Wednesday 5 April 2017

One Night Not So Long Ago - A Short Story

Something slammed into my subconscious and forced my eyes open. "It was just a bad dream" I repeated silently to myself as I rolled onto my back. "Just a bad dream, nothing to worry about". I struggled to calm my racing heart by taking long, slow breaths. As I lay there trying to focus on my breathing I berated myself for my childish idiocy. After all it was just a dream and I am too old to be scared of the bumps in the night. My heart slowed it's frantic beat and my eyelids became heavy. I was hoping for the sweet oblivion of a dreamless sleep.

Tap. Tap. Tap...


My eyes flew open and I sat bolt upright in bed, the sound jarring me back into full consciousness. I could not move, could not breathe as fear slithered through me and began to roil in my belly.

I'm not sure how long I sat there listening but, as silence greeted my straining ears, I dared to take a breath and the air burned in my lungs. In the blue glow of the digital clock I quickly grabbed my glasses, hoping that the clarity of vision would help to explain those unsettling sounds. I hooked the frames onto my nose and the black fuzzy outlines became nothing more than the shadows of the furniture that filled our room. Nothing was out of place, but that did not ease the tension building in me and so I reached for the bedside light to flip it on.

Tap. Tap. TAP...


My hand froze on the way to the light.


The noise was coming from the hallway downstairs.



It was getting closer.

I snatched my hand away from the light and swung my legs out of the bed and, as softly as I could, I planted my feet on the floor and rose from the bed. My body felt like jelly as adrenaline coursed through me. I placed my hand on the mattress to steady myself. For a moment I just stood there, listening and trying to decide what to do. The blood pounding in my ears was making it difficult for me to think clearly.

Whatever was making the rhythmic noise in the darkness was, once again, silent.

As if of their own accord, my legs started moving forwards out of the bedroom door and to the top of the stairs. I gripped the banister hard with my sweaty hand as the noise came out of the blackness of the stairwell.

Tap. Tap...

"Hello?" I whispered. My throat was tight with fear. In that instant, I realised I had made a mistake. If I hadn't alerted whoever or whatever to my presence before, I certainly had now.  All of a sudden the tapping stopped.

I heard a soft scuffling followed by that chilling scraping sound and then again, silence. It had moved away from the bottom of the stairs and was outside the door leading to the kitchen. As frightening as the noises were, the silences in between had become deafening.

My exit was blocked and I realised that my only way out was to go down stairs and either confront what awaited me or try to run for the back door. Keeping a firm grip on the banister I unsteadily made my descent. As I neared the bottom step there was a loud CRASH.

Something had forcefully struck the kitchen door. The shock of the sound made me lose my footing and as I slipped down the stairs...

I screamed.

Scrabbling back onto the bottom step, my hand fumbled up the wall looking for the light switch. It felt like an eternity before I managed to lay my finger on it and slam it on.

I squinted, trying to adjust my eyes to the bright light and hoping that my screaming had scared away whatever had been lurking in the dark. I finally managed to focus.

He stood in front of me, his yellow eyes weary and seemingly undecided as to what to do next.

It was the fucking cat.

After he had decided that I posed no threat, he stalked off to sit by the kitchen door where his treat ball sat. With a flick of his paw, the ball spun into the door and created a slight 'tapping' noise as it bounced off. He continued to repeat this and then, on the third attempt, he hit the ball into the door with a little more force and the treats flew free. He reached out his paw again placing it firmly on the treats and dragged them towards himself. They made a 'scraping' on the tiled floor as he brought them to rest at his feet. One by one he scoffed them, taking his time to lick up any morsel that escaped his mouth before starting in on the treat ball again.

"You utter bastard!" I shouted at him. "You scared the crap out of me!" He cocked his head to one side and stared at me, seeming confused by my fury, then continued his task of batting his treat ball into the door. I pulled myself up from my heap on the bottom step, flicked the light off and stomped back off up the stairs. "You're a dick" I shouted over the banister. As I fell fuming back into bed I heard...

Tap. Tap, TAP...


No comments:

Post a Comment