Part three detials an even more intense encounter, in the wee hours of the morning
|“When I was a lot younger, I had the bedroom you are in now,” started Daniel. “Back then I was scared of the dark.”
“Most young kids are.” I empathised.
“Well more than just a little scared; I was terrified. I would reach around and search for the light switch, instead of actually entering a dark room. And that hallway? It used to scare the living daylights out of me. By day I was able to wander up and down it without any problem, but once it got dark…that was a different story altogether.”
“As time went by my fear of the hallway got worse, and it resulted several times in me wetting the bed, other than facing that walk to the bathroom. I was too embarrassed to tell Mum the truth. She never yelled at me, but I knew she was getting tired of the extra laundry.
“Finally, unable to take it anymore, I broke down one afternoon and told Sasha about my problem, and she said she would help me overcome my fear of the dark. She also promised not to tell anyone else about it. Each night, after our parents went to bed, she would get me to go into that dark Rumpus Room . She would shut the door and time how long it took until I freaked out and ran back out again. The next night we would do the same thing. If I could will myself to remain there longer than the previous night she would reward me with lollies, if not then we would try again the night after and the night after that. There were no penalties for failure, only rewards for…”
Daniel went abruptly silent, and then hastily changed the subject. Seconds later, Sasha entered the room.
“What are you two fish wives gossiping about?” she grilled suspiciously.
“Nothing,” replied Daniel, with feigned innocence.
I wondered why she thought we looked or sounded like fish-wives, but chose not to show my ignorance and remained silent.
“Well, Mum wants you both to get off your lazy little butts, and go wash the car.”
“Oh, do we have to?” we both groused in unison.
“She says it would be in your best interests, if you want any lunch, to do as you were told.”
So we went outside, and started washing the car. Daniel sprayed me with the hose, I emptied half a bucket of sudsy water over him, and we both shrilled and giggled inanely. At the end of our chore the car was reasonably clean, but we were completely saturated.
Our impish behaviour notwithstanding, Aunty Gwendoline seemed reasonably satisfied with the cleanliness of her car, when she eventually got round to inspecting it. We were rewarded with fish and chips for lunch, and she even allowed each of us a bottle of Coca-Cola.
The forecast of a rain-free evening occasioned us the oppotunity for a backyard campout under the stars that night. We spent the majority of the afternoon struggling to pitch a three-person tent. It had been sitting in storage for over twelve months and smelled slightly stale, but soon aired out in the strong northerly wind. Sasha wanted nothing to do with, what she referred to as “our silly camping exercise”, and Aunt Gwendoline was not the outdoorsy type. Therefore Daniel, me, and Chubs had the tent to ourselves.
Just after 7:30pm, we hiked out the backdoor, attired in balaclavas, casual footwear; long socks and thermal sleep wear. Daniel had his own sleeping bag, but Aunt Gwendoline allowed me to use Frank’s old one, under the condition that I was careful not to cause any damage to it. We both sported backpacks full of camping essentials, and shone our touches into the dark of night to illuminate our way to a forty-four gallon drum, which sat in the middle of the backyard. It had been stacked with small branches and off cuts of timber, which were now burning; acting as a makeshift campfire. Deckchairs were positioned either side of the bin, each accompanied by small coffee tables.
Our conversation was inane. We sat stuffing ourselves with junk food and soft drinks. We argued as to who would win in a race between Speedy Gonzalez and Roadrunner, whether Hong Kong Phooey could kick Bruce Lee’s ass, and who made the smellier farts: an elephant or a Rhinoceros. Eventually the conversation got back to the Hallway Bogeyman, and Daniel continued his antidote.
“One night about twenty minutes after Mum and Dad went to bed, Sasha came upstairs and ushered me to the Rumpus Room as usual,” he said “““Two nights ago you got to two minutes forty eight,” she said “if you can hold on till three minutes I’ll buy you a chocolate milkshake tomorrow,”
“That sounded a pretty good deal, so I entered the room and stood as still as I could whilst she shut the door. All was dark and eerie and the urge to leave somehow felt stronger than ever. I had a watch but could not see it when the lights were out, so I relied on counting to myself; which I could do fairly accurately most of the time.
“As I reached the two minute mark, I thought I heard a very faint whispering but ignored it, believing it to be my imagination. Then I made the mistake of counting the last minute backwards. As I did this countdown, I started getting this horrible thought that the bogeyman would surly pounce on me as soon as I got to zero. I got down to the final ten seconds…ten, nine, eight, my heart was now racing and I really wanted to flee but held my ground… seven, six, five, four, three, two, one and then the dreaded zero. The whispering stopped and the room was still dark and silent for a time. My heart was thumping and then all of a sudden a cold hand grasped my shoulder. I looked around and gasped with horror.”
“What did you see?”
“Something far-far more scarier than I had ever seen in my worst nightmares…He had this long narrow face with a pointed chin, red glowing eyes and a fang like teeth. He snarled like a dog and opened his mouth wide as if about to take a bite out of me.
