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I have a routine at night. I need to do certain things before I can sleep. I lock the doors, set my alarms (I’m a heavy sleeper), brush my teeth, and turn the TV on a sleep timer. At least, that’s my routine when my wife’s not home. I need some noise to sleep when it’s just me. If she’s in the room and I hear something I can attribute the noise to her; if not then it keeps me up until I find the source of the noise.
She had a meeting out of town for work and left yesterday morning shortly after I left for work. She also has the bad habit of leaving our front door unlocked. I know that if someone really wants to get in our house then they can just bust a window in. I get that. But, I always feel safer with all the doors shut and locked. She texted me well after she’d left saying that she was pretty sure that she forgot to lock the front door. I was still at work and made a mental note to just double check it right when I got home.
Well, one thing led to another and I ended up coming home from work nearly three hours late. Bad day, too much crap to get done, just wasn’t moving very fast. I grabbed the mail and trudged inside knowing there’d be no one to greet me there. I tossed the mail on the counter and stuck a container of leftover chicken and rice in the microwave before changing into my PJ’s; it was already nearly 9pm so I certainly wasn’t going anywhere.
I was munching some chips, as chicken and rice didn’t quite top me off, when I thought for sure that I heard my wife walking down the hall from the bedrooms to the living room. We have hardwood floors and our house is nearly forty years old so walking on them makes a very distinct creaking sound when someone approaches. The house also makes creaking sounds throughout the day as it warms and cools. I heard the noises as the sound approached the doorway and for half a second I expected to see my wife walk around the corner when I remembered she wasn’t home.
As I sat there holding my breath…nothing happened. I realized that it must’ve just been the house cooling down as the temperature had decreased with nightfall. I relaxed a little and continued to munch and watch TV, but there was always that thought; the hair on the back of my neck was standing straight up and I was just tense. I decided to finish this episode and call it an early night; I was exhausted anyways.
I set my phone alarms while I was still sitting on the couch, waited patiently for my show to end as I finished the bag of chips, got up as the episode ended and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I flicked the TV in the bedroom on and set the sleep timer for two hours; that’d put it around 12:30 when the TV turned off. I crawled into bed and was seconds from sleep when I heard the sound again. This time it almost sounded like someone was right outside my door. Again I was completely frozen.
Something wasn’t right; my nightly routine felt off. I sat up in bed to hear better and, of course, the bed made the loudest creaking sound imaginable. The noise in the hall suddenly stopped. My first thought was that if there was someone out there then they’d obviously heard me. I have an old pool cue beside my bed that’s been my “baseball bat by the front door” for years, even though I don’t have a pool table anymore…and it’s only the bottom, thick, part of the pool cue as I’d misplaced the top part some years back. I reached over to my nightstand and grabbed it and went to inspect the hallway.
Much to my relief, there was nothing in the hallway, but that’s when it hit me; I hadn’t checked the front door yet to make sure it was locked. I walked to the front door and looked at it from the hallway, about fifteen feet away, and could clearly see that the door was indeed locked. I was flooded with relief; if the door was locked, how could anyone have gotten inside? I didn’t see any broken windows, and every other door in the house hadn’t been opened (garage aside) in a few days. I was safe.
I walked back to bed as the hair on the back of my neck returned to its normal position and the goose bumps faded from my arms. I looked at my phone and realized that it was already 11:30 and I was wasting nighttime fast as I needed to be up in six hours to make it to work today. I crawled into bed and fell asleep almost instantly. Sometime after my TV had shut off something woke me. I’d been having a nightmare, of course, related to someone breaking into my house, and I was suddenly awake in my bedroom with no lights on and no TV whatsoever. I briefly tried to fall back to sleep until I realized that I was too creeped out by the fact that I’d thought someone was inside the house earlier. I was about to roll over and grab the remote when I heard it; breathing…not my own. Time stopped.
I was motionless, and I think I didn’t breathe for about five minutes. I listened, but sure enough; I could hear the slightest hint of someone else breathing...right under my bed. I don’t have a dog, I don’t have a pet. It should’ve been just me in the house. I finally decided my next move; I was going to roll over quickly, grab my phone and the pool cue, turn the light on and shine the phone flashlight under my bed while swinging the pool cue wildly at whatever was down there. Well, things don’t always work like you plan them.
I rolled over and grabbed at my phone, clumsily knocked the lamp off my nightstand, barely held onto the pool cue and promptly fell off of the bed. The room was dark except for my phone. Once I had the flashlight on I backed away from the bed and quickly scanned the area in case the noise wasn’t coming from under the bed. Nothing. I quickly looked under the bed and saw only the usual crap that was under there; a few shoe boxes, an old golf bag, shoes, some clothes that should’ve been in the washer, and junk in general. Nothing seemed the slightest bit out of place, except that it seemed like it was darker than it should’ve been with my flashlight on; maybe the bulb was starting to die.
I poked a few things with the pool cue and was about to give up when I saw two eyes open. I freaked out and tried to back away, but they were so close that it crawled halfway out and grabbed me. I couldn’t see anything except for black…and it was pulling me under the bed. I struggled, tried to swing with the pool cue, but again my hands were clumsy and I ended up just pounding the mattress over and over again draining my strength. I couldn’t seem to hit whatever was grabbing me and I was still sliding towards the bed. Finally I rolled my arms free and kicked back to the wall…then it grabbed my feet and dragged me halfway under the bed. I grabbed into the mattress, but I wasn’t strong enough. Nothing I grabbed ahold of seemed to work, and I slid under the bed completely.
Then I woke up. I’d been dreaming that I was awake. I could hear no breathing. The TV was off, and it was four in the morning. I turned the TV back on, this time no sleep timer, and rolled over to go back to sleep. It took a few minutes; I was drenched in sweat, terrified, and probably just should’ve gotten up right there and then, but I wanted my “five more minutes,” which was actually an hour and a half at that point. Finally sleep took me again and just as quickly my alarm was ringing. I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower.
As I showered I thought I heard the door to my bedroom open. It was difficult to tell and any other day I’d have just ignored it, but after the previous night I was already really on edge and didn’t want any more surprises. I tried to finish my shower as quickly as I could, but after shampooing my hair I looked up and saw a black clad figure through the shower curtain standing by the sink. I tripped backwards and caught the towel bar just I’d have fallen completely to the wet floor. I rubbed my eyes and there was nothing there. The door was open just a crack; right where I’d left it as the steam would otherwise completely fog the mirror.
I quickly rinsed and stepped out of the shower. No one was in the bathroom except for me. I got ready for work with every light in the house on; it’s still dark at 6:00 and I was at the end of my nerves. I was almost out the door when I remembered that we thought the front door had been unlocked, even though I’d checked it the night before I stuck my head around the corner to check it and again I could see that the knob was still in the locked position. I grabbed the mail off the counter and stuffed it in my briefcase and jumped in my truck. I wanted to look through the mail as I’m expecting our tax return any day now and we got a pretty good one this year.
I went through the mail a few minutes ago and found a piece of yellow notebook paper that had been folded and was mixed in with the rest of the advertisements and junk mail; I sorted everything as I didn’t want to accidentally toss a large check. It was folded in thirds like it was meant to be inside a letter or something, so at first I figured it was a note from one of my neighbors or something…upon opening it my heart stopped. The note reads: “You should clean under your bed sometime…doors can be locked from the inside too…”
The police have already called me back to inform me that they checked my house and the blinds appear to be drawn on most of the windows, but that there’s no sign of any forced entry. They can’t really see inside the house except through the kitchen where we don’t have blinds. The doors and windows are all tightly locked.