Monday, February 21, 2011

I Can Get at You Anytime I Want

I've never been a nervous sort of person. I don't get scared easily and have no problem walking home or to my car alone when it's dark. My story happened when I was about 17 and at my mother's house. My parents are divorced, and though it was a day I usually spent at my father's house, I was at my Mom's because her computer far outstripped my father's and I needed to do research for a paper. It was getting relatively late, and I didn't feel like driving out to my father's house, as he lived about half an hour away. My mother worked nights and wouldn't be home until around 8 in the morning, so I made dinner and took a break from my paper. The evening was normal, if not a little boring, for a bit, until I got up to go the bathroom.

The house is a ranch with large windows in most of the rooms--for an airy feel, I guess, as there are a lot of trees surrounding the house. This is a nice neighborhood, and though I was pretty vigilant about locking the doors, I never really worried about shutting the blinds. Either way, nature called and I went to use the bathroom, which separates two bedrooms of the house. My room had its own bathroom, but I decided to use the main one because it was closer. The wall of the bathroom is the back of the house; a small window allows you to look outside into the backyard. But as I walked in, just as I was reaching to turn the light on, I heard something. It wasn't very loud, and I don't know why I even thought it strange, but instinct just pulled me to the window. At first, I didn't see anything, but then, toward the other side of the house, something seemed to move. I figured it might just be a kid cutting through my yard to get to theirs because it is a bit shorter than using the sidewalk that winds around the houses, but at the same time, I was left uneasy. Something just didn't feel right.

Either way, I went back to the living room, now very conscious that the windows would be behind me, meaning when I sat on the couch, someone could be looking at me and I wouldn't know. A few minutes went by and nothing happened, so I relaxed a bit. But then I heard something coming from the front yard. At this point, yeah, I was a bit freaked out. There are three main doors to the house: one in the living room to the backyard, one to the front and one leading off the deck where I'd parked my car. The sounds were like someone stepping very, very softly because of the leaves on the ground, like they were trying to keep from being heard, and it was coming from near the front door. My heart was in my throat by this time, so I called my Dad, absolutely flipping out, whispering like an idiot because I was afraid whoever was outside would hear me. My dad is really, really overprotective and his first instinct is to come to the house. But that would mean I'd have to wait on pins and needles for him, so I refused and said we'd meet halfway and have him come back with me because I didn't want my mom coming home to some sort of psycho. I really should have called the police, I know, but for some reason I was afraid he'd be gone as soon as the sirens got close and they would think I was wasting their time (I knew a few of the cops, as it is a small town, and one of them was a huge asshole, thus my reticence.)

I've never been so afraid in my life; getting off the couch, even still on the phone with my dad, took everything I had. I grabbed my keys and walked through the house calmly, babbling to him about anything to keep from losing my shit. I opened to the door and sprinted to my car, though it was literally maybe two feet away and the driver's side faced the house, meaning I got in in about two seconds. As soon as the motor caught, I was out of there, and was obviously upset. My dad thought I should go to the police first, but I just wanted to get to him, then go. Anyway, my dad met me halfway and we took his car back, pulling up to the house first. And when we did, we saw that every single door and window of the house was open. And inside, too--the attic, the basement--rooms that had been shut were all opened, having been at least walked through. But nothing was gone, and no one was there. The police were really good about checking and making a report, but I never felt comfortable there again. It felt like a threat--like an 'I can get in anytime I want,' sort of thing.

Nothing has happened since and I now live abroad, but that night still freaks me out and makes me glad I live in an apartment with good security!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scary Camp Story

Many years back, as a teenager, I was out doing something I was not technically supposed to be in a place that I was also technically not supposed to be. For these reasons, that night we were bivouacked in a crudely camouflaged lean-to made out of dead fall and pine boughs. In addition to the fact that we would be in trouble if we got caught, it was the first time that I had ever slept in the outdoors exposed, not in an enclosed tent, etc... I kept thinking of bugs crawling into my ears, squirrels nibbling on my toes, some psycho wandering along (very unlikely) and slitting my throat as I slept, that sort of thing. I felt the exposure very keenly, and had the creeping sensation that I was being watched. It didn't help that it was stone dark out. I mean, I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.

I woke up either very late at night, or very early in the morning needing to take a leak. Bad. Which was a pain in the butt, because even as keyed up as I was, there was no way I was going to take a pee just outside our lean-to. I was determined to go a hygienic distance from the camp to do my business. Cupping the light from my mini-maglite so that all I had was a dim, reddish glow, I quietly made my way about 25m from the camp. Stowing the flashlight, I unzipped and began to piddle. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash of light. Startled, I pinched off the flow of urine and crouched down, trying to stow my gear. The light I had seen was intermittently visible through the trees, bobbing and weaving, often seeming to come towards me, and then moving away.

Now, the odds that there would be a person or persons out wandering the area at this time of night were perishingly small, unless there was a specific reason. Like, they were looking for trespassers. I figured that they were pretty unlikely to find us in the dark, but that we had better be away in the pre-dawn.

I realized that I would not be able to find my way back without using my flash light. I didn't think that a distant person would be able to see what the light was shining on if it wasn't directed towards them, but I didn't know for sure. However, my only other option was to squat in a pool of my own urine for two or three hours. So, flashing the light only for a second or two, and moving quietly and carefully, I began to make my way back to the camp.

About half way back, there was an explosive crash right beside me. In the light of the flash I could see tree limbs flying, and I was struck on the arm hard enough to bruise. I thought perhaps a shotgun had been fired at me, or something like that. I dropped onto my belly and crawled, light out. Eventually, I butted up against what I could feel was a large fallen tree. I wedged myself under it and pulled handfuls of grass and brush around me.

I huddled there, shivering, until it got light enough to see. It was quiet.The tree I had crawled under was barely as large around as my leg. The lights? The distant highway was now visible in the pre-dawn chill. And the explosive crash? When we checked later, there were deer beds all though the area. I must have startled one.

Sean P.