The Psycho from Sophomore Year
Everyone has a story of someone in their past whom they expect to see on the nightly news. That steroid fused father who got thrown out of his kid’s soccer game. The moronic prankster who sent out an anonymous bomb threat just to cut class. That ex who could never quite give up. For me, it’s exponential. Every time I hear a tragedy on the news, whether it be a shooting or a kidnapping or some other horror, a small voice in the back of my head creeps up, from a whisper to a crescendo… What if? What if that guy finally did what he said he would? And I never told anyone. I can’t live with that. So now, I’m telling you.
There aren’t any ghouls, ghosts, or goblins in this story. No creatures hiding in your peripherals, or illusions of grandeur. I understand the rule on NoSleep is that everything is true. I’m here to enact the simplest interpretation of that rule; without any winks or nudges. This is the story of the truest horror I’ve experienced my entire life, one that I’ve kept to myself for far too long. This is the story of the psychopath who ruined my Sophomore year of college.
I went to a state school in the heart of New Jersey. My life wasn’t all that different from your average college experience, I suppose. After a year of living in on campus, my friends and I decided to finally break the shackles of dorm life and rent a house off campus.
The area, and the house itself, were sketchy at best. In the first month, we were forced to move out for a couple of days because of an electrical fire in the upstairs apartment. It was fairly common for someone to be mugged late at night, and if you went down a few blocks, shootings were not unheard of either.
I rented the house with five other guys, and a group of six girls lived next door. We had known them from Freshman year, and managed to rent two buildings right next door to one another. The first couple weeks were amazing… parties, drinking, debauchery. Sleep was for the day, and class was for the dumb.
One girl in particular, Alyssa, had always been like a little sister to me. She had dated my friend for a few months, and we had become good friends in the process. Alyssa was the type of girl that had to try every obscure activity once. What better way to enjoy the “college experience”, than to try everything? Starcraft club? Check. Classics club dress up night? Check. Getting stoned and passing out on the roof? Check. It was her idea to move somewhere nearby, and I was naturally all for it.
One day, after a few weeks of living off campus, she came to me with a flier for an on campus event. Learn to Give the Perfect Massage, I believe it was called. To be honest, I wasn’t one to sacrifice my time for these events. They usually involved forced social interactions, that almost always led to nothing but twenty kids desperately eyeing the clock. However, I hadn’t been out all that much, and I had been pigeonholing myself to my own group of friends for quite sometime. It was time to meet some new people, so I decided to give it a shot.
Alyssa and I got to the class fives minutes late, and the lecture had begun as we grabbed our seats. Most people in the class were typical guys, anxious for the excuse to obviously grope girls. A few were shy, awkward Freshmen who were just trying to meet new friends. One guy, however, stood out to me. He stood at the back of the room, away from all the mini groups and circles that had formed. He sat on the floor with his legs spread and pulled up to his chest, and he looked straight at the floor with a surly look painted on his stoic face.
For a reason that I can’t really explain, this guy struck me as… different. I don’t know why, to be honest. He wasn’t any taller than average. No shorter, no thinner, no fatter. His hair wasn’t too long, or too short. He wore a pair of blue jeans and a plain white shirt. But the way he avoided eye contact with anyone in the room, for the entirety of the lecture, still gives me chills to this day.
After a brief introduction and an hour or so of instruction and lecture, we were randomly paired to begin trying the exercises on one another. I was paired with a chatty girl with long black hair who seemed nice enough. Alyssa, on the other hand, was not so lucky.
Now, this part of the story I only know secondhand. I was on the other side of the room and, to be honest, far more interested in my partner than what was going on with Alyssa. When it was time to go, I walked over to Alyssa and her partner and said hello. She smiled nervously at me, pretending to be incredibly involved with putting things in her backpack, while her partner glared at me for about ten seconds. I opened my mouth to introduce myself, and he turned and walked away.
“What was that about?” I had asked her, thoroughly baffled.
“I have no idea,” she responded. “He didn’t say a word the entire time. I tried to talk to him, ask him about school… not a word. He just said his name was TJ. Can we just go?”
Thinking little of it, we grabbed and bags and headed home. Because it was a Friday night, Alyssa and her room mates came over to drink and hang out. To be candid, I don’t remember much of that night. So let’s move on to the next morning.
Alyssa woke up and had five emails. All from different addresses, but with a similar theme. She sent me them at one point, but I lost them, so I’ll have to paraphrase:
Email 1 Hello, this is TJ from class. It was really nice to meet you.
Email 2 Do you know of any parties tonight? I’d love to bring you to one, my number is (redacted).
