11:18 Footfalls

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AUGUST 24 – AUGUST 25, 2020

I’ve lived in this building for about six months now and every night without fail I hear heavy footfalls in the hall pausing just a beat too long outside my door at precisely 11:18 p.m. and never thought much of it–after all, it’s an apartment building with one hallway per floor.

Yesterday (8/24/20) I went to get my mail and noticed a hatchway into the attic just outside of my apartment that I don’t remember ever seeing before, particularly since instead of a latch, it had what looked like a cut-crystal doorknob. Intreagued, I texted a friend about it before getting a flashlight and a knife to take a closer look.

I was able to jimmy the hatch open with the knife and poke my head into the attic. The air was thick with dust and smelled strongly of creosote, but all I could see was the rough unfinished wood walls and ceiling, and a faded tweed dinner jacket before both my cell phone and flashlight died. I didn’t think much of it at the time since my phone is old and randomly restarts, and I don’t remember the last time I put batteries in the flashlight.

I fell asleep, as usual, to the sound of the 11:18 heavy footsteps. I only remember bits and pieces of my dream that took place in a great farmhouse perched upon a ridge bounded by water and distant mountains–the pattern of a Persian rug or shafts of sunlight through an orange tree swaying in the breeze. However, I find that I have been marked with a singular vision that I fear will presage things to come: a tall thin man with lush white hair wearing a tweed three-piece suit with a jovial grin and cold, unsmiling, eyes behind tortoiseshell glasses calmly raising an evil-looking knife to his face and sinking the blade in, first snapping the left arm at the hinge before sinking home into wrinkled flesh, the edge playing along naked bone like a violinist’s bow.

I woke up this morning baithed in sunlight, listening to neighbors below my window making smalltalk but unable to shake the terror of the night before. I slowly walk around my apartment–nothing disturbed, nothing to suggest anyone but me has occupied this space during the night. I put my shoes on to go take a walk and clear my head, open the door and find a pair of tortoiseshell glasses with the left arm broken at the hinge placed carefully at the lip of the threshold.

Submitted by Megan D.