Lightning flashed and the sky lit up like a fourth of July celebration.
I counted, “One…two…three!”
And then it came—the resounding clap of thunder. Bella, my Scottish terrier whimpered and leapt up next to me on the
sofa. A squall lashed at the house as if in punishment for some wrongdoing. It howled beneath the rafters like a living,
breathing fiend. The lights in the den flickered off and on and an involuntary shiver went down my spine. I listened to
the window shutters flap to and fro banging against the outer wall, seemingly in applause of Mother Nature’s petulance.
The beach house was located on Cape Cod Bay, surrounded by miles of beach and numerous ponds. It was a
wonderful retreat from the hustle and bustle and much ado of everyday life and had been a summer home to my
parents and my grandparents before them. The weather forecast predicted a storm rolling in from the Atlantic and by
lunchtime, ominous clouds began to overcast the sky.
Pulling my legs beneath me, I snuggled down in the soft throw blanket I kept over the back of the sofa for such dark
and gloomy days. The rains—when they came—battered and pounded the coastline all afternoon and evening. The
house creaked and shuddered in disapproval. The electricity flickered off and on one last time before finally giving out.
My flashlight and cigarettes were next to me on the coffee table and I reached across with jelly-like hands, pulled a
‘ciggy’ from the pack and lit up. Inhaling deeply, I watched the embers glow in the dark. The nicotine succeeded in
working its usual magic, slowly calming the tension in my body. I had always been afraid of storms and being alone in
the house was proving to be unnervingly creepy. The sound of thunder reminded me of childhood and scary, ghost
stories. I subconsciously drew the blanket tighter about me.
The only sound to be heard other than the fury of the wind and rain outside, was the unremitting tick of the grandfather
clock in the hallway, tick, tick, tick. It startled me more than once. When it chimed the hour, its loud, clanging bell
caused me to almost jump out of my skin! I huddled under my blanket and listened to the anger of the storm and
watched the eerie shadows that danced on the walls of the den. A tapping at the window made my heart momentarily
stop and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end! It turned out to be nothing more than a palm frond, half
broken off from the tree planted three summers ago.
Eventually my stomach, growling with hunger—sounding like a noisy pot of bubbling stew—forced me from my
hibernating position. With flashlight in hand, I made my way along the hallway to the kitchen.
The flashlight cast a luminous glow over the kitchen appliances, making everything appear a little spooky and
somewhat threatening!.Having arrived a few days earlier, I stocked up on provisions. Opening the refrigerator door, I
was happy to see an ample amount of various goodies that were fortunately still nice and cold. I quickly fixed a turkey
sandwich, grabbed a coke and made a hasty retreat back along the hallway.
It was a short while later when I heard the sound of the front door knocker, rat-a-tat-tat. Listening intently, my senses
heightened by nervous tension from fear of storms, I sat up…the knocking came again. I was expecting no one. The
house was three miles from town and my nearest neighbor was an elderly woman who lived alone with her dog
approximately a mile further down the beach. Notwithstanding of the fact no one knew I was here, anyone venturing out
in this crappy weather would have to be crazy!
Uncurling my legs from my fetal position, I eased myself off the sofa and gingerly walked back into the hallway not
wanting to alert this uninvited guest or guests that there was anyone home until I decided if I would open the door. I
switched off my flashlight and hid in the alcove off the hallway. From here I had a view of the glassed front door. I could
see a shape—a silhouette—illuminated by the half-moon. My gut feeling was to stay put and hope the visitor would
assume no one was home and leave. The knocking went on for a couple of minutes then suddenly stopped. Whoever it
was, disappeared from view.
I listened…complete silence except for the ceaseless ticking of the grandfather clock and the driving rain outside. I didn’
t realize I had been holding my breath until the knocking stopped and I slowly exhaled. A lightning bolt illuminated the
hallway and I hurried back to the den. I was alarmed and scared. Who was this person? And more to the point, where
were they now? Had they gone away? Or where they still lurking in the shadows somewhere outside?
Picking up the phone, I checked for a dial tone—nothing. The lines were still down and my cell phone had no reception.
