19 Oct The Monster in the Pantry
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"The Monster in the Pantry"Written by Christopher Maxim
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Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
I was ten years old when I first became aware of the monster’s presence. It was a normal evening at home; my mother and I awaited my father’s arrival and I helped her out with dinner preparations. I look back on these memories fondly – I loved cooking with my mom and was overjoyed whenever my father came home from work. I had what some would consider a picture-perfect childhood, save for one peculiarity. The thing that resided in the pantry would audibly reveal itself that very night.
While cutting up vegetables for my mom’s famous beef barley soup, I heard a scratching at the pantry door. Startled, I jumped, nearly cutting off one of my fingers in the process. My mom looked over at the pantry, then to me with a concerned smile. I looked to her for answers, utterly baffled by the noise.
“There it goes again, scratching at the pantry door.”
“What is it, mom?” I asked.
“I’m not too sure, sweetie, but it’s been here ever since we moved in. Sometimes it scratches at the door, other times it will knock food off the pantry shelves. Some nights, it doesn’t make a sound at all.”
There was no comfort derived from her explanation. I was still frightened, and my mother noticed this.
“It’s nothing to be scared of, honey.”
“Is it something… bad?” I asked.
“No, of course not.”
Just then, the scratching recommenced. I jumped a second time. My mother then walked over to the pantry door.
She opened it up as the scratching continued. Once the door was completely ajar, the sound ceased.
“See, sweetie? There’s nothing to be worried about.”
Despite my mother’s comforting words, my ten-year old heart couldn’t help but race with fear. In the coming years, I continued to help her cook, but I never once set foot back in that pantry; convinced that the thing living in there was a monster, out to get me. This fear was kept alive by the scratching that would interrupt otherwise happy moments. I ignored it the best I could, but sometimes I would have to leave the kitchen.
Eventually, the sounds stopped all together.
It’s now been many years since then, and both of my parents have passed away. In their wills, I was left everything, including my childhood home. It took me a while to come to terms with their deaths and move back in, but I eventually accepted the situation and embraced the living space where I grew up.
It was the little memories sprinkled throughout the house that helped me cope. Sometimes I would walk into the living room and see my dad sitting in his chair, smoking a cigar and watching his favorite sitcom. At other points, I would see my mother in the kitchen, making us dinner. These corporeal fragments of a time long since passed kept me going. After a while, the house felt like home again… until one day.
I had just arrived home from work when it happened. I sat down on my dad’s favorite chair and flipped on the TV to unwind. Something crossed my mind; minus the tobacco, I had actually become my father. This thought put a bit of a smile on my face as I reclined the chair to relax. Relaxation never came though, as an all too familiar scratching sound emanated from the nearby pantry. My smile quickly vanished.
I jumped up and ran to the kitchen to investigate. The scratching continued and increased in volume. I stared at the door hoping an answer would jump out at me, but also hoping whatever was inside wouldn’t do the same. Without many options at my disposal, I was forced to open it.
Much to my anticipation, the noise ceased, and I found nothing behind the door but some empty shelves and an old broom. This was the same thing that happened when my mother opened the door many years ago.
I was no longer a frightened child, but the sound’s return was still unnerving; at least, it was at first. After a while, it became nothing more than a bothersome fixture in my otherwise normal days. Whenever I came home from work, woke up in the middle of the night, or sat down to watch television, that terrible scratching would invade my ear-space, not stopping until I opened that damned pantry door. This routine continued for over a year. One night, however, everything changed.
I had just gotten home from a long day of work and flung myself into the comfort of my bed sheets. I wanted more than anything to drift off into a peaceful slumber, hoping the day’s troubles would melt away in the form of happy dreams and restful sleep. Unfortunately for me, the moment my head hit the pillow, the scratching started up once more.
I groaned in anger, not wanting to leave my bed for anything, much less that damned noise. Because of this, I made the mistake of not getting up right away. I hit my internal snooze button and allowed myself to drift off for a few moments. When I came to, something was amiss. I didn’t notice it at first, but the unsettling silence made way for a startling revelation. The scratching had stopped.
How strange. It’s never stopped on its own before.
Perplexed, I jumped out of bed and ventured downstairs to investigate. What I saw upon entering the kitchen alarmed me – the pantry door was wide open.
That can’t be… it was definitely closed when I got home earlier…
Turning the light on only revealed the usual empty shelves. It wasn’t until my hand met the wood of the door that I noticed something unusual. Embedded in the hard oak were deep gashes; claw marks that covered the entire bottom half of the door.
Those weren’t there before… what the hell is going on?
My childhood was beginning to catch up with me. Memories of the pantry came bursting through the floodgates; the scratches, the nightmares… the fear. But I wasn’t a child this time, and I wasn’t going to let a little superstition get the better of me. It was just a raccoon or a large rat, that’s all. At least, that’s what I told myself.
