The place where I got my new tattoo burned like crazy. I had just gotten the thing last night, but my shoulder was already red and swollen. I held an ice pack wrapped in a damp washcloth to the tattoo, hoping to ease the pain at least a little bit. It didn’t help. Nothing I’d tried so far did. Maybe it would be a good idea if I went to the hospital to see if it was infected. After setting up a doctor’s appointment over the phone, I collapsed onto my bed hoping for some relief in my dreams.
When I woke up, I didn’t find myself tucked away in my bed, safe in my apartment. Darkness surrounded me, making me feel disoriented. Unable to see, I clumsily made my way forward. My tattoo burned hotter with every step I took, almost like it was on fire. Gritting my teeth against the pain, I forced myself to keep walking. After a while, I could slowly make out the shape of things in front of me, but what I saw made my blood run cold. I saw what appeared to be myself, cackling maniacally as I held a blood-soaked knife over a slumped body.
Except, that couldn’t be me! I was over here observing the cruel scene in front of me! I wasn’t a murderer! How was this happening? What was going on? I tried to look away, but something was keeping me from doing so. It was then that I realized that my form was floating like I was experiencing some sort of out-of-body phenomenon. I tried making my way toward the impostor inhabiting my body, but to no avail.
“Why are you doing this?!” I yelled. It was only then that the impostor looked my way. We may have shared the same face, but his glowing red eyes and evil smile gave away the truly disgusting creature he was.
“I’ve been waiting centuries to come out and play. Let me have my fun.” His voice came out in a snake-like hiss, which sent shivers down my spine. Suddenly, the burning pain of my tattoo came out in full force. All I could do was howl in agony, as it engulfed me and my vision became a blinding white.
I woke up in my bed, my body tangled in my sheets. After disentangling myself from my bedding, I let out a relieved sigh. It was just a terrible nightmare. None of it was real. I placed a hand to my chest to calm my beating heart. It was when I gripped my shirt that I felt something wet and sticky. I looked down at my hand and found it soaked red with fresh blood. Soaked, not with my blood, but with the blood of, I could only assume, the victim in my nightmare. There was no doubt in my mind that my new tattoo was haunted. Feeling close to hyperventilating, I ripped the shirt off me and threw it across the room.
It was then that I heard the beeping of my cell phone. With shaking hands, I fumbled to grab it off my nightstand. My mouth went dry when I noticed the date on the screen. According to my phone, four days had passed since the last time I fell asleep. There were several missed calls and voicemails, all from my girlfriend Maggie. Anxiety coursed through me, as I forced myself to listen to the first one.
“Hey Brent, I just wanted to know if you were free sometime soon. I know we didn’t leave things on the best of terms the last time we talked, but I really wanted to talk to you. Please, call me back.” There was a long pause before she continued. “I still love you.” My throat was raw when I finished listening. We had been at odds for so long, that I could hardly remember the last time we were truly happy. I listened to the rest of the messages and with each one, Maggie grew increasingly frantic.
The last voicemail was received five minutes ago. “Brent, if you don’t pick up your phone in the next hour, I’m coming over! You better have a good excuse for leaving me in the dark like this!” Her voice was shrill like she was on the verge of tears.
Panic flooded through me as I quickly dialed her number. I couldn’t let her come near me. She’d be in danger if she did. I promised myself I’d make it up to her after getting rid of this tattoo and the evil spirit that resided within it. Unfortunately, my call went straight to voicemail. Cursing inwardly at my rotten luck, I left a message that I hoped she’d listen to before coming here.
“Maggie, listen to me. I need you to stay away from me for a while. It’s too crazy to explain, but please trust me. I promise, after all this is over, I’ll make it up to you. I’ll be more honest with you. I’ll treat you better. I’ll tell you I love you every chance I get. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I just want you to know that.” After finishing the message, I closed my eyes and took deep breaths to keep the pounding in my head at bay.
As I got up, however, fresh pain from my tattoo burst forth, causing me to double over. No, you’re not taking me over! I battled my will against the spirit’s, but I was easily overwhelmed. When I came to, it was just like the nightmare. My being was floating as I observed the scene in front of me. The impostor with my body greeted Maggie inside, with that chilling smile on his face. Either Maggie didn’t receive my voicemail, or if she had, ignored it.
“Maggie, get out of here! He’s dangerous!” Maggie didn’t hear me. However, the impostor’s crimson eyes looked right at me, his grin growing larger.