Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
I was never a superstitious person: the idea of unknown forces affecting my life never was one that appealed to me. Personally, I thought the idea to be utterly ridiculous, and I scoffed at any fool who believed otherwise. Avoiding black cats, never crossing someone on the stairs, not stepping on cracks in pavements lest the earth should be knocked off its axis, what is this mysterious force that people seem to attribute to such a large part of their lives? All of this seemed like nonsense to me.
This is why, on the 23rd of November, when one particularly humorous subordinate of mine decided to buy a rabbits foot for me as a gift, I burst out laughing. I thought I was laughing with her: I had always been clear in my beliefs about the supernatural, so surely such a gift could only be meant in jest, until I saw the solemn look of sincerity on her face. I stifled my guffaws into a quiet chuckle and attempted an earnest “Thank you”. She continued to hold a sombre expression, regarding me with oddly concerned eyes, as she spoke to me in a quiet whispering voice that was so ludicrously dramatic I nearly burst out laughing again:
“You shouldn’t be so sure of what you know.”
Unsure of how to respond to this supposed epiphany without laughing, I thanked her again. She stared at me in silence a moment longer before turning away and leaving quickly. At first I thought her swift departure to be another show of amateur dramatics, then I realised that it was past five, and swiftly departed myself soon after attaching the rabbit foot to my key ring. I did this not because I liked it, but rather ironically. Also, she was a quiet, simple woman and seeing her gift on my key ring may help her feel that I was grateful even though, in truth, I wasn’t: neither for the rabbit’s foot or for the one line of wisdom that she had probably attained from some toilet-cubicle door on her various journeys of enlightenment. She was only a secretary after all; I doubt she even read anything unless it had colourful pictures and bold headlines.
The drive home left me feeling rather put out. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened, just the usual five o’ clock rush hour traffic. But about half way home I started to get the feeling that something was behind me, I found myself checking the back seat of my car every few minutes, as if someone would be sitting there. Of course there was no one. My Mercedes has central locking, you see, I was perfectly safe. However I could not disregard the feeling that I was being watched, and I even felt a prickle rise on the nape of my neck at one point. I told myself that this was just nerves being stimulated by some stray hormone, a chemical mix up, undoubtedly the remnants of an old evolutionary instinct to watch one’s back for approaching predators, but this did nothing to change my actions as I persisted in checking the back seat. I even felt some relief in stepping onto my driveway when I arrived home despite knowing that beside myself there was no one in the car, and I was greatly irritated to find that I was gripping the rabbit’s foot, now damp with sweat.
It’s safe to say I felt somewhat drained after the unnecessarily strenuous drive and decided that a large supper was in order. As I cooked I began to feel more like myself, and deplored my earlier actions, not least because I had a strain in my neck as a reminder of my own stupidity.
That was when the kitchen door creaked open.
I was stood over my cooker oven, facing away from the door to my cloak room – that is, the room by the front door for clothes and shoes, in case you don’t have one yourself, I know that some people don’t – so when I heard the creak I automatically assumed that it was this door that had opened. It’s heavy oak, you see, with an antique handle mechanism that will push the door open if not closed correctly. I enter the house through this door so I assumed I must not have closed it properly. But this was not the door that had opened. It was the kitchen door to my left, the one that leads into the main hallway. This door is somewhat more modern, and had been closed since I left the house. Only now it was opening. Slowly.
I found myself frozen on the spot, spatula in hand, fillet steak spitting. The sound of the cooking oil hissing had been very loud until now, now it seemed to fade as all I heard was the steady creak of the door opening so slowly I could hardly see it moving. I stood gawping, hardly breathing; until the sound of the door creaking seemed to be so loud it was deafening me. I moved around the corner of the kitchen units and raised the spatula like a disturbed chef, gripping the handle tightly as I prepared to swing at-
There was nothing there. Of course there was nothing there. The house was empty, I know because I had locked the front door and there was no sign of any forced entry. I must have left the door slightly ajar and a change in air pressure, presumably a sign of incoming adverse weather, had opened it. I laughed to myself again: how that secretary had affected me! I made a mental note to myself to mention it when I returned to work on Monday, I’m sure she would be delighted to know that her little joke had worked so superbly.
After my supper, the fillet steak significantly burned due to my latency with the opening door (oh how she would laugh) I had a shower and decided to settle in and read a book. The shower was okay. Other than the odd neck-prickle and imaginings of things waiting behind the steamy shower screen it was uneventful. I did decide to take my key ring with me, the one with the kingly gift of a white rabbit’s foot attached to it, only to ensure that if there actually was an intruder they would be unable to steal my new Mercedes. Less than a year old, you see, quite desirable.
