Short Story: Motivation

Brittany Foley, BFR Staff

She stared at the computer screen, at the cursor that continuously blinked in and out of existence until her vision blurred and she had to shake her head to bring herself back to the present.

Work, work, work, always work to do. Dozens of old Post-it note to-do lists that she threw into the trash and then rewrote anew every day. She had two essays due the upcoming Friday and a midterm the week after that and even with the pressure increasing and the stress piling on with every day that passed, she couldn’t find it in her to start an essay.

She sighed and looked out her window, wishing for something, anything, to give her an excuse to walk away from the computer without a tinge of regret. As she looked across the courtyard, it took her a minute to realize that someone was staring back at her.

Her heart caught in her throat and she pushed herself backwards, toppling out of her chair and onto the dusty dorm-room carpet. For a dazed moment, she forgot what had startled her until she heard her window slide open.

Damn the people who decided not to put a latch on the windows.

She scrambled to her feet and spun around, facing the man that was, at that moment, climbing through her window and into her room. Her room on the eighth floor of the building.

How in the hell did he climb eight stories?

He caught her eye and, as if he knew what she was thinking, grinned maniacally.

Again, her heart threatened to choke her as she backed toward the door, reaching behind her for the knob. She didn’t dare take her eyes off of the man. Chances were that he was waiting for her to turn around so he could rush at her and grab her.

Is this happening? Is this really happening to me? How is this happening to me?

At that moment, all she wished was to be sitting back at her desk, struggling to write an essay. She’d write five essays if she needed to, if only this strange man would climb back out the window and leave her alone.

A high-pitched shriek tore her away from her wishful thoughts and somehow it was possible for the man’s grin to extend further across his face. She lunged for the knob and tumbled out into the hallway.

For a moment she was alone, catching her breath and wondering what in the hell was going on. Then doors all along the hallway started slamming open and her terrified floor mates rushed out, eyes wide and mouths open in shock. Shouts of terror escaped the pale-faced students as they collectively ran for the elevator.

All around her, chaos ensued.

One second, she was running alongside one of the students she had Econ with and the next, a man in black appeared from one of the doorways and grabbed him around the waist, pulling him into one of the rooms.

Every second she expected to feel a hand on her arm, a voice in her ear telling her to scream, to scream as loud as she could even though it would be of no use. She knew that if she felt that hand, she would fall silent, let herself be pulled into the closest room and allow whatever sick thing they wanted to do happen. Because what could she do? She never was an athlete. She wasted time watching movies and reading books. The only exercise she got was the walk to the coffee shop in the morning.

In the space of seconds, she had reached the elevator when suddenly the hallway was plunged into darkness. The screams of the students around her grew louder and she felt her head spinning and the darkness closing in on her. Hands shoved her towards the stairwell but she heard the cries of students on the floors beneath her and knew that running down the stairs was futile. Rather than allow herself to be pushed down the stairs and to her impending doom, she forced her way to the part of the stairwell that led to the roof and sat down on the steps in defeat. She put her head on her knees and waited for that hand and that whisper to whisk her away.

After a minute of sitting there on the cold concrete steps, feeling her legs go numb and the blood pumping through her heart, the cries started to become more sporadic and suddenly she felt the need to live spur her to her feet. Holding her breath, she pushed herself against the wall, feeling the metal bar press against her back, and made her way up the stairs.

She would hide at the very top. A sad attempt at survival but an attempt at the least. Silence encased the building and even the quiet tap of her foot on the next step seemed to echo in the hallway. Finally, she made it to the top step and folded herself into the corner to wait.

How many minutes had passed? It felt like days.

The silence strangled her while the darkness watched and she felt herself slipping away.

She wasn’t going to make it. She was going to die tonight, in this poorly kept hallway with lint sticking to her jeans and gravel and dust embedded in her palms. She—

“Hello.”

And she felt a clammy hand wrap its fingers around her arm.

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