Some stormy nights can be comforting, but on this night, something strange happens.
|It seems like the snow has a strange effect on time and sound in this place. I feel like I’ve been sitting here for hours, but it’s only just been a little past an hour. And sounds—they seem so close. I’ve turned down the sound on the TV to the faintest whisper. I’m sitting a little over a yard from it, but at a normal volume it sounds way too loud.
I feel sweatier than I should under my thin blanket. I don’t dare take it off, though, because of the strange chill I feel when I’m not under it. The feeling isn’t so much from being cold, but from being anxious.
I’m trying to calm down, so I listen my Spaniel, Lola, snore at my feet. It really sounds like she’s right next to me, though. I should go to bed now. I look to where the remote is—on the other side of the room. I put my hand on the arm rest as I prepare to get up to grab the remote. But then I freeze. I see a large, dark shadow glide across the room in the corner of my eye.
The mood of the room has changed and that anxious feeling I had is now amplified to something I’ve never felt before. The sounds in the room have been muted. I think time has stopped in this room and once I make my next move, it will resume and something will happen.
I bravely look to the front door—it’s locked. Then I carefully glance around the room—there’s nothing.
Then suddenly, there’s a tapping, like someone is trying to get my attention in the kitchen. It almost sounds like it’s being done with an urgency. I know what it is, but right now it’s even creepier than it has been any other time. It’s the large tree that stands in my front yard. One of its branches is abnormally long and stretches out to touch my kitchen window. When the wind is just the right speed, it taps—tap, tap, tap—to get my attention.
I slowly turn to look into the kitchen, and finally acknowledge that thing I’ve been too afraid to think about further for the last several minutes. The smell—the smell of a match that’s burned out. It’s been lingering in the living room where I’ve been sitting, but I thought I was imagining it. It faintly stung in my nose, but not enough for it to seem real. It just doesn’t make sense. I’m equally scared and confused because, now that I’m looking into the kitchen, I see a candlelight glow coming from somewhere around the corner.
I turn back to look down at Lola, but she’s gone. Where did she go so quickly? Now that she’s not here, I feel like I’m completely isolated, like I’m the only one left.
A few minutes pass and nothing happens. I’m scared to move, but I do it anyway. I get up from the couch and accidentally push it a bit and it makes a little noise as it grazes the wood floor while, at the exact same time, I hear the sounds of a chair moving across the kitchen floor. Someone got up from a chair—it is undeniably that same sound. That strange chill that I’ve had all night reaches deeper within me. I imagine my veins slowly freezing.
Maybe Lola went into the kitchen and not her bed. Maybe she was sniffing around and moved a chair as she pushed her way in under the table…at the same time that I moved the couch.
Then, Lola comes into the room from the opposite side of where the candle is waiting for me to blow it out. She’s breathing heavily as she approaches. She’s completely unaffected from what may or may not be happening. I’m mortified.
Am I crazy?
My demeanor begins to soften and my muscles begin to ache from being so tense. But this is a feeling of false relief because Lola looks in the direction of the kitchen, her tail begins to wag, and then she picks up speed and heads to the kitchen.
I try to grab her before she steps into the kitchen, but she’s too fast. When she disappears around the corner, my heart drops and I wait for her to cry, but she doesn’t.
She’s laying down, in her usual spot, next to my chair. Then on the table, where I would sit, the candle rests.
She looks up at me with her mouth open and her tongue hanging out. She’s fine. She’s more than fine, she’s obviously happy—her tail hits a leg of the chair as it swishes back and forth. I can't help but think this is extremely ominous.
“Lola, come—”, I barely get it out when a loud bang followed by a ghostly howl fills the kitchen and the candle goes out.
Lola loses it. She becomes this attack dog suddenly—vicious and brave—and runs into the living room huffing and I chase after her.
Lola is barking madly at the window, which now has a hole about the size of a tennis ball. There are hundreds of cracks in it, but it’s still in tacked. Some snow is getting in and the room is beginning to become even colder than it was seconds ago.
I run to the kitchen and grab duct tape and scissors from my junk drawer and frantically begin covering the hole.
Lola quiets down as it becomes more secure and I feel less rushed and freaked out. She’s watching me very carefully, which is a little weird.
When I go to sit on the couch to catch my breath, I stop—there’s something on it. I’m confused at first. As I come closer I see that it’s a metal bar. It’s sticking out from the couch. I turn around to look at the hole in the window, then back at the bar.
“Shit. I was sitting there.”
I look at Lola, still sitting by the window, and she’s looking in the direction of the kitchen, wagging her tail.