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A Quiet September Night[]

The trees shook violently. The cicadas whistled with glee. And yet, it was quiet that September night. The woods were darker than usual, and yet it didn’t seem to bother me. I laid down on a grassy hilltop, the wind shivering in the brisk dark. The stars glistened, each one burning brighter than the last. Orion, Taurus, Sagittarius, Aries… each one so clear and bright. There was no disturbance, nothing but me enjoying the splendor of nature. Sighing to myself, charmed by the beautiful night, I closed my eyes.

The hallway was damp and dimly lit, smelling of mold and rot. As I stumbled through the hallway, clinging to the wall, I could hear my own footsteps, amplified by the water that covered the floor. Nothing but the sound of my footsteps, and the occasional drip, drip, drip of the ceiling above. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel like someone was watching me, listening. As I trudged through the hallway, I felt my foot touch something. Bending over to pick it up, I was holding a note. I could barely make out what it said in the dim light:

September 24, 1995

The rest of the paper was smudged by water damage. The picture that was shown seemed to be of a man brutally stabbed in the nape. Touching my own neck, I shuddered. What a horrible way to die. The man’s face on the paper was scratched out.

A giggle from behind. I froze. Dropping the note, I turned around slowly, only to find the dark hallway. A voice from behind.

“Wake up.”

The trees were silent. The cicadas made no sound. The wind was still, frozen with fear. I walked to a grassy hilltop, and laid down. The sky was dark, cloudless, empty. A note rested beside me as I sat up.

What was the point?

The wind roared to life as the note flew out of my hands. Springing to my feet, I chased the note, the paper seemingly taunting me as it rode the wind effortlessly. The dim lights in the forest one by one started to disappear as I dashed by. The note finally came to a stop as it slammed into a gnarled, old tree. Gasping for breath, I picked it up.

Haven’t you had enough? When will you be satisfied?

I flipped it over.

It won’t end until you…

“Wake up.”

I sat in a chair next to the fireplace. The fire crackled, I stood up. Looking outside, the moon was shining brightly from the partially clouded sky. Strangely enough, It was too dark to see past the trees, and yet that didn’t bother me. I looked around the room. The television hung in a corner, the 3 chairs surrounding it and the fireplace. Just how Sally left them. I wonder where she is, I thought to myself. Just then, I heard footsteps from upstairs. I walked to the stairs, the air in the room suddenly feeling surprisingly heavy. The fire’s glow slowly dimmed, almost extinguished. The old wood creaking with each step, it almost appeared as if dust lifted from them. As I reached the top of the stairs, it opened up to a long, dark hallway.

“Daddy?” I heard from the dark.

Recognizing the voice, I stepped into the dark. As I walked through the hallway, the thump of my footsteps deafeningly quiet, I heard crying. As the crying continued to grow louder, my footsteps seemed to reach deaf ears as I started to lose sight of the ground, or the hallway in general. Then the crying changed to giggling, then from giggling to laughter.

And then it was silent.

A single door stood in front of me. As I reached out for the doorknob, I noticed I had a knife in my hand. The door creaked open, and I saw a single man standing in the center of the room. I… couldn’t quite make out his face. I looked at the knife I was holding, but it was gone. When I looked back up at the man, he was holding it. Before I could do anything, the man’s faceless grin looked up at me, as he stabbed himself in the nape. The blood poured in gallons, as the room started filling with it. I turned and ran, all while the man stood there, staring at me. All of a sudden, a searing pain hit my neck, as I felt blood spewing outside of me. Collapsed to the floor, grasping my nape, I heard a single voice from behind me.

“Wake up.”

I opened my eyes, only to find myself sitting in an elevator. A single note sat on the ground next to me, and I picked it up.

What is the point in denying it?
Do you hope that denial will change what has already happened?
Or is it that facing the truth is too difficult?
You have to wake up, Mark. Wake up, and move on.
For both of our sakes.

But… how? I wondered, turning the paper over.

Wake UP.

I looked at the two buttons on the elevator. One said UP, and the other said DOWN.

Hesitantly, I pushed UP.

Whirring to life, the elevator moved up as I sat down.

After a minute, the door opened to show a disheveled, tattered, and torn building. The wind was blowing from outside, I looked at the room. The chairs were covered in white sheets, the fireplace having long since extinguished. Through the window, I could see the forest. The trees rustled in the wind. All was calm, all was quiet. Looking up, I saw the bright, pale moon from above. What a beautiful night.

From the window, a single note blew into the room. Bending it over, my eyes glossed over the words.

Thank you.

The note drifted to the floor as the empty room stood still. The cicadas whistled a merry tune. The trees whispered in the wind. And yet, it was an awfully quiet September morning.

September 24, 2004

SaladTopping (talk) 16:19, 19 September 2023 (UTC)

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