March 22, 2011

Trippy Tale #4..."The Thing Outside The Window"

"THE THING OUTSIDE THE WINDOW"
 
"A close personal friend related this story to me. He asked that I type it up for him because his own typing skills lack something to be desired (his own words, not mine -- scout's honor).
This is pretty much a verbatim transcript of what he told me, because while his ability with the word processor can be found wanting, his ability to spin an enjoyable yarn isn't half bad. I've changed the names of the people involved in the story at their request. So, without further adieu, I give you The Thing Outside the Window.
My name is Patrick Johnson, and the story I am about to tell is one hundred percent truth. While I will forever maintain that I am not lying, I'll be the first to admit that maybe I don't entirely understand exactly what happened that night. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong because it was such a surreal event, or maybe my mind is filling in the blanks with something more horrible than what actually occurred. But whatever the case, this anecdote is entirely as I remember it.
September 27th is my birthday. In 2003, I celebrated the big twenty-one. As is usually the case during such a birthday party, we intended to spend the night drenched in copious amounts of fine (read: cheap) alcohol. There was some  talk of going on a group trip into town (I live in the country, about 35 miles from the nearest city) and spending the night at the bar, but none of my friends were willing to volunteer for the dubious honor of designated driver, so in the end we opted to go one county over (not only do I live an insane distance from the nearest town, but I live in a dry county as well) and pick up a couple of cases of beer, some whisky and some vodka. When I use the word party in relation to my 21st birthday, I feel I am being a bit disingenuous. It wasn't really a party in the traditional sense. It was just four of us (myself and three friends -- Matt, John and Alex) sitting around in the living room, eating cake and drinking alcohol. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty sedated event, very laid back and relaxed, that is until my bladder finally got the better of me, which sent me blundering into the bathroom... and into the dizzying events that followed.
The bathroom in question was quite small. Standing in the doorway, you could reach out and just about touch every surface in the room. To the right of the door was a bathtub/shower combination. To the left was the washbasin. Against the far wall, pinched between the washbasin and a head-high window was the toilet. The window over the toilet is the focal point of this particular tale, but let me give you an idea of what you see while looking out said window:
if you walk right up to the window, you'll find the toilet directly to your left. When you stand there to relieve yourself, you can turn your head and look out into the back yard. At night, however, there is very little to see. There is an emergency light that activates when it detects movement in the backyard, but otherwise it is fairly dark. At the rear of the yard is a line of pine trees (still green at the time, despite the slowly cooling temperatures) that act as the fa├žade of a fairly deep forest. At the head of the forest's frontage are two small buildings. One, off to the far left of the bathroom window (and almost out of sight) is the garage. The second building is a small tin shack that stands on wooden legs. The lack of trim around the lower edge of the building allows you to see clear through to the other side during the day, but at night it's pitch black under there. So I walked into the bathroom, closed the door, and took the two or three steps between the entrance and the toilet. I glanced out the window as I did so. The night was clear and cool, and the moon was bright. I could see the tin building against the trees, and I could see the trees themselves swaying against a rather powerful breeze. Other than that, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary, so I set to the business relieving my booze-filled bladder. Before I had even finished, I could hear a sound outside the window. At first I thought nothing of it, probably because I was light headed enough from all the alcohol that it just didn't occur to me to notice it. But as I was finishing my business, the sound outside the window began to grow in pitch. I stood there silently for a couple of seconds, listening. It sounded like a low growl that was steadily rising in pitch, the kind of sound a cornered animal might make when its hackles are up, only there was something off about it. It sounded like whatever was making the sound had a throat full of fluid. There was a kind of bubbling; a gurgle, and it too steadily rose in pitch. It was only a matter of moments before the sound was nearly skull splitting, and I got the distinct impression that whatever it was, it was lingering below the window, right up against the house.
I zipped my pants, flushed the toilet and quickly exited the bathroom. I closed the door behind me, and still I could hear the sound. I walked down the hall and into the kitchen. It was empty. Alex, John and Matt were gone. For one panicked moment I thought that whatever was making the sound had gotten them (generally I'm not the panicked sort, but I must have been pretty close to drunk by this point, and my head was racing with all sorts of crazy ideas). Then, from the living room, I heard Alex's voice. "What is it?" he asked, and I could hear that he too was on the verge of drunken panic. I walked across the kitchen and into the living room. Alex, John and Matt were standing near the back door. To the right of the door was a large window with Venusians blinds. One of them had opened the blinds, and all three of them were peering out the window, across the right side of the house. The bathroom was just on the other side of the living room wall, and I understood then that they, too. had heard the sound and had gone to have themselves a little look see. I crossed the living room and touched Alex on the shoulder. He reeled, his fist held up in a defensive gesture, and I held my hands up in the air. "It's just me," I said. Alex relaxed (a bit) and pointed at the window. "You