Despite the almost constant feeling of being watched, I told myself it was just paranoia. I dismissed the red flags when a piece of my computer randomly vanished because it was easier to lie to myself than face the possibility that a stalker broke in while I wasn’t there. I continued my life of isolation, skipping class so I could stay up painting and writing until 4AM. Every night ended with me shutting out the lights and crawling into the bed I kept in the middle of my living room.
One night, just as I began to drift off, I heard a very distinct creak on the wooden deck outside my front door. Being the sort of person that’s likely to die first in a horror movie, I slid out of bed and onto the floor. I stayed perfectly still until I heard the creaking sound again. Moving in what I hoped was stealth-mode, I began to crawl across the floor on my hands and knees, hoping to peak out the window. I was halfway across the room when one of my outdoor flower pots was abruptly knocked over, resulting in a loud crash. A shadow streaked across the window as someone jumped from the deck, passing through the light that shone from The Shanty Man’s house.
Someone had been on my porch. In the middle of the night.
My paranoia increased, as did my self-doubt—it seemed a tad bit presumptious to think anyone would bother lurking outside my house in the wee hours of the night. When I heard the same noise a few weeks later, I didn’t even bother getting out of bed to check. I told myself it was probably a college student, drunkenly searching for a place to pass out.
The next morning, a pair of men’s underwear were laid on the threshold of my doorway. I stepped over them and went to class. When I got back, they were gone.
Right about this time my friend Peeves decided to make an attempt at rekindling the friendship I’d let die. She was moving into a house with a girl she’d briefly met. They were looking for a third roommate and the house was cute, so I said yes. I was introduced to Sars —an incoming freshman who was far too normal to be my friend.
I gave my landlord 30-days’ notice and made plans to move at the end of the semester. I felt like I’d been given a second chance at having a normal college experience—but that didn’t last long. One morning, less than two weeks before my moving day, I came home to find my deadbolt still locked and everything seemingly in place. I walked in and made it halfway across the room before I noticed.
My computer was completely gone.
I just stood there, staring. I couldn’t process the huge empty space on my desk where it had always sat. I walked around the apartment, trying to convince myself I’d already packed it and forgotten that I’d left it somewhere. I looked in every closet, behind every stack of boxes, but it was nowhere to be found. When I finally stopped searching, I found myself slumped against the wall, one single thought repeating in my mind.
“This is bad. This is bad. This is bad.”
Everything else on my desk was exactly as I’d left it, but anything attached to my computer was missing—even the paper that had set in the printer, and the 30-foot phone cord that plugged into the wall. Those little details made it even creepier, and so much more like a prank than a robbery. I couldn’t accept that it had really happened. I called my friends and my brothers, accusing them of messing with me. But no one knew anything about it. I waited for a confession, but none came.
In the back of my mind a more sinister suspicion was growing—what if I’d done this to myself, and didn’t remember? What if I’d totally lost my mind and would someday find the computer hidden somewhere, tucked in a storage shelter I didn’t remember renting?
I looked around for anything else they might have taken. My other valuables were still there—TV, DVD player, even my brand new handheld video camera. That’s when I noticed my stack of personal video tapes was missing. Whoever had been in my apartment had seen these recorded memories as more valuable than a dozen other things that would fetch a price at a pawn shop.
I felt sick.
A few hours later I realized my favorite book was no longer sitting next to my bed.
I felt sicker.
There was only one thing that could make this situation worse. I knelt behind my desk in search of the small safe where I kept my journal locked away. Relief overcame me when I saw that it was still tucked nicely between the desk and the wall. I grabbed my keys, opened it up, and was greeted with nothing but empty space. They had taken my journal, the one place where I’d written every single thing I wasn’t allowed to talk about.
It was impossible. There was no way they could have gotten into it without a key, and the only extra key was hidden on a ledge in the corner of my apartment. I grabbed a chair and climbed up to feel for it. It was gone. Just like everything else.
They’d taken a computer full of my writing, video tapes full of memories, and pages and pages full of secrets I’d tortured myself to keep. I felt as though someone had kicked down the door and pillaged my brain, taking what they wanted and ruining the rest. I’d never felt so violated in my life. And it was only just beginning.
What’s the creepiest thing that’s ever happened to you? Do you investigate when you hear a scary sound? When has someone violated your privacy?
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