It's the middle of the night right now. There is a spring thunderstorm going on outside. I guess that's what woke me up because it's really violent. The thunder is so loud that it shakes the walls and makes me jump. The wind is rattling the windows and howling down the chimney. The lights have blinked off a couple of times already. I hope they don't go out because I don't have a candle nearby.
He was on my mind when I woke up and I wish it was not so. Maybe I should say "it" was on my mind. I haven't thought about that night in years. He's searching, I can sense it. I felt I had to write this all down in case something happens, and as I walk through my dark house, I hope the footsteps I heard were only my imagination.
Some years ago, back when my husband and I were still struggling to get by, we decided to look for a cheaper place to live. We wanted to get a second car and that seemed to be the only way that we could afford it.
I worked for a property management company and was always on the lookout anyway, but once we had our plan, I paid even more attention in looking for something appropriate.
It seemed that something finally did come up when a small garage-apartment became available. On a Friday night, I took the keys home with me so Mike and I could go look it over during the weekend. We arrived there early Saturday morning with one of our friends. He was looking for a place too and if this was too small for us, it might work for him.
I didn't much care for the neighborhood right from the beginning. The houses on the street were all old and not well maintained. Some of the places were really huge though and it was obvious that at one time this was a very well-to-do area. A few of these houses looked as if they were formally mansions and had probably been beautiful in their day but now everything appeared to be rotting away from the inside out.
The garage apartment was behind one of these big mansion-like houses, with its own driveway off the street. It might have been cute with new paint and some yard work.
We entered the garage first because its side door was swinging open. It was kind of eerie to me: old, dark, and dank. My husband had a flashlight in the car and we needed it here because there were no windows.
I didn't go all the way inside, but from the doorway I could see that it was mostly empty, with just enough room to park one car. In one corner, jumbled up together, were some old, ruined pieces of furniture; a bed frame - the really ancient kind that would support just a thin mattress, a chest of drawers with a busted drawer, a couple of splintered chairs, and a couch with nasty black mold growing in splotches all over it.
"Yuck!" I grimaced and stepped back into the sunshine to wait for them. The stairs leading up to the apartment were right beside the door and I noticed that they needed some work. They were made of concrete painted gray but badly chipped and there were several places that were crumbling. There was no outer rail either, which was a little scary because the stairs were very steep.
"C'mon!" I called. I was feeling this urge to hurry up there, but yet I was reluctant to go alone.
They eventually came out of the garage, dusting themselves off. If I'd gone inside, I would've wanted a shower!
"There's an old chest down there," my husband said, heading up the stairs behind me. "It's full of these really old dirty magazines."
"You touched them?" I asked with disgust.
"It's not going to kill me. It's just dirt."
"Well just don't touch me till you wash your hands!" I warned him. But when I reached the top of the stairs, he grabbed me, picked me up, and held my feet off the ground.
"Why not?" he teased, enjoying my struggles. "Whatcha going to do about it?"
I tried to get away but he was much stronger and he just laughed at me until I calmed down enough for him to kiss me, and then he put me down.
I playfully elbowed him in the side as I pushed past him to the door. "I don't know what the place looks like inside," I told them while fighting with a rusty lock that looked like it hadn't been changed since the 40's. "They said the guy who lived here last was kinda weird."
The door opened into a fairly long rectangular room. The electricity had been turned off but except for a few deep shadows in the corners, we could see most everything clearly. The first thing that jumped out at us was a hole in the inside wall about halfway down the room. It was in the exact shape of a man; almost as if someone had been thrown up against the wall hard enough to crash through the layer of sheetrock. The older, brown boards underneath were visible.
"Wow," our friend Don said, tracing the outline with his hand. "I wonder how that happened?"
I shrugged. "I don't know anything about this place. Except that it's nasty."
At the end of the room near the door was the bathroom - and it was just too horrible for me to consider going into it. I'd already decided that - despite the very low rent - this place was just too grubby for me.
