This was a short story I posted to r/nosleep on Reddit.
It started a few days ago. I was working a late shift at the office–end of quarter stuff, you know how that goes. I think it was around 8pm that I finally got up to take a break. I took a walk around the office to stretch out my legs and realized I was the only person left. Most of the lights had been turned off, and the only other sound was the faint rumble of air blowing through the vents overhead. When I got back to my desk I saw a note stuck to my computer screen.
It was kind of hard to read at first; the handwriting was jerky and the strokes were too long, like angry slashes. But eventually I figured it out:
“You will hear it coming.”
I didn’t understand what that was supposed to mean. My first thought was one of the cleaning crew had hung around and was playing a joke on me. I started to get irritated, since it was so damn late and I just wanted to get home, and–
Wood scraping against linoleum interrupted my thoughts. I spun around and saw some loose paper glide off one of the desks at the far end of the office. I called out to see if anybody was there, but no one answered. I waited for a minute, hoping whoever else was with me would make a move. When they didn’t make their presence known, I got fed up and took another walk around the building. I even made sure to check under the desks, but I was most definitely alone.
When I returned to my own desk, I saw another note on my computer screen. I glanced at the first note I had received, crumpled up in the palm of my hand, and then read this new one.
“If you see it, you live.”
I heard a deep sigh from around the corner; it was a heavy sound, labored, and was quickly followed by shuffling steps. I grabbed the first thing I saw off my desk: a stapler, and held it over my head. But just when the steps were about to round the corner they stopped. I held my breath and waited for something to happen, while in my head I put the two mysterious messages together: “You will hear it coming. If you see it, you live.”
What was that supposed to mean? What the fuck would happen if I didn’t see it–whatever it was? I didn’t stick around to find out. I left the notes there and bolted for the side exit, away from my mysterious stalker. There was just enough light outside to guide me to the parking structure across the street, and I didn’t stop running until I was in my car with the doors locked.
As you can imagine, that whole situation shook me up pretty bad. I had trouble going to sleep that night, but by the time I woke up the next morning I was already feeling better. When I got into the office the next day and saw the notes had disappeared, that just solidified the whole thing as a figment of my imagination, fueled by work exhaustion. I still had extra reports to do that day and needed to stay past regular work hours to finish them. I didn’t stay at the office, though. Instead, I took my work home with me and finished up there. I wasn’t even thinking about those weird notes anymore when I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I turned on the light.
Stuck to my sink mirror was a note: “You will hear it coming. If you see it, you live.”
Uneven footsteps pounded past my bathroom window. I saw only a shadow flicker behind the glass, but could hear someone run through my backyard and around the side of my house, knocking over my garbage cans as they raced to the front. It was then I had a terrible thought: “Did I lock my front door?”
I tripped on the way out of the bathroom and scrambled through the kitchen to the living room. I saw my front door, and to my horror, the deadbolt was undone. I leapt at the door, but stopped short as something heavy thumped against it from the other side, rattling the door in its frame. I fell backward and pushed myself away as the doorknob slowly turned.
The door creaked open, letting in a small night breeze, but nothing was there. I slammed it shut in a hurry and turned the deadbolt.
I definitely didn’t sleep after that, or even the night after. When the fourth day of this ordeal rolled around, I was past exhausted–basically a zombie. The work day went by in a blur until I found myself standing in my bedroom door. I hadn’t received another note for a couple days and thought that it was over, that I was safe. I don’t remember falling asleep.
I woke up to something tickling my nose. I sat up with a jolt and looked around my dark room. The only light came from a street lamp outside my window, and I saw I was still dressed in my work clothes. It took me another second to realize something was stuck to my forehead.
A part of me already knew what it was. I peeled the note off my head and squinted at those goddamn words under the dim yellow light from outside.
“You will hear it coming. If you see it, you live.”
Someone cleared their throat under my bed, and I jumped to my feet. My heartbeat hammered so loudly in my ears that I barely heard the muffled movement under me. Someone was hiding under my bed.
As if to confirm my fears, the person made a sound. It was a wheezing hiss that reminded me of someone exhaling for too long, forcing out the last thready breath of air left in their lungs.
“What do you want?” I screamed.
I made a break for the bedroom door and turned the light on. I squatted down and saw nothing hiding under my mattress, but I knew I heard something there just a second ago. It was at that moment I realized I needed help. I didn’t just call the police, I went to the damn police station.
The guy handling the front desk was patient with me. I must have been babbling for a solid ten minutes, trying to push out all my thoughts at once. Eventually the guy got the gist of what I was saying. He pulled me aside, looking very concerned, and led me through a door into a long hallway. “You’ll be safe here,” he said. “Just relax while I go get the proper forms for you to fill out.”
The man left me alone, and I collapsed into a chair beside me. I watched a couple officers walk past and disappear into a room at the end of the hallway. I shut my eyes, trying to collect my thoughts, when I heard an audible click. I turned to see what made the sound and saw darkness at the end of the hall. The light had been turned off.
Footsteps started toward me from that darkness. They were slow, methodical. The hair on my neck stood on end and I could feel a pair of eyes on me. A second light turned off with a click, extending the blackness further out to me.
“You will hear it coming,” a voice croaked from the shadows.
Another light flicked off.
“If you see it, you live.”
The lightbulb over me began to flicker as the steps drew even closer, and I relized something: I can’t see in the dark.
The officer at the front desk tried to stop me as I ran out, but I didn’t slow down to explain what happened. What could I have said without sounding absolutely insane?
I’m back home now. Whatever is stalking me, I don’t think I can hide from it, but I won’t let it sneak up on me. I just have to make sure I see it the next time it comes around. I even bought myself a heavy-duty flashlight in case it tries catching me in the dark again. I just hope that the thing comes soon. I’m getting very sleepy . . .