How a weirdo sees the world…
It’s 2AM and your phone has just buzzed you awake, filling the room in white-blue LED light. You have a message. It’s a photo. No words, no explanation. Just a photo. Tell us all about it. And what happens next.
I was panting. The dark walls were rushing past, but the faint shimmer of light that I could barely make out in the everlasting darkness stretching out before me, didn’t seem to come any closer. My limbs were getting heavy. My breathing sounded like the old, rusty kettle my grandma used: loud and terrifying. Loud, so she could hear it, despite her “ungrateful ears”. Nobody would hear me, is I was loud or not. I heard a noise right behind me. I tried to run faster, stumbled and fell to the ground. That was it. They had me. All was over.
I woke with a start. Just a nightmare, thank God! Something must have woken me. I looked around in the dark, untidy bedroom. The only light came from the gab in the curtains. There was no sound, no movement. Suddenly, the dead silence was interrupted by a harsh, unnatural sound from under my bed. I screamed and jumped. Was I still dreaming? Where they here? Here in my bedroom? Slowly, very slowly, I moved my hand, trying to reach the light switch of my bedside lamp. I counted in my mind “one… two… three” and turned the light on. The room was empty. Cautiously and with the worst expectations, I crawled to the edge of the bed and looked under it. And there was….nothing. I breathed out. I hadn’t even realised that I was holding my breath. This was ridiculous. Here was I, sitting in a teenage bedroom in a London apartment and expecting monsters to hide under my bed! “Get a grip”, I told myself, “there is nothing there!”
The sound! There was it again! Only now, with the lights on and the monster theory proven ridiculous, it didn’t seem frightening at all. In fact, it was the message tone of my mobile, which, as I could now see, was lying under the bed. “Well,” I thought to myself “at least you weren’t hallucinating about that.” Don’t ask me why, but this somehow made me feel better. I picked up my phone and opened the message. It was a photo. A photo, nothing else. I stared at it and my heart dropped. My life was over. This was so much worse than being pursued by imaginary monsters.
My mother dragged me out of the car, and when I say ‘dragged’ I mean it literary. It was one week after I received the photo message and my mother insisted that I would go back to school. Believe me, that was the last thing I wanted. Day after day full of humiliation and ridicule was not how I had imagined my High School years. I had begged my mother to move to a different city, or at least a different school, but my mother refused. According to her, running away was the way of the cowards, but to be honest, I would rather be called a coward than having to face another two years in this godforsaken place.
When I had woken up that night, the night of the message, I hadn’t noticed anything strange at first. It was only when I opened the message and had seen the photo when I realised that I wasn’t wearing my usual pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt, but a large romper suit! I also wore a baby’s hat and a soother around the neck. I rushed to the mirror. I knew what I was going to see, but that didn’t make the sight of me dressed up as a giant baby any better. The insulting letterings that covered my face and cloths didn’t improve the image. I looked around the room. Where was it, the piece that would complete my outfit? Ah, there it was. Lying between my favourite converse: a pink penis-shaped sippy cup. “Michael, the penis-sucking giant baby.”
I never found out how they – I had a good idea who ‘they’ were, but I could never prove it – entered my room without anyone in the house noticing, and most important, how they were able to dress me and draw on me without waking me up. One thing is for sure, however, I will never forget that night and the humiliation that followed. Neither will my school and the entire neighbourhood, the posters and flyers containing the picture of the ‘baby’-me made sure of that.