This Was The Single Weirdest Day Of My Life


This was back when I was still doing data entry work for a major healthcare provider.The building where I worked at the time had an inadequately sized parking garage that was so painfully short on spaces, I’m pretty sure it violated the Geneva Convention. Anyway, as a result, most of us had gotten into the habit of carpooling to the office.

On the morning in question, it was my turn to drive. It had been a quiet ride there and I was lost in thought as we neared the office, which is why I didn’t notice the SWAT van or the row of black SUVs double-parked out front until the Quality Assurance guy in my passenger seat (I think his name was Daniel?) leaned forward and muttered, “Holy shit…”

Police tape was draped across the entrance to the parking garage and two officers in full riot gear were stationed beside it. I rolled down my window and asked them what had happened. Without even turning to look at me, one of the officers said, “Contact your immediate supervisor.”

“Ohhhkay…” I replied as my early morning, pre-coffee brain struggled to process what was happening.

“I got an email from Jan,” Daniel said as I started to drive off and he nodded down at his phone. “The whole building is closed for emergency renovations.”

“What kind of renovations require a SWAT team?”

Daniel shrugged. “The emergency kind?” he said.

From my backseat, a female voice suddenly shouted, “Are you fucking kidding me?!”

This was Gwen. I had a big crush on Gwen, though who didn’t? She was funny and always knew what movie I was quoting and was so genuinely cool, it was almost as if she didn’t know how smoking hot she was. Gwen also had a fiancé because of-fucking-course she did. He was some kind of lawyer like a tax attorney or something and, I assumed, a giant douche. Mainly because he was engaged to a girl I wanted to be with.

I glanced up at Gwen’s reflection in my rearview mirror and saw that she was on her cell phone. Gwen nodded and said into the phone, “Sure thing.”

She ended the call and Daniel said, “WELL?”

“The building’s cleaning crew found a suspicious package of white powder this morning in the men’s room on the first floor. People from the CDC showed up and did some tests and they said it’s just baking soda, but because the janitor who first called to report it used the word ‘Anthrax,’ protocol requires them to keep the building locked down for a minimum of…24 hours.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I responded, unintentionally echoing Gwen’s own sentiment.

“Right? That was Jackie. She’s been quarantined!” Gwen slowly shook her head as she stared down at the phone clutched in her hand and said, “I told her showing up early to work every day would come back to bite her in the ass.”

I turned onto a side street and pulled the car over as I said, “Hey, at least we get a holiday courtesy of Homeland Security.”

Daniel glanced back in the direction of the office building as he scoffed and solemnly muttered, “Yeah, right. Knowing [COMPANY NAME WITHHELD], they’ll probably make us count it as a sick-day or take it out of our vacation time.”

I responded with a dismissive shrug. “So… what do we do?” I said.

“I always pick sick day. Those don’t roll over, year to year, so it matters less if you waste them.”

“I meant right now. ‘I-R-L,’ as the kids say.”

“Oh…” Daniel pointed at me and then himself as he replied, “You’re gonna bring me back home and I’m gonna go play WoW all day.”

“Regrowing your virginity? Check.”

I let out a sad sigh and shifted back into drive before Gwen finally said, “I’d be up for doing something.”

Her response caught me off guard and I kept my foot on the brake as I glanced back at her. “What’d you have in mind?”

Gwen shrugged. “Isn’t there an AMC like right by Daniel’s place? You wanna go see a movie?” she asked.

It turns out that 9AM on a Monday is not an extremely busy time for movie theaters, which is something Gwen and I were reminded of when we arrived that morning to find the front doors still locked. All of the earliest showings for that day started between 10:30 and 11:00AM so, to kill time, we went and got breakfast at a nearby McDonald’s.

I secretly hate eating in restaurants, fast food or otherwise (I don’t usually like to admit that, especially to women because they LOVE going out to eat and plus I’m worried it makes me sound borderline autistic), so I suggested that we get our food from the drive-thru and eat it in the car where we could “listen to the radio.”

