That shadow you see out of the corner of your eye? The flicker of light you’re sure you didn't see? The whisper in the silence of the night that you tell yourself over and over you didn’t hear? These are the things that I used to ignore.
The things that we all experience and write off as nothing. That shadow? Just your eyes adjusting to the darkness. The flicker? A reflection across your wall. Those whispers? Simply the TV down the hall. Maybe it is more than that. Maybe it isn’t that simple.
It started as a child, I was ten years old. I was sitting in the back seat of my mother’s van going home late at night on Christmas Eve. I always leaned against the window, watching streetlights fly by.
No music in the car. No talking. My mom was a paranoid driver, looking back on it. I was always drawn to watching the lights as it gave me something to focus on and passed the time. Sitting at an intersection, I was looking into the distance.
That’s when it happened the first time. A Street light went out as we were sitting at the stoplight. I thought nothing of it at the time. 'Burned out' I thought. A few minutes later, it happened again. This time the car was moving and I caught it out of the corner of my eye. That was strange. Again it happened pulling into our driveway. The light at the end of the street went out. That’s when I started to feel uncomfortable.
"Mom, why do the street lights keep going out?" She parked the car and closed the garage door. "Why do they keep going out?"
I could tell she was uncomfortable. "All lights burn out eventually. Get inside and go to bed.”
That night, I found it hard to sleep. For some reason I kept thinking back on the lights I watched go out. They are just lights. Why are you so nervous? I talked myself out of it. I slowly drifted off to sleep.
I woke up in a sweat. My heart was racing. The sounds of static filled the air. My room was pitch black, save for the light coming off of my radio. A shadow moved in front of the display, blocking out the light for a quick second.
I was sure there was somebody in the room. I let out a scream louder than I ever have before. I grabbed my blanket and pulled it over my head. I shut my eyes and waited. I knew there was somebody in the room with me. There had to be. Who was it? What did they want? The panic overtook me and I immediately started crying.
Slam! "Don’t hurt me!" I screamed. It was the sound of my mom throwing open the door to my bedroom. I told her what I saw; I told her something was in the room watching me sleep. She sat silent for a minute or two without saying anything. Her face was so pale. "Everybody has nightmares. It was nothing." As she explained it to me a single tear ran down her face and she left the room.
The next day was one of the worst days of my life. My parents had to explain to me that my grandmother, in her 70's at the time had died. They told me she died peacefully in her sleep and didn't feel a thing and that she loved me very much. I was crushed.
It wasn’t until years later that it happened again. This time, I’m twenty-two years old driving home from work. I was a traveling salesperson and the shifts were late and long. I was working out in DeKalb, primarily a farming community. Mostly gravel roads, the odd house along the way here and there.
My GPS was telling me to go about ten miles south to catch the interstate. Ten miles out of the way. I decided this wasn’t for me as I wanted to get home, so I started down a dimly lit farm road. I could see on the GPS it eventually met up where I wanted to be so I didn’t have much concern for the choice.
The road was gravel, but very flat and very straight. Every few hundred feet was a driveway that went off into the darkness. The road had trees lining each side of it the entire distance I could see.
There was very little in the form of lighting to speak of, just the odd light post at each dark driveway. Even with the lights on I could barely make out what was ahead of me. With my faith in the GPS that the road was straight I kept going.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a light go off but when I looked into the rearview mirror it was too dark to tell if there was even a light post there at all. I thought nothing of it.
The sounds of Johnny Cash gave way to static as the radio gave up on me. "Great." Looking forward I saw it again. Another light post ahead of me flickered off. 'The hell is going on?' I thought to myself. A rush of panic came over me as flashbacks of my childhood experience came back to me.
POP! my fear gave way to the sound of a flat tire flopping over the jagged roadway. "Damn flat tire" I said aloud. I pulled over to the side of the road. Pulling over was futile really, since there wasn't another soul in sight in either direction. It was a chilly night so I pulled my sweater off of the passenger seat next to me.
