By Elycia Lee
There it is.
There it is again.
And there’s nowhere I can run to.
This is a nightmare I can never wake up from. A darkness I can never escape. A room without an exit, and I’m trapped in here forever.
Will you save me?
Matthew discovered the piece of paper on the floor. He wasn’t even that curious. He was just trying to tie his shoelaces that got untied, and right where he knelt, there it was – a dusty brown note with scrawny handwriting. The note was opened nicely and the words were looking right at him, as if someone had purposely placed it there for him to read it.
He picks it up and rereads it over and over, flipping the note to see if there was at least a name of a person or place written somewhere. Nothing.
“How do I save you if I don’t know where you are?” Matthew mumbles under his breath.
The wind howls, but gives no answer to his question.
“Hm, maybe it’s just some kind of poem written by a teenage girl,” he thinks, wanting to dispose the note, then decides to pocket the note instead, seeing as there is no bin anywhere nearby.
Matthew continues his evening walk, forgetting all about the note he stored deep in the pocket of his jacket, and stored deeper at the back of his mind.
“I’m home,” Matthew bellows, taking off his jacket and hanging it on the coat rack. There’s a note on the refrigerator from his mother.
Went to visit grandma. Will be back tomorrow afternoon. Lasagna in microwave.
Matthews retrieves the lasagna, the plate still hot. “Mother must have just left,” he thinks.
Taking the plate to the living room, he turns on the television and gets into a comfortable position. After sitting there for hours, he dozes off and falls asleep.
The house is silent. And it’s too silent, that’s why when Matthew wakes up in the middle of the night in need to use the washroom, he hears it. The screams and cries for help from outside… or inside?
“Help! Help meeee! Please!” The shouts are muffled, yet eerie, sounding like the screeching noise of metal against metal.
Matthew’s feet stay rooted to the ground, feeling horrified yet curious as he glances around to look for the source of the sound. Braving himself, he tries peeking out the curtains of the windows, expecting to see some girl somewhere, but he doesn’t, and part of him is relieved, because he’s definitely watched way too many horror movies. Even when there’s nothing there, he feels like he can just imagine the bloody face of a young girl staring back at him.
He approaches the front door, and he hears it clearer this time. The screams are starting to give him a headache. Then suddenly, the note from earlier that evening came to his mind. He doubts it, but his right hand reaches out to the pocket of his jacket to grab for the note. The note screams in his hand and he screams back at it, dropping it on the floor.
The note seems to light up the dark room, and it fidgets, as if someone is trapped inside the note. That’s when Matthew understands the contents of the note. Slowly, he crouches to observe the words on the note and discovers that it’s different now.
Please save me. Please save me. I can’t breathe. Please. HELP!
“How?” Unknowingly, he yells back.
Then the words fade away and disappear, revealing a reply.
You hear me! I don’t know how you can get me out of here, but please do!
Matthew feels afraid, but the fear is suppressed by an overwhelming amount of curiosity. He tries tearing the paper, but it doesn’t even make a crease.
STOP! STOP! You’re tearing my soul apart!
Matthew immediately stops and smoothens out the paper instead. He grabs the note and runs to the study table, hands rummaging the drawers for a pen. He tries scribbling something, but the ink gets absorbed.
STOP! It screams again. You’re drowning me!
The note lets out what sounds like a choke.
“What then should I do?” Matthew asks frantically. His head was beginning to hurt more and more.
The words glow in a different colour – a bright colour of purple instead of the initial grey. Without thinking, Matthew touches the words with his finger and in an instant his head starts hurting at an intensity as if it was about to break apart. He screams in agony, no longer feeling anything but pain. It’s a pain not in the flesh, but of the mind and it’s torture.
Suddenly the pain subsides. Everything is still. Matthew opens his eyes and complete darkness embraces him. He wonders if he became blind. Then, he hears a shrill laughter, cackling evilly.
“Now it’s your turn to be trapped. I’ve been set free!”
He hears his own voice. Matthew gasps and shouts but words don’t form, and he realises that his voice has been taken away.
“Thank you, Matthew. Thanks to your kind heart, and gullible mind, I, who was trapped in that rotten piece of paper for almost 20 years, can be free. I now have a body to walk in and I can breathe! Finally people can hear me!”
“All your screams will now be mere words on a paper. But of course, I can’t let your parents discover that you’re now trapped in a paper, can I? They wouldn’t believe you anyway, for I am the one living in your body now. You, then, should be disposed. Burned, maybe?”
Matthew cries, but he is trapped in darkness, unable to see anything at all. His voice goes unheard as well. He wishes for it to be a dream, that he could just wake up and all would be gone –
“I wished the same, Matthew. I, Marriott, wished for years to be woken up from this nightmare. I would be grateful to you for saving my soul, but sadly, for me to be free, you need to take my place.”
“For I too have a heart, I will spare you. I will not burn you, for I know that the darkness and emptiness itself is torture enough. I will keep you in one of the books here on this table, but I warn you, if you were to escape from the note, another’s soul will have to be sacrificed, and it may be your friend or a family.”
And Matthew knew no more.
“Hey Matt! You should really clear up all your books on the table, didn’t I tell you give them away or recycle it since last Saturday?”
“Sorry mom! Just leave your unwanted books along with the pile next to the door and I’ll send them for recycling later,” Matthew (Marriott) replies.
Matthew’s mother picks up an old book but doesn’t bother to flip through it. She dumps it along with the other pile of books for recycling.
Very silently, someone is crying.
Someone is screaming for help, but no one sees him, no one hears him.
The voices of my family, of people, are everywhere.
But there’s nowhere I can run to. No one can hear me.
I’m trapped in here forever – a nightmare I can never wake up from, a darkness I can never escape, a room without an exit.
Someone please hear me. Please, save me.
By Elycia Lee