hear that, right?" "I hear it," I said, and pushed past him so that I could get a good look out the living room window. "It sounds like it's coming from near the bathroom window." John glanced at me, his gaze a bit hazy and not entirely all together, and I could see that he was holding one of my grandfather's old walking canes in his hands. He was squeezing the thing so hard that his knuckles were pale as a sheet. The four of us stood at the window for about a minute, peering out it, and all the while the sound continued to persist. It didn't get any louder and the pitch had leveled off in a disconcerting whine. "Hey!" Matt cried suddenly, pressing his hand against the window. "Look, I think I see something. God, look at it!" I pressed my face against the window and cupped the sides of my head with my hands, trying to cut the glare from the living room lights. My eyes moved slowly across the yard, first to the right, then to the left, then to the right once more. And then I saw it, too -- small and low to the ground, it came out from below the bathroom window and moved lazily across the yard. The thing walked in a crouch, knees bent, its arms hanging at its sides pleasantly. It looked to me like it was enjoying a lovely stroll out in the crisp night air. Now I admit that it was very dark out and we had all been drinking fairly heavily, but later we would discuss what happened that night and we would all agree on what we saw (even John, who remembered the least): the thing stopped midway between the house and the tin shack, looked over its shoulder, and grinned at us. With my face pressed against the glass and my hands shielding the glare from the living room lights, I could see it clearly in the moonlight. It was definitely grinning, and I saw its tongue flick out and run across its lips. I couldn't see its teeth. I didn't want to see its teeth. I think it was teasing us. Then I noticed its eyes. I try not to think that it was looking right at me, but it sure felt like it was (the others would probably say the same thing). The thing that had been the source of that gurgling growl outside the bathroom window had eyes like tiny, polished mirrors. They reflected the moonlight in a way that made my skin crawl (have you ever seen how a person's eyes seem to shine in certain types of night vision footage? It was like that, only a whole lot brighter.)
"What is it?" John asked, his voice low, trembling. "I don't know," I said, "but I don't like it." "How come it doesn't trip the emergency light?" Matt asked. It hadn't occurred to me to wonder about the emergency light, but once Matt mentioned it, I realized it was a good question. I didn't have time to reflect on it, though, because I heard the backdoor open. I pulled my face away from the window and looked around to see John standing in the opened door, the walking cane held in front of his chest protectively. "Close the door!" Matt cried and was moving with a speed that I look back on and admire. Given how much alcohol we consumed, I don't think I could have been quite so on the ball. Alex swore. I looked around at him and saw that he was staring out the window, eyes bulging. "John, get back in here, man! It's coming this way!" I looked out the window and saw that Alex was right -- the thing in the yard was moving back toward the house, and it was moving fast. It was no longer crouching and its legs pumped furiously as it rushed toward the back door. Toward an intensely drunken John. Matt grabbed John by the shoulder and yanked him back into the house. John lost his footing and the cane flew askew, falling near the window. He toppled and landed on his chest, groaned, and blacked out. Matt slammed the back door and twisted the bolt lock. Alex backed away from the window in a hurry, screaming several colorful words that I'm not allowed to share here. The door shuttered in its frame and the thud that accompanied the impact was deafening in the quiet that had fallen over the four of us. Matt was leaning against the door. A terrified bark of laughter escaped him when the thing collided with the door. His nerves were frazzled, I suppose, and I don't blame him for laughing. The sound of that single mad burst caused me to let out my own bitter hoot. Oddly enough, I felt a whole lot better after that, less tense (I guess it's true what they say -- laughter in the face of terror is perfectly natural).
The four of us held hard for at least two minutes. John lay on the floor, asleep or unconscious; Alex stood in the hallway leading to the kitchen, his arms crossed over his chest; Matt continued to lean against the door; I stood near the window, looking out into the darkness. I didn't see the thing, nor did the emergency light ever come on. Finally, I walked closer to the window and pressed my face against it again. I think I heard Alex take in a sharp breath. Maybe he was going to tell me not to get so close to the window, maybe not. I don't know. What I do know is that there was no sign of the thing that had been making that sound outside the bathroom window. Alex, Matt and John remained at my house for the rest of the night.
I went and locked the other two exterior doors while Alex and Matt helped John into the guest bedroom. When he woke up the next morning, he didn't remember anything after we initially saw the thing come out from under the window, and even that was a bit hazy in his brain. He wasn't entirely sure he didn't just dream the whole thing. The only reason he's even willing to entertain the idea that it might have actually happened is because the rest of us corroborated what he remembers.
I haven't seen the thing that was making the sound outside the window again, but I don't go out into the backyard during the night anymore, and I've had the emergency light replaced with a full-time street lamp bulb (when the sun starts to go down, the light activates and doesn't go off again until first light). I don't know what that thing was. After seeing it in my back yard, I reckon it enjoys scaring people. I'm sure it could have gotten into the house if it really wanted to. There were plenty of windows that it probably could have shattered, but it didn't. Like I said, I think it just wanted to scare us. I hope that's all it wanted. May I never have to find out otherwise."