Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
I knock on the door for the third time, the noise of my fist banging hollowly off the door and into the house beyond me.
I wait. No answer.
It’s weird. My father told me that he and my family would be here for when I got home. We haven’t seen each other for over a year, as I was at school halfway across the country. There is no note on the door explaining their absence, they haven’t sent an e-mail. Maybe they were planning to jump out and scare me … But I don’t think they would do that. They know how I feel about that kind of stuff.
I knock one more time, losing my patience with every passing second.
“Hello?” I shout. There’s still no answer. Maybe they all fell asleep and they’re sleeping through my constant, obnoxious knocking … that seems a little unlikely.
I decide to look for a spare key. My mother always keeps one, but constantly changes its position. She is terrified of the idea of somebody getting into our house, and always leaves the door locked.
After looking under the door mat, under the porch and in the head of a garden gnome on the front lawn, I peer into a potted plant that hangs just before the door. Inside is … dirt; and plants. Great, I think, now I’m stuck here!
I pace the porch several times, pondering how I could get in. I could go and see if a neighbour has a spare key … but I don’t want to bug anybody this late at night unless it’s an absolute emergency. And I don’t think my mother would give anybody outside of the family a spare key, just in case.
I suddenly go for the door to try and open it. I didn’t want to have to break in, and frustration forces me to try to open the door, even if I know that it won’t open.
But it does.
I stand there surprised for several seconds. That’s very unusual. Normally my mother keeps the doors locked, no matter if somebody is home or not. I step cautiously inside. The house is completely dark. I flip on the light switches that lay beside the door. The lights flicker to life, though that doesn’t help the unease that is mounting over me, creeping up my insides.
“Hello?” I shout again. “Is anyone home?”
There is no answer. The night now seems completely silent. I can here myself breathing.
I turn and close the door slowly, and the clicking noise of the door meeting its frame makes me jump. That’s when I realize: the chain lock on the door … it’s broken. It’s broken … Not as if somebody had cut it. It was broken as if somebody had opened the door with such force that it was pulled into pieces. As I step backwards, I step on something small on the ground, causing a tinkling sound. I look down at my feet. Pieces of the chain lock are strewn across the floor. The fear is growing on me. Was there a break-in?
“Hello?” I shout again, my voice sounding more fearful than I intend. They should be home. I saw the car in the garage.
I walk down the hallway that is immediately adjacent to the front door. To my right is the staircase that leads upstairs, and to my left is the den.
Past the hallway is the kitchen. I flick on the lights. Nobody’s there, but the remains of what looks like tonight’s dinner is on the counter, uncleaned.
I turn around and hear a small thump upstairs. Sounds like someone’s up there
waiting for me to come upstairs, or getting ready to come down. So I walk slowly back down the hallway, my footsteps sounding unbearably loud in the distracting silence.
As I reach the end of the hallway, I hear the thump again. It’s still very faint. I’m not sure what it is.
I take a left and begin to ascend the stairway. The wooden stairs beneath my feet creak angrily with age.
Upstairs is darkness. Complete darkness. I enter a curve in the stairs and emerge into the top floor. I begin to search for the light switch and can’t find it. I find it very weird how I’ve memorized the entire upstairs floor – I could walk around up there with my eyes closed – but I can’t find the light switch.
There it is again. That sound. It seems to be coming from my parent’s bedroom, straight ahead, down the hallway.
I shuffle my way down the dark hallway, feeling along the walls for the light switch.
Somebody is in my parent’s room.
(Somebody is in there …)
It sounds like somebody bumping into something … like a desk or the floor.
As I shuffle further down the pitch-black hallway, the sound increases. It becomes louder. It breaks the deadly silence of the house, and my stomach sinks in nervousness.
I approach the door. I don’t want to open it. I’m not sure what’s inside there, and something tells me I don’t want to know. But something else forces me to step forward towards the door that leads to my parent’s room and beyond, to whatever is inside.
I reach my hand out slowly towards the doorknob –
I feel like I can hear my bones creaking –
I grasp the doorknob –
Something’s in the room –
I twist the door knob –
The door creaks loudly as I open it slowly …
I peer in, and see something. I can’t quite make it out. But my eyes adjust to the darkness straight away. I stifle a cry and a scream. I see it. My family – hanging from the beams on the ceiling from their necks. The thumping –
It was their bodies swinging and slamming into the wall behind them.
Their bodies are soaked with blood, and their eyes are wide open with fear. My parents, my brother and my sister – they are all dead. I can’t process this. It can’t be.
I start hyperventilating, and a weird, repeating noise is expelled from my mouth. Is it crying, whimpering, or a stifled scream? I can’t tell. All I know is that somebody was in this house and killed my family.
