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My alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. Not like it matters; I was still awake. I lay awake for probably another hour, and then nap for an hour. I open my eyes and scan the room. Nothing there. It feels as though a weight has been lifted off of my chest. I hurry with my morning routine and grab an instant breakfast shake before running off to my car. I drive to class, nearly falling asleep several times before safely parking behind the drama building. I buy a Mountain Dew and go to research class to finish my middle Ages project. I don’t work though. I just stare blankly at the computer screen trying to stay awake until the class ends. I go straight to music appreciation. I watch the opera the teacher plays, but have a difficult time following the story. I’m so tired. I dozed a bit in Spanish class, but caught myself and spaced out for a bit. When I came to, I’d missed half the packet we did, but it’s homework for tomorrow. I’ll get it done then. I got another soda at lunch and told my friend about my sleep issues. She didn’t sleep either but for a different reason. We chatted about the baby shower she’d went to and went into sleep deprived giggle fits until the next class. Mine was chemistry. I scratch my arm to try and stay awake at this point. The dry skin on my arm gets raw then cracks and bleeds. I then get suddenly cold. I look around the room to see if anyone else is shivering but they’re all wearing sweat shirts. I go out to get some fresh air, water and my jacket during the break. After the break, I sit back down in my seat and close my eyes. Then I hear his voice again. I open my eyes and look up. I see him in the storage closet. A sliver of light shining in illuminates it just enough for me to see his tall lanky figure and his mocking smile.
“Miss!” I shout, “I feel sick. May I please go get some water? Outside.”
“Yes, of course, go,” my teacher said.
I storm out of the room and break down crying. I must be going crazy. How long have I been without sleep? I woke up at seven o’clock Sunday morning and its now 1:43 on Monday. Thirty-seven hours and forty-three minutes. I take a deep breath, wipe my eyes and go back inside. I glance into the closet and he’s gone. For now.
I go to my math class, ignoring the problem. Pretending he doesn’t exist. The teacher hands back out chapter seven exams. I failed it. I’ve failed every test this semester, which isn’t like me at all. I always pass everything. The other students are all chatting and laughing loudly, so I couldn’t concentrate on my quiz. I got every question wrong when we peer-graded them. Frustrated, I go to the bathroom and cry after class; sleep deprivation and stress have worn me out. I go into the shower areas and stop dead in my tracks. There he is, in the darkness of the ladies’ restroom shower. I stand there paralyzed with fear as he comes toward me. I close my eyes and scream out. A girl from my history class rushes in.
“Are you ok?” she asks me. I look out and he’s gone.
“Yeah. I saw a big spider. It’s gone now, though.” I lied. She could tell I was lying. Everyone knows I love spiders.
She walked me to history and I rested my head on the table. I heard him again.
“Lola,” he said. His boomed. It gave me a headache.
“Lola?” a different voice called my name. It was a more soothing one this time. “Lola, are you ok?” my teacher had asked.
“Yes sir. Just a little sleepy,” I replied.
“Well go get some caffeine,” he said jokingly. I got up and went to the vending machines. They’re in a dark room though. The only light was that of the candy machine. I back away before I see him, but I know he’s there.
“Just remembered I’m broke,” I said to the teacher with a smile. I sat back down and looked at the textbook. My friend came in and offered me the rest of her coffee. I accept, but I feel bad about it.
We sat and studied for the exam together for a while. Midterms are in a few days. When class is over, we walk to our cars and go home. No one is there when I get home. I go to my room and check my email, make some dinner (cereal and an iced coffee), and listen to some music. I instant message my friend for a while. We just shoot the s*** about school and what movie we’re going to see on Friday. We’re double-featuring Alice in Wonderland and The Crazies. Then it gets dark.
I look up from my computer screen and there he is. In the corner of my room by the door, just like last night. He stares at me with that same sinister smile.
“Mommy!” I call out, backing into the opposite corner, “Help!” My mom rushes to my room. He vanishes.
“What’s wrong, are you alright?” she asks in a panic.
“Remember those nightmares I had a little while back? Well, the nightmare man was here. He left when you turned on the light,” I was in hysterics. I told her about the voices and how I haven’t slept in forty-eight hours and eleven minutes.
“I’ll be alright. You’re stressed and over tired. Take a shower and go to sleep. It’ll be ok in the morning. Oh, and it’s been thirty six hours. No wonder you’re failing math…” she said as she left. She was probably right though. That must be it. I take a shower and set the DVR for Monday night wrestling and CSI: Miami (Rob Zombie is directing it!) and go to sleep.
If only that would have lasted.
“Lola. Hello. Lola,” he called. I go under my covers. “Lola, I know you’re there. Hiding under the covers can’t help you.”
I scream for my mom again. She comes in and he leaves.
“What is in now Lola?”
“He came back.”
“He’s imaginary Lola. Just sleep!” and she leaves.
I go out to the bathroom and get some night time off-brand cold tablets. I take three and go back to bed. That should knock me out. If only that would work. I feel rested when I wake up again, wondering what woke me up in the first place.
“Lola,” he said louder than he’s ever been. “You can’t hide forever. It’s got to be dark sometime.”
It’s midnight. He’s in front of my door again. I sit up and crawl to the back of my bed, but he comes closer. There’s nowhere else for me to go and I’m frozen in fear. I can’t scream or make a run for it as he comes next to my bed. I feel his icy grip around my throat as the life drains from my body. I try to let out one last scream for my mom but nothing comes out. I hear the laughter that kept me up last night. If only I could have reach the light.