Fear O’Clock

At 1:32 a.m. things are different.  Things don’t sound the same and they don’t look the same.  At 1:32 a.m. the mind sees things differently.  The eyes play tricks and the nerves take on a life of their own.  Then, at 1:33 a.m. everything changes.

At first, it seems just a silly thing, perhaps even a figment of the imagination, but then it is clear that the scene is happening. It is real and those people are in real danger.  The young man moves cautiously across the wide courtyard, still unsure of what he sees.  The lack of light at that hour plays tricks with his perception.  He stops for a moment when he thinks one person is moving, but then sees that it is merely shadow playing across what appears to be a long brown overcoat.  Nothing is moving, not even the breeze that had been there just a moment before.

The young man swallows hard and stretches out his fingers. He had unintentionally been clenching his hands into fists and they had begun to ache.  Quickly, the young man glanced around him to see if anyone else was awake and stirring at 1:37 a.m. but there was no one. There was nothing moving. Nothing at all.

The young man starts forward again until it strikes him.  It is too quiet.  There were normally numerous night sounds-bugs, night predators and even owls, but at this moment, there was nothing. Not even the sound of a light breeze.  It is then, also, he notices the temperature has dropped drastically.  He suddenly sees his breathe when before his shorts and tee shirt had been adequate for comfort.

The young man feels an overwhelming sense of exposure.  He is vulnerable out here.  This courtyard is open with no places in which he can hide.  He feels his heart pounding as he turns back toward the door.  It is further than feels comfortable.  He wonders if he can make it on a run without anyone..or anything..getting to him?  What is he afraid of?  He has no idea but those people in the courtyard aren’t moving. Something did something to them.  Without another thought, the young man turns and runs to the door as fast as he can.  Reaching the door, he pulls the handle.  The door won’t open.  He hadn’t locked it when he came out.  He was the only one there.  Why could he not open the door?  He tried again and again even though the result was always the same.

The young man glanced behind him and saw dark movement at the edges of the courtyard.  He looked toward the people on the ground to see something dark leaning over them. At least he thought that was what he saw.  As he began again to pull at the door, screams escaped him.  He heard movement behind him and screamed louder and frantically pulled at the door.  He could hear the shuffled movement coming up behind him.  It was getting louder and closer.  Just as he is certain it is going to grab him, the door opens.  The young man wrenches the door open, falls through and pulls it shut turning the lock, all in the space of a breath.

After a deep breath, the young man turns to look out the glass door.  He screams at a volume to rattle the glass in the door and falls to the floor.  1:53 a.m. looks the same as any other moment of the night…to most.

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