Cool and dry the night's breath whisked through my window, the thin ivory gauze of the curtains fluttering as if in an intricate dance. I lofted a sigh, my chin resting upon my left palm, its conjoining arm used for a base as my elbow rested on the window sill. The day had waned in a cloud of surreal existence, or so it had seemed. We'd finally moved into our new house, every moment spent spiriting away this token or that from the overly packed boxes.
The house itself was beautiful, filled with dreams of the lake that reflected in the delicate woodwork carved into every orifice the dwelling. Deep, red cherry guarded the doors. Fish, marine flowers, and dragon flies danced through the molding as if they were alive. Walls of deep, sky blue and ceilings tiled with but a hint of light green. The floors shared the dark blood red of cherry wood, waxed and buffed until they shined in the daylight. Everything about this beautiful house screamed luxury, an artistic masterpiece made into a home nestled on a modest lake deep within the Catskill Mountains.
I had always dreamed of living in a house so delicately made. It was everything I could of hoped for, yet there was a feeling of unease about the entire small estate. The entire day had seemed like a dream, I had pondered this idea several times today while I plucked this trinket or that from the news paper from which they had been wrapped. You see, we were not by any means financially sound. It seemed as if there was never enough money to go around, we seemed to always be just barely getting by. How could we afford this luxurious house then, you say? The devil is in the details.
Several years ago we had decided, since all but one of our children had left the house to begin their own journeys through this tainted and cruel world, that we would leave our tiny house on the Mountain behind. The roof was in bad repair, the floors nearly ready to collapse under our very weight. We fixed things the best we could and put the old girl onto the market. Our children had grown up there, the old place full of every beautiful memory you could imagine. Though it saddened me to say good bye to our home of nearly twenty years, I knew it was time for us to settle down in a place completely of our own for the rest of our years. That is when David found this house.
Located nearly two hours from everything we had known for the duration of our relationship, the house offered to us a fresh start for our older years. David was already in his 50's, though I had only begun to enter my 40th year. It was time for us to enter the next phase of our lives, and we had found the perfect place to do so. Modestly priced, David reasoned that because it was so far out of the way they probably had a hard time selling the property. It was only a single story house with three bedrooms on two acres. Surrounded by dense forest, a small lake jutted out towards the house from the west. There was barely room for the water to saturate the soil around the small body of water before the foundation of our basement claimed the ground in the name of human habitation. In recent years, the water had begun to encroach on the basement, the humid air in that dark room heavy with moisture. Nothing a good sealing couldn't fix.
With a decent price, we paid little more then we had for our old house. Our former home had been sold fairly quickly to one of our old neighbors. We hated her, in fact, everyone on our old block hated her as well. The money was good though, and we were able to put a healthy down payment on our new abode. That was six months ago. Just a few days prior the paperwork had gone through, and we were off to our new life.
Now, our oldest three children had left, leaving only my seventeen year old son who would be staying with us until next year when he planned to leave for college. It was a tough time for me, and in addition I had just given up the place where I had rested my head for many, many years. The feelings of unease I had while we unpacked was easily explained away as I mulled over all the life changes that were taking a hold of me. Of course it was bittersweet. Though I was gaining the house of my dreams, I was losing my babies. I was growing old, and closing a chapter of my life. Idly, the corner of my rosy lips curled into a smirk. It was just nerves.
Raising from my seat of cardboard boxes, I tucked a lock of long blonde hair behind my left ear. The pale grey of my eyes drifted along the confines of our new house. There were only two lamps set up in the living room, leaving the shadows to play among our belongings. Lofting a quiet sigh I started toward the exit, reminded silently how much work there still was to be done. That's where my story takes a turn for the bizarre.
It was around 9 pm on the 24th of July, the last strands of twilight yielding to the overbearing silver disc of the moon. As I took mental inventory of where I would start work in the morning, something caught my eye. It was an oddly shaped shadow. The shape appeared to be that of a child sitting on the floor next to some boxes that had been haphazardly shoved into a back corner. With a slight furrowing of the brow, my face contorted in a frown. That was an interesting way for the light to capture our belongings. Giving a little shrug, I clipped the light before heading on towards our bedroom for some well deserved rest after a long day. It could of just been my mind playing tricks on me from exhaustion.
