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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Presence

Dora was the first to notice their presence. She heard the footsteps; slamming of doors. Then the voices. At first faint unintelligible whispers, later full sentences. They didn’t address her directly, she said; just random thoughts.  I was skeptical. But now that I look back, I knew it was inevitable. The house (our home) had been vacant for as long as I cared remember. It is a grand house, built at the turn of the nineteenth century; a beautiful home that has served Dora, our son Joseph and me, Henry, well.
     Dora was frightened by the imposition. I was troubled by the disturbance and the impact it could have on our family. Joseph wasn’t aware, at first, and I tried in vain to keep it that way. Once renovations started however, the instances increased. At first it came to us like candle light through a fog, flickering in and out of our reality. Most of the time it could be ignored, although it was becoming worrisome to Dora and her weak constitution.  The raps and bangs became louder and more frequent. Sometimes dragging noises could be heard through the living room. I once saw a figure in odd clothing in the kitchen, under the kitchen sink! After what seemed forever, the restorations were complete and the activity became much less frequent.
     It had by no means ceased. Somehow it seems that their universe is parallel to ours. I suppose the more comfortable they became with their surroundings, the more invasive their presence became; crossing or fading between realities. I can’t pretend to fathom the mysteries of the universe.  It was at this time that Joseph would complain of the “wailing sounds”. He found the wails most unbearable, and would seek solace in his mother, who having heard the sounds herself, was equally terrified. We had been fortunate, if you can call it that, that the disturbances that plagued us came mostly in the late afternoon and would subside by midnight, but this was no longer to be. That very next evening, I heard the same awful wail. It was a baby’s cry. It continued for hours. Sometimes receding momentarily, but never completely disappearing. It was a harrowing night for all.  It wouldn’t be the last.
     As time passed, the presence became quite unnerving and more intrusive. We could see them clearly now. No longer were they of another dimension, clouded in darkness. It was time to act. Dora and Joseph were quite shocked by my boldness, but I could no longer tolerate this invasion!
     I waited past midnight, and then I smothered the baby in its sleep. We three watched jealously as its soul passed over. The next morn I tripped the mother down the cellar stairs. She escaped limping and screaming out of our house and down the street. The man of the house never returned.

     Our home is vacant once again. With its new reputation, it should remain so for at least a few decades, if not the next half century. That’s the way we like it.