I can't explain or even guess why those nights went as they did. I can't find any rationale that would reveal what made them any different from any of the other lonely lights spent in my own company. But they were different from any night before, and any night since.
My family was elsewhere, out traveling to meet relatives (I had declined the offer to come with), and friends were relegated to occasionally being visited during the light of day.
I was alone. Not that it bothered me then.
I spent the nights in pure procrastination and leisure; Playing games, watching movies, reading whatever caught my interest, and scouring the internet for further entertainment. When it all began, it was subtle. A weak influence no greater than a minor distraction. An irritance. A momentary shade that seemed to drift into the periphery of my vision.
I wiped my eye to remove it, and when that failed, I whipped my head to face it. And whenever I did, it would disappear, leaving me looking at the doorway into my room. Several times I did this, and I eventually came to ignore it. I had "better" things to do.
It grew then. It turned from a flicker - from a mere sensation of darkening - into a blackness that was almost solid. From a formless shadow into something distinct, something with a recognizable shape.
A man glared at me from the doorway.
Or so I thought, when I whirled around and scrambled to my feet in shock. There was nothing there. I left the light on until I had calmed down, gained control of thoughts anew. I was a man of reason, I recited. You can't be afraid of the dark like some child, I intoned.
As this liturgy took form in my mind, the blackness returned, and I saw it more clearly now.
It was no man. It had none of the features of a man. All it had was a shape and blackness. The black shape of something reminiscent of a human head, slowly but surely coming into my field of vision. Appearing to stare at me eyelessly from the doorway.
"It was not there". "I was imagining". "If I just ignored it, it would go away". "Keep laughing at the series you're watching, and you'll be fine". These and many more were my respite in that strange hour, and for a while, they worked.
Then it moved.
The shadow moved, or grew, outwards! The blackness took speed and seemed to rush out towards me! A vast sensation like that of something taking charge pushed towards me!
I struck at the air wildly, in a blind panic, jumping out of my seat as I did! The fight or flight instinct overcame me, and I drew the knife of my own making I had in drawer! I turned on every light in the apartment! I checked the rooms and I checked their shadows! I did not know what I was searching for or what I would do when I found it, and when I found nothing, I was at ease.
"Nothing but my imagination", were my half-formed thoughts. And when my sanity fully returned to me, it began anew.
It continued like this for two weeks.
Every night it was the same. Every night the presence loomed at the doorway. Every night it was there, "glaring" at me from the corner of my eye. Every night its darkness came subtly closer or swelled violently as if to rush me.
At first, I let the lights be on, and did not go to rest until well into the break of dawn. But as the days passed, I apparantly grew accustomed to the presence. I must have rationalized it away. I reasoned that, as it did nothing but bother me, I could only bear with it. And soon enough, I could sit with the lights off once more. Even thought it was still at the doorway.
And as suddenly as it begun, it ended. One night I sat down and found that the darkness was less oppressive, and I understood that I was alone again. Strangely, I felt at a loss, wondering where that new and odd aspect of my life had gone.
I never spoke of it to others. Not out of fear. Not out of some unspoken horror. But simply due to the acclimatization and the detached rationalization that had occured, which conspired to shunt the reality of my experience far away, damning it to the oblivion of willful ignorance for years.
But as the days became weeks which progressed into months that took their form as years, that mental dialogue of rejection began to slip, and I spoke to others of my experiences. It was first then I understood what had occurred, and it was then the fear came to haunt me again.
When I spoke of it the first time, it was in jest, a truth used to scare a friend. After that, it was in admitting to having experienced an abherrancy. And now, it is fear I feel when I recount what had transpired.
Fear at what I feel I might still be embroiled in.
Even as I write this, I cannot turn to face the darkness to my left, where the doorway the presence had glared at me in the dark had once loomed. I sit with the lights on, even though in the full depth of night.
Because I fear that whatever presence had stalked me then is still with me.
Sometimes I can swear that I see movements, flickers of shadow, in the corner of my eyes. As I lay down to rest I can sometimes feel what I think is the touch of another on my body. When I try to drown out the world with music, sealing out all sound with headphones, I find myself removing them as I think myself have heard the sound of something above the music. The sound of something moving closer.
Make of this what you will. I know that I certainly have, and in time the rationale and reason I cherish will subsume this experience again.
Or so I hope.