It was quiet.
Not even the insects were singing, no rain falling and no thunder. It was quiet, save for the occasional snore from the room next door where my Grandmother slept. Once in a while she would scream out my Grandfather’s name and then, silence until the next snore. Not to mention her sporadic “Meows.”
It was also very dark – no moon, no streetlights, just an occasional silent automobile passing by.
I lay there in bed, unable to sleep, the silence was too loud for me – I could swear I heard laughter from the basement – but I knew that no one ever even walks down there unless there is an issue with the electricity. No one else is home but my Grandmother who at this moment is snoring a quacking snore. Sounding like the ducks and geese who swim in the lake out front all day long and suddenly disappear at night.
I am a city boy – I like the lights and the noises. I grew up in the city that never sleeps and sleep very well there. Living in the country feels as if I am walking through a haunted house waiting for the big scare. A “Boo” or a ghostly sound. I feel always on edge expecting someone to jump on me and scare the shit out of me…
I hear a “Meow” from the room next door and suddenly “William!” Just as quickly there is silence again.
I am laying in this small bed and I can’t fall asleep. Time seems to be conspiring against me as the clock seems to have stopped at 1:43. Its been the 1 o’clock hour for the past three hours as the hands on the clock seem to have stopped moving.
I hear a new noise. Not the same noises I hear each night. The usual sounds are like a creaking on the wood floors – as if someone is tiptoeing their way towards me. Some nights I could swear I see a shadow and I imagine him. Long greasy hair, unshaven, lanky with smokers teeth and a big knife in his hand. He has this snarly look on his face like a guard dog – pointing the knife, walking slowly. The floor creaks. I jump.
“William!” My grandmother screams out.
My heart stops and then goes on overdrive.
“William! Is that you? Bring me my milk please.” Screaming each word. One by one. Her voice is already kind of scary – sort of like a high pitched chicken being choked. When she screams, as she does, it sounds like a voice from the grave – freaky and scary; freaking scary.
The sounds of creaking – the wind blows outside and a car rushes by.
Laughter – voices speaking – but where, whom?
I decide to get out of bed to open the basement door – as I stand the floor creaks, I feel the dust on my foot, I start to walk but my little toe crashes into the wheel of the bed. It hurts like hell but I try and muffle my reaction. I fall on the bed and cover my mouth with the pillow to muffle my scream.
I stand, I limp towards the basement door – I turn the knob and push slowly. Of course it makes a creaking sound, why not? Everything else does.
Holding on to both sides of the wall I take my first steps down. The lights are off and the sounds have silenced. I am out of my mind…I turn to go back to my room and suddenly feel a hand on my shoulder from behind me…
“What are you doing?” My grandmother, suddenly sane and aware asks me. Still with her scary voice which pierces my nerves and I scream.
I have to admin that when I get scared I scream like a 7 year old girl. I don’t know why and how I inherited this lovely trait – all I know is I cannot control it because I am screaming out of reflex with no warning or chance to clear my throat or deepen my voice.
My grandmother jumps as well and falls back down the stairs…I grab at her and catch her by her nightgown. Not one for appreciation she clears her throat and walks up and back into her room.
I think to myself as I walk up the three stairs; “When did she wake up? She was just meowing.”
I go to knock on her door, its open a bit and I see her sleeping in her bed. Suddenly; “William!!!”
I scream, once again like my little niece…and I jump back into my room and fall into the bed face down.