I stood there quite bored with that October afternoon. It was thundering and raining something fierce and a cold wind swept through the drafts of our old fixer-upper home, bringing a chill that was quite undesirable. My husband had to rotate to afternoons to cover another’s vacation—so I knew not to expect him until at least midnight. Lucky him, he had something to do while I found myself bored in our new old home because it was too wet to go out and too dreary to motivate me to do any renovating.
It was nearing Halloween, and ever since I was about 10 and my younger brother Timmy was about 3, he enjoyed pranking me around Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, he couldn’t have dreamed it up himself, he had a little help from my Dad who just delighted in scaring the bejeezus out of me. And as Timmy got older—he became creative in the same way—finding more and more clever ways to try to scare me. I have to admit, he was pretty good at it! While I didn’t really expect him to come this particular evening—given the awful weather—I just knew to be on my toes as far as Timmy was concerned. Never mind that I lived with my husband now—I would never put it past him to get my husband involved.
I flipped on the television. I caught the end of my soaps, a few talk shows and then the news. And as usual, it was nothing but grim reports of what usually hits the news. Of course the weather was the main story tonight. Imagine—having a loved one mentioned on the news because they were killed in a shooting, a fire, or an accident and then in the next breath being told “Our top story tonight is the weather.” I always wondered how these anchormen and women could live with themselves for saying that. Didn’t they know every life mattered or counted?
What caught my eye, especially during the weather report was the flash flooding. Every major underpass in downtown had been subjected to flash flooding, cars abandoned and a few people barely making out perhaps one or two dead. I just can’t imagine it—I guess unless I was there. I had enough of the depressing newscasters, so I hit the remote and turned off the television.
I decided I should cook some food—so I put on a pot of water to boil. Spaghetti was quick and easy to make and quite my style. I popped some wonderful fresh garlic bread in the oven—and in less than 30 minutes dinner was made. Only, I cooked for two, absent-mindedly thinking my husband would be home, of course. I put his plate to the side—and sat at the table and began to eat.
I just about choked on my food when I heard two voices outside my dining room window. All I heard is “She’s MINE! LET’s Get Her!”followed by prank laughter.
The curtains were long and I had to wipe my hands, before I pushed them back, to discover that there was no one outside the window. Just then lightning stuck and I jumped back a good foot and a half, acutely listening for these voices. And laughter once again filled the room, at my startled reaction.
Then I heard more muffled voices. It seemed to be coming from everywhere. And I had immediately concluded that Timmy had found a way to prank me. I didn’t understand how he managed to get his voice surrounding me as so—until I caught sight of my dusty vent from the central heating and cooling system. Two more bites of food and I raced down to the basement to catch Timmy in the act of shouting through the main duct.
I raced across the basement, pulling the strings to each light bulb, illuminating my way across the damp, cold floor. Only to discover the basement was completely empty, well with the exception of some used moving boxes. With all the lights on, there was no doubt I was very alone in the basement. I turned out the lights and made my way upstairs. I sat down to finish my food and my garlic bread was completely gone. That is just like him, I thought, to take my garlic bread and eat it.
Frustrated, I decided to shout through the house, “Okay Timmy, give up the ghost, I know you are here, come out –come out wherever you are.” I sing-songed it several times through several rooms and not once did Timmy come out. I knew he was there—I knew he was watching me. So I decided to give him a show. That’s right, I slurped up my spaghetti and literally licked my plate with my tongue. At one point, I could hear him laughing at my silliness and I laughed too. He was waiting to really scare me—but this year—I had figured him out.
Proud of myself, I started the dishes. Singing silly songs he would remember from childhood. At one time—he joined in with me—and I pled, “Why don’t you just come out and have some spaghetti? You are not going to scare me! And I know you have to be hungry.” But he wanted to remain hidden..so fine..after so long the game gets old.
I finished up the dishes and retired to the living room and turned on the television once again. Found a good sitcom and plopped myself on the couch. I grabbed and Afghan to keep warm—the drafts were something in this old tinder box.