We were on the outskirts of the city’s industrial district and our view from the car was composed of a small storage facility, a trash-strewn lot surrounded by a rusty chain-link fence, and a derelict gas-station displaying faded advertisements that were several years out of date. As I parked, the radio began to play a commercial advertising “The World’s Most Powerful Natural Male Enhancement” and Gwen giggled.


“Nothing. It’s just… You sure know how to show a lady a good time, that’s all.” Gwen gestured at the view through the windshield as she said, “Beautiful setting, quality food, a commercial for penis pills… This might be the classiest date I’ve ever been on. Which movie did you order us tickets for, by the way?”

The Purge: Anarchy…”

Gwen slowly shook her head. “Just crushing it.”

“Hey, you’re the one that wanted to see it.”

“I know,” she replied with a wink. “I’m actually super excited.”

“And if I had known this was supposed to be a date, I would’ve acted more accordingly.”

“Oh, yeah? How’s that?”

“Well for starters, I’m not accustomed to dating girls with fiancés so my first question would’ve been ‘How is your fiancé?’ You know, and why isn’t HE taking you to see the matinee showing of The Purge: Anarchy?”

“Because he cheated on me.”

“Oh, shit…”

“YEAH… With literally the trashiest girl I have ever seen. And you know how much I hate the word ‘literally.’”

I nodded and said, “I literally do.”

“How I found out was the dumb bitch tagged him in a photo of them kissing that was dated the same weekend he was supposedly away on a business trip.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Why? You’re not the one who banged some slut you met on your secret OKCupid profile.”

I cleared my throat and nervously replied, “Actually…”

Gwen’s stoic façade suddenly dissolved and she erupted with laughter.

“The experience itself wasn’t very funny for me,” I said in a serious tone, but that only made her laugh harder. When she was finally done, Gwen sighed and wiped away a tear as she said, “Thanks. I needed that.”

“So you weren’t joking about this being a date?”

She looked me over, one corner of her mouth curved into a flirtatious half-smile as she said, “I guess we’ll see.”

By the time we got back to the AMC, the doors were unlocked. I picked up our tickets from the box office and we made our way over to the otherwise empty theater. Apparently, we were the only people in the entire city who had reason to be at a Monday morning showing of The Purge: Anarchy. It might seem trite, but something about that concerned me.

Gwen announced that she had to pee and hurried out of the theater, leaving me alone with my thoughts (which is rarely a good idea). I had a sudden urge to get up and leave the theater as well. Bolt the fuck out of there and hopefully talk Gwen into doing something else; something less inherently depressing. Then I heard the rear doors open and a series of slow deliberate footsteps as someone made their way down to the front of the theater.

When the elderly woman first came into view, I was initially relieved because it meant that I no longer had to feel so weird about me and Gwen being the only ones there. Then it dawned on me that elderly women didn’t generally go to movies like this and that there was a good chance she had entered the wrong theater by mistake.

The woman didn’t appear to be a day under 80 and she had that distinct “I’m pretty sure I’m lost” look on her face which most elderly people seemed to perpetually walk around with. The woman took a seat a few rows ahead of me and as she sat down, I leaned forward and said, “Ma’am?”

The woman slowly turned to face me and spit out a half-whispered, “Yes?”

There was something wrong with her face. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was at first but something was definitely off about the way the skin sagged around her eyes and at the edges of her mouth. It took me a full beat to remember why I had gotten her attention in the first place but finally I said, “What movie are you here to see?”

The old lady looked at me like I had just asked her the stupidest question she’d ever heard and replied, “This one.”

“The Purge?”

And then the old woman smiled at me. For like 30 seconds straight. She didn’t blink. Her toothy chimpanzee grin didn’t falter. She just sat there, grinning. As the overhead lights began to dim, I started to panic.

Finally, I heard the theater’s rear door open again and the old woman turned back to face the screen as Gwen approached, holding candy and what was basically a small bucket of soda.

