01 Feb There’s Something in the Fields behind my Apartment
I’ve never really considered myself to be much of an explorer or even a particularly brave man, however that hasn’t seemed to stop me from getting in the predicament I’m in now. It was around 3 months ago that my girlfriend of 4 years left me for another man, and she really was the last tether keeping me grounded to any semblance of a social life. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends that I love to see, but most live across the metroplex, about an hour’s drive, so it’s a rare day when I make the effort to drive out there, and even more rare to have them drive out to see me. For the past 3 months I’ve gone through most of the stages of a breakup; sorrow, self-pity, hopelessness, and anger, but after taking a look at myself, I decided there were a few things I could improve, and although I’m not in particularly bad shape, I wanted to sculpt my physique to something more attractive to women.
This is a problem as I’m a fairly lazy man. Not everything in my life has been handed to me, but I’ve learned to put the least amount of effort into any and all activities as possible, so rather than buying a gym membership and taking the 5 minute drive down the road, I decided I’d simply build myself a home workout center and do some ab-blasting in my apartment. I only recently moved in this place about a month before my ex left me, sharing a two-bedroom with absolutely no one. It lies in the far corner of the complex on the second story, and the balcony gives me an excellent view of the enormous soccer fields and the woods beyond that. The only problem is the land-lady lives underneath me, and I learned fairly quickly that the whole home gym setup was a bust as almost immediately when doing reps with the weights I bought, I heard the crotchety woman banging on my floor with a broom handle, commanding me to keep it down.
As irritating as it was walking on eggshells all the time, I suppose it was understandable, so I opted to cut corners some other way, and rather than doing the smart thing and hitting the gym, my eyes turned to the vast fields at my very doorstep. The fields were simply massive, stretching back several hundred yards, surrounded by dense woodland on all sides other than the front which faced my apartments and the equally large parking lot, which was sunken in such a way as to be unseen from the main road that led to it. It was October when I first checked out the fields (I live in Texas, so it doesn’t get cold here until December, if at all) so I had plenty of time to get familiar with the area before Winter hit. I only went at night, preferably past midnight or even 1 AM, when the large floodlights were shut down and all the late night teenagers were done with their shenanigans. I would slip through the decrepit fence that shoddily guarded my apartment and disappear into the night, and during this time I felt amazing; completely uninhibited and alone, just the way I liked it.
I would bring out my weights, do laps around the field, and heck, I even brought a few buddies out there once or twice to have some drinks and play soccer once it had cleared out, and although I will admit going out there in the pitch black alone with nothing but the moonlight could be slightly unnerving at times, it was far better than the alternative… at least at first. As my isolation grew, my sleep schedule strayed from the norm, and it wasn’t long before I found myself awake at odd hours of the night (even now, I’m writing this at 2 AM) and about a week ago was a particularly rough one. After fruitlessly lying in bed for almost an hour and not even feeling my eyelids flutter once, I realized my efforts to fall asleep were futile, and I found myself crawling out of bed at 1 in the morning. It’s strange, many of the times I find myself drawn to the field, it’s almost as if I’m not in control of my body movements or even my own thoughts, and as I threw on a jacket in preparation for the chilly embrace outside, I glanced out my bedroom window finding, to my bemusement, that the floodlights in the field were still on.
Because it was so late, I figured one of the workers must have forgot to turn off the lights for the night, and initially thought little of it, grabbed my phone, and headed outside. I was feeling strangely courageous that night, confidently strutting out onto the barren field, dropping off my shirt and jacket near the edge, feeling like the biggest man in the world, and after putting some music on my phone I headed to the center of the wasteland, halfway expecting to see someone out there, waiting for me. The overpowering luminescence of the floodlights, combined with the sharp contrast of the utter and complete darkness of the forest encompassing it made for an odd sensation indeed, but I still found myself walking to the center of the field and simply observing my surroundings.
In the darkness, in the early hours of the morning, it is easy for one’s mind to play tricks on them, and it was not uncommon for me in the past to do a double-take over my shoulder whenever I thought I saw a shadow sprinting through the night, only to see a harmless flag, or feel a wave of fear crawl up my spine when I heard a rustling behind me, only to discover a plastic bag in the breeze, but this night felt different, the glaring light cast long and dark shadows across the field, and as I marched around, cold and alone, with only David Bowie blaring from my phone to keep me company, I felt remarkably uncomfortable. After kicking a soccer ball around the field for less than 5 minutes, a strong gust of wind hit my shirtless body, leaving me shuddering involuntarily, but this was met by a loud clanging sound of metal on metal from the woods at the edge of the field, which halted my shuddering almost immediately as I stood still as a statue, with goosebumps quickly forming up my arms.
