There it was, that awful screeching.
Has it been two hours already? I must have dozed off, understandable since I don’t sleep much these days. I sit up from my chair. I put the fire out and close the chimney. I move sluggish through the empty dark corridors of the mansion. I’m not even looking where I walk as I’ve done this over and over again, once every two hours for as long as I could remember. Searching for the screeching. It only lasts three minutes. It’s the longest three minutes of my life. Three minutes every two hours. I’ve spent the last seven years searching for this awful sound, not able to find even the slightest clue. I’ve lost my mind and because of my lost mind, I’ve lost my wife. She was the most perfect thing in my life. She left because I fell to the madness of this deafening sound. I’ve quite literally pulled this house apart in search of it. There are holes in the walls, the ceiling, the floor. I’m surprised the house is still standing after all this time.
“SKKKKREEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNKKKKKKKKK” The painful sound emanates through the house once more. I remember when my ears would bleed just from the sheer pitch of the damn thing. I will never give up, I have to find this sound. There has to be a reason why it’s happening to me….isn’t there? I pass the shattered mirror in the upstairs hallway and for a brief moment my reflection stared back at me, eyes bleeding, patches of hair missing, teeth rotten. What have I done with my life? Have I wasted it in search of a meaningless sound? No, the sound is the reason for my madness, the reason for my life going the direction it has. I will find it.
My bedroom, the very last room on the very last floor of the mansion. I haven’t been in there for ages. Since Agnes left me. We spoke about my madness in that very room. It’s been seven years, shouldn’t I have been in my bedroom at least once? No, no I haven’t. I mean, what the hell? What could possibly be keeping me from entering a bedroom? The sound is just a sound. Isn’t it? Right. I turn the handle and push the door open with a loud creak. Understandable as it hasn’t been open in seven years. Dust falls from the top of the door and nestles into a crack in the hardwood floor.
“He….Hello?” I mutter dryly.
Nothing. As I suspected. It’s just a bedroom, isn’t it? Wait, who am I speaking to? Is it myself? Is it you? Wait…who? It’s just me in this house, isn’t it? How long has it been since the sound? Do I remember? Let’s see, I passed the mirror, I’ve climbed six floors of a house, searched every room including my own. My bed looks comfortable, does it not? Be it dusty or not, I pull the blankets off and lie in bed. If only for a moment, I will rest my eyes.
“DON’T YOU DARE!”
I shoot up from the bed, dust flies around the room and blocks my view.
“What? Who said that? Hello?” I ask.
A vague shadow, a large shadow nonetheless is in the room, I see it behind the dust cloud I had caused in my panic.
“I…I see you!” I shout. Just then the shadow darts out of the room and the door practically jumps from it’s hinges.
I’m shaking, uncontrollably no doubt. I’m not sure what that was, but it has to be the source of the awful sound that’s been haunting me for seven years. I place my feet on the floor, the cold dust absorbs the bottoms of my feet. That’s when I have a brilliant idea. That shadow beast must have left footprints in the dust! I search around where it was standing. Nothing, no prints. Did I dream it? No, it was surely real. I remember, it shouted at me and everything! Perhaps it was floating? Is that possible? Do you know? Wait, do I know? It’s just me. Isn’t it?
I exit my bedroom and look down the corridor. It’s nothing but darkness. If I was smarter, I would have lit the lanterns on my way up here, of course I wouldn’t have done that. But, it’s just me isn’t it? I start to walk down the hall, letting my hand slide against the wall. Almost as if I was putting my hand out as a sacrifice to the beast to leave me alive, just take my favorite hand!
There it is! The sound, perhaps it’s the beast I had just encountered! Where did it come from? Where? Was it below? How far below? Which floor, which room? Curse this house! I told Agnes it was too large for the two of us! The fifth floor? The fourth? It’s the third! I race down the stairs as quick as my old legs would let me. There! A light in that room there? What is that room? Have I ever even set foot in there? The door slowly opens as I approach it. The light flickers away, not allowing me a clear view into the room. Nothing but darkness.
“He….He….Hello?” I ask. “What do you want? Are you the one making that horrid noise?”
I inch closer and closer into the room. I can’t shake but to feel a presence inside the darkness. It’s not just me.
“Please, I need to know who or what you are. I’ve sacrificed my life to find out what this sound is.”
I keep inching into the dark room.
I hear breathing. Deep breathing.
“Of course you sacrificed your life to find me.” A deep voice that shakes the walls around me speaks.
I jump as it startled me.
“Who are you!? Hello? Show yourself! What do you want?” My eyes are flicking back and forth through the dark room. I see nothing. I still feel the presence, but I can’t see it.
The light flashes on, I’m temporarily blinded as my eyes adjust to the sudden light. Wait, where am I? This is my house but this is not my furnishings. Where is my chair? My bedroom. What is this madness?
“Charlie! Dinner is ready!” A woman shouts from the distance.
“Charlie? Who on earth is Charlie? Who was the woman that shouted? What’s happening?” I mutter to myself.
Suddenly a child rushes past me.
The child stops dead in his tracks. Turns around.
“He….He…Hello?” He asks.
“Yes, who are you? What are you doing in my home? I must know the answers to these questions!” I shout at the boy.
No response. He stares at me for a few moments and continues to run off towards the woman who shouted.
Why would he ignore me like that? In my own home nonetheless! I wander down the stairs to find the boy and this mystery woman. As I suspected, in the kitchen.
“Excuse me? What are you doing in my home?” I mutter. No response, they don’t even look at me.
The boy speaks up.
“Mom?” He asks.
“Is this house haunted?”
Of course it’s haunted. Haunted by the beast with the horrible sound! Have they not heard it?
“I’m not sure Charlie, it could be. Why do you ask?”
“I saw a man upstairs in my room, I saw him for just a second and it looked like he was trying to talk to me. But then he was just gone. Like he vanished into thin air.”
“Well, we are only the second owners of this house. It was almost destroyed but your father paid for people to fix it up for us to live in it. There is a spooky story about the man that used to live here though, do you want to know the story?”
Charlie looks conflicted but finally agrees to listen to the story.
“Well, it all started when this man named Harrison fell in love with a woman named Agnes. They moved into this house together and he began to hear a horrible screeching sound echoing through the entire mansion. Of course nobody has heard this sound in two hundred years, the only one that ever heard it was Harrison.”
Two hundred years!? What are they talking about!? I’m Harrison and I just heard the sound thirty minutes ago. I swear, what is this? Is this a joke? What’s happening? Why is it so cold? The light is fading.