The Man With The Axe

I jumped up too, said that I had to go to the toilet and without waiting for anyone to reply, rushed out through the door near the head of the conference table. The man with the axe kept following me, and I really had no clear idea on where I should go. So I actually headed for the toilet. Well, more accurately I ran to the toilet.

Once there, I decided to wash my face and freshen up a bit – seemed like a productive idea. I went to the basin, took some water in my cupped hands, and splashed my face with it.

It felt good. I closed my eyes and splashed water on my face a few more times. When I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror, I saw him coming up right behind me. I had no time to react. He put his right hand bang on my right cheek. I was stupefied. I couldn’t really move. Even if I could, it wouldn’t really have helped much right then. The exit of the washroom was to my right and he had effectively blocked that side off.

I looked straight at the mirror. He was a giant compared to me. I just about came up to his chest.

He slowly brought his left hand up to my left cheek now.

I’ll never forget how his hands felt. They weren’t… normal. They were very unlike any other human hands. They were incredibly wrinkled, and very rough. And I mean almost sandpaper kind of rough. But even that wasn’t the most prominent feature. What stood out was how cold his hands were. My cheeks actually started feeling chilly with his hands on them. It was just so… inhuman.

‘Wh-what do you want?’ I finally managed to mutter. He just smiled a big broad smile. And did nothing else. Time just didn’t seem to move. I kept staring at the mirror – at this smiling monster with his hands on my face, wondering exactly what he wanted from me and why.

Finally, after what felt like ages, he removed his hands. I felt my body relax ever so slightly. In the mirror I could see him reaching down with his left hand. I suddenly realised that he was reaching for the axe. With his hands off me, I made a dash for the door. When I got there and turned to see if he was chasing me, I saw that he was just standing there with his axe. I turned the latch, and when I was about to leave, he just waved a kind of see you later wave, and smiled menacingly. I rushed out, but he did not follow me.

I didn’t go back to the meeting, but instead went and sat down at my workstation. When the meeting was done, a couple of my colleagues came and asked me if I was OK. I pretended everything was fine, to avoid seeming like a crazy person. I blamed everything on tiredness and a lack of sleep. I got a basic gist of the meeting, including our immediate future plans and targets from the guys.

I did not see the man with the axe in office again yesterday. But later in the day, I did doze off once at my workstation. And once again, I woke up to the same dream. But this time, the dream had progressed even further. Like last time, I see him lift the axe above his head, and aim it at my neck. I see him pull the axe back getting ready to swing, and I start to scream. But unlike last time, the dream didn’t just end there. This time, I actually see him swing his axe. I see the axe coming down straight for my throat and by this time I’m shouting for much longer and much harder. Just when the axe is about to land on my throat, that’s when I wake up.

When I woke up, I felt almost choked in my throat. I was panting somewhat. It took me some time to get a bearing of my surroundings. When I did, I realised that I was in office, and quite a few people had gathered around me. A few of them were asking me if I was alright.

‘It’s OK, just a nightmare,’ I tried to shrug them off. Eventually I did manage to get rid of everyone. But I had just been caught sleeping on the job my first day here. That wasn’t ideal either.

There were no further incidents in office that day. I reached home, and was determined to get some proper sleep that night.

The first thing I did when I reached home was make sure every single door and window was closed. I planned to have an early dinner and then immediately head off to sleep. I needed to catch up on sleep, and I decided I also needed to put the man with the axe out of my mind.

Well, things seemed to be going according to plan. I had dinner, and then went to bed quite early. I was scared, really scared. But I was also very sleepy and I’m pretty sure it didn’t take me long to fall asleep.

But once again, I had that same dream again. And like earlier in the day at office, this time also it did not end with him raising the axe above his head. I saw the axe almost come down at my throat before I finally woke up screaming hysterically. It took me some time to get a hold of myself. These extended dreams were actually even more difficult to recover from. I feel very close to dying – in fact, resigned to dying – and then I suddenly find myself waking up, surprisingly not dead.

When I did eventually calm down, I noticed that the bedroom window was wide open, and so were the curtains. Déjà vu! Well, I went to the window, and when I looked out, I saw the man with the axe standing across the road, leaning against the tree, his axe by his side. Suddenly, it seemed like very little had changed from the previous day.

When he saw me, he gave me a mock salute with his right hand, then lifted his axe with his left hand and pointed it in my direction. I have no idea why, maybe I wanted to show that I wasn’t intimated by him or something, but I saluted back at him. He just grinned at me.

I closed the window and went to the kitchen and got myself some water. When I came back, I was confused what to do. I was scared stiff. I was constantly obsessing in my head over what the man with the axe wanted, and what he was going to do next. I thought about going back to sleep, but then I thought about how I kept waking up with the window and curtains open. The previous day, the man with the axe had apparently even opened my door and come in. If he does that while I’m sleeping, I thought, he could simply just hack me to death and there’d be nothing I could do about it.

