The House on Rivermet (part 3)
It was dark and stormy that night. (Okay no it wasn’t, but it should have been!) I jest, but truly it was a horrifying experience. Even now, it freaks me out to think about it. Worse, the fear that most folks will believe I’ve completely flipped my lid after telling of those awful events, nearly throws me into a panic attack. Exactly one week after we saw the shadow, things escalated again.
My 3 year-old was asleep on a palate on the floor and the baby was snug in her crib. My husband’s rhythmic snoring irritated me at first, but finally lulled me to sleep. I don’t know what woke me up. One minute I was sound asleep, and the next sitting straight up in bed. I listened intently for a noise or some sign of what was wrong. Something had to be wrong. I could feel the wrongness of the situation deep within me. My heart raced so fast and hard that it made it difficult to hear much of anything.
From my bed, I watched the rise and fall of the baby’s chest, making sure she was still breathing. Then my eyes moved to her sister. As with the baby, her breath came in normal intervals. Still afraid, and feeling like a complete idiot, I took a few deep breaths, closed my eyes, and laid back down. Seconds turned to minutes as I waited for my thudding heart to still.
Instead of diminishing, the feeling of wrongness amplified. Fear grew and blossomed into full blown terror as I listened to the quiet house. Nothing. Not one sound that wasn’t completely ordinary and easily explained. The refrigerator fan kicked on, making me jump. A creak from a windowsill here and there. Even muffled sound of the electric icemaker dumping its next batch, but nothing strange or unusual. And yet, I was so tightly wound, I would have leapt from the bed in an instant.
Sleep eluded me completely. The dark feeling would not go away. I don’t know how long I laid there before I noticed that I was clenching my eyes shut. Almost instantaneously, I realized I didn’t want to open them. Not at all, for any reason. It was like I was six again, waiting for the monster under my bed to reach out and grab me. Without a second thought, I pulled the blanket up over my head and opened my eyes.
You can imagine how ridiculous I felt. I was a 23 year-old woman for Pete’s sake! And a mother. What kind of Mom hides under a blanket while her children are out in the room with whatever it was that scared her in the first place?
Determined to be a good mother and protector, I pushed the blanket away and surveyed the dark room. The heavy blinds over the window let in just enough light to leave dark shadows in the corners of the room. The rocking chair piled high with clean clothes I had yet to fold and put away, sat unmoving. Not one solitary thing was added or out of place.
Sighing, I placed my hands behind my head, and contemplated my insanity. I must be nuts, right? I mean who acts like that? Sheesh!
I watched the ceiling fan go round and round, hoping that at some point it would hypnotize me and put me to sleep. Above the fan, the ceiling itself was so black I could only see the outside edges. I rubbed my eyes as the darkness seemed to grow larger than the fan. It stretched and elongated until it was oval shaped. My breathing became labored. And as badly as I wanted to close my eyes, they would not even allow me to blink.
I was frozen. Paralyzed. Not by fear, although the fear was definitely there and very real. I tried to move. I tried to reach out and grab my husband. With every ounce of strength I had, I tried to put my hand on his shoulder and shake him. My body refused to obey the mind’s commands. The darkness retreated slowly, and once again the shadow above the fan was the size and shape it should have been. Tears streamed down my face, and not wanting to wake the children, I choked back sobs.
My husband finally woke and rolled over to face me. “What’s wrong,” he asked.
I couldn’t speak. All I could do was curl up in his arms and cry, and that’s what I did.
The next morning, I told him what had happened and that we had to move. He, of course, told me I was crazy. “It must have been a dream. Maybe a night terror or something. I saw a show about how in different levels of REM sleep you can think you’re awake, and paralyzed, but really you’re sleeping. It has to be something like that!”
But it wasn’t something like that. I knew it wasn’t anything like that! I’d made my mind up, and regardless of whether he was willing or not, I was moving. There was no way I would keep my children in that house for any longer than necessary.
He went on to work that morning as if nothing ever happened. I went apartment hunting. There were 3 complexes in town running move in deals. No deposit, first month’s rent free. I hit all of them, signed a lease with one, and came home to start packing. It didn’t take me long. I still had boxed stuff in closets from the previous move.
As soon as I had a truck load, I filled up my old orange ford and took it to the new place. Unloaded and went back for more. The last load I could do alone had about 12 boxes. The couch, coffee table, and love seat were covered with them. Each box was full, but the tape gun we’d used when we’d moved last was missing. Killing the proverbial 2 birds, I finally called my husband. I hadn’t told him about the new apartment, or moving, no matter what he’d said--I knew he’d go wherever we were.
(Now I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I SWEAR this is true)
He answered on the third or fourth ring. “Yeah, babe. What’s up?”
“We’re moving. I’ve already rented an apartment and have almost everything moved in. All you’ll have to move is the furniture. Do you think you can get Rod, or Dave to help?”
“Have you lost your mind? We can’t afford to move again!” he exclaimed.
“It didn’t cost anything, and it’s a very nice complex. It’ll be closer to your job too.”
He let out an exasperated breath and didn’t say another word.
“Look hun. I can’t live here. Something’s very wrong with this place. It’s not safe for the kids! If it can do what it did to me last night, what can it do to them?”
Surprisingly, he answered with a chuckle. “Well it’s not like I can do anything about it now, right?”
Relief settled over me. I’d been somewhat afraid we’d fight, but it was one I’d been willing to have--if needed. “Hey, where’s that tape gun? I only have a few boxes left and I don’t want to just fold the tops in.”
“Should be in the pantry on the shelf. That’s where I put it.”
“Okay, great! I love you, and I’ll be at the new place when you get off work. Meet me there.”
“Love you too.”
I hung up the phone and walked into the living room. The tape gun was sitting dead center on the coffee table. All of the boxes were stacked by the door. No one had come in, and there’s no way my 3 year-old could have done it. That was all the pushing I needed. I grabbed up my kids and purse, put them in the truck, and went to the new house. I NEVER stepped foot in that house again.
That night, my husband moved the rest of our things with a friend. He said when he got there; every box in the room was stacked in two columns, one on top of the other, all the way to the ceiling.
After everything I’d been through, I totally believed him.