Joanne: Pt. 1 by Aramis Zepeda

Upon finishing the latest entry of her blog, Joanne pulled her hands away from her keyboard and balled them tightly into fists for a second, before stretching her fingers, and then stretching her entire body. She muttered, “Thank goodness,” under her breathe, leaned back toward her computer, and clicking the ‘publish’ button. Her face and hands were dimly illuminated by the white light of her computer screen, and once the computer returned the message, “You are not connected to the internet,” an expression of confusion appeared on her face. The rest of her remained mostly shrouded by the darkness enclosed in the walls of her bedroom. Her confusion grew slightly into frustration once she opened her internet connections settings and noticed her Wi-Fi connection had mysteriously disappeared, so she reloaded the connections menu a few times, hoping in vain to see her internet return. After a couple of minutes of growing frustration, she pushed her computer to the edge of the bed and crawled out of her bed, and marched from her room, downstairs, and into the kitchen. The counter was littered with empty pizza boxes, empty glasses of water, and empty bags of food, and she searched through the pile of trash for something to eat. She found a container bearing weight, but ran to throw it in the trash once she opened it and a dozen flies fled from a rotten piece of fried chicken inside. She tossed as much junk as she could into the trash, and then moved on to open her fridge. Inside were a few plastic bottles of soda, a half-eaten avocado, a bag of lemons, ketchup, mustard, a slice of bread, and a year-old onion. After a few moments of annoyance, she muttered, “Sorry Mom,” under her breathe and decided she was going to order more pizza as soon as she fixed her Wi-Fi, so she burst into the garage and knelt down to inspect her router. Everything was connected as it should be- all the right lights were flashing as they should be. She decided to unplug everything and then plug it in again, in order to restart the system, and after the lights started flashing again, she went back inside and halfway back up the stairs before a rotting smell hit her and caused her to gag momentarily and throw her hands over her nose and mouth. For a moment, she struggled between forcing herself to go back to the kitchen to finish cleaning her mess, and going back upstairs to check on the Wi-Fi, and ultimately ran up the stairs and shut the door of her room. She switched the lights on and jumped into her bed, pulling her computer onto her lap. She reloaded her connection menu once more, before her computer loaded for a moment and blinked off.

“What the-”

She clicked the trackpad a few times, with quickening succession, with no success, and then held the power button. The darkness of the powered off screen continued to stare her in the face. The battery cable was connected- there was absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be working. She slammed the computer shut and tossed it across the bed, and reached over for her phone, which sat on her bedside table- the time read 10:49 PM. She took a stack of coupons sitting on her desk and searched for a Domino’s set of coupons, and once she found one, she ran her finger to the phone number and dialed it on her phone.

There was silence for a few moments, and then a series of prolonged tones, before a voice appeared on the other side.

“Hello, this is Domino’s Pizza, how can I help you?”

“Hi, I’d like to order an extra-large meat lover’s pizza, please, flatbread, no soda, no sides.”

“Okay- extra-large meat lover’s pizza, flatbread- is that correct?”

“Yes- my address is 13999 Hingehill Lane, Apt 106. Uh, Main Lake, Pennsylvania.”

“Okay- your pizza will arrive in 30 minutes, or it’s free. Please call again.”

“Great. Bye.”

She ended the call, and threw her phone back on the bedside table, before throwing herself face-first into her pillow.


Joanne awoke and bolted upright. Her room’s light was turned off, and her room was once again filled with darkness. She groped in the darkness from her bed to her bedside table, and took hold of her phone- 11:12 PM. Her phone began to ring and vibrate in her hand- an unknown number was calling her. She turned down the call, and then stood from her bed to turn on the light. She flicked it up, but the light remained off. She flicked it down. Still off. She flicked it up and down a few times, until she growled and decided the power was out. Her phone began ringing again- Unknown Caller. Reject call. It rung again. Joanne rejected it again, annoyed. Someone knocked on the door downstairs.

“Pizza!”

She made her way downstairs, through the darkness and putrid ocean of smells, looked out the window- outside of which the power apparently had not gone out- spotted the pizza guy, and opened the door. The slightly fat, older gentleman handed her a box of pizza, so she handed him twenty dollars, told him to keep the change, and closed the door before he could say anything else. She made her way back to her room, set her Pizza somewhere on the bed, and took hold of her phone- fifteen missed calls from Unknown Caller. Her phone emitted another tone sound, and a notification appeared on her phone-

Message from Joanne Middleton.

“What?” She unlocked her phone and opened the message, which she apparently sent herself.

‘Open the door’

She received another message.

‘OPEN THE DOOR’

“What the hell?”

‘OPEN THE DOOR’

Her phone rang again from Unknown Caller, and with slight hesitation and a bit of fear, she answered the call.

“Hello?”

She waited for a response. One second. Two. Five.

“Hello?”

Someone screamed at the other end of the phone, causing her to pull it rapidly away from her ear-

“OPEN. THE GODDAMN. DOOR.”

Joanne quickly ended the call and stared nervously at her phone, and then it blinked off unexpectedly, as her computer had earlier.

Someone began to bang violently on the door below. Joanne slowly walked outside of her room, and stood at the top of the stairs. The banging continued, and someone began to scream below-

“OPEN THE DOOR, OPEN THE DOOR, OPEN THE DOOR, OPEN THE DOOR.”

The screaming and banging wasn’t coming from the front door- it was coming from the wall next to her stairs. The horrible smell from earlier had grown much stronger than before, but Joanne managed to ignore it temporarily in the face of the screaming and the banging on the wall next door. The only problem was, nobody lived next door, not against the wall of her stairs. She edged slowly downstairs, step by step, until she was right next to piece of wall from which the screaming and banging was coming from.

“OPEN THE DOOR, OPEN THE DOOR, OPEN THE DOOOOR!”

“STOP! THERE IS NO DOOR!” Joanne screamed back, her voice cracking.

The screaming continued. “OPEN THE DOOR! OPEN THE DOOR!”

“THERE IS NO DOOR!” Joanne screamed louder, at the top of lungs. The screaming and banging stopped.

The darkness was suddenly dimly illuminated by a light that appeared from a rectangular frame on the wall in front of Joanne, in the shape of a door. Joanne froze. A soft metallic scraping sound came from a slowly rotating door handle that had become vaguely illuminated by the light coming from the cracks on the extremities of the door. After a moment, the door handle stopped moving, and the door cracked slightly open. Someone breathed heavily from inside.

Joanne unfroze, and something told her that whatever she did, she couldn’t let whatever was on the other side of that door out, so she pushed the door back in place, and whatever was on the other side of the door pushed back. They struggled for a few seconds, before whoever was on the other side began screaming incoherently. After a couple of minutes, Joanne began crying. She put all the strength she had to making sure the door did not open enough to let them out, but after an hour Joanne had become so exhausted that the door began opening slightly, despite her strongest efforts.

A hand burst through from the crack of the door, causing Joanne to scream and sob harder, and begin to bang the hand with her fist. Whoever was on the other side shrieked in pain, and slipped their hand back to their side of the door. In this moment, Joanne forced the door shut once more. And suddenly, the screaming stopped. Joanne continued pushing herself up against the door.

The lights of the house flickered back to life. And after a moment, Joanne realized the door was gone.

To be continued…

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