's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Behind it All"

Submitted by Ryan Oleynik

    I can hear it out there, that heavy breathing. But the door is closed, it can't get in.
    It is odd how safe you feel when you close the door. It gives a false sense of security; like that flimsy piece of wood would keep out anything. We started that fantasy when we were children, the idea that the monsters could not get out of the closet if the door was closed. And we still have that as adults, but we refuse to admit it.  For me, that fantasy has been dispelled for some time.

    I was sitting in my room on my computer, doing nothing really. Bored, I decided to listen to some music to pass the time. As I plugged in my headphones, I instinctively closed the door to my room. You know, so no one comes in without you hearing them. I don't know why I do that, since I live alone, but that is not the point. I went on working and enjoying my music for some time, oblivious of everything around me. When I was done, I removed my headphones, and that is when I finally heard it. It was a heavy, wet breathing sound, as if someone had a throat filled with mucus. I whipped around to look behind me, expecting to see some monstrosity lurking in my room. But there was nothing, my room was empty. The sound was not even coming from my room. The sound was coming from behind my closed door.

    There was no doubt; something was standing on the other side of the door. I could only hear the breathing, but I swear I could feel that thing's presence. I could feel it staring at me, its gaze cutting through my door. Hiding at the far end of my room, I waited for it to come in, to fling open the door and charge at me. But it never did. The door remained closed. We both stood there on each side, waiting for the other to make a move. Hours seemed to pass, but the thing did not move. It just stood there breathing. I could not wait any longer, my curiosity won out. I just had to know what was on the other side. I gripped the door knob and opened the door.

    To see nothing there was a relief, but it made it worse at the same time. The hallway was empty. The only sign of its presence was the sound of loud, clumsy footsteps fading in the distance. For a moment I thought it was possibly joke, but my house was sealed and locked. Who would have done it? Then I believed it was some freak encounter, an once-in-a-lifetime event with some ghost. I wish I was right on that thought. Because it really didn't leave. It is still here.   

    Every time I close a door, I can hear it. The awkward, loud steps of the thing walking to the sealed doorway. The heavy, wet breathing of it waiting on the other side. And it never leaves, until I open the door. When I do, there is nothing there. All you can hear is its footsteps as it runs off, and all you can see is nothing.

    No matter where I go, if there is a closed door, it is on the other side. Wood or glass, it's always there when it is closed. The glass doors don't help; I can't even see it through those. The only sign of it I can see is its breath fogging up the glass near the top of the doorframe.  I have gone to the doctor's office, my office, hotels, grocery stores, even busy restaurants and I still hear it. No matter how loud the chatter and noise, I can always faintly hear that horrid breathing. Others do not hear it, they say they don't see it, but I know it is real. It stands outside my door at night while I sleep, waiting for hours. When I wake up, I find triangular depressions in my carpet. They are never coming or going, just two footprints right outside my door. I know it's real.     
    Every time I open the door, I imagine seeing its face out there. One of these times it will happen, the door will swing open and I will see it. I know I will. At last I will finally see the thing that has given me so much grief. On the day that happens, I don't know if I will feel fear or relief.