I never knew when and how it found me, or when it started to take a liking to me, a fixation so great that it’d never leave. One uneventful night, I was in the middle of pleasure reading with my bed lamp when a sudden chill prompted me to peel my eyes from the pages. I spied it at once, outside the floor-length window of my apartment (balcony-less and on the sixteenth floor of the building!). I screamed, naturally, rushed to the door and switched the light on. The volume of my voice alerted the middle-aged next-door neighbor, who came to inspect on my plea and found nothing but a vast, empty space. Patting my head and telling me to get some rest (and stop feeding my imagination those bloody horror novels), he returned to his home. I was about to heed his thoughtful advice when it reappeared, almost killing me with a heart attack. It tilted its disproportioned head, pressed it against the glass pane and stared at me, its eyes—I supposed those were eyes—monstrously huge and unblinking.
I had no idea what it was either, but I was pretty sure it was photophobic because every time I turned on the light, I saw it no more. This knowledge, however, didn’t lighten the horror it brought to my door.
I confided in my kind-hearted neighbor, the only one who shared this floor with me, my trusted best friend, and my dearest little brother who was living on campus. They all agreed to stay a night and saw for their eyes just what sort of creature it was to be able to scare their “horror fangirl”. As though having sensed their presence, not once did it show its hideous sight. The second time was no improvement, and nor did the third. All I got from them were pity and the not-so subtle implication that I should go see a psychiatrist. I couldn’t blame them though; this creature was a terrifyingly clever thing.
The battle was left to be fought by I alone. Knowing that light had some effect on it, I made sure light was with me wherever I went. I turned on the light before stepping into a room. I went to sleep with the light well and on, covering my head with a thick blanket and my eyes with an eye pad. I was obsessed with keeping my flashlight, my cell phone and my laptop in full battery in case the electricity failed. My apartment was stacked with candles and matches, all never out of my reach. I tried everything I could to save myself from it.
My sleeps got shortened, half due to the harrowing anxiety of being watched and half due to all the pills I had shoved down my throat in order to stay awake as long as was physically allowed. When I did fall asleep, my usual sweet dreams were stained with ubiquitous nightmares of monstrously huge eyes, and I woke up at the first streak of dawn feeling as though I hadn’t slept a wink. My mind was worn out and taut like a bowstring about to snap. My grades suffered because of it; so did my reputation with the lecturers and my peers – I, who used to be amongst the tops of the class, now struggled near the bottom. I wouldn’t have breathed a word with my friends, my teachers or my counselor had they ever asked, understanding that nobody was able to get my predicament and provide me with aid. I appreciated their consideration, even when their patience ran dry and they all eventually gave up on me, the stubborn, failing student on the verge of dementia. The looks they gave me when I strolled into the class, heavy bags under my sunken eyes, was frustration laced with pity. I supposed under other circumstances I would be quite irritated by them, but for now they were the least of my worries.
You ask me why I would not just move out of that damned apartment; someone must have died in it in a horrible enough manner to breed a curse and I must have earned the worst luck of nine lifetimes to receive it. I had moved out actually, not just once but twice, but my efforts were of no avail, as I gradually came to two realizations: one, it was not the place that the thing haunted, it was me and two, the longer it stayed with me, the stronger it became, and it had been staying for a while. I had tried to calm myself with a fragile belief that as long as it remained outside, it couldn’t harm me. My assurance was shattered however, because one day I returned home to spot it inside, right next to the bed drawer, where my bed lamp stood. Right next to me should I rest on my bed. Some time it had bypassed the glass barrier to invade my room. It did nothing but tilted its unshapely head and looked at me like it had been doing so for months, only to vanish without a trace the moment I flipped the switch – hiding from the light as its photophobic nature dictated. Tomorrow was examination day and a sleep, albeit short and disturbed, was in order. Nevertheless, for how many hours I couldn’t tell I was unable to close my eyes in fear that something might happen while I was sleeping, a blackout for instance. Without the light, it would crawl out from its hiding place and do something to me, something sinister beyond the mercy of mere death. My eyes were stung and hurt with despair; yet my body was not always obedient to my will and sooner or later, I felt my eyelids cover my sight, and only when did I arrive at the ultimate truth: the darkness behind my eyelids was the one I was unable to keep away. So, instead of flickering, indistinguishable phosphenes, the only thing my brain registered was the thing’s monstrously huge eyes.