“Milk Dud?” Gwen said as she took her seat next to me and held out the open box.

I waved at the candy and whispered, “No thanks, but can I ask you for kind of a big favor?”

“If it’s for a sip of my coke, I got this for both of us, so go crazy.”

“Thanks but that’s not it.”

“Oh, god… It’s not to jerk you off, is it?”

I saw the woman glance back at us and almost yelled, “NO!” I quickly regained my composure. “It’s… Would you mind if we left? I’m not feeling very well,” I whispered.

Gwen gave me a sympathetic look and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Sure, yeah. What do you need, some Pepto?”

I pretended not to notice the old woman as she watched us leave the theater with that same creepy grin on her face, but of course Gwen saw her. As we exited and started across the lobby, she said, “What was the deal with Heath Ledger’s grandmother back there?”

I let out a weary sigh and once we were outside and heading to my car, I finally told her why I really wanted to leave. Gwen gave me a look as if to say, What kind of guy gets scared off by an old lady? But then she glanced back at the theater and did a double-take as her eyes went wide. “Holy shit, here she comes…”

I turned to look, thinking Gwen was just screwing with me but sure enough, there she was. The old lady exited the AMC and started across the parking lot. We watched as she shuffled over to a vintage green Cadillac parked two rows over. Every third or fourth step, the old lady would stop for a moment and glance to her left and she would get this angry look on her face and shake her head. Then she would take another couple of steps before stopping again to repeat the whole process once more.

I looked at where the old lady kept glancing and saw nothing but an empty corner of the parking lot. Gwen did the same and said, “Wow, yeah… She’s all sorts of senile.”

“That’s what I’m thinking.”

“And pretty creepy, I’ll give you that.”

“Thank you.”

The old lady unlocked the Cadillac and slowly got in behind the wheel as Gwen said, “She should definitely not be driving herself anywhere.”

The woman started her car and gave the corner of the parking lot one last spiteful glare before she backed out. A grim-faced Gwen turned to me and said, “Okay… I’m like seriously worried now. Can we follow her home?”


“PLEASE. What if she runs over a kid? Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, knowing I could’ve prevented something like that and I didn’t.” The Cadillac started to drive off and Gwen’s tone became even more desperate. “Come on, PLEEEEASE…”

We caught up with the old lady’s Cadillac just as it was pulling out of the parking lot. I did my best to keep a safe distance between my car and hers. Though, if you’ve ever attempted to follow an elderly driver anywhere, you’ll understand why that last part was easier said than done. Still, there was no telling what this crazy old broad might do if she spotted us tailing her and I really didn’t want to find out.

After about 10 minutes on the road, we ended up in a neighborhood I didn’t recognize. I was so preoccupied with not blowing our cover that I had totally forgotten to pay attention to where we were going and the industrial district had since given way to what appeared to be a low-income housing neighborhood or, as it’s colloquially known, The Projects.

Gwen turned to me as she said what I was already thinking. “There’s no way she lives out here.”

“Probably not. She probably has no idea WHERE she lives.”

“At the next red light, I’m gonna hop out and tell the woman I’m her granddaughter and that I’m here to drive her home. She seems incoherent enough to buy it.”

“So you know, the plan you just described involves no less than two felonies.”

“If you’ve got a better idea, I would love…”

“She’s pulling over,” I said, cutting Gwen off as I nodded at the Cadillac now parking half a block ahead of us.

“Thank god.”

“We still don’t know if this is actually her neighborhood, though.”

“So what do we do?”

I pulled over and shifted the car into park. “Let’s see what she does.”

At first, she didn’t do much of anything except sit there and stare at the small gray apartment complex across the street.

“Is she talking to herself?” Gwen said and I noticed that the old woman’s lips were moving. A boy no older than five appeared at the window of one of the first-floor apartments and waved when he saw the woman staring at him. The old lady didn’t seem to notice and continued mumbling to herself. The boy disappeared from view and a moment later he exited his apartment.

