Is this on…?

Oh, right, here it is, I see the green light. It has to be on. Hold on a second, I'll check…yep, it's on.

Okay, so. Part of me feels sort of stupid and cheesy for doing this because honestly I feel like I'm talking to myself. It doesn't exactly make you seem like you're 100% on the sane train when you start talking to yourself every night, even if it is into a tape recorder. It's not like it does a lot to make you a very credible witness when you try to tell people the kind of things I'm going to end up saying on here.

Well, hopefully I won't end up saying them. I mean, if I never have to use this thing again, and the ghost or ghoul or whatever crazy thing may or may not be in this house just fades away because I decided to talk to myself today, then that's totally fine with me. It's not like I want to make some exciting discovery of the proof of the undead. Or is it the dead? Who the hell knows.

Fair warning to whoever or maybe whatever ends up listening to this. I'm probably going to ramble and stutter and repeat myself a thousand times and end up making myself sound weird, stupid, or just crazy, just so you know, so if you think you're going to get an organized scientific summary with total emotional detachment, ring up some professional, because it sure isn't me. Also, if you're easily offended by swearing, it's not like I make a point of cursing just because, but if this place or this thing keeps up the way it has been and scares the hell out of me, some four letter words are probably gonna fly. Consider yourself warned.

Okay I lost my place with what I was saying. I'll probably do that a lot too. Uh…

Right, right. So I'm going to talk into this thing to keep a record of the weird things that keep happening around the house, and especially around me. For some reason they don't seem to happen around Adrian very much, at least not when he's alone. The only thing in common for it all is that it always seems to be directed towards me, or at least I'm there when something happens. I don't know if that means nothing or everything, but I guess I figure if I talk about it and keep track of it, then maybe I can figure it out. I've always been someone who worked things out best by talking about them out loud. That annoying person that talked to her friends in class instead of listening to the teacher or who paced around reciting studying facts out loud so no one around her could think of anything else either. It's how I work, so I guess that's what I'm trying to do now.

And part of it if I'm going to be honest is because I'm lazy, and this is the easiest thing. Because if I recorded it on a camera, I'd have to buy new batteries and leave it running all day, and how am I going to know which area of the house needs the camera the most? Whatever it is doing this will probably just start doing it wherever the camera isn't so I'll be wasting my money and effort, and then I'd have to suffer through trying to fast forward through hours of nothing happening and probably scan right past it when something really did happen. I could write about it in a diary or type it up, but I'm definitely a talker, not a writer, and I'm way too lazy to do something that involves mental effort. I already got through school the one time, and I'm on an extended vacation from it now, so why would I want to voluntarily take up anything resembling academia again, even if it is for my own personal satisfaction to try to figure this out?

So, recording. The lazy girl's version of a diary or careful documentation. Or maybe just a slow record of my descent into complete insanity.

I guess I should actually clue you in to who I am and what's going on. Whoever "you" are. My name is Nicola Herman and I'm nineteen years old. I live with my brother, Adrian, who's 24. Right now, like I said, I'm in between jobs, if you could call it that when the only jobs I've actually had have involved bagging groceries or ringing up people's coffee orders. I'm also in between schools, if you could call it that when I'm not actually sure I have any intention whatsoever of ever darkening the doorway of a school again. I could make a possible exception for when the time may or may not come that I'd have a kid of my own being subject to academic torment. But even that might be a stretch, and would definitely be an extreme sacrifice.

No one actually cares about this, and this basically has nothing to do with what is going on, does it? I told you I was going to suck at this voice recording thing. Imagine if I actually tried to write it, I'd probably end up doodling my name in graffiti and describing kittens, or something.

ANYWAY. My name is Nicola, and what I guess I'm getting at is ever since I moved into my brother's house, there's been some really crazy things going on.