Email 3 Do you use this email often?
Email 4 Please write back with your number.
Email 5 I added you on Facebook. My name there is Joe Simpson.
First off, Alyssa never gave him her email. He probably found it on a school mailing list, or something along those lines. Regardless, Alyssa responded with a kind yet firm email. She lied and said her boyfriend (one of my room mates) was very protective, and didn’t want her giving her number out to guys. After that, he didn’t respond through email.
Second, his name wasn’t Joe Simpson.
I have no idea why he liked alternate names, but it wasn’t the first he tried to add her with. Henry Ford. John Jones. There were at least twenty in the first week.
Then it started to get creepier. He would create names that meant something to her. Jim Carry, her favorite actor, was one. When that didn’t work, he tried her favorite author, musician, athlete. We never knew how he learned so much about her.
The messages started to get more… descriptive, as well. He would say things like “Your boyfriend is a fucking scumbag. He’s cheating on you,” and “If I can make him leave you, will you see me?” Ignoring him only made it worse. The messages turned into phone calls after he, somehow, got her phone number.
He would call in the middle of the night. 1 AM, 2, 3. It didn’t matter. Sometimes he wouldn’t say a thing at all; he’d just sit in silence as Alyssa yelled into the phone, begging for him to leave her alone.
Once he got Alyssa’s phone number, he got her boyfriend’s. He would call and send text messages, telling him he was worthless. That she didn’t care about him. That he had hooked up with her.
When it got to the point that they were concerned for their safety, they contacted the school. Keep in mind, this was before the school shoots in the United States were a major problem. Back then, schools were not nearly as concerned about what they viewed as ‘an argument’ among college students. Since he had never physically threatened either Alyssa or her boyfriend, there was nothing they could do but bring him in for a talk.
That didn’t help.
Three days later, Alyssa got a text message from TJ. It was just a couple words, but it was enough.
It was her address.
Funny how two words on 4×4 screen can make you fear for your safety, and the safety of those around you. She didn’t respond. She packed up a bunch of her stuff, called her boyfriend, and asked if she could stay at our place for a little bit. She didn’t have any other guy friends in the area, and she didn’t have the money for a hotel. Naturally, we told her of course. What did one guy have against six overconfident 19 year olds?
I was out late that night. My room mates stayed at home, while I went out to a nearby bar and had a drink (or six) with some friends from class. I remember stumbling back down the empty college streets around two in the morning. It had just started to snow, and I was underdressed. A thin button down clung to my skin. I stripped it off as I rounded the corner to my house.
I was drunkenly trying to shake the snow off of it when I looked up, and saw TJ standing on my front porch. He turned to face me, and I’ll never forget the look of determination painted on his face.
In one hand, he held a collapsible baton. In the other, the key to our apartment.
I stood there in utter disbelief, staring at TJ for what must have been a full minute. He didn’t say a word. There was a glassy look in his eyes, one of cold indifference. He looked down at me from the porch like I was a mouse caught in his trap.
Finally, I stepped forward. Cautiously, I watched his hand for any sudden movements. As I extended my arm, he spoke.
“Hi. My name is Henry Ford. Do you know where 48 High Street is?”
He never blinked. Never shifted uncomfortably, scratched his head, fidgeted… When the snow is coming down that hard, you rarely see people stand still. They are constantly brushing the frozen flakes from their face, adjusting their sleeves, fixing their gloves, adapting their hair, etcetera. His gaze was stoic. In control. Ready.
I shook my head in disbelief. “TJ, I know who you are. You need to leave, now.”
“I’m looking for 48 High Street. There’s a party there.” He responded.
His serious demeanor, the one I had never seen him turn off, slowly melted from his face. He turned up the corners of his lips to reveal a sickly, painted smile.
“Dude, you need to…” In one fluid motion, he reached back with the baton and cracked it across my ribs.
The sharp ache was incredible. For anyone who says a baton isn’t a serious weapon, you’ve obviously never been hit with one. At the moment, it felt as though he had shattered my entire ribcage. It was one of the few moments in my life where I’ve seen stars and nearly blacked out due to the pain.
Luckily, I have a feeling the whiskey dulled it enough. I reached back, and responded with a right hook to that sick son of a bitch’s face.
He screamed one of the most unholy noises I’ve ever heard. I can’t even think of the proper comarison to that fucking noise. You’re going to laugh, but it sounded like the noise a howler monkey makes when it finds an enemy in it’s territory. Immediately, barely losing a step, he hopped to his feet and ran off down the street.
