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I've found a flash drive with someone's diary on it and now I'm suspicious of my neighbours[]

I'm going to show you something that I prefer to consider fictional - this appears most sensible and, on the whole, it's easier for me to regard it this way as I don't find it very palatable. I don't know who the author of it is and here's how I got the story.

I live in the city of Minsk, Belarus, and so it happened that I had to go to the other edge of the city to pick up an order from an online-shop. As I wasn't particularly busy and the weather was mild I plugged my headphones in and went wandering around an unfamiliar neighborhood as I'm used to.

I stumbled across a decent looking bar and when I finally got out it had become decently dark and I was decently tipsy. I didn’t know where I was for certain but having gathered my thoughts together I chose my way kinda in the general direction of the nearest metro station. I didn't cover a couple of kilometers when I realised that, pardon the details, I'd made a great mistake of not taking a leak in the bar. Having looked around for passerby I got to a wall of a large block of flats, which I was passing, to help my need.

There, in the mud of the lawn, was a black plastic flash drive. I could easily miss it as half of the street lights were either off or broken (that happens quite often in dormitory suburbs of Minsk). I don't know how long it had been there. I picked it up out of mere curiosity and put it into the lighter pocket of my jeans and forgot about it for a couple of weeks until I found it two days ago right before doing the laundry.

I found a text file 'дневник.txt' (diary.txt) on it and a few photos. Despite of all the abuse it still works, although some photos have been corrupted and my computer can't open them.

I've already tried to find that building again, but in vain. Damn! I can't even remember the name of the bar… but I'll go there next weekend. I will go there again and again because I have to know the truth and, if I'm lucky, the author's fate.

I've left the contents of the diary unedited. I merely translated it into English the best I could. Of course, no one who saw it believed me. My best friend called me a fabulist and suggested posting it on r/nosleep. I decided that it wasn't such a bad idea. I haven't been sleeping well recently and I look suspiciously at my neighbours next door. God knows I need someone to tell me what to do about all that.



It's not really a diary. I've never kept one, that would be reckless. This text is a report on the last few months of my life. Most probably it's going to be scrambled and incoherent as my hands are shaking while I'm writing it (you'll know why). And I'm out of time.

Whoever finds it, read it and share it widely. Please, I implore you, do it. No one can help me, but, at least, people must be aware. I don't really believe anyone will read it. The Internet is off, I can't leave the flat so, when I've finished I'll copy the text and photos to three flash drives I have and throw them out of the window.

Like a message in a bottle. A final desperate move.


I enrolled at university to study language and literature and that was my happy escape from home. University and army were my only ways out, so, if I had failed entrance examination, I swear I would have enlisted willingly and asked to send me to the most distant base. I couldn't bear the atmosphere at home.

Yes, that wouldn't have been a pleasure cruise, but trust me, I was ready to take that risk just to shake my father's influence off. My father is a batshit crazy psychopath and a foul domestic tyrant and I would never write that, even in an anonymous letter, if I had any chances to get back to a normal life.

So, I made it. The exams weren't too hard, but I thought that I would get a heart attack right in front of the board with the list of admitted students. Luckily, my name was there.

My parents rented a one-room flat for me somewhere on the fringe of Minsk. Car sheds and an industrial zone come close to one side of my building. A road, a dry patch of wasteland with sparse weeds and a forest of identical, grey prefabs with specks of shops and primary schools here and there stretch out on the other. I didn't care much. I would feel great anywhere. In any dorm, any drab, crappy squat. Just so that I could be on my own.

My father had swept the idea of living in a dorm right away: no debauchery for his only son. Just diligent studying. He also had made connections (by bribing, no doubt) with the dean and the curators of my university. He would be immediately informed about any mishaps.

I don't know the landlord, I've never seen him. My father found this place and made all the arrangements himself and he's paying for it. He sends me allowance every month. Right now I'm on the 8th floor of an enormous, long as a Leviathan, 12-floor building.


So, I moved. For the first time in my life I was breathing such sweet, concocted on car pipe exhausts, air of Freedom. I was free to go wherever and do whatever I wanted and not what I was expected to do. Weeks were going by, but that euphoria wasn't leaving. Seventeen years had I spent going from one tiny place to another along with the hollow shadow of my timid mother and my Father.

For the first time hope started to glimmer inside me. The only thing I needed was financial independence. I was standing on the balcony one evening, smoking an especially tasty cigarette (mainly because I didn't have to smoke it surreptitiously) thinking of getting a job as a translator or a copyrighter. At that moment I noticed something funny.

As I have already said this building is long, in a shape of a horseshoe that envelops a small yard on three sides, so I could clearly see the windows opposite mine.

