My eyes burned, and I felt as if I had too much alcohol before bed. I pulled the watch from my nightstand, and muttered the words to myself, “3:33am,” a part of me hoping that the time would be different. I cursed. It was the same time I’ve seen every night for over a month. Tossing the watch back on the nightstand, I turned around to face away from the damn clock, and stared at the wall.
The threes floated around in my head, my mind drifting back to sleep, part of my consciousness already in that surreal world. Yet, the threes came back and ripped my eyes open again.
When it first began, I did not think much of it. I thought it was just something strange, a coincidence. And like most of the weird things in life, I reasoned that with time it would pass and I would forget about it. I was wrong. Things escalated.
By the end of the week, when my logical mind’s “coincidence theory” started to wane, I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, my attempt to fall back to sleep futile, when I heard someone at the door. Finding it strange, I made my way to the door and peeked out the peephole. There was no one. I shrugged it off that first time and went back to bed.
But it came back the following day. And the next day. And the day after that. Knock-knock-knock, always three times at the door. Five days in, I was running, a baseball bat in my hand, ready to swing. But when I opened the door and stepped outside, nothing. Every single time, the hall was empty. I stood alone, my heart racing.
For a while, I lied to myself, saying that I was imagining things. No one could run that fast. Besides, who would be crazy enough to bother some dude for an entire week at the exact same hour and minute? It was just too elaborate a prank.
Three weeks in, I noticed something, a dream. For a brief moment, three days or so, I thought it was new, but it wasn’t. I just hadn’t noticed. With each repetition, it became more vivid than before. Slowly, it took shape, perfectly recorded in my waking consciousness. I had never felt anything like it before. It was as if I were not dreaming anymore.
The dream itself was not exactly the same, but it was similar. I always found myself in my apartment, always at the entrance, staring at the door. I also felt tired, my eyes burning, which made it difficult for me to see. And though I knew I was alone in my apartment, I always felt something else, a feeling, a constant pressure as if someone were watching me, observing me as I moved around.
After that, I would wake up, looking at the same three numbers on my watch, 3:33am. And within a few minutes, the sound came. Knock, knock, knock, always three times, no one ever at the door.
This time however, I was done. It had been long enough. I forced myself up and grabbed the baseball bat next to my bed, the clock behind me still showing 3:33. I made my way to the door quietly. A month into this whole thing, I was ready to be finished with it.
I waited, my fingers hurting from how tightly I held the bat. I counted the seconds, and matched the exact time.
The sound came from behind me, from my bedroom door. I dashed and kicked open the door before I realized it shouldn’t have come from there. I froze.
Knock-knock-knock, this time coming from the front door.
The same presence from the dream lingered in the atmosphere. It made me nauseous. I turned around slowly. The front door lay half-open.
“Who is there?” My voice shook. “Answer me, who the fuck is there?”
Walking back to the front door, my baseball bat raised parallel to my head, almost as if I were ready to hit a homerun, I pulled the door completely open with my foot. There was no one outside. I looked around the in the hallway. There was never anyone there.
Knock-knock-knock, the sound came from behind me again, but this time my room’s door slammed shut. I jumped. I closed the front door, and locked it.
“Come out, you son of a bitch,” I said through my teeth. “Don’t be a pussy. Show yourself. I’m tired of this shit,” I lied. I hoped that this was the dream, and long to wake up in bed, even if I might see the threes again.
My hand on the doorknob, my whole body shook. I closed my eyes and prayed, something I never did. I wasn’t really religious, but something like this, it could turn a believer out of an atheist. I turned the knob and pushed.
It stood there, its eyes black with no pupils. Its skin was pale, as if there was no blood inside the thing. Pain shot in the back of my head. It throbbed and blurred my vision, thousands of black dots like static in the air. I collapsed, my head slamming the ground, which I could only hear. It walked to me, its long fingers wrapping my face. The darkness took over. It all went cold.