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Close Your Eyes, Cover Your Ears.

Close your eyes cover your ears


Estimated reading time — 6 minutes

Scientists theorize that if the brain experiences something extremely traumatizing, it is biologically hardwired to forget it. I can prove, through my own experiences, the invalidity of this claim. On September 22, 1998, my parents threw me my eighth birthday party. That was 16 years ago, but I can still remember everything that happened like it was only yesterday. The afternoon started with a few of my friends arriving and joining me on the bouncy house in the backyard of my suburban home. The joyous laughter of children and the whirring of the generator were almost overwhelmingly loud, drowning out all other noise. After about thirty minutes of playing on the trampoline, I heard a strange whistle from the woods over all of the clamor surrounding me. I stared out into the foliage from the mesh wall of the trampoline to no avail, so I assumed the noise came from a bird and continued to play. Right behind my backyard was a wooded section about 45 acres large, sitting between my neighborhood, aptly named, “Timberlake”, because of the large forest surrounding it and the lake that sat nearby, and a developing community named “Estherbrook”, in remembrance of the Esther family who had passed a few years prior.

The case regarding the Esther family provokes horror in some, but astonishment in others. One late summer evening, Paul and Joanna Esther, who were 35 and 33 respectively, were spotted at the grocery store with their youngest daughter, Elizabeth. After they shopped, a security camera recorded them getting into their car and driving toward the direction of their home, another captured them entering Timberlake. It is assumed that they arrived home to their son Isaiah. The night passed, the next day came, and neighbors began to arrive for the Esthers’ annual Fourth of July celebration. On arrival, guests began to notice a glaring imperfection in the party, Paul, Joanna, and Elizabeth were nowhere to be found, and the walls and floor of the home were covered in blood. The only member of the family remaining was 10-year-old Isaiah, who was found crouched in his closet, his eyes squeezed shut, and his hands over his ears, crying. After he was taken to the police for questioning, he was discovered to be in shock, unable to speak his name or count to ten. He repeated only small variations of the same warning over and over again, “Close your eyes, cover your ears, close your eyes, cover your ears…”. His death just a few hours later has been rationalized with “death by shock” by most.

We jumped on the trampoline for hours, climbing up the ladder to the slide and leaping to the bottom, over and over and over again. At around 5:00, my parents called us inside for cake and presents. My group of friends quickly filed through the sliding glass door, and I followed shortly behind. As I walked toward my house, I heard, once again, a small whistle coming from the brush behind me. I turned around to face what I could describe as a man. While it was not a man, it vaguely resembled one. Its body was crouching behind the bushes inside of my backyard, with only its face exposed. The face held eyes, ears, a mouth, and a nose, but reflecting on that day, I realize this creature was not human. Its eyes were slightly too large, its nose just a little too small, its ears drooping too far down on its face, and its mouth. God, how I dread to think of its terrible smile.

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I quickly ran into my house and just about tackled my parents, slamming into them to warn them of what I found outside in the backyard, but they didn’t listen. They thought that, as a child, my “overactive imagination” was playing tricks on me. I cried to them, I tugged at them, and I pleaded for them to check the source of the noise, but they wouldn’t budge. So, at the long, rectangular dining table, I sat, watching my parents light the candles and set my presents close to me. My kitchen faced my backyard, and the head seat of the table had a direct view of the bouncy house. As my family and friends sang me happy birthday, I watched the figure crouching in the bushes stand. My soft cries and whimpers exploded into screams of terror and horror. As the crowd of people paused their song in confusion, I watched it rise, a large figure, with grotesquely long arms and legs, completely revealed.

Looking back on this moment, my suspicions that this thing was not human are all but confirmed. Its anatomy was flawed. In some places, it had more bones and musculature than in others, almost as if its visage was meant to resemble that of a person. Its steps were wide but swift, and in about two seconds it moved the 50 feet from the bushes to the entrance of the bouncy house at a walking pace. I continued to shout and weep as I watched the figure slink into the bouncy house.

Although my parents stood by me and attempted to comfort me, my friends exited the house to go return to the bouncy house. My crying stopped, I was paralyzed with fear. I watched them enter one by one and heard a familiar whistle once the last one had climbed inside. I heard one scream, then another, and soon another, as I saw the figure rise inside of the bouncy house. Through the mesh wall, I watched him approach the children, and soon after I saw blood fly into the air. Before I could see anything else, I followed in Isaiah’s footsteps. I closed my eyes and covered my ears. I cried, hard, as I considered what would happen to me, what would happen to everyone, but I dared not look or listen. I lost all perception of time, my fingers jammed into my ears and my eyes squeezed shut. After what may have been minutes, maybe hours, I heard again the whistle, this time seemingly much closer. I refused to look or listen. I thought that there must be a reason I wasn’t dead yet, which I attributed to my following of Isaiah’s example. “Maybe,” I thought, “if I don’t look at it, it will leave me alone.”

Shortly after, I heard another whistle, closer, right beside me. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder, inching slowly up my neck. It was gone again. Isaiah had eventually relaxed and relinquished control of his vision and hearing, I would not make the same mistake. I took my fingers and dug them deeper into my ears, slowly but surely. It became more and more painful the harder I pressed, but I persevered until I could feel the blood dripping down my face and onto my shoulders. I removed my fingers from my ears, and with a trembling hand, guided my first thumb into my left eye. With a strange poise I didn’t know I possessed, I pressed down and gouged the socket. I was now without hearing and sight in my left eye. I still remember the pain I felt clearly as if it was happening to me at this current moment.

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But my curiosity got the best of me after I once more heard a whistle in my ears. I picked up the fork beside me, planning to stab my other eye, but before I did, I opened it once to catch a glance of the figure.

There, in front of me, it stood. Seven feet tall, with mangled limbs and contorted features, covered in blood, and a glaring smile that still haunts me. I couldn’t help myself, as I stared at it, I threw up. I threw up more than I ever had before, I was left coughing and gasping for air, and before I could process the situation, I stabbed my right eye with the fork. I could feel the wet blood running down my face and torso, as it neared my nose, I could smell it, and as it got in my mouth I could taste the metallic tang.

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I only now know how long it has been because of the kindness of my mentor. After the accident, I was taken into custody and taught how to communicate through physical touch, kind of like Helen Keller. I was told many things, that all others who attended the party were dead, that the bodies of my friends were found in the bouncy house, that the bodies of my parents were found right next to where I was sitting, and that they never found the perpetrator. Recently, I was given the incredible opportunity to possibly rekindle the eyesight of my left eye and the hearing of my right ear, since I had only damaged them with my thumbs all those years ago. I underwent the surgeries, and despite all odds, they were a success.

It is with great joy that I sit here today, in my old home, on my old couch, the same couch that I lived on all those years ago, undergoing a conversation with my mentor, on the verge of tears due to how excited I am to finally have my own home back. I recall this experience not because of the long-lasting trauma it caused me. I have mostly overcome this experience and the repercussions it had on my mental health. Instead, I remember this event because of the familiar whistle I hear once again coming from the bushes in my backyard. If I may impart one piece of advice to you, it’s this: When you do eventually notice a presence watching you, hear its whistle, or see its twisted face, follow Isaiah’s example, close your eyes, cover your ears.

Credit: StrangeFilingCabinet

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