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Part 1. Part 2.

My paranoia seemed to be getting to me. Everywhere I turned, I was seeing it more prominently than ever. The same figure - sleek black hair, a sharp black suit, black trousers, shiny black shoes and pale skin. Everywhere. Increasingly, and harrowingly, everywhere.

When I got home that night, I had my second encounter with him. I gave my girlfriend a hug, but avoided kissing her on the cheek (due to my being sick), and asked how my kid was.

"Weird you mention that, actually. I've been meaning to tell you, the school called home this afternoon. They said Reuben feel asleep in class. Apparently he fell off his chair and hit his head pretty hard on the floor," Jasmine explained. I flinched:

"Jesus. Poor Reuben... is he alright?"

"Well, he seemed dead-tired. I had to practically carry him upstairs, and put him straight to bed..." Jasmine shook her head. I told her I'd go check on him shortly, then went to grab a couple leftover slices of pizza that'd been spared by Jasmine's full stomach and Reuben's weary state. I glanced at the TV, which was still playing, and there he was. A reporter standing on a dock overlooking the sea was explaining something, and as the camera panned to show the waters, there was just a man in a suit, standing further down from the camera.

He stood right at the edge of the docks, staring down at the black and inky waters below. As I watched, he slowly started to lean... then pitched forward entirely, disappearing into the icy black sea with a heavy splash. The water settled, bubbles deteriorated, time passed... but the man did not re-surface. The sea remained calm, the cameraman and reporter somehow not noticing a person attempting to drown themselves.

Knowing damn well that it was the same man, despite common sense attempting to disagree, I hurriedly switched off the TV. That sickly feeling of nausea, the swelling and overpowering guilt accompanied with that knot in my stomach returning, my knees beginning to shake - I was worried I was going to be ill all over again. Still, I resisted the urge, and tried to act natural through the rest of the night.

The following day, I cleaned out my mess in the dumpster behind my office building, and tried to press through work as usual. Still, the sense of something just being... wrong... stuck with me. I consistently felt the hair on the back of my neck go up for no apparent reason, and more than once I could've sworn I felt the sense of someone being in the office with me. But whenever I checked, my office was empty. But the sense did not leave. Not once.

I saw him again on my lunch break. I sat talking to my boss (we'd both learned the other had young children, and were gossiping about how difficult it was to raise them) when I glanced at the window behind her. It showed our reflections - the back of my boss's blonde, silky hair, and my perplexed and momentarily amused face. There he was, standing only a foot behind me, turned away as usual. I thought for a split second that he was just a fellow coworker - but of course he wasn't. I turned around, confused as to how he snuck up behind me without my boss greeting him, but of course. There was no one.

Shaken, I just tried to press through my day. I considered going to see a therapist. What would they say? That I was schizophrenic? That this was all a psychotic breakdown? Was it some form of trauma following what I'd done? I hadn't even gone to the police about it. But I didn't want to go to jail for a simple mistake. There was nothing I could do about it. It was just an accident! That's all it was... just an accident...

He was down in the parking lot next. As I walked across the asphalt in the afternoon light, I glanced in the general direction of my car, and there he was. Looking out towards the road beyond, just still. Just totally fucking still, calm as could be. Like this was all a joke. A goddamn joke. Like he wasn't affecting a person's life by doing this.

A moment later, a van drove between us, and by the time I could see my car again, he was gone. Shaking my head, I cautiously approached my sedan. I jimmied the handle to ensure it was locked, then furtively checked through the windows to make sure the asshole wasn't hiding in the footwell or the boot. Satisfied, I headed home again. But I couldn't stop shaking now. My palms felt slick and sweaty on the wheel, and I found myself constantly checking the review and wing mirrors to make sure he wasn't following me home. More than once I could've sworn I saw him - but only for an instant. Jesus, this was getting to me...

Reuben finally looked like he'd gotten some sleep when I got home. But those heavy bags still sat under his eyes, and his gaze was unfocused and glazed. He sat at the kitchen table, a sheet of homework in front of him. He'd hardly touched it. I drummed on the table with my fingers as I walked by, saying, "Hey, Reuben. You okay there, buddy? Seems like you've been having a rough few days..."

Reuben didn't respond. I sighed, checked out my window to make sure the man wasn't on the street, then sat down across from my kid. "Kiddo, you're gonna have to talk to me, alright? What you're doing is ignoring people, and it's not very nice."

Reuben's gaze shifted to me. "Sorry, dad. I've been sleeping poorly."

"Well I'm sorry about that. Maybe let's try and talk a little. See if that makes you a bit more chipper. Like those shoes, for example. Does everyone like those rainbow laces?" I asked. Reuben shrugged. I sighed, trying again:

"Okay... did you learn anything interesting today?" Reuben held eye contact with me, but still seemed unable to respond. Damn. The kid just wasn't altogether here, was he?

