Routine paranormal activity on Lot 22 included footsteps above you when you were doing laundry, doors slamming, whispering in the vents, footsteps on the stairs, furniture moving in rooms you weren’t in. Those were things we learned to make peace with. Events the house would always be remembered by, never a day lived without.
Then there were the experiences that I was glad never repeated. The unforgettable moments that even just recalling regurgitates fear. That shadow figure in the kitchen is definitely one of the most memorable experiences there. Wish I could forget it, but it’s imprinted on the house, imprinted on my recollection of staying up late and being home all alone.
– Danny Raye
Foreigner was playing on the stereo. “Blue Morning, Blue Day” was one of my favorite songs by them. “Hot Blooded” was my second favorite. I like the music because it reminds me of my mom. When she’s at work really late like this on the weekends, the house feels empty. Even with Brandy across the hall watching TV in Mom’s room, the whole house doesn’t really feel whole because one of us is missing.
“So when are you going to ask Zack out?” Sara said.
Ari, Sara and I were camping out in Sara’s room until bedtime. Sara was painting her nasty, long toenails. I never liked my nails to be long. They just freak me out when they bend or break. EWW! I can’t take it. And the dirt that gets under them. No, no, no thank you.
“I’m not gonna ask Zack out,” I said.
“We know you like him,” Ari teased.
“And he likes you too. Danny, you never have boyfriends. You’re too pretty to not have a boyfriend.”
“I don’t need a boyfriend, Sara. I have my characters and my family.”
“Your characters aren’t real people.”
“They are to me,” I said. No one understand that my characters were my friends. I loved them like they were apart of the family.
“What about Josh? He’s cute too,” Sara said.
“Josh is my best friend. I could never go out with him,” I said.
“Well Zack is your best friend too.”
“And? I’m not going out with him.”
“But you want to,” Sara said.
I stopped talking and kept typing.
Zack is this boy in my math class. He’s nice to me and always steals my pencils just so I’ll beg for them back. His best friend Josh is really a nice guy, and I kind of like him better but he doesn’t talk to me as much. They’re both nice guys, but that doesn’t mean they want to be my boyfriend.
Chink, chink, chinka-chink. SLAM!
I held my breath.
“Shh. Shh.” I turned the volume on the radio down. Sara and Ari both looked at me, wondering what I was hearing. Could they not hear it too? The silverware in the kitchen moving around? “Do you hear that?”
Chink. Chink. Chink. SLAM!
The kitchen drawers were slamming. Someone was going through our stuff, probably looking for something. Was it a bad guy that broke in?
“What do you hear?” Sara said.
“Someone’s in the kitchen,” I said. “Don’t you hear them moving the silverware?”
Ari ran across the hall to tell Brandy. Sara and I waited hand-in-hand in her bedroom door. I just listened. I don’t know how I knew that it was a man. One person. One man. I couldn’t tell anything else about him. Not how old he was or what he was wearing or what color his hair was. But it was a man. That’s all I knew. And he was looking for something in the kitchen drawers.
I stepped out into the hall because if I could hear it this clearly, it had to be a real person and if I could see him, then we would know what he looked like to tell Mom when she asked or to tell the cops if we had to. The kitchen light was off, but somehow I could still see his shadow on the Blueroom wall.
Eeent. The drawer would open.
Chink-chinkachinkchink. The silverware would be moved around in the drawer.
SLAM! He didn’t find what he wanted, I guess, and he slammed the drawer closed.
Then he moved to another drawer. We didn’t have that many drawers in the kitchen. There were only six if you didn’t count the ones on the tall wooden cabinet. Maybe he was going back and forth with them? What was he looking for in the kitchen anyway? All my mom’s money and stuff was up here in her safety box in her closet. Even I knew that.
“What do you see?” Sara said when I had squeezed her hand too tight. “What?”
“It’s a man,” I said. “He’s looking for something. Don’t you hear it, Sara?”
Sara shook her head. She was scared because I was scared, and I was scared that maybe this time it wasn’t a ghost. It had to be a real person because I could see their shadow moving, I could hear them, I could feel them. They were really there. But it couldn’t be if Sara didn’t see them or hear them.
“Girls, stay up here with Ari.”
Brandy was in the hall with the mini baseball bat. It didn’t look like it could hurt anyone, but Brandy was a big-boned girl. She really didn’t need a weapon to hurt anyone. Even so, I didn’t feel comfortable letting her go down there by herself.
“Bran, don’t!” I said. “What if it’s a bad guy?”
“Then he needs to leave,” Brandy said. “I’m not scared. You stay here.”
I kept my arm back around Sara and my hand on Ari’s stomach. They were all bunched up behind me, scared and shaking.
Brandy went down the stairs. They creaked and I thought it would give her away. I stayed in the hall. The sound stopped, but his shadow was still moving. Brandy was walking right into a trap. Right into the kitchen where he was standing!
She turned on the light and let the bat down to her side. “There’s no one here.”
No way. No. Not this time.
Brandy checked the Woodroom and back hall. She checked all the doors.
Of course no one was there. Ghosts are never there when you go to find them, but when you don’t want them to show up, they always do.
“Come on. Let’s go upstairs and shut Mom’s door. If anything happens again, I’ll call Mom and tell her to come home from work.”
Back upstairs, we all camped out in Mom’s bed watching TV with Brandy on guard. I didn’t feel safe even then. I felt like I had to protect my family because I was the only one who heard it. I was the only one who saw him. And it was my job to protect them from him. Whoever he was.