I guess the way you're supposed to start these things is by talking about them in the right order, so it's like a story. So I'll try to do that, even though honestly it would be easier for me to start with today and work backwards to the harder parts. Like I said, I like to talk things out, but some things…some things, no one likes to talk about, no one wants to put the words out in the open and have to say them with their mouth, because it's like if you say them, you have to admit they're real, and not just some weird imaginary thing you've built up in your head that if you ignore long enough, will just fade away like it never happened. I think that's what I've been trying to do until now, just hope that if Adrian and I don't talk about it and pretend none of it is real, then maybe that will be true.

But it's not. It's not, and it's getting more and more strange over time, and I don't think keeping silent is going to help us at all. I think maybe it, whatever it is, is taking our silence as our consent, and maybe if we let it go on long enough, that could be our doom.

Oh god, listen to me. Our DOOM?! Let's get melodramatic, Nicola. I hope no one ever listens to this, it makes me sound like a complete moron.

But maybe it's not. I mean, how many teenagers can say that their parents were murdered and their killer is still on the loose?

In my circle of existence, it's just me.

I guess I have to get into the details of that some if I'm going to start with the beginning.

My parents' names were Sharon and Darren Herman. Yeah, I know, ridiculous cutesy rhyming names for a couple, I used to make fun of it or get embarrassed by it when I was a kid. It still seems so stupidly ironic and unfair to me. Who the hell kills a married couple named Sharon and Darren? It's like killing people off a sixties' sitcom.

I know, I keep veering off the subject and trying to make this funny when no one knows more than me that it really isn't, at all. But it's not something I talk about much, especially into a freaking machine, and that's sort of my thing. Humor, or lame efforts at it, so maybe everything won't be so scary or hurt so bad.

I'm not laughing too much lately. Because the humor thing? When things are really terrible, it doesn't actually work.

Okay, I really am going to do this. I mean it this time, I'll just say it straight.

I lived with my parents for the first nineteen years of my life, in the same house, in the same town. About three months ago, when I was sleeping in my bed, only two doors down and one across in the exact same hallway, somebody came into the house and murdered them in their beds.

I didn't hear anything, the night it happened. I've always been a heavy sleeper, and I didn't know until the next day what had happened. I wasn't the one who found them. I had actually slept through my alarm and was already late for school when my brother Adrian came over. He had tried to call Mom and when she wouldn't answer her cell phone, he had called Dad. Dad hadn't answered either, and Adrian had gotten worried enough that he went over to the house to see if something was wrong. He's like that, always worrying over everything and everyone, especially me, even though we're not really all that close. The only thing I really remember is waking up to Adrian shaking me, and how pale and sweaty his face was, how it was way too close to mine even if it wasn't so early in the morning. I remember him saying, "Something's happened to Mom and Dad, Nikki… are you all right, are you okay? Don't get up, don't get out of bed, and don't go to their room!"

I always hate when Adrian calls me Nikki. I don't let anyone call me anything but Nicola, but I hardly noticed then. I was barely even awake enough to start asking the obvious questions, like what the hell was he doing in my room holding onto my shoulders so hard they were starting to actually hurt. I'll never forget the way his eyes looked, how he wouldn't even look at me at all but instead somewhere around my neck area when he told me that our parents were dead.

Shit…okay, hold on a second. Hold on. I'm…I'm just…hold on.

Okay. I'm good. No impending breakdowns on the horizon. This tape is going to suck hard enough as it is without hearing me bawling on it in the middle.

Anyway. So Adrian told me that our parents were dead, and once the police were involved I figured out pretty fast, even without having actually laid eyes on them myself, that they were murdered. The weirdest part of it was that there were no clues at all that helped them figure out who had done it, or why. Our parents didn't have any enemies that anyone knew of. They didn't owe a ton of money or have some kind of shady criminal past. They didn't beat us or starve us or do anything more horrible than take away my phone or computer sometimes when I was younger, and they didn't take drugs or go swinging, thank god because if I had to learn about that and get mental images in my head I'm pretty friggin' sure any sanity I've managed to hang onto would be derailing totally off track. No one could think of any reasons why someone would come into their house while they were sleeping and…and just cut their throats. I still can't.

