I am forced to recollect the horrid tale that has left me trapped inside this car as a prisoner of my own mind; doing so is the only way I can think of to ensure that I have not gone entirely insane. I can feel my heart beat deep within my chest, each time I fear it will be my last. The only way I can think to calm myself down and regain some semblance of sanity is to rationalize the events that lead to my current situation, so here we go…
I grew up on Keegan Drive, a top a small mountain, surrounded by parks and playgrounds. Despite the early absence of my Mother I lived a very happy life, my Father worked a well-paying job where he seemed to find a great deal of purpose and the two of us were fortunate enough to share most of the same hobbies, the most passionate of these hobbies being astronomy. At age five I received a small pocket sized telescope that has yet to leave my person since and at age seven my father bought me my first full sized telescope, it came with an assortment of lenses and I spent many nights staying up past my bedtime gazing fondly up at the stars.
One night however this picturesque childhood I was living came to sudden, untimely halt. I was eight years old and up in my bedroom, it was a stormy night right in the heart of winter, cloud cover made it impossible to see even a single star, so I pointed my telescope down to the town below instead. I saw very little of interest at first, a few cars driving around the streets and a couple of houses that I never knew had swimming pools, that was until I turned my attention to the Old Hospital that sat just off the base of the mountain side below my house. I have only ever known the building to be abandoned, apparently it was vacated back when my Father was a boy and no one ever had any sense to do anything with the land. It was an eye sore for an otherwise scenic little town.
I began scanning the windows through the telescope, most were broken and graffitied. It was all rather dull until I noticed a strange light appear on the roof of the building. I pulled the telescope up and stared into the face of a nightmare that has yet to leave my dreams some fifteen years later. A specter in a waving black hood surrounded by a thick mist of rain, staring straight at me. It was as though the being knew that I was going to be looking out my window at the exact time that I did, it was not staring up the mountain or even at my house, it was staring straight into my eyes, like it had been waiting for me.
I jumped back, knocking the telescope to the floor, screaming for my Father I scurried underneath the bed with my arms wrapped tightly around my ears. My Father raced up to my room, it took him twenty minutes to coax me out from under the bed. He came up with a myriad of excuses about why what I had seen was nothing to be afraid of but none of them worked, I knew what I had seen. It took hours but he eventually managed to calm me down and spent the night in my room watching over me from my toy chest as I slept. His presence however, did little to prevent the appearance of the specter that night in the upsetting dreams that would become common place in my life as I grew to adulthood. At night, everywhere I looked the specter would appear. On the fringes of my eye line, always in the corner I could never quite look at it directly.
The torment the specter plagued on my mind never vanished but with experience I managed to work my life around it. The vivid dreams of the specter following me brought about great fits of screaming in the night and maintaining eye contact with anyone became increasingly difficult as the fear of looking up from my feet and spotting the specter was too much to bare. Relationships and sleep were quite difficult but despite this torment I managed to finish top of my class in high school and secure a spot in a top tier University a state away.
That brings us to last week when late one night I received a call from my Grandmother informing me that my Father had suddenly passed, terribly distraught I spent the whole night crying, until I eventually passed out from exhaustion. The call had come during my exams and pushing them back so late was going to be a challenge so I did not arrive back home until the day of the funeral, I was so late in fact that I changed into my suit in the bathroom of the airport and went straight to the cemetery. The weather was appropriate for the mood of the day, overcast with heavy rain and the occasional thunder claps.
Arriving at the graveside I saw many people already leaving, I feared I had missed the service but was relieved in some strange way to find out that many simply didn’t want to catch a cold or ruin their suits in the rain. Fortunately, I grabbed a thick weather poncho at the airport store so I didn’t have this worry. The service was brief and there had been no planned wake afterwards, I cried a lot but managed to pull myself together for my Grandmother who was crying even more.
With no wife and survived only by myself and my Grandmother the job of sorting my Father’s estate fell to me, I planned to stay at my old childhood home whilst I was in town and sort through all the houses contents before putting it up on the market. On my way over to the house after the service I passed by the Old Hospital where I had spotted the specter all those years ago. I cannot explain why but I felt the need to pull over outside the building. I had no idea why but it was as if I had no control over my body in this instance, like some form of perverted destiny was forcing me to return to the cause of my fears. I sat outside in the car for close to fifteen minutes before concluding that I had to go inside and finally face my fears. “Perhaps going inside will help me get over these night terrors, perhaps I can leave this all behind.” I thought. I was wrong.
I got out of the car and climbed through a small hole in the chain link fence to get to the main building, outside the rain continued to fall but inside the hospital the air was thick and hot, the stench of wet rodents made breathing through the nose almost impossible. I searched each of the floors briefly and found nothing but broken chairs and beer bottles. I slowly made my way up each stairwell until I reached the top floor and confronted the entrance to the roof. I paused again before convincing myself to continued forward. I eased the door open slowly, rust flakes from the hinges covered my suit. Emerging out onto the sight of fifteen years of terror filled dreams I found… Nothing, nothing at all, just a couple of damaged air conditioning units and crudely drawn graffiti. That was, until I looked out from the edge of the building. Up atop the mountain range on Keegan Drive I saw a light on in my childhood home and not just any light but the light of my childhood bedroom. I was understandably confused and pulled out my pocket telescope, looking through it I saw that the room was in the same condition as it was when I was just eight years and staring back at me to my horror was, was me. I was looking straight into the eyes of my eight year old self and from the outside I had to witness the horror of that winter’s night once again. I looked down at my sides and noticed I was dressed just as the specter in my dreams had been, the dark hooded rain poncho turned my image into that of the specter, I looked back to the house and saw myself dive under the bed.
My heart started racing and my stomach tensed tight, I felt as though I might faint, or throw up, or perhaps even both, I viciously slapped my own face praying that this was all another one of my nightmares, that this wasn’t real but to my horror I didn’t wake up, I was here, this was truly happening, all this time I had been the one haunting my dreams, I had been the one I was afraid to see out the corner of my eyes, it was me, I WAS THE SPECTER ON THE ROOF.
Notes: Not super happy with how this one came out; written with a short deadline in place. Love to hear thoughts and opinions though 🙂