When fear is not your friend. — Macabre Mind
It was a dark and stormy night. No, really. It was. And Adam and I had just come home from seeing a horror play called The Turn, which was basically a mashup story of Turn of the Screw and The Shining. It was a pretty awesome production, creepy and atmospheric with some genuine scares along the way. And the two ghosts that haunt the house, well, they were very memorable.
The previous evening had been a late and intoxicating one so even though the hour was only 10pm I decided to go to bed. I fell asleep to the sound of gentle rain and Captain Picard being very English beyond the closed bedroom door. My sleep was sound, if not a little restless with disturbing dreams, and at 12:30am Adam looms over the bed and shakes me awake.
"Baby, I'm so sorry to wake you but there's a beeping coming from inside the house and I can't find it anywhere."
Hm. The case of the elusive beeping, I've done this once or twice before. Once it turned out to be a tiny alarm on my sports watch that was quietly beeping in the basement in a drawer near the treadmill. So I get out of bed and stand in the hallway with my husband and listen intently for the beep. While we wait he says, "I think it's coming from your office." All I can think about is the horror movie, "When a Stranger Calls" and the sentence "The call is coming from inside the house!" loops through my mind. The door to the upstairs is open slightly and before us is a winding dark staircase. I imagine the ghastly contorted ghosts from The Turn pressed along the walls and laying along the stairs like deflated balloons, their dead eyes glassy and staring. The beep comes and I push him in front of me. "You first."
We head to my office and the beep is loud but elusive. It's coming from everywhere but nowhere at once. I open the window and it's louder now. It's outside.
Adam suits up and takes a flashlight, determined to get to the source of this incessant noise. I stay inside and watch him from the windows. He disappears around the corner then comes back. He walks through the yard to the side of the house and looks at me and says, "I'm bad at this."
I find some boots and grab my glasses off of my nightstand and head outside. I meet him in the side yard and the beep is clearly coming from beyond our property from a neighboring house behind ours. So we head through Taggart St. Which is not really a street at all but more of a foot path through tall weeds and low hanging trees. It's a great neighbor for our house because it provides an extra padding of privacy and quiet, but when you're traipsing through it at 12:45am while it's dark and raining, you think twice about your affections for it.
We come out the other end of the haunted forest and now we're standing in front of our backyard neighbor's house. There's a box at the end of their driveway and from within is the beeping. Adam shines the flashlight inside and there's an old smoke alarm resting alongside of other unwanted household items, bleeping and blaring its protests of abandonment. Adam picks up the smoke alarm and it is immediately soothed by his presence and stops its crying. And then for the next few minutes, while standing in the rain, we wrestle with trying to figure out how to take the backing off to dislodge the batteries. It's an ancient alarm and doesn't work the way it should. Finally, Adam puts it on the ground and stomps on it. The backing breaks apart and he peels it off revealing very old and strange looking batteries. They don't budge either so back to the ground it goes for another stomping.
As we approach our house again I realize that in our haste we left the front door wide open. We couldn't have been gone for more than five minutes but hell if I was going to get into bed and imagine some killer emerging from my bedroom closet and stabbing me with my own kitchen knife. "We left the front door open, you know what that means." And he does, he knows what it means. "We have to check the whole house for intruders?" Yes.
Finally, we both get into bed with the peace of mind that a mysterious beeping will not keep us up all night and that we won't be stabbed by a hiding crazy person. "Well, that was weird."
Sometime in the middle of the night I become restless with nightmares. I am asleep but I am scared. Eventually I wake myself and turn to look at Adam for comfort. Adam's face is slack, his mouth slightly agape and I see the street light reflecting off his partially open, dead-looking eyes. I catch my breath in my throat. My hand reaches out to his face and I brush his nose. "Adam, are you asleep?"
I continue to have nightmares and my only comfort is the weight of a sleeping cat near my ankles. I keep pressing my leg into it for reassurance. A few hours later the constant barking of a dog wakes me up. I lay there awake for a moment and again press my leg into the weight and it soothes my fears. I decide to get out of bed to finally use the bathroom. I sit up and there is not cat on the bed. I move my leg and the weight is gone. But it was just there. I get out of bed fearful of hands slithering out from underneath to grab at my feet. When I walk into the living room both of the cats are asleep on the furniture. I shove my hand under both of them and the fabric is warm. They have been here for some time.
The ghosts from the play continue to haunt me. I imagine them behind me as I walk or pressed into the corners of the room, contorted and watchful. I image them behind the shower curtain as I pee. They are outside standing in the bushes looking in. They are everywhere and I find myself running back to bed. When I crawl under the covers Adam gets up, it is his turn to use the bathroom. As he leaves the room I tell him of one of my nightmares. He says, "My wife, a head full of horrors." I hold my breath until he comes back.
A few hours later there is a loud commotion. It sounds like some kind of anime video game that commingled with a heavy metal band. It's confusing and coming from somewhere in the house. Adam and I both start awake and raise to our elbows and stare intently at each other, not wanting to move, trying to make sense of it. Finally he says, "Oh, it's my phone. It's charging in the other room." That isn't his ringtone.
The air is thick with my unease. Nightmares about fires and ghosts and darkness punctuate the night. The house seems to pulsate with an unseen, restless energy that lingers into the morning light. I was on edge in the shower, peering out of the curtain at every noise. I even sat with my back to the wall as I wrote this blog. When I left the house for work I looked up at it as I drove away and it seemed to be watching me leave.
I am a well seasoned lover of the macabre. It colors how I view the world, how I live my life, what I gravitate toward, and I am in love with every inch of it. But sometimes fear gets the best of even me. And whether it is better for my dark mind to think sinister thoughts when I hear a gentle thud in the middle of the night, or for a more innocent disposition to chalk it up to the settling of the house, can not be told. All I know is that if I'm scared, you should be too.
Adam the Husband wrote:
It was indeed an unrestful evening.
Posterity should note that my difficulty with locating sounds stems from being mostly deaf in one ear.
And the 6am commotion is the song my phone plays when several minutes of chimes fail to rouse me. It's Fantomas, "Page 15": https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fantomas+page+15
Also, there are bodies in the crawlspace.
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