Oh. There was a moment where the screen popped open whilst I showered: I suppose I knocked it, and at the bottom of the glass I thought I saw a paw print in the steam, but this was only a fleeting fancy: I must have rubbed one of my toes against the door in an odd fashion as I moved, thus creating the said “paw print”, even the long “claw” marks surrounding it. As I dried myself in the shower room I went so far as to imagine that I could see wiry brown animal hairs on the floor by the screen, even a few in the shower drain, but getting old is a bizarre process: one doesn’t just turn grey, one’s natural hair colour, blonde for myself, can change altogether. Even the way that the hair grows can alter. This is demonstrated often by young children whose hair will often transform as they grow up, from curly and ginger to straight brown in just a matter of years. So you see, these wiry brown hairs must have been my own. How incredibly interesting, the way the mind can draw such fantastical connections, from toe marks to ageing hair.
I retired to the living room to read: nothing particularly enthralling, I can’t even remember the name of the author it was so bland, but it was a nice distraction. Well, I write distraction, there was nothing to actually distract from, but I’m sure you understand my meaning. I was rather tired of all these day dreams, these imagined occurrences. I once again chose to have my keys with me, the keys and the rabbit’s foot, just in case I should realise that I had left something in the car. Not that I would be so absent minded as to do something like that: this was simply a precaution.
Now. I mentioned before that the book was bland, I confess this to be a gross understatement on my behalf: it was downright boring, mind-numbing, even. It must have been. Normally I find myself completely engrossed when I read, utterly disconnected from the physical word and lost in the thoughts of Shakespeare or some great and complex philosophy. However, this time I found I could hardly concentrate as my mind continued to conjure diversions. The day had waned to night, and I could hear strange noises coming from the hallway, a sharp tapping sound, like a nail on glass. The front door leads straight into the hallway, I hardly use it as it is further to walk from my driveway and there is no cloak room, it’s another heavy wooden door with two vertical rectangular windows built into the top half, and now something was tapping one of them. At first I ignored the sound, assuming it to be a fly or moth trying to find a way to the light of my home. But then the tapping moved to the window behind me. My long settee rests parallel to the rear external wall of my living room, and along the length of this wall there is a window and two large expensive curtains. This is where I heard the tapping move to, directly behind my head. Again I found myself unable to move. I tried to fight off this clammy paralysis: “It’s just a fly. Some insect trying to get to the light” I repeated to myself over and over again as I listened to the sharp steady tapping. It was a slow, steady sound. Deliberate. “Or maybe it’s just an animal trying to get to the heat. Maybe it’s hungry”.
Suddenly the tapping stopped. I breathed a sigh of relief, released the grip I had on my novel, and relaxed back into the settee, “Only a fly after all. Probably just trying to-“
A heavy thud in the hallway, right outside the living room door.
This time I was able to move, but I didn’t rush: I felt almost dream like. I stood and smoothly crossed the living room, feeling light and half-there, as if part of me was missing. I stood by the door for a few moments, then slowly turned the handle and opened it.
There, in the middle of the hallway, a few feet in front of the front door, lay the body of a rabbit. Its front right paw was missing, severed, and blood seeped from its stump and open mouth, caking its grey fur in thick, clotted lumps. It lay on its side, its feet towards me and its head pointing in the direction of the door to my right. I stood staring, my mouth agape. It wasn’t dead, as I had first perceived: it was taking rapid shallow breaths, and with every breath it gurgled forth more crimson blood that ran from its mouth in a line along the wooden floor. I approached the rabbit slowly, and as I crouched down its eyes turned from the door to meet my own. They were wide and startled, bulging. It looked as if it might have myxomatosis, but the eyes weren’t swollen shut. Though the rabbit breathed in perfect silence, its eyes were screaming. And they were staring right at me with absolute terror. Then the rabbit turned its gaze to my hand, and I realised that I was holding the rabbit’s foot. I don’t remember picking it up, but there it was, in my clutched fist. As I tried to work out at what point I had decided to bring the foot with me, the rabbit gargled loudly, it back legs kicked furiously, and then it was still, it’s eyes glazed upwards, maintaining that look of horror even in death.
I sat on my haunches, still in shock, when a thought dawned on me: She had done this. She had planned this all along to punish me for ridiculing her beliefs. That stupid fucking secretary, that meddling bitch with nothing better to do with her time. She was stood in the doorway, looking in through the glass, laughing at me, probably with a few of her bitch friends brought along for the show. A deep red rage bloomed inside me as I turned full body to the door, jaw clenched, rabbit foot gripped firmly in my hand. I looked up slowly, preparing to see their ridiculous faces pressing in on me. And then I wet myself.
It wasn’t the secretary. She wasn’t stood there laughing, she wasn’t there with her friends, she wasn’t there at all.
I wish it was her. But it wasn’t.
Something else was there, stood in silhouette in the right hand pane of glass. I felt the warmth spread about my pelvis and legs as my mind tried to conceptualize what it was being shown. It was the black silhouette of a hare, a long, slender hare. I could see its ears going back from its head, could see the slim shape of its midriff. It was standing on its back legs, must have been, because its head was nearly at the top of the large doorway, over 6 foot, it towered over me. I could see no other details in the darkness.
