Overall, my life has not been exciting. I've always been the type to sit on the sidelines and safely watch others brave life as I munched away on buttered popcorn. Skip school for a doughnut run? No, thank you. Bungee jump at Lagoon? I'll pass. But despite my cautious attitude, some danger still managed to creep into my life. The next several entries to this blog will contain life-threatening situations that I somehow managed to escape from...alive. Enjoy!
The Night Intruder
The silence that followed the humming of the television was thick with tension. It was late, way past bedtime, and we were downstairs in the basement. We shouldn't have watched that movie so late, we realized. The feeling of suspense lurked in the dark room, despite the protection Theresa's large black dog offered us.
"Let's go to bed," Dominique whispered, throwing her long, blonde hair behind her shoulders.
"Okay," my older sister, Jennifer, whimpered.
We tip-toed towards the bedroom, cautiously passing the darkened staircase that led upstairs. Why hadn't their parents come down to tell us good night? We watched in dismay as Sadie ditched her security job and made her way upstairs to find a better sleeping spot, her collar jingling as she left.
Theresa entered their room first, flicked on the lamp, and the rest of us charged towards the queen-sized bed, fighting for the safety of the middle. I lost.
"Good night," I forced out, trying to fight the feeling of impending doom.
"Good night," whispered the others, sensing the same. Dominique betrayed us by turning off the lamp.
I tucked the covers tightly beneath my chin, creating a protective barrier between myself and whatever lurked outside in the darkness. I tried closing my eyes, but I could hear better with them open. I searched the empty blackness, making sure that everything was alright before submitting myself to the mercy of sleep. Everything was silent. We were safe.
A wave of security washed over us, only seven and eight years old, and the excited whispers of girls at a sleepover gently emerged. We giggled about the movie, and our voices gradually grew louder as we talked about life and boys.
A gentle creak caused us to abruptly choke down our words. The covers flew to our noses as we strained to hear another sound. Our eyes were wide, trying to see what never could be found.
After minutes of strained silence, we breathed again. Must have just been the house creaking. We whispered again, quieter this time, and gained confidence as the silence continued.
We gasped. This time, I could swear it was on the stairs. Nobody breathed.
I waited for Sadie to jump on our bed, but she never showed. She was still upstairs, wasn't she? Where were Mr. and Mrs. Richards? Would they hear us scream if...never mind. I wasn't even going to finish that thought. If I didn't think it, it wouldn't happen.
I waited for something to happen. Anything. The tension was too much. Why did my bladder wait until now to tell me that it was in trouble? Too bad. I swallowed hard. I tried to take small, quiet breaths. Why couldn't I be home in my own bed, safe and upstairs?
Another creak. Closer this time. It was so slow. It was so quiet. Whatever it was was listening to us. Smelling us. Breathing our air. Tonight, I was going to die. In the basement, in the dark. Mommy...
"Did you hear that?" I whispered.
Nobody dared answer. I regretted having made myself known. I tried playing dead, but my senses were crackling, keenly aware of the thick darkness and something that was coming for us.
This time, I heard something different. It was something worse. I heard breathing. It was quiet. Oh, so quiet. But I heard it, I know. I wrapped my covers tightly around my chin, too scared to be attacked blindly. I had to see what it was.
It waited outside our door, breathing its awful breath, thriving from the pure fear that emanated from our trembling bodies. The wait was eternal. My heart ripped at my chest, my lungs burned with deprivation, and my body was a frozen corpse, patiently waiting for the kill.
"Rrawrrh!" the beast exploded, charging into our doorway. The walls shook as Satan came to claim his souls.
An entire minute passed before I realized that the deafening screams were coming from our bed. Tears streamed down our faces as our lungs burst greedily for air, shrieking over and over as the panic was released. This was it. The last sound my mortal body would ever make.
And then a strange noise silenced us. It was unexpected. It was...their father laughing, grabbing his stomach and hooting at the perfectly awful joke he had just played.
"Good night, girls!" he laughed, making his way back upstairs.
We laughed at the second chance of life we had just been given. Our whispers were forgotten as relief and stories poured out, drawing us closer to one another. As we finally settled down, turning over and getting ready for sleep, our ears pricked up.
Did anyone else hear that?