For the first time in her life, Caitlin was spending time away from home. To spend less time traveling to school, she got herself an apartment near the university on the third floor in an old converted Victorian house.
Scott, one of the three guys living on the first floor, told her the landlord was typically “slow to get things done” and that he had been renovating the unoccupied, second floor, for well over a year.
Caitlin didn’t mind. The parts of the house she had seen were very nice and well kept. Her apartment was huge and at times felt like a little too much space for just her.
One night after a hectic week, Caitlin decided she was going to do a little relaxing, which wasn’t something she normally did. She wasn’t into parties or even really socializing. Focused on her grades, she always spent her time studying. The stack of school books on her dining room table, beside stacks of term papers and homework were proof of that.
She picked out a movie and went to the kitchen for a glass of wine. As she was putting the bottle back in the fridge, she heard a clatter behind her. Caitlin spun around and discovered the corkscrew, which she had placed on the counter, was now in the middle of the floor. She picked it up and put it back on the counter.
Ten minutes into the movie a sound from the kitchen caught her attention. She paused the movie and went into the kitchen to discover the corkscrew on the floor again. This time she put it in the drawer.
She sighed heavily and trotted back to the couch. She flopped down and pressed play on the remote. She flung her arm over the back of the couch, remote still in hand, and took a long drink from the wine.
Robert De Niro was begging Bradley Cooper to sit down and watch the game with him when Caitlin felt something grab her hand behind the couch. The shock made her drop the remote and she screamed, nearly spilling her wine as she leapt up.
Her heart pounded away in her chest, and she searched the large open room with her wide, staring eyes. The couch was placed in the middle of the room, sectioning half of it into a living room, while behind it was the dining room. Despite the entire room being well lit, she saw nothing. Whatever it was had to still be behind the couch.
Caitlin crept around it cautiously, and she leaned forward to get a view behind it. Nothing was there. Confused and terrified, she sped into the dining room and looked at the back of the couch again. Nothing was there, not even the remote. She glanced quickly down the hall toward the rest of the apartment and still saw nothing.
She flew down the stairs and nearly out the front door before being stopped by Mike, another of the guys living on the first floor.
“Woah, hey! What’s the hurry?” Getting a good look at the terror on her face and paleness of her skin he added, “Jesus, you look like you saw a ghost.”
Trembling, she responded, “Is that what it was?”
Mike took the wine glass from her hand, which she didn’t realize she was still clinging onto, and lead her to the couch in his living room where Scott and Kevin were both sitting and watching her. Scott jumped up and let her have his place.
She told them what happened and after a bit of laughing at how she probably had too much to drink, they calmed her down and recommended she stay with them until she felt able to go back upstairs, if she wanted to at all.
After watching a comedy about a guy living with his Grandma, Caitlin felt better and was ready to go back to her place. The three guys escorted her. When she opened her door she saw her apartment was a mess.
Her school books and papers were off of the table and all over the floor. The drawers in the kitchen were open, their contents all over the floor there. The fridge was standing open, the wine bottle sat alone inside it, everything else now lay on the floor with the silverware.
The screen on her TV was blue, and she noticed the movie was sitting in the DVD tray, ejected. She found her remote sitting on the couch.
Finding the rest of the apartment untouched, the guys helped her clean up the mess and went home.
A few uneventful nights later, Caitlin laid in bed and thought about an upcoming test. She had studied and felt ready for it, but she was still unsure. She sighed, opened her eyes, and noticed something out of the ordinary.
Coming in from under her closed bedroom door was a light. She sat up and wondered to herself if she had forgotten to turn off all of the lights before bed. That was impossible. She had a routine. She always turned lights off, it was how she was brought up.
Caitlin slid out of bed and opened her door slowly, peering out through the crack to see if anybody was in her apartment. Seeing nobody, she opened the door further and stepped out into the hall. The main light, the one over the living/dining room was on. She switched on the hall light with the switch next to her bedroom door, and made her way out to turn off the main light. She flipped the switch next to the front door and the entire apartment went dark.
Caitlin spun around and saw the hall light was off. “Dammit!” she yelled, trying to tell herself the bulb blew out, or the electric went out for whatever logical reason, but a look to the entertainment stand showed her the DVD player was still on. The time, 12:14 AM, was glowing brightly on its display. “Damn bulb!” she insisted.
She made her way back to her bedroom when she noticed the switch next to her door was off. She flipped it and the light came on. The hair on the back of her neck stood, and she felt the presence of something behind her. Caitlin turned and discovered the main room light was on again. “Stop messing with me!” she screamed, and ran into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. She dove into bed and covered herself completely with the blankets.
She got very little sleep that night, and what sleep she did get was harassed by terrible dreams. The next morning she awoke and reluctantly left her bedroom. The lights were both off, but again her apartment was in shambles. Everything was all over the floor, and her couch was turned onto its back. Tears fell from her eyes as she went to find her phone.
Caitlin called her mom and asked if she could move back home. She wouldn’t say why, only that she would later. Her mom quickly agreed and said she would send her dad to get her immediately. Caitlin hung up the phone and went to the spare room to get empty boxes, which she placed on her bed in her bedroom.
She heard a scratch, and she froze, listening. The scratching grew louder as Caitlin slowly turned, to discover it was coming from inside her closet.
“Okay, I just need to get some clothes. Please.” A tear formed in her eye as fear gripped her body.
She placed a shaking hand on the doorknob. The scratching stopped. She slowly opened the door and looked in, seeing nothing. Suddenly a group of gnarled hands shot out, grabbed her, and pulled her into the closet. The door slammed shut behind her.
Matt Roberts writes creepy stuff year round. For more of his short stories, check out his site at officialmattroberts.com! You can also follow him on Twitter @MattRoberts29 or on Facebook – facebook.com/officialmattroberts