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The Red Room

It was winter 2003. I was taking my last semester at the University of Oregon, and I was looking forward to starting my career in space aromatics. Everything was going according to plan, and things couldn't get any better.

My friends were going to graduate at the same time as me, I got a job promotion, and I was going to attend my best friend's wedding. One night as I finished a project, I suddenly turned around.

My roommate walked in the door, but that wasn't why I turned around. I thought I could hear something coming from near one of the beds. Cautiously, I stood up and walked over there. I took off the covers, but nothing was there. Curious, I looked closer.

"Hey, Remy, you all right?" I turned around to see my roommate looking at me with mild concern.

"I'm fine, Anne, I said slowly. I just thought I heard something."

"What did you hear?"

"It sounded like scratching."

"Please don't tell me we have roaches again," Annie groaned.

"I'm sure it's nothing," I assured her. "Maybe I imagined it."

She didn't look convinced but agreed with me. She went to her desk a few minutes later. I finished up the last of my project and then went to bed. As I lay there, I couldn't help but wonder what the sounds were earlier. The darkness seemed a little scarier as I thought about it. Shaking it off, I drifted off to sleep.

I abruptly woke up what seemed like hours later. The room was a deep shade of red. Not sure what was happening or if it was a dream, I looked to my left at my roommate's bed. It was empty. Fully awake now, I stood up. I rubbed my eyes, trying to understand what was happening. I stumbled toward the door, fumbling to open it. To my surprise, it was locked. I struggled to open it, but it wouldn't budge.

Panicking, I threw my weight against it and spasmed the door handle, but it still did nothing. Then, I heard it again. The sound of scratching under my bed. Maybe it is just roaches, I reasoned. Yeah, that's got to be it. Slowly I walked over to the bed again. The noises were getting louder now. I shook my head in annoyance. It was likely a prank by either my roommate or one of my best friends. I couldn't convince myself that it was.

I bent down to my hands and knees and looked underneath the bed. It was difficult to see anything because it was dark under there, but the red light helped. I saw nothing at first. I reached my hand underneath the bed, feeling for something, anything. Nothing.

Then I heard the sound again, and I looked under the bed. Barely provided by the red light in the room, I saw something. It was a ventriloquist's dummy with no hands. The frozen smile on its face seemed to grow wider.

"What the hell?" I muttered.

I shook my head and started to move out from underneath the bed. At the last second, I heard something moving quickly. Nails raked across the wood, approaching fast. A sudden sensation of exhaustion swept over me, and I passed out.

"Remy, Remy."

I woke up to Anne's voice.

"Sweetie, wake up." I slowly opened my eyes and saw her green-blue concerned eyes.

"What time is it?" I moaned.

"It's early. You were sleepwalking."

I sat up abruptly. I had never slept walked in my life. I remembered what I saw and stuck my head under the bed. I fell backward, unable to say my words clearly. It was a girl with her hands missing.

"Remy? Remy, say something," Anne said. "You're scaring me."

She looked where I had just looked and took my hand.

"Have you been sleeping well?" She asked. "There's no one here but us."

I tried to protest, but I couldn't get the words out.

"Come on," Anne said, "We're getting you something."

Two days later, I looked through my sock drawer for my hat and felt something cold and clammy. I froze and slowly removed the socks away. Two hands stared back at me, on the edge of rigor mortis.