As I slipped down under the soft down comforter on our bed, I reached over to slip my hand into David's, curling my fingers around his with a smile. His warmth always helped my slumber find a more peaceful escape. Tonight, however, would be different. My eyes closed as soon as my head hit the pillow, my breathing shallowing out as I drifted into my first slumber in our new home. This is when things really start to become strange.
Before long I was whisked away to a dream land that resembled our new house. I was standing out on the deck that rimmed the back of the abode, the afternoon sunlight beating down on my lightly tanned skin. The light glared off the water of the lake creating an optical illusion that the water was a solid surface. It was so beautiful here, in this little piece of heaven we had taken as our own.
At this point, things were peaceful in my dream. Then, I turned around. Flipping the length of my long blonde hair over my right shoulder I glanced down as I headed back inside the house. That's when I caught a glimpse of something strange in the doorway. Almost immediately my face shot up to identify what my mind had conjured up for the night. I froze mid step, my chest filled with a slight gasp as I beheld the same shadow I had seen that night before bed. It was well defined, every detail etched in black across the living room floor. My brow furrowed into a frown as I leaned over for a closer inspection thinking that perhaps it was my own distorted shadow. As I did so, my own shadow joined that of the child, though it was not nearly as dark. Fear bubbled up into my chest, my grey eyes blinking back anxiety. This was just a dream, there was nothing to fear.
Raising back to my full height, my eyes never left the strange shadow. Maybe it had spooked me more then I realized when I saw it before bed. It was just a shadow, they arn't that scary in the first place. Giving my eyes a roll at the fright it had given me, I stepped forward ready to head inside. Suddenly it moved. A soft, childish chuckle echoed through the house as th shadow appeared to run off further into the house. Now, I was slightly confused. More so then scared, but I have to admit it was definitely a creepy dream. I followed the path the shadow had taken, leading to the far side of the living room. As I neared the corner where I'd seen the strange shadow before, I noticed something just barely visible behind the boxes. I watched as a small door, about a foot tall, was pulled open. There was another chuckle, followed by a whisper. I couldn't make out what was said, but I could make out a child's voice. The small door slammed shut, followed by the sounds of an entryway being locked.
Knowing I was fast asleep, I shrugged the entire scenario off. I had read once that dreams are our way of dealing with things in reality. I was just coping with the weird shadow I had seen earlier. Once the boxes in that corner were unpacked and put away, there would be no more bizarre shapes hiding behind boxes. Sometimes I let my imagination run away with things. I needed to remember that none of it was really real. The rest of my dream that night was like any ordinary day in my life. I still didn't understand where I'd gotten the idea for that little door. I'd never seen anything like it before in my life.
Morning came around 8 am, my limbs stretching out across the bed as I awoke. David was already up and about. It was time to get back to work, and get started with my morning to do list. Eight O'clock was late for me, as we generally woke between the hours of five or six. David must of thought I needed the rest so he let me sleep. The little things are what keep you happy. Drawing up my feet, I swung them over the side of the bed as I pushed the blankets aside with another long armed stretch.
Once I was dressed, I headed out into the short hallway that connected two of the bedrooms to the rest of the house. My son's room was on the opposite side of the house to lend him privacy. There was a bathroom in the master bedroom (My room), as well as off the kitchen. It really was such a nice little house. So beautifully crafted and full of someone's dreams. A small smile danced across my lips as I continued on out into the living room.
Heading towards the kitchen I could already smell the bitter scent of freshly made coffee. I drew in a deep breath, my eyes coming to a close as I savored the aroma. Closing several feet before my sights returned to the world around me, I was surprised when they landed directly on the same spot where I'd seen the child like shadow the night before. For just a moment I paused, my eyes scanning the little corner for any signs of anything out of the ordinary. As my eyes pushed past the boxes, I saw a corner peeking out from behind. It was a tiny door jam, just like the one I'd seen in my dreams.
"Honey, would you come take a look at this!" I immediately called out to David as I stood completely still, staring at that little door tucked behind those little boxes. It was funny I'd never noticed it before, not even we were purchasing the house. The hairs on the back of my neck rose to full attention. A great feeling of uneasiness settled over me as I waited for my husband to join me in my discovery.
We emptied out the corner of boxes, carefully revealing the small door. It was painted the same color at the wall, including the molding which was quite odd. It didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the house. However, since whomever had built and designed this house had obviously had a little money we figured it had to be a dumb waiter. But to where? The house had no upstairs save for the attic which had barely enough room to stand, and the only other place it could of lead to was the basement. The entire situation made absolutely no sense!
