The Knock

Written for my poor sister Sue. She detests these and has me to haunt her with them till the end of her days.  Sorry Sue.  I DO love ya.  Heh heh....

A lonely farmhouse, built about the turn of the century but in reasonable shape for its age, stands alone in the night. The paint has peeled and some of the shutters hang askew. The porch leans just a bit as if tired from the thousands of footsteps, children playing and sunsets it has witnessed. There are large, dark out buildings, all in the same state of homey disrepair with worn paths of familiarity between them. A copse of dark, tall trees surround the homestead, as if to protect it with the sensation of encircling arms and to hide the house from the world, providing safe refuge from unseen perils. Only in the dusk and the dark of night do you become aware of something that seems to watch the house, undetected, from the surrounding forest.

Upstairs in one of the large, warm and comfortable bedrooms a young girl prepares for bed. At the old mirrored dressing table she sits in a long nightgown and a serviceable robe with a blue ribbon that adds a delicate touch.  Her long silky dark hair has been combed around her shoulder until it shines in the dim light. After a nod of satisfaction at her reflection, she stands to turn back the thick, worn quilt that covers the large brass bed, removes her robe, and snuggles deep under the blankets. One arm comes out from under the heap of the covers to turn off the last remaining light in the house. She cuddles down under the luxurious warmth , closes her eyes and sighs contentedly.

After the last light's departure darkens the yard, the house is quiet and silent, waiting. The moonlight gently illuminates the area like the softest of mists, almost drifting down through the trees. The barn doors are open, resembling the empty dark cavern of a permanent yawn in the face of the rusted old monument. The wind gently blows an empty pail hanging on a rusty hook and the creaking sound adds to the already eerie atmosphere.

A slight step is heard on the front porch steps. The bending of the boards is usually a welcome, familiar sound, but this sound has a slow, ominous tone. The creak is soft enough to go unnoticed by the sleeping girl, still nestled warm and cozy in her bad, just starting her night's journey of rest and dreams. The second and third creaking steps up the stairs are louder and gently reach her subconscious. She stirs slightly, unaware of the reaction her body made at the sound. A length of silence follows and she settles back into a deeper slumber where dreams beckon her imagination.

The silence is again broken. The barn mouth almost smiles as if it is the master of this prank, and the creaking footsteps resume, making their way across the porch. A knock on the door. A quiet, timid, hesitant knock. There is no response from the house that seems to watch, resting in a catnap yet completely aware. Another knock, slightly bolder. No response from the house, the sleeping girl or the night. A third, a touch stronger. Still, nothing but the continued silent watchfulness of the windows.

The wind's howling is getting stronger, and louder. The trees around the perimeter of the ranch are bending and whispering excitedly to one another, reaching towards the house, reaching towards the rooftop of the darkened, threatened farmhouse as if to warn, as if to shield, as if they are crying.

Now, the knock at the door becomes insistent, determined, demanding. The girl awakens, completely. Lying quietly at first, her eyes barely open, wondering what woke her. She hears the next knock, and finally recognizes the source as the front door. She turns on the light beside the bed as she shakes off the remnants of her dream, completing the struggle back to reality. With a puzzled expression, she reluctantly gets out of bed, puts on her robe and walks to the hallway. She has realized the hour, and approaches the stairs with caution. Gingerly, she places one foot down on the first step. The knock is repeated, but with increasing volume and tension. She hesitates with her next step, looks longingly back towards her bedroom with the soft light that glows warmly. Another knock sounds as she continues down the stairs, but this time she displays obvious anger and impatience.

By the time she reaches the landing, the knocking is constant with no relief, continual, loud, persistent and almost violent. The girl turns pale and slowly moves towards the door, fearing to look through the curtains. She silently tiptoes up to the door, as slowly as possible and peers out to the porch. Although the knocking has not stopped there is no one to be seen on the porch. The hammering is now so heavy she can feel its vibrations with her body gently pressing against the door. Her expression is now genuine fright.

With her hand on the doorknob, she takes a deep breath. A cleansing breath. A hopeful breath. A breath for strength. After a few seconds that seem to last forever, almost suffocated with fear and indecision, she throws open the door wide and looks outside to the dark, thick night.

The moment is frozen in time. The wind howls loudly with an unearthly sound of agony, leaves blow and toss through the air, a frenzied dance up on to the porch and into the house like mischievous imps bent on destruction. The girl's hair is whipped into her face and her gown is feverishly entwined around her fragile legs. At last, with an expression of pure terror that finally softens into numbness, from her limp mouth she emits a wail, a slow quiet mew that builds and grows into a shrill, a horror filled crescendo, filling the murky night sky and unearthing the last fragments of peace in the forests.

At her feet, is the bloody remains of a muddy yellow "Have a Nice Day" smile, a raw, violent bullet hole scars its forehead. Hardly recognizable, it quivers with anger, its feeble attempts to stay upright are in vain. The creature sadly flops onto the porch with a note of finality, shuts it's saucer like black eyes, gives one last long breath, and the smiling mouth turned into a grisly snarl. As it dies, quietly on the porch at her feet, with its last breath it whispers, " Have a nice day...."

Written by Sharry Anne Stevens 1991, all right reserved

Return to Inside Anne
Return to Packrat Main Page