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It was a Monday night. My mom was at Back-to-School Night (she’s a teacher), so I was home alone. Which is fine. I’m 18 years old. I’m not scared to be home alone. The fact that it was nighttime and it was pitch black outside was fine. It wasn’t something that would usually strike me as intimidating at all. But maybe something about being in the shower at night while home alone. I haven’t really ever watched any horror movies, but I know that that’s kind of a classic: vulnerable woman alone in shower attacked by monster or weapon-wielding psycho.
So yeah, it was a Monday night, and I was home alone, and it was very dark outside, and I went to go take a shower because I needed to take a shower. I got in and everything was as usual. Everything was normal and fine. Everything was fine. But at some point I just started to feel something. Like just ever so slightly that something was wrong. A sort of tingling down your spine and a clenching of the stomach and goosebumps on your arms kind of a feeling. And nothing happened. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing at all. I think I was almost waiting for something to happen, and it just kept not happening. It put me on edge. The anticipation of something that I was scared of but wasn’t happening or going to happen. All of it put me on edge and then I was also kind of judging myself for being on edge. Because it was silly. It was silly to be scared because nothing was going to happen. Or it was so incredibly likely that nothing was going to happen. I reminded myself of that again and again. And that we live on the fourth floor. No one was going to climb all the way up the back stairs to attack me. They could just attack someone on the first floor. Why would they put in all that effort and exert that much energy to climb all the way up here? They were plenty of victims that were much easier to get to. And I wasn’t scared about it being someone I knew. That is to say I wasn’t scared that someone was out for me specifically. Why would they be? And it was so incredibly unlikely that a killer would just happen to pick our apartment building and walk around to the back and up all those stairs to then break into our apartment, walk through the kitchen, around the corner into the bathroom to grab me in the shower.
Yeah, so I was in the shower and I just felt kind of scared and vulnerable. But I had to wash my hair so I just kept showering as usual and nothing happened. Our shower is actually an old ball and claw foot tub with a shower curtain in it on all four sides. It’s kind of like being in a bubble. You’re in this little oval surrounded by the white curtain on all sides and unable to see out unless you turn the water off and open the curtain. I kept feeling like I was hearing things behind the sound of the water, so I would crouch down to turn the water off and squat there, balanced on my toes, listening. Listening with everything I had and knowing that I had no good escape route. The bathroom had one door. The windows were pretty small, but I could probably climb out onto the roof and get down the back stairs if I had to. But I would be naked or maybe I’d be able to grab a towel first, but probably not since it was hanging all the way over on a hook on the back of the bathroom door. It wasn’t a very large bathroom, but if there was someone coming through the front door I might not even have time to scramble out the window, forget grabbing a towel first. But nothing happened. I didn’t need to plan an escape route because there was nothing to run from. I was perfectly safe up on the fourth floor. I was also perfectly trapped on the fourth floor, but again not a thought I needed to follow because everything was fine.
I felt relieved when I was finally finished and I could leave the shower and escape the white bubble in which time often became meaningless and reality became but a faint flicker through the shower curtain. It was like being trapped in a white void where all things lost their meaning and faded away. It was just me and the shampoo and whatever song was playing in my head or coming out of my mouth. Though I wasn’t singing tonight. I didn’t want to attract any attention to myself. Of course the light and the sound of the water would probably be more than enough, but no one was out there looking for signs of life. No one was after me, everything was fine, and nothing happened. Whatever I heard was probably just the heater. It was old and loud and often made noise. Or it could be the cat. I know I said I was home alone but really there were two of us in the house. Me and her. Not that she would be any help. Sure she would attack any small mammal that came within her range of smell. And dogs, she would go after a dog three times her size without hesitation. But forget an intruder. She wouldn’t let a stranger touch her and she wouldn’t be happy about them entering our home without her permission, but I couldn’t imagine she would attack them. Which of course was for the best. She might be fierce and stupidly fearless in many situations, but I doubt she could escape a monster unharmed. No, hopefully she would go hide under my mom’s bed or somewhere else and they wouldn’t find her. But of course there was nothing to hide from. Nothing at all.
Anyways, I was finally done. I got out and did the “bath mat scooch” (or bath mat shuffle if you prefer) over to my towel. I turned around and saw something move in the mirror. I almost jumped out of my skin. And managed to hit the door behind me. And thank goodness this wasn’t a movie or I probably would have just impaled my head on the hook my towel had been hanging on. That would be a classic. I would literally have been scared to death. Turns out, if that had happened I would have literally scared myself to death because that’s what I had seen in the mirror, my own reflection. Yep, I had turned around and jumped at seeing my own reflection in the mirror. This was getting ridiculous. That was just too textbook. Boring almost. “And then the girl thought she saw something. She screeched and jumped backwards tripping and landing hard on the ground. She searched desperately for what she had seen in the dark, almost pitch blackness before realizing it was just her own reflection in a mirror that had scared her senseless. And then the girl realized she was an idiot, but now she had a broken ankle and couldn’t run from the real slobbering demonic monster that was just behind her. The end.” But this wasn’t a movie. And I wasn’t in the dark. The lights in the bathroom were on, and I had hit the door not the floor, and my ankle was fine, and there was no slobbering demonic monster, neither in front of me nor behind me.
I would probably have a bruise from hitting the door. But I was fine. Everything was fine. I wrung out my hair a few times, dried off, and wrapped myself in my towel. As I crept into the kitchen in the dark I felt exposed and vulnerable, wearing nothing but my towel wrapped around me like a dress. I had to keep one hand holding onto it to keep it from falling, so I only had my left hand to grope for the light switch in the almost black darkness. My eyes still hadn’t adjusted so I slowly and carefully staggered my way towards where I knew it to be.
I felt something under my bare right foot. It was wet and slimy. Oh no! No no no no no no. Please don’t let it be! No! No! Oh, but it probably was. What else would have that disgusting texture and gummy oozing feeling between my toes? I limped the rest of the way to the light switch, careful not to let the part of my foot that had come in contact with the horrific unknown substance touch the innocent floor. When I felt my knee hit the counter, I leaned forward and felt for the switch. I flicked it on, impossibly grateful that my hand hadn’t touched anything unexpected or gross. I began to retrace my steps, still limping like I had lost all my toes. There on the ground I saw something. I saw it. I bent forward to inspect the spot more closely, clutching my towel and hoping against hope. But yes, it was my worst nightmare. My worst fears had been confirmed. I had stepped in wet cat food. If only I had been attacked by a serial killer in the shower, I might have escaped this dreadful fate.