By Raoul Suarez

I was running late. I was supposed to do a tutorial class at the 4th floor of the university but I wasn’t able to arrive on time. Koreans are very efficient with their time and I was 30 minutes late. I should have done it online but I decided against it. I told myself that it was nice to do face-to-face classes again. It has been a while. The responses that you get real-time make it easy to do learning checks. It was already 8 PM and class was supposed to start at 7:30.

The lights were still on. Most of the classrooms were lit. The elevator was off. I had to climb a flight of stairs to the 3rd floor and I ran as fast as I could. The classrooms were empty. All of them. The 4th floor was going to be the same, but in the back of my mind, there was no harm in trying. I climbed another flight of stairs and arrived at the 4th floor. Sure enough, the classrooms were empty. I just wanted to take chances. It wasn’t so bad. It’s worth a try. Nobody was there. I was alone.

A few seconds after I checked the last empty room, the lights went off. It was pitch dark. Such a bad time for a power outage; could be city-wide too. It must be one of those unannounced ones that have a short time frame and destroys your newly-bought appliances. The electric company should learn how to manage expectations. It’s such an inconvenience to the paying public. I don’t know if there’s a better word to describe the hassle.

The moon was full, last I checked, and it should be shedding some of its light on the building walls but it was strangely dark and it was very hard to see. I pulled my phone out of my wallet and tried to turn the flashlight on but it wasn’t working as well. I must be low on batteries. I stood there for a couple of minutes and let my eyes adjust to the stifling darkness. It was also taking a while; way too long that I decided not to wait any longer and I started to move. I held one hand out to feel the walls and the other hand was reaching out to nothingness while I was trying to take small steps going to the stairs.

I heard a clanking sound. It sounded like metal hitting the floor. I’m sure I did not stumble upon anything. I would have felt that. A few meters away, a silhouette stood near the exit. It was that of an old lady. I wondered what she was doing in the building at this time of night. I assumed that it was just the cleaning lady. I was calling her out but she did not answer. I walked closer to where she was situated and I felt that my eyes were finally adjusting. I was starting to see a little clearly. At least now, I can walk with the cleaning lady downstairs and have someone to talk to. I was wrong about that too. Nobody was there. I was alone.

The dark plays tricks on your eyes once in a while. There was an eerie silence as I was walking in the hallway. Then it just dawned upon me that I was injured from the ball game today. I shouldn’t be running as fast as I can. It would have been painful to load some weight on my right leg. It shouldn’t be working right. My heel was sore and I had to limp all day.

It was a Sunday too. The school is supposed to be closed. I also do not go to this university anymore. I do not teach Koreans or have anything to do with them. I realized that I was dreaming and I chuckled. I then felt a cold hand grab my foot and jerk it. I looked down and saw a girl in chains. She held out another hand and tightened the grip, and she started pulling my leg a bit more forcefully than before.

Then I woke up.

I usually sleep with the lights on but the room was dark. I got up from bed and hit the light switch in the main room but it wouldn’t turn on. I slowly opened the door that connects the main room to my gaming room, and thankfully the light was on. I’ll have the switch fixed the next day maybe. It’s a little odd. I swear it was working before I went to sleep. I wonder what happened. It was already 12 midnight and I should worry about it tomorrow.

I pulled out a cigarette from my pocket and proceeded to walk out into the garden to smoke one before I sleep. I removed the lock from the main door, held the knob tightly, gave it a twist, and yanked it with all the force I had left. It felt heavy and it wouldn’t open up wide. The opening was too small for me to fit in. The hinge or the spring must be broken. It’s quite odd.

I tried again a second time. Same thing. I was a little irked so I banged it then pulled it with both hands. The door felt too light this time and it just sprung wide open. It was pitch dark outside and it was very windy. I vividly remember that the street lights were on when I went home. Weird. I lit my cigarette, took a very long drag, and blew a couple of smoke rings in the air. After I was done, I went back to bed. I heard the clanking of chains again. I heard the dogs barking and I was relieved to know it was just the house pets making all that noise.

I changed my sleeping position and leaned to the left; just the way I like it. I reached out for a pillow but I couldn’t find anything. I was alarmed when I felt that I was holding on to a face covered with silky long hair. Someone was breathing rapidly on my face. I wasn’t alone. An icy hand slowly grabbed my neck and the grip slowly tightened.

That’s when I really woke up.

I’m really awake now. I’m still a little unnerved. I ate a whole plate of spicy beef and some vegetables for dinner today. That must have caused it. I shouldn’t have done that. I wonder if they deliver lechon kawali at this time of night. I don’t really know but it’s worth a try.

I should also keep a mental note not to look up at the ceiling even if the lights are on. She might be there and maybe she doesn’t like being seen. I should have asked her what brand of shampoo she uses. It never really crossed my mind while she was trying to strangle me. Her hair felt so silky smooth. Yes. She must be using a good brand.