Friday, October 30, 2015

Caught on Tape, Lost in Time

          It was in the shadows of a cold, dark Sunday night in the late winter of my eighth grade year, that I found myself blasting my way through a game of Mega Man 2 while listening to Vanilla Ice for what had been the umpteenth time that weekend. The air had steadily grown colder since the sun had set nearly three hours before, but it wasn’t anything that I wasn’t used to. I was dressed in a navy blue sweat suit that I often used when I was just hanging about the house. It wasn’t much, but it kept the chill at bay while I plugged away at the NES.

          I had only been home from a weekend, chock full, of Castlevania and horror movies at my sister’s house since somewhere around three-thirty or four o’clock, but had spent the largest part of my evening admiring my latest curiosity- a mini-cassette recorder that was usually used for tasks such as audio notes or interviews. Being young and imaginatively creative, I had taken it everywhere I went, pondering what to add to my “Famous Recordings” as I liked to call them. I had recorded everything from dogs barking, the opening and closing of the wood stove, along with whatever else stoked my interests. Right at that point, I was recording the sounds of Mega Man fighting through one of the many stages of the game. The gate had just closed behind me as I prepared to face the stage boss when my bedroom door let out a loud protest and Pop came in. The house had settled so much over the many years since it had been built that many of the jambs had become offset from the doors, so when anyone forced one of the affected doors open, the raw wood on wood screech would act as an alarm, announcing the entry of anyone using them.

          “You need to get the wood in and get your bath, boy,” he said as he came in to my room, “tomorrow’s a school day.”

          “Alright,” I replied, dismayed as I got up, turned off the music, my TV and the Nintendo in a single pass. I began gathering my things for a bath and decided on a whim to grab the recorder- after all there was some funny things that you could record in a bathroom that might play into a well placed practical joke later. It took me several minutes to get the wood in, but within moments I was running a hot bath and climbing into the steaming water. I had left the recorder on the shelf that covered what once was a door to the back porch, and figured it would be interesting to record myself getting bathed. I usually like to sing while in the bath, or review my thoughts aloud, a habit that many of my friends had confused with talking to myself. So, I thought- why not what’s the worst that could happen?

          The bath didn’t take long, as the tub was one of the old, Victorian cast iron tubs and it had already begun to chill the water. Cold, wet, and ready to be warmed by the fire, I crawled out of the tub some five to ten minutes after I had gotten in. Within moments I had toweled off, dressed, grabbed the mini-cassette recorder and bolted for the warmth of the wood stove in the dining room.

          The fire had just been fed a couple of good-sized logs just before I had started my bath, and the roar of the flame could be heard, pulsing behind the sheet-metal walls of the stove. The heat radiated out from the old stove, bathing everything in its vicinity with a comforting sense of warmth. It didn’t take long for me to get warm enough for curiosity to pry me away from the heat and into the colder recesses of my room where I could review the recording of my bath with the intrigue of what I might have caught on tape. I left the door to my room open so that at least some of the warmth of the dining room could filter into my room and add warmth to the otherwise perpetual cold of the winter nights in that old house. Once I had settled in to my bed where I would often read before nodding off, I pressed “Play” on the tape. Getting comfortable, I listened intently as the events of my bath played out in audio before me. The imagery was clear in my mind as the events of mere moments ago replayed themselves out over the speaker of the mini-recorder. As I listened, I heard- the water running as it filled the tub, my voice as I muttered some comment too vague to make out while climbing into the water, along with the various other sounds associated with the bathing process. For the first few moments everything seemed normal- I had even begun humming the tune to “Ice Ice Baby” as I had a tendency to do while bathing, however, somewhere near the middle of the song, my voice was drown out by the sound of an aggressive hiss, like that of a feral cat or similar animal which was about to attack. Now, growing up we weren’t allowed to have indoor pets as Pop would not allow it, so the chances of a cat making the sound from inside the house were slim at best, yet for it to be inside the bathroom with me was just not possible. Dumbfounded by the discovery, I stopped the tape and rewound it just far enough to hear the odd sound again. Sure enough, just as the sound of my voice reached a certain point of the song, it was silenced by the vile hiss of something that just wasn’t there. I listened to the sample over and over, a chill running down my spine with every time that the venomous sound came over the speaker. I wanted desperately to tell someone, and let them hear the hiss for themselves, but I figured that no one would listen to the rants of my ghost infested youth.

