I have found many times in my life that strange occurrences are a staple in human culture. Ghostly apparitions, UFOs, Bigfoot, and others are all prominent in our lives, one way or another. You may not think of them all that often, but eventually there is a story in the news, or a tidbit of information from a friend or a passerby that makes you recall such oddities. At some point or another, no matter how many times you forget about the subject, you will think of it again. I had forgotten all about the monster living in my mom’s pantry for several years. I had forgotten all about it, that is, until now.
I was only ten years old when I had first been told about the monster. It was a normal evening at my house – my mom and I awaited my father’s arrival and I helped her cook dinner. I look back on these memories fondly as I enjoyed my mother’s company and was delighted whenever my father came home each night. I had a picture-perfect childhood, save one peculiarity. Whatever resided in the pantry would reveal itself, if only audibly, that very night.
I was cutting vegetables up for my mom’s famous beef and barley soup when I heard a scratching at the pantry door. I jumped and nearly cut off one of my fingers in the process. My mom looked over at the pantry and then looked at me with a concerned smile. I looked to her for an answer, seeing as I had no private theories on the matter. We had just come from the pantry and shut the door. There was nothing in there at the time, and nothing could have made its way in after. Rats maybe? No, no. The noise was far too loud to be such a small animal. My thoughts were put to rest when my mom spoke.
“There it goes again, scratching at the pantry door.”
“What is ‘it’, mom?” I asked, still confused.
“I can’t be certain, sweetie, but it’s been here ever since we moved in. Sometimes it scratches at the door, other times it knocks food off of the shelves. Some nights it doesn’t make a sound at all.”
I was bewildered and scared at the same time. My mother noticed this.
“It’s nothing to be scared of, honey.”
“Is it…a monster?” Though my mother’s words were comforting, I could not be certain that they were true.
“No, of course not.”
Just then, the scratching started up again. I jumped for a second time. My mother then walked over to the pantry door. I was scared for her life.
She opened the door as the scratching continued. Just as the door became ajar, the noise ceased.
“See, sweetie. It’s just as scared of you as you are of it. There is nothing to be frightened of.”
No matter what she said, my ten year old heart couldn’t help but race. I was afraid and couldn’t help it. For years, I continued to help my mother cook, but I never once set foot back in that pantry. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was convinced that the thing living in there was a monster. The fear was kept alive by the occasional sounds of whatever was in there. I would try to ignore it, but sometimes I would have to leave the kitchen. Eventually, the noises stopped all together.
It has now been many years since then, and both of my parents have passed away. My mother died of a heart attack and my father died just weeks later of lung cancer (He always did have a bad habit of smoking, even in the house). It was expected, as I had been in and out of hospitals for many months, visiting the two of them. In their wills, I was left the house, as I was their only child.
It took me quite a while to come to terms with their deaths, especially living in the house that we had spent so much time together in. Although difficult, I did eventually accept the situation, and it became a whole lot easier to cope. The house itself no longer reminded me of their deaths, but instead reminded me of little memories here and there that would put a small smile on my face. Sometimes I would walk into the living room and see my dad sitting on his chair, smoking a cigarette, and watching TV. I would sometimes still see my mom cooking in the kitchen and getting ready for dinner. These were the little things that kept me going each day. I actually enjoyed living in that house again…until one day.
I had just gotten home from work when it happened. I sat down on my dad’s chair and flipped on the TV to unwind. A thought then crossed my mind – aside from the tobacco, I had actually become my father. Thinking of that actually made me smile. This is when I heard an all too familiar, scratching noise coming from the pantry door in the kitchen. My smile quickly vanished.
I jumped up and walked out to the kitchen to investigate. The scratching continued and became louder. I looked at the pantry door, hoping an answer would jump out at me, but also hoping that whatever was in there wouldn’t do the same. Of course, neither of these things happened, forcing me to actually open the door. I hesitantly did so as the scratching went on.
Much to my anticipation, the noises ceased and I found nothing behind the door but empty shelves and an old broom. This is exactly what happened when my mom opened the door years ago. She, however, had the shelves fully stocked. I think I subliminally stayed away from the pantry, having been so scared of it as a child. My food remained in the cabinets and fridge, with absolutely nothing in the pantry itself.
I was no longer a frightened child, but the return of the scratching noises was still unsettling, not to mention bothersome. I didn’t hear it for years before this, but now it happened everyday, like clockwork. As soon as I got home from work, there was scratching. Sometimes I would even wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of it. It would not stop until I opened the pantry door. Then of course the noise would cease, and I would find nothing behind the door. This routine continued for almost a year, but one night something changed.