I run back down the hall, leaving my family’s bodies there. I start to panic, and I reach the stairs and run down, almost tripping and falling. I sprint down the first floor hall and into the kitchen. There’s the phone: on the kitchen counter. I run to it and pick it up, dialing 911 as I do so. I wait. There’s no ring. Why isn’t it ringing?
I try again – still no ring. The more I try, the more fear builds upside of me. It won’t work.
Then I see something that makes me freeze completely. The phone cord – it’s been cut! I can’t make any calls on this phone.
And then I notice it, and I go stone cold: the lights are all off again.
I walk towards the light switch for the kitchen and flip them on. There’s no light. I flip them on and off again. The light doesn’t come on. I stare around. Everything has been switched off. The digital clocks, the lights, anything that runs on our electricity.
The power has been turned off.
It can’t be a coincidence. I find my family dead and the power turns off. Whatever was
here has turned off the power. I’m terrified now. I can barely comprehend what’s happening. I turn my head from side to side helplessly, as if looking for someone to help me. And then I run to the door. I need to get to a neighbour’s house. Hopefully one of them will help me. Hopefully someone in the neighbour hood is awake.
I run to the door and turn the door knob. I pull; it’s locked.
How could this be? I didn’t lock the door when I came in …
I pull and pull and can’t get the door to even creek. I finally resort to slamming against the door with my shoulder after pulling and yanking and shaking with all of my might. The door shudders as I slam into it, and my shoulder begins to hurt more and more with each time I hit it. I slam into it so many times that it the constant banging noises start to turn into a rhythmic beat inside of my head. But the door still won’t budge.
That’s when I remember the sliding glass door at the back of the kitchen. I sprint back down the hallway and into the kitchen, panicking in the darkness.
I’m at the end of the hall, staring into the kitchen and the dining room. Straight ahead of me is the sliding glass door. I run over to it and yank back the beige curtain. But outside, there’s nothing. Everything has disappeared. There are no lights from other houses. There are no other houses. I should be able to see the back yard from here.
Then I here another sound from upstairs; it accompanies the thump … thump … of my family’s bodies slamming against the wall. But this sound isn’t a thump … It sounds like …
What is that?
I hear it … it’s moving up and down the hall upstairs, as if someone was pacing …
It sounds like … hooves?
Whatever it is … I don’t think I want it to be here.
I’m not sure if I want to know what it is, but instinct drives me to see what it is, the steady clip-clop covering up my timid, slow footsteps. I reach the stairs. Now I’m climbing them. There’s someone
in the hallway. I can feel coldness from upstairs. I’m terrified right now, but that’s not what I feel in my gut. It’s something more insidious than that. It’s like knowing somebody is going to jump out and scare you, but you don’t know from where. The feeling is slowly overwhelming me to a point where the creek of the stairs over the clip-clop of the hooves above makes me jump.
Upstairs is my dead family, and
is in that hallway. It’s waiting for me.
I can feel it.
I’m on the last step of the staircase. I close my eyes as tears of fear well up inside of them.
The noise … it’s getting closer. It’s coming towards me.
It’s getting louder; the feeling inside of me is ready to burst.
It’s right there. In front of me. I know it is, even though me eyes are closed tight. I don’t want to open them. But I know I have to. So I do.
And nothing’s there.
I know I should feel relieved, but now, if it’s possible, I feel even more terrified than before.
All the way down the hallway I can see my family’s bodies, swinging from the nooses around their neck.
I begin to cry. They’re gone. That’s starting to process in my mind. I can’t believe it. I’m stuck in here, with no way out, all alone
(or am I alone?)
And my family is dead. I can’t use the telephone … but one of my family member’s bodies might still have one.
I don’t want to have to do this … but it’s the only way I’ll have any contact with the outside world.
I run down the hall, tears streaming down my cheeks. Each one of my footsteps scares me. I think I can almost hear the
I’m in the room now. My family is hanging in front of me. I don’t want to look at them, but I have to. I need to find a phone and call for help.
I put it off for as long as I can by pacing up and down the room, but eventually I realize that I have to. I go up to my father’s hanging body, whimpering as I do so. I check his pockets – there’s no phone.
Next I check my mother’s pockets. I can’t find her phone, and now I’m all-out crying. I check my sibling’s pockets and can’t find their phone. Now I’m terrified, I’m filled with despair.
(my family’s dead, why, why, why -)
I collapse into the corner of my parent’s bedroom, right beside the dresser. I cover my eyes and begin to sob. Tears stream down my face. I try to keep quiet, though, as I even the noise of my familiar crying is scaring me in this silence.
I force myself to look up at my family again.