          So, the hiss of something very real that was with me in the bathroom faded into little more than a distant memory. Even now I have no idea what became of the mini-cassette that unwittingly captured the sound of one of the many denizens of the old house, but the memory of that cold winter’s night forever lingers in my mind.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

About A Race Against Darkness

          This story is one that has been in the family for only a few decades.  It follows the events that occurred one night in Valdese with one of my uncles.  The name of that person has been changed out of respect for him, but if it is their or their family’s wish, I will repost this tale in its original form with his name.  Those who are familiar with this tale will know the full story.  It is a tale that should be shared, if only to let us know that sometimes there are things that await us out, in the darkness- patiently waiting for the moment when we should let our guard down, ready to tear down the walls of what we view as reality.  So as you read this tale and settle in for the night, think about what might be lingering just beyond the sanctity of your climate controlled bedroom where you have the say of who or what can enter, and remember it’s only a story- isn’t it, or is it? 

Sweet Dreams,

W. R. Frady

A Race Against Darkness

          Stephen was glad to see his shift come to an end. He had been working second shift at Waldensian Bakeries for at least a couple of months, and even though he had grown accustomed to the hours, he was still fairly exhausted by the time it was over. With an exaggerated stretch of his tired, aching muscles, he slipped on his jacket. Not even a moment later, he had pushed open the glass double doors, walking out of the well-lit confines of his job, and into the night’s shadowy embrace.

          The streets of Valdese were empty and lifeless as Stephen started down the road that would take him home. A cool breeze sighed in the trees of the old church across the way, stirring any stray papers and leaves in its wake. The hulking shadows of the various buildings seemed to press closer and closer to the roughly paved roadway. In the distance ahead, the hollow tone of the Old Rock School’s clock tower echoed defiantly against the almost tangible silence that hung oppressively in the air; tolling the coming of the hour. As if to answer its call, a dog howled, its lone mournful wail careening through the night.

          Stephen couldn’t suppress the icy chill that ran down his spine. He wasn’t, by any means, a stranger to traveling the streets of the small town during the late hours of the night, having done so almost nightly since starting his job at the bakery. There was something different about tonight, though, something elusive, that dulled his senses just enough to slip by his perception. Maybe it was darker than usual, or maybe it was the way that the chill lingered, poisoning the air with an utter depression, a grim sorrow he just couldn’t escape. He crossed an overshadowed side road, his hands thrust in his pockets, and his jacket pulled tightly about his frame. As his foot found the sidewalk once more, an unsettling feeling washed over him, raising the hair on the back of his neck. It was a malign and dreadful feeling that let him know that dark, malevolent eyes had fixed themselves upon him. Stephen swallowed hard at the dry lump that had formed in his throat threatening to choke him.

          Warily, he allowed his eyes to scan the area, careful not to draw attention to the fact that he was aware of anyone‘s watchful gaze. Stephen’s heart pounded against his chest as though it might break free at any moment abandoning him to face the fear alone. A feeling of immense dread came over him as he noticed that the streets were devoid of any living thing other than him. Up ahead, the feeble glow of a dim street lamp struggled against the impenetrable darkness just over a small hill. With a renewed measure of hope, he quickened his pace; heading for the single light that seemed to beckon like a candle in the night.

          Once under the light of the street lamp, Stephen gathered enough courage to glance over his shoulder. His heart sank, leaving only a cold, empty void where it once had been as his eyes fell upon his pursuer. Hovering just out of arms reach was a creature of which had no affiliation with heaven or earth. It was humanoid in form, though that was where the resemblance ended. At first glance, the creature was gargoyle-like in appearance, however, as it came into view; its features were a twisted mockery of man and bat, coupled together and sculpted by a madman in despair. The thing glided through the air using a pair of thick, leathery wings, which propelled it silently through the night air.

          Stephen’s first instinct was to put distance between him and the thing that followed him. He began by walking faster, only to find that the creature seemed to match his pace. Again, Stephen hastened his step to a brisk pace, but to his dismay, the thing moved even faster staying on his heels. Without warning, he broke into a dead run hoping to get away from the hellish thing that pursued him. Behind him, the creature followed relentlessly. The town flew by in a surrealistic blur, as the various shadows seemed to meld with one another. Stephen’s lungs cried out for air, his breath was labored, threatening to spill him helpless and vulnerable on the street. Inside he knew that he couldn’t slow down even for an instant lest the thing would be upon him faster than he could get away.

