What on earth is that?
KNOCK - KNOCK - KNOCK
"OK, ok, I'm coming. Hold your horses!"
I pulled myself up to a sitting position on the couch. It took some effort but I managed to shuffle out to front room. I poked my head through the curtain covering the plate glass window. Two people, a man and a woman, stood on my dimly lit porch. I pulled my robe tight, fumbled for my slippers, got them on my feet and opened the door a crack.
"What is it? Do you realize what time it is?"
"Mr. Murdoch, we're from the Big City paper. My name is Carol and this is Hank." She motioned slightly to the man behind her. "We wanted to ask you a few questions. Do you, ah, have a few minutes now?"
I closed the door on them. Rude, I know, but it was late, I was tired, and my arthritis was acting up. What did they want? It must be that dang YouTube video. I told Chester to keep that camera in his bag, but no, he had to get the whole thing on video and then like an idiot, he posted it to YouTube. What else would explain the sudden appearance of two reporters from the Big City paper out here in the middle of po-dunk no-where? Especially at this hour. What time was it anyway? It must be past eleven, at least.
I opened the door again. Carol stood her ground. She gave no indication she would leave without a story. "Can't this wait?" A steady rain fell from dark gray clouds. Thunder rumbled off the mountains in the distance.
"We have a few questions about the video on YouTube. It really can't wait. We're trying to make a deadline for tomorrow's paper." She smiled. She had brown shoulder length hair, brown eyes, and very straight white teeth. She exuded confidence.
The second reporter, Hank, looked about ten years her junior. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He was anxious, or maybe he just need to go to the bathroom. "So, can you tell us more about what happened that night? I mean, it's all very strange on the video, blurry and hard to see."
I stared at them. They seemed harmless enough. "OK, come in. I guess it's the least I can do seeing as how you've traveled all this way." I stepped aside, motioned to the couch in the TV room and they came inside.
Carol sat, her legs crossed neatly, pen in hand, pad of paper in her lap, her brown eyes wide and contemplative. She seemed genuinely interested.
The second reporter, Hank, new to the job I supposed, continued to fidget even after I'd shown him the way to the bathroom. He leaned forward into my personal space. He piped up, which seemed out of turn and disjointed. "Yeah, but isn't that what makes it so popular? The whole gestalt of the video. It's mysterious. You have to use your imagination."
Did he just use the word "gestalt?" It's too late for this, I thought, trying not to betray my irritation. "Do you really need to talk with me now? Can't it wait until the morning?" I decided that I was too old and it was too late to get into this again.
"Just a couple of questions?" Carol pleaded.
"Well, I'm a sucker for brown eyes, alright, fire away."
"To start with, do you believe in it?" She emphasized "you."
"Is that the angle on your story then? You want to know if I believe in it? Well, heck yeah, I believe in it. I've lived here for a long time and I've seen some pretty strange stuff."
"So the video is accurate, that's what really happened?" Hank jumped in again. Carol nudged him with her elbow.
"Pretty much, but like you said, it's blurry and dark. Believe me when I say it was a heck of a lot scarier in real life." I looked down at my hands willing them to stay still; fighting back the shaking that I knew would come if I thought about that night too deeply.
"Did anyone else see it, or was it just you and your neighbor...?" she flipped through her notebook looking for something, but I knew what she was after.
"Chester. Yes, it was Chester and me. We were out hunting. It was getting late and we were headed back to camp. It came down on us suddenly sounding like a grand piano crashing through the trees above. It made a heck of a racket."
Hank could hardly contain himself, he looked like a school kid on Christmas morning. His left foot tapped insistently and he kept rubbing his hands across the knees of his pants.
"So what happened? I've got to know, what happened after?" He leaned forward even further, holding his breath, his leg still for once.
"You want to know what happened after? Is that why you drove all the way out here, late at night with a storm rolling in? What paper did you say you're with again?" I leaned forward into Hank's personal space. Carol glared at him.
"I'm sorry for my colleague. He's over anxious, as I'm sure you could tell."
She gave him another dirty look. "Our real interest is in the huge popularity of the video and how it's taken off and hit number one on YouTube in such a short time. My editor is running a series of articles on 'new media' and, well, you're a bit of a celebrity aren't you." She smiled and my guard went down and dang if she didn't wink at me too.
"I don't know about that. It wasn't intended, that's for sure. In fact, I don't much care for being famous. You'd think that much was obvious. After all, you don't move to the middle of no-where to be noticed."
"True, but still, can you tell me more about what happened that night? Does it have any connection to the disappearance last month of that group of hikers?" She gently placed the tip of her pen to her lips, held it there and stared into my eyes.
"No. I've gone through this with the police. I have no idea what happened to those hikers. It's dangerous out here, especially in the winter, and especially when you're not prepared. Maybe they weren't prepared for what they found."
"And what would that be? Is that what you captured in the video?" She moved the tip of her pen back expectantly over the paper.
I didn't trust this pair, not that I trusted anyone, but I needed to get some of this off my chest. This seemed as good of a time as any.
"You want to know what I really think?"
That got him. Hank nearly fell forward out of the couch. I smirked just to show I was in control. Carol simply nodded.
"I think we captured something on video that night. Something ancient and something that we should never have seen. We were lucky to get out alive. Though I'm not so sure Chester feels lucky." Silence hung in the air between us for a moment.
"He says that he's cursed by that dang video. It's pretty much ruined his life he'd say."
"And you've stayed out of it huh?"
Carol definitely knew more than she was letting on, something in the way she narrowed her eyes and pursed her mouth.
"I'm not really the star of the video. You might say it's Chester. Not me. I was a bystander. Like I said, lucky to be alive, really." My mind drifted for a moment, caught up by the events of that night.
Suddenly, the lights flickered and a peel of thunder ran across the sky above the house. Hank jumped and Carol betrayed herself with the twitch of her pen, leaving a small squiggle on the paper. Regaining her composure, she continued.
"Mr. Murdoch, Bill, can I call you Bill?"
"Do I have a choice?"
She pressed on. "May I be honest with you? I don't believe in what that video shows."
She paused, this time letting the words sink in. "And I have to say, that all of this..." she waved her hand in the air, "smacks of a hoax. I mean, come on, really? You expect us to believe that you saw..." She stopped mid-sentence. Her gaze fixed on the window in the front room.
I turned around, the blood drained from my face. A hulking shadow blocked the porch light. Two red eyes glared in at us.
Without a thought I yelled "Run!"