*August 2001 Like most freshman, I live in the dorms at a state party school. I opted out of the good school I got into. I guess I had a little steam to blow off after graduating from a military/college-prep boarding school. Plus, after a sports injury I didn't exactly have any specific plan for life that went past Saturday night if you know what I mean.
A good buddy from military school - we'll call him Bill - went to same college and lived a few floors below in the same dorm as me. So of course we were getting the party started before my parents' exhaust fumes had even evaporated from the parking lot. For the most part, the first month or so of college was pretty much like that - normal. I went to most of my classes, partied just about every night, chased girls around, and that was enough for the moment. But things began to change one night sometime in mid-September, and college for me would never be "normal" again.
My dorm phone (land-line, only zack morris carried a cell phone in 2001 get over it) rings in the middle of the night - "hello?" On the other end, I can only really describe the voice as the kind you picture when you think about a computer talking. Kinda like the early model car GPS's. "Hi-(we'll call me Gary)-how-are-you-today" Not fully awake, I'm just confused at this point. "Who is this?" He repeats "Hi-Gary-how-are-you-today". It becomes clear I'm being f'd with, so I hang up and chuckle - f'ing Bill, nice one - I pass back out.
I end up forgetting about the call for a few days and never mention mention to Bill or anyone else. About a week later, I get another call around the same time of night. "Hi-Gary-I'm-watching-you". Nice, very cliche. "Seriously Bill, how are you not knee deep in everclear or a Tri Delt at this hour? Enough already, Kade (roommate) is going to start getting pissed." I hang up.
I casually confront my oh-so-clever amigo at breakfast the next morning, purposely not trying to bite too hard to give him a payoff that might incentivized continued calls. I also wasn't 100% it was actually him and not another one of my douchebag friends. He gives a genuinely confused response. Whatever. So a couple days after 2nd call I come home and see I had multiple messages on my answering machine. WTF I barely knew that thing even worked. It's computer-voice guy (CVG).
Message 1: (my machine cuts off first 1-2 seconds of message, which tells me it's a bot set to play
message upon answer. "Hi-Gary-I'm-watching-you"
Message 2: "I-thought-I-asked-you-to-answer-my-calls-Gary"
Message 3: "Where-might-Gary-be-on-a-Tuesday-night"
Okay, so one of my friends is clearly @sshole or bored enough to really push for a reaction here. The next day, I play the messages for Kade, who was around during the calls (which were apparently earlier in the night when he was still awake. He'd been a close buddy since we were in junior high, but we'd sorta taken separate paths after high school. So anyway, he's aware I'm a wild child and thinks nothing of the first couple messages. By 3rd, he's a little spooked. I then walk down to a couple other buddies' rooms and casually but immediately bring up the subject. Nada. Over the next couple of days, I press all close and semi-close friends but get zero answers and zero suspects.
The calls start coming more frequently over the next couple months, starting at once a week, then to once every 2-3 days, up to EVERY DAY by Christmas break. I don't say anything to my family at that point, although I really really should have. What started out as a decent beginning of college turned into not showing up for any classes, tests, nothing. Grades reflect, and I am too busy answering for a 0.67 GPA to talk about some dumb prank that would likely be dismissed as a pathetic attempt at grades explanation. So it goes.
Uneventful break, and back to school determined to become a new man. I gotta get my shit together with these grades, so I tell Bill I'm gonna have to chill out and focus on school. First night back, I get my first Spring semester call from CVG. "How-is-your-family-in-Cypress" (hometown suburb). Okay, now this is f***ing BS man. What kind of douchelords am I hanging out with that even have the discipline to drag out a prank this long??!? I get the answer to that question a few days later, and the answer is none of them. Calls become threatening, and downright dark.
"I'm-very-interested-Gary-in-being-close-to-you" (yeah, with kind of the weird sentence structure like that)..."I-have-tools-I-can-bring"..."It-is-going-to-all-be-over-soon". One day I bring Bill and all my other buddies up to hear the messages (never deleted a single one for some reason). I guess when things happen over longer periods of time, you don't really feel the cumulative impact until laying out the complete package of evidence. The guys are in shock. I guess I should mention that some of these calls got really specific in making sure to note specific details about my parents' address, as well as the violence they are planning on doing to me. "Cut-open-your-esophagus-Gary-with-a-butter-knife" and all sorts of other crap that is sort of blurred together through the hundreds upon hundreds of calls I got over the school year.