          From where he was running, Stephen could see the old railroad come into view. He knew that he was nearly home if he could just keep going. He spared a dangerous glance behind to see if his stalker was still there. A looming, winged shadow gave him the dreaded answer to his unspoken question. He took the sharp turn to his right at a full sprint- praying that he wouldn’t lose his footing. His legs gave warning pains that they were about to fold beneath him as he started up the hill. They carried him solely out of fear now, his exhausted form ready to collapse, ready to give in and let the infernal stalker have him. Before long, he was running up the steps to his house keys in hand, and hoping beyond hope that his wife hadn’t locked the door.

          The door burst open with Stephen tearing inside and all but slamming the door shut. His wife raced into the living room to see what was wrong. When she saw her husband, he was drenched in a cold sweat, and out of breath. He practically collapsed onto the floor, trembling violently. On his face, she could see the terror of what had happened in that ghastly encounter, though he refused to talk about it at that moment. Without further inquiry, she aided him to bed.

          After an uneasy rest, Stephen told her about the events of that terrible night. He even described to her what he had seen following him using the pictures from an old family bible to show her similar illustrations of what it looked like. His wife went on to retell the story to her sisters and other members of the family. Stephen on the other hand, when asked about that night, will give a knowing smile and answer with a simple statement. “It’s best to leave the Devil alone.” Then he’ll drop the subject entirely.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Chimes in the Night

          Although this has happened more than once, I will only be able to relate the events of a single night. It all would begin when we would go to bed. Lights were off and everyone was sound asleep… or so it would seem. My mom and dad have always collected various music boxes, which she kept locked inside of an old china hutch in the living room. My story begins at the end of a long day…

          It was that time again, the Eleven O’clock News had just gone off the air, and Pop was ushering everyone to bed for the night. I personally was a bit of a night owl, so even as I would go to bed, I knew sleep still had a long journey ahead before it would finally subdue me, but I went to my room anyway. Pop walked through the house turning out all of the lights, his heavy footfalls announcing where he was, at all times. Soon all lights were off thrusting the house into a black abyss.

          I quietly made my way up the stairs, my eyes quickly adjusting to the dark as I entered the shadows of the second floor. The night beyond the windows seemed to glow by comparison to the ink like shadow of the upstairs hallway. With well-practiced steps, I walked to the door of my room and walked in. My light came on with a blinding flash that nearly gave me a headache. Grabbing a book from my shelf, I began to read, immersing myself in yet another story. Within moments, my eyes grew heavy, and the pages began to repeat themselves. The gentle caress of sleep had lulled me into a waking dream. Somehow, though I figure that it was I in some manner of half awareness, my light had been turned off.

          All was silent and still until shortly after one in the morning. At first, the twinkling sound of music came as a distant tone in a dream. Soon, however, it was joined by the sound of another, then another. Mom was the first to hear the music boxes come to life. She lay in bed, her heart trying to beat as an iceberg formed in her stomach. “Those music boxes are locked up.” She thought over and over. Her mind raced over the possibilities. A bead of sweat ran down her forehead, and her breath came in shallow gasps as, yet, another music box chimed in. One by one, each of the music boxes played with or after one another. Only Pop, who was fast asleep couldn’t hear the ghastly serenade coming from a locked china hutch in the living room. After a while, they “wound” down, once more an uneasy silence fell over the old house.


The Spectral Dancers

          Edna had just sat back on the living room sofa, preparing to indulge her self in the juicy plot of her latest “Harlequin” romance novel. In many ways she was thankful to have the house to herself for the evening. It had been at least a couple of months or longer since she was able to have some quality alone time. With a moderate smile of satisfaction, she took a sip of her iced tea. She glanced around for a moment allowing the tranquility wash over her. The silence was all at once calm and inviting, seducing her to give in to its gentle embrace. As if to answer its call, she opened her book and began reading.

          Within moments she was enraptured in the story that unfolded in the pages before her. Time seemed to lose all meaning as the paths of the many characters in her story intertwined with each other, lulling her farther into their solemn depths. A loud creak pulled her back to reality with a start. Though she knew it to be the old house settling, the sound never failed to raise the hair on the back of her neck.