I had almost forgotten Timmy was there—until it sounded like a rock had pelted my living room window. I rushed over and threw open the curtains and looked outside. Through the buckets of rain and sheer darkness, I was unable to see more than a few feet in front of me. Frustrated, I closed the curtains and turned around quickly, as I had a feeling someone was right behind me.
I think the shock of someone NOT being there scared me more than the thought of someone standing behind me. And to make matters worse, the electricity went out at that precise moment.
I stood in utter darkness. I could hear Timmy’s laughter even louder this time. “NOT EVEN FUNNY, TIMOTHY MICHAEL!” I shouted. “I want the lights back on, now, game’s up!” I fumbled my way across the living room to the kitchen and grabbed a flashlight, then headed to the garage and went for the circuit breakers, flipped them back and forth and there was no electricity. How odd, I thought, how else could he have turned off all the lights?
When I came back in, I peered out the front window—and sure enough all of the neighbors had no electricity either. Well—that must be coincidental. I decided I would fake Tim out and sit on the sofa real quietly so that I could hear him move about the house. So I sat there in all quietness and darkness and I listened. And I’ll be darned, if he didn’t make a peep. But he was somewhere in my house, because I could hear him breathing and I could sense his eyes upon me.
Then, what sounded like a stick hit my living room window again. He must be hiding right here in the living room I thought so I took the flashlight and pointed it very slowly at every part of the walls, to see if I could find his silhouette. I almost turned a 360 when I literally jumped out of my skin when my flashlight caught his blue, bloodshot eyes.
I screamed at the top of my lungs as fear ran the course of my veins then I felt his hands grab my arms. I tried to fight him off—but he was stronger than I was. I stared panicked for a few more moments—until I recognized the eyes that belonged to my husband. “Shhh! Babe—it is just me!” he hushed, trying to reassure me. I shivered. I had never been so scared in all my life—not even Timmy had gotten me that bad---or had he?
“Oh my gosh!! I didn’t realize it was you!” I said.
“I know, I know, it is dark.” He gestured toward the couch, “Come on and sit down.”
We sat down and I confessed in rapid pace as my nerves had gotten the better of me, “I’m sorry, I didn’t expect you until later. And Timmy’s around here somewhere playing tricks on me. Throwing things at the window—trying to scare me through the vent system, saying spooky things, laughing at me, and even singing along with my silly games because I knew he was here, but he won’t come out of hiding.” I smiled at him through the ambience of the flashlight lit room. “You know he tries to get me each year, this year he didn’t quite succeed.” Just then I realized the redness in my husband’s eyes—and yes perhaps tears.
“Maybe he was just saying goodbye?” he said in a hushed tone.
Not completely understanding those words I said off the cuff, “Well, he has to escape the house without me seeing him first.”
He seemed to ignore that statement. “There’s a reason I’m home early today, and honey this is going to be difficult to hear.” He said with as much steadiness and strength as one could have at a moment like this. “Your Dad came up to my work place a half hour ago. Timmy died in a flashflood about 5:40pm this evening, driving home from a friend’s house.”
“Timmy, dead?” I denied vehemently. “He can’t be. He’s here—he’s been here all night. It has to be a mistake.”
My husband choked up, “No my dear. He’s gone. Your dad came to get me from work…he didn’t want you alone when you heard the news.”
It was just about that time that a cold wind blew past both of us. While our old fixer-upper home was quite drafty—it was never that drafty. I could almost feel him as he passed by us in the dark. And I heard his laughter once again. Only I wasn’t alone, and my husband heard it too. Timmy had come to pull his last prank ever.
My husband took my hand and at precisely that moment the lights came on—and the drafty old house was eerily quiet and still for the first time that evening.
This was written for The Writers’ Post Blog Hop # 18 Atmosphere. If you’d like to join us for a weekly blog hop—then check us out on Facebook:
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