08 Mar Crepitus
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Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
The hangers are still swinging in my wardrobe and all my clothes are scattered around the room. I’m stood in the doorway trying to make sense of the situation: who the hell has been in here? There is no sign of a forced entry; the door was locked when I came home, exactly how I left it, I live alone and I don’t have any pets. Moreover, the hangers are moving as if my clothes had been ripped off them just a few moments ago. I walk into the room, perplexed and annoyed I search under the bed, nothing, inside the wardrobe, again nothing, under my computer desk… there’s no one here. I walk to the window, it’s closed. I look out and I can see my driveway below, but I can’t see anyone there, whoever this prankster is, they’re gone. I don’t know how they got out, but they aren’t here now.
The clothes are back in my wardrobe. I looked through every room but I didn’t find anything, which I guess is good, but I don’t know how they got in or out and that’s what’s bothering me. That’s why I’m lying awake in my bed at 3.05 in the morning, my brain whirring. I don’t scare easily, it’s more that I’m angry because I have no idea how they got in here, let alone why they thought it would be funny to just throw my clothes around like that. At least a robbery is straight forward, it’s not hard to understand why someone would break into a house and steal a TV or whatever, but this is different. It’s like a bunch of kids got overexcited and started chucking clothes at each other or something. I roll over and something cracks loudly, probably my back, the changing seasons must be affecting me more this year, maybe I’m getting old.
I wake for work as usual, get dressed in my nicely creased clothes, and head out. I’m in the driveway with my keys in hand, my mind still buzzing from yesterday’s weirdness, when I feel a weird tingle in the back of my neck. I turn and look up.
There, stood in my window looking down at me, is a naked man. Well, I say man, it could just as easily be a woman: I can’t see any genitals. It’s just stood there, looking down at me, naked and bald, their skin is a faded yellow colour, it’s weird, it looks too tight almost, and I can see every one of its ribs and every bone in its thin, skinny frame. The face is gaunt like a skeleton with hollow cheeks and eyes that are sunken into black sockets.
As I stand bewildered, staring up at the thing in my bedroom, it lifts its bony hand in a wave, but it’s not right: they must have arthritis or something because their hand is moving in quick, stiff jerks, like the joints are seized. No, that’s not right, it’s more like they’re broken, the wrist is bent at an impossible angle, and it seems to snap from side to side. Two waves, then it drops it’s hand down in that jerky way, turns, and walks back into my room, moving like a man would on broken legs. I stand for a moment longer, then turn and run back to the house.
So this is the joker, the one who decided to throw my clothes around yesterday. They didn’t leave. They were still in the house somewhere, must have got passed me when I opened the bedroom door. I run upstairs, the bedroom door is shut and I bang it open only to find my room empty, with everything just as I left it. I search again, but more thoroughly. There’s nothing. Nothing under my bed, desk, drawers, nothing in my wardrobe, the room is empty. They must be in another room.
I look into every room, searching as thoroughly as a police drug dog, every nook and cranny, and still no sign of the intruder. Did they get passed me again? Another quick search of my room, I’m sweating like a pig and now I’m late for work. They must have got passed me and left: I searched everywhere. No way are they still in my house. The old creep probably escaped from a nursing home, all confused, maybe even with dementia. Could be why they messed about with my clothes like that. Weird old fuck.
I run out to my car, panting and stressed. I look up to my window, no one there. Good. Maybe they got the hint that I wasn’t messing around.
Work is normal, same old boring crap, and when I get home all my clothes are undisturbed, still in the wardrobe, where they should be. I sleep well, my joints are still cracking whenever I change position but I sleep sound in the knowledge that the intruder has gone. The mystery of the moving clothes is solved. Well, I still don’t know how they got in or out, but whatever, they aren’t here now and that’s what matters.
The morning starts off same as before, but no creased clothes this time, I look sharp. I treat myself to a hearty breakfast, then lock up and get in my car. The engines running and I’m just about to pull off when I glance up at my bedroom and see it, stood in my window just like yesterday. It grins at me, and its grin spreads across its face in the same convulsive way that its arm moved, as if it was being manipulated by some manic puppeteer. Its lips crack as it smiles wider, like a mannequin with a frozen expression gone horribly wrong. I stare back and feel a rage bubble up inside me. The fucking thing is grinning at me, like an obnoxious child. I rip my keys out of the ignition and storm into the house, locking the door behind me: they aren’t gonna get out this time.