          Edna took the momentary distraction to reach for her tea, however, she stopped as her eyes caught a movement at the top of the stairs. At first all she could see was the thick blanket of shadows that seemed to cover the top of the staircase like an ebony shroud. “There isn’t supposed to be anyone else here!” She said aloud, just feeling better about hearing her own voice. As if to answer, a couple dressed in the casual attire of the Victorian Era materialized from the shadows. Together they waltzed down the stairs onto the landing. A chill run down Edna’s spine as she watched, unable to move.

          The dancing apparitions stepped from the landing into the living room floor, continuing to dance to a beat only they could hear. Edna lowered her book, without even knowing that she had done so, to watch the peculiar spectacle that played out before her. They soon were dancing along the darkened hallway that separated the dining room from the stairwell, making their way toward the back door. Not even stopping to acknowledge the existence of such an obstacle, the phantasmal dancers passed straight through the oaken doorway.

         Edna rose as though she could not control her own feet and walked briskly to the kitchen window. To her amazement they continued their waltz as they descended the back porch steps and began crossing the backyard. They danced their way into the edge of the woods only to fade into the shadows from which they had come. Edna walked back to the living room, bewildered at what had just taken place before her.


Hand in the Window

          Though it has been many years, I can still remember the events of that midwinter’s night as though they had happened only yesterday. I was in the seventh grade then, and all of my older siblings were married, save for the younger of my two sisters, who lived in Valdese at the time with a friend. Only my mother, father, and I were still living in the old Victorian style farmhouse, in which I had spent nearly all of my childhood. My dad was a member of the J. Mack Moore Hunting Club, which had leased the tract of woodland that bordered our land on two sides. My tale begins on what seemed to be just another Tuesday…

          I sat drawing at the dining room table, having long since finished my homework. A warm fire blazed in the old kettle stove nearby driving any trace of the winter’s icy breath out of the house. Mom was all but lost to reality in the living room as she sat in her chair reading one of her many romance novels. She would occasionally look up to see what was playing on the television. Pop had gone to one of the monthly hunting club meetings, and so she and I had the house to ourselves for the largest part of the evening. It had been awhile since any of us had checked the fire, and the cool air had begun to creep in bringing a chill to the rooms.

          “Randy?” Mom called from the living room. “Have you checked the fire lately?” She asked.

          I looked up from my sketches, and answered. “No, but I can.” With that, I reluctantly stood up from my seat and walked over to the stove. The lid scraped loudly as I opened the top to peer inside. The wood inside had almost completely burned to a bed of glowing hot ashes. I glanced over to the corner where we usually kept the wood stacked only to find a few meager sticks to put in the fire. I sighed heavily, knowing that I was going to have to bring in the wood for the night. Once I had put the remaining wood in the stove, I grabbed my jacket and started toward the front door.

          “Are you getting the wood in for tonight?” Mom asked glancing up from her book. I nodded.

          “Yeah,” I said half-heartedly. “I might as well.” It was a job that I had always dreaded during the colder months, however; I knew too that it was one of my responsibilities. Without much else to say, I reached for the doorknob.

          “Don’t forget to bring in a good sized log for the end of the night.” She added as I walked through the door.

          “I won’t.” I replied, taking a sharp breath under the sudden exposure to the below freezing temperatures outside.

          Night had cloaked the neighborhood in a nearly opaque darkness making any kind of visibility difficult at best. I walked carefully around to the side of the house where the wood lay in a disheveled pile. Somewhere, a dog barked in the distance, its voice echoing across the way as it broke the leaden silence that seemed to suffocate the air around me. The gnarled shadows of the barren trees appeared as skeletal fingers reaching to claw at the nearly overcast sky above.

          My breath came in white clouds that hung suspended in the deathly still air before drifting off to join the night. Using the light that filtered down from the second story bedroom, I began sorting through the pile for suitable pieces of wood to carry in. My fingers hurt as I picked up one log after another, stacking them in my arm. To my surprise, something moved in the upstairs window. It was a motion too quick for my eyes to register what it was, so I glanced up for a better look.