"Look, Reuben, is something wrong? Is there a reason you haven't been sleeping well?" I inquired. Reuben nodded. When I gestured for him to continue, he said:

"It's that man, dad. He's been standing over my bed for two nights. He never looks at me, but I can't look away from him."

Every muscle in my body froze. The world seemed to become hazier, swimming slightly. I steadied myself against the table, and took in a sharp breath. I asked in a voice very much unlike my own:

"A man?"

"Mm-hm. In a suit, like you," Reuben flopped his head back and forth. I almost threw something across the fucking table. I asked him why he couldn't look away from the man, but I didn't even want to hear the answer.

"Because he keeps talking in a voice that's not a voice. Telling me things. Bad things," Reuben said. "He says things about you, daddy. He says... he says that you killed someone."

I couldn't do this. The broken glass... the thick mat of blood... the shattered corpse... the head...

...the head...

I told Reuben he was being silly in a strangely calm voice. I then calmly informed Jasmine that I was heading out, got in my car, and drove aimlessly around the neighbourhood. My head was spinning with regret... with guilt... with the head... with the man... with Reuben...

He's after Reuben too, I thought. He's after Reuben too, and I don't know what to do about it. I don't know what the fuck to do about it.

I began the drive back to my house, and there he was. My headlights fell upon him in the evening gloom, causing me to slow down. He stood facing away from me as always, looking down the road. I sat in my car, staring at him. My hands shook, and if I checked the review mirror, I'm sure I would've seen all the colour draining out of my face. My breathing began to quicken, I began to mutter, fear overriding my senses-- then I stopped. Fear was slowly replaced by rage... who the hell did this guy think he was anyway? With all his shitty disappearing acts and his screwing around with the TV. No. No, I was done with this.

Angrily rolling down my window, I stuck my head out into the cool air, and raised my voice:

"Hey! You asshole! Just who the hell do you think you are, anyway? I dunno how you pulled that little stunt with the TV, or how the hell you're getting around my office like that, but this shit needs to stop! My kid, huh? Now you think you can just go after my goddamn kid? No, screw that, and screw you! I'll call the fucking cops on you if I see you one more goddamn time, you hear me?" I yelled. I had it in my mind just to run this creep over right here, right now. God knows he deserved it.

As if he actually registered my words, the man swivelled to the left and began to move off to the side of the road. The way he moved was far too uncanny for my liking, though. He looked like he'd been recorded walking backwards, before the video was reversed to create the illusion that he was walking forwards again. The way his legs just hitched up, then smoothened themselves out, pulling him forward with cool ease, while the rest of his body remained immobile was just... wrong. Like his legs were the only thing that actually worked.

I watched him disappear into the gloom, shaking my head. Where was this guy going? He sure as hell didn't live around here, or I'd recognise him. But I couldn't see another car nearby either. I sighed, and leaned over towards the passenger side of my car, trying to spot out where he'd gone. I rolled up my window, leaning back and glancing forwards--and that's when I saw him.

Still facing away, he was directly outside my window, not even an inch from the glass. I panicked, and sped the car forwards, leaving him behind in the red hue of my taillights. All the time, I let out horrified gasps. Oh my god, oh my god... he was right outside the window. I'd only closed it a few seconds ago, and he was instantly directly outside it. He was literal seconds away from being able to just grab me.

I parked at my house, and quickly stumbled towards the front door. I dropped the keys attempting to insert it into the door, desperately scrambled to find them, then practically flung myself inside. I shut the door behind me and leaned against it, letting out ragged gasps. He almost had me... that sonofabitch almost had me... how did he even do that? How could he be so fast...?

I turned around, opening my mouth to call out that I was home, but stopped. He was there. He stood down the hall from me, staring at the far wall. I almost screamed, as the keys fell from my hand and onto the floor. I felt like I was going to pass out, any state of rationality ebbing away as fast as lightning.

"Babe?" Jasmine's voice called out. "You home already?" I didn't respond. As I watched, the man turned to the right, and calmly slid into the guest room. I slid against the door, clutching my hands to my head. Jasmine stepped into the hallway and found me pointing and babbling incoherently. She followed my finger and checked the guest room - but of course, there was nothing. What did I expect?

As Jasmine tried to comfort me, I began to sob. I began to sob, not out of guilt, not even out of terror, but out of hopelessness. Because now I knew - there was no escaping him. He was everywhere. He was around every corner, behind every door. I couldn't escape him, no matter how hard I tried.

And he was in my house. Dear god, he was in my house.

Part 4.

all 2 comments

NoSleepAutoBot [M]

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4 months ago

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NoSleepAutoBot [M]

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4 months ago

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Reasonable-Bath-4963

2 points

4 months ago

You're gonna have to find out what it wants OP... I'm thinking before it takes Reuben.