I was a student in high school, going through the usual routine. I didn't have as many friends as most people, but I was content. I knew a couple of guys, although my best friend was a girl. Some people used to say we would be dating, but we were just friends.
My favorite class was English, by far. I just liked learning about old stories. Myths, classic plays, literature, stuff like that.
Then, one day, there was a message on the board. It read "Nancy knows Natalie."
I asked the teacher about it. She told me it was an example of alliteration, which we would be learning about today. I moved on, ignoring it, as everyone else did. Except Natalie, who wondered why the teacher had used her name. The teacher told her that it was because she was her best student. That stung a little, but I didn't mind much.
About a week later, I noticed something wrong with Natalie. She seemed worried all of the sudden. This wasn't during English class. Natalie is also in my biology class.
When we were in there, something weird happened. Natalie went from calm to completely freaked out. She looked at her paper and started breathing hard. She walked up and threw it away, then took a breath to ask for a new sheet, when her head snapped in the direction of the board. Her eyes darted all over the room, with her becoming more panicked. She began to breathe harder, and by this time most everyone had noticed how funny she was acting. She darted out of the room, without giving any kind of reason what so ever.
This confused everyone. Natalie never acted like that. It seemed like she could see something we couldn't. Her mom came later to pick her up. This made me kind of sad for the rest of the day; I had a crush on her, so I felt a little sorrier.
That night, Natalie vanished.
This got everyone talking. It was obvious that it had something to do with the break down during the day. But the cops couldn't find any signs of forced entry, or even any sign that Natalie had run away. There was no note, no stolen food or money, nothing.
No one made the connection with the board, though. No one thought of the message with Natalie's name on it. I wish they had. I wish I had. But I couldn't have.
A few weeks passed and everyone was worried sick. I thought about it every day when I walked home from school, and that's what I was doing the day I saw the second message. I had been walking passed a dark alley when I heard a noise come from it. I turned and saw some punk teenagers spraying a message on the wall. I was about to walk away when I realized what it said:
Nancy knows Kathy.
This freaked me out immediately. I was stunned, and wasn't sure what to do at first. Then I came to my senses and turned and ran. But I wasn't running toward my house.
I was running toward Kathy's; she was my best friend.
I knocked on her door, panting from the run. She answered and asked why I was so exhausted. I was about to tell her when I hesitated. I mean, what I saw could have been a coincidence, right? Well, probably not, but I doubted if it was connected to Natalie's disappearance. And anyway, would she believe me, or would she think I was trying to make a joke? She was one of the few friends I had, and she might just stop talking to me if she thought I had tried to trick her.
Kathy shook my shoulder, snapping me out of my thoughts. She asked again why I had run to her house, now with a little worry on her face.
I said no reason through clenched teeth, and began to walk away, hating myself.
She held firmly onto my arm, and demanded to know what I was going to say. I hesitated a little more, then broke down and confessed what I had seen. As I spoke, her face changed from frustration to worry. When I was done, she slowly said she wanted to see it. So I told her to follow me.
When we go to the alley, we turned the corner to see the exact message.
But it wasn't there. There was nothing left but a wet wall and some wet paint on the ground.
I was shocked for a second, then recovered. I turned to Kathy to tell her I hadn't been lying, but she just gave me an angry look and walked away.
I called after her. I didn't want to lose my friend over this. I had been trying to help her. She stopped walking for a moment and seemed to want to listen, then forced herself to keep walking.
For a few days after that, she gave me the silent treatment. I kept trying to apologize to her, and she just kept shoving me away.
Then the weekend came. I was pretty much depressed and had nothing to do, so I went out for a walk, just to think things over.
The street wasn't heavily populated, and neither was the sidewalk. It was perfect silence, which made it easy to just think. The only guy I passed was some guy in a hoody and jeans. He bumped into me as he passed and didn't even apologize for it. I felt a jolt of annoyance and continued walking, until a thought occurred to me.
I had seen that man before.
I didn't know where yet, but I was positive I had seen his face somewhere. I turned and began to follow him without hesitation. I wasn't going to make that mistake again.
I quickly caught up to him and tried not to make any noise with my shoes. But in the process, I tripped and barely caught myself. I looked up. He had stopped, and the way he was moving told me that he had heard me. I scrambled behind a tree right before he turned around.
I forced myself to slow my breathing. My heart was pounding so loud that I didn't hear the footsteps coming closer until they were right next to me. A pair of hands grabbed my coat and pulled me out from behind the tree. He pulled my face close to his and asked "Why you following me?"
I didn't answer, because I had gotten a good look at his face, causing me to recognize him.
He had been one of the teenagers who had sprayed the graffiti message.
Now, I'm not typically a fighter, but knowing what he may or may not have done, I felt angry. I felt a bigger rage than I ever had before. I began to struggle out of frustration, but he held me firmly with a calm expression on his face. That made me angrier, and I punched him in the face, not to free myself, but because I wanted to hurt him.