          I took in the scene, surveying it carefully. The light had been on since earlier that afternoon when we had been up there cleaning. At first, I thought that maybe I was imagining things, but then I saw a most peculiar thing. It was a disembodied hand that moved across the window. The sight of it caught me unaware, but I knew what I had seen. The hand was completely incomplete, having all of its digits, and ended just behind the wrist. Even though I was sure of what I had seen, I wasn’t going to jump to conclusions. In my mind, there was a mildly skeptical side that told me of the possibility that Mom had gone back upstairs for something. After that, I quickly gathered my first armload of wood and took it inside.

          “Hey Mom,” I said as I struggled with the front door, “were you just upstairs for any reason?” I shut the door behind me sending a cold draft through the living room. Mom lowered her book, and looked up at me as though she had no idea of what I was talking about.

          “What do you mean?” She asked, sitting up in the recliner so she could better listen.

          “Did you go upstairs for anything while I was outside?” I replied attempting to get an answer. I carried the load of wood into the dining room stacking it in the usual corner with a heavy thud.

          “Why no,” she answered curiously, “I’ve been sitting here the whole time. Why what‘s wrong?” I walked back into the living room and looked at her.

          “Well, someone or something is,” I explained, very suspicious of who or what was in that old bedroom, “because I just saw a hand in the window while I was gathering wood.” I was already walking toward the stairs as I uttered the last words. Mom had placed her book on the coffee table and hurried to join me on the staircase.

          The upstairs was dark except for the bedroom light of which I had used to help me gather the wood just moments before. Mom had only stopped long enough to grab Pop’s flashlight before fully catching up with me. We both knew that the only way in or out of the upstairs was the same staircase that we had just climbed, and since no one was seen coming down the stairs, we knew that if anyone was in the house, they’d have to be hiding upstairs. I stopped by my brother’s pool table to pick up one of the short pool cues to use as a weapon just in case someone was upstairs.

          We checked the bedroom, only to find it empty. One by one, I began searching every room on the second floor. Not even closets and secret storage rooms went unchecked; however, no one was there.

          The winter passed on, though I had not forgotten about that night. The story of the hand in the window spread among many of the people we knew. Soon the winter cold was replaced by the warmth of the spring. My sister had come to visit, announcing that she was going to be moving back home. She decided that she wanted to take the old bedroom upstairs and so began coming over to help clean it out. One day when we were taking down the fifty or sixty year old wallpaper, so that we could begin painting, we made a shocking discovery. There, in the center of the western wall, and hidden for however long the wallpaper had been up, was a large bloody handprint.


Called by No One

          Although I’ve told this story many times, it never fails to send a chill up my spine. The events of that bizarre night still play all too clearly through my mind. It all began on a midsummer’s evening when my friend, Stacy came to stay the night…

          The car pulled into the driveway of the old Victorian style farmhouse, its headlights illuminating the boxwoods and trees that lined the front yard. A small group of dogs raced off of the porch, yipping and barking, announcing our arrival to anyone inside. Stacy and I got out of the car, both of us eager to try out the “Nintendo” games that we had rented from the local video store. Wading through the overzealous welcoming party of pooches, we hastened our way to the front door.

          Pop looked up from his chair, taking a sip of his beer as he watched Stacy and I practically burst through the door. He had been listening to the evening news, but was surfing the channels to find the nights ballgame. He eyed us carefully while we crossed the living room to go to the staircase.

         “You might want to eat before playing those video games, boy.” Pop stated flatly, his distaste for video games evident in his tone. With that said, he went back to flipping the channels on the television.

         “Oh”, I replied starting to climb the dark stairwell, “don’t worry, we’ll be right back down after we take them up to my room. “

          “Yeah, after all“, Stacy interjected, “we’ve never met a pizza that we didn’t like.” He stopped for a moment to think. “Well, maybe veggie pizzas, anchovies, and a few others, but who’s counting?” Pop answered the remark with only his trademark, quirky, half-smile and a shake of his head before retuning his attention to finding his ballgame.

          The two of us raced up the stairs taking them two at a time. The upstairs hallway was dark, despite the moderate glow filtering up from the living room. I went ahead of Stacy, navigating the overshadowed walkway as I had done on numerous occasions. My eyes had grown accustomed to the low light allowing me to avoid tripping over anything that may have been in the path. With well practiced steps, I worked my way into my bedroom door, slipping through almost effortlessly. Within seconds light filled the room, flooding out into the hallway, illuminating the immediate surroundings.

