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Flicker, flicker, flicker.
I shut my eyes as tight as I could and rolled over, but I knew it would do no good.
Annoyed, I climbed out of my bed and made my way over to the window and began to pull the curtains back. Stupid streetlight, I thought. As if answering me defiantly, the flickering seemed to pick up pace as it cast an eerie orange glow across my bedroom. I shut the curtains and was disappointed yet unsurprised to see that the light still filtered through the old rags with ease.
Let me explain a few things. My family and I had recently moved into this house, I’d say almost two weeks ago, in a quiet neighborhood in a quaint town. As if the stress of attending a new high school wasn’t enough, this faulty-wired streetlight just had to be right outside my window.
Don’t get me wrong, school wasn’t that bad. I had a few people I talked to now, but only one really seemed to be a friend of mine. Gabe was his name. He was a bit strange though; every time I asked him to come over, he always seemed to try to change the subject, and I had given up on it.
Anyway, back to the point. I would have been okay with the dim orange glow of the streetlight if it wasn’t for the constant flashing. Even with my eyes shut I could see it, and it was impossible to sleep unless I completely covered myself with sheets, which isn’t very comfortable in my opinion. You might think a steady flickering would almost help put you to sleep, but that’s the thing: it was erratic and random. It was especially annoying when the light would flicker quickly, in a seizure-like fashion, or when it would seem to stop altogether only to start flickering again.
I had complained to my parents about this several times but they weren’t very helpful. I had began to wonder why the city hadn’t noticed this problem yet, as it had been going for the few weeks I was living there, and the town was anything but big.
As I laid back down on my bed, the light still cast through the curtains, almost tauntingly. I tried, in vain, to fall asleep, trying all kinds of strange positions, but the light still managed to penetrate my eyelids and make getting some shuteye impossible.
So I gave up, and I began to stare at the ceiling, taking in the light, wishing I could just fall asleep. Over the next few minutes, I thought I had noticed something that weirded me out a bit. Tonight, the flashing seemed different. The way it flashed almost seemed to be a pattern.
Testing my theory in order to humor myself, I waited a few seconds before observing the light patterns on my ceiling, and the first series of flashes came.
Fliiiiicker, flicker, flicker.
The second lights followed moments after.
And the final.
I waited for the next set of flashes from the streetlight, anxious that a pattern could be revealed.
One long flicker, two quick.
It’s just a coincidence, I thought. My heart was beating at a remarkable pace.
Two quick flickers.
Oh my god...
A quick flicker.
I gasped aloud and sat up, observing the orange lights more carefully now. Yes, there was a pattern here. The same one kept occurring. A long flash with two quick flashes, then two quick flashes, and lastly, a single quick flash.
This was not normal, was it? Could a malfunctioning light keep up such an exact pattern for so long? And it hadn’t ever done this before, had it? Or maybe it always had, and I just hadn’t noticed.
And it was then I realized just how dumb this all sounded. My heart was pounding, and I felt like an idiot for letting something like this scare me. It was just a case of bad wiring, surely.
Feeling annoyed with myself but at the same time more at peace, I decided to just pull the sheets over my head to block out the lights, and I eventually fell asleep.
My eyes opened suddenly. Something had woken me. Had those screams been real? I didn't remember having a bad dream. I sat up in bed and noticed it was still the middle of the night. As my vision came into focus again, I stared at the patterns that the orange glow made on the wall of my bedroom.
…Wait. I jumped to my feet and dashed to the window. Sure enough, the streetlight seemed to be completely repaired. The light was a continuous, consistent glow, with no more flickers or flashes or falters. Feeling satisfied, I decided to head back to sleep on this note. I didn't know why I hadn't gotten up in the first place. Silly me.
I woke up and immediately knew something was wrong. It was too bright outside to be time to get ready for school. I glanced over at my alarm clock and was astounded to see that it was 12:14 p.m. Why hadn’t my parents woken me up?
I quickly got out of bed and checked the kitchen and the living room for my parents. No one. I made my way to their bedroom door. I knocked a few times, and I received no replies. As I touched the door knob to enter, a quick zap went through my hand, a static shock. I waited a moment before trying to enter again.
As I opened the door, a scream forced its way out of my throat. Laying in the bedroom was a terrible sight. My parents were thrown in a messy heap on the floor, in positions normal human beings could never achieve. Their features were distorted and unrecognizable, their whole bodies covered with severe burns and singe marks, the hair on their bodies standing straight up. I felt myself shake uncontrollably with terror, and I passed out.
I sat in the hard wooden chair, staring ahead blankly. They had given me food and something to drink but I could care less. Hours of questioning and they still refused my explanation for what happened. Not even I knew what happened. The whole thing seemed surreal, and while you might think I should have been breaking down at the moment, my jumble of emotions had just made me emotionless. So I continued to sit there in that blank, cold room, for what seemed like hours with no one coming in to question me again.
After a while, they said I had a visitor, and my friend Gabe walked in. He sat down across the table from me and seemed to be gathering his thoughts. After a few moments, he began his story, apologizing to me that he didn’t tell me sooner. “There is a legend in town involving your house. There is supposed to be an evil spirit there that wants the house all to his own. It is said that he gives you warnings for 13 days and 12 nights, and if you do not heed them and leave, on the 13th night, something terrible will happen.”
This paranormal explanation for the events all seemed to make sense to me, except for one thing. “But he didn’t give us any warnings!” I protested angrily.
Gabe sighed. “The spirit speaks in Morse code.”
At first, I laughed a dry, humorless laugh. The spirit speaks in Morse code? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I was about to come back with a scathing response when I suddenly realized the terrible meaning of those words.
The flickering. Oh, that damn streetlight. It was communicating with me, giving me warnings, and I ignored it. Despised its warnings, in fact. It was my fault my parents were dead. My ignorance had brought this upon me.
And then I remembered the pattern I had noticed that horrible night. The eerie, repeated orange glow on the wall of my bedroom. I had to know what it said. After Gabe left, I demanded to speak with someone who would be able to translate the message for me.
It wasn't long before a worn looking, aged officer walked in the room, probably a veteran with a war or two on his belt, and he sat down, asking me what I needed him to translate. I described the flashes to him. When I was finished, he looked at me, puzzled. "Young man, do you think this is some kind of joke?"
"What? What did it say?" I demanded.
The old man's brow furrowed as he spoke one word.