I was lying in bed, trying to sleep when the scratching sound started up once more. I groaned in anger, not wishing to leave the comfort of my bed for anything, much less that damned noise. Because of this, I did not get up right away to open the pantry door. I just laid there, as tired as ever. After a few minutes, something odd happened. The sound of scratching had stopped. Now don’t get me wrong, this was great. I didn’t want to leave my bed anyhow, but the noise had never done this before. I was curious as to why.
I got up out of bed and ventured down to the kitchen, on the hunt for answers. What I saw alarmed me. The pantry door…it was wide open. This could not be, I had shut it earlier that night when I got home from work, the first time I heard the noise that day. I quickly turned the pantry light on to reveal absolutely nothing. For the first time since I was a child, I was frightened of the “monster” living in the pantry. Whatever it actually was, I think it had escaped.
I scoured the house in fear for almost an hour, looking for whatever it was that had gotten loose. I was scared – actually scared. After going through every last room in the house, I took a deep breath and collected my thoughts. What was I doing? This was ridiculous. I was on the hunt for something imaginary. Sure, there was scratching on the door every night, but maybe it was a large rat, or a raccoon. Maybe I actually did leave the door open the last time I heard the noise. Who knows? I managed to calm myself down as I made my way back to the kitchen to close the pantry door. That’s when I noticed something that I had not seen previously. There were deep scratch marks on the inside of the door. Those were never there before. Even as a child my mom had checked for any markings in the wood and there were none. What was happening here?
I backed up into the living room in awe, keeping my eyes on the pantry door and its mysterious scratch marks. I rubbed my eyes a few times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I even pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Surely enough, it was all too real and I had no explanation for it. After a few more seconds of private confusion, I watched as a figure ran into the pantry at high speed and the door shut behind it. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t make out what the figure was, but I ran over to the pantry and opened the door to find out.
With my heart racing, I opened the door and turned the light on. Once again, I found nothing. I quickly shut off the light, shut the door, and piled a bunch of stuff in front of it, including my dad’s chair. I ran up to my bed, and hid under my covers as if I were a kid again, scared shitless of the monster living in my mom’s pantry. My late night adventure had come to an end.
After the adrenaline and fear tapered off, I was able to get some sleep. I woke up and pretended that nothing had happened the night previous. I just did what I usually did; put my clothes on, brushed my teeth, ate some breakfast, and headed off to work. I tried to keep the pantry and its resident as far from my thoughts as possible.
Throughout the day, I found it hard to focus. I could barely function properly, let alone get any work done. My boss noticed this and asked me if I wanted to leave early and get some rest. I almost shouted the word “no” at him, begging him to let me stay. I wanted to be nowhere near my house. Luckily, he obliged.
Even though I was able to stay at work, I had to clock out eventually. Despite my tiredness, the day went by too quickly, and I found myself home once again. I dreaded it. Even the memories of my parents could not help me now. I wanted nothing to do with this cursed house anymore. Despite my inner outburst, I still opened the front door and walked in.
I was greeted with the sound of scratching, but this time it was louder than it had ever been before. The scratching quickly turned into a thunderous banging at the pantry door. The things I had piled in front of it were actually moving a bit. Whatever it was that was in there really wanted to get out this time.
I was as scared as I had been the night before, but I was also sick of the ordeal. I was being pushed beyond my means and I needed it all to stop. I walked over to the pantry and removed the items I had piled in front of it. The banging continued. I took a moment to mentally prepare myself. After a few seconds, I swung the door open.
There, sitting behind the door, was a dog. It just sat there and looked up at me in confusion. I looked at it in the same manner. How could this be? After giving me a once over, the dog walked over to me and nuzzled up against my leg. Naturally, I reached down and pet it, just like I would a normal dog – but this dog was not normal. After a few minutes of getting to know each other, the dog walked back into the pantry and vanished before my very eyes. It… it was a ghost.
My fear was no longer existent. I would come home to the sound of scratching at the pantry door and I would smile. I now opened the door not to see nothing behind it, but instead to let my new friend out. He would walk around the house and explore like a normal dog, and he would even sit down and watch television with me from time to time. Whenever someone came over, however, he would vanish. He seemed to be the shy type. The house was pretty old and had quite a few owners before my parents, so I assumed this little guy was the ghost of a dog that previously lived here. I guess he just couldn’t let go of the place. Neither could I; especially now.
After a few weeks of playing and bonding with the dog, I realized that I had nothing to call him. I walked over to him and began petting him on the 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