“What the fuck?” I muttered to myself as the boy started toward the street with a delighted grin on his tiny round face. The woman’s lips were moving faster now, as if she were chanting as she continued to stare at the approaching child.

Gwen suddenly pushed open the passenger door and hurried out of the car. I did the same and followed her across the street as Gwen shouted, “Stop!”

The little boy froze at the curb, looking startled as I pointed in the direction of the parked Cadillac and said, “Hey little guy, do you know that woman?”

I glanced back at the old lady and when she spotted me and realized who I was, her face began to contort. The wrinkles spread apart and her skin started to droop, warping her features until she resembled a partially melted wax figure. The color drained from the woman’s eyes, turning them a shiny black as she let out a shriek that seemed to reverberate down my spine. The little boy wet himself and began to cry. I didn’t blame him.

From behind us came another scream. “MANNY!”

A woman I assumed was the kid’s mother sprinted toward us and scooped the boy up while shouting a torrent of Spanish at him. The child responded by pointing across the street and saying, “Monstruo!”

His mother glanced at the empty space where the old lady’s Cadillac had been parked mere moments ago. She let out a frustrated scoff and glared at us before turning to carry her crying son inside. Gwen and I exchanged a baffled glance and then we both looked back at where the old lady’s car had been as the door behind us slammed shut.

I slowly turned to Gwen and said, “You saw her face, right?”

Gwen nodded. “Oh, yeah.”

I let out a long sigh and then squinted at the apartment complex behind us. “Sooo… we should probably go before that kid’s mom calls the cops.”

“Good idea.”

I figured that our date was officially over by this point and offered to drive Gwen home. She said yes but then she asked if I would mind hanging out there because she was still feeling way too jumpy to be alone right now. I pretended like I had to consider it and paused for a beat before shrugging. “Sure. Why not?”

This was the correct choice because, as it turns out, terrifying encounters can be quite the turn on for a lot of women (as long as you’re not the one who terrified her, which is a whole different kind of kink that we don’t have time for today.) My point is that it wasn’t long before we were totally doing it.


Thank you. We totally did, too. But anyway, afterward we stayed in bed and watched a movie on her laptop. Eventually it started to rain and the sound of it put us both to sleep. When Gwen finally shook me awake again, it was night and the room was dark.



There was a long pause.

“Nothing. Sorry…” she said.

My eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness yet and I couldn’t see her face, but she sounded worried enough to make me sit up. “What? What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I had a nightmare about that old woman. It was awful. She was outside my house and she kept peeking in the windows and whispering, ‘I see you,’ and then I thought I heard someone in the hallway when I woke up but it’s probably just my fried nerves. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. After the day we’ve had…” I looked around. “Is the power out?”

“Yeah and I really have to pee.”

I rolled over and felt around on the floor until I found my pants and retrieved the small LED flashlight attached to my keychain. I switched it on and aimed the light at myself as I said, “I think I can get you there in one piece.”

I guided Gwen over to the closed bedroom door and she gave my arm a nervous squeeze as I reached for the knob. the truth was my nerves were just as fried as hers by that point, but I was trying not to let it show because that would’ve only made things worse. I flashed Gwen the most confident smile I could muster and opened the door.

I slowly swept the light down the length of the hallway and no one was there. (Thank goodness.) Just to be safe, I checked the bathroom too and then (at Gwen’s request) waited outside the door while she peed. The power came back on while Gwen was still in the bathroom and I heard her cheer through the door. That’s when I spotted something on the floor that made my heart rate double.

There was a lamp on in Gwen’s living room, which was around the corner from where I was standing, and the light was casting a distinctly human-shaped shadow onto the floor in front of me. I could hear the old lady whispering, “I… see… you.

The bathroom door suddenly swung open and an elated Gwen said, “Thank you so-the HELL?!”