He let go of me and stumbled back. I grabbed onto his hoody and threw him against the tree. Then I did it again. And again. Now he seemed dazed, so I began to question him.
"That message… tell me what that message that you put on the wall was about!"
"What… message," he said slowly.
"I'm sure you remember: Nancy knows Kathy."
"Oh, that?" he asked, a little more awake now. "That was just a little private message to… someone."
"Who?" I said, shaking him to stress how much I needed to know this.
"Uh- K-Kathy is just the name of my friends recently ex-girlfriend. That was the apartment building she owns, and we just wanted her to know that he was mad that he left her for someone else, and-"
"But who is Nancy?!" I practically shouted.
"Uh-nobody," he said, and I was about to slam him against the tree again when he continued. "N-Nancy was just a name we thought of off the top of our heads. We wanted to hurt that he would always feel because of her. We were trying to be metaphorical…"
That one I didn't expect. It snapped me out of my rage for a second. I had figured that if this wasn't a coincidence, it all had something to do with someone name Nancy. But if she was just a made up name, then could it have all been a coincidence after all? And I doubted that the teenagers really knew who she was. This guy didn't seem that smart…
I had one more question. "Why was the message gone when I came back?"
"Well, you see, when we were almost done, we heard a noise behind us, and we panicked and washed the whole wall to get rid of the evidence. The person could have seen our faces, so… wait."
While he was putting two and two together, I realized I didn't want him to know who I was, so I slammed him against the tree one more time for good measure and made a run for it.
When I got home, I realized that despite that encounter, I felt worse. This meant Nancy was just made up in an extremely rare coincidence, as was Kathy's name being the same as that guy's ex. I had lost my friend for nothing.
I heard the phone ring as I caught my breath. My mom was sleeping in, so I went to get it. I picked it up and said "Hello" and I was shocked at what I heard.
It was Kathy.
That wasn't what shocked me though. When she spoke, she had a tone to her voice that I had never heard in her voice before. She sounded… depressed, like she had given up fighting, or worse, found she had been fighting for the wrong side.
"Mark, is that… well, I guess as long as I know he gets this, then I'll be content. If you know a Mark, please tell him I called, and tell him I say… sorry."
I thought she was about to hang up, so I tried to tell her that I was there, that I needed to know more, but all that came out was a strangled sob. Just hearing how sad she sounded made me want to cry.
But she still heard me. "Mark? You are there. I… guess I can tell you more then." She said, and I wondered what else she had to say. "I… I think you were right. I think that message you saw was real, or I wouldn't be calling right now. And now I need to tell you something, and you need to believe me, as your way of saying you forgive me. And I know you will. We were always close, not like dating, but more like as friends."
She paused for a few seconds, like she was forcing herself to continue. Then she said: "It's hear. Nancy. The thing that took Natalie. And it wants me. But it wants me to accept it. It won't take me until I agree to go with it."
Now I was confused. I told her "Kathy, you must not agree to go with… it."
"It has me cornered, and it won't go away until I accept. The only reason I'm not gone is because I heard it at my door, and I pretended to be asleep. And then it took my dog… and my sister… and my mom…"
"Kathy, listen," I pleaded. "Just stay there. I'm coming to get you."
"Don't!" she screamed into her phone, and it scared me so much I stayed put.
I heard her breathe a sigh of relief when she seemed to realize I was still there. She continued: "If you look, it will take you to. It… it will be the last thing you see."
It sounded like she was moving for a second on the other end. I heard clothing rub against cloth.
Then I heard something that chilled me to the bone.
It was her phone. I heard it clatter against the ground, like she had just… vanished.
I stood there, too stunned to understand what had happened on the other end of the line. And the truth was, I didn't. Her words, the phone dropping, it didn't usually happen… well, anywhere. I suddenly snapped out of my thoughts and called the police. Then, I ran to her house.
When the cops got there, there was nobody home. I stood by and watched as they broke down the door. They searched everywhere around the house, but couldn't find a trace of anybody being there in the past hour, besides what they found in Kathy's room. They found her phone, still on, almost out of battery, with the flashing message that said the listener had hung up.
Everyone searched for them, including me. We looked everywhere as far as miles out of town. When I wasn't searching there, I looked at her house again, wondering if the police might have missed something. I didn't find anything, and neither did anyone else.
This made me even more depressed than before. I wish I had dropped the phone and ran to her house. At the very least, I could have seen what had happened.
But then I might have been "taken" as well, as Kathy put it. According to what I heard, then looking at that thing was all it took to vanish into thin air. But that was impossible. Maybe whoever took her made her say that to throw us off track. But then again, it would be so unbelievable that wouldn't work.
I thought about this for a week, and considered telling someone what I was thinking. I know that when I did that with Kathy, it cost us our friendship, possibly her life, but this was different. Everyone knew I was under stress. They would just assume that I was having a nervous breakdown. It wouldn't work.
Then one morning on a Saturday, I was out searching streets I'd searched three times before. This one was on the bad side of town, but I knew the risk, and was willing to take it.
