I glanced over at my small alarm clock, 1:30 am.
I heard a small tapping noise downstairs, but made nothing of it. Normally any rodent sounding noises would scare me that late at night, but the tranquility of the rain dancing along the roof calmed my nerves. I needed to take a piss. So slowly, I pulled myself out of bed. I travelled through my large, well furnished room in nothing but my boxers and slugged my way down the spiral staircase.
With each step the old wooden boards creaked and croaked under me. The house I had bought over winter break was probably 3 times my age, and 3 times bigger than the one I grew up in. I wanted to live there forever. The only bathroom on the top floor was to be fixed the next day so, the closest one was on the main floor. With my eyes still bloodshot from little sleep, I peed.
I quickly washed my hands and made my way to the stairs trying to explore the empty beautiful old house as little as possible but, I couldn't help but stop by the ancient clock near the kitchen to admire it. It read 1:33 am.
I hauled my middle aged, work destroyed body up the stairs with no rush in my stride, but was interrupted by a sudden quiet tap. I turned around suddenly. I waited 3 seconds.
“ tap tap tap.” a slow soft tap against wood.
It was a bit louder than the first time I heard the noise.
I climbed back down the stairs, trying to locate the source of the knock. I stood in the centre of the room, and counted to calm myself down. Just like I did when I was little. 1,2,3, I ran my fingers through my strawberry blonde already graying hair. 11,12,13, I checked to see if there was anyone at the door. No one. 27,28,29, my palms started to sweat.
“Knock, knock, knock” I heard something now knocking against the wall. Hard.
I was losing my calmness and tried looking everywhere I thought maybe an animal or something was hiding. I hoped it was the alley cat who sometimes visits or even a racoon with rabies. Anything but what I thought it was.
Lastly I pulled the old clock back and checked behind it. To my disgust, there was a small hole, too small for big animals, but definitely big enough for rats. I hated rats. The disease they carry with them, their scurrying and long naked tails. I gagged at the thought. I backed up and continued up the stairway in a hurry. I was not dealing with rats right then and there so, I ran to my room and slammed the door.
I did not like rats.
I sat in my bed nervously, and peeked at the small vintage alarm clock once more. 2:27 am. Hours till any animal control or extermination or whatever the hell I needed was open. Hoping that time had passed up in my stuffy, oversized master bedroom ,after sitting for god knows how long, I took a deep breath. And, looked at the small alarm clock for the 3rd time that night.
“KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK” the wall across the room from me vibrated with the noise.And I felt furniture even tremble as in fear of the rumble. I sat in silence for what felt like years, with a delicate “Tap, tap ,tap“ echoing from downstairs.
The walls shook as if there were millions of mice running inside of them, and their small mouse screams were like thunder to my ears. I tried to breath. I was convinced the rats had gotten into the room.They were coming for me. I could heard their squeals, their tiny feet scurrying across the wood floor in the dark. I pulled my covers over my head and placed my pasty white hands over my ears to drown out the noise. They were everywhere, on the ceiling, on the floor, they were playing in my closet, and leaving feces on my desk. They were touching everything. Infecting everything. I could sense their feet crawling their way up the bedposts. 3 of them, 3 huge ugly rats .I felt them jumping on me, their long thick tails dragging behind them. I was hyperventilating, I could smell their filth rubbing against my bed sheets.
Goddammit I hated rats.
I couldn't help but cry as they started biting at the cover, trying to peel it back to access my healthy young flesh. I felt one find its way in, running along my leg. That goddamn tail bouncing up and down. But then. Nothing.
I felt no presence, heard nothing and smelt nothing.
Nervously I peaked out from under the sheets. The room was relaxed, no rats and the rain was still skipping along the roof.
I glanced over at my small alarm clock.
1:30 am .
I heard a small knock from downstairs.
There was no way it was a dream, I thought to myself. The sounds were so loud, the smells so pungent and I had seen the hole. I had seen that hole.
Choosing to prove it to myself, I once again crawled out out of my guest bed, and jogged down the stairs them whining behind me. I made it to the clock and started to pull it back, and saw a hole. A big hole, and in it what looked like a dirty old barbie doll. I started to reach for it when
“Tap, tap ,tap“
I heard a gentle tap against the wood, something coming from inside the wall.
