By Pauline Portail 

Never come to a stranger’s place at night. That’s the best advice you can receive. If I had followed it, I wouldn’t be having these problems. By problems, I don’t mean some trivial annoyances. I’m referring to an actual, life-threatening situation.

It’s been one month since it happened. One month since my life was completely turned upside down. I used to be a happy guy, always relaxed and cheerful. Now, I’m scared of my own shadow. Because it could kill me.

You’re probably confused right now, so let me explain.

One month ago, I went out with some friends and met a cute girl named Emily—or so she told me. She was beautiful, but her eyes reflected the primal fear of stalked prey. She was kind, fun to talk with, but withdrew from the conversation from time to time, looking behind her shoulder, or zoning out completely. Something was bothering her. I should have cared—but I didn’t.

It’s worth repeating: do not follow someone home if you don’t know them.

I, unfortunately, did not follow my own advice. You see, I’m not the most attractive guy, so when a cute girl invited me home—for me it was now or never.

Emily and I left the bar, and everything was great. We talked about our families, our college majors (just like me, she was studying literature) or even our hopes for the future.

It was the first time a girl had been genuinely interested in what I had to say, and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I felt warm, enjoying an attention that was completely new. Pretty girls usually made me nervous, but for some reason, I was comfortable with Emily.

 We arrived at her place, and things took a turn for the worse.

The flat itself wasn’t the problem. The apartment was cozy and well-lit. No, the problem was Emily. She had been nervous the whole evening, but not like this. She was restless, pacing through the room as I looked on with a mix of uncomprehension and worry. Finally, she spoke.

“I need to show you something,” she said, “it’s a short story, could you please read it for me?” Her request was strange but I nodded anyway, hoping it would calm her. Emily handed me her phone and I started reading.

“Are you done?,” she asked as soon as I finished reading the last paragraph. I nodded once again and immediately, her face relaxed. She didn’t seem nervous or on edge anymore, like a huge weight had  been lifted from her body.

“Okay, it’s over for me, then.” Emily breathed out before giving me a sorry look. “I’m going to explain everything to you now. Please, don’t be mad at me. You’ll understand why I had to do this.”

“Do what!?,” I exclaimed, starting to feel uneasy, “what’s happening?”

“To put it in bluntly, you’ve just been cursed. This means that if you want to survive the month, you’ll need to find someone else to pass it on to.”

“Cursed? But how?”

“It’s complicated. I don’t know how this curse was created, or why. All I know is that the story you just read is linked to something evil. Like…the videotape in The Ring. The only way for you to survive It is to make sure someone else reads it.”

After hearing Emily’s last words, I spent a good minute processing what had just happened

I was unsure whether to scream, flee or laugh at her. It seemed crazy, completely crazy. Yet something about the way Emily was staring at me prevented me from believing this hypothesis completely. True, she had seemed odd to me earlier in the evening, but I did not believe her to be insane. In fact, she now seemed calm, rational. The remorse in her beautiful eyes looked so real, so real…

I should have stayed to confront her, to ask more of her, but I was so terrified that I just ran. Faster and longer than I had ever run before.

Since that night, I keep telling myself that she was simply a mad girl who spoke nonsense, but I can’t put her warning out of my mind.

The shadows around me are not so quiet anymore. They whisper as if something—or someone— following me. As if I really have been cursed.

It’s been a month since that terrible night. Though I’ve refused to believe in what Emily had told me for all this time, I can now feel It coming closer every day.

You’re probably wondering what that IT is but to be honest, I’m not even sure myself. 

Ghost, demon, or part of the shadow that lies within each of us—the only thing I know is that it brings death.

 I didn’t want to harm anyone, but I see no other way. I’m sorry.

Now that my story is almost over, I realize that I forgot to share the most important piece of information: what was Emily’s story about?

Well, it was something short and simple. Spooky, mysterious, haunting..It started like this: “Never come to a stranger’s place at night…”

Before accepting a stranger’s invitation to their place, keep in mind that there’s more to the world than what the eyes can see…

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