A chick friend of mine that I'd really liked in high school goes to a different school hundreds of miles away. We've re-connected thanks to good ole AIM and talked from time to time on the phone. CVG had mentioned a couple of times "Your-friend" and made threats about this unspecified person from time to time, but "Your-friend" turned into (we'll call her Layla) "Your-friend-Layla". Layla and I are the only 2 people ever named in these calls, but it did get me wondering if this was a new lead to the source. Layla is clueless when I call her about it. Awesome.
I know that background was long to read, but you'll understand why I had to explain the situation when I tell you about what happens next. One night, we're all partying and drinking at some hotel (forgot to mention all that straight-A crap went out the window as these events progressed). A different buddy (Carl) has a nice big truck we'd all go everywhere in, but he'd passed out drunk at the hotel after pounding an entire bottle of whateverthefxxx. I'm not really drinking tonight, and want to get back to my own bed. I snatch Carl's keys to drive back to campus, thinking i'll drive back in the morning to get everyone. This was one of the few times I'd even driven that year, so I wasn't tip top on my directions. I make an early turn and am somehow down a road I've never seen. I realize this pretty quick, but I figure I've got the general direction of campus pegged so I can just continue the wrong road until hitting the familiar highway that I knew I'd eventually have to hit that is close to campus.
I'm finding myself in open fields - still a paved road and everything, but aside from the road there was absolutely nothing and it was completely black. Around 3am. There's this really strange 4 -way stop I come upon. Strange because I'm probably the 4th person in a year to drive on that road - unnecessary? Anyway, I trudge along, eventually get to the familiar highway, and home free.
A few days later CVG interrupts his usual depraved threatening to mention that specific 4-way, day, and time that I was on it, which like I said was around 3am and there wasn't a soul in sight. So yeah, I now realize CVG is obviously tracking my movements somehow. NOTE: I later joined the military, worked in the intelligence community and worked special operations and tracked bad guys all around the world - to this day I still can't figure out how this dude knew I was in the middle of those fields on that date in the middle of the night. I never mentioned it to anyone.
Around March, this apparent rendezvous became CVG's focal point, and he'd make sure to let me know the day way close. The calls were coming in no fewer that 10 or 15 every single day. Seriously. The ringer was now off out of courtesy to Kade, and I turned down the volume of answering machine as his phone calls recorded. But I finally get the message I'd been waiting for. Keep in mind, I've now become somewhat famous (infamous?) at this university by now because of CVG. People were constantly knocking on my door wanting to hear the messages. Friend of a friend of whomever I know. It was all people wanted to hear about at parties. Blah blah blah, for a split second it was cool because I'm pretty sure I ended up getting a few dates indirectly from introductions conceived through interest in "the guy with the stalker". Don't judge me.
Moving right along, the day, time, location are set "We-will-meet-in-front-of-Coleman-Hall-at-midnight-Wednesday-27-April-and-we-will-take-our-friendship-to-the-next-level". I know what you are thinking, and yeah, throughout the year I had considered the possibility that I was dealing with a female. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and I was definitely that kind of dude when I was 18-19 years old - the kind that could attracted clinginess and anger. BUT, I started to rule out female for various reasons that only a fellow ENFJ would understand (look it up if you're not trackin). I can build profiles with a very high ratio of accuracy-to-available-information. This creep just didn't feel like a female to me. It didn't even feel like a peer. I was convinced I was dealing with mid-30s white male computer nerd that I'd come into contact with at some point in my life. Doesn't really matter, because what I ended up finding out on Wednesday 27 April (which, by the way, was Layla's birthday...interesting) I was wrong.
Of course everyone wants to be part of this "juicy story", and there's a pretty ridiculous amount of testosterone floating around the dorm on gameday. This was a real-life creepster and a legit horror story unfolding before their very eyes, and groupthink will subvert caution if property motivated. These guys are ready to defend me with their lives, just ask them.
So while these monkeys are gettin all hopped up on mountain dew, I stay home that afternoon wondering what the fxxx I was going to do at midnight. Of course I was going to go, but dude. Yeah, I've always been an athlete in good shape, wrestling / football / baseball teams, yada yada. But I'm still a 19 YO white male, good parents, grew up middle-upper class white suburbia, had a good life. In other words, I can definitely hold my own in a street fight, but this -- whatever THIS is -- doesn't feel anything like a street fight, or any other kind of fight I'd been in. This is a disturbed, violent, angry, (possibly) grown-ass psychopath that has decided to dedicate almost a full year now of his life to targeting and terrorizing ME. So yeah I'm a little friggin nervous.