Something was in the wall. The time read 1:33.
Without a moment's hesitation I let the clock fall back into place and started to sprint up the stairs, down the hall and into my room.
As I ran I could hear a faint“Tap, tap ,tap“ behind me.
I locked the door.
I found an old candle stick and chose it as my self defense weapon and sat on my bed once again. Beads of sweat dripped down my slightly wrinkled forehead as I took another look at the time.
3 loud thumps slammed against the wall across the room and everything rattled as if it were an earthquake. All of the books were falling off the shelves and my faithful alarm clock crashed to the ground. It shattered. Then silence, and I tried to remember what had happened before… I tried to remember every detail of the night.
“1:30 am, then I peed. 1:33, I heard it again“ I stopped my process.
“3,3,3,3,3,3,3 . Why 3.“
I took a second to gather my thoughts. But I recalled a day, a day around 3 years ago. I screwed over this old guy in a case. His name was Robert something and he claimed he was innocent, that he was framed for the murders but nevertheless I got him sent to prison and won the case. He was given 3 life sentences for the crimes but killed himself after only 3 months in the slammer. 3.
And, 3:00 am. The rats would be coming.
This half an hour lasted a million years longer than the first one, especially because I had no way to tell the time. I gripped my candlestick bravely. Readily.
The door unlocked. I stood up, ready for the rats to scurry in. But instead I heard a voice from downstairs. A little girl's voice. Calling my name.
“Lucas“ it chanted sweetly. I could hear her footsteps getting closer, closer and closer towards the stairs.
Tessie. Fatty Tessie.
The goddamned Robert was taunting me.Looking into my deepest most vulnerable memories, the stupid bastard wanted revenge.
She sang softly as she creeped up the stairs, every step she got closer, so did a putrid stench I can only describe as a mix of rotting beef and daisies. A sickening sweetness. I held my candlestick firmly in my grip, as Tessie tiptoed through the hall.
Only a few steps from my door, and my heart beating faster than a hummingbird's wings,
she said “I am very upset with you Lucas“ in a voice sounding as sweet as a 10 year old but as distant as an old frail woman.
Unable to handle the situation I ran to the bed and once again pulled the covers over my head.
“Lucas“ she called. Her voice turning into a frogs croak.
“Lucas, you hurt me.“
I started to pray as the maloder got closer. I had never prayed before, but right then seemed like a good time to start.
She walked closer as if in slow motion to make suspense worse, and I could only imagine her decomposing corpse.
“I’m sorry, I am so sorry“ I sniffled quietly, tears rolling down my cheeks.
I felt her stare.
I cleared my throat “I am so sorry Tess, I was so young.“
“Lucas“ her voice got lower, older sounding.
“Please“ I begged
“ It was Charlie's idea, I just went along with it...“ my voice cracked
“I'm so sorry dammit! Please!“ I screamed
“Fatty Tessie“ she whispered as she took a step forward
I pulled at the sheets and compressed myself into an even smaller ball.
“Fatty Tessie!“ she screamed until the walls shook, then creeped closer, repeating the same chant over and over again until she was a step away from me.
“I am so sorry! Please!“ I screeched.
Her little hands grabbed at me through the sheet, then reached her disgustingly sour smelling fingers down under the sheets and at my throat.
I swung my candlestick at her, but she got her chubby hands out just in time.
I felt her lifeless, body weight at the end of the bed when she sat down.
She lifted the sheet, and started to crawl under. I pushed my eyes closed as much as humanly possible as she crawled under the sheets to me. Her cold legs brushed against my sweaty body. She rested her hand on my shaking arm and moved her face near my ear.
“You made me do it“ she whispered, I felt her breath on my neck.
“You. Killed me“.
Then, she was there awhile. Until all of sudden she wasn't. I never opened my eyes, I counted for quite a while to calm myself down. Then pulled back the sheets and took a peak around, I sighed a sigh of relief. Everything was back in its spot.
I glanced over at my small alarm clock, 1:30 am.
I heard a small tapping noise downstairs.