A Knock at the Door

I woke to the sound of my dog barking. It was still dark as my eyes reluctantly opened. My sleepy brain tried to process what was going on. I rolled over to find my phone. The digital clock said it was only 6 am. I grumbled. The dog barked again, but my body refused to move. 
    I tried to listen for what she was barking at. A minute later, I heard it. Someone was knocking on the front door downstairs. 
    What the hell?  I thought. Who would be knocking on my door at six in the morning? 
    I stayed in bed, willing the person to just go away. The knock came again along with my dog barking. 
    Begrudgingly, I forced myself to get up. I glanced out the window, hoping to see a car I recognized. Maybe one of my friends needed me or something. But there wasn’t a car in sight. Strange, I thought. 
    My dog continued to bark as I made my way towards the stairs. At the bottom, I could see the shadow of someone standing outside of my front door. The person was tall and thin. Incredibly thin, honestly. As I made my descent, they knocked on the door again. This time was much more urgent, almost forceful. 
    This seems like a bad idea,  I thought to myself. 
    I reached the last stair and hesitated beside the door. 
    “Hello?” I called loudly, trying to be heard over my dog still barking. I tried to quiet her but to no avail. She did not like whoever was on the other side of that door.
    “I need help,” a deep voice returned. 
    “With what?” 
    “My car broke down,” he answered. 
    “Where? I didn’t see any cars along the road.” 
    “It’s down the street a ways.” 
    “I’m sorry. I don’t think I can help you, though. I don’t know anything about cars.” 
    “Can you just let me in?” He seemed to shift closer to my door. 
    “No...,” I hesitated. “Why don’t you try one of the other neighbors?” I suggested. 
    “No one has answered,” he said. The doorknob started to twist. Thankfully, I had remembered to lock it last night. “Please let me in.” His voice had changed. Now his tone was pleading. Before he had seemed more demanding. 
    “No, I’m sorry.” 
    He started pounding on the door, sending my dog into an uproar. Slowly, I reached for the baseball bat I keep next to the door. I didn’t think he’d be able to get through the door, but I wasn’t taking any chances. 
    “Please just go away,” I yelled. 
    Everything got very quiet and still. He must have gone, but I was afraid he was just waiting until I dropped my guard. I stood there, bat still in hand for another 15 minutes. My dog had finally stopped watching the door, too. I went back upstairs and returned to my warm bed. 
    Hopefully, this would be a one-time thing. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be, though. Unfortunately, that gut feeling was all too accurate. 

To be continued....

 

            The man has knocked on my damn door every day this week. I stopped going downstairs to talk to him. It’s the same thing every time. Even my dog has stopped going down there to bark and investigate. I don’t know why he keeps coming back. Regardless, I now keep my doors and windows locked constantly; and the location of the nearest object I can wield as a weapon is always on my mind. I don’t really want to take a chance. Nothing has been exactly…normal… lately.

            I’ve seen weird shadows. They look like people just walking down the hallway or through my living room. They’re always in groups of three. At first, I thought it was just people walking past my windows, but that’s not possible upstairs or in the hall. It’s incredibly unsettling, but so far, they seem harmless. I’ve almost grown accustomed to seeing them roam my house.

            Now, I’m just waiting for everything to get worse, for whatever awful thing that’s going to happen to finally actually happen.

            What a painful waiting game.

 

 

            My house has gotten disturbingly quiet. The man at the door has disappeared. The shadow people are gone.

            I’m sitting in my study, trying to go over some documents, but I can’t focus on anything with the lack of strange things happening here. I think the worst is yet to come.

            Something crashes behind me. I nearly jump out of my skin. I spin in my chair to investigate the noise. On the floor lies a book. Somehow, it’s fallen off the shelf. I stand and pick it up, intent on returning it to its place on the shelf. The cover is unfamiliar, though. I study it closer.

            The binding is falling apart. The pages and cover look ancient. There’s not eve any writing on the front or spine. I flip the book in my hands to find that there’s nothing on the back, either.

            I take the book back to my desk. Gingerly, I open the cover.

