There's more of them now and they won't stop. I haven't been able to leave this room in two days. I'm too afraid to move to grab my phone - the floors will creak and they will hear me...

---

It started a month ago after my dad's passing. As a child, he'd always tell me that he would always be there for me, that he'd be my guardian angel and would never let anything happen to me. And I felt safe with him around. He'd pick me up from school, all the way up til I got my first car, and even then he'd call and make sure I had gotten home safely. He'd cook me dinner and insist that I come home at least once a week for dinner, even when I had turned 24 and had moved out. I think it had to do with the fact that my mom passed away early when I was four and I was an only child. My dad wouldn't ever really tell me how my mom died; just that she had been special and attracted the attention of unwanted guests. He told me how he couldn't be there for her, how he could have saved her and all. I used to think it meant that my mom had been involved with the wrong crowd, that maybe she had gotten herself into some shady business and was killed. Maybe that's why my dad never really explained much about her death...but now I'm not so sure...

So my dad's death took a pretty big toll on me. He'd been the sole guardian in my life since I was young and I had come to really depend on him. He'd always been there for me. He had died of a heart attack - the doctor told me that the heart attack was stress-induced. My dad used to work long shifts. When I used to still live with him, I remember coming home late from a party, only to see my dad trail in just minutes after me, telling me that he had just finished work. And then we'd share a quiet hug and go to bed. His passing meant that I was alone now, with no one to watch over me. Well, at least now no one. I used to have a boyfriend, but we broke up ever since I started seeing "the man".

A few days after my dad's death I had been returning home from work, as usual, when I noticed him in the corner in the phone booth. Under normal circumstances, it wouldn't have meant much, but that particular phone booth was broken and had been for months so no one living in the area ever went into it anymore. It was late and I wasn't sure about talking to a stranger at this hour - especially due to my upbringing with my overprotective/paranoid father - but I didn't want the stranger to waste his time or money in the broken phone booth. So I called out, "That phone booth is broken, just letting you know!" and flashed a friendly smile. I got nothing in return, not even a nod or wave. Feeling a little uneasy I hurried home, back to my apartment where my boyfriend was waiting for me. I mentioned this to him over our dinner, and how uncomfortable I felt that he had ignored me, but my boyfriend just chuckled and said that maybe the stranger didn't hear me. Normally I would've agreed with him, but this time was different. Not only had my distance to the phone booth been within hearing distance, but ever since my dad's passing I had felt as if someone was watching me.

The rest of the week went ok; I didn't see the stranger in the phone booth or anywhere else on the way home. That is, until that Sunday. Sundays were when I would have my weekly dinners with my dad, so my boyfriend and I decided that it was only appropriate to go visit his grave. The feeling of being watched was stronger than ever here to the point where it was nauseating. We quickly paid our respects and were just about to leave when I saw the stranger, standing a few feet away behind a large oak tree. It was the same man - he was wearing the same brown parka with the gray baseball cap. I felt my face go numb and I yelled to my boyfriend that the stranger was here, watching us, and pointed to the direction where he stood - but he had vanished. My boyfriend gave me a quizzical look and simply guided me out of the graveyard. I don't know what it was about that day, but I believe it triggered something because, since that day, I kept seeing the stranger everywhere. He was always there on my way home from work; in the entrance to the graveyard; on the bench across from my favorite bar. With his increasing presence, I felt an increasing sense of malice surrounding me. It would give me massive headaches to the point where Tylenol wouldn't help and I could only lay down and pray that the ache subsided. I told Jason about this, about this stranger that seemed to follow me everywhere. At first, Jason was worried that maybe my father's death had taken a greater toll on my mental state and had asked that I see a psychiatrist. When I refused and continued to tell him about this stranger, cloudiness came over his face and would switch the subject.

One day I woke up in the middle of the night, to the sound of clattering and footsteps coming from the kitchen area. Drenched with sweat, I got up and walked over to the door - I could hear some sort of murmuring, a man's voice. I looked back at my bed - Jason, my boyfriend, was fast asleep. The male voice had to come from somebody else. The same sense of malice overpowered me and I knew that whatever was out there, was related to the stranger I had kept seeing. Nauseated, I woke Jason up and pleaded with him to help me check out what was out there. And there, in my kitchen, was the same stranger with my kitchen knife on the floor a few feet away from him. I screamed and yelled at the stranger to get out, hysteria coming over me at the thought of this stranger in my house with my knife, and what would've happened if he hadn't dropped the knife that woke me up. It was then that Jason grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me. I looked at him and back at the stranger - who was gone. Apparently, Jason didn't see any one there, that it must've been the cat that knocked down the knife. At least, that's what he told me as he broke up with me a week ago.

The next day that he broke up with me I went and saw a psychic, who told me that this stranger whose presence was always accompanied with a sense of malice, was an evil spirit who was trying to get closer to me now that my father was no longer around to protect me. She gave me an herbal pouch and told me to burn the herbs with a photo of my dad the next time I saw the stranger so that whatever evil spirit was tied to my dad could finally leave. I was never one for superstition, but after everything I went through, I couldn't risk another person thinking that I had gone mad.

That following night, I heard the same noise of footsteps and angry murmurings. Taking the herbal pouch with the photo, I stepped out, grabbing a baseball bat just in case. The stranger was standing in my living room. I lit the herbs and photo right in front of him, and begged that he leave me alone. As soon as the photo began to burn the stranger let out an anguished howl and lunged toward me. His reaction told me enough; whatever this herb was, whatever I was doing must be doing something to him. And foolishly, I had let the photo burn, doing whatever I could to protect the precious flame that licked the smiling photo of my dad. But now thinking back I wish I had never succeeded in burning that photo. I wish I had lost my courage and dropped the photo, letting the flame extinguish. I wish I had paid more attention to the stranger's baseball cap, the one with the little embroidered "M", the same "M" I had embroidered for my name, Myra, back in fifth grade. I wish I could say thank you to my dad who had protected me all this time, whose face I briefly saw as the last ashes from the photo fell around my feet...

That was two days ago. Since that night, the noises outside my room have gotten louder and more urgent. There's more of them now and they won't stop. I haven't been able to leave this room in two days. I'm too afraid to move to grab my phone - the floors will creak and they will hear me. They're waiting for me, waiting for me to make a mistake and make my presence in this room known. And when that happens, they will enter.

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