Hal was a strait-laced guy, except for one odd habit: whenever he went into a bathroom, if the shower curtain was closed he’d draw it back. He just had to satisfy some irrational part of his brain that someone — or something — was not lurking behind the curtain waiting to leap out while he urinated. I knew this because one day we were talking about personal quirks.
We found Hal dead on the bathroom floor in his aunt Sandy’s apartment, one rigid hand still clutching the opened curtain. He’d been in there awhile, and when he didn’t answer Sandy’s entreaties, she called me over to bust open the door.
It was ruled a sudden heart attack. To the day I die, I will never forget the expression of horror frozen on his face.
Nicholas Ozment is a professor of English at Winona State University by day. By night he writes stories and poems for magazines like WEIRD TALES, MYTHIC DELIRIUM, SUSURRUS: THE LITERATURE OF MADNESS, PSEUDOPOD: THE HORROR PODCAST and even more strange publications.