Deciding to find out for ourselves, we slid the tiny handle to the latch. I attempted to pull the door open using the latch as a handle, but it wouldn't budge. You could see the tiny crack around the door, so you knew it was real, but it just wouldn't open. Perhaps it was jammed? I remembered back to my dream the night before. The shadow had disappeared into the open door, the door promptly slamming shut followed by the sound of a lock being set.
After nearly a half an hour attempting to pry the door open with our fingers, a screw driver, and a wrench we decided to give it a break for awhile. After all, the door might of been sealed from the inside, or it could just be a false door. Whatever it was, it interested me. We went about our day with little thought on the tiny door that was hidden away in that dark corner. There was a good sized dent put into our unpacking by late afternoon when we decided to have dinner and take a break. I hadn't thought much about the door or the strange shadow, or even my dream all day.
I had just finished up changing the linens on the bed and was heading to the kitchen when I heard foot steps in the living room. I assumed it was either my son or husband as they had been just as busy as I had been all day. As I exited my room into the hallway, however, the foot steps stopped. I didn't hesitate as I headed out into the living room, though once I got there I stopped dead in my tracks. As I stood there watching, the tiny little door in the corner was pulled shut from the inside. The sound of a lock being set seemed to echo through the living room, bouncing against my ear drums. Instinctively I froze, my chest full to brim with a shocked gasp. I knew that door had been locked! We couldn't budge it in the least.
Without wasting a moment, I run to the far end of the living room where that dark corner was. My hands flew as I latched the lock on the outside of the door. I grabbed the end table where I had placed one of the two lamps in the room, and shoved it in front of the little door. I didn't quite want to consider what it might be, or what might of been in there. My gut churned with an anxious fear, every hair folical on my body tingling. What exactly was going on here?
When I told David about the door, and what I had seen he didn't believe me. I mean, who would? My son had left with his friends for the next week so my anxiety was slightly diminished. At least he didn't have to be exposed to whatever was going on, even if it was just mommy's brain cracking under the stress of all the life changes. Somehow, it made me feel just a little better.
For the rest of the night David and I relaxed and watched some TV in our bedroom. He had suggested we do so in the living room, but I outright refused. I didn't want to be anywhere near that door. He had moved the end table and attempted to open the door again, but it was obvious it wasn't budging. I insisted we move a larger piece of furniture in front of the mystery entry way. David wasn't convinced that anything was out of the ordinary, but I didn't want whatever was behind that door getting into the house again.
As darkness closed in on our second night in the new house I laid uneasy next to my husband. I had barely watched the television, though we had been laying there for hours. I don't even think David noticed my distance, my visions cast out the window towards the lake. Uneasiness had settled in my gut, slowly growing into a much more malicious anxiety. I pondered the dream I had last night, the childlike shadow, and the tiny door. I had no idea what it could of been. With logic and reason by my side, I eventually snuggled down under the blankets and against David. Drifting off into sleep, I silently prayed for a peaceful slumber. It had to of all been stress induced hallucinations from the move.
I woke with a start, the sound of something clawing at wood resounding through the room. Struck with fear, I didn't dare move or make a sound of my own. My widened eyes searched for our alarm clock to seek the time. 2:15 am. My breaths were rapid as I laid there silently in my bed listening to the sound of claw against wood. Then, it stopped. There was a scraping sound, followed by several barely audible whimpers. The whimpering was soon replaced with what sounded like a child sobbing softly into their arms. I slid my hand over beneath the blankets to wrap around David's. I squeezed his fingers softly in an attempt to wake him. Instead, as he had always done, he groaned, mumbled something about work, and then rolled over. The sobbing had stopped.
The house grew silent once again, but I could not sleep. Something was behind that little door, and it wanted out. Had we really managed to keep it from escaping that little door? I heard the sound of a lock latching, followed by ordinary silence. For the rest of the night I laid there and listened. No other sounds came from the door that night. Not a single one.
The next morning I convinced David to help me check the little door. I needed to convince him that what I was hearing was real. When we moved the two heavy boxes from in front of the little door what we found was puzzling. The wall beneath the door had been scratched, like something had been trying to claw its way out from under the door. On the floor in front of the door, however, was something much more bizarre. There was a small piece of paper, old and weathered laying directly beneath the door. It was rough as if it had been torn, its edges weathered with age. On the front was what seemed like a child's drawing. Beneath the drawing were just a few short words.
Let me out.