Don't Turn on the Light
retold by S.E. SchlosserShe commandeered the room in the basement of her dorm as soon as she realized she would have to pull an all-nighter in order to prepare for tomorrow’s final exam. Her roommate, Jenna, liked to get to bed early, so she packed up everything she thought she would need and went downstairs to study . . . and study . . . and study some more.
It was two o’clock, when she realized that she’d left one of the textbooks upstairs on her bed. With a dramatic sigh, she rose, and climbed the stairs slowly to her third-floor dorm room.
The lights were dim in the long hallway, and the old boards creaked under her weary tread. She reached her room and turned the handle as softly as she could, pushing the door open just enough to slip inside, so that the hall lights wouldn’t wake her roommate.
The room was filled with a strange, metallic smell. She frowned a bit, her arms breaking out into chills. There was a strange feeling of malice in the room, as if a malevolent gaze were fixed upon her. It was a mind trick; the all-nighter was catching up with her.
She could hear Jenna breathing on the far side of the room—a heavy sound, almost as if she had been running. Jenna must have picked up a cold during the last tense week before finals.
She crept along the wall until she reached her bed, groping among the covers for the stray history textbook. In the silence, she could hear a steady drip-drip-drip sound. She sighed silently. Facilities would have to come to fix the sink in the bathroom…again.
Her fingers closed on the textbook. She picked it up softly and withdrew from the room as silently as she could.
Relieved to be out of the room, she hurried back downstairs, collapsed into an overstuffed chair and studied until six o’clock. She finally decided that enough was enough. If she slipped upstairs now, she could get a couple hours’ sleep before her nine o’clock exam.
The first of the sun’s rays were beaming through the windows as she slowly slid the door open, hoping not to awaken Jenna. Her nose was met by an earthy, metallic smell a second before her eyes registered the scene in her dorm room. Jenna was spread-eagled on top of her bed against the far wall, her throat cut from ear to ear and her nightdress stained with blood. Two drops of blood fell from the saturated blanket with a drip-drip noise that sounded like a leaky faucet.
Scream after scream poured from her mouth, but she couldn’t stop herself any more than she could cease wringing her hands. All along the hallway, doors slammed and footsteps came running down the passage.
Within moments other students had gathered in her doorway, and one of her friends gripped her arm with a shaking hand and pointed a trembling finger toward the wall. Her eyes widened in shock at what she saw. Then she fainted into her friend’s arms.
On the wall above her bed, written in her roommate’s blood, were the words: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”
This story was excerpted from Spooky Maryland, by S.E. Schlosser