There were people in every lit window, standing still, looking down into the yard.

I didn't understand a thing and looked mechanically at my watch. It was 00:25. There were certainly no loud noises that could draw everyone's attention. In fact, the area was surprisingly quiet. Only a quarter of all windows were lit, which is quite a lot and in every window there was at least one person. That looked creepy and I couldn't get what they all were goggling at. In just a minute everyone left their windows almost simultaneously, getting lost in the depths of their flats.


I didn't attach any significance to that event, but the situation repeated itself a few days later. That time I was on the balcony with a cigarette and a can of inexpensive beer and suddenly there were people in every lit window. I was so surprised that I dropped my half-smoked cigarette burning my fingers slightly. In was 00:34 and people were there for about 50 seconds.

Next midnight I was on the balcony on purpose, looking from the dial of my watch to the windows and back. I was holding  a phone in my hand, wishing to capture the anomaly. That happened at quarter past one. Just as they had done before, people came to their windows simultaneously. I managed to take some pictures, but that was next to useless. My father had bought me a 'grandma' phone instead of a normal one and its camera doesn't see shit in the dark.

And yet I had some documental evidence of weirdness that was happening in my building. What was going on with my neighbours? Was it some crazy ritual? While copying the photos to my laptop I remembered that usual for thin prefabs' walls din had almost gone when the figures in windows had appeared. Although it had been hard to judge from the balcony.

Next night I confirmed my theory. There is always noise behind the walls in residential buildings (unless it's late night). TVs, arguments, footsteps above, someone to the right is playing the same goddamned scales on the piano, even though it's a bit too late.

But here, at some moment after midnight, always between 00:10 and 1:00, all sounds, except for TVs and muffled Russian pop, are gone, as if cut off. Figures of people appear in the windows. They stand, leave and the background noise appears again as if nothing happened.

That means that my neighbours next door and upstairs take part in that mindless pantomime every night. I just can't see that from my balcony. When I realized that I felt very uncomfortable in my new flat.


When I was taking the rubbish to the bins I met my neighbour next door. She's an average middle-aged woman. She lives with her daughter and husband. We laughed about some joke and I solemnly swore not to have loud parties with sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Just casual small talk. Does she race to the window every night to stand there like a dummy as well?

I had a plan. I started going out to the yard at midnight. I wanted to comprehend what had been drawing all those people's attention, but there was nothing. During the day children would play on the playground, old men would chat on a bench over a wooden table. In the hockey rink the older children would kick a ball from time to time. But at night the whole area around the building would go extinct. And that would make it especially eerie. Everyone was at home. The lights in the windows turned on and off and coloured glow of TVs could be seen.

The first floor of my building is occupied by shops, pharmacies and hairdressers and the living floors start from the second. I'd tried but I hadn't been able to see people behind the windows well. I had gone out on my patrols a few times, until one night… damn it… well, I finally managed to see clearly a young woman and a little girl whose head was merely pocking over the window frame. They were standing still against the glass, staring right at me saying something synchronously. Their fish-like stare stripped me of my self-control and I ran away.

Next night I came to a barely illuminated road with sparse street lights on the outer side of the building. It was looming over me like a grey cliff. It had lost all its coziness that is inherent in prefabs. The very air of this place had changed. And yes. That time people were in their windows on the outer side, which had never happened before.

In every single window (including the dark ones) hundreds of people were standing, looking not at the yard, as I had thought at first, but at me. They we looking at me mesmerized, with wide-open eyes. And, probably, saying something synchronously. Half a minute later they retracted into their flats leaving a lot of the curtains rocking. The silence was absolute and those were the most frightening thirty seconds of my life.


I began to have nightmares. I didn’t go to the balcony anymore. On the contrary, I closed the thick curtains shut and pinned them together with the pins I'd found in a drawer. I would literally creep in the stairwell in mornings and evenings and I didn't feel safe until I would get a couple metro stations away from mine.

I didn't trust the regular sounds behind the walls an inch. Everything, the piano, the drill, my neighbour's morning cough, dull humming of the lifts, the repulsive pop and children's footsteps, everything seemed fake. 'Someone is trying to trick me and I'm missing something important', I used to think those days.

Being quite introvert I hadn't got friends close enough to tell them what was going on and ask for help. What could I tell them? That my building was inhabited my madmen and my neighbors were plotting against me? Nonsense. The conclusion would obviously be the exact opposite: I was the only loony around.

