Screaming

About The Story...

I honestly do not remember how I came up with the premise of this story... I just remember I wanted to make something that was a bit Lovecraftian in nature.

It’s been six days- six long and agonizing days and that horrible screaming has not stopped, slowed, or silenced. I have tried to ignore it, I have tried to move on with my life and move forward with the things I need to do, but it seems like the screaming just keeps going and going no matter the time of day- it is, for lack of a better word, unending.

Let me step back and explain a few things, maybe that would be for the best. I live in an apartment complex- floor three apartment J. I’ve lived here for most of my adult life, and I’ve managed to keep to myself and enjoy my life of solitude and independence. I prefer it that way; I prefer not having to deal with other people, mostly because the more people you add to an equation, the more likely it is to become problematic. I’ve seen my neighbors a few times, and I say hi to them when they pass in the hallways, sure, but honestly, I just want to enjoy my time at home, alone, sitting in my living room watching television and eating whatever frozen foods I have on hand. It’s a simple life, one that most people would shun, but it works for me. Besides, why should I care about my neighbors? They likely won’t live here very long, most people leave after their initial 2 year lease is up. A lot of people seem to think that the property management doesn’t do enough around here, or they aren’t kind or whatever BS complaints people nowadays want to throw out there about their landlords. I look at it this way- I pay my rent on time and they leave me the hell alone. I’m handy enough to fix most of my own problems, and they know it, so it’s win-win.

Like I said, I’ve been here for around 25 years, and I’ve dealt with a lot of people that I personally don’t care about, but as of late, things have been getting out of hand. Six days ago, at exactly Three in the morning, the screaming started. I don’t mean screaming like arguing, I mean guttural screeching, deep throat level, agonizing, screaming. The kind of screaming that comes from someone bending your arm the wrong way until your shoulder joint snaps out of its socket- THAT kind of screaming. I know the exact time it started because that’s when it woke me up. I was sound asleep when I heard it clear as day.

I, of course, jumped out of bed and banged on the wall of the adjoining apartment in an attempt to get them to realize that they were being loud. Of course, it did absolutely nothing- they just kept screaming. I decided I would go over in the morning and give them a piece of my mind, and that I would try to go back to sleep. I might have dozed off once or twice for a few minutes, but nothing substantial. Every time I woke up, the screaming would still be there; the final time I woke up and decided to stay awake for the day, sometime around six-thirty, I thought I heard another scream joining into the fray. After about an hour, that thought turned to certainty- there were then two people screaming as loud as they could- two people doing everything in their power to destroy the peace and quiet that I was used to.

At this point, I’d had enough. I was certain that the screaming… well, the initial screaming was coming from apartment I, the one directly to the left of mine. I put on enough clothing to protect myself from indecent exposure, threw on my slippers, and grabbed my door knob to angrily yank the door open- except the door didn’t move. I twisted the knob, I watched the mechanism slip out of what was holding it, but no matter how hard I pulled on the door, it was steadfast. I double checked the deadbolt, it was unlocked, I slowly turned the handle and again verified that the little metal thing was retracting, but still, no movement. I could see the light seeping into my apartment through the door frame, so it wasn’t like someone built a wall around my door when I wasn’t paying attention or something. I thought that maybe something was wrong with the frame, maybe the wood had swelled with the weather, maybe the foundation was starting to give out and my door was bearing the brunt of the pressure. I figured that giving the door a good hard slam with my weight could break it loose- so that’s what I did, I rammed it with my shoulder and… nothing. The door refused to budge. My slamming into it, kicking it, pounding on it… none of it did a damn thing to the integrity of that door.

Exhausted and in a bit of pain from repeatedly colliding with the door, I relented- it wasn’t moving and there was nothing I could do to fix that. I leaned against the door and tried to catch my breath; I decided that then would be a good time to look through the peephole to see if maybe something had happened in the hallway. I moved in and stared out into the hallway of my building and was confused- there was no door across the hallway. There was no door where apartment L should be- the marking was still there to show where the apartment should be, but there was no door at all. It was as if they had removed the door and filled in the spot with drywall, then painted it. Obviously, this wouldn’t have been possible, I would have heard them doing so and noticed the maintenance people working on it… plus why would they shut off an apartment like that?

The more I thought about it, the less it made sense- so in the end I had to just stop thinking about it. I stepped away and threw myself in my recliner, and just stared out into the foggy morning. I could see the street from my apartment, but it appeared to be barren, there were no cars or people out walking- it was the emptiest I had ever seen it personally. I couldn’t make out the faces of the other buildings through the fog, but I could at least see the silhouettes- not that it mattered if I couldn’t leave the apartment.

I sat there, just staring out at the fog as it rolled in and kept going… then the fact that I have a cellphone clicked in my mind. I got up, went back to my bedroom to grab my phone. It wasn’t until I attempted to turn on the screen that something occurred to me- none of my lights were on anywhere in my apartment. The fact that my phone wasn’t functioning no matter what I did verified this for me- I had no power. My apartment had plenty of windows, so it was well lit by the morning light, but none of my lights were working, none of the outlets had power- it was as if someone had flipped the breakers to the apartment, and maybe they had- the problem with that is that the breakers in the utility closet that you could only access from the hallway, and I was stuck in my apartment.