I tear my house apart, pulling all the furniture away from the walls, swearing under my breath as I go. I move everything out of place, leaving nothing untouched, one room after the other, starting with my bedroom. Somewhere amidst the swearing and searching I call work, tell them I’m ill and won’t be in today, chest infection, which is pretty convincing since I’m panting so hard between words. I put the phone down and continue with the hunt.
I search all day.
Nothing. No-one. Zip. No sign of anyone ever being here.
But they were here.
I sleep restlessly, nightmares of figures standing over me, creeping out of the walls and floors. I must have been fidgeting because one of my bones cracks so loudly it wakes me up.
It’s morning, and I feel awful, I get up but I don’t get dressed, I just put my dressing gown on and sit at the kitchen table, running the last few days’ events through my mind.
Then a thought occurs to me. I go to the front door and open it, but I don’t step through; I pause for a moment, then slam it shut. And that’s when I hear movement upstairs. I listen as abrupt, spasmodic footsteps move around my room, but it’s not just footsteps, there’s a strange shuffling sound, like something moving unsteadily on both hands and feet, then the noises stop.
I sneak out of the kitchen and up the stairs, breathing shakily: they’re here, they were here all along, in my fucking bedroom.
I approach the closed bedroom door, take a breath, ready to confront the sneaky bastard. My hand grips the round handle, I turn it, but just as the door begins to open I hear sudden loud thumps and snaps, someone running on broken bones, and the door jams, only slightly ajar. I look up and in the small opening I see half of a face staring at me.
I was wrong.
No human looks like this. Its face is tilted forward into a frown as it regards me, my gaze is stuck, locked onto the eye looking back; the eye is in a large black socket, with a dark red and yellow iris and tiny black pupil, filled with such intensity and cunning I have never seen before. The eye narrows, as if giving acknowledgement of my sneaky trick. I can’t move. Then the creature’s eye widens, its black mouth opening to an impossible gape as it lets out a scream that deepens to a deafening roar. The door slams shut against me so hard I’m knocked off my feet and down the corridor. I lie on my back, staring at the door, my breath comes in short sharp gasps and I can feel sweat dripping off my body. I lie there for a while before I scramble to my feet and stumble downstairs like a drunk. I call the police hurriedly, and then I go outside to wait for them, careful not to go onto my driveway: I don’t want to look at that thing ever again. I want it out.
The police arrive within minutes, I splutter confusedly at them, holding back tears. My story is incoherent, I’m clearly in shock, but they get the gist. Three officers search the house, one of them with a dog, while another female officer makes me a cup of tea and takes a statement from me. The tea helps. I tell her everything that’s happened, starting with my clothes being moved, ending with my phone call. She nods attentively and takes notes, and I feel much better now that they’re here: they know what they’re doing.
The police search for two hours but find nothing. They suggest that maybe I missed something – some hidden corner that I hadn’t looked in – but their presence would almost certainly have scared anyone off, and there definitely isn’t anyone else in the house. I start to feel stupid, and all thoughts of “creatures” and strange beings dissolve in my mind as I return to my senses. It was just an old man, scared and confused. I thank the officers, apologising profusely for wasting their time. They leave and I sigh, annoyed at myself for getting so carried away. I get dressed and decide to do some gardening. I look up at my bedroom window often, nothing there, the police would have found whoever it was if they were still here. They’re professionals after all, whereas I’m just an amateur.
Still, when it comes to going to bed, I find myself doubtful. I tell myself it’s just because it’s dark and I’ve had a rough day, that I’m being stupid, there’s nothing in my room, but still a niggling feeling remains, as if I’m not alone. I decide to take my mattress downstairs and sleep in the kitchen. I feel better.
So here I lie, on my mattress, next to the oven. I can’t hear anything moving upstairs, but to be honest I’m trying not to think about it, something about those snapping sounds and the way the footsteps moved so spasmodically freaks me out. And that eye. That staring, hateful eye… I don’t want to think about that.
I fidget, and again I hear a crack from one of my knees, or maybe it was my back, I don’t really know. Was my mattress always this uncomfortable? I never noticed before but it feels like some of the springs are warped, I can feel bumps pressing into me.
I roll onto my side with my head under the pillow and my ear pressed against the mattress. As I move I hear another snap, and it feels like something gives way underneath me slightly: a broken spring? But it didn’t feel like that, it felt hard, and rigid, and it went suddenly, as if it was seiz-
Credit To – Jimmy V
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