My home team crowd steadily built up throughout the afternoon and evening, with probably close to 70 or 80 guys grouped up at our dorm's common area (we were connected to the female dorm at the first floor), smoking cigarettes and talking about beating the sxxx out of people and getting fxxxed up and all the other generic cliche sxxx you can imagine. Once the party hour approaches, though, over half of the guys splinter off into other various propositions that probably included more traditional fun like beer bongs and sorority girls. I'm left with about a 15-20 member platoon. I had decided earlier that I was not going to allow all these knuckleheads to shadow me, but I could definitely use them in case of emergency. I didn't want to risk him spooking out of the meet. So I let them know they will need to stay inside the doors of the common area while I walk out to the meeting spot. Coleman Hall was adjacent to our connected girls' dorm, and about 300 paces outside door to door to get to Coleman.
The witching hour came, so I leave the crew to begin the longest couple hundred or so paces of my life. My boys can see me through the glass doors, but wouldn't really be able to see much once I get to the Coleman Hall door. About 100 paces out from my spot, I observe 2 things at the same time. 1) some kind of small quick movement in front of the patio walkway that goes all the way around the building, and 2) the movement was in a spot along the walkway where the only normally uber-bright bulb is out. I'm not exactly sure exactly how i was able to see him, but I suddenly realize someone is crouched behind one of the contiguous cookie-cutter bushes outside the patio perimeter against one of the building pillars. In dark clothes and hoodie, he is a few feet off from the path where I'm supposed to meet him, and positioned to where I really should not have been able to see him, given the pillar blocking any shadow plus the burnt out (I later found out smashed) light. In fact, I could have easily walked all the way to the door without ever have noticed someone down there. NOPE.
I sorta jump mid-step as this happens, and I see him raise up a little thinking I might have seen him. I see him raise up and take a step toward me, and fight or flight hits. I've learned that my particular fight or flight chooses fight in more mild situations, flight during intense situations, but for sxxx-your-pants situations, it's scarier to run away with your back to whatever scary sxxx I'm dealing with - so I fight. Before I realize what I'm doing, I'm in a dead sprint toward this MF, who I'm guessing sees what I can't yet, which is my platoon busting through the glass doors in hot pursuit. Creepster nopes the f out of there, running on the patio alongside Coleman Hall toward the parking lot [insert or refer to picture link again]. I can tell this isn't the mid-30's computer nerd I predicted. Creepster is above average height, above average broad, and build athletically. That's all I could tell really. I'm not even sure if he was white, because he was at least tan if not Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, etc. I'm really booking it as he right turns on a dime at the edge of the building. I realize I'm moving fast enough to catch him, but everyone else is really far behind. I also realize I'm moving so fast I won't be protected as I turn hard right at the corner of the building. If he stops there, I'm toast. As I turn the corner, I see the van sitting alone in the parking lot in front of me. It's running and brake lights flicker on then off -- Park into Drive -- and begins inching forward toward the exit. Homeslice is of course heading for the van, which for some reason sent this whole new level of fear into me. This is it - this is really happening, and I'm going to get fxxxing murdered tonight. But I can't stop, something keeps me moving forward. I guess I'd come this far, dealt with this crazy bs for almost a full year now, completely unable to do anything other than try to ignore it. I'm not exactly "going places" academically at this point, and my life doesn't quite have all that much purpose to it yet. If i am going to get schwacked, I will at least know and this crap will at least be over. Plus, I still have a chance to catch this madman before he gets away. If I could get close enough to dive-tackle, I would still be on my own to deal with the creepster, his driver, and now I realize there's a 3rd one that was manning the sliding side door. AWESOME. I don't care how badass you think you are when you're a 19-year old jock, your chances of taking down 3 grown men that are already violent criminals and prepared to victimize are about 1 in not-gonna-fxxxin-happen-buddy.
My turn is wide and slow due to being full-on sprint, and I lose ground. I'm probably 20 yards from the lot when he does a flying leap into the side of the van. There couldn't have been any rows of seats for a leap like that. Creepster #3 slams sliding door shut as van peels out of the parking lot, bangs a right, and gone in an instant. The relief of not being kidnapped bound and gagged in that van with 3 psychos who most likely had some pretty horrific plans for me is now just as strong as the dread of the fact that this is still not over with. I was speechless, and so was my platoon as they catch up a minute later. A few of them caught up enough to witness the parking lot scene, but no one was talking. Testosterone has now been replaced with genuine and earnest concern. They all just stood there with me, catching their breath and making sure I was alright. One guy asks if anyone got a plate number, not even I did. Not enough light.
We finally start walking back, and I'm reliving the scene as we retrace our steps. As we get closer to the original meeting spot, I see something that scares me more than anything else in the entire equation has up to this point. On the opposite side of the pillar where Creepy McCreeperson was crouching, there's a video camera sitting on a stand pointed right at the spot I would have been standing at when I should have not been able to notice him. It's still recording.