“Somehow my mind blocked out what happened next, but I remember coming too sometime later, on the bottom of the stairs. According to Sasha I came bursting through the door, knocked her out of the way and continued down the corridor, eventually going head over turkey down the stairs. She swears she never saw or heard anyone chasing after me.”
By 11pm we had talked ourselves hoarse. We were both a little groggy, so we retried to the tent for the night. Daniel took the left side, while I slept on the right, and Chubs took the middle.
I woke up again about one-thirty am, with the urge to pee. Daniel and Chubs were still fast asleep so I carefully unzipped the sleeping bag, exited the tent and made my way back to the house. Aunty Gwendoline had locked up before going to bed, but left us a spare key, under the doormat, so we wouldn’t have to disturb her. The household was dark and silent, as I crept along the lower-level passageway toward the staircase. About halfway up the stairs I once again became acutely aware of some demonic presence awaiting my arrival. The more I climbed, the stronger it became, and by the time I got to the top my legs were trembling.
My urgency to use the bathroom, overcame my anxiety, and I hurried down the hallway, trying my best not to make too much noise. After doing what needed to be done, I cautiously inched open the bathroom door and started my way back.
Goosebumps returned as the presence slowly ascended to the ceiling behind me; preparing no doubt to swoop onto its luckless prey. I hastened my pace, but came to an abrupt halt when I heard footsteps stomping up the stairs. They seemed too heavy to be that of Aunty Gwendoline, Sasha or Daniel’s; or even Chubs for that matter.
“Norton!” sounded a voice from nowhere. Seconds later Spookilla materialised in front of my bedroom door. She swiftly flew across the hallway and grabbed hold of me.
“Let me go!” I cried, but she ignored my protests.
The door to the Rumpus Room opened, as if my magic, and then shut again behind us after she had ushered me inside. The footsteps seemed to cease and I felt a little safer now.
“Thank you for your help.” I told her, trying desperately to regain my composure.
“Help?” she retorted incredulously. Her image glowed dully, but was still bright enough to make out. “I did not bring you in here to help you.”
“So why did you bring me in here for?”
“Daddy’s hungry for spare ribs.”
I stared at her for a few seconds, trying hard to figure out if she was serious or not. It occurred to me that it could very well be some sort of prank that Sasha had devised in order to scare me; but the more I thought about it the less likely it seemed she was capable of such an elaborate hoax. There were just too many too many variables to overcome.
“Please don’t let him hurt me.” I said at last.
“It will only hurt for a short time,” she affirmed “after than you’ll feel no more pain. I promise you…Daddy’s very efficient.”
I gave a slight whimper as she vanished before my eyes. Desperate to flee I ran back to the door but was horrified to find that it was now locked. I fumbled for the light switch. The room illuminated for a couple of seconds, before the bulb flickered rapidly and fizzling out.
The voice sounded low and raspy; as if belonging to some malevolent banshee, eager to rip me apart where I stood. I tried the door a second time but it still remained fastened.
A sudden low growl chilled my heart.
“Stay away from me!” I pleaded.
Carefully, I scanned my pitch-black surroundings. I saw nothing, but knew that something was definitely there. Something, not merely obscured by the absence of light, but somehow beyond the very darkness itself. Something struggling to gain access into our dimension from some Hellish netherworld.
“Norton!” it repeated in a loud whisper “I’m coming to get you.”
“Aunty Gee! Sasha! Daniel! Chubs help me!” I hollered, pounding at the door with the side of my fists.
“I’m coming to get you Norton…here I come!”
Once again, I could hear footsteps coming up the staircase, and though relieved to know assistance was on its way, I wondered how on earth I was going to justify disturbing the peace at such an ungodly hour. It seemed doubtful anyone would believe that I was being lynched by some pan dimensional spook.
The door burst opened and to my amazement the light bulb relit the room, chasing away the demon (which vanished without trace). I stared at Aunt Gwendoline for a few seconds without saying anything, and then ran into her arms; embracing her tightly like an overwrought toddler.
“Calm down, Aunty Gee’s got you” said Aunt Gwendoline in a soothing tone.
“The Bogeyman was going to eat me, Aunty Gee.” I blubbered.
“You were just having a bad dream; sweetheart. No one’s going to hurt you.”
“If I was dreaming, then how come I’m here, and not back in the tent?”
“I think you may have been sleepwalking. Come on sweetheart, its late. Let’s get you back to camp.”
I disengaged from the embrace, took my aunt’s hand and followed her back outside. She gave me a final hug, and ruffled my hair affectionately, before we parted ways. I dried my eyes, quietly re-entered the tent and crawled into the sleeping-bag.
Shaken and disturbed, by what I had witnessed, I found it hard to get back to sleep. My nerves were shot and every noise I heard seemed to startle me. At one stage I became convinced that something was walking around and around the perimeter of the tent. It stopped briefly and then wandered off in the opposite direction.
Eventually, I settled down and drifted off to a haunted sleep.