Straight across from the door was the kitchen. It was the darkest room because an old curtain was pulled across the only window in there. The appliances were rusty, the vinyl on the floor was coming up in patches, and I could just imagine the cockroaches that would come scurrying out at night.
While Mike and Don were checking out things in what once must have been the pantry, I suddenly felt the strangest desire to hurry into the bedroom that was off the kitchen. I wondered if I'd be able to see cracks from the body outline on the other side of the wall.
For some strange reason, this room seemed quite cleaner than the others. Granted, the floor was still rough hardwood and the paint was chipping, but there was a luminosity here that was really unnerving. Windows on each outside wall were covered by dusty ivory blinds that filtered the light but didn't block it.
As soon as I walked through the doorway, I felt a heaviness within the room, a presence that was overpowering, as if someone was already here. There was no one though; there wasn't even a closet where anyone could hide.
My feet moved unwillingly until I was standing in the center of the room. I had put my hands up involuntarily as if trying to push away from what I felt pulling me forward. Everything around me grew dim, even the sounds in the background. It was a feeling like an all-over caress, not by hands, but by something fluid; submerging in warm water. I was not afraid. I felt coaxed, seduced into relaxing and opening my mind. What I saw then should've terrified me. It does now that I look back on it, but at the time, I had no fear.
I knew there was no furniture in the house, yet as I looked around, I saw a rickety straight-back chair, a tilted chest of drawers, and a bed in the corner near the inside wall. A naked light bulb burned harshly over my head.
The bed was thin, a mattress on bare metal. I didn't get a really good look at the linens except for the quilt that hung half-off the bed. It was old, much older than even the scene I was seeing, made of hand stitched squares of crimson and gold. There was a man on the bed, writhing in pain, lying in a pool of drying blood.
Still, unaccountably, I wasn't feeling any fear as I watched him struggle to sit up. His face was stained with tears and his eyes were sunk back deep in his head, filled with utter terror. He had close-cropped dark hair and a short, dark beard; he was not a handsome man. He had the rough, weathered features of someone who would never fit into normal society. Lines of anger and hatred lined and distorted his face.
I believe that the reason I was not aware of my own fear was because any that I had was minute in comparison to his. I'd never known such horror, and as I watched, it began to grow.
Over his bed, a dark spot manifested in the air. It increased quickly in size until it appeared to be a black hole, filled with roiling dark mist at least three feet in diameter. Suddenly the mist took the form of a man. He had no features, no clear outline, but he radiated evil in a way that I'd never conceived.
The dying man on the bed began to scream, "NO!!" and cursing with words that made my ears burn. Then there were hands reaching out to the dying man, seemingly from thin air, clutching, clawing, grabbing, and pulling; blackened hands, skeletal hands, corpse hands, drawing the dying man to the figure of the dark man in the mist. The screams were hideous.
Then there was nothing; nothing in the room that I could see, except a dark stain on the ceiling over the spot where the bed had been.
I blinked my eyes and could hear sounds behind me now. Somehow, I'd come to be standing directly against the front window, staring at the closed blinds. I was frozen there, unable to move a muscle, not afraid, just numb all over - - Maybe with shock?
There was a sound of someone retching, then a door slamming, and my husband shouting, "Get Kelly!" to Don, who was frantically asking, "What's happening?"
I felt hands on my shoulders. I was turned and pushed out of the room, then through the kitchen, and out of the house. As soon as I was outside in the sunshine, I shrugged off the trance and started to tremble so hard that my teeth chattered. Mike was leaning over the porch rail, retching down to the ground below.
Don, who had guided me out, was still trying to get answers. He asked again, "What the hell happened?"
"I'm not sure," I whispered through clenched teeth. I wanted to go to my husband to make sure he was all right but my legs felt so weak and shaky, I thought they would give out from under me.
.... There is more of this story ...