All I could see at first was a sliver of moonlight, as a silver beam sprinkled with fairy dust made its way straight across my chest from the skylight in a straight line.
It seemed as if there were millions of little mites of dust, alive in that single beam, eager to make me aware of their existence, their individuality and collective strength. Every mite sparkled, diamond like, for a bare millionth of a second, but enough to bring wonder to any mind appreciative of nature and her beauty.
I was barely aware that I was hiding in the attic of my home with a book for company and that it was way past midnight of a balmy June evening. What was I hiding from? Nothing in particular. 14-year-olds do not need reason or rhyme to set out on adventures and experience the thrills of boyhood and be seduced by the words of a hundred authors and movies that they may have seen in their lifetime.
This was my summer retreat, and having only a valet for company, with my parents away on a business trip I was Lord and Master of the house and its hundreds of nooks and crannies. I was however, stuck in the middle of a forest in Vermont, and that put paid to my plans of emulating a world-famous explorer in the great plains of Africa.
There were sounds, all kinds of sounds in the forest, each outdoing the other in clarity, reach, tone and intensity. I did not hear anything ferocious, but a fragile mind in the middle of the night doesnt need the roar of a lion to scare him, a cricket is good enough. I could hear the wind making its way through the little crack in the window, I could hear the rats scurrying around in the attic, I could hear muted calls of lynxes and cats, but above it all, I could hear a loud thumping coming from the vicinity of my thoracic cavity. My heat beat it seemed, was designed to act like a sound marker, to alert potential danger of my puny existence and give away location.
Suddenly, I heard a far-away blood-curdling scream, and a crashing sound. I was now scared beyond my wits.
I heard a different sound now, a small but distinctive sound with a regular rhythm and beat.
“Tuk, Tuk, Tuk” repeated at regular intervals.
It seemed to come from the window. Maybe there was really a witch out there, disfigured, horribly stained teeth, long fingernails, tapping away at my window. Or a shadowy man, in a long overcoat, and face covered with a black kerchief, with a walking stick for company, tapping away, coming closer each minute, tapping away the last few seconds of my life.
Maybe it was the wind, maybe it was a wild cat, its long retractable nails tapping on the marble below my window.
Or was it the rain? Large droplets, falling from the sky, each destined to be part of that symphony created by God’s very own orchestra. Or maybe the devil himself, come to claim my soul for himself.
There were a hundred different possibilities, each as dangerous as the last, and increasingly given to causing an apoplectic fit in the hardiest of hearts.
I called my butler, Bob, but somehow the voice stuck in my throat. All that seemed to come out was a throaty gasp. I was in big trouble now…
I groped around for the door to the attic, and somehow stumbled my way back to my room. The next morning, I came to know the grisly truth about the previous night. The scream I heard was a barn owl. It had strung up our pet cat, on a branch above the skylight, and the tuk tuk sound i heard, was the blood of the cat, dripping drop by drop, slowly on the window.
Boy, was I glad to get out of the place in a hurry.I never read a horror story or watched a horror movie again…