I’ll never forget how happy my husband, Gregg and I were the day we found out that I was pregnant. This child would be our first and only child, and as recent newlyweds the news prompted us to call everyone we knew over for a proper celebration dinner and toast. Even though I was happy to trade in my usual alcoholic beverage for water, I never the less felt a warm, fuzzy almost intoxicating “buzz” of happiness most of the night, in fact I smiled and laughed so much that my dimples ached. That was about five years ago, and since then baby Anna has been a consistent source of joy and love in our world. Her spirals of blonde locks bounce when she’s happy and the combination of her cherub like features with those big blue eyes would melt even the most hardened of men.
Everywhere we went it seemed that her bright happy energy would be the constant source of the ooh’s and aah’s received from everyone. It’s given me pause a few times to wonder about this almost magical ability she must affect people in a big way, not to mention those eyes with so much depth of knowledge and understanding like that of an old soul.
We’ve moved recently, finally finding a great deal on a four-bedroom colonial style home that was built by and remained in the same family for generations. It’s old but solid and lightly repaired and updated along the way. My husband and I both were immediately drawn to it, even our little Anna appeared to comfortably know her way around during our initial walk through and viewing before it became our home. One thing that stuck out in my mind about that day was when I had to chase after Anna into the dark. Leaving Gregg and the Realtor in the kitchen I caught up with her in a long corridor that led to a completely darkened room. I remembered the room from the walk-through, it appeared to be a sort of office but with no windows. I giant rectangular antique mirror with gold leaves hung lonely on one wall and that was it.
Anna headed straight for the darkened doorway and disappeared even though I called for her. I reached the door, stretched my arm out and firmly flipped the light switch with conviction but nothing changed. “Anna, come now honey. We need to go back with daddy and the nice man in the kitchen…” I said, jumping at another giggle then silence, I could only hear the muffled voices of my husband and the Realtor. “…all the plumbing has been updated…” Then I noticed a shuffling from in front of me and once again I called out for my daughter as I scooted closer into the black room completely surrendering to the shadows.
TAP, TAP, TAP, tap,tap,tap….I listened to tapping on glass and I remembered that there are no windows in here, only a mirror. I tried to focus my eyes onto where the mirror would be hanging, slowly the elaborate frame stood out and there was something else there, my eyes focused harder. What began to come into focus in that mirror I knew deep down that I wasn’t prepared to see so I lowered my eyes trying to shake off whatever it was. My hands and feet became like ice as my fear grew more intense with every passing moment. The tapping became more intense before the silence settled back in. I strained my ears and turned my body back and forth scanning for any signs of life when I noticed a different sort of noise. Barely audible at first, it sounded like wispy wind but with promise to it, like the sound of gusts of wind you’d hear kicking up through bare tree branches on chilly autumn evenings.
I’d started rubbing the goosebumps on my exposed arms noticeably aware of how cold and alone I suddenly felt. It was as if all the warmth and joy was sucked out of the world. I was getting a heavy, nauseous feeling in my gut as the noise transformed and morphed in and out, sounding more and more like a hundred chaotic whispers. It was as if someone was turning up the volume and I grabbed my ears now frightened and shaking. “Mama?…” I heard as I glanced up and noticed the motion of short movements in front of me. “Anna?!? Where are you dear…?” I say, cringing at the crackle of fear in my voice. The sound became louder still and I was sure that my eardrums were going to burst and bleed from all the pain. It seemed to emit from inside of my skull and there was no relief as it got louder with every passing moment. I couldn’t take anymore and was sure I’d go permanently deaf any second because overlapping the loud whispers was now a high pitch ringing noise which made my skull feel like it was slowly splitting. I attempted to reach out once again for Anna and ended up howling out in pain over the thundering between my ears…
“Honey…are you okay?! What happened?!” Gregg yelled as he ran in and quickly flipped the same switch and light instantly flooded every corner of the room chasing away the shadows, noise and cold air instantly. I was frozen with my arm stretched out towards an empty corner of the room. Forgetting myself I went into mother mode and started spinning in circles desperately looking for my daughter who wasn’t where I’d been reaching out for her.
Giggling she skipped into the room, looked up at me with her knowing eyes and said, “Haha! We played a trick on your mamma! Boo!”, and continues giggling while skipping back out of the room. I felt sickly uneasy and wasn’t even sure I even wanted the place, but after a few days it felt more like a bad dream and I’ve successfully convinced myself that it was all in my head. The house was beautiful and is a steal. I knew that my husband wanted to make this place a home for his family so that is what we decided to do.
For many weeks, it was hectic but peaceful and we began to get the sense of settling in. Anna seemed to love her room and spent a lot of time in it doing what little girls do best, playing with her blocks, brushing her dolls hair and having tea parties with stuffed animals or invisible friends. I knew this was all perfectly natural so I hide out to watch her sometimes with a smile on my face, eaves dropping on her imaginary conversations hoping to hear something cute and funny to share with my husband when he home from work at night. I listened intently as she hummed a tiny little made up tune while brushing a doll’s hair, her concentration so strong that her pink tongue stuck out one side of her mouth. Giggling, I cupped my hand over my mouth to stifle it and thought she heard me but she continued humming for a few minutes. She was quiet for a moment and I turned to sneak away when what I heard next stopped me cold in my tracks.
Whispering, only this time instead of a hundred voices it was just one very old gravelly voice, older than the elders still alive on this earth. My daughter’s voice broke my concentration, she’s responding?! There’s someone in the house with my daughter, my husband won’t be home for nearly two more hours! Panic flooded my head and fluidly went into my chest making my heart skip a beat and start beating so hard it ached. Walking towards the doorway to Anna’s room, I was suddenly swimming in a sea of thick dizziness before I could take another step. I ended up against the cool wall gripping it for stability. Everything became fuzzy with lights brightening and that electronic high pitched buzzing noise was back again. Am I going to pass out?!
Seemingly out of nowhere Anna appeared in front of me and just stood there with the same look she gets when Anna gets in trouble or caught doing something she wasn’t supposed to do. “I’m sorry mama…the darkness says it’s time to go…” Her head dropped as her voice trailed off and suddenly it was there, this huge dark shadow looming over Anna’s shoulders. The dizziness grew worse and the lights grew brighter entertaining fuzzy halo’s around bright colors. I lost my balance when the buzzing became thunderous again but I had to at least try to see their face so I can know who to go after if anything happened to my precious baby girl. I looked up and terror paralyzed my entire body. I didn’t fear for my life…I feared for my soul and knew I had every right to when I peered upon this black veil. A decrepit gray arm with jerky movements slowly raised to grip the veil and with one swift jerk pulled back to reveal darkness that poured out of the space where there should be a face. The darkness poured out and enveloped and silenced everything, even my screams.
Original and creative, Lori Jean Hamilton is a freelance writer and freelance photographer who is currently working on a book. Currently her work can be found on sites like www.themeofabsence.com. Even as a small child she was the storyteller of her family. She loves old school horror varying among other random genres and topics because she loves learning as well as her family and friends.
Image by s_jelan.