Needing to calm myself, I took several deep breaths. I was getting panicky. There had to be a rational reason why a
stranger—perhaps there was more than one—was out on the beach in the middle of nowhere during such a
horrendous storm and more to the point, was pounding on my door. It was probably just a traveler passing through who
had somehow gotten lost. That couldn’t be right; I hadn’t seen headlights or heard a car engine. Perhaps the car had
broken down further up the road? Oh, for God’s sake get a grip!
My mind went into overdrive. I peered through the window into the dark night. An empty void stared back. I briefly
pondered if perhaps I should have answered the door. It was then the sound of breaking glass penetrated the silence.
Oh my god! Momentarily rooted to where I stood, I could hear a muffled sound coming from the kitchen. An inherent
instinct for survival propelled me into action. Looking for a place to hide, I crept as quietly as I could to the far side of
the room. I found a small space between the antique credenza and mahogany sideboard which would conceal me
unless the intruder came completely into the room. Scrunching myself between the two, I pressed back against the wall
and prayed for obscurity. What sounded like footsteps followed by an unusual dragging sound echoed from the
I didn’t peek out from my hiding place. My heart pounding, my hands cold and clammy, I waited with bated breath. A
warm sensation from my lower regions betrayed my vulnerability and tears stung my eyes. Hopefully, they won’t notice
the puddle on the floor. The footsteps stopped in the doorway. I held my breath. The heavy footfall and the strange
dragging sound—like something being pulled across the floor—continued into the room. The shape was standing no
more than a couple of feet from me, so close I could actually hear its intake of breath. I squeezed my eyes shut hoping
if I couldn’t see them, they wouldn’t see me. A sharp crack of lightning set the sky ablaze and was quickly followed by
the deafening roar of thunder. I opened my eyes and there before me stood the most terrifying thing I had ever seen! I
heard a shrill, piercing scream before my world was cloaked in darkness. The cry had come from me!
Totally traumatized, I apparently blacked out. I awoke to find the grotesque creature watching me with an intent like
gaze. Beady eyes traversed the length of my body as I lay wedged between the credenza and sideboard. My first
thought was to look for an escape. There was none. I was trapped in my hideaway, with no way out. Words could not
describe my fear. My ability to function became completely suspended. Visions of this freakish ogre ripping me apart
limb-by-limb or perhaps devouring me whole, crept into my brain and ran amok. Momentarily mesmerized by its piercing
stare, I felt almost trancelike, somewhere between sleeping and waking. I watched it move towards me before I erupted
with a penetrating shriek. In a flash, its claw like appendages reached out and grasped my quivering body. As I lost
consciousness, I could only imagine this was a scene straight from a horror movie.
I rolled over in my comfortable queen sized bed and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. Sunlight filtered into the room and
I squinted at its dazzling brilliance. Bella licked my face nuzzling into me. The heavy rains from the previous evening
passed, a few remaining drops trickled down the window pane. I lay beneath the covers feeling incredibly lazy. Why
not? I was on vacation after all. I had nothing to do and nothing planned.
A bemused smile crossed my face—wow, what a night! At least Bella and I weathered the storm. My bedcovers were
tangled, tossed and turned from my restless sleep. Running my hands through my hair, I vaguely recalled some
strange, ridiculous dream.
There must have been something wrong with the turkey, I reasoned. I didn’t normally suffer from such outlandish
nightmares. I snuggled with Bella for a few minutes longer before throwing back the covers. My left foot felt tender as I
stood up and put my weight on it. Looking down, I noticed a couple of deep scratch marks running from just below my
ankle to my toes.
“How on earth did that happen?” I mumbled to myself as I hobbled to the bathroom.
Applying some antibiotic cream to my wounds, I concentrated on my usual morning, bathroom ritual before slipping into
my bathrobe and cautiously limping downstairs. Entering the kitchen doorway, I stopped dead in my tracks. Oh, my
god; the room lay in total disarray and broken glass covered the floor! I was too afraid to enter the den…
By: Gillian Scott