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I awoke around three in the morning to hear my roommate’s key click into the deadbolt lock of our apartment. There was nothing unusual about this - Charlotte liked to party, and who was I to judge? I heard her whisper a greeting to our cat, Waffles, and listened as she buzzed about the apartment for a few minutes more before presumably going to bed.

I had begun to drift off and was suddenly snapped awake after what had seemed like no more than a few minutes. I glanced at the red light of my alarm clock - 3:20 AM. I heard the slow click of a key in the front door. Confusion sank in as I remembered hearing Charlotte come home only a few minutes earlier. I heard her whisper “hey kitty,” in a slightly off voice. It sounded like maybe she had been crying or had puked her guts up while out drunk and dancing. I brushed my uneasy feeling off with the idea that I was just tired. It wouldn’t be far fetched for me to have dreamed about Charlotte coming home - she had arrived in just that fashion hundreds of times before. I slowly fell back into my dreamless sleep.

A short while later, I awoke again. This time, I immediately felt that something was wrong. The air hung heavy in the room, and the hair on my arms stood on end. The red glow of my alarm clock cast a shadow onto the wall beside me: 3:41 AM. I heard the excruciatingly slow sound of a key in a lock, as though someone were trying to sneak in without making a single sound. My heart leapt into my throat. There was no way that I had dreamed this twice. I heard her greet our cat again - this time sounding even more wrong, as though her mouth was full of marbles. “Heeeaaaayyyy kittttyyyyy.” Waffles let out a low, long growl. I listened on, holding my breath, waiting to hear “Charlotte” do something else. There was only silence. I tried to stay awake after that, but I was just so tired. And it was quiet now.

My eyes snapped open again. I glanced at the clock: 4:19 AM. I was almost glad about still having an hour and a half to sleep before needing to get up for work when I heard it again and remembered what had transpired in the previous hours. The slow click. Charlotte dragging her feet. Except this time it wasn’t Charlotte. The voice that I heard wasn’t human. There was only a very quiet, very deep, almost growling “hello cat.” I heard what I presume was a screech from Waffles, and then a sickly, wet thud. It was exactly how I might’ve imagined a 15 pound cat sounding as it hit the floor. Not Charlotte let out an unnaturally high pitched giggle before its voice dropped again. “I know you’re listening. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll have to get up.”

That was an hour ago. Charlotte keeps coming home, about every twenty minutes. It gets worse every time. She’s scratching my door now, sticking her fingers under it, and giggling that awful giggle. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where the real Charlotte is. I need to get up for work soon.

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