I passed a homeless man while I was looking. He held a typewriter in his arms and offered to sell it to me. At first, I kept walking. But I stopped and thought for a second. I figured Kathy would have wanted me to. She always wanted to help others. I gave myself a small sigh of defeat and turned to see if the typing machine was worth anything.
When I walked up to him, the man smiled and began to show me all the little gears and pieces of machinery inside of it. I was getting impatient, so I asked bluntly if he could show me if it worked. He paused in mid-sentence, then obliged. He typed a few characters, then stopped and asked me what my name was. I told him it was Mark, careful not to give my full name. He then continued to type, one letter at a time. He obviously wasn't skilled. I could easily see him type the letters of my short name.
When he was done, he tore the sheet of paper out of the machine and handed it to me. And on it were words I will never forget:
"Nancy knows YOU"
When I read the words, I gasped and threw the parchment on the ground. The homeless man looked at me confused. I felt the same anger the day I had seen that teenager on the street. I gripped the man b the jacket and yelled "Where did you hear that phrase?!"
He looked at me, now terrified. He said "I-I don't know! I just typed the first thought that popped in my head! It was the shortest thing I could think of!"
"Don't tell me it was random!" I shouted, shaking him roughly. "I need you to tell me: Who is Nancy?!"
"But why did you ask my name when you didn't type it on here?!" I said, showing him the paper he had given me.
He just looked confused again, and said "But your name is on there."
That made me pause. I looked at the paper, then back at him. There wasn't the smallest bit of mischief in his eyes. He was telling me what he truly saw. Heck, I saw him type it.
I let go of him and ran to my house. This was getting to be too much for me. When I got there, I slammed the door behind me and curled up on my couch. If this… Nancy was hunting people down, then I'm next. That thought made me curl up tighter and sob.
I cried for quite a while before common sense finally came back, and I sat up on the couch to think. If this thing was coming for me, I needed to know all I could about it.
First of all, it would come within the next week. Second of all, looking at it is what made you vanish; I didn't have a hard time believing that now. And third of all (this I got from Natalie's disappearance), I would see something that would warn me that it was coming. Something no one else could see. The message given to me, meant for me, said something different when I saw it. The bum saw my name. I saw "YOU". That could or couldn't have been the same case with what Natalie saw. Kathy didn't say she saw anything like that, but maybe she didn't feel the need to.
I realized we had to get out of that neighborhood, fast. It may or may not work, but it was the only chance my family had. They could easily get taken on my account as well.
My mom came home the second I thought that. She said hi and realized something was wrong. I ran up to her and quickly told her that we needed to leave.
She looked at me like I was having a nervous breakdown, which I might have been, for all I knew. She told me to go to my room and relax for a while, and that she knew we would find Kathy eventually. I resisted at first, then just decided to let her drag me up there. It would be easier to think anyway.
I tried to do some research on the internet that night, but found nothing. I searched "Nancy knows," but only got things I didn't need.
I didn't stop, though. I searched through all the night, and through the whole next day. I didn't eat, and I barely slept.
Then this morning, I woke up my bed, with my PC still on. I had passed out from pure exhaustion. Half asleep, I walked over to the computer and booted it up. I was tired, so I didn't notice it at first. I connected to the internet and searched the millionth variation of the message I could think of and clicked the first link I saw. I woke myself up enough to read what it said, when I noticed what was wrong.
On the page, there were only 2 different words:
My eyes widened. All across the page were those two words. I went back to the search engine and typed something else, and was about to hit enter when I saw "Nancy knows" where what I had typed should have been. I deleted the text and forced myself not to panic. I decided to experiment.
I typed a one letter word. The word "Nancy" appeared right when I pressed it. Then I tried a two letter word. "Nan" showed up when I pressed one letter, and "cy" appeared when I typed the other. I typed two random words, and they were replaced with "Nancy knows."
I got up from my desk and reached for a book lying on the ground. I needed to know if it was just the internet or everything a saw. I flipped through the book, seeing nothing but paragraph after paragraph of "Nancy knows." I realized what this meant.
It was coming for me today.
I knew I didn't stand a chance. I knew I wouldn't be able to get away. But I also knew that now it didn't matter if I was insane.
I had to get this out there.
As I get prepared, as I logged onto my email account, even as I type this message letter by letter, careful not to make a mistake without knowing it, I feel a sort of calm. This is what Kathy did. And now I'm doing too. I'm making sure that people know about this. I'm… I hear something.
You who are reading this email, I might not be as close to you as Kathy and I were, but I need you to show this to someone. The police, your friends, anybody. The more people that know, the more the authorities will believe that it's happening. I'll be gone soon; I can't wait without it taking others while it waits for me. If I wait, others will see it without me being able to do anything about it. If you've read this far, then accept this piece of information that I now add to what you now know.
Only way for you to know it's there is by the noise it makes. It's like the sound of wind in the trees. If you hear it, you know not to look. It's the last thing you see.