I grabbed her by the arm and started to pull Gwen away from the living room. She saw the expression of absolute fear on my face and glanced back just as the old lady entered the hallway, naked and grinning at us.

I only glimpsed her for a moment, but it was long enough to burn the sight of the old woman’s nude, wrinkled flesh into my brain forever. Strange symbols had been carved into almost every inch of her body, creating a patchwork of scars that extended from her ankles to her clavicle. The woman was still whispering to herself and her sagging breasts swung like two sad pear-shaped pendulums as she stalked toward us.

In an amount of time that was probably seconds, but felt more like hours do to the fear-induced adrenaline coursing through my veins, I hurried Gwen back into her bedroom and slammed the door shut behind us. I turned the lock on the knob and then leaned my back against the door just as something that felt like a battering-ram slammed against it hard enough to send me tumbling to the floor.

Gwen let out a startled yelp as the door vibrated from another massive blow that was so loud, I thought it was going to split the wood. I was expecting the next hit to knock the door completely off its hinges, but that one never came, which seemed strange at first. After all, I thought the old woman was simply trying to lure us out into the hall, but then a thought occurred to me…

Why wouldn’t she finish knocking the door down? …BECAUSE we were expecting it.

I looked at Gwen, who was clutching a nail file like a knife and still waiting for the door to burst open as I unconsciously muttered to myself, “‘I see you.’”

Gwen whipped her head around to look at me. “What did you say?”

“We were expecting the door, so the door is no longer scary,” I said and turned as I pointed across the bedroom. “Which means the only option left is the window.”

The old lady was already standing just outside the window, her wrinkled flesh pressed against the glass with what I originally thought was her tongue dangling out of her mouth, but it turned out to be a large, black slug.

Gwen gasped as she saw this and said, “How did you know that?”

“It’s our fear. That’s why she was at a horror movie at 11AM on a Monday and it’s how she was able to track us here. You had that dream about her and your fear drew her to you. She feeds off of it.”

Gwen furrowed her brow as she processed all of this and said, “Like the Dementors in Harry Potter?”

I’ve never read the Harry Potter books, (save yourself an email — I’m already well-informed on how awesome they are) but now was not the time to ask for clarifications, so I said, “Sure.”

The tongue/slug slid out onto the window and began to inch down it as a second one protruded from the woman’s mouth. Gwen let out a disgusted groan and I took her hand as I said, “Don’t let her scare you.”

“Joel, the bitch is spitting up SLUGS…”

She WANTS you to be afraid and she’ll never go away if you keep giving it to her,” I said and then gently gripped her chin and turned her to face me. “Don’t look at her. Look at me.”

“Sorry… I just really fucking hate slugs.”

“Try to think about something else. Something funny.”

Gwen glanced over at the iPad charging on her nightstand and said, “Fuck that. Let’s just watch Netflix.”

And that’s what we did. Gwen and I sat there on her bedroom floor and we watched episodes of 30 Rock while the old lady scratched at the window and used the voice of Gwen’s dead grandfather to shout sexual propositions at us.

Eventually, the creepy old bitch realized she wasn’t going to get any more of what she needed here and left. On a side note, I Googled it the next day and a creature that feeds off of fear is called a “Lethifold” and they’re a type of shadow people, whatever the hell that is.

For a long time afterward, Gwen would have nightmares about the old lady but she almost always managed to wake up before she drew her too close. On the rare occasion when she did show up, Gwen simply ignored her. And isn’t that just the perfect lesson to take away from all of this? Sometimes the only way to avoid falling victim to the monsters of this world is to just not give a fuck.

If I hadn’t given a fuck back at the theater, I would’ve let that old woman drive off without a second glance and I wouldn’t have had to go through any of this. Of course, if I HAD refused to follow the old lady, Gwen would’ve thought I was a dick and probably never slept with me, but that’s beside the point. Or maybe it IS the point. I don’t know. Honestly, just don’t go see bad horror movies before noon and you should be alright.