One minute, there was nothing.
The next minute, I was lying on my back, the worn-out mattress digging into my back and it’s stink filling my nose. I open my eyes, see the sun streaming through the room’s filthy windows. I remember how, seemingly just the moment before, the windows had been completely in the shadow of the building. Then, the room had been, if not clean, at least organized. Now, the furniture and my few possessions were scattered around the room, and the one thing unmoved was the table in the kitchen. On it was a single piece of paper, with one line of rough-printed text on it:
I WILL FIND HER.
I WILL ENJOY BEATING HER.
I WILL KILL HER.
The first time it happened, I was getting dressed to go to work. I was pulling on my steel-toed work boots, wondering what would happen at the job site that day…then I was sitting at my kitchen table, and my wife was lying on the floor, her face looking like she’d boxed with a professional. I’d rushed to her, shaken her awake…and watched her shrink away from me, her face twisted in fear like she’d seen a demon. Slowly, she’d begun to talk to me, telling me how I’d come into the bedroom, my face blank, my head swiveling around like I’d never seen the room before. She’d told me how I’d ignored her questions, then left the room, and our house, without saying a word. Later, she told me, I’d returned, my shirt bloody but unharmed myself. When she’d asked me where I’d been, she told me, I’d rounded on her and begun beating her, hitting her until she fell to the floor. Then, I’d beaten her some more, pounding on her until she passed out.
I tried to tell her I didn’t remember anything, that I would never harm her, but she’d moved in with her sister that same night.
The next day, I’d come home to our house after work, begun to heat up a frozen meal…and then I was standing in a bar I didn’t know, a broken beer bottle in my hand, a bleeding man on the floor in front of me, and everyone else crowding the walls and acting like they wished they could pass through the walls to escape the room. I dropped the bottle neck and ran.
Back home, the dinner was on the table, it’s contents gone and a dirty fork lying beside it. But next to it was a piece of paper toweling covered in large, scrawled block letters. I’d looked at it, and the words were more disturbing than anything that had happened.
WHER IS SHE?
I WANT UR MATE.
I ENJOYD HITTING HER.
SHE SCREAMD REAL NICE.
TELL ME WHER SHE IS.
It didn’t make sense. How could any part of my mind not know where my wife was? I threw the paper towel away, and for the next two days, my life seemed to go back to normal. On the third day, though…….
I didn’t remember waking up. I didn’t remember leaving the house. I don’t know how I found the place. The first thing I remember from that day was standing naked in a dimly-lite room with my house keys in my hand. The room itself was dominated by some sort of raised platform, almost like a huge table. But it was like no table I’d ever seen. There was a hole in one end, and the edges were covered in some sort of fabric-covered padding. There was some sort of mat or pad on the floor in front of me, and sticking out from underneath it was an arm. Slowly, I’d bent and lifted the pad…and on the floor was an naked Asian woman. She was covered in bruises, a still-bleeding wound on her back. Her head was resting at an odd angle…an angle it shouldn’t be able to be in. Then I’d noticed her eyes were open, unblinkingly staring at nothing, and she was not moving. She was dead. Then I saw money: five twenty dollar bills scattered on the floor around her, all of them covered in scrawled text I realized was written in her blood. I picked them up, and realized they formed another message to me:
THIS WAS FUN.
Someone beat on the door, yelling in a language I didn’t recognize. My clothing was hanging from a hook on the wall, and I’d dressed quickly. The voice outside was louder, the door now shaking from the violence of the blows on it. Opening it, I was confronted by another Asian woman, much older, who pushed her way into the room, then she’d stopped and begun screaming.
I managed to stumble my way to an exit, finding a sign labeling this the “DeLuxe Oriental Spa”. I didn’t care, I just knew I needed to get away, fast. I pushed the door open and did the only thing I could think to do. I ran.
How I got to that place, I never found out. I found a bus and managed catch a transfer that got me close to my house. The door wasn’t locked, the lights were still on. Inside, the whole house was a mess. Tables were overturned, chair either smashed or their padding slashed and shredded. Every drawer was out, it’s contents emptied on the floor. The most chilling thing I found, though, was on the kitchen counter. A big butcher knife was lying on it in the middle of another ominous message:
YOU CANT HIDE HER FRUM ME.
YOU CANT HIDE FRUM ME!
I WANT TO KILL HER.
I WILL KILL HER!
YOU WILL SUFFER.
That day, I’d left my house, packing a few items of clothing into an old gym bag and making sure to secure the house. I didn’t know whether I’d ever see it again, but I wanted it safe so my wife could return to it.
It had taken me several hours to find the room I was now in. It was in an ancient apartment building that someone had turn into a ‘short-term’ hotel. They front desk clerk didn’t care that I didn’t give my real name, he acted as if he wouldn’t be too terribly disturbed if I had signed in as “Jack the Ripper”. I’d selected the hotel after being given a quick tour of the room I now occupied. It was perfect: a thick, solidly-built door that had key locks on both the outside and inside, windows that opened onto a sheer ten-story drop, in other words, a room with no way out but the door. I locked the door and hide the key in the bottom of the toilet tank. There was a small pad of paper on the nightstand next to the bed, and I wrote a simple note on it:
“I don’t know what you are, but I know you aren’t me. What are you?”
I turned on the old-fashioned TV, laid back, and settled in to wait. It wasn’t a long wait.
The football game was starting….then it was half-time. The only other difference was the pad. The note I’d written was gone, but scribbled on it was another note in the handwriting I’d come to recognize:
I CONTROL U.
I WILL MAK U KILL AGAIN.
LET ME OUT.
“Never.” I said to myself as I walked to the window. It was a struggle to open, but open it I did. The other good thing about the room was that most of the windows looked out on an shorter building with and alley between the two structures. I crawled out, sat on the ledge. “I won’t kill again.” I told myself as I leaned forward and fell.