Out The Window
3 am. I'm awake. Again. July 13th, 2009. Or is it the 14th? Days and nights are running together like whites and yokes in a scrambled egg. I fumble in the dark for the pills at my nightstand, and once found, throw a handful into my mouth. That's the only prescription that works short of downing a pint of hard liquor. Both put me out for a good four hours..
I turn the lights on in my apartment bedroom and sit for a moment on my queen size bed, blankets are tossed over the edge of the mattress. I open the top drawer to my nightstand and reach in to feel for my cigarettes. Once lit, I've the class you only see in old black and white flicks, the kind with a detective as its main protagonist. Except I'm in my underwear. I head out of the room and into the corridor, the smoke swirls about in the air and lingers in my absence. I grab my bathrobe from the dank washroom on my way to the living room and find my way to an old chair, the one I know will be my bed for tonight. Once seated, the smoke explodes out of the fabric like an unhappy magic show. Some acquaintances say that they can identify the scent of cigarettes in this place. I can imagine but I can't smell. Must've been the smoke.
I try and watch the television but tonight I can't get into one half good bit from some late night talk show host before thinking of work. It's getting later and later and I'm going to be exhausted going in tomorrow. I contemplate a sick day as I start to fade away. One foot away in dreamland. I was only half startled when I saw a reflection move in the big picture window beyond my T.V. What was that? I looked around me to find everything as I had left it. I turned the volume of the T.V. down and strained to hear...
Nothing. It was nothing. Still, a strange, creeping uneasiness fell over me. The kind of late night paranoia only sleep can fix. I prayed embarrassingly that the pills would take affect and that before long my eye lids would be heavy and sleep would have found me.
4:30 now and everything's dead silent. T.V is off and I'm awake. What woke me up? What kind of cruel punishment is this? Usually the medications work, rarely do they not. But that's fine. I try and reassure myself lest paranoia return but it was too late. I could tell something was wrong. Easy now. Yes, self talk might help. Distraction even. And so I got up very, very cautiously, listening carefully as I crept back to my room and searched the closet for a book. There was nothing but horror stories. Still, I tried and began to read a chapter from Frankenstein. It wasn't long though before the sound of gentle tapping on the window broke through my fragile sense of concentration.
Not really wanting to, but more so needing to, I put down the book and listened closely to the sound.
TAP TAP TAP
It sounded dull, like a handful of thumbs clunking sloppily against glass. My heart sank when at first it could be heard at my back, at the window by my bed. Paralyzed in fear, I waited for the sound to return, wishing it wouldn't.
TAP TAP TAP
It was a bitter sweet moment to learn that the sound had originated from another spot in the building. I hoped that the sound had come from the other apartment. Maybe some late night drunk had finally stumbled home and had found that they were without keys to the apartment. Maybe they knocked now on the window to awaken what would be an inevitably cranky and pissed off roommate. Maybe that was it... maybe not.
Even knowing that the sound came from elsewhere I could not bring myself to turn and look out the window behind me...out into the dark night. Instead, cowering in my moment of weakness, I am ashamed to say that I next covered my head with my pillow.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
Still, amidst my pleads and over the muffle of my pillow, I could continue to hear what had now become a scary tapping, thumbing at my senses. When finally I pulled myself together, just shy of late night insanity, I walked back into the living room to insure that the tapping had not come from there or to reveal the noise to be what it truly was to dispel the fright I wore heavily upon my person.
I slowly walked down the hallway and before arriving I could see the yelevision light dancing off the walls. Had I left the television on? When I stood at the mouth of the living room, I could see nothing out the window except a frightened bumbling idiot: my own reflection staring back at me. There was no tapping, only my imagination wickedly taunting my sense of security. Still, feeling that there was something strange going on, I reached for the remote that sat on one of the wings of my den chair. With the remote in hand I noticed then that the television was very much the only thing that was emitting light, save a small amount of light from the depth of the hallway behind me. I thought to myself that if someone was watching me from outside, I could not see them because of the effects of light on the window, but they could see me. So I turned off the television...
And I saw HER.
When I awoke. I could see the stars in the sky. They filled the night some beautiful. I thought for sure I was outside, somewhere in the outskirts of town. Grappling with the strange events that had just transpired, I looked around to try and gain some perspective. It was hard to make out where I was exactly because of the dim moonlight.
At best guess I identified myself to be in an unfinished basement. The floor above me had a hole in it exposing the sky above. As there didn't appear to be a roof, I imagined myself to be in some old decrepit house. But why? How had I come to this place?
A rustling from one of the basement corners dragged me from my questioning back into reality. It was too dark to see what exactly was moving, but I knew something was coming slowly towards me. My instincts told me to panic, and I did.
I felt the walls for a way out, for a staircase, for something, but couldn't find anything. I tried to jump and grab onto the first floor to pull myself up but couldn't reach it. I screamed for help but no one answered. Still this thing came clumsily towards me.
And something else began moving. Another strange shape came slowly towards me.
They were easily outmaneuvered but what would I do next? What are these things? Again I searched the four cement walls that made up my confines. This time I found markings etched in the walls. I could see now that these where actually hundreds of little lines. No. they were count markings to count the amount of days spent in this pit. My imagination went wild. Had somebody really been down here that long?
And something moved underfoot, another one of those things? I fell to the cold hard ground and couldn't get back up. I felt my leg to find it different, warm and wet. Had I been bitten? Tears started to roll down my cheeks. I didn't want to die. Crawling, I wasn't much faster than the weird things that pursued me... And more appeared, as if from nowhere.
OH PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
I made my way to a corner and tucked myself into a small ball. Still those things came after me. I could feel them pulling and tugging at my body. Until....
There was nothing of me left.
And when day broke, the girl reappeared in her infernal basement. The things had returned to the damp dark soil of the basement. She etched in one more day to the series of etches in the wall. She survived each day somehow, without food or water in some tortured existence, always dreading nightfall and the strange hungry things that it brings. She vanishes though, after midnight and readily trades away her own twisted fate with any who make eye contact with her. And she will continue to do so, so long as there are those who dare let their eyes wonder out into the night and meet her desperate stare.