Don't Read This!

Gary stared at his computer screen. Earlier, one of his friends had posted a link to a website talking about supernatural manifestations; PK energy, Black Eyed Kids, ghosts, and other dark, unexplained phenomena. The young man didn't really believe in such things, and dismissed all notions of such occurrences as products of someone's overactive imagination. In his logical mind, everything could be explained. He still didn't understand what had prompted him to visit the website, but as is normal, social media was a whirlwind of chaos with a smattering of cat videos, and boredom had set in long ago. It was late; as he glanced at the time on the bottom of the computer screen, he realized that it was almost midnight, and his roommate hadn't come home yet. “Weird”, he muttered to himself, realizing his roommate normally didn't stay out so long, and should have been back at least an hour ago. He turned his attention back to the short, fictional stories that rolled across his screen.

One of the stories stuck out at him like a neon beacon. “Don't Read This”, the title loomed. A quick glance at the description didn't really help; just more warnings about avoiding clicking on the link provided. “Why would someone write something, and warn people not to read it?”, he thought aloud. Naturally, his rational mind denied the warning as he smugly stated to himself, “Probably just some kid trying to scare his buddies”.

He purposely clicked the mouse on the blue hyperlink.

As he continued to read, he felt a strange sensation come over him. He suddenly felt cold, and he shivered in spite of the warm room. “Fuck!”, he grumbled as he stood up and walked over to the thermostat and stared at the dial; it read 21 degrees. He frowned and rubbed his arms to try and warm up. Grabbing a sweater out of the closet, he sat back down at the computer desk, and reread the words, “Anyone that reads this will be visited by a demon that appears as a young man”. The so-called-true-story told of paranormal visitors who insisted upon entering their victim's vehicle or home, and who seemed to manifest an overwhelming sense of fear and panic. A cold sweat broke over him, and he stopped reading at the line, “Now that you have been cursed, you too will fall victim...”

He pushed himself away from the computer desk, and shivered. His back was soaked from sweat, and he tore off the sweater in frustration. “Dammit”, he grumbled, shaking his head, “Can't stay warm, and sweat if I try”. He stood up and looked out the window at the dark street. A single lamppost down the block was the only light he could see, and all the houses were dark and shuttered for the night. Nothing moved in the late hour, and even the neighbour's dog was quiet for once. The whole world seemed to hold its breath and he glanced back at the clock on the computer; two minutes to midnight.

In irritation he decided to go to bed. First he went to the washroom, and then padded softly down the hall. A big yawn stole his breath, and tears streaked down his cheeks as he shook his head groggily. He wiped the salty tears from his cheeks, and opened the door to his room. He frowned as the sudden temperature change hit him in the face, forcing him to shiver again. Immediately he realized why the room was so much colder than the rest of the house; the window was open a slight crack, and the faded curtain was gently blowing in the cool night breeze. Without a second thought, he quickly closed the window and turned off the lights, ready to jump under the warm covers of his bed.

Suddenly a loud knock emanated from the front door, and jolted him from his stupor. “Ugh!”, he mumbled, “Let me guess, you forgot your damn keys again”. Shivering from the chill in the room, he threw on a bathrobe and headed for the living room. “I'm coming!”, he called out, certain it was his roommate. As if in a dream he walked up to the door, and reached for the handle, but something made him stop. A wash of fear stole his breath, and he shivered. His body felt numb as he stood at the door, and he was unable to move for the visceral dread that paralyzed him. He shook his head trying to fight past the nausea, and reached for the handle a second time. He stopped, and put his hand flat on the door as if feeling for heat from a fire.

“Hello”, a sudden voice emanated from the other side of the door, “Can I come in?”

He recoiled in fright. That was not his roommate's voice, and the sound seemed to rasp on his soul. The young man's chest tightened, and suddenly realized his hand was moving toward the door-handle as if it had a mind of its own. Pulling his hand back quickly, he decided to peer through the peephole instead, and placed his eye to the small round hole.

A face only mere Centimeters from the door was peering back. “I know you're there”, it spoke again in the same monotone voice, “Can I come in?”

Gary recoiled and stumbled back a couple steps as he blurted, “I'm sorry. I'm just going to bed”. Every nerve in his body was screaming at him to run, to hide, but in his horror he watched as his hand snaked toward the handle on the door again, as if it had a mind of its own. He pulled his hand back and held it tight against his chest.

