Monday, March 17, 2014

The Silhouette in the Fog

I don't really remember exactly how old I was when this happened but I'm going to estimate around 11 or 12. The house I lived in was prone to having a few "bumps in the night" and having the active imagination that I had, I usually had a lot of trouble falling asleep and would be up very late freaking out over every little noise I heard.

One night in particular I was drifting off to sleep when I thought I kept hearing footsteps followed by a slight dragging or sweeping noise outside. It should be mentioned that my bedroom was on the second floor and located in the front of the house, so I had full view of the street and my neighbor's yard through my windows. Anyway, I assumed the sound might've been someone sweeping their patio. It was around 1 AM and seemed a little late for someone to be doing that but every time I would sit up and peek through my blinds I couldn't see the source of the noise, and that seemed like the only rational explanation.

But the sound persisted, and every time I'd look out the window I still couldn't see anything. It didn't help that everything was covered in a thick layer of fog that night. It is only foggy maybe five nights out of the year in my area so it seemed almost too fitting and only amplified the creepy factor. 

After a while the sound started to get annoying and I just knew I wouldn't be about to get any rest until I had discovered what was making the sound. So I sat on my bed, opened my blinds, and sat on watch, determined to figure what it was. No more than a few minutes later my eyes took notice to the street light in front of our next door neighbor's house. The cone of light from it looked especially eerie given how thick the fog was... and then something started coming into view underneath it.

Slowly but surely, the silhouette of a man began to emerge from the fog and into the light. Someone was walking down the street of our sleepy little suburb at 1:30 in the morning. Except it resembled more of a zombie shuffle than a walk. He'd take a step with his left leg, stop, and his right leg would drag behind him. With all of his weight being put on his left side it affected his posture and gave him a slightly contorted, lopsided appearance. It looked exactly like something from a zombie flick

I had no idea what to think. I knew zombies weren't real but I couldn't explain this. I tried to convince myself I was dreaming but with every slow limp he took he got closer and closer to my house. I was convinced he knew I was sitting up there watching him and that he was on his way to get me. I ducked out of view of the window but the sounds of stepping and dragging continued to get closer. Part of me wanted to go wake up my parents and warn them but I was too afraid to leave the safety of my bed.

Then the sounds stopped.

I peeked out the window expecting to see him on the ground beneath my window looking up at me, but he was bent over in my neighbor's lawn. I couldn't tell what he was doing but I was still planning out escape paths in my head just in case. Suddenly he started to get up, and now there was something in his hand. I couldn't make out any details because of the darkness and the fog, but after a few moments of intense focusing to figure out what the object was. It was....

A newspaper. The zombie was polite enough to pick up my neighbor's newspaper before murdering them.

And then it dawned on me that the zombie wasn't actually a zombie, but it was in fact my neighbor. In my panic it had completely slipped my mind that a family had moved into that house just a few weeks earlier and the man of the house had a form of dwarfism that resulted in one leg being shorter than the other, resulting in a slow, uneven gait resembling a limp. He worked from home by crafting machinery in his garage and was often up late, which would explain why he was out and about at that hour. I still can't figure out what he might've been doing walking down the street so late in such poor visibility, though. Maybe he just felt like taking a break and going for a stroll.

A wave of relief hit me, followed by a feeling of intense shame over mistaking him for the undead.

-M W

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