I eventually went over to the window and opened it again. I was probably acting more out of fear and curiosity more than rational thought, but I needed to see if the man with the axe was still there.

Indeed, he was – right there where I’d last seen him, leaning against the tree. He waved at me again. Once again, I took up my seat on the rocking chair and decided to just observe him. I know I’d done the exact same thing last night, but I felt this time, I would definitely see him go somewhere. Yeah, I probably wasn’t acting on rationale.

I’d been sitting observing him for quite a few hours. Nothing seemed to be happening, he wasn’t going anywhere, and I eventually dozed off.

And of course, I had the same dream again! And yes, it was the more extended one like the previous couple of times. I woke up screaming, and I had barely recovered from my dream when I heard footsteps to my left. I turned to my left and saw the man with the axe. He had come up to within 2 feet of me, and was now lifting his axe above his head. I was definitely within axe-strike range. I jumped –  well actually dived – out of the chair. I just about survived. The chair did not – it’s in pieces now.

The man with the axe was closer to the bedroom door than I was. But I hadn’t really seen him move too fast so far. I decided I’d better make a dash for the door while he was picking his axe up from the brutally smashed remains of the rocking chair. I ran for the door, he moved to try and intercept me. I just about made it through, and I ran straight out of the house.

Standing in the driveway, I started wondering what to do next. Within a minute or so, I saw the man with the axe come out of the house too, and the way he was holding his axe looked look like he planned on using it very soon.

I ran to my neighbours’ house. Well, here there’s about 30 meters or more between the houses. Back in my city, there’s barely a couple of meters between two multi-storeyed buildings. Anyway, I went to the neighbours’ house and started ringing the bell, incessantly. I wanted them to wake up and open the door before the man with the axe reached me. I looked over in the direction of my bungalow, and I didn’t really see any sign of him.

After a while, a little kid – about 6 or 7 – answered the door.

‘Hi, have you seen the seven feet tall guy that hangs around here with an axe?’

I realise I was messed up. I wasn’t even sure what to say or what it was I wanted to accomplish. I guess I just wanted validation of his existence more than anything else, to know that other people also see and perhaps get disturbed by that guy.

An older guy, presumably the kid’s father, came and shooed the kid away. ‘Are you the guy living on 23/1?’

‘I am.’

‘Go to Tom’s diner and ask for the old lady. And please don’t disturb my family again’ he said briskly, and almost slammed the door in my face.

I didn’t know what to make of this, but I knew I needed a bit more information from him. So I rang the doorbell again. This time the man didn’t even open the door, but instead shouted at me to just leave them alone.

So that’s what I had to go on now. I had to go to Tom’s diner. I’d seen the place on my way to work, so I knew where it was.

Tom’s Diner was about 4-5 miles from where I was staying. So I would have to use my car. And that also meant I would have to go back inside the house and grab my car keys. But in all likelihood, the man with the axe was also waiting there.

I decided I had to risk it. I walked very carefully up to driveway, and then stopped and looked around for signs of him. All seemed clear, so I dashed from the entrance to the driveway to my door. So far, so good. The door was still open – thank God, because I hadn’t taken the house keys with me when I’d dashed out. I poked my head slightly through the door. I looked right – clear. I looked left – clear. I was also keeping an eye out for some movement behind me. It seemed safe to go in, so I did.

Again at the entrance to my room, I repeated the same thing. There were no signs of him. But the drawer was open. Well I made my way through the room, past the menacing sight of the massacred rocking chair, to the drawer. My wristwatch and car keys were still there, but my wallet was gone.

I assumed that the man with the axe had taken the wallet. So I didn’t even bother searching for it. I took my car keys, and wristwatch – it showed 6:30 AM. I wondered when the diner opened. No matter, I’d wait outside if required.

I was equally careful when leaving the house. But he didn’t seem to be present. I locked up my house and got into my car. I was looking forward to getting some answers over at the diner. I put on the seat belt and adjusted the rear view mirror… and I saw him in the rear view mirror. He was sitting comfortably in the back seat of the car, clutching his axe, and, as usual, grinning that terrifying grin.

I rushed to get my seatbelt off, and then opened the door and jumped out of the car. I’m not sure if he tried to stop me or not. I didn’t look. But I managed to get out. That’s all I cared about. I ran out of the driveway and past a couple of houses, before I eventually looked behind me.

He had come out of the car, and was casually leaning against it with his axe swung above his shoulder. I slowed down realising he wasn’t chasing me. I decided that I would have to reach the diner on foot. I couldn’t risk going back to the car any more.

Well, there I was, deprived of sleep and tired, and walking to Tom’s Diner in the early hours of the morning. I covered maybe fifty to sixty percent of the distance on foot in about a couple of hours. Luckily, I managed to hitch-hike a ride for the rest of the way.

When I reached, the diner was very much open, and bustling. I went over to the counter. There was a friendly looking middle aged lady behind the counter. I felt kind of awkward saying it, but I asked, ‘I’m looking for the old lady.’

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