Roberto snaps his head back to his closet. Closed, nothing unusual. For the second time, he's sure he heard something beneath the voices of the Sportscenter announcer and cheering crowd. But the folding closet door is untouched, perfectly flat.
He hesitantly turns his head towards the luminous tv screen, which casts a dim glow flooding the small apartment bedroom. Then to the alarm clock on his bedside table. 2:48am. Late for most, but a usual hour for Roberto to be awake. Working the late evening shift, 6pm-1 in the morning, combined with stubborn insomnia, often kept him from even attempting to sleep until 4 or 5, the earliest hours of activity in Roswell, NM. Reaching for the remote, he presses the mute button and waits a moment after. 'Odd,' he thinks, 'no cars tonight'.
This in itself is not too unusual, though he often hears people coming and going from the flat across the street at odd hours. A den of partiers and little-known drug dealers, Baltic Street was used to random traffic in the early hours. 'Slow night', Roberto thinks.
But it isn't just the absence of nearby engines and car doors that causes him to feel uneasy. Waiting a few more seconds, focusing on the lack of noise, he notices that he can hear nothing. Nothing at all; no birds, no distant vehicles, not even the dull whoosh of wind against various surfaces. It is...silent.
Dead silent. Roberto is about to get up to peek out into the night when the sudden, fear-inducing creak of old wood catches him off guard. He jumps and has to choke back a startled cry. His head spins toward the door at the moment he hears it.
Closed. The folding door is flat as paper, again perfectly parallel to the wa-
Except it isn't. The television screen changes, the light shifts, and he can now see the the doors form the slightest hump, pushed out maybe two inches.
Robert leans to the side and opens the drawer on the table below his clock. Rummaging for a short time, he feels his hands close around the cold plastic he is seeking. He pulls his flashlight out and flips the switch, shining the light to the door. The light flickers a bit, but after a couple taps comes back on with force. When the bright light hits the door...it flattens itself, some unseen person or thing pulling back on it. He even hears the tiny click of the doors reuniting at the center.
Roberto notices his breathing has become heavier, quicker, and the smallest trace of sweat is beginning to form on his forehead. He can feel his eyes have grown wide in anxiety.
Two sides of his mind are now debating. One half wants to open the closet, confront whatever is freaking him out and do away with it. The other side just wishes he would crawl beneath his comforter and drift away, bring on the sun and the sounds of the city.
His mounting fear makes the second option look much more attractive.
Roberto crawls up to the head of his mattress, wraps the covers around his body and reaches for the remote. The flashlight is switched off and placed on the bedside table. After a moment's debate, however, he grabs it and keeps it close. His thumb travels slowly up the black remote, and presses the power button.
Without the television screen, the room is engulfed in darkess. Eerie, impenetrable darkness. His eyes will take time to adjust, but for now he is blinded. He lays his head back against the soft fabric of his pillow and closes his eyes, knowing already that sleep will be an elusive mistress.
5 minutes pass. 5 minutes of nothingness. Complete silence, broken only by his breathing. His eyes are shut and he tries to relax, to slow his breath to the mellow rhythm of sleep. But his insomnia will not back down. He makes his first movement, turning onto his left side, toward the tv and only doorway out of here. His eyelids meet again, and he attempts to concentrate on a feature for tonight's dream theatre.
Crreeeeeak! That dreaded sound sends an icicle down his spine as his eyes blow open. His vision has improved, and he can see the shapes of the tv atop a small wooden table, his dresser,and bookshelf. After a second, he slowly closes his eyes again. 'Just go to sleep,' he thinks to himself. He thinks this once more before the damned wooden creak sounds itself again. 'Go to sleep,just go to sleep'. He repeats this mantra, over and over, as if it will actually come true.
Crrreeeeeeaaakkk! Again he hears the closet, this time much more drawn out,extended, as if the door (or whatever is behind it) is getting braver. By now, Roberto cannot deny the fear in his heart, making him shiver. 'Just let me sleep, please, just let me sleep' he whimpers inside his mind. His hands close firmly around the flashlight in front of him. His eyelids are pressed together tightly, and he can feel tears beginning to form beneath them.
The next sound he hears, about 5 seconds later, causes his lids to fly open like a curtain. It's not a wooden creak, or any sound a door can make. What he hears is the soft tap of a shoe meeting the ground.
Roberto springs up into a sitting position ,snaps on the flashlight, and points it toward his closet.
The doors are open, the wood pushed at least a foot apart. He sees the white wall inside, turned almost yellow by the now dim light he holds. But that's all he sees. He could have sworn he heard a single footstep, and the open closet strongly supports this theory, but he can see no one.
Still, there's no way in hell he is going to stay in this room. He turns to his left, light following his view, ready to sprint to safety.
He suddenly stops cold; his heart drops into his stomach.
Illuninated enough by the weak flashlight glare, he sees a tall, hooded figure, a mere yard in front of him. The hoodie the figure wears is either dark grey or black, and facial features are concealed by a white mask. A mask that terrifies him even more than the presence of the person. This mask has no mouth, no nose, and large gaping holes for eyes. The eyes are as wide as coasters, wider than Roberto's eyes ever could have gotten. And the finishing touches are splotches of dark red in random areas of the plastic surface.
Paralyzed, all he can do is sit like a statue as the figure watches him. It doesn't speak, doesn't move. Roberto blinks, and the figure is closer, now barely two feet away. He is afraid to blink again.
His lips quiver uncontrollably as he tries to speak. His voice seems to have left, gone far away, but he manages to speak to this...thing for the first time.
"W-w-what d-do you w-want?" he asks. The tall figure does not respond, only stares at the cowering man. The flashlight flickers out for just a second, until he taps it again to restore the glow.
The mysterious figure is now right in front of him. Close enough to where Roberto can reach his arm out and touch him. Not that he'd dare. Again the light fails, and he beats it back to life, frantically this time. The restored light bounces a glint of silver back at him; in his hand the hooded figure now holds a long, serrated chef's knife. Roberto nearly drops his flashlight, seemingly his only chance of holding off death.
"P-ple-ease..." Roberto begs weakly, looking his intruder in the eyes. Or at least, where eyes should be.
The flashlight dies for the final time.