THUD! Every night I heard that noise. I heard it when I was little. When I asked my mother about the noises during the night, she would say that houses make noises, the wind creaks the floorboards, the boiler rumbles, the pipes in the walls screech. It was nothing to get scared over.
‘But what about the thud mummy?’ I would ask.
‘The thud?’ She questioned.
‘The noise the house makes when you and daddy have gone to sleep.’
That one, loud, thud, like when a large cat jumps down from a windowsill. Except we’ve never had a cat. I heard it when I was little and I hear it now.
About a week ago the noise began, once again, to push itself into my subconscious and intrude my dreams. Slowly I became more and more aware, instead of falling straight back to sleep, I kept my eyes open a few moments, held my breath, then I’d wait. Nothing. Once or twice I’ve opened my door, stood in the door frame, a cold sweat threatening until I decide it’s silly and laugh it off.
Tonight I hear it. Opening my door I look at the strips of moonlight across the hallway floor and see the camera I set up a few hours earlier, it’s red eye focused and blinking. Walking back to bed I hear footsteps and stop. Silence. My footsteps I realise and get back under the covers. Before my heavy eyelids fall, I think I catch another sound, the wind through a crack in the window perhaps – must be.
It’s morning and I’m out of bed at 9:00 walking past the camera to brush my teeth. The red light has gone out and it will need to be charged. There’s probably nothing on it anyway. Bending down to pick the camera up I notice the lens has a sticky clear substance smeared across it. I touch it with my finger, it feels like the skin that forms on the surface of a hot chocolate. It smells sweet, like toffee. I wash my hands and clean the lens and take it to my bedroom.
Sitting on the floor, leaning against the end of my bed, I look out of the window already bored of waiting for the camera to charge. PING! The camera pulls me out of my daydream, telling me it’s on and to ‘watch me’. Shuffling through some footage I find last night’s.
The image on the screen is of the darkened hallway and a warm orange light from street lamps. Placing the camera to my ear I fast forward until I hear it. THUD! Quickly I hold the camera back in front of me. The hallway lit by strips of moonlight. A few seconds go by and I’m deflated and I’m relieved.
My eyes widen and I pull the camera closer. A hand, in the corner of the screen, long and skeleton-like. An arm, stick thin. My bedroom door opens and I look at myself standing in the doorway looking at the camera and I see a creature next to my door, against the wall, looking through the camera at me. Upright on its legs, the creature is human-like in form but skeletal, has red raw, scabbing skin as if it has been constantly scratching, and a deathly amused smile. Its eyes shine with quiet excitement, its ribcage moves rapidly under the flesh.
I shut my door and the creature moves down on all fours. Moving steadily towards the camera it stops, faces my door, waits for my footsteps again. Back to the camera now and the creature’s dark red tongue delicately slides out of its mouth and gently licks the lens up and down. The creature curls the tongue back giving me a view of blood stained gums and two large fangs. It creeps backward with hissing laughter. Dropping the painted smile, child-like eyes never part from mine as the creature glides down the stairs.
The screen is black.
Silent seconds stand. My hands are clammy, my eyes sting, my throat feels choked, I scream. Whimpering, my body swivels round to face the hallway. My breathing is too loud! Dad’s blurry figure stands in the doorway.
‘What the hell is going on!’
I look beyond him, waiting, for a reaching arm, a spiked grin. I listen.
Later, dad will search the attic and find nothing, the footage will contain no monster, there will be no more thuds in the night and there will never be any peace for me.
But there is always an attic, a man sized square that separates the place you pass across every day from a place above your head that you may have never seen. There will always be an attic. There will always be a creak, or a hiss, or scratching, a hum, a whistle. Or a thud.