As I mentioned, it was not uncommon for there to be noises around the field, even at night, and I quickly rationalized that the wind had knocked something against the large metal garbage can at the edge of the field, creating the clanging noise I had heard earlier, and I continued with my workout, still in the zone, but alert. David Bowie abruptly shut off, jarring me into glancing at my phone. “Dammit,” I thought out loud, the battery had died. That’s when I heard the clanging noise again, and my head snapped back towards where I perceived the noise to have originated from. I waited several seconds. No wind this time. For those who don’t know, in a large field such as this, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint just where a noise is coming from because of the effect echoes can have in such a wide, unobstructed space, but I had the distinct feeling it was not coming from the garbage can at the other end of the field. I had enough fun for the night. Without glancing back, I put my phone in my pocket, and started jogging away from the center of the field, and back towards the hole in the fence that led directly to my apartment, and that’s when it happened.
The floodlights went out. I shit you not, every single one of the fucking lights turned off instantly. Here I was, damn-near naked, eyes watering from the cold, and goosebumps covering every inch of my body when darkness took the field. That’s when my jog turned into a sprint. I felt exposed, alone and oh so vulnerable. I’m not a feeble or cowardly man, but I knew anyone or anything out there messing with me so late at night had to be even crazier than I was. I still had about a hundred yards to run, when I glanced behind me. I don’t know whether to be grateful or terrified that I saw nothing in the shadows of the night, but either way I ran harder and faster than I had in a long long time. My terror was so severe, I completely forgot to grab my shirt or jacket (both of which were Christmas gifts), but immediate relief overtook me once I entered the premise of the complex, squeezing through the broken fence, racing up the stairs and slamming and locking the door behind me.
Breathing heavily, I stumbled over to the kitchen table, my legs and lungs both burning with a white-hot pain. I was shaken, but I was alright. I threw on a shirt, almost completely forgetting about the one I left behind, and started to boil some water for some tea, when I knew I could finally relax. And that’s when I heard it.
Knock knock knock
Three knocks on my door. My front door. At 2 in the morning.
Law enforcement; that was the first thought I had. They had finally busted me for trespassing all those times, but I figured if I just calmly explained myself, maybe they’d let me off with a warning. I walked over to my door and grabbed my doorknob, but something stopped me from turning and pulling it open. Instead, I lowered my eye to the circular peephole in the door, figuring I might as well see who it was before I opened.
I shakily backed away from the door, with goosebumps immediately reemerging on my arms and neck, as the familiar sensation of dread radiated throughout my body. I glanced at the door to make sure it was locked, and for good measure ran up and threw on the deadbolt, when a second series of thumps reverberated throughout my small apartment. My view of the peephole had been completely black, meaning someone had covered it for a reason that God only knew, but it couldn’t have been good.
I went out to get my jacket and shirt the next day, when the sun was high in the sky; bringing some semblance of warmth and order to the world. The field was full of parents and kids happily playing soccer, but my articles were gone, along with any signs that anyone or anything was even out there the night before.
That was 5 days ago, and every night since, the lights in the field have remained on until 2 AM without fail. And every single night at the same time, I hear that metallic clanging in the field, whether there be wind or not, followed soon after by that familiar thudding at my door. I suppose going to my apartment immediately after was a poor choice, as now, whatever’s out there in that field knows who I am, and knows where I live. I don’t know what to do. I think I should move. Maybe I’ll move back in with my parents. I don’t know. I need to get away… and… and I’m… I’m fucking terrified.
It was this morning that really sent me over the edge. I opened my door at 8 AM in order to head to work, when I nearly stepped on something. I picked up the ragged piece of cloth apprehensively, thinking it to be the garment of some homeless vagrant, when it dawned on me. Although horribly mutilated and torn to shreds, it was still recognizable. I dropped the cloth in horror.
It was my jacket.
Even now, as I write this, I regret to inform you. I hear it.
Knock knock knock