By Melissa L. Webb
The dark distorts things in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. Something as innocent as shrubbery or utility equipment tend to take sinister shapes when night falls. We’re tricked into believing something lurks nearby when it really doesn’t.
The dark is tricky like that.
I was leaving my sister’s house last night. My arms were loaded down with the remains of our family dinner as I made my way to the back of my station wagon. Darkness had already descended on our town, leaving my car shrouded in shadow as I approached it.
I fumbled with my load as I unlocked the hatch back. A chill swept up my back as I finally got it open. I could feel eyes on my back. I didn’t know where they were, but they unnerved me to the core.
I turned quickly, tying to find my silent watcher. I couldn’t see anything at first. The only thing surrounding me was darkness and nothing stood out.
As my eyes adjusted, I realized there was something odd across the street from me. A white shape loomed near the curb, silently waiting for something as it watched me intently.
A gasp escaped my lips as I turned away. I didn’t know what the thing was but dread washed over me as I realized something was wrong. I had never noticed anything there before.
I shoved my stuff in the back of the car as fast as I could and hurried back to my sister’s door. I stepped through and slammed the door, causing everyone to look at me in shock.
“Is there normally something white and creepy across the street?” I asked breathlessly. I was sure there wasn’t, but I needed to hear it from her.
My sister gave me a puzzled look and headed outside. I followed close by, eager to have a witness to the insanity residing outside. Her porch light was burnt out and we stood on the porch, squinting in the darkness at the shape across the road.
“Um…” she began, “there’s an electrical transformer box over there, but…” She fell silent, confusion forming on her face. “That’s not the transformer.”
We stepped back inside, trying to put distance between the thing and us. We both knew something was off about the shape, but without walking right up to it we couldn’t tell for sure what it was.
When we were safe behind the closed door, my sister turned toward me. “It looks like some kind of goblin thing. Like Dobby on steroids.”
I had to agree. A dwarf from hell had taken up residence outside my sister’s place.
I couldn’t leave now. I couldn’t leave my sister and her children there alone without knowing what was there. We had to be wrong. It had to be something normal, something we just never noticed before.
But my sister should know what was normally outside her house.
She quickly went to go look for a flashlight. We would go confront our silent watcher. We would make sure our mind was only playing tricks on us. We’d end up looking like idiots, but at least my sister and her family could sleep peacefully.
She came back, defeated. The flashlight was missing.
We would have to confront it in the dark.
We stepped back outside and stopped in the middle of her yard. The squat creature was still there, in the same spot, staring back at us. We stood there, trying to screw up enough courage to approach it.
Sudden movement caught our attention. A guy was walking down the street. He was going to pass right in front of the thing.
We watched as he passed, waiting for either one of them to react. Neither one did. The man continued into the night.
He hadn’t even notice the thing.
We had been scaring ourselves over nothing. It was obviously nothing more than some everyday object. Something that couldn’t have been watching me in the first place.
Unless…it was something only we could see.
We had to find out what it was. I couldn’t leave without knowing the truth.
We moved closer to the street when suddenly a car came by, shining its headlights on the small creature. My heart thudded as I realized we were idiots.
It was a fire hydrant.
I let out a small laugh, feeling foolish to my very core. Boy, had I spooked us all over nothing. However, even as dumb as I felt, I was glad that was all it was. Just an overactive imagination running rampant.
“I don’t remember a hydrant being there,” my sister said and smiled sheepishly at me. I didn’t remember it either, but I guess we weren’t the most observant people in the world.
I finished packing and left her house, feeling silly the whole way home. I had been creeped out over a fire hydrant. How was I ever supposed to live that down?
Maybe I don’t have to.
I said the darkness tries to trick us into believing something’s there that isn’t. However, maybe it’s not tricking us. Maybe it’s helping us.
By trying to show us the truth.
I say this with some certainty. I did feel eyes on me last night. And my sister and I are more observant than we thought.
Because, today, that fire hydrant is gone.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb