"Get out of bed and get into the tub NOW!"

I awake in a cold sweat. My heart is racing. My head is pounding. I freeze, squeezing my eyes shut. I wait. I listen. I know he's coming.

From the moment I heard him shout in the room down the hall, Jenn's room, I've been sure that this is the night I will die. Maybe his gun will kill me. Maybe a heart attack. I watch the clock.




Nothing but silence as I stare at the red numbers on the digital clock. Shouldn't I hear screaming by now? Gunshots? The cat scrambling around? Something?

"Get out of bed and get into the tub NOW!" I can still hear it ringing in my ears. The voice was loud and deep. Scratchy too. Must be a smoker. Wouldn't I smell cigarettes if there was a smoker in my apartment? I can smell a smoker a mile away.

But our whole apartment smells like cigarettes, you idiot. It's an old house with five apartments. Jenn and I are the only non-smokers in the fucking house. I'm pretty sure that every person that has ever lived here smoked. The walls are yellow and brown. All of them. Even the gray carpets have a brown tinge to them. It's actually kind of gross. It almost kept us from taking the apartm—

What the fuck was that? A rustling noise. Like the sleeve of a windbreaker moving against a torso. Again, terror freezes me to my bed. I can hear him, coming down the hall, shotgun aimed at my door, right next to my bed.

"Get out of bed and get into the tub NOW!" Over and over in my head. It's not as real as the first time. That one was the real thing. He's out there. Waiting.

Just keep watching the clock.




I can watch the clock all night. I'll watch each minute tick by until morning. The clock will keep me sane, and if I am alive in the morning, he'll be gone.


Why is it taking so long for him to walk down the fucking hallway? Does he not know I'm here? Is Jenn already dead or will he execute us together? That's what this is. An execution. Who'd want to execute Jenn? She's the nicest person I know! "Get into the tub." Yeah. That's an execution alright. Who the fuck would do this?

Maybe it's the old guy downstairs. He's been alone for so long, and the landlord made him get rid of his cat because it pissed all over the carpet. Maybe he cracked up. Maybe he thinks he's doing the world a favor by getting rid of the weird girls upstairs. If he's crazy, nothing has to make sense, right?

Or maybe it's the guy in apartment two who just got divorced. Maybe Jenn looks like his ex-wife. He could be a serial killer for all I know. Maybe I look like his wife! Maybe he thought he was getting me first. I don't fucking know.

My heart pounds again at the vision of being executed in the bathtub. "Get out of bed and get into the tub NOW!" I hear it again and hope it's just in my head. Why isn't he here yet? Just get it over with before my heart explodes. I wonder how long a person can be terrified before her heart gives out.




I hear a squeak. It must be the creak of a floorboard. The creaky floorboard is right outside of my room. I'm sweating, but I'm afraid to kick off the blanket. I haven't moved a muscle since I first heard his command. I fight the urge to moan to release some of the pressure the fear has built in me.

Why didn't I hear a struggle when he led Jenn down the hall? She as blind as a bat without her contacts in. Surely she would have stumbled or fought back or at least asked why. Where is the damned cat? He couldn't have shot him. I would have heard it.

The phone. I should call 9-1-1, but I can't move. He'll hear me. He'll shoot me right here on the phone, and I'll have no chance to live. He'll shoot me and get away. The highway is right around the corner. He'll have time to escape before the 9-1-1 guy even pushes the button to call for an ambulance and the police.

And where is the phone anyway? I don't see it on my nightstand. Of all the fucking nights to leave it on the desk instead of next to the bed. I really have to be more careful. What if something happened? You moron! Something IS happening. Something bad.




Just keep watching the numbers on the clock. Control your panic. Breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Keep breathing.

I hear movement again. Partly a rustle, partly a scrape. I think maybe he's touching the door with the gun. What the fuck is he doing out there? It's been over an hour since I heard him yell. Why doesn't he just get it over with? Just fucking kill me now? I'd rather be dead than this scared! Just do it, motherfucker!


Why not the cha-chick of his shotgun? And how do I know it's a shotgun? Did I hear that distinctive sound, the one that might as well scream, "You're already dead, sweetheart!"

For the first time, it enters my mind that this might be a dream. A figment of my imagination. How else would I know what kind of gun he carried?

No. I heard what I heard. "Get out of bed and get into the tub NOW!"




Oh my god. The rustling is coming from inside my room. It's right over my bed. I should open my eyes and look, but I hear the rustling, and I'm too scared to peek. Is it his jacket? What the fuck is the noise? The panic is taking over. I feel like I'm going to piss my pants, right here in my bed. I'm frozen with terror, and I don't know if I can control my bladder.

More rustling, and I feel a tickle on my head. Just a tiny movement of my hair. The urge to move my hand to check for a spider or something is overwhelming, kept in check only by the fact that I am frozen by fear. Maybe it's a bug. OH MY GOD WHAT IF THERE IS A SPIDER IN MY HAIR! I'm still as a statue, petrified by fear.

No. It couldn't be a dream. A dream would have dissolved by now. No. I heard him as clearly as I heard that rustle. For Christ's sake there might be a spider in my hair, and this is certainly not a dream. Move your hand. Just move it slowly and quietly. There you go.

I move my hand, and the sound of my sleeve against the sheets is as loud as a firecracker. I wonder if Jenn is still alive as I freeze again. Goddam fucking spider. It must be standing on my head, just waiting to make its move.

Would it burrow into my hair? Bite my scalp? I NEED TO CHECK MY HAIR. But I can't. What if it's poisonous? What are the chances of dying from a spider bite versus the certainty that the intruder will kill me if he hears me move?


No. Don't move. Concentrate on the clock. Watch the numbers change. You can do this. I have to pee.




What the fuck time does it get light out?

I hear a high-pitched buzz in my ear, and it takes every ounce of strength I have left not to swat at it. Maybe the spider will swallow the fly. Perhaps we'll all die.




Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall. Ninety-nine bottles of beer. Take one down. Pass it around. Thirty-seven bottles of beer on the wall.




It should be light out. Come on. Why isn't it light out yet? He'll leave when it's light. I'll hear him go down the stairs and out the front door. He won't stick around in the daylight. Home invasion and murder only take place when it's dark out. I'm sure of it. My god, I have to pee.


Three bottles of beer on the wall...

I open my eyes a tiny, little bit, and I can make out my dresser. I couldn't see it the last time I chanced a peek. The sun must be rising. If only the guy with the shotgun were a vampire, I'd be in the clear soon.

I decide that he must not know that I'm here. He must have come for Jenn, and I'm sure that such a violent criminal will not stick around to make his escape in daylight. And there's still the possibility that it was a dream, right? It's been hours since I heard him yell. And I'm pretty sure I was asleep when it happened. Maybe Jenn is sleeping peacefully, and—

There's a noise. A bigger rustle and a small, not-quite-a-chirp sound. Something is moving. I hear the buzz in my ear again, and I freeze. Something is moving. Holy hell, what the fuck is that? I hear a snap, and I finally break through the statue of terror, like the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper at the end of Ghostbusters when everyone is covered in Stay-Puft marshmallow goop after the guys crossed the streams and rid New York City of Gozer the Gozarian—

Another squeak and a snap and I bolt up in bed and run my hand over my hair. No spiders, but I must be attracting the attention of the man with the shotgun. Maybe he fell asleep in the hallway. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT NOISE?


He should be gone. It's getting light out. I'm sitting up, and I'm not dead yet. I may have pissed myself a little. There's no spider in my hair. I think.




I sit still and hope the light drives him out the door, if he hasn't tip-toed out already. I still hear it. "Get out of bed and get into the tub NOW!"

A nightmare, right? It had to be. Daylight brings reason, and as the sun peeks over the horizon and fills my bedroom with pinkish light, I feel my terror starting to ease. I haven't been shot by a man or bitten by a spider. I haven't had a heart attack. I'm gonna be OK.


Almost time to get up.

I see movement out of the corner of my eye. I turn my head involuntarily. I'm trying so hard to remain still. It moves again. I hear nothing but the sound of my heart hammering in my chest.

And then it takes flight. The small, dark figure darts across the room, coming dangerously close to my head. Close enough to hear the snap of the bat's jaws as it grabs the mosquito out of the air.


Is the bat in my dream too? Am I awake now? I don't fucking know. Maybe I never woke up. Maybe all this clock-watching is a dream. WAKE THE FUCK UP!

Holy fuck. From miles away, I hear Jenn's alarm clock blaring. I hear her pound the snooze button as she spits, "Fuck," a noise I hear at least three times every morning. It sounds normal, which at this moment sounds abnormal. I can't distinguish reality from what might be part of a dream.

Just a dream, right?

I teeter on the brink of not knowing for another moment before I come to my senses. I realize that the man with the shotgun was only a nightmare. That the bat was a hallucination brought on by lack of sleep and intense fear. That Jenn was safe, and I had lain awake all night, watching the minutes tick by for nothing. I'll fall asleep at work, and it was all for nothing because it was just the worst dream I'd ever had.

I reach for the switch on my bedside lamp, and I feel something warm and soft. And it's moving against my palm. Oh my god. The bat. A motherfucking bat. In my room. Under my hand.

As I knock the lamp over, I wonder if I can take any more before going mad.

And finally, I can scream.


Author's Note: This is the true story of the scariest night of my life. It was twenty years ago, and I remember every minute. This is a 2014 Halloween Contest entry. Vote, if you like. Thanks!

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