Are Those Footsteps?

By Elaina Taylor

Weak moonlight filters in through the slits in the window blinds, dappling the little girl’s bed. Eyes stretched wide against the near darkness, covers wrapped protectively around her small body, she tenses at every sound that reaches her ears. A fierce wind raging outside provokes the old house to complain and moan around her, causing her to shiver with fear. It’s October, and the terrifying trailers for horror movies inhabit the TV channels. It doesn’t take much to give her nightmares and keep her awake at night scared to fall asleep, and the trailer she accidentally watched today is no exception.

Every time she closes her eyes, the fear overwhelms her so she keeps them open. But the problem is, if she strains her eyes and ears too much, the two senses start to play tricks on her, and her imagination begins to run wild.

Monsters aren’t real, she tells herself. Those aren’t footsteps you hear, it’s just the house creaking. Those aren’t footsteps, but wait…those sound like footsteps.

Trying to creep around on the staircase is impossible; nearly every step anyone takes will result in a loud protest from the stairs, so there’s almost no way to walk undetected. And the girl can definitely hear the rhythmic groans coming from the stairs as someone, or something, advances. The girl holds her breath to make sure she isn’t imagining things, but that only makes the pounding in her heart louder. Could it be Mom or Dad? No, they went to bed forever ago, so that can’t be them.

As the footfalls get louder and closer, the little girl whimpers and reaches out to grab her favorite stuffed animal and pulls it close. My lion will protect me, she thinks. She fixes her eyes on the gap in the door. There’s a momentary pause as whoever it is reaches the landing, then continues down the hallway. Slowly, the sounds get closer.

Now with the footsteps she can hear heavy breathing, the kind a large person or animal would make. Certain it’s almost at her door, she closes her eyelids until they’re just barely open, deciding she’ll pretend to be asleep until she figures out who or what is creeping around the house.

A dark, clawed shape appears at the edge of the door, curls around it, and then slowly begins to open it. Creeeeeeeaaaakkk. A hulking figure, barely visible in the dark, now stands at the entrance to the girl’s room. It takes one step. Then another. Then another. The creature moves closer, and the little girl wants to scream but all sound is caught in her throat and she can’t get it out. It’s now right next to her bed, and just as the little girl is about to faint from fear or scream until her lungs give out, the creature suddenly stands erect and howls to the moon, “Scooby Dooby Doooooo!”

There’s a momentary pause.

“Dad!” my sister and I exclaim indignantly, “That’s not a spooky story, that doesn’t count!” He laughs, and then begins another story, only to end it again on, “Scooby Dooby Doooooo!”

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