          “Are you ready for pizza?” I asked tossing the video games onto the bed by the window. Stacy had just poked his head through the doorway.

          “Are you kidding? What’re we waiting for?” Stacy replied ducking back into the hall. His heavy footsteps could be heard drifting toward the stairs.

          “Well let’s go!” I said in a burst of laughter, dashing passed him. He returned the laughter unable to contain himself at my crazy antics.

          “Wait up ya goofball!” He called following my lead. We tore down the steps resembling more a herd of elephants than a pair of teenage boys.

          The pizza was the Special Express Pizza from “Pizza Express”, twenty-four inches of Italian goodness made on a hand-tossed crust. Just one slice of this monster meal would cover all but the most extreme edges of a full-sized plate, while overlapping others. With five choice toppings, as well as extra cheese and sauce, Stacy and I gorged ourselves until we felt our sides were going to split if we dared another bite.

          After supper, we retired back to the comforts of my room where we could play our rented games in peace. Stacy played his chosen game first, only to find that it was a disappointment. He continued to play until frustration forced him to lay down the controller.

          “Man, that game sucks!” Stacy protested as he turned off the game system. He stood up shaking his head, and removed the game from the console. “Dude, I hope you have better luck with the one you rented.” He walked over to take a seat at the foot of the twin bed by the window. Again he shook his head, annoyed with his choice of games. A cool summer night’s breeze blew in through the window stirring the curtains, and reducing the stuffiness of my room. Stacy couldn’t suppress the yawn that overcame him as he sat watching me fumble with my game.

          We talked about movies, games, as well as hurled playful insults at each other, laughing all the while. Between the game and our antics, we failed to notice that time had slipped away. A grim silence had fallen over the house, an uneasy hush that neither Stacy nor myself recognized at first. It was the quiet that one could almost feel its presence, where even a whisper sounded like a silent scream. That silence would haunt us for the rest of the night. In our preoccupation, we hadn’t noticed that my parents had long since gone to bed, and my bedroom light was the only thing illuminating the hallway through the cracks between the door and its facing.

          I had been laughing at one of Stacy’s crazy impersonations when, without warning he grew quiet.

          “Hey Randy,” he said in a low whisper, “Randy!” He waved his hands to get my attention. I turned to regard him curiously, attempting to quell my laughter.

          “What is it Stace?” I asked, restraining the urge to laugh once again. Stacy’s face revealed that something had come to his attention.

          “I think we’ve been getting too loud.” Stacy replied grimacing as though we were about to get into trouble. I answered by cocking my eyebrows and returning a questioning look of my own. “I just heard your dad calling you from the stairs.” He hoped that they weren’t mad for us keeping them awake. Seeing his concern, I paused the game so that I could better listen for him.

          “Randy!” Pop’s voice called from the bottom of the stairs.

          Mildly dismayed by the tone of my dad’s voice, I answered reluctantly. “Yeah Pop, what do you need?” I was fully expecting him to tell us to shut down the game, turn off the lights, and go to bed. I exhaled heavily, my breath bearing the weight of the enjoyment that we had being lost by a single order, which I anticipated to come; however, it never did. Instead of a vocal answer, there came a sudden sharp and violent hiss, a disturbing combination of a cat’s warning and that of a snake concocted together, telling the two of us that something was just outside the door of my room.

          Any thoughts of laughter that we once had, left at that moment. Stacy and I turned to look at each other, both wearing a look that asked, “Did you hear that?!”, before turning to face the door. Though only the pitch dark of nighttime shadows could be seen through the cracks of the door.

          “What the Hell was that?” I voiced aloud, not really expecting Stacy to answer.

          “I have no idea, but by the sound of it, I’m not sure I want to find out either.” He replied his voice a little shaky from the experience.

          I returned my gaze to Stacy, speaking calmly, trying not to let my imagination take over. “Okay, I’m going to begin playing the game again. If you would, watch the door and keep an ear out for anything else that might happen.” I reached over to turn the volume down a few notches.

          With the television turned down, we recognized for the first time that a deathly calm had settled over the old house. The house settled with a loud creak, nearly startling us. The night seemed to throb, pressing its shadowy borders upon the room in which we sat, making the whole feel like little more than an illuminated prison cell. Although my parents were asleep in their room downstairs, Stacy and I had never felt so alone as we did at that moment.

