In The Next Room by Tom Fowler


In The Next Room
Tom Fowler

It always feels strange to tell this story. I suppose I give the impression I've told it often, but I haven't. I guess I've told it no more that half a dozen times since I've been here, and at that only to the doctors who still don't believe me.

That's why I'm going to tell you. I don't want to go to my grave without SOMEBODY outside this hospital besides Mom knowing exactly what happened, and why I am here. Believe or don't believe, that is up to you, but I am going to die soon so I need to tell you now.

In the spring of 1975 I was a young man with the world in the palm of his hand, or so I thought. I was 25 years old, single, and had enough money in my pocket to pay what few bills I had and enjoy myself with the rest. Although not an athlete, I had an athlete's build and, if I may say so, was not too sorry on the eyes as far looks went. I was fortunate to have several young ladies who didn't mind my company at all, and I considered myself a bit of a lady's man.

So, when I rented a two-bedroom apartment over on Larson St., I thought I had it made. The other bedroom was to house my bicycle, telescope, and ever-growing collection of books and magazines. I planned to look for a house to purchase and hoped to close a deal before the lease on the apartment expired.

Life in the new apartment started innocently enough. I was pleased with the added space and looked forward to the warmer months of spring and summer. However, what happened in the other room changed my life tragically and forever.

I think that one reason I've had all these emotional problems through the years is because I cannot accurately describe, even to myself, exactly what was in that room. I was a writer in my youth and always prided myself on being able to express myself. But this, well, this is different.

So, anyhow, you have noticed I'm beating around the bush. Almost a quarter of a century has passed and I still get frightened thinking about it. Be that as it may, here's what happened:

Saturday evening was date night for me back then, and early one Sunday morning, after I had lived there about a month, I returned to the apartment shortly after 2:00AM. I was in a good mood, as I had spent a pleasant evening with a very nice young woman whom I looked forward to seeing again. Entering the front door, the lighted clock on the lamp stand told me it was 2:13. I looked forward to getting out of my clothes and into bed. However, before I could act on this wish I heard a faint noise from the study, as I called it. Puzzled, I walked the few paces it took to get to the study door, which I kept closed because of its untidy condition. When I opened the door, the life I had known was over.

In the darkened room there was something, something that I've already said that I cannot really describe. It wasn't an animal, ghost or monster, but yet it was all these things. It was big and encompassed almost the entire room. It made no noise, except for the small sound it had used to draw attention to itself. It did not move, and emitted no odor, which will disappoint the would-be horror writers out there. What it did have was a presence: a cold, harsh, evil presence, which literally almost frightened me to death. I spent the first couple of years in the hospital trying to come up with that word, until Dr. Johnson suggested it. Presence, that's a good word. I felt its presence the moment I opened the door and, it did communicate with me, for in the space of a few moments I experienced the horror and terror of a thousand years.

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About the Author

Tom Fowler, 68 years old, retired and lives in Overland Park, KS. Author of several books and numerous short stories. Visit Tom's blogsite at

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