Do you hear it?
The branch knocking at your window, a sound made by a tree. Or a man. Or maybe not. Did your heartbeat skip when you heard it? Did you feel it slam into your ribs?
You can hear it, but you disregard it. Just the wind, you say. But you do not look out of the window. You do not listen to your mind when it tells you the weatherman said there will be no wind tonight.
You try to sleep. Will pulling the covers up and over your head stop that creaking floorboard on the stairs? Will it help you ignore that loud voice in your head telling you “the others are out”?
Another creak. Closer. The house must be very old, you think, for it to creak like that. You shut your eyes tight. Sleep will come, then you will hear no more floorboards. No more wind. Sleep does not come for you.
You can hear whispering now, breath against your ear. Just the wind, just the wind. You try not to focus on it. You sing a song in your mind to block it out. You do not hear the wind calling your name. The wind cannot possibly say your name.
A slam. You heard that. It’s too late to ignore it now. Maybe someone is in the house. You want to call the police. Tell them that there’s a burglar in the house, help! But the phone is downstairs and you are glued to the bed.
You turn slightly and the bed groans. Did they hear that? Quietly, quietly. You slide off the bed, full of stealth. Trying to be brave you pick up the pocket knife your father gave you once, just in case.
The door opens easily.
No lights are on. You can see nothing. The noises have stopped. Did they leave? Whispering wind passes again. That was your name. A friend? Or, someone playing a trick perhaps? Come out, you say, and stop being stupid.
You are frozen to the spot, even though you know you should keep moving. That if someone else is in the house, they know where you are now. You need to keep moving. But invisible roots have grown from your feet and sunk into the carpet.
Can you feel that? The slow ascending slight touch caressing your ankle. A spider, it has to be a spider. You twitch your leg to kick it off. What if it isn’t a spider?
Another slam. Louder this time. Who’s there, you cry. Are you scared now? You run back to your room. Slam the door. Bad move. They know you’re here. There is no they. Just the wind, just your mind.
The window. Tapping. Fingers? Wind. Trees. You look. Curtains are open. Nothing. Just wind. Trees. Movement. A flash of white. Someone there. No-one there. Another look. Is that a man? Not a man. Can’t be a man. He waves. Smiles. Not a smile. Not a face. Not a man.
Are you scared now?