The Wolf in the Corner
Things got really bad for me my sophomore year of college. It felt like there was this weight pressing down on me all the time, especially when I’d try to go to sleep. It got to the point that I was only sleeping two or three hours at a time every couple of days, and I refused to sleep alone. I also stopped really eating, only having a salad or a few slices of pizza every few days.
Now, you might recognize that not eating or sleeping carries some pretty heavy consequences. The first thing that happens is you just stop feeling hungry or tired or much of anything else really. Then after a few more days, you start to shake. Have you ever just downed an entire can of Monster and realized your hands were shaking really badly? Imagine that. All the time. Then the next thing you experience are hallucinations. At first the hallucinations were simple and easy to write off: things like catching a glimpse of motion out of the corner of my eye or hearing someone say something they didn’t actually say. They were unsettling when wandering around town at 4 AM because you’re too afraid to sleep, but that was it.
Then they changed. I was sitting in my room watching X-Files when I realized that it was daytime. I took an earphone out and heard people moving around in the living room, so I decided it was time for a break from the TV and went to go say hi. That’s very much not what I said when I walked into the living room. I opened the door and instead of a friendly greeting, a stream of expletives poured out of my mouth as I stumbled into the kitchen away from the back corner of the living room. Everyone looked at me like I’d lost my mind, and for the next few weeks, I believed them.
In that corner was a black wolf, about seven feet tall sitting down. It wasn’t clearly defined either. Its edges sort of shimmered and you could vaguely see distorted shapes through it, like looking through a wolf-shaped piece of smoked glass. It just sat there, growling softly, like dogs do when they aren’t quite ready to attack you but want you to know to stay away. I realized I was the only one who could see it when everyone started asking why I was freaking out so badly. I rubbed at my eyes, shook my head, and did everything I could to try to make it go away, but it just stayed there.
After a few weeks of it being there, I pretty much got used to it. I still wouldn’t go into that corner of the room, but it didn’t terrify me to sit five feet away from it on the couch. It never strayed too far from my side either. When we were at the apartment, it would sit in the corner and let out that low rumble. When I went running with a few friends, I’d catch glimpses of it slinking through the woods behind us. When I went downtown, I’d catch the glimpse of a bushy tail at shoulder height through a crowd. Driving at night, I’d see it running through the fields by the highway. It seems strange to say that I got used to a massive shadow wolf in my everyday life, but I did.
The other hallucinations got stranger and more frequent too. Voices got louder, and sometimes they didn’t sound like people I knew, and some weren’t even speaking English. I’d see people or creatures when we went out that weren’t there. That kind of thing. Nothing was as strange or as constant as that wolf, but it was getting really hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t.
By this point, I was pretty sure I’d lost my mind. People say that crazy people don’t think they’re crazy, but when you’re seeing things that you flat out know cannot be there on a daily basis, you do start to realize maybe something is a little bit off. So for the first twelve weeks or so of the semester, I thought I was legitimately insane.
I say twelve weeks because that’s when things got truly frightening. I woke up from one of my short naps and my apartment was completely empty. The person who’d curled up with me so I could fall asleep was gone, my roommates were gone, and the four or five people who slept in my living room were gone. That never happened. So I was a little on edge. The wolf was still there and it’s attitude mirrored mine. It was sitting in the corner, head lowered, hackles raised, like it was ready to attack something. Up to this point, it had only ever sat upright and grumbled a little bit. When I saw it like this, I was terrified. I knew looking at the wolf that it was completely and totally real. It was no longer transparent and the blurry edges had become clear with almost a black haze rising off its fur. This was not a hallucination. I was sure of it then, and I’m still sure of it now.
The wolf lunged across the living room, bounded the breakfast bar into the kitchen, and landed in the center of the kitchen with its head lowered ready to strike. The moment its paws hit the tile, the locked front door slammed open to reveal a creature unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was taller than the wolf and looked roughly like a man. Its skin was white, not pale or even sickly, but that dirty white like the color of paper that’s been left in a binder too long. It was wrapped in a heavy grey robe that folded around it over and over, and it carried a short sword with a wide tip. Its face was simultaneously the most familiar and most disconcerting thing about it. Had its skin been a normal shade, it would have almost been handsome. It had a well cut jawline, small nose, and striking green eyes. The normalcy of its features just made it all the more unsettling.
The creature lunged into the room and swung at the wolf with its sword. The wolf lunged at it, and the two fought for what felt like an eternity before the wolf finally downed the creature. It lunged in, fangs bared, shook its head a few times, and finally stopped when the creature lay motionless on the ground. The wolf stepped back and watched as the creature’s body faded into the floor.
When the body had completely disappeared, the wolf turned and walked up to me. It looked directly into my eyes for a moment, then continued past me. I turned as it trotted into the corner of the living room that it had always sat in and straight through the walls.
Immediately, even though I was sure it was real, I started trying to convince myself it had just been a hallucination. I looked behind the door and saw that the knob had punched a hole in the wall, but that could have happened one night when I was out and a roommate came home drunk. As I was inspecting the wall, my RA came up to the apartment and yelled at me for all the noise and asked if I had any animals in the apartment. Then, when my roommates got home, one of their girlfriends cut her foot on a broken glass by the refrigerator. I know for certain that glass was set way back from the edge. There was no way it wasn’t all real.
I didn’t see the wolf again after that, and I stopped hearing voices and seeing shadows moving in the dark. The weight I mentioned before was gone. I didn’t have a moment where I realized it had suddenly lifted or anything like that; I just eventually realized it wasn’t there anymore. A few days later, a Saturday, I got up from the group in the living room around 8PM and went to bed. I woke up at 3PM on Monday. Finally, with the weight gone, I was able to sleep again.
Sometimes, when I’m on the road late at night, I think I catch a glimpse of something in the fields out of the corner of my eye. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think that shadow wolf is still somewhere nearby.
Story entries for the October (2015) Sixpenceee Story Contest can be found here. Simply submit a story to enter. Stories don't necessarily have to be creepy, for example, thought provoking stories or stories with a twist are definitely acceptable.
I've had that experience of insomnia (compounded sometimes by missed meds) leading to hallucinations around the edge of things, so this felt very real to me. Oddly enough, it also made me a little less afraid of them. Maybe I've got a sort of reverse Patronus wolf hanging around somewhere.
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