As I pulled it over my head I saw a shadow move across the road. I couldn’t think of anything else but those memories; screaming under the covers of my bed with the blanket over my head. I held my sweater over my eyes for just a second. 'Stop it Kevin, it’s just a deer. Nothing is going on. Nothing ever happened before, nothing is happening now.' I pulled the sweater down all of the way. Nothing in sight. A sigh of relief.
I got out of the car and with my cell phone as a light I bent down to inspect the tire. Shredded to pieces. No way to salvage something that bad. I went to go get my spare, but remembered that I didn’t have one. It was a used car and the spare was gone when I bought it and I never replaced it. Foolish.
I was stranded in the dark. I tried to call for a tow but there was no reception on the cell, same as the radio was out. I could go on foot and go to the nearest house, but I couldn’t see lights on through the trees. I went to check the GPS for the nearest gas station, but I was treated with Signal Lost on the screen. Stranded in the dark. No radio, no phone, no GPS. Silence.
Sitting in my car I decided to wait for another car to come past. Surely somebody would be by soon, and I wasn’t about to walk through the dark with no idea where I was. My breath started to fog up the windows in the car and all I could see was a few dim lights behind and in front of me. Watching the lights, one by one they started going out.
First, behind me in the mirror I saw them go. Then down the road in front of me, they began to flicker and go out. It was so cold out, but I was sweating now. My palms gripped the steering wheel harder and harder as more of the lamp posts went out. I didn’t know what was going on. I tried to rationalize it but the fear was too great for reasoning. Soon it was just me and the darkness.
There was nothing left to see outside of the foggy car windows. Not even the moon was shining on me that night. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. A feeling of anxiety rushed through my body. I felt something brush my hair from the seat behind me. I didn’t dare turn around or even look in the mirror. I couldn’t move.
Something was in the car with me but I dared not to look.
Another chill... I could hear it whispering in the back, but to quiet to make out what it was. I shut my eyes and started shaking. What was about to happen to me? The whispering continued, slowly getting louder. What was it saying to me? Why was it talking to me? I started to make out words here and there. ... All... Burn out... Save... Life...."
"What do you want!?" I half screamed and half cried to myself, my eyes still closed tightly.
"Look. Look at me. LOOK." The voice was quiet, whispered, drawn out and it almost sounded out of breath.
I opened my eyes and saw something in the rearview mirror I couldn’t explain. For a split second I saw a figure in the back seat. Its body had no discernible form I could identify, but it was hunched over, part of it touching the roof of the car. Long, thin looking limbs came out from it on all sides with what appeared to be claws on the ends of them.
Its face- its face will never leave my mind. The mouth was as dark as the night but as wide across as its entire face. It had no expression I could make out in the darkness. The eyes, empty lifeless voids that almost looked sad somehow.
It began to open its mouth and I was quickly blinded by a bright light. I shut my eyes quickly and covered my face. I was paralyzed with fear. What was happening? "JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" I screamed. "Please don’t hurt me!"
I quietly waited in the darkness, eyes closed tight. A minute or so passed and the tears were starting to soak the top of my shirt.
A tapping on the window of my car startled me, and when I opened my eyes there were headlights beside me and a man standing outside my window. "Are you okay? I’m only trying to help you out here." I could see the reflection of a badge on his shirt. A police officer, finally freedom.
I took a few seconds to look around the car. There was nothing behind me. Nothing that shouldn’t be there. Nothing missing. He drove me back to the station where I awaited my vehicle. After a quick tire fix I drove home in silence.
The next day I was woke up by the sound of my cell phone ringing. 6 a.m. was too early for anybody to be calling. It was my father on the phone. My mom had committed suicide the night before. She hung herself in the bathroom from the back of the door.
There was no goodbye letter or explanation. Just a handwritten note clenched in her hand that simply read “All lights burn out eventually. It is time.”
My father also explained to me that my grandmother, years ago had hung herself as well. My father apologized for not telling the truth to me when I was a child. He was just trying to protect me.
Now I see things differently. Now I see things for what they really are. The flicker, its arrival. That shadow, the messenger. The whisper, I don’t know for sure but the next time I hear it I have the feeling I’ll be gone.
Written by KPHitman13