Thursday, March 23, 2006

Things That Go Bump in the Night

The other night, after the Ghost Tour, the chills and thrills continued.

For one thing, it was pretty cold and a light dusting of snow was falling as I rode home; the sharp pellets of sleety snow occasionally making their presence in the air known as they slammed into my face. (Hey, they may be small, bit when a tiny little ice pellet hits you in the face it is still uncomfortable.) That's the "chills" part.

The "thrills" came thirty-minutes later at home. When I got home to Cholmley Villas, I parked my bicycle under the stairs, did my few things I needed to do to prep for the morning (set-up the coffee maker, start the dishwasher, etc.) and then headed-up to bed.

For god knows what reason, this was the evening that my neighbors decided to make enough noise that I could hear them through the intervening wall. (In all likelihood, it was completely accidental because I only heard the noise twice; but I digress...) The noise was something like a grating followed by a slam. A little like the sound my front door makes closing if the welcome mat is caught under it as you swing it.

I might have dismissed it as one of my house mates being overly noisy on their return from the pub until I remembered I was alone in the house. All my colleagues have returned to the states. I sat bold-upright in bed; listening for the sound to repeat. My heart raced as I tried to think if anyone was due to arrive in the UK.

Nope! I keep the schedule and there is nobody due to arrive in the house until the week's end. So I put on my robe and went downstairs to see if the door had been opened. It hadn't. With my heart racing, because I was also thinking of the tour I'd taken earlier that evening, I decided to double check to make sure the house was as empty as I thought it should be.

I started at the top of the house; checking every closet and room as I worked my way downstairs. Turning on every light; checking every window for its fastness. The last shock of the evening was to come as I rounded the hallway and landing on the first floor, I switched on the hall light (which also turns on the light in the lower ground-floor hallway. My hand on the newel post at the landing, I started. I had seen motion downstairs.

It took me a moment to put it together. Pulling myself together and laughing at my own overactive imagination, I breathed a sigh of relief and headed downstairs. The motion repeated as I stepped onto the stairs but now recognizing it for what it was, I just chuckled and headed down. I closed the window in the laundry room and the bathroom (which have bars over them so they are often left un-latched to allow fresh air to enter the house) and re-hung my coat that had been hanging over the lower newel post to a coat hook.

I had seen a movement. The sleeve of my coat, hanging in view of the top of the stairs, had been rustled by a breeze from the open window. It was more-or-less at this point that the noise repeated and I realized it was coming from next-door.

I returned to bed for a good chuckle at my own nervousness and a good night's sleep. At least I can laugh at my own stupidity.

I hope wherever you are today, you have a reason to chuckle. Even if it is at yourself!

Don Bergquist - 23-March-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

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