It was my first weekend in college, after my first week away from the middle-of-nowhere Midwestern town where we grew up. I went out with a couple of girls from my dorm and we got drunk before it was midnight. By two, we were wasted, so we decided that it was time to get back to campus.

Somewhere on the walk back, I dropped my purse, which had one of the two keycards I used to get into the dorms and my individual room. The other key was in my pocket. Anyway, my friend got my purse for me, because if I had bent over, I would have fallen down and not been able to get back up.

We were walking through a park when a man in a black hooded coat approached us. He was skinny, so skinny that the coat looked heavy on him. And he smelled like unfiltered cigarettes and trash and walked with a limp, like he had hurt his foot. He was mumbling something... I couldn't hear what it was, but he was getting a little too close to us, so I told him to get lost. Not in those exact words.

But then he looked at me. He looked right at me and when he did, I saw his eye. He only had one eye, his right eye, and it glowed a color that shifted back and forth between red and orange.

I couldn't move when he looked at me like that. And then I heard what he was saying.

"Only the prettiest girl... only the prettiest girl..." Over, and over, and over.

I was just about to scream when he shivered and stumbled away, moving a lot faster than it seemed like he could. I thought he brushed past my friend, but she just cringed and watched him limp off until we were sure he was going to leave us alone.

Somehow we made it back to the dorms. My friend reached into her pocket for a keycard to get into the building, but it wasn't there... fortunately, she had her extra copy in her purse, and that was what she used to get in. I kept my own keycard in my purse, but when I tried to find it to get into my room, it wasn't there either. Fortunately, I had the extra copy in my pocket, so I got to sleep in my own bed. My friends dropped me off at my dorm and they all went to theirs.

I was out like a light. But I had strange, strange dreams. Most of them I attribute to the alcohol, but they seemed centered around that weird limping guy. And that glowing, red-orange, unblinking eye.

At one point, I woke up. Or I thought I did. And his eye was there. Right there. Inside my dorm. He had gotten into my dorm and was standing just in front of my door, staring right at me, muttering, "only the prettiest girl... only the prettiest girl..." Over, and over, and over.

And then I realized that it was just the peephole in my door. The hallways are painted red and orange and the lights there are always on, so it was just red and orange light shining into the peephole. And the voice... it must have been a dream, because now it was quiet again. I laughed, turned over, and went back to sleep.

I woke up the next afternoon with a splitting headache. I'd gotten drunk before, but I usually didn't get headaches that bad unless I smoked, too... something about tobacco just doesn't agree with me. Anyway, I went to go and get some breakfast with my friend, but when I knocked on her door, it just swung open. She wasn't there.

At first I thought that she had left without closing the door hard enough to engage the lock. But then I saw that her purse was there. With not one, but two keycards, stuffed in the front pouch. Both of the copies she had. Where would she go without them? I looked around, feeling a little worried, and saw that there was a security camera in the hallway that might have a view of her door. 

I went to visit the RA. She kept her door open whenever she was awake, so I just walked, well, stumbled in, and told her what had happened. And it turned out that she had access to the security cameras through the internet connection in the dorms. So we started to fastforward through what it had recorded, starting at about two am the night before.

We saw my friend go into her dorm, completely normal, completely okay. And for the next few hours, nothing happened.

But then that weird guy limped into the frame from offscreen, where the dorm entrance was. He... he looked like he was sniffing at the doors, one by one, and when he got to my friend's door, he stopped dead in his tracks.

And then he lifted his hand and knocked on the door. Like he was just another student coming over to visit or something. He knocked on the door until you could hear my friend yelling and then he kept knocking.

She opened the door. And before she could react, he pressed a white rag to her face and dashed into her dorm, kicking the door shut behind him. A long, long time later, he carried her out of her room and out of the dorm, and that was that.

We called the cops right away. I was panicking--but somehow I could still think straight, at least a little bit. I realized what must have happened, how he must have gotten into the dorms. When I dropped my purse, my friend picked it up and took my keycard. When he stumbled past her, he picked her pocket and got the card.

But then... then why in the Hell did he not come to my room? And why did my friend open the door for him instead of using the peephole?

The RA was crying silently until I said that. When I did, she looked at me like I was crazy and used her foot to slowly, softly nudge her door shut. And then I saw that... there was no peephole.

Written by Alex Ross Writer
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