This previously unreleased short story will be featured in installments over the next few weeks. Follow along and enjoy…the Room with a View.
Room with a View – Part 1
The knocking was subtle but it was enough to wake Craig from his slumber.
He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and glanced at the clock. The red digits revealed the witching hour. Craig sat up and listened for the sound. In his current state, he wasn’t sure if the knocking was part of a dream or entrenched in the waking world.
Knock, knock, knock.
Craig stared at the window in the corner of the room. The shade was drawn but the curtains were open. A wispy shadow danced across the top quarter. The motion sent Craig’s stomach into fits until he realized it was the maple branch on the southeast corner of the house.
He strained his ears to listen. Could it be possible that Gil or Zingo had stopped by for a late night adventure? He didn’t think so. Zingo had an exam in the morning and Gil wasn’t too much of a night owl anymore. He had changed since they all went off to college.
Craig shifted the comforter and swung his legs to the floor. Part of him wished the night caller was a hot blonde who needed a booty call. But he knew hot blondes wanted nothing to do with a nerd like him. A guy could still hope for the best, he whispered to himself.
He started to approach the window when the sound repeated.
Knock, knock, knock.
Craig stopped in his tracks. The knocking sent a chill up his spine. Gooseflesh broke out along his forearms. The sound was…off somehow. It had a scratchy quality and the cadence was not typical of a three-beat knock to beckon someone. It was slightly off-beat.
He froze in place, straining to listen for it. Even the spaces between the knocks had been different. Craig couldn’t rationalize the thought but he felt it in his bones. The fright consuming him reminded Craig of his youth. He used to feel this scared when he sneaked down the hall to watch horror movies from around the corner. His parents would go out on Saturday nights and the babysitter would always watch a scary movie in the living room. Little Craig hated to go to bed when the sun was still up, so he would quietly sneak down the hall and watch the television unbeknownst to the babysitter.
Craig took two steps toward the window. His teeth chattered with fright as he neared the glass. Something inside willed him to continue forward even though every fiber of his being screamed to run like hell.
It stopped as quickly as it had started. Craig felt the need to pee but his feet had grown roots in the thick carpet. He held his breath and waited for the last knock. Almost a minute later, the knock never came and Craig gasped for air. He didn’t realize that he was still holding his breath.
He took two more steps and reached the window. The maple branch’s shadow was still, streaking a dark line across the shade. Craig knelt down to the sill and gently lifted the corner of the shade. His stomach gurgled as he reached the point of no return.
Craig lifted the shade and looked into the back yard.
Again, he exhaled. Craig glanced around the landscape. The faint light of the crescent moon made it difficult to make out too many shapes, especially anything beyond the general region of the window.
Craig’s relief skittered away when his eyes scoured the woods behind the house. The dense forest had always given him the creeps at night. During the day, Craig loved the forest. He and his friends had spent countless hours playing war and climbing trees. They used to slide down the gulley and scoop frogs or turtles out of the brook within the tree line. But at night, Craig thought about the monsters that lived in the woods. Foolish childishness, he knew. But the specters of the past didn’t die easily. Even as a young adult, he still harbored fears about what might be lurking out there in the darkness.
He mumbled to himself that he was being a little kid. There was nothing out there. At least, nothing that he could confirm.
Craig wondered what could have caused the knocking sound. There were no trees or shrubs near the corner of the house. It was possible that a small bird or squirrel could have been perched upon the window sill. But unlikely. Craig was an experienced outdoorsman. He knew that birds and squirrels slept at night. They weren’t the kind of creatures that lurked in the darkness. Could have been a possum, he thought before dismissing it. A possum would have had no way of climbing up onto the window sill from the ground and it was too high for it to jump.
He scratched his bed head and lowered the shade. His feelings of unease didn’t completely dissipate. Craig shucked the curtains together to close off the window’s eyes from watching him. The room immediately darkened, leaving him with the clock’s glow as the only light source. Craig knew how to find his bed anyway. He had grown up in the room since he was a baby. And living at home while going to community college added more familiarity to his bedroom.
Craig slinked under the comforter and yawned. He tried to put the odd knocking out of his mind. He closed his eyes and forced himself to envision happy thoughts. Images of girls in bikinis and going to the Metallica concert with the guys. It settled his nerves a bit.
Craig opened his eyes. He raised the comforter over his head. He still believed if he couldn’t see the monsters then they couldn’t see him either.