Their shirts are soaked with blood, and are torn open by claw marks
I get up shakily and walk timidly over to my brother’s body. I painfully pull a strand of loose fabric from his shirt and it reveals claw marks. Not as if a person had scratched him, but … I couldn’t explain. They just weren’t human. And no human could cut that deeply with their nails. Blood pours profusely from his wounds. And now that his shirt isn’t soaking up the blood, it drips to the floor with a steady and haunting
I back away, even more fear bubbling inside my stomach. I want to throw up, but I can’t. I’m too scared. I now notice similar claw marks on the rest of my family. I start to back away into the dark hallway again.
There it is again. But it’s not on the upper floor … it’s coming from downstairs. I think it’s in the kitchen.
Once again, I walk slowly down the stairs, fear overcoming my tears. I have no idea what is happening. All I know is that someone
killed my family and is in the house. But that doesn’t explain the claw marks, the hoof-noises, or how whatever it was seemed to have disappeared when I opened my eyes to look at it.
I’m on the stairs now. They creak underneath my feet. I feel for every stair before stepping. My eyes won’t grow used to the dark.
I’m at the bottom of the stairs now, after what seems like hours of treading carefully downwards.
Now I stand just before the hallway. I can’t see all the way down. The kitchen is pitch black. I just stand there and take in all of the surrounding sounds.
It all seems to be coming together, like some twisted orchestra, or a clock that won’t stop ticking, trying to make me lose my mind.
I take a gulp of fear and take slow, timid steps down the hall, like a small child greeting his uncle’s new dog for the first time.
I can see the kitchen more clearly now. And the beige curtain in front of the sliding glass door. As I step closer I see something – at least I think I do – through the curtain.
Something’s behind the curtain. I know it’s whatever was walking around the hallways, because the clip-clop has stopped.
I’m approaching the curtain. I want to find out who has
I’m choking on my fear now. I’m trying to stifle whimpers. I reach my hand out and I’m ready to yank the curtain away to confront whatever is stalking me.
But then I feel it on my neck: a cold wind. No, it’s not a wind. I can hear it behind me. It’s a raspy, breathing sound. It’s like somebody with strep throat, breathing heavily after a long run.
But it doesn’t feel like breathing. It’s too cold. It feels lifeless. But I know that this person
is behind me.
I close my eyes and take a sharp, shuddering breath. I open them again. I want this thing out of my head.
I swing around abruptly, terrified of what will be standing there. But there’s nothing. But it can’t be nothing. I know that something is in the house. He’s here. I can feel its eyes on me. I can feel it smiling, grinning widely at my fear. It’s watching me.
Now I snap.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?”
I close my eyes, and kneel down with my face on the floor. I hold my head, and I stay like this for some time, until I’m answered by the shattering of glass. I jump at the sound and fall back. I’m staring down at the hallway. It’s still dark, and I can barely see down there.
I suddenly know what’s been broken. It’s the mirror that lies along the wall of the hallway.
I get up, and I feel like I’m shaking uncontrollably. I walk, still timidly, into the hallway. I expect to see a face come out of the darkness, or feel a clawed hand grab my shoulder. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, I stand in the middle of the hallway, alone
and vulnerable. I hear the crunching of glass beneath my feet and look at the mirror on the side of the hallway. It’s cracked, but not smashed. I stare at the cracks in the mirror, terrified about what did it. But with a startling realization, I see that the cracks in the mirror made … letters; Words. What the hell is happening?
I look closer. The words say:
I WANT YOU
My eyes widen in fear. He
has answered. It wants me. Why? What did I do to deserve this?
And just as I think these words I feel that cold, insidious feeling, coming from my left – the kitchen.
I turn, and I can just see the kitchen, and the sliding glass door with its beige curtain. And there is something behind the curtain again. I know it. I can feel it. But I can also see it. As I stare more closely, I see them: claws. Bloody claws protruding from the small gap in between the two beige curtains, and the bloody claws leave a stain on the curtain, which are slowly being drawn apart, ready to reveal the thing behind it.
I don’t want to confront it anymore. I want it to go away. To leave me alone. To give my family back. But it won’t. It wants me to feel this way.
I run. I run as fast as I can back up the stairs and into the second floor hallway. I’m crying again as I run, and as I run, I fall. Now, I’m here, crouched on the floor, sobbing. My face is to the hard wood floor, and suddenly the rush of adrenaline disappears and the whole house seems silent again. Nothing stirs. And then I hear all of the sounds again, all working together to taunt me, to scare me, and eventually to kill me.
It’s coming again –
It’s in the hallway on the first floor –
It’s coming up the stairs –
It’s on my floor –
It’s getting closer –
It’s almost here –
I feel it standing over me. It’s breathing on my neck again, as if it’s crouching just behind me. I think I hear a hoarse, strained giggle, but I’m not sure. I only hear three sounds:
What’s that last noise?
The last sound I ever heard.
Credit To – Graham