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Achluophobia – Fear of Darkness
There were people.
Lots of people.
One of them picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, screaming curses at everyone he passed. He was only trying to protect me, but that doesn’t make me forget the terrible things that happened that night.
The men in the black ski masks were terrifying. I couldn’t move when I saw them. The tall, lean man wearing black jeans with worn out red converse and a seemingly new black hoodie seemed to be the leader; he kept shouting orders to his two acquaintances, telling them to tie people up. The shortest of the three started pulling wallets and medicine as well as phones and papers out of purses and other bags, taking what they wanted and tossing what they didn’t want in multiple directions. I saw my mom’s makeup bag hit the wall across from me, its contents spilling out onto the white carpeted floor.
I was only seven at the time of this event. It was a party for the workers at my dad’s office. Not sure why he brought me, but I had been having a pretty good time getting all the attention from the adults, right up until the three men came in.
The man that had picked me up had put me in a closet that held two filing cabinets as well as two jackets that were on coat hangers.
“Stay here and don’t make any noise.”
That’s what he had told me. And so that’s what I did.
There was only a little sliver of a crack for me to peek through, but I didn’t dare touch the door; I was too afraid of the men finding me.
And then was the gunshot.
I jumped about five feet in the air.
I think I may have let out a squeak as well.
I peered out of the tiny crack that I could see through and saw splatters of blood on the light blue wall. I heard people screaming and the three men yelling at them to shut up. There was another gunshot and I heard a woman scream in agony. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and I couldn’t bear to hear it anymore, but it didn’t seem that I had the choice.
I closed the door as slowly and quietly as I could, careful not to draw attention to myself.
That’s when I realized that it was all real. I suddenly realized that it was not a dream and that I wouldn’t wake up any moment screaming, waiting for mom or dad to come into my room to see what was wrong. That’s when the true fear came.
I was now shrouded in darkness; the monsters are now real and they’re standing 10 feet away from me. There’s no escaping now. There’s no escaping anymore. There’s no escaping ever.
When will it end?
Five minutes later all the sound had stopped. I didn’t hear anymore movements. The guns were silent as well as the men dressed in black.
Another five minutes passed and I still hadn’t heard anything from the three men in black. Carefully and quietly I opened the door a crack and peered out. There was even more blood covering the walls, and I could see the end of a word written on the wall across from me in blood. I opened the door more and read the message.
“They were all deceiving you. All we did was give them the punishment they deserved.”
I poked my head out and looked to the left. The men weren’t there anymore, but they had left an awful trail of fallen things – broken things.
I looked to the right and saw a gruesome sight.
Everyone that had been at the party dressed in their nicest clothes were now covered in blood – all of them. They had been murdered. And their clothes were ripped to shreds.
Suddenly, I heard screaming. It was shrill and terrified sound. It took me a minute to realize that I was the one screaming. I couldn’t go back in the closet, but I couldn’t bear to stay in the room with the bodies of the murdered. I scrambled to get to my feet and I ran across the room to the door. I continued running down the hallway until I found the stairs. Clambering down the stairs, I cried out for help, hoping some poor soul wandering around the staircase would find me and tell me what to do.
I didn’t run into anyone on the stairs.
I finally reached the bottom floor of the building and ran past the people in the lobby and outside. The adults in the lobby gave me weird looks and tried to ask what was wrong, but I was too damn terrified to stay in the building. Oddly enough, no one had heard the gunshots that had echoed around the walls of the 23rd floor.
As I ran outside, I started screaming for help. Multiple people ran up to me and asked me what had happened, but I couldn’t find the words or the voice to explain.
All I knew was that there were people who were dead on the 23rd floor.
And I wasn’t up there with them.
I turned around and saw Ryan Bridges walking towards me. He was obviously drunk and didn’t seem to have a care in the world that he was only wearing a t-shirt and boxers.
“How’re you doing tonight?” Ryan asked, his words slurring together.
“Are you drunk?” I asked, a smile playing at the edges of my lips.
“Well…maybe just a little… Hey! You wanna see this cool trick I learned?”
“What kind of trick is it?”
“It’s one I learned in the bedroom from Ashley Carter! You should come see!” He started walking drunkenly back towards the house, swaying with each and every step he took.
“Ryan, I’m not going to follow you!” I yell after him, watching as he runs straight into Iggy Meyers.
“Come on, babe! It’ll be fun!”
Stupid is as stupid does I guess.
I followed Ryan up the steps to the back porch and into the house where most of the party was. People were forced to sit in each other’s laps because of the sheer mass of people that showed up to the party of the year, according to some seniors.
I’m only a junior, so why would I be at a senior’s party? It could be the fact that one of my best friends is a senior herself. Or it could be the fact that Robin Godfrey is my boyfriend, and is a senior himself.
Most people tend to think that Robin is scary and intimidating, but truthfully, he’s just one big teddy bear. He’s my teddy bear, but that might change soon enough. At the end of this year he’ll be graduating and I’ll be left here at Willowrock High School to go through my senior year while he’s away at college.
I followed Ryan up the stairs and through the house I didn’t know, only to find myself in a room full of drunk juniors and seniors. I immediately turned around to leave, but couldn’t because one of the seniors was blocking the exit, standing in the doorway, looking me over like a cow for slaughter.
“This one is a good one.” He said. “Nice choice, Ryan.”
He didn’t appear to be drunk at all. He seemed truthfully and completely sober, and didn’t seem to feel any guilt about what him and his drunk friends were about to do. He seemed happy to do it, and it seemed a crime to stand there and let them.
I cried out for help and immediately felt a rag press against my nose and mouth. Every muscle in my entire body suddenly in unison decided to stop working. I was picked up and thrown onto the bed – they would show me no mercy.
An unknown amount of time later I found myself waking up to darkness.
I stood up on shaky legs only to find myself crouching below multiple jackets that were hung up in the closet I had been left in. I could suddenly feel the walls of the closet pressing in on me.
Flashes of red and blue and white danced across my vision.
I started to hyperventilate.
Clawing at the walls, I cried out for help, hoping that somebody, anybody at all would hear me. With each word I spoke, the pitch of my voice got higher and higher, sounding like a squeak before I cried out wordlessly, tears falling down my face.
I finally found the doorknob and started twisting and turning, terrified for my life. After many unsuccessful attempts at opening the door, it finally opened, and there stood a police officer in uniform, peering down at me with judging, pitying eyes.
“Miss, are you alright?” he asked me.
In a voiceless whisper, I answered him. “No…”
With a sigh he grabbed my arm and stood me up on my own two feet, dragging me down the hall towards the front door, hauling me through the floor that was littered in beer cans, red Solo cups, and various articles of clothing.
When we were all sent home, it was roughly around 5 in the morning. I ended up walking home by myself. I hadn’t even seen Robin while we were all standing around, waiting outside while people were being interviewed. He could’ve fled when he heard the sirens; probably didn’t even think about me.
By the time I got home, the porch light was on, as well as the living room light. I knocked on the door, knowing that if not one, then both of my adoptive parents were up waiting for me to arrive back home.
The door opened to reveal Ruth Wilkins, my adoptive mother, and she was angry. She ushered me inside and followed me to the living room where I sat down on the couch; Michael Wilkins, my adoptive father, was standing by the entrance to the kitchen, looking as displeased as ever.
I knew right then and there that I was in for a long talk.