by John S
James and Jean get out of the city searching for bliss in the suburbs. They don't find it.
|James and Jean have just moved into their dream house. They had spent years scrimping and saving, living in small apartments in the city. Finally they were ready for some of that old suburban bliss. The fresh air, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the sounds of kids actually playing outside. They could almost hear themselves think. No more noisy neighbors upstairs tramping at all hours of the night or the constant banging from the ancient elevator making it's painstakingly way from floor to floor.
The plan was to get settled and then have a couple of kids. The first few days were hell unpacking, moving boxes and Jean having James reposition the furniture for what seemed like a hundred times. They were both exhausted, by bedtime machine gun fire wouldn't have kept them awake.
After the first week they fell into a routine, up early, the drive to work together and then the long drive home. All good for the first couple of days then one night James awoke to what he thought were footsteps above him. He doesn't really know where he is, it's probably just the guy upstairs tramping around again. Then it occurs to him that he's not on Bleeker Street anymore and there shouldn't be anyone upstairs. His head clears about the time the footsteps stop. James decides he must have been dreaming. He dozes a little and there it is again the same footsteps and he knows he's not dreaming.
What should he do, he's not a coward but he didn't want to go up there. He'd been up there a few times storing a few boxes and didn't see anything that might be walking around. Maybe it's raining and the roof is leaking, could dripping water sound like footsteps, probably not. Just in case he gets up and looks out the window, no rain. Jean is still sound asleep, should he wake her, she would probably just turn over and tell him he's hearing things. The footsteps have stopped again, he gets back into bed listening for any kind of noise. He does hear about a hundred different noises but no footsteps. James ends up staying up all night straining to hear a footstep.
The next morning he decides not to tell Jean and have her worry. Instead he doesn't say anything, Jean does tell him "you look like hell". He felt like hell too, tired,scared and unable to focus on anything but the footsteps in the attic. After work James gets up the nerve to go up to the attic . Armed with a five iron, from his seldom used golf bag, he pulls the ladder down and slowly ascends to the top. Nothing looks amiss, he can't recall where he put every box but nothing looks wrong.
The next few nights he was able to finally get some sleep, maybe from exhaustion or from the lack of footsteps. He slept so soundly at times he wouldn't have heard anything in the attic anyway. In a couple of weeks they were back in their routine, James pushed the noise upstairs to the back of his mind.
One thing did start to bother Jean and James, they had always heard that people were friendly in the "burbs" . Not so much where they lived. No welcome wagon or even a hello from the neighbors, it was like they never left Manhattan.
On a Saturday afternoon in the spring James is out mowing the lawn when he sees the little old lady who lives next-door struggling to get a box into her car. Being the gentleman he is he rushes over before the old lady collapses under the weight of the box.
"Can I help you with that" James asks as he approaches.
The old lady turns to him as if he was about to grab her purse and stares for a second or two and decides he doesn't look like a serial killer, pervert, rapist and says " Yes please, I just can't handle stuff like this anymore".
James gives her one of his million dollar smiles and puts the box in her trunk.
"Oh thank you young man, I don't know what I would have done without your help"
"No problem mam, that's what neighbors are for" James replies trying not to give away the fact that every muscle in his back was screaming from lifting what felt like her five hundred pound box.
"I thought you were the new neighbor, it's hard to get used to someone being in the Abbott house, no-ones been in it for at least five years.". she still seems a little apprehensive about speaking to James.
"Why do you think that is mam, why hasn't anyone bought the place before my wife and I"
"Oh don't you know" she asks
"Know what" he's onto something
" Didn't you hear about the murders, it was quite the spectacle, news vans, microphones everywhere, I couldn't leave my house without being interviewed, not that I minded, I never did like that Mr. Abbott much, always just a little too quiet for me'" the old woman was on a role now.
“So who got killed?"
"They all did his wife, the two daughters and the cute little boy, he couldn't have been more than five or so. Abbott just came home from work one evening went to the basement and came up with a shotgun. According to the papers he shot the little guy first, then the daughters in their room, and finally chased the wife down the stairs and and unloaded on her. " she had to stop and catch her breadth.
"So did they get this Abbott guy".
"They didn't need to, he saved the last shell for himself, stuck the gun right in his mouth." the old lady indicated the conversation was over and she had to deliver her box. James thought about asking her what was in the box but after hearing her get that excited about the murders he didn't think he wanted to know.
" One last thing mam are the murders the reason no-one will have anything to do with my wife and I".
"The people around here thought you must be real sickos to move into "the murder house"
"But we didn't know about any killings, the realtor never mentioned it."
"Imagine that a realtor lying the next thing you know people won't be able to trust lawyers. Sorry I really must go."
He went back to the house found Jean in the kitchen and explained to her why the neighbors were less than friendly. She took the news in stride, after living in the city for all those years she didn't really need close relationships with the neighbors.
He went to the computer and did a little research on the Abbott's and the murder house. The old lady had pretty much covered the story pretty well. There were the usual comments from the neighbors " oh they were allows so quiet" and a family portrait. Mr. Abbott was a big man and even from the grainy picture from the newspaper you could tell he just wasn't that happy. He should have been his wife was gorgeous and the three kids were adorable. What could drive a man to do what he did, if you're that unhappy just leave?
