Although I never believed in monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man, there was a time that I did believe in ghosts and a few other supernatural phenomena. I was also a huge fan of the horror genre. And even though I’m such a fan of all things creepy, I’ve never been prone to nightmares, or getting spooked in any way shape or form.
And yet, there I was one evening, in bed and reading a book by Stephen King, when I decided it was late enough, and that I needed to get some sleep. I put my book away, turned off the light, and started to gently fall asleep. And that’s when I heard a noise that jolted me awake, which was strange, because the noise itself was not jarring, but rather very soft and subtle.
What was jolting was that the soft noise sounded like it was coming right from the floor very near to my bed. My heart was hammering like it does when you wake suddenly just as you are slipping into a deep sleep. I waited a few minutes to hear the sound again, to make sure it was not the stuff of dreams, whipped up by my evening reading.
Nope, no noises there: I cautiously began to relax, chalking up the experience to my overactive imagination. Then the noise started anew, a soft shuffling sound, as if something was dragging itself on my bedroom floor. The sound was so soft, my own hammering heartbeat almost drowned out the shuffling noise. I leaned out of bed, getting as close to the floor as I could, without actually tipping out of my bed, to get a close listen to whatever was going on. Again, silence.
So I leaned back into bed and waited, wide awake now for good, no sleepiness at all, but rather, a creeping fear that something real was happening. Shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle went the noise again. Now I knew the noise was real, and I was not in dreamland.
I gathered the courage to flip the light switch near the head of my bed. The light turned on, flooding my room with brightness. But no monster awaited my seeking eyes, no serial killer sneaking up on me, no creature leaking an oozy trail behind as it crept closer to my bed.
I waited with the light turned on, as if daring the noise to start again. I must have waited ten minutes, thinking that I really let the horror novel I was reading get to me. Chiding myself, I eventually turned off the light.
And again, the shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle noise returned.
I did not hesitate this time, and snapped on the light just as the noise started. AGAIN, there was nothing but a floor, furniture, and a foolish feeling me in the room. This pattern repeated two or three more times, my nerves winding tighter and tighter all the while, and never once did I catch a glimpse of what was making the noise.
Feeling like I’d just had ten espresso coffees, I decided to wait as long as it took for the noise to occur, with the light on, so I could see at long last, what demon it belonged to. Some thirty minutes later, finally, I heard the noise again: Shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle.
In the darkness the noise always sounded like it was coming from the floor. Now, in the bright light, the noise was clearly coming from my bedroom window. Somehow, that did not make me feel any better, or slow my heartbeat down at all.
I anxiously approached the window, waiting for the sound to start again. Finally: Shuffle, drag, drag, and I quickly opened the blinds to see who or what had been tormenting my fevered imagination for the past hour and a half.
Just below my bedroom window, was a chord of wood my father kept near the house. On top of that chord of wood sat a large sheet of plastic to keep it dry. One of the four logs that kept the sheet of plastic pinned down had fallen, and every time the wind blew, the loose sheet of plastic made the shuffle, drag, drag, shuffle noise against the brick wall of our house.
No zombie, no ghost, no serial killer or other monster had been making the noise that had jump started my imagination and heartbeat into overdrive. It was just a stupid piece of plastic sheeting, blowing in the wind. Talk about feeling silly!
Now that I had confirmed that the world had not suddenly turned into some horror novel, I closed the blinds, climbed back into bed, and went back to reading my Stephen King novel. After all, I had calm myself down, before turning off the light one more time, and drifting off into a deep slumber once and for all that evening.
Although I still enjoy a good scary book or movie now and again, I no longer believe in ghosts or anything supernatural. If such things existed, I’m sure we would have much more proof by now.
At least, that’s what I tell myself anytime I hear strange noises in the dead of night.