Based on personal hallucinations.
How cliche to be sitting here in the study of my Tuscan inspired home, alone and listening to the tapping of heavy rains against the glass windows. It was reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, only, I have no chamber door or the gentle rapping of a raven to distract me. Only the rain and the crackling of the warm fire in my hearth. A cold and wet winter’s night; it was unusual Arizona weather and even more so unusual to light a fire in addition to central heating.
I turned the page of my book and adjusted accordingly in my chair so the light would illuminate every inch of the page and spare me the strain of reading in the dark. I don’t know why I read this way, with only a bar lamp on the coffee table nearby and a fire. I suppose the environment is calming, maybe too calming…
The roar of thunder does not phase me and the lightning flickering across the black skies adds mere seconds of additional lighting. For a moment I look upon the fireplace and see that the starter log I placed is slowly diminishing and the flames will need to be fed again soon, lest I read in near darkness. With the amount of writing, reading, and drawing I do, I tend to have a vivid imagination. The dark only brings out the worst of my internal fears. I hate it.
I have been told that living alone can be a joy. I can do what I want without the interference of a significant other or a relative. Still, solitary living means I have no one to reach out to unless I walk to the nearest neighbor’s home. Even now, I wouldn’t burden them with my problems and remain in my chair.
The final page has been turned and the clock on the mantlepiece strikes 1:36 in the morning. Looks like another all night marathon for me. I place my book down on the coffee table and sit and stare at the flames as they slowly begin to die and I sigh gently, not looking forward to placing my feet on the floor.
I never know when it will appear, but I have my suspicions…
The embers still glowed a bright orange, but the flames had gone down and I summon the courage to move. I lift myself from the chair and slowly pad across the floor, trying to remain as quiet as possible. I tell myself that keeping in total silence will prevent detection. Why do I do this? It always finds me.
I pick up a log from the small stack to rekindle the fire and watch as the flames return to a moderate height, appropriate for my hearth and I decide I need a soothing cup of tea to calm my nerves. Perhaps tonight it will not come. I leave my study and step along the long corridor towards my kitchen. Every footstep I take, I can feel its presence begin to grow and suddenly that cup of tea sounds less and less appetizing, but I press on. I left the lights off as I entered a new room. It didn’t matter if it was dark or light. It appeared regardless. My only saving grace was sound, but not my own or any sound produced by a living body. For any sound that I myself made would attract it or should I dare say, her…
Upon entering my kitchen, I opened my refrigerator and removed the pitcher of filtered water and fetched a mug from the cabinet. I intended to microwave my water because it created a buzzing noise. The whistle of a boiling pot on the stove tended to terrify me at this hour. I filled the cup just a little under full to keep room for the teabag and popped it in. Three minutes should work. Camomile was my teabag of choice tonight. The hum of the microwave brought me three minutes of comfort, but it never lasts. I jumped when my attention wandered and the beep of the microwave brought me back to my sense of isolation. The water was hot, more than ready to steep the herbs. Once the bag slid beneath the surface of the water, I watched under the dim light of the open fridge as the water darkened to an amber color and in my resurfacing dread, shut the door. I stepped back out into the hallway, tea in hand and using the moon’s beams to guide me back to my study. The door to my favorite room in the house was steps away…
The moment my fingers touch the knob, I feel her watching me.
My mind tells me to face forward and just enter the study, but I can’t stop my head from turning. I peer over my shoulder and down the long corridor where my kitchen awaited at the other end. I am emotionless as I see the silhouette of a distorted figure standing in the way of the kitchen door. It was her as I suspected. Although her presence was startling when she came to me, I was never frightened unless she moved. Because when she moved, I knew I’d made a noise that attracted her. I held my breath as I studied her form. Like before, her limbs were cast in several directions, twisted and broken in unusual places, not normal for a human. Her face was overcast in shadows, but I knew what lie beneath the strands of stringy brown hair. I had only one account where I viewed her facial features and wish that I hadn’t. She had sockets, but no trace of pupil, iris, or anything that remotely resembled an eyeball. They were just empty hollows. Her mouth was small, delicate, and doll-like. Her nose was centered and proportionate. Her skin was a sickly white, much like what would be expected out of a ghost story. It was her garments that helped me to determine her origins to be that of an old musician. Black ankle length dress, a pair of moderately heeled black shoes, and a flowing white scarf around her neck. How she lost her eyes, I’ll never know, but sound was her compass. A musician’s ears are sensitive and can distinguish dissonance from drones and the same went for natural sound, and thus I dubbed her the name Adagio.