At first, I was annoyed, angry, determined to scream at someone for playing this annoying trick on me. I was further enraged by the damn screaming that was coming from my neighbors place, and the now three other people that had joined him in this ear piercing song. I returned to my chair and watched the day pass- my mind was almost as foggy as the clearing outside my window. I had no idea how I was going to get out of this situation other than wait for someone to rescue me. Surely someone had to be working on a solution to this problem, somewhere… There’s no way that the police weren’t already looking into the people screaming, there’s no way that my neighbors, at least the ones that weren’t screaming, and weren’t the poor soul potentially trapped in apartment L, hadn’t already made a phone call to someone out there to look into the noise. My next door neighbor was the first to start screaming, so when they investigated the situation, they were bound to come up the stairs. When I heard them, I would just bang on my door for their attention, and explain what’s going on, surely that would work out for me.

That’s what I honestly thought for the first two days. For nearly forty-eight hours I sat in my recliner and watched the days pass by, the fog never lifting or clearing. In the entire time I watched, I didn’t see a single person walking by, not a single car driving down the road… nothing. All I saw was light that was filtered by a dense fog, and then the darkness of the night. As strange as it was, I wasn’t hungry at all. I’m the type that eats in a panic, so I figured I would want food, but with no power I couldn’t heat anything up. I think I ate some bread and peanut butter on day two, but I don’t recall.

It wasn’t until day four that I started to think maybe, just maybe, things weren’t going to change. By this point, I could no longer differentiate the sounds of the screams, I have no idea how many people were screaming, who they were, where they were… all I knew was that the screaming was loud, unbearable, and closing my eyes to sleep would only make it seem louder, like it was coming from my room, or like it was seeping into my skull and echoing through my ears. So, with that, sleep wasn’t an option, no matter how much I was needing it.

Lack of sleep can do crazy things to your head, you start to have weird thoughts, you start to see things out of the corner of your eyes, and you start to hear strange noises; not to say that the screaming wasn’t weird in and of itself. At first, I started to wonder if there was something keeping me in my apartment- maybe something like a wall… The more I stared at the spot where my neighbors door used to be, I started to wonder if maybe they had done the same thing to my door. Maybe they had managed to put a wall up without me noticing… but how would you explain my ability to see out into the hallways? Simple, they left the peephole uncovered to taunt me, to let me see what was out there- to see what they had done to the others, to torture me. That had to be what was happening, it HAD to be. The problem with this became- what the hell do you do if you’re faced with this situation? Clearly the material they used for the exterior was of superior quality, I couldn’t get my door to move at all.

Then, on day five, the plan hatched- I had two other options to attempt an escape. The first one was the easier of the two, so I decided it would be plan B- that is to break the window and attempt to climb down the building. The problem with that was that I was on the third floor, and it was certain to hurt if I messed up and fell. Thus I moved on with Plan A, which was to break through the inner wall and into my neighbors apartment. If nothing else, if this was some sort of sick prank, I would get to damage his walls, and yell at him when I got through.

Step one- find a hammer, which was already going to be an issue. I didn’t have a hammer in my apartment, all of my tools were in my truck which was down in the parking garage. I started digging through drawers, cabinets, and everything I had for storage to find something heavy enough to break through the wall. The closest thing I had was a meat tenderizing hammer, and a kitchen knife- and while that may not sound like it would be effective, it would be enough. If I could damage the drywall with the tenderizer, maybe I could cut through the drywall with the knife.

I went to my bedroom and started on my plan. I smacked the wall as hard as I could, I put all the strength I could muster into each and every single swing only to be met with zero in ways of results. No matter how much I hit the wall, how much damage I should have been causing, nothing was happening. I threw the small hammer off to the side and started trying to drive the knife into the wall, trying to cut it, scratch it, or do anything that I could to damage it.

But again… nothing happened. No matter what I did, I couldn’t damage the wall. I tried this process on every wall of my apartment and the results never changed- the walls were seemingly impervious to damage. I shook this off, and moved forward with Plan B- breaking a window. At this point I didn’t care if I broke my arm or whatever, I would jump out if I had to.

I returned to my living room, and to the large bay window that loomed over my street. I took the meat tenderizing hammer and I started beating on the window. No matter how many times I hit it, no matter how much it should have been shattering, it didn’t. I grabbed my lamp and threw it at the window- the glass lamp shattered, the window didn’t. I tried everything I could through the night to break through any point of my apartment, but my efforts were all in vain. The thought of never escaping this hell was finally taking me over; I was stuck, there was nothing I could do to get out, and this is where I was going to die.

I sat in my recliner again, just staring at the night as it started to give way to the morning. The fog that had seemingly haunted the grounds for the last few days was even more dense than it had been. I couldn’t make out the silhouettes of the buildings anymore, I couldn’t see the road, All I could see was a thick layer of haze, of white clouds that were engulfing everything in my vision.

As I sat there and watched the night shift to morning only by the fact that it was slightly brighter outside, I started to see… something. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, and I thought maybe these past six days have been enough to drive me to the edge… but it started to become more clear the harder I looked. I stood up and walked over to the window, stepping over pieces of the lamp and other detritus, and stopping with my face right against the glass. I kept my eyes on the fog, and slowly, very slowly, an outline of a pair of eyes started to come into focus. Based on their location in the fog, whatever it was that these glowing red eyes belonged to was large, nearly the size of the neighboring building. I kept my focus on them, the started to grow brighter as they stared back at me- then I noticed it wasn’t just one pair of eyes that were watching me in the fog, no, it was dozens. The outline of each eye slowly took shape, I could see the dark red glow from each one, and I could feel that they were staring at me. Despite their size, despite there being so many of them, I KNEW they were staring straight at me, they were watching me, and they were FOCUSED SOLELY on me.

As the seconds ticked away, the fog felt like it was starting to dissolve, at least enough for me to see what creature it was that I was having a staring contest with. And as my eyes pulled in the scene in front of me, as my brain slowly painted the visual and imprinted it upon my memory… the only thing I could think to do… was scream…

Narrations Of This Story