Anyway there was nothing for it now but to get up, arm myself with the torch I had bought especially for just such an occasion and strike out into the unknown. When I bought the torch I’d spent a great deal of time trying to find one that had plenty of weight but also had a long body that was easy to grasp – and wield. I knew at some level that it was highly unlikely that a torch would save me from an intruder and I felt a little silly and quite vulnerable setting out to meet the enemy dressed in my nightie. I ventured out of the bedroom.
As I reached each room I quickly stuck my hand round the corner and turned on the light.
Having found nothing untoward downstairs I stood for a second at the bottom of the stairs catching my breath and building up courage – it would be tricky, to say the least, if someone rushed at me from above and down the steps. I’d have to be silent – no breathing even to give away my position.
One step at a time, staying near the edges to avoid creaking noises, I made my way up the steps and was nearing the top almost exploding from lack of air when I heard it again.
My heart felt as though it might jump out of my chest. It was pounding so fast – I had to snatch a breath. There it was again but fainter now – a wail combined with a gurgle – I’d never heard such a sound before and was not used to being baffled by noises – I had a great ear for sounds, voices etc. But this had me stumped.
Sheer terror made me leap up the last few steps, duck into the kitchen and turn on all the switches near the door. The whole top floor was ablaze with light now and I bravely poked my head out of the kitchen to face whoever or whatever was there.
Was this good news or bad news?
It was hard to tell at first as I could still hear the noise though it faded and died as I listened.
The good news was that the noise really did exist and I wasn’t mad after all (something I often feel compelled to check on). This led to an unfortunate conclusion which then became the bad news – there was someone or something in the house with me making that eerie noise – what the hell was it?
There was a dark corner near the front door and I fancied that the noise had come from that direction. There was nothing for it but to venture over there to see what I could see.
I shone the torch into the corner and inched my way across the room, hardly daring to breathe, all the while feeling more and more ridiculous as there appeared to be nothing in the corner apart from a pair of my son’s sneakers. What could have made the noise then? I was starting to feel a bit spooked by the whole affair. Am I nutty? – I thought – surely I couldn’t imagine all that, could I? ….. and just as the doubts came crowding into my mind there was a piercing wail in my right ear. I screamed and leapt to my left turning to face my attacker as I brought the torch up in preparation for a strike ………
My mind took a couple of seconds to process this information as my breath was coming fast and my heart was pounding so much I thought my chest might burst.
I was looking at an empty space – no attacker of any sort in sight; so what made that god awful noise less than a foot from my head? As my eyes made a slow sweep of the corner I heard an eerie low moan – I was very close now.
I focused on the handset attached to the wall beside me. I’d only just bought the house and thought it was a redundant phone extension. I stood there with my eyes glued to it and waited with bated breath. There it was again – this time a ghostly, far-off wail. I stared in disbelief at the cause of it all. That bloody old phone …making all that racket…why? I decided to sort that out in the morning and with a great sense of relief went back to bed to get a bit of sleep while there was still some night left.
Next day, after many phone calls, I learned that the old cobweb-encrusted thingy on the front fence was, in fact, an intercom and I had been listening to its death-throes in the middle of the night. It was connected via underground cable to the handset in my lounge room.
After that night I simply left it disconnected to avoid any further scares until the time came when we had a gorgeous Tenterfield Terrier called Flannery (after Tim Flannery) in the house and the front gate had to be closed all the time. It cost a small fortune to get the intercom up to scratch but at least now it doesn’t frighten the bejeesus out of me at night!