Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Storm from Within

It was the night after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Unfortunately, for the 2 central characters in this almost true tale, they were not in that house. Rather, they were alone (together) in the dark of night, in the barn that sat in the remote area behind the main residence. Or at least they thought they were alone.

Christmas had come and gone in this sleepy New England town. The next day, with all of Santa's presents unwrapped and in varying states of use or neglect, nature brought it's own gift: a blizzard.

The snow started in earnest about dinner time. It was the type of storm where footprints disappeared in an instant. A strong wind tossed the flakes to and fro. Neither man nor beast would venture out in this weather. Or so our 2 central characters believed.

These 2 young women had been coming to this barn for years. As teenagers they befriended 2 boys, brothers. Through the years, each and every winter, they met in this place. This barn had always served as their home away from home. It was a place where they had gathered to party with others. They knew every inch of this space and every noise that could possibly emanate from inside these walls. Or at least that is what they thought.

The house itself sat far off the main road. It was an old Victorian, sturdy and regal. It was here that the mother, father and younger sister of the 2 boys, were sleeping comfortably while the storm raged about them. There were no streetlights in this neighborhood. On this night, no sound of automobiles could be heard. There were no signs of life outside this barn. Well, none of which the 2 young women were aware.

At about midnight, the 2 brothers trudged the 100 feet back to the main house. A few steps from the barn, they disappeared from view. The swirling snow had snapped them up. It was as if they never existed.

The barn had been built well after the main house. Years ago, it's owners decided it would be converted into living space for their children. It was here that they could entertain, and it was here, in the loft above, that any guests could spend the evening. Now, the light in the downstairs of this barn was extinguished, and the 2 young women lay in the king sized bed, hearing nothing but the sounds of this building and the howling of the wind.

They both found sleep to be elusive. There was something not right in this place, on this night. They had never been frightened out here, not for one second. Tonight was different.

Suddenly, it sounded like the door opened. Both of the young women froze. They stopped breathing, so they could listen. In the dark nothing could be seen. But nothing certainly appeared to be something this evening.

From the perch of the loft, much of the lower region of the barn was hidden underneath. If someone was in here, even in the light of day, he could escape viewing if he chose the right hiding place. Tonight he could be hiding in plain sight.

The 2 young women fumbled to find their cellphones. They would call the main house, and tell the 2 boys what was happening, or maybe happening. The cell phones were not working. In this remote spot, on this night, in this blizzard, their contact to the outside world was gone. Dead.

One of these 2 young women was sure she heard movement from below. She feared the worst. The other thought she was about to throw up. Panic gripped them tightly and threatened to take away their reason. And maybe more than that. Thoughts of disaster filled their minds.

There was that noise again. This barn, that had served them so well for so many years, now held them captive.

In hushed and frightened tones, these 2 young women decided it could not end this way, not cowering under the covers. They would face their enemy, whoever or whatever it was. A small lamp sat on a table next to the bed. Fumbling in the darkness, a hand reached for the lamp. The light flickered, but then turned on.

The 2 young women looked at each other, hoping to see some small sign of courage to latch onto. Holding hands, they ventured forth.

They descended, slowly and as silently as they could, into the main room. Where was that noise? It was quiet, too quiet maybe. The door was wide open.

These 2 young women, scared in ways they could barely imagine, headed towards that door. If they could make it out of this room, the house, and all that it had to offer, was only yards away.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the sound appeared again. Was this how it was to end?

These 2 young women reached the doorway and leaped into the waiting darkness. The storm had covered any tracks made earlier, and there was no sign that anyone had come or gone from this place. They were now in full sprint. The house had to be steps away, if only they could see it. Safety was nearly in their grasp. And then......

In the end, the only intruder was Old Man Winter. For you see, the fears these 2 young women experienced, lay inside each and every one of us. Just waiting for the next storm, the next barn, the next dark night and the howling of the wind.

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