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Friday, July 21, 2017

Rite-Aid ran this ad and it freaked me out so I have to get it out of my head somehow.


I wasn't much of a believer as a child. Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy -- any of it. I'm not sure why. Maybe I was just born too logical for my own good.

"Why would a total stranger take one day every year to give away things to a bunch of kids they don't even know?" I was five when I asked this. My parents were shocked. "Why would a fairy collect teeth?" When I lost my first tooth. "How does a rabbit carry a basket if it doesn't have thumbs?"... you get the idea.

My parents eventually decided this was all right, I suppose. Just don't bust the other kids' bubbles, and we could have our own "normal" holiday celebrations. I was their only kid so they missed getting to play Santa. I guess they figured the bright side was they'd never have to deal with stuff like monsters under the bed or bogeymen in the closet.

They were dead wrong there. See, those I could completely believe in. It makes a lot more sense to me that something would go out of its way to destroy my life for no good reason. I mean, that's what we see all around us, isn't it? People just being jerks to each other. If someone were suddenly possessed of otherworldly powers, what are the odds they'd actually use them to give themselves an impossible job and just be nice to strangers?

Nah. Making hell. That makes more sense.

At some point, the rest of the kids around me grew out of Santa and the Easter Bunny and monsters and bogeymen. They had the advantage there. Of course. Because their disbelief came from realizing that reindeer can't fly, not from understanding human nature.

I had this roommate. Savannah. When we first moved in together freshman year of college, she had a nice giggle at me spraying under my bed and blocking the closets and putting a cricket bat next to me when I lay down.

"Afraid you're gonna get kidnapped in your sleep?"

Hell yes I was, I told her.

"Aren't you a little old for that?"

Never too old to understand that if something is supernatural, it's probably also an asshole. Hell. I would be.

She didn't really have much of an answer for that. I did notice her glance under her bed, though.

A shared bathroom was the second worst part of living in a dorm. I know boys are meant to be the "messy ones," but let me tell you, girls away from home for the first time just throw whatever everywhere. The number of disposable razors I saw just thrown on the floor of the communal bathroom was disgusting.

I saw one girl leave one in the soap dish before I prepared to grab the shower stall after her.

"It's dull," she snipped at me. "If it's dull, it's not gonna hurt you. Or, I dunno, throw it out if it bothers you."

You throw it out, I told her. It's got your hairs all over it.

I'm not sure whether girls just got jerkier as the semester went on or if they did it to piss me off. But the number of abandoned disposable razors left around the bathroom just increased. I'd go into a shower stall -- five of them. Three on the floor, one in the soap dish, one hanging of the shower rack a girl down the hall had left there out of laziness and demanded no one else use but her.

I took it to the RA, which is the number 1 way to get yourself hated by the rest of the hall. But at this point I just wanted to have a shower without slicing my foot open. She did her full RA duty: printed up a flyer that said not to leave razors lying around, then trusted that would fix everything.

Honestly, the flyer was ridiculous. Think of every design sin you can: Papyrus, "creative" quotes, bright pink paper... and some sort of weird razor-lady on the right-hand side who looked ready to stomp on your face with a stiletto if you so much as looked at her funny. Which, of course, we all did.

"Stupidest thing I've ever seen," said one girl, flicking a pink plastic razor over her shoulder in full view of me. I'd long since realized they were just waiting to see me tantrum, or else watch me clean them up myself.

The latter finally happened. I'm stubborn, but I'm not an idiot. A misstep left me with an unpleasant gash in my left foot. Not enough for stitches -- not from cheap razors like that -- but enough that I limped impressively. My dad encouraged me to cry "lawsuit," but I didn't have the energy.

I just came in with a garbage bag and started clearing up the mess. Disgusting, blunted, some so old they'd rusted. I wondered how many girls on my hall might be risking tetanus at any given time.

My roommate was out that night. She had a boyfriend now; she was out every night. I stuffed the bag in her closet, left the door wide open. Didn't check under my bed. Left the cricket bat in the corner. Rolled over. Went to sleep.

I'd only just begun to drift when I heard the footsteps.

Click. Click. Click.

I opened my eyes. The shape standing in my room was only barely visible in the blue-tinged darkness. I squinted. Then smiled.

"You look like a real asshole, don't you?"

The figure shifted. There was a metallic glint right where its face should be.

I got up and opened the door to my room, leading out into the hall. "Got some friends for you to meet."

The figure walked stiffly into the brightly lit hallway, and I closed the door behind it. Closed the closets. Checked under the beds. Grabbed my cricket bat. Crawled back into bed. Listened to the screams.

Sometimes the willingness to believe in monsters is a helpful thing.