This story is by Kimberly Anne and was part of our 2022 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The air in the city was mellow and warmer than usual that evening despite the breeze from Lake Michigan. Roy and I met with his friends as soon as we stepped out of his sleek Chevy Camaro. Leaves rustled on the ground beneath our feet and the smell of autumn soared through the wind.
I remember it like it was just last night! Nico met us there. He was a friend of Roy’s. He opened the black wrought iron fence with the pointed tips and let us in. Nothing short of spooky, but this was how most of the apartments and houses in Chicago were decorated. There are no white picket fences in that city.
“Do you promise to get me home before midnight?” I teased Roy.
In a serious tone, he told me, “Of course. You are my princess.” He told me not to worry. It was just a house party like all the others we’d gone to before. Parties were typical for high school seniors like us. I was never happy about frequenting them. Everyone would be drunk or high. I preferred solitude, especially lately.
The gothic gate croaked as it opened and then closed again with a loud clash. The sound echoed through me. Once inside Roy started to socialize instantly. He was always the life of the party. It sounds so cliche, but it was true. The room was dimly lit – in fact, it was almost entirely dark had it not been for those red-colored lights creating the most unpleasant aura in the house. The room swirled around me and the walls melted like a blurry painting, one blended with hues of crimson and black acrylic.
People were everywhere and it filled me with disgust. Naturally, beers were passed around by the dozen. The apartment reeked of cigarettes and sweat, mixed with pot and sexual tension. I despised these parties but went for the sake of Roy.
Sitting on the ottoman near a window I felt as if I’d become invisible at this dreadful party. I noticed everyone seemed happy. Women floated around men and their laughs filled the room like a balloon with too much helium.
“Do you want a beer?” A random guy held a drink to me and smiled. “Go on, have one!”
Afraid that he’d notice how miserable I was I smiled back and accepted it just to appear that I was fine.
There was Nico, but where was Roy? I had a feeling he’d drift off somewhere with someone. He was notorious for disappearing and leaving me all alone at these horrendous parties.
“Hey. Have you seen Roy?”
“Oh. Hey, Krista. Yeah, I think he went out on the back porch. Maybe he went out to smoke.”
Out to smoke. Interesting considering everyone was smoking inside anyway. I started to make my way out the back door to find my dear Roy. I opened the screen door to the back porch and there he was, standing. He stood there looking over the balcony into the obsidian sky. Not a star was in sight. Too much light pollution in that city.
“Hey. What’re you doing?” I asked him.
He always called me baby. He turned around and pulled me closer to him.
“Come on, I’ve got somethin’ to show you.”
Roy grabbed my arm gently, but then his grip became firm. He held my hand and locked our fingers together. He gravitated towards the back porch area that was below us. The building was a three-flat. There was another back porch area just down the stairs. Roy made his way down and I followed. It was almost as if he’d been here before. This place, was it familiar to him? I wondered.
“What do you want to show me?” I asked him curiously.
On the second-floor back porch, was an identical balcony to the one above. Except, this one had a round table and two matching chairs. The sensor light turned on as he brought us over to the table.
I squinted at him and sat down as he suggested, wondering what could possibly be so important that he had to show me now at the party. This was quite unlikely of him.
I scooted my chair in and placed my arms on the table. Roy looked at me with his big brown eyes that owned my heart and soul. “Baby, we are on another level right now.” That’s what he said, yes! I remember. “We are on another level.”
The sensor light exploded and shattered suddenly. Glass shards rained all across the balcony and onto the table. It all happened so fast! Roy leaned forward and grabbed my arms. He gripped them and held on to them so tightly as if he didn’t ever want to let go. He started talking but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Everything was absolutely dark now because the sensor light broke – and just then his eyes lit up.
His hands dug deeper into my arms. He held on and squeezed so hard I thought he was trying to crush me into a million little pieces. His white glowing eyes stared at me. Those vivid glowing bleached and red eyes were no longer brown. They shone so brightly as we were covered in jet-black darkness. His hovering eyes were the only thing I could see! My heart started to race. I could feel nothing but terror. His voice reappeared but he didn’t sound like himself. In fact, it was almost as if he was speaking another language – one that was unfamiliar to my ears. I’d never heard anything like it.
Roy made sounds that resembled speech, but I was unable to decode them. His voice grew deeper and raspier- the sounds pushed out his throat, “Ult lath odh eyp ahm!”.
He had a gift with words, it’s true. But I’d never heard him say anything like this before. It was almost as though he was speaking a long-extinct, archaic tongue. “Ahhhhhhhh!”, I shrieked.
“We’re on another level right now.”
The words rang in my head like the echo of a bell. They repeated over and over as I started to bolt for the stairs. Suddenly, everything stopped. The light turned back on. Roy was sitting there alone. I saw him as I looked behind me. I ran back upstairs to the party.
What just happened? I contemplated telling Nico. But how crazy would I sound? I’d sound absolutely insane if I were to tell anyone this. There was not a soul I could tell, of that I was sure. Roy eventually came back upstairs and to my surprise, he mingled about and socialized like the most gracious party guest!
Can you believe it? He acted as if nothing happened at all. I stared at him as I sat back down on the ottoman that made me invisible. No longer feeling the cool breeze and warm outside air, the stench of the room filled my nose once again. As I watched him talk to Nico and some other fellows, I was in shock – downright disbelief. He just spoke some primeval language while his eyes glowed at me.
I said nothing to him the rest of the evening. He said nothing to me. Roy kept his promise however and got me home before midnight. It was 11:56 pm to be exact. I could hardly sleep that night. And the little sleep I did get, I was haunted by the most striking dreams! The next morning I had every intention of pestering him about what happened.
I called him and said, “Are you going to explain to me what the hell happened last night?”
“Nothing happened last night.”
He replied so simply as if nothing really did happen! How could nothing have happened? Something is always happening somewhere – and I do know what I saw!
Sternly, I told him, “Yes. Something happened.” I was very upset and started to yell. “How can you say that? I saw your eyes glow like flames in the blackness of night. You spoke in some language I’d never heard before!” He silently listened not saying a word at all.
“The sound haunts me! I can still hear the odd noises you made. Your glowing eyes – I can still see them. They haunt my memory!”
“No, no. This is not true. And even if it was, I hope you don’t go around telling anybody something like that. Do you realize how you sound, right now, Krista?” He asked me as if he was concerned. Then he declared, “The only eyes and strange voices that are haunting you are your own.”
Roy tried to convince me that my mind was haunting itself. He was in denial! I just knew he was. It was he who did all of the haunting all along. He’d just never admit it. So now I sit here alone in a padded room waiting for it all to end.