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It's Just Us
“Hey, get off your butt and look around! There has to be some sick, old stuff in here.”
I take a timid glance around the small, dingy room. Four walls, one door, one dresser, one bed, no windows.
Running my hand back and forth over the stiff bed, I feel my eyes fill with tears. I’ve been here for only an hour, and it already feels like I’ve been gone from home for days. Maybe I have been gone that long; there wasn’t a clock in my first sweep of the room. Furtively, I scan the room two more times just to make sure I didn’t miss it.
“Oh, come on! Are you just going to sit here and pout? I’m bored.”
I shiver as his hand touches my back.
“Alright, alright,” I say, trying to shake him off.
We walk around the room five times, run our hands under the thin sheet on the bed five times, pull open all the drawers in the dresser, which we find to be empty all five times.
It’s just four walls, one door, one dresser, one bed, no windows, and us.
“Hey! Look under the bed!”
I squat down and squint through the darkness. Near the back, I can just make out the shape of something, a book, maybe. Lying on my stomach, I slide my hand under and pull it out.
“Can you open it already, knucklehead?”
The cover is deep brown, worn from age, with dark splotches on it.
I flip open the cover and a pen falls out. I read, “Journal of John Harmon.”
Written chaotically, the words are in red ink, as if John Harmon had been in a rush while writing.
I quickly thumb through the pages and find that the book is filled with the same red, messy writing.
“This must be the journal of the person who was here before me,” I say, running my middle finger across the date on the first page, November 10, 1934.
“Well, Stupid, let’s read it.”
Sighing, I sit down on the floor, lean my back against one of the four walls, and begin reading:
November 10, 1934
The people who sent me here gave me this journal, thinking it would help with my friend problems. That’s why they brought us here. My friend is always telling me to do things that’ll get me in trouble, and I do ‘em. He’s good company but scares me sometimes. He loves snakes and brought them here with us. Sometimes he brings granddaddy long-legs into the bed! But my friend is always there with me, especially when I’m lonely. Well, I guess with him I’m never alone.
“Hey, that sounds like you and me! I’m the fun one. You’re definitely the scaredy-cat.”
I flinch and squirm away when his slap stings me on the back.
“Yeah,” I respond quietly, “just like us.”
Flipping the page, I continue reading:
November 15, 1934
Today my friend told me that the people here put poison in some people’s food just for a good laugh. I can’t believe that! They are supposed to be helping us, not killing us. It’s been eighteen hours since I’ve eaten. I’m pretty hungry but a friend told me not to eat the food. I hate it here. All day, all I hear is the screams of all the people around me. And the smell… I’ve searched my room many times just to make sure there are no rotting corpses in here. Of course, where would they be? There’s not much in here… just four walls, one door, one dresser, and one bed. I made sure I was in a room with no windows after another friend told me that murders and evil spirits look through the windows at people while they are sleeping, choosing their next victim. Well, I was just told that the bread would be okay to eat so I think I’ll try that tonight.
That explains the lack of a window in our room. I sniff the air, but fail to smell the awful scent of rotting corpses that John had described. Turning the page, I keep reading:
November 21, 1934
It’s so cold in here at night. My other friend told me that the sheets on my bed would strangle me if I slept under them so I had them taken out of my room. I’d rather be cold! I’ve been able to eat again… well, everything but chicken. They say that the government poisons the chickens to control population. I can’t believe that! But, then again, my friend says I don’t know anything. I feel so lonely here, but my friends agree that people are evil and will end up killing me if I am around them too much. I guess it’s just us.
“Chicken? I’ve never heard that one before. You need to avoid salmon; they have parasites inside of them that can kill you!”
“Really?” I ask.
Not waiting for a response, I turn to the next page:
December 8, 1934
Sorry I haven’t written in so long. The world is ending. It’s going to end in ten days. I have exactly 240 hours, 14,400 minutes, and 864,000 seconds to live. My friends say it’s a punishment from God, and it is human sin that is causing the end of the world! Blood. Sacrificing blood is the only way I can stop this. That’s what I’ll do… use the knife they give me for cutting my bread, and I’ll give Him my blood. Only I can stop this. Ten days. Just ten days.
I intently flip the page:
December 13, 1934
Everyday I’ve given blood. Everyday I’ve dragged the blade across my skin and smeared it on the walls. Five more days. Just five days I have to stop all this. My friends say that I need to keep bleeding since blood is the most sacred thing to Him. Keep bleeding, keep bleeding, I have ‘til the eighteenth.
In search of the blood on the walls, I take a look around the the room. They are grey, and stained with mold but not smeared with the blood as John had claimed. The care-takers must have scrubbed it away. I lick my finger and turn the page:
December 17, 1934
It’s still coming! The end is in less than 24 hours! I bled, damnit, I bled like a madman. I put it on the walls just like my friends said to do! They are constantly fighting about the next step. My head pounds, my ears ring, my pulse races from all the fighting! There’s only one thing left, they finally agree, that I must do to stop the end from coming. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans sacrificed humans to please the gods. They feel that I must be God’s human sacrifice. I have to die in order for the world to go on. May my death bring many more years to this Earth.
John Harmon, Age 20
I flip the page and that’s it. No more messy, red writing.
‘May my death bring many more years to this Earth.’ John had sacrificed his own life.
“Wow, crazy guy!”
I don’t respond, and instead I reach for the red pen that had fallen out of the journal. Then, flipping to the next clean page, I begin to write:
June 10, 1948
My name is Adam Mann, and I have a friend who makes me do bad things. I struggle everyday to fight him, and everyday it doesn’t get any better. The people who sent me told me that living here in seclusion would help me understand that my friend is not really here, just in my head, but how can I deny his existence when I can hear him and feel him? They tell me that being alone is the best way to treat my condition, but they don’t understand. When they want to be alone, all they have to do is go to a quiet place without anyone around. Its different for me. So here I sit, and here I will sit eternally, because my friend will never go away. Unlike them, I will never be alone.
Adam Mann, Age 19
Five more days… amongst the four walls, one door, one dresser, one bed, no windows… five more days… bleed, damnit, bleed!... five more days… four walls… five more days… one door… Five more days… one dresser… five more days… one bed… five more days… Us…
“I will never go away.”
“I know,” I whisper.
This time I don’t flinch when he puts his arm around my shoulder.