Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Bumps in the Night

by Sariah S. Wilson

I should probably frame this with you telling I am the biggest wimp alive. I don’t watch scary movies, for if I am foolish enough to see even a single scene (I’m looking at you “Stephen King’s It”) I will have nightmares for months. I will freely admit that I slept with a light on clear up until college and that even now if my husband is away on a trip, some of the lights will be left on at night.

I lived in a ranch home growing up in California, and our house model contained a “bonus” area. It was a raised portion of the garage. My parents finished it off for my grandparents to live in for a while, and when my grandparents moved out I was allowed to move in. It’s something that simultaneously thrilled me and scared me. As the oldest of nine, I’d never had my own room before (and a large room at that!). But the garage was set away from the rest of the house and it freaked me out to be away from the family like that.

I think some of my anxiety stems from the Night Stalker (a serial killer in California) who had been striking homes similar to mine in my formative years - the same color, right off the freeway, and whether or not that was his actual MO, we believed it to be. I remember how many people asked my parents if they were going to paint the house and how my dad very carefully checked and rechecked the locks on every door and window in the house before he would go to sleep. It made me a tad paranoid.

In my new all-to-myself room I had a day bed, the kind with the curly wire lattice all over the frame and girl that I am, had surrounded the edges with stuffed animals and pillows. One night I woke up because I heard a strange thumping noise. When I gained consciousness, I realized that the sound was the stuffed rocking armchair that I had at the foot of my bed hitting the wall over and over again. Thump. Thump.

I lay in bed frozen, literally unable to move. Thump. Thump. I could only see the top of the chair from my vantagepoint - the pillows blocked my ability to see the whole chair. I watched it rock against the wall. Thump. Thump.

I remember my sheer terror, the way my heart staccatoed in my chest, the silver taste of fear in my mouth, how I shook uncontrollably.

Thump. Thump.

I don’t know how long it took me, but I finally gathered some courage together. I had to look. I had to see what was making the chair hit the wall in such a rhythmic fashion. I couldn’t figure out what it would be - my imagination went berserk.

I sat up an inch at a time, my heart beating faster and faster. I reached for my glasses because I am completely blind and if there was some troll or goblin sitting in that seat, I had to see it.

Thump. Thump.

As I lifted myself up and looked over the side of my bed, there sat my cat Cinders in the rocking armchair, happily washing herself clean. Every bob of her head made the chair rock and hit the wall. An acute relief flooded through me and I threw one of my pillows at her. I made certain from then on that Cinders never came in my room at night again.

Has anyone else ever had a scary experience that turned out to be nothing?


At 10/30/2006 2:03 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

When my two oldest children were very young, they learned how to be escape artists and I would often walk through the house, double checking their locations just to be on the safe side. One day my two year old daughter was supposed to be playing in her room. I went in, didn't see her, called her, and heard nothing. I went through the whole house, and she wasn't there. I started to panic. I looked in every room again. She was no where. Finally, my heart pounding, I went back to her room a third time, to find her sitting quietly right in the middle of all her stuffed animals, watching me run like a maniac all around the house. I've never been so relieved.

At 10/30/2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

What a fun story, Sariah!

There was an abandoned shack down the hill from the house I grew up in. When I was old enough for sleepovers, I started telling my friends how the shack was an old mining cabin (probably fact), inhabited by the ghost of a crazy old miner (probably fantasy). Over the next couple of years I embellished the tale beyond belief. (By the time I was nine or ten it was horrific enough to make Stephen King sit up and take notice.)

Wouldn't you know it? There was a skeptical, intrepid girl at one sleepover who wanted to explore the shack. At midnight. As a dare. With our honor on the line, six of us sneaked out and trooped down the hill under an almost-full moon. We climbed in a window and tiptoed through a century's worth of mice and cat droppings. Then our ringleader stepped on the edge of an unsecured board, causing it to rise up and smack her in the nose.

There was no doubt in any of our little pea-brains that it was the crazed miner himself, reaching his skeletal hand up from his grave beneath the floor. (Guarding his hidden gold, of course.) I had made up the story, but I probably screamed the loudest as we fled in abject terror.

Sometimes that's the way of things.

Happy Halloween, all!

At 10/30/2006 12:56 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Oops. I almost forgot. I meant to say, "Happy Halloween all, EXCEPT for Rob." You'll just have to grin and bear it, Wells, and be glad you live in Utah instead of Arizona. Here we celebrate November 1 & 2 as Dias de los Muertos, the Days of the Dead. (A Mexican tradition.) I have the pan de muerto sitting here on my countertop. Now isn't that appealing?

At 10/30/2006 1:32 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

just so you know, I am taking my kids trick-or-treating tomorrow. And I even watched a show about vampires on the history channel. But that's about as good as it gets.

At 10/30/2006 9:08 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Mmmmm, bread of death. Have a slice for me. =) You can put plenty of butter and jam on Pan de Muertos, right? I mean, what's a little sugar and cholesterol compared to DEATH?

One of the first summers in our house, I heard something upstairs that sounded like someone trying to break in. This was during one of those rare summer storms. I crept up the stairs, holding a poker iron to confront the person who thought they were breaking into an empty house - we weren't keeping any lights on upstairs, you see. I could see something moving on the balcony in the wind ... and heard the sound again, and realized it was a tree branch scraping against the glass. It only did this in the high winds of the storm.

We had the branches trimmed after that.

Hey, go vote on LDS Publisher for my short story (er, I mean, for your favorite short story, which will naturally be mine.)

At 11/02/2006 8:51 PM, Blogger Karen Hoover said...

When I was eleven we lived on a farm in Oklahoma with a very long, winding path that ran through the woods to my grandma's house. It was my job to go and collect the milk from her and bring it home. One day I forgot until it was dark and Mom made me go anyway. Those woods were scary enough in the daylight, but at night they seemed to come alive, so I asked my brother to come with me. Being the guy he was he felt that tv was more important and said no. I had to walk over there by myself and practically ran, flashlight or not.

I got to Grandma's and picked up the milk, but on my way back, I saw something that looked like a ghost off to the side of the path, almost like a sheet hanging off the branches. My heart started pounding like a jackhammer and as I swung the light over to see what it was, my brother jumped out and yelled. Well, you can probably guess what happened. I dropped the milk and ran. Thankfully only one of the bottles broke. He laughed all the way home, but I still kick him for it every now and then.


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