Someone was in the attic. That much was clear.
Hastily Anthony looked through the boxes in the bedroom closet, various things falling down as he violently trashed through. A dull metallic clunk, found it. His aluminum baseball bat. Once a gift, from his brother – autographed by one of the most promising rookies in the league, a collector’s item yet more often used as a tool.
More shuffling upstairs. The sound was hard to describe, like a bowling ball rolling, between floors and impossible to pin point the location.
Against the bedroom door stood his wife, pale with fear. The toddler in her arms.
“Still happy you don’t own a gun?” She said, even now she was capable of cynical commentary.
“Listen if you want me to go goddamn up there, you better not give me shit!” He hissed back, cold sweat pouring down his back.
“That’s the point Anthony! I don’t want you to fucking go up there! Just call the cops!” She said as the baby began crying again.
“‘Oh hello Officer, can you come to my house? I have a potential ghost in my attic!’ Yes, great plan – Amanda.”
Anthony pulled the small step ladder from the hallway, still sticky from wallpaper paste, clanging loudly as it bumped into the walls.
“What about a priest?! Can’t we call a priest?!” She pressed further.
“And what? Wait half a year for one to come by? Be told how we’re sinners and go to church every week? I’d rather take my chances with whatever’s up there. It’s probably a possum or a stray cat anyway.”
“A possum? A possum, Andy?! Was it also a possum who keeps opening the kitchen cabinets!?”
“Possums eat, they go into kitch-”
“It opens while I’m standing there, Andy! And I see no possum! It wasn’t a possum who wrote ‘DIE’ a thousand times on the wall either!”
“The die-scribbling could’ve been done by kids and painted over, it just showed because of wallpaper glue – alright? Stop being hysterical.”
Amanda’s face turned red and her eyes watery.
“Yeah? Who keeps whispering in your ear every night since we’ve been living here? Every night since we’ve been here. Seven nights in a row…”
“I get it! Stop!”
With a loud clunk Anthony set the ladder down and climbed up towards the closed attic cover. It vibrated as he came closer, intense goose bumps formed on his skin. Just faintly the sound of a deep voice. Like a man, dry heaving from his gut, morphing into the sound of an animal growl.
“Hand me the bat.” He said and gestured her. She sat the toddler down on the floor and handed him his weapon.
“You know that camera my dad gave us for our wedding two years ago?” She said.
“What’s with it?”
“It has night vision. You can look into the dark with it.”
“Sometimes I know just why I married you.” He smiled relieved.
Amanda ran off to grab the camera while the toddler crawled around.
“No! No! Not too close to the ladder, Levi!” He said as his son used it to stand up. Above him a sound like fingers scratching the attic’s wooden floor. “…Fuck.”
His son looked up at him and began to cry.
“Shhh! Shhh! Baby, it’s okay!” He tried to comfort his little man.
“Here!” Amanda called and handed him the camera. With a funny sounding digital bell it turned on and switched to night vision.
“Wow…” He said to himself as he looked at his wife and child through the camera – green skin and eyes shining like flash lights.
“I’m always careful.” He replied and took a deep breath before removing the cover. “Whatever you are, I’m coming up.”
Damp, warm and heavy. Everything covered in dust. Stained wood, soaked and molded isolation. Only the ventilation stood out.
“Alright… Whatever you are! Show yourself! I’m here now! Let’s do this!” He called, staring at the camera’s small screen. A small light dot appeared on it.
Quickly Anthony looked up, nothing. As he looked back down onto the camera it had disappeared there too.
“Maybe I’m just… What am I even doing up here?”
“Everything okay!?” She called from downstairs.
“I’m fine! I just think we… Maybe we…” He wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to say himself. “Maybe it’s the ventilation making noises. Let me go check!”
Carefully Andy stepped onto the beams, avoiding the weak plaster flooring, and shuffled towards the machine.
“How do you even work?” He said investigating the machine and its vent pipes. “Can you turn on the ventilation!”
“Okay!” She called back and walked off to the kitchen.
After a few moments the ventilation system switched on like a noisy, little vacuum cleaner. Sounding nothing like what he had heard before.
“Okay, so you’re not it.” He sighed when suddenly a growl resonated from the other side of the attic. “Shit!” He whimpered aiming his camera in the direction of the sound. Nothing. “You’re fucking with me! Aren’t you!?”
Slowly Andy reached for the baseball bat next to him on the plaster floor, unlikely to be any real help but enough of a placebo for him to rely on. A screw bounced across the attic as if materializing out of nowhere, catapulting around him.
“Fuck!” He yelled trying to screen off his face just in case, “Goddammit! Where are you, motherfucker!?”
Suddenly the growl resonated just behind him, loud and deep enough to reach into the core of his being. His nerves, his heart, his soul quivered in fear.
Just one step too much. With a loud crack the plaster floor gave way and everything flashed by. In a cloud of dust everything came to a hold, half on the step ladder and half on the floor.
“Are you okay!? Speak to me!” His wife yelled, holding him while the toddler screamed at the top of his lungs.
“I’m fine! I’m fine!” He said looking at the hole above him. Slowly the aluminum baseball rolled towards the hole and fell down. “Look out!” Just by an inch it missed his wife and child.
“Jesus, Andy!” She cried.
“What!? You think I did this!?” He said waving the camera around as if it were part of his hand.
“The camera, stupid! It’s recording!”
“It is!? …I didn’t set it to record, Amanda! I didn’t!”
Amanda helped him up from the floor and into the living room.
“How do I do this again?” She said fiddling with the camera.
“The small end goes into the camera, the big end into the HDMI port on the side of the TV.” He said, stretching his aching back.
“Got it…” She said and handed him the remote. “And press play…” She mumbled.
The footage turned on.
“Fuck!” The TV called in his voice, “You’re fucking with me! Aren’t you!?”
“…Yesss….” A distorted, hard to hear voice replied.
“Jesus Christ, rewind that part!” Andy said to her, turning up the volume.
“…Yesss…!” It now said more audible, the two looked at each other in disbelief.
“This can’t be real!” She began to cry.
The camera tilted as he reached for the bat on screen. A steel bolt shot into view, violently bouncing off of the floor.
“Fuck!” He cursed on film. “Goddammit! Where are you, motherfucker!?”
“…Behind you!” A demonic voice growled on tape. The toddler screamed in agony at the sound.
The camera shook wildly as he had lost his balance and the image crackled as he crashed a floor down.
“Are you okay!? Speak to me!” The TV continued.
“I’m fine! I’m fine!” Followed by his screaming “Look out!”
The camera was just in the right angle. As the baseball bat had fallen down it looked right into the hole in the attic floor above. A dark shadow and two bright, piercing eyes looked down at them on camera.
“Oh my God!” Amanda cried out at the sight, grabbing the baby and holding it close.
Anthony stared at the screen in shock.
“Time for a new, new house…”