            Arkwright Family History, the cover page reads. It’s handwritten in the neatest hand I have ever personally seen.

            I continue to flip through the book. Finding a family tree for the Arkwrights dating back to the 1800’s, it occurs to me that this is some sort of precious family heirloom. How the hell did it end up here?

            The phone rings, dragging me out of the book and making me jump, again.

            “Hello?” I say into the receiver. I wait for several moments with no answer at all. I end the call, staring at the phone. “How strange,” I mumble to myself.

            I turn back to my desk. The book had vanished. Shocked, I continue to stare at my empty desk before walking out of the room completely. My mind refuses to process what just happened. 

I haven’t been able to get that book, that name, out of my head all day. There are so many questions. Arkwright…it has be have something to do with all the weird stuff that has been going on in here. Maybe my house is just really, really haunted. I just don’t know why this has started out of nowhere.

            My laptop screen illuminated my face as I stared at the empty browser. To get to the bottom of things, I was going to have to do some research.

            I typed “Arkwright” and the name of the city into the search bar. Tons of results popped up, none of them at all helpful. I sighed, frustrated.

            After an hour of searching, I finally found something useful. An article about Caleb Arkwright caught my eye. “Man Found Dead in Home – No Suspect” the title read. Dated over twenty years ago. No wonder it was so difficult to find.

            “Oh my god,” I said to myself. This man’s murder was nothing short of brutal. I had to find out more. The article I had found only covered the basics. Caleb had been murdered, the weapon was left in the house – well, weapons. Baseball bats. My stomach dropped when I read it. That’s a weird coincidence.

            I started searching for more information on the murder; and, the more I found, the more I was filled with dread.

            Caleb was 25 when he was murdered by his own family. The reason was suspected to be about a large debt Caleb owed his brother, David. Not every person involved was ever found, but there were at least four people involved in the incident, including David. After the murder, the family fell apart.

            What disturbed me the most, though, was where Caleb had lived. His address was mine. He was murdered in my house. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It had been decades ago so I suspected it was not so surprising that no one had ever mentioned it to me. The real estate agent wouldn’t have been legally obligated to tell me.

            According to what I found, David has essentially stalked his brother, threatening him every step of the way. Neighbors had reported hearing David yelling early in the morning for weeks leading up to the murder. Some had said they had seen him pacing on Caleb’s porch. David was hell-bent on getting what he was owed.

            Just like that, it clicked. The man stalking my house wasn’t exactly a man, rather the ghost of a man. David’s spirit was the one torturing me. The shadow people marching their way through my house were the ones that had helped David beat his brother to death.

            I shuddered, a terrible feeling of unease inching its way up my spine. In my own home, I didn’t feel safe anymore. Before I had even thought it all through, I started packing a bag. There was no way I was spending any more time in that cursed house.

            With a couple bags full of necessities thrown over my shoulder and my dog at my side, I headed down the stairs. Before I reached the bottom, I could see the shadow waiting at my front door.

            Cursing under my breath, I ran for the back door. I hoped that the spirit wouldn’t be able to follow. They seemed to only be able to relive what they had done when they were actually alive: and I hadn’t read anything about David ever going to the back door of Caleb’s house. It had always been the front door.

            Behind me, I heard something pound against the door. I ran faster. The glass shattered and I heard the doorknob rattling. It squeaked as it swung open. I glanced over my shoulder as my baseball bat came flying at me, barely missing my head.

            I was only feet from the door when I heard more stomping foot steps coming my way. I swung the door open and didn’t stop running until we were in the car. I drove the whole way out of town before I started looking for a hotel.

            I’ve never gone back to that house. I even paid movers to pack up my stuff because I’m too terrified to step foot in there. The neighbors had called the cops. They heard the banging and the breaking glad. They almost put out a missing persons report, thinking I had been kidnapped or murdered.

            Part of me is curious what would have happened if I stayed. Another part of me is glad I will never find out. Hopefully, David and his angry group of ghosts leave the next resident alone. I tried to warn them, but they wouldn’t listen.