The rumble of thunder woke her; she opened her eyes and looked at the clock – 2:20… a.m.
“Damn it.” She knew that she would have a hard time getting back to sleep. She sighed, rolled onto her side, pushed herself up on her elbow and sat up. Slipping on her slippers, she pushed herself the rest of the way up and went to look out the window as a flash of lightning lit the yard.
She loved this old farmhouse and the rent was cheap. The cornfields were nice and they were already tall and the cobs were already in.
The old pine tree on the side of the yard caught her eye in the flash, and she thought she saw something. Nah, couldn’t be, – the rain is hard and brutal, the mud deep.
The cups in the dishwasher were still warm from the after-dinner load and she filled up at the tap, staring out the window, staring off, her mind wandering to her marriage, the kids, her career that she couldn’t seem to get off the ground.
The next flash lit up the younger oak that was about 20 feet in front of the kitchen window, a few feet from the edge of the corn field.
Under the tree, a man. A man in a round, black-brimmed hat, and a full black suit. He wasn’t soaked, but he stood there, facing her. She couldn’t see his face under the rim of the hat. She jumped back and went to the drawer and got a knife.
She went out but it was too muddy and too soggy for her to go out to the tree in her slippers, so she looked around, and he was gone. Gone, just gone, no sign that he had ever been there. She never saw him again.
Nobody believed her. Things went bad after that.
Jim’s voice was loud and his eyes were wide as he ran past, followed by Darren and Tony. I turned to see what they were running from, but couldn’t make out anything in this darkness, so I took a few steps before looking up ahead to see where they had gone, up the hill, through the bushes and into the Salinis’ garden, out past the weeds growing over the 1986 Ford Tempo. They ducked behind the car and looked out as I circled around to join them.
“What the Hell are we running from?” I said.
“Didn’t you see him?” Jim cut his eye at me and looked back, squinting in the dark, sweat pouring from his brow.
“See who?” I glanced up and turned around and crouched over the dewy ground.
Tony spoke up first. “There was a guy – a man – we were sitting behind the stone wall by the road, and there was a car, and – ” Darren laughed as they looked at each other ” – and Darren missed by about half a mile. Worst. Shot. Ever.”
“And…” I said as I shook my head and put my hands up. Tony was the worst story teller.
“And then Jim hit me on the back and pointed to the big tree in Sean’s yard – the one we stand under at the bus stop – and there was a man standing there. A creepy old guy with a black hat, you know, a round hat like the Quakers wear.” Tony was shaking as he told the story, and I started to worry because we’d been out on these middle-of-the-night adventures many times and nothing ever spooked him.
“He was just there, looking at us. After the world’s worst egg toss, OW!” Darren punched Tony in the arm. “Knock it off, fag! Anyway, he was just there looking at us. After Darren threw his egg, we all turned back and he was gone, and that’s when Jim fell into us.”
“I felt him. I felt something behind me; I turned my head and he was right there. I mean, like, right there, I could see his eyes and his yellow teeth, and I could smell his breath – it reeked! I fell backwards into these dorks.”
“At first we were like, what the fuck, Jim, then we saw him, too, and bagged ass out of there. We didn’t see you and thought maybe he got you or something.”
“No, I was setting the Tellos’ scarecrow on fire in their driveway,” I said and we all started laughing. Fucking Tello, that little shit.
“Let’s go back,” Darren said, got up and began to work his way around the back of the yard, on the worn path around the neighbors’ yards. I was starting to get cold but the clouds had blown past the moon and we had some light to work with, so I jogged a bit to catch up with them. We circled the area and didn’t find any trace of him. We even sat down and compared our shoe prints with each other to see if we could find his – no tracks at all, under the tree, behind us, nothing.
We split up and I snuck back into the house through the basement door, scared shitless as I went through the pitch black of the basement and back up to my room.
We never saw him again. Things went bad after that.
This is based on 2 true stories. No, seriously, this is 95% true. Weird shit happens when you’re up in the middle of the night.