At this point, my room mates had begun to pour out of my house. They were half asleep, but knew something was wrong. I was kneeling in the street, cursing up a storm as I watched him sprint around the corner.
A week later, TJ was kicked out of school.
My ribs weren’t shattered, only deeply bruised. I was very lucky. I had to wear a thick layer of bandages for a couple of weeks to ensure that nothing did break accidentally.
That night, we had phoned the police. My testimony about the fight outside our house did very little, to be honest. No one had seen it. My room mates had come outside just after TJ had ran off, and were left with me shirtless in the street, clutching my purple ribcage. Police officers immediately pointed out the fact that I was intoxicated. How would I know who the hell hit me in my condition?
The end result? TJ never got any criminal charges.
Luckily, there were other things we could do. Alyssa filed a restraining order, and was allowed to return to her house. Two armed police officers patrolled our block every night for a week, at our request.
For a while, none of us heard from TJ. Alyssa resumed sleeping at our house once the police patrol was finished, but things slowly began to return to normal. She soon began to become the normal, carefree girl I had known Freshman year once again. Though she still refused to sleep or walk alone, She no longer nervously checked her email or Facebook every ten minutes, and she even began to go out to the bars some nights. Eventually, even I stopped carrying around the small knife in my boot when I went out at night.
We thought he had finally given up.
Around two months later, I was up late one night watching old episodes of Six Feet Under on my laptop. You know the routine, don’t you? It’s always ‘Just one more episode!’ This excuse is the reason for my being up at three in the morning. Anyway, I was lamenting on the fact that the main actor looked far too much like Joel McHale when my laptop buzzed a happy alert. New message! I opened it up, and this is what I read. (Btw, I don’t know how these messages aren’t still in my inbox. I wanted to post some screen shots, but it doesn’t look like they’re there anymore. Could this be because he deleted the account?)
FROM Frank Ford IX:
Hello, you don’t know me. I’m a friend or Alyssa’s from Bio. I think she got a new number, and I need to reach her about a study group.
*This troubled me. First of all, how the hell would this guy know I was Alyssa’s friend? Fearing the worst, I responded._
Sorry man, can’t give out her number. Just get it next time you see her.
FROM Frank Ford IX:
Stupid FUCKING prick. How about I come over there and make you fucking tell me? You know I’ll find it.
I nearly threw my computer out of the window. Three in the fucking morning, I did not need to deal with this shit. I didn’t grace him with a response, I simply deactivated my Facebook account.
I spoke to Alyssa the next day, and the look on her face told me everything I needed to know. The messages themselves weren’t overly threatening at first. Usually, he would just ask how her day had been going. How was that new club she was in? What did she think of the current political climate. What was her Biology professor like? Alyssa ignored him entirely.
Eventually, he got her new phone number. I have no idea how. At first, he would call her every night. She would never answer, of course, so he would leave a ranting voicemail. The topic of these messages usually varied. Sometimes it would be a ranting political anecdote. Sometimes he’d talk about biology, or a recent Jim Carry movie that came out.
Other times he’d scream at the top of his lungs for her to pick up the goddamn phone.
Over time, the voicemails and messages began to decrease. She would get one a week, then one every two, then one a month. As time moved by, Alyssa’s attitude towards the situation changed. It became apparent that TJ was no longer something she could eradicate, more-so something she would have to live to live with.
Junior and Senior year went bye relatively normally. He would still call her here and there, but the nature of the messages was nowhere near as threatening. Sometimes he would say he had the wrong number, and sometimes he would just talk.
It was weird. He just sort of… faded out. By the time we graduated college, none of us had heard from TJ in six months. Most of us had changed our numbers a few times and used fake names on our Facebooks, but that had never worked in the past. We thought he was finally seeking help.
And maybe he was. Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know, is the reason that I am bringing this all up now. The reason why I am telling you, why I desperately need to get this off my chest for the sake of my own goddamn sanity.
Last Tuesday night, I got a Facebook message from Henry Ford. The first in years.
Did you miss me? Help me find her, or I’ll find you.
I wish I could give you a concrete ending. Good guy catches bad guy and throws him in jail for the rest of his life. Bad guy finds the help he needs and mends fences with those he terrified for the better part of a school year. All’s well that ends well, right?
The truth is, I don’t know where TJ is. I don’t know if he’s still watching my old apartment, or if he knows exactly where I am. He could know where I work, where I sleep, who I’m dating, what I’m writing.. Hell. He could be reading this right now, for all I know.
So I will leave you with the same response I sent to Henry Ford on Tuesday night.
I’ll be waiting.