“I just need to use the phone”, it called from outside, “I'm lost”.

Shaking his head and swallowing hard. he thought aloud, “Who doesn't have a cell phone these days”, and turned back to the closed door stammering, “Sorry buddy. I don't have a phone”.

He waited. There was no sound from outside, and the young man stood there for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a minute. Eventually curiosity got the better of him ,and he moved back to the door, peering through the little peephole again.

“Can I come in?”, the voice repeated.

He could barely move from fear, and stared at the hooded figure on the front steps. The man on the porch was wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt, and faded blue jeans. The face was hidden by shadows, as the stranger stood there unmoving, waiting.

An intense feeling of dread overwhelmed the young man, and he flew away from the door in fright. “Go away!”, he shouted at the closed door. He paused and waited, and then heard the sound of footsteps walking down the stairs. Quickly he ran back to the peephole and looked out at the street. The strange man was gone.

Shivering and visibly upset, the young man headed back to his bedroom. “Fucking weirdo”, he muttered, as he opened the door to his room.

Standing outside the window staring at him was the hooded figure.

The same monotone voice called from the dark cowl, “Can I come in? I need to use the bathroom”.

With a snarl of rage, the young man hurled himself at the window and whipped the curtain shut. “Go away!!”, he screamed at the curtain.

Suddenly, he heard a noise at the front door again. Someone was trying to get into the house! In a fit of anger, the young man peeled into the living room, and was stopped short when his roommate walked in.

“Oh!”, his startled roommate blurted, “You're still up. Kinda scared me there for a second”.

He quickly pushed past his roommate who was still taking off his shoes, slammed the door and locked it. “Where the fuck were you?”, he demanded.

His roommate obviously startled by the strange actions of his friend, stood up straight, and asked, “You OK Gary?”

“No!”, he replied, peering back out the peephole in the door. He saw nothing moving, so he turned back to his roommate. “You see anyone out there? A stranger perhaps?”, he asked with notable panic in his voice.

“Um, yea”, the roommate replied. He removed his jacket and hung it on a small wooden peg beside the door. “Some guy in a hoodie was asking if you lived here”.

Gary took a step back and uttered, “What did you tell him Peter?”

The roommate shrugged, and answered, “Well, he seemed to know you, so I told him yea.”.

“You did what?!”

“Was that wrong?”, his roommate shrugged. He headed for the kitchen, and explained, “The guy seemed to know you”. He stopped and turned around to stare at his obviously upset friend. “Why? Who is it?”, he asked in earnest.

Shaking his head Gary replied, “I don't know, but he scared the shit out of me just a few moments ago”.

Turning around, Peter opened the fridge and pulled out a can of beer. He cracked it and took a long drink. “Hmm”, he muttered, still trying to piece together what was going on, “He asked if he could come in. I honestly thought he knew you, so I told him sure...”

“You said what?!”, Gary demanded angrily, interrupting his friend.

Peter merely shrugged and replied, “I told he could, but it was better to come back tomorrow, because I thought you were sleeping”. He took another drink of his beer.

Gary frantically ran back to the door, and peered outside as if expecting to see the cloaked figure standing on the porch; the walkway was empty.

“Look”, called Peter from the kitchen, “I'm sorry. He called you by name, and I honestly thought he knew you. Sorry bud”.

Gary shook his head in irritation and muttered, “It's fine. It looks like he's gone anyway”.

Peter lifted his beer in a halfhearted salute to his friend, and shrugged as he headed toward the bathroom. “I'm going for a quick shower then. Talk to you later”, he mumbled, walking down the hall.

Gary sighed heavily and looked outside one last time. Satisfied that the strange man was gone, he shuffled back to his room. He heard the shower turn on, and before long the baritone voice of his best friend rang out in song.

Gary pulled off his bathrobe, and shivered in the cold room. Quickly he dove under the covers of his bed and closed his eyes. The feeling of fear still gripped him, and he lay awake in the dark, listening to the distant sound of the water from the bathroom, and his friend singing.

Suddenly he heard a noise come from across the room. Gary froze as the squeak of the closet door made his blood run cold. He tried to see in the dark, blinking in frustration as he peered from under the blankets.

The monotone voice echoed from the closet, “You left your window open............”

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