I scoured the house for nearly an hour, ignoring my fast-beating heart the whole time. Whatever escaped from the pantry was nowhere to be found. As I stepped back into the kitchen to close the door and call it a night, something stopped me in my tracks. A shadowy figure raced across my field of vision and into the pantry.
The pantry door shut on its own, shaking the walls around it. A bone-chilling vibration reverberated throughout the entire house in an instant and was then followed by an eerily dead silence. My heart sank to my bowels. I was officially rattled.
Running on pure instinct, I grabbed the heaviest things I could find and piled them in front of the door, including my dad’s old chair. Once satisfied with my blockade, I raced upstairs, locked my bedroom door, and jumped underneath the sheets. I was a kid again, scared shitless of the monster living in my mom’s pantry.
After the fear and adrenaline tapered off, I managed to get a little bit of rest. My late-night adventure had come to an end.
I woke up the next morning in denial; a defense mechanism of a mind bruised by fear. Pretending nothing happened the previous night, I went about my morning routine as normal. After breakfast, I was able to walk right past the pile of crap in front of the pantry without flinching. I even ignored the scratch marks on my front door as I left for work. Everything was fine. There was no monster. No supernatural entity taking over my home. That was absurd. It was just a raccoon. A very large raccoon.
The lies only lasted for so long. Driving away, the terror set back in, sending me into a desperate frenzy of distress and unease. Though distracted by my strange predicament, I managed to make it to work in one piece.
Work brought me no solace. All I could think about was what awaited me at home. I was on edge and my boss noticed this. He asked if I needed to leave early and get some rest – I practically shouted the word NO at him, begging him to let me stay. I wanted to be away from that house for as long as I could. Though confused by my unorthodox behavior, my boss obliged.
I might have been able to stay at work, but I had to clock out eventually. The day went by far too quickly, and before I knew it, I was back home, sitting in my driveway, dreading the thought of opening the front door. Because of this, I sat in my car for a while, attempting to come up with a plan of action.
What do I do? Who can I tell? Where will I stay?
The questions swirled around my tired mind until I shut my eyes and took a deep breath to relax. The weariness caught up with me in this moment, causing me to drift off into a stress-induced coma of sorts. I woke up a few hours later to the terrifying sight of scratch marks on my driver-side window. That was the last straw.
“That’s it!” I proclaimed out loud.
I wasn’t going to let this thing control my life, and I certainly wasn’t going to let it drive me out of my own home. This is where I grew up; where I spent my childhood with my mother and father. They were still with me; the recollections scattered throughout the house, reminding me of who they were and the impact they’ve had on my life. No amount of scratching was going to tear through the memories I had of them.
Fed up, I got out of my car, walked up to the house, and swung the front door open. I was greeted with the sound of scratching, but this time it was louder than it had ever been before. As I stormed over to the kitchen, the noise morphed into a thunderous banging at the pantry door, causing the stuff I piled in front of it to move a bit. Whatever was inside really wanted to get out this time.
Adrenaline coursed through my veins. My fight-or-flight response was begging me to run, but it was too late. I had already made up my mind. I was going to face this thing head on and get to the bottom of the mystery. This was my home, after all. It belonged to me and my family – not whatever this thing was.
In removing the stack of furniture, the banging continued and grew louder. The kitchen cabinets around me swung open. Various pots and pans fell off the shelves. An earthquake of supernatural proportions filled my home, but I didn’t allow it to rattle me. I knew what I had to do.
After a moment of mental preparation, I opened the pantry door…
There, sitting behind the door, was a dog. It sat there and looked up at me in confusion. I did the same to it. After giving me a once-over, it walked over to me and nuzzled up against my leg. I instinctively reached down and pet it, as I would any dog. But this wasn’t any dog. After a few minutes of getting to know each other, it walked back into the pantry and vanished before my very eyes.
It was… a ghost.
My fear completely dissipated after that day. I now come home to the sound of scratching and smile. I no longer open the pantry door in fear, but instead, to let my new friend out. He walks around the house, exploring, just like a normal dog would. He even sits down and watches TV with me from time to time. He is a bit shy, though, vanishing whenever I have company over. Still, he is a good dog. A very good dog. I assume he belonged to one of the many owners of the house, seeing as it had been built long before my parents moved in. I guess he just couldn’t let the place go. Neither could I.
A few weeks of bonding later and I realized that I didn’t have anything to call him by. I walked over to the little guy and pet him on the back of his neck – that was his favorite spot. I thought about it for a moment and then came up with the perfect name.
“I will call you… Monster.”
CREDIT: Christopher Maxim
(Click HERE to check out Christopher Maxim’s book, How To Exit Your Body and Other Strange Tales)
🔔 More stories from author: Christopher Maxim
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