29 Aug “Paranoia” by Naomi Li | Narrated by Jonathan Jones
Overwork and stress can sometimes cause delusions. You can’t always trust what you see and hear in that condition. Those sounds you hear? The flickers of black you see skittering across the corners of the room? They’re nothing. Just go to sleep.
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Author: Naomi Li
Narrator: Jonathan Jones
Silence. Silence was uncomfortable, and Amy didn’t like it. Fingers nimbly tap-tapped across black and white keys as she typed up what she hoped would be a phenomenal English essay. She rubbed her tired eyes and sighed, straining to see what she had just typed in the dim light provided by her laptop. The numbers at the bottom of her laptop monitor read 11:37 P.M. It was going to be a long night. She turned to reach for her headphones, and then paused. The laptop allowed her to view what she was typing, but it did nothing to assist her in banishing the inky blackness that met her eyes as she turned away from her laptop screen. It unnerved her as her fingers scrabbled around for the earbuds she had so carelessly tossed away earlier on her bed.
Turning back to her laptop with earbuds in hand, Amy breathed hard and then chastised herself for being so childish. She was already 16; she was old enough to know that there was absolutely nothing to be worried about. Yet now that she had seen how completely something could cloak itself in the darkness, Amy couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that something was watching her. She attempted to continue on typing in normalcy when something like footfalls behind her sounded. Amy froze. She could hear her parents snoring in the bedroom across the hall from her and her sisters had long since fallen asleep. Amy turned stiffly, terrified to think what would be behind her. Every single monster she had ever read about or seen in a horror movie came to her mind all at once as she finally looked upon the spot where the footfalls had sounded.
Amy hesitantly got up out of her chair, still not completely convinced that she was alone in her room. She practically sprinted for her door and hastily flicked the light switch on. Warily, Amy skirted her room with her eyes, positive that she would find something ghastly grinning at her from a corner, from her mirror, or from under her bed.
Amy released a breath she wasn’t aware she’d been holding. She left the light on and padded back to her laptop, plugging in her earbuds. Quickly, the pounding beat of her music flooded her ears, and Amy returned to the rhythmic typing of her essay. She was almost done with her third paragraph when she looked at her clock again. The time read 11:52 P.M. Amy paused her music for a moment to rest, and realized how deafening the silence was. Her music acted as a mask that temporarily cloaked the unnerving feeling of not hearing anything but one’s own breathing. With horror, Amy thought of how something could have skittered, crawled, or slithered into her room without her hearing it over the volume of her music. She hastily whipped her head towards her door again, and as she did so, she felt the gossamer touch of something ever-so-slightly brushing her shoulder. Barely stifling a shriek, Amy looked back at her shoulder, expecting to see dead, rotting fingers gripping her tightly.
It was just her blond ponytail, resting on her shoulder from when she’d whipped it around so quickly.
Amy rubbed her temples and sighed. Maybe she should get a haircut. The silence and her own exhaustion were getting to her. She was imagining things. This couldn’t be healthy. Not even bothering to care about quality anymore, Amy typed several humdrum sentences and concluded her essay. Tentatively, Amy looked behind her one more time.
Being alone was scary when it was quiet, Amy mused wearily to herself as she crawled into bed, but in the end, it was nothing but childish paranoia. Amy let herself drift off to sleep, feeling safe and content curled up in her blankets.
She never noticed the dead, rotting hands that quietly pried open her closet door, nor the Glasgow smile that shone through the darkness as Amy’s Monster watched her with wide, unblinking eyes, and began thinking of ideas of how to play with her tomorrow night.