Another moment passed before I gently turned the knob of the door, knowing she would not follow…for now.
I crossed the study with ease and set my tea above the fireplace. I needed to act immediately to keep the peace and limit my contact with the spirit. I kept an old fashioned record player and a solitary record in the corner of the study, settling near my vast book collection. After dropping more firewood on the hearth, I took to placing the record on the platter and lining up the needle. It was an elegy. If anything, this music calmed Adagio.
I returned to my chair, intending to select a new book. Perhaps another classic? A symphony of violins play in the background as I read the first line. I am returning to a sense of security, as long as the music holds out. By chapter three, I can feel my eyelids begin to droop and my book slides out of my grasp. It falls to the floor with a gentle thump; the pages now bent and rumpled beneath the weight of the spine and cover. My head slumps against the back of the chair and sleep overcomes me. It is in my dreams that I find true solace.
The skipping of the record awakened me an hour later and by sheer accident I gasped…
In the corner of the study, Adagio appeared once again. Her gaunt face was no longer relaxed, yet replaced with a grotesque smile. I had never seen this face before. Her eye sockets were missing and the terrible grin stretched to her temples. It couldn’t be helped, I screamed from fear and the spirit began to move. Its limbs snapped and cracked as it slithered towards me, bending and reshaping to the likes of a broken spider. Her pace was slow and intimidating. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I found my legs would not budge. I need to run, but I can’t. I sat there, frozen and watching the entity slink closer to my chair. That horrid grin with crooked teeth began to open wide.
The fire was dimming again, causing the spirit to blend partially in the shadows. I was praying for the needle on the record player to reset itself and rescue me from this madness. All I could hear was the continuous skipping. She was getting closer; her creaking arms were reaching out for me. Self-preservation became my priority and I screamed at my legs to move, to which they finally did. I slammed my feet on the floor and tumbled out of the chair, making a mad dash for the record player. To my horror, the skipping of the record was due to a crack in the vinyl. The music would not replay properly if I attempted to reset it. In utmost panic, I fled to the study door. There was one other place in my home where I could find safety. The attic. My feet fell heavily on the wooden floors as I ran for the stairwell. Fearful of this creature, my eyes flooded with tears. What would become of me should I be caught? Up the steps I flew, crying out once as I stubbed my toe on the second to last stair. I may as well have signed my own death certificate because she was catching up quickly.
Her limbs snapped and creaked as she gave chase. I could feel her twisted fingers reaching for me, barely brushing against the wisps of my hair.
I cried out again when I tripped over an area rug, but scrambled to my feet, narrowly escaping her. The attic door was near and I only had seconds to wrangle it open. Success! The door opened and I pushed through, immediately rushing for the spare record player sitting amongst the stacks of papers and boxes, a record already present on the platter. I just needed to reach it!
My hands fell on the player and I scrambled to place the needle, but I stopped in my tracks when I felt a pair of freezing cold hands fall around my neck. It was impossible to contain my cries now…
Those twisted, broken fingers squashed my throat and slowly turned me to face the ghastly spirit. I couldn’t close my eyes out of fear. Her misshapen mouth smiled at me and her putrid breath smothered me. My mouth was dry and my limbs were numb. She lifted me closer until I had the perfect view of each individual crooked tooth. My tears flowed and my cries died down for a moment, until I felt the horrendous pain within my left eye socket…
That same eye fell into darkness. My limbs shook and quivered as the very same pain erupted behind my right eye. I could no longer cry tears, but my voice continued to echo throughout the house as I wailed.
Everything around me darkened…
I struggled in her grasp, unable to see her grotesque and toothy grin. My shouts caught in my throat as I heard a series of cracks and breaks and my arms and legs went limp. The pain was overwhelming, but it was not over. I could no longer scream from the shock of my broken body. She dropped me to the floor and I could hear her hovering over me, almost as if she was inspecting her handy work. Droplets of liquid trickled onto my face and I was most certain it was my blood leaking from her lips.
Then she seemed to disappear and I lay there on the floor, blind and disabled. The eery silence of the attic brought me little comfort as I moved closer to death’s door. Then came the scratching of a needle from that of a record player and the gentle play of the violin filled my ears, mocking me and only reminding me of my fate.