Plus there were the weird parts about it, like the fact that there weren't any signs of breaking and entering. No broken windows or locks and nothing in the house was missing, so it wasn't a robbery. And they couldn't have gone through all the rooms of the house because if they opened my bedroom door and saw me in there sleeping, wouldn't they have logically killed me too?

I don't get it. I just don't get it at all, so I try not to think about it. I don't know why I was left alone and my parents weren't, or who would want to do this to them. But lately I'm starting to wonder if it was really a person at all. Sometimes I wonder if it was this…whatever the hell it is…in the house, or if maybe it used someone else, somehow, to hurt them.

Once or twice, it even crossed my mind…what if it was me?

God this is some depressing shit, you know? Look, whoever's listening to this, I swear that wasn't some passive aggressive confession on my part. I didn't kill anyone, I swear. I never would and it makes me sick to even think about what did happen, let alone actually think about DOING it.

But it's crossed my mind, that in some crazy parallel world, for someone, it could be possible.

So anyway. The case is still officially open and unsolved, but the police stopped actually trying to look into it some time last month. Without any fingerprints or other DNA evidence that they could find, there wasn't much they could do about it. They were looking at me and Adrian with a suspicious eye for a while, but obviously it wasn't either of us and they must have figured that out, because they stopped questioning us and me in particular so much after a while.

My parents weren't exactly rich, but we inherited a decent amount of money so we're not hurting or anything. Which is a good thing I guess if anything even remotely good can come out of something so awful, because right now, I honestly don't know if I'd be able to even think about holding down a job or going to school. I don't know how Adrian does it.

We inherited their house too, or equal half shares of it, anyway. I thought that we would obviously sell it, since our parents died in it, and that seemed the most normal thing to do. What kind of person would actually still want to sleep there after everything? But Adrian said no. Adrian said that it was too much change for me to have to pack up all our parents' things and leave the place I was so used to all of my life, so soon after what happened, and anyway the housing market was so bad we would probably take a big loss, especially after they were killed there. He said we should wait, give myself time to adjust and get ready for a job or school again, let everyone forget what had happened in the house, and then we could sell it. I guess I thought that sounded logical or else I just didn't care enough to argue with him, because I let him do that. So it ended up with Adrian moving back into his old bedroom, like six years after he left it, and in some weird way, it was almost like he never left at all.

I thought it would be weird, Adrian living alone with me. We never really talked much as kids and he was too old to really play with me, and he always seemed so stiff and uncomfortable and intense that it made me nervous sometimes too. I'm not someone who normally worries much about things and Adrian could look at a rainbow and shake his head over how it's probably contributing to global warming or something. But it beat the alternative of me having to try to have an apartment and start actually being an adult taking care of myself right away, not having a clue how to do it yet, and it definitely beat me living in the house alone. It's always scary, I guess, when you're first fumbling through "adulthood," but unlike most of the other teenagers stuck in a Peter Pan syndrome I know, I had real reason to really be afraid on top of it all.

Believe me, the first few days I pestered the hell out of Adrian to make sure we would be safe. Our parents' room had been cleaned out professionally, of course, but I made him put locks and alarm systems on the doors and windows too. I don't have a clue how to use a gun and honestly I don't want to have one in the house in case someone else comes in who does, but I do keep a knife under my pillow. I guess it sort of helps to know these things…but not really. Sometimes I felt like I was being haunted in my own house, just because everything around me reminded me of my parents and how things used to be.

And now I wonder if that feeling I had, of being haunted? What if it's totally accurate?

I really don't feel like talking any more today. I guess I'll just leave it for now, no point going more into detail if there's nothing else to say that will happen, and if something happens, you'll be hearing from me again. Whoever you are. Peace out.