Sirens wailed in the distance as I pulled into my apartment parking lot, then made my way upstairs to my apartment. I groggily made my way through the labyrinth of stairs leading to my apartment, but I quickly became alert, a sense of unease washing over me. My eyes shot around me, trying to figure out what brought upon this feeling, when I heard a crash come from down the hall. “What the…” I breathed, it sounded like something had broken. I made my way down the hall and peaked around the corner. A sigh of relief escaped my lips, it was only my neighbors cat. The little guy had knocked over a flower pot while playing. I chuckled at myself for getting so unnerved and made my way inside my apartment and locked the door behind me, but my anxieties hadn’t fully been appeased and I locked the chain lock as well.

The creepy feeling began to subside, but, suddenly, my phone rang, “Oh sweet Jesus,” I breathed to the empty room, clutching my chest, “that scared the hell out of me.” Quickly, I collected myself and looked to see who was calling. An unknown number. I quickly declined the call, it was probably spam. Almost immediately, another call. I groaned and declined, hoping whoever it was would get the hint. Then they called again. “I mean, that’s not that weird, right?” I rhetorically asked myself, “They’re just using a really persistent sales tactic, or something.” I declined yet again, but sure enough, almost as soon as I declined the third call, my phone rang for the fourth time. This dance went on several more times, up to the eleventh call. “Okay, now its starting to get a little weird.” I thought. Alarms were going off in every corner of my head, telling me to just block the number and keep an out, but something was drawing me to answer. Against my better judgment, I finally accepted the call and placed my phone to my ear, “You know, it’s extremely rude to blatantly ignore someone’s calls.” A deep voice said with a snarky tone. The voice was odd, sounding almost fake. 

“Hello? Who is this? Why did you call me so many times?” I asked, trying to sound confident, and undoubtedly failing.

“Oh, don’t worry. You know me, I’m just a dear old friend with a few questions for you.” The voice breathed back to me, now with a forced friendliness, like the kind used when talking to a child for the first time. The artificiality sent a chill crawling down my spine. I was near certain I’d never met this person before, and even if I did know them, why wouldn’t they just tell me who they were? 

Not knowing what else to do, I replied, “Ha ha, very funny, but I really don’t have time for this right now.” Before the caller had a chance to respond, I hung up. RING RING RING! The sound of another call filled my apartment. With shaky hands, I declined they call and blocked the caller, but that didn’t stop him for long. Less than a minute later, another call from an unknown number. My hands were trembling, but I still tried to conceal my anxieties. At this point, I figured there was no use ignoring the caller. It seemed like they’d just keep calling. I answered the call and placed my phone to my ear yet again, “HANG UP ON ME AGAIN AND I’LL GUT YOU LIKE A FISH!” The caller seethed, they were not quite yelling, but they had lost almost all composure. I became rooted to the linoleum floors of my apartments kitchen, fear and adrenaline now coursing through every inch of my body. I responded meekly, “I-I won’t, I promise.”

“That’s a good girl,” the voice breathed into my ear with an eerie satisfaction. The phrase made me want to vomit. 

“S-so… you said you had some questions?” I asked, unsure of what to do next, I squeezed tightly onto the cloth of my sweatshirt.

“Do you like scary movies, Kayla?” The caller asked flatly. I could no longer hide my nerves as my entire body began to tremble. This person knew my name. How did they know my name? Did they really know me? But, who do I know that would threaten me like they had? My mind fell blank. I could hardly manage a response, “I guess,” I squeaked, as I switched the call to speaker, so I could record the conversation and text my friends, telling them I needed help at my apartment ASAP. 

The caller pressed on with his questions, “What’s your favorite?” They asked with an inquisitive tone. They sounded as if they were getting…excited? I steeled my nerves and decided I would have to play along to give my friends time to get here. 

“P-probably Hereditary, I thought it was pretty good.”

“Hmmm, interesting,” the caller pondered my response, then said, “Kayla, would you like to play a game?” There it was. My name again. It felt dirty hearing it come from their mouth

“Hehehe,” I forced a small laugh, “what is this? Scream?”

“No.” The caller said, his tone now deadly serious, “it’s worse.” Suddenly, everything went dark and my blood ran cold. I quickly made my way to the light switch by the door and flipped it at least a hundred times, but it didn’t work. The caller had somehow cut off my power. My mind raced as I scanned my apartment, now only lit from the streetlights peeking through the windows, listening and watching for anything out of the ordinary. I slowly made my way towards the coat closet and I squeezed myself inside it as silently as possible, the shingled door allowing me to stay aware of my surroundings. I hoped and prayed that my friends got my text and would be here soon. 

Creakkkk… I never thought I’d be thankful for creaky floors, my eyes darted through the gaps in the door trying to see the caller, frantically searching for any signs of them. Then I saw them. Looming in the door to the kitchen. Their tall and muscular frame nearly filling the doorway, the black cloth of their costume draped down over skin tight under clothing, and the ghost face mask staring directly at me. My heart beat faster in my chest. “Did he know where I was? How could he?” I stood perfectly still, as if I were frozen solid. Then, with a maniacal laugh and a crazed air about them, they darted to my closet refuge and tore the doors open! I screamed and tried to fight back as they grabbed onto me, loosening their grip just enough for me to break free and run into the kitchen, I grabbed a knife from the counter and prayed I would get out of this. 

I could hear the sound of my apartment door unlocking, a key being frantically shoved in the lock. It was pushed open and I could hear their voices, “They’re here… They’re really here! I’ll be okay.” I thought, dropping my guard for a moment in my relief. But, as they opened the door and their voices became clearer, I heard Brandon say, “We need to get past the chain lock to get in!” Damn it. I’d locked it early cause I was so creeped out, now they can’t get in.

“Please hurry! There’s someone in here trying to kill me!” I frantically called back, my voice wavering. One of them said something in response, but I couldn’t tell what they said. The caller appeared in the doorway to the kitchen yet again, but this time I charged them. I thrust the knife towards them, stabbing them in the stomach, but, in my adrenaline rush,  I let go of the knife. The caller pulled it from their own stomach and turned to me. I tried to run, but I felt a hand cover my mouth from behind and a searing pain stemming my stomach. Then another. And another. I managed to turn and face the caller, reaching my trembling hands out and quickly pulling the mask from their face. I was met with an all too familiar pair of brown eyes, their warmth drained, now replaced with a murderous cold. A smile somehow inched across his face as he saw my reaction to discovering my murderers identity. I never knew a smile that once brought me so much laughter and joy could cause me more fear and pain than I could ever imagine. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. This was it. I tried to scream. I kicked and fought. I always had my keys in my fists. A taser in my pocket. I made sure someone I trusted always knew where I was. I did everything I could, and I was so close to being saved. Yet here I was. Dying at the hands of someone I loved.

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