|Posted by Jerry McKinney on January 22, 2012 at 12:55 AM|
I can hear them moving in the dark. I close my eyes and try to drift away to the point of unconsciousness, the moment of uncaring. Sleep evades me still.
They are in the walls, you see.
My wife tells me I’m imagining things, that there is nothing moving around in our home except a few ants on the counters and a small spider that continuously builds webs in the corners of the bathroom.
These are no bugs— they whisper. Not loud enough for me to make out what is being said, but voices nonetheless. I am treated to muffled sounds of a quiet conversation amid the insulation and wiring of the master-bedroom wall every night. I bury my head into my pillow until the pounding of my own heartbeat echoes through my skull.
I need to sleep! God, I need to sleep …
How does she not hear? I just want to shake her awake and yell, “ARE YOU DEAF?” But she slumbers beside me, her breathing mixed with light snores. How I envy her. Many nights I watch the swell of her chest slightly illuminated by the outside streetlight filtering in through the curtains and count her breaths. It keeps my mind off the sounds, until the scratching began.
I had to concentrate to hear it at first. No more than a slight scraping on the backside of the wallboard. I sat up at the edge of the bed and listened. My ears have become fine-tuned to even the smallest sound. It was growing. Standing up, I silently crossed the throw rug on the hardwood floor. A misplaced step had my toe bump the molding and the scratching stopped. I held my breath with my ear turned to the wall. Not a single sound did I make. My wife’s breathing seemed so loud from the bed. She turned on her side and the sheets played a symphony of sounds sliding across her skin. She issued a light moan and cleared her throat before falling back into the dream world.
The things on the other side of the wall giggled with glee. My heart pounded in my chest and I stumbled backwards.
“There’s always room for more,” something chortled with a deep gravelly tone. Then, after a hideous round of laughter, it was silent once again. I closed my eyes and screamed. I felt claws grip my arm and putrid breath on my face. “Welcome.”
I know you are awake. I can hear you.
We’re in the wall, you see.
Categories: Flash Fiction