But I didn't feel insane. I am not insane. Merely a man who have unfortunately stumbled upon some inexplicable terror hiding under a mask of mundanity. I had no way out. The money my father was sending me wasn't enough to even move to a hostel. The university administration explained that as I had already declined a place at the dorm I wasn't able to have it as it had been given to someone else. I was going to post about it on the Internet, but I needed more information if I wanted someone to believe me.

And surely, I didn't stop thinking about my father for a minute. I didn't skip a single lecture at university and was studying quite thoroughly which, in addition, allowed me to stay away from the flat. So I only could stalk the neighbours at weekends.

They would purposefully go out to do their important businesses. They would go by public transport… and go round and round simply looking out of the window. They would go in a circle, make meaningless changes and come back. They would go into shops and leave without buying anything. They would go to the city centre, walk for a while and then just double back. They would have lively conversations on turned-off phones (saw that twice). As far as I could judge none of them worked and none of them ever had visitors.

Even children! They would play tag and shout loudly and cheerfully on the playground and raise sand piles in the sandbox. They would mechanically raise and level an identical pile again and again and run along the same route with a certain frequency. But no one would tag no one. This wasn't a game, just an imitation of a game. My building was a looped system whose inhabitants would do a lot of activities. Meaningless, but convincing enough for an outsider. But I wasn't an outsider but a patient observer and I began to suspect that my life depended on understanding of what hellish act was being performed.

You know, there are small beetles called Lomechusa. When they get into a healthy anthill the lay their eggs. These beetles secrete a euphoric compound which makes the ants lose their ability to act and think. They lose interest in food, work, the encroaching beetle, everything. The just wander around aimlessly. Lomechusa eggs are indistinguishable from those of ants and as soon as they hatch the ants feed the larvae as their own. On the exterior the infested anthill looks the same as a healthy one, but it takes one thorough look to notice how bad things have gone.

'Lomechusa', I was thinking, sitting on a bench and gathering my strength before I would enter the building and close the door behind. Enter a building where there is no Wi-Fi, but mine. Where many flats are being rented out at a very appealing price. Much below the market.


In my nightmares I wander endlessly in a corridor maze of that damned building. Nothing frightening happens, but that feeling… it doesn't go away. As if a harmonious choir whispers words I don't understand but I must, as it is utterly important. My anxiety slowly turns into panic, I look for a way out to living, genuine people, but can't find it.

Once I had a breakdown and called my father. His resolution was simple: no other flats. Either I stop fooling around, keep studying and live here or he takes me out of university and brings me home. I promised to handle everything myself and hung up. I just can't go back. But I can't stay here either.

Every night everyone in the building looks at me. Having gone through a couple of breakdowns I must have exhausted myself emotionally. I attend university lectures and take notes mechanically but I can't figure anything out of them later. My plain food has lost all its flavour. My plans to find a job have dissolved in powerlessness and depressing dreams that make me wake up in bed soaked in my own sweat.

Every morning my head is made out of lead and lead-grey thoughts roll sluggishly inside of it. I lay motionlessly on the bed in evenings listening to the sounds behind the walls. Someone watches TV, someone shouts at a child. That is all fake. Some endless weeks have passed like this.

Today I was coming back home late after midnight and while going by the door next to mine I pulled on the handle. It's hard to say why. My apathy must have been to blame. The door opened, leading to a flat similar to mine. Through the hall I saw a mostly unfurnished room and in the middle, there were my neighbours, sitting on the bare floor. The woman, her husband and a girl a bit younger than me, that I hadn't met before. Their daughter.

No one responded to my presence. The husband was looking at the wall with an absolutely blank face. The mother and the daughter were having a lively discussion whether the daughter should go to some friend to stay for a night. They had such alive, such genuine voices… Turn your head away and you'd be able to imagine a lovely family scene. But both their faces were bearing no expressions. They weren't even looking at each other. Only before themselves. The argument stopped mid-word.

And then all three looked at me.


The sky is getting brighter and I'm finishing my report. I only have a few words to say.

Having seen this ugly counterfeit I bolted towards my place, locked the door and leaned my back to it. Having caught my breath I moved the lid over the peephole quietly and glanced out. Sure enough, all three were standing still and silent right at the door.

I called my father again, screaming something indecent to the phone. He called me a goddamned junkie and having said that he'd always thought so he hung up. He said he would come, but it takes 5 hours to get to Minsk. The Internet isn't working. I've stopped a few times to peep out. There's a crowd at the door. The whole block must be there. It is very quiet. There are motionless figures in all the windows I see. They are not leaving. I've made a very, very huge mistake. I should have gone out of here right away.

My father will come no doubt. But I'm afraid the door will be opened by his totally normal, absolutely respectful son. He will apologise for his behaviour. And maybe he will suggest meeting the neighbors. They are such nice people.

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