Growing up, I’ve always been one of those kids who always kept to himself. I never talked to anyone much, not even to my single-mother. She never tried forcing me to talk either. We minded our own business and were as peaceful as any family could be. I remember always being cooped up in my room, oblivious to the time or date. The only times I did get out of my room were when I went to school or when my mother called me out for lunch or dinner. She did this in an odd fashion too (which I did not find strange at the time). She would knock on the door with her knuckles three times. These knocks were very precise, with just the right amount of intervals in between. I had grown so accustomed to them that I could even recognize them even in my sleep.
In fact, I did recognize those unforgettable knocks in my sleep. Normally, it would have been unusual for my mother to wake me up in the dead of the night, but it was even more so since she was already dead.
My consciousness stirred up. As I opened my beady eyes, an intense wave of grogginess hit me. Without thinking, I glanced at the place where I knew my door was, except now it was masked by darkness. I had been having these dreams about my mother knocking on my door way too many times. I stared at the gaping darkness some more until I had assured myself that no one was there. Gently closing my eyelids, I went back to sleep.
Knock Knock Knock
My eyes shot open, completely alert. I sat up and faced the door, fear creeping up the hair on my body. “Who’s there?” I asked.
I sat there for what seemed like an hour but probably lasted only a few minutes. The sole sound audible was the wind howling outside. I buried my face in my hands. How many nights of sleep had I wasted doing this? As I pulled my sheets back and readjusted myself into my sleeping position, I heard them again.
This time I jumped out of bed and flung open the door. I turned the lights of my room on and peered through the door. No one was there, no one at all. I shut the door and locked it. Trying to get my breathing back to normal, I slumped into the bed. I was not going to let it get to me.
For the next few nights, I resolved not to get out of my bed, not to pay any attention to the sounds I was hearing. At first it worked since I would gradually doze off, but as the knocks grew louder and louder, I found it harder and harder to get back to sleep.
The last night was the worst of them all. I was lying on the bed, not being able to go back to sleep even though all my energy had already been drained. The knocking went on for hours until at a point they finally ceased. I heaved a sigh of relief too soon however, as the knocking pattern changed abruptly. They were not knocks anymore, but poundings. Great thundering poundings that made me feel like the person beyond the door was attempting to break it down.
I was shaking like a leaf by now, the thin fabric of cotton being the only thing that gave me a sense of security. I stifled my cries into the pillow. Finally, the spine-chilling poundings had stopped. A long moment of placid silence passed.
You know those moments when it’s so quiet that your sense of hearing seems to sharpen? That’s what happened to me. This time, the sound that I heard was more terrifying than any knocking or any pounding.
It was the sound of the door-knob turning.
Raw terror exploded in my system. I kept my bed-sheet over my head, too paralyzed to move, too scared to even breathe. I couldn’t see whoever, or whatever was out there, but I knew it was there. I could hear its faint breathing; I could hear its footsteps edging towards me.
My bed-sheet was ripped out of my grasps. Whatever little protection I had was gone. The thing before me was humanoid in shape, but it was hard to make out its face, not only because it was dark, but also because the face was completely deformed. The only feature I could make out was its beetle-like eyes; eyes that I knew very well, eyes that belonged to my mother.
“What do you want from me?” Hot tears ran down my cheeks.
“You must leave this room. You cannot hope to escape death for too long, Jen.”
“It was your fault the car crashed; it was your fault we died! Why do I have to face death for your mistakes?” I screamed.
My mother clawed at me with her vicious nails. I struggled and thrashed as she dragged me towards the door. I didn’t want to leave the safety of my room; I didn’t want to meet whatever was beyond. Why couldn’t anyone understand that? Why did they always drag me out?
Being dragged across the boundary finally put an end to my struggles. It was about time for me to face the inevitable.