          Everything remained quiet for nearly a half-hour, I was progressing fairly rapidly through the game, Stacy was relating the details of his last trip to the mountains, and the thrills of tubing down Wilson’s Creek. Just when we thought things were getting back to normal, we heard my name once again.

          “Randy?” Called Mom’s voice. “Randy!” I cast a glance toward Stacy. His eyes were fixed on me, wondering what I was going to do.

          “If Mom wants me bad enough“, I said in a low voice that was borderline to a whisper, “she’ll come to the door.”

           “Randy!” Called Mom from the hallway. The two of us waited patiently to see if she would come to the door; however, everything soon faded into the dreadful silence once more.

           Wary of the events taking place, we continued with our conversation as well as our game playing. Another half-hour passed slowly, the air growing heavy with anticipation. Soon came another voice, summoning me to the hallway, only this time it was the voice of the younger of my two sisters.

           “Randy?” Brigetta called from the hall. “Randy!” The sound of Brigetta’s voice sent a chill down my spine. I knew that it wasn’t possible for her to be calling to me from the upstairs hall. She was married and lived in Hildebran. Again, I refused to answer. Soon Brigetta’s voice became silent, leaving Stacy and I to guess who would be next.

           Somewhere nearing the Two-O’clock hour, my older sister began calling me to come into the hallway. Crystal lived in Hickory at that time with her husband and daughter. Though it struck us as more than fairly odd, I refused to answer just like with the previous times before.

           “Randy!” Crystal called. “Randy!” Her voice seemed to linger in the air long after it was gone. Without an answer it soon joined the others which had come before.

           Stacy and I returned to the game, though our true attention was focused on what lay in wait beyond the safety of my bedroom door. We conversed on many different topics, trying not to reveal that we were waiting for what was to come.

           A short time later we heard the sound of the younger of my two brothers, calling me. I knew that it wasn’t him as he was married and lived over an hour away. Stacy and I continued about what we were doing, pretending that we didn’t hear anyone.

          “Randy!” He called. “Randy!” James’ voice rang out. Stacy and I wondered why Mom and Pop wasn’t able to hear this going on. After a moment or so his voice died out leaving us in silence once more.

          The night was becoming early morning, though, staying up was nothing new to neither Stacy, nor myself. We both could feel the strain of sleep wearing down on us. The clock read a quarter until Three when, we heard my oldest brother calling from near the stairs.

          “Randy!” Roy called. “Randy? Randy!” I found this odd, for of all of my family that lived nearby; Roy was completely in another state altogether. I turned to regard Stacy, and then shifted my gaze to the door. “What on earth could be so adamant to get me out of my room that it was exhausting all efforts to do so?” I thought, all the while looking for anything to move just beyond the border of the light.

          All was silent for a few moments. Stacy and I exchanged glances on a number of occasions, quietly wondering, hoping, that it was all over. We got our answer, however, when just a few minutes later, the most shocking voice came calling from the hallway. As Stacy and I were looking at one another, his own voice called me, summoning me to the pitch dark of the upstairs hall.

          “Randy! “ We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. “Randy” Slowly, Stacy and I faced the bedroom door watching, waiting, for anything to happen. Just as we started to turn around, out of the corner of our eyes, there came a movement like that of a shadow slipping in through the cracks in between the door. In a motion too fast to see clearly it ducked into the shadows beneath the bed that sat by the bedroom door. We could feel the hair stand up on the back of our necks, a chill course over our body.

          “How long is it until the sun comes up?” Stacy asked in a low whisper.

          “Well”, I said glancing at the clock, “it’s going on Three-thirty, now. We’ve still got another two and a half to three hours before dawn.” Stacy nodded with an uncomfortable smile upon his face.

          “Do you think we can make it until then?” He asked turning to look at the other bed. “Because I don’t know about you, but I’m not finding myself very sleepy now.”

           I knew what he was saying, in a lot of ways I was feeling the same. We both felt that whatever was beyond the door or possibly under that bed was just laying in wait for us to turn off the light, giving it the darkness it needed for whatever purpose with which it was there. “You won’t catch me sleeping anytime soon.” I remarked. With that, neither Stacy, nor I slept a wink until several hours later when the sun had risen banishing all of the shadows of the night back to whence they came.