As I watched, it slowly extended one of its front paws into the glow of the hallway light so that I could see its wiry brown fur, its bent, limp wrist, and one long, black claw, raised like an old man’s pointed finger. I had never heard of a hare with claws like that. I stood, struggling to keep my feet, as it reached forward and slowly tapped the glass. It tapped three times, and then the claw moved downwards slightly, as if indicating something. I followed the direction of its movement and saw that it was pointing to my right hand: the rabbit’s foot.
Without thinking, I approached the door. I felt unable to stop myself from stepping forward, despite the icy fear that gripped me. I stopped just in front of the creature; it stood above me like a totem, unmoving. I could feel its shadowed eyes regarding me as I lifted the letter box and pushed through the rabbit’s foot, keys and all. For a moment nothing happened, then I saw the claw disappear into the darkness, the silhouette dropped back, lowered, and was gone.
I remained in the doorway for a while, in shock, before retreating back to the kitchen. I threw my clothes into the sink and splashed my face with cold water to wake myself up, so as to make sense of the situation. Leaning over the taps, shaking, I replayed the night’s events in my mind, trying to comprehend what had happened. Should I call the police? Would they believe me?
I stayed that way for a long while, my mind reeling, feeling like I was going to pass out. None of it seemed real. It couldn’t be. How was I going to… there’s no possible way that something like that could…
Then I snapped my fingers, looked up at my reflection in the kitchen window, and smiled. Of course! She had drugged me somehow, with a substance slow to be absorbed, something that the rabbit’s foot had been soaked in. Maybe it was an inhalant, secreted by that absurd gift. Yes! That was it! She must know some chemistry, that sly imbecile, or maybe she just likes to get high on weekends and thought it would be funny to see what the boss does when he’s “tripping”. Oh very droll, my dear, we shall see who’s laughing when you’re without a job next week. I bet when I go back into that hallway there will be nothing there. Not even a mark.
So I ran back to the hallway, and yes, it was empty. No dead rabbit. Nothing but me, naked and elated. Now that I had created some distance between myself and that blasted foot I could think straight again. I turned for the kitchen with a smile; I deserved a good stiff drink after all this.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
I stopped dead, frozen in fear only for the briefest of moments as the drugs tried to take hold again before my logical mind started up again and reminded me that all these noises and sights were just part of some sort of hallucination. I turned and there it was again, the Hare, silhouetted and imposing. Only now it was pressing against the glass with a paw that was clawed and five fingered, almost like a human hand, but much longer. In its slim lengthy palm sat the small rabbit foot, pressed against the glass, but now it was covered in blood, thin red streams dripped down the glass. Then the paw pulled back, dropped the small white foot, and with one extended claw, tapped on the glass three times.
“I know you’re not there” I said with a smile that felt more like a grimace “You aren’t really tapping on my glass. You aren’t anywhere but in my mind. And you won’t be there for long, just until this hallucinogen wears off.”
The beast paused, it was as if I had stumped my own hallucination. Then it tapped again, and made the same downward gesture as before. I looked down at my right hand, feeling my blood run cold, first in my arm, then all over.
“You’re not real” I whispered “You’re not real and I gave you the rabbit’s foot. I don’t have it”
Three more taps, this time simultaneously from the living room and kitchen windows as well. The hare turned its head to the left, as if looking for the source of the new sounds. I felt the room began to whirl again as I tried to maintain my grip on reality. What had she given me? Then the Hare tapped again, with urgency, it pointed to my hand, and was gone.
So. That was my night. Quite eventful, I’m sure you’ll agree. There are some powerful drugs out there, you see. It’s been a few hours since I was stood in the hallway. I decided that the living room was best. There haven’t been any dead rabbits in here and the settee is comfortable. Comfort can help the brain think by reducing unnecessary stimulus, did you know that?
I think they like human hands. I couldn’t see their faces but I know that they have teeth; I could hear the bones of my fingers snapping and crunching like dry twigs. I thought that would make them happy, but they came back, and now they just point at the middle of me. It’s quite tedious, actually.
I have been thinking about what the secretary said to me when she set this funny little joke in motion, and I think I know what she was actually trying to tell me. Although I believe her limited IQ may have prevented her from completing her own thought, I may have succeeded in deciphering what she meant. I shall try to tell you, be patient with me though, it’s difficult to type with one hand:
You shouldn’t be so comfortable in what you know. The things that you know can’t hurt you. It’s those things that you don’t know that you should beware of. Knowledge is just a lantern in the dark. You can feed the flame, increase the light, but no matter how bright your lantern grows, no matter how safe you feel, there is always darkness beyond. And in this darkness there lurk beings that you cannot comprehend, ancient and malevolent. So tread with caution, as you light your lantern in the dark, for these beings have eyes. And they are watching.
Well, if you believe that sort of thing.
Credit To – Jimmy V