nervously.
Charles noted how fearful I was and asked me if it was the first time I saw a woman nude. He was about to make another joke when something in the video made us both jump. My back turned and staring at the woman as she gasped for air, we saw a shape barely humanoid emerge from the background. It made that thumping sound as it began moving, and it was then that I panicked and knocked the camcorder to the ground.
The rest of the video was mysteriously blank but the sounds where there – the breaking bones, the ripping of flesh, and muffled screams. I reminded Charles of what I saw, but he simply shook his head. When the video ended, Charles stared at me suspiciously, “For a second there I thought it was you who did that.”, he said, “But there’s nothing in the room except the camcorder. No blood, no broken bones. Just that.”
We both agreed to destroy the camcorder and didn’t speak to each other for about a week. I moved out of that apartment several months later after several nights of uneasiness and dread. Charles, as I recall, had moved in to that room at one point until one day in summer, I received a phone call from my former landlord informing me that he had committed suicide. When I asked him how, gave a defeated sigh and hung up.
It’s been a year since that day but my memory of that night is still fresh in my mind. I have already moved three times now, moving from one apartment to another for I know that whatever lurked and still lurks in that room may one day catch up to me. I’m moving back to my parents house in Denver tomorrow, and I hope I survive this night – this particular night when the beating of my heart cannot be distinguished from the baleful thumping of that invisible thing.