A couple of nights later James wakes to the footsteps again. He goes through all the emotions, fear, anxiety, guilt for not being a real men, and finally rage. He is just pissed off I'm going up he tells himself. He grabs his trusty five iron rushes to the hallway hits the light-switch for the attic pulls down the ladder and charges up. His heart thumping, sweat pouring from every pore he's ready to attack. Only problem he can't find anything to attack. The attic is empty nothing behind the boxes, the only thing he notices is a very slight odor, stale, earthy, kind of like rotting wet leaves. He asks himself if it always smelled like that and he just can't recall.
He heads down the ladder heart-rate decreasing, he feels disappointed he wanted confrontation. Not knowing what was going on was driving him crazy. No way he was going to sleep, so he decides to check the internet for anything about paranormal activity. What a mistake, if you want to know what's wrong with world and how many really creepy nutso people there are try a Google search on paranormal activity. Website after website filled with garbage and insanity the nuts have taken over the internet. He only had a couple of questions, why do spirits only come out at night, are they afraid of skin cancer? Is there any proof that a ghost has actually hurt anyone, not just a heart attack but real physical damage. After an all-night search he couldn't find the answer to either question.
James can't hold it back anymore, he has to tell Jean about the footsteps upstairs. He tells all, nothing held back, even the part about him being a sniveling coward on the first night he heard the steps. Jean believes him so it will be a while before she gets a good nights sleep. Her weapon of choice is a nine iron, she keeps it at the side of her bed while James still had his five iron.
Neither one is sleeping well; the anticipation is keeping them wide awake. Finally they hear it, about two in the morning; someone is above their heads walking around. They both go to battle stations without a word between them, they have gone over the plan a hundred times so there is no reason to speak. They rise grabbing their club of choice and head to the hallway. James first, he waits for Jean to take her place near the light-switch, the plan was for Jean to stay near the switch until James called for light in the attic. James silently lowers the pull down ladder and starts his ascent slowly and quietly head looking up. He sees a very dim light and as he rises the light gets brighter, He finally reaches the step where he can see the attic, it takes a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the light and then he sees it, not so much a clear image more like an old black and white TV picture with a bad antenna, lines and static all around.
James moves further up the ladder into the corner. The thing, whatever it is, is pacing back and forth looking straight ahead either not seeing James or just not acknowledging his presence. The image is about four foot tall, maybe one hundred pounds, it has wild white hair and it's complexion is pure white. James can smell the rotten leaves now and can feel evil just pouring off this creature. He has a death grip on the five iron ready to whack the thing if it makes any move towards him.
He's walking back towards James, still staring straight ahead, when he looks like he's about to turn back he jumps towards James. All the static is gone, no more black and white it's face in only a foot from James's. James sees nothing but the demons' eyes burning red looking into James's very soul. James can't or won't move the demon's eyes impossible to break away from.
"Your next" he hears even though the demons lips haven't moved.
"Your next" this time a little louder still no lip movement but James knows it's coming from the demon.
The voice in his head is getting louder and louder repeating over and over again "your next"
James feels the rage building inside of him he wants to grab something or someone and smash it to pieces. He still can't move the devil has him trapped.
Jean can't hear or see anything that's happening in the attic but she can smell the odor that James described to her, rotten leaves. She waits for what feels like an eternity and when she can't wait anymore she throws the light-switch.
James sees the light come on and the demon disappears in an instant. The demon is gone but James still has his rage. The voice in his head won't quiet, he has to kill something. He hears Jean calling him from below and he knows who must die. He almost flys to the ladder and just jumps down to the hallway. Jean sees him and knows something is wrong. James reaches for her neck and starts chocking, Jean is in shock and almost defenseless, she can't even scream, James has her by the throat. She feels herself about to black out, but before she does she remembers the nine iron in her hand. With all the strength she has left she pulls back from James and gets just enough space so she can take a good solid nine iron swing at James's head.
James goes down his head split open blood splatter everywhere. Jean catches her breadth goes to the kitchen and calls 911. James stays down until the paramedics arrive. They don't ask what happened so Jean doesn't offer any explanation.
She follows the ambulance to the hospital they bring James in to get stitched up and for X-rays. Luckily there is no concussion but the doctors decide to keep him overnight, just in case.
Jean warningly enters James's room and finds him awake. He has a bandage on his head to cover the eight stitches he needed to close his wound.
"Why did you do that" Jean cries
"I don't know, I'm more sorry than you could know"
"Because I had to, it was like I didn't have a choice, the demon, or whatever was up there, had complete control" James is crying now too.
James tells Jean about what was up there and how the creature was right inside his head controlling his thoughts and actions.
"I do know what happened to the Abbott's, Mr Abbott must have had contact with that thing in the attic, went to the basement got his gun and killed anyone he could. I could feel it, I would have done the same if I had a gun."
"Good thing we only had golf clubs" Jean sadly replies.
"What do we do now, we can't go back to that house" she asks
"We move back to Bleeker Street and let the next buyer deal with the footsteps in the attic".