"Uncle AJ! Uncle AJ! Who is this woman at the door? I don't like her." Andrew (Andrew Junior or AJ to close family) bent down to see what his little nephew was pointing at. He was babysitting his nephews for the day as his sister and her husband were both going to be busy with work. AJ was an amateur photographer (or so he liked to think, his friends and family didn't think that was a job). "What's that little man?" he asked Sam, the younger of his 2 nephews. "Where is Simon?" Here, readers can rightly deduce that Simon would be the older of the kids. Sam was pointing at a corner of the picture he had just developed. It was a picture of his room. He moved into his new place (room) a week ago and was still chuffed about it. His old landlord had kicked him out of his former place, telling him the room was needed for something else. Being on a shoestring budget, it took him almost a month to find alternative arrangements. He found this place just when he was about to give up and move back in with his folks. He was the black sheep of the family. His father was constantly on his back, telling him to get a 'real' job and make something of himself. AJ had studied engineering mostly to please his parents...he hated the course. The price had been much less than he anticipated and he almost snapped off the agent's hand when he was told how much he would have to pay as rent.
The camera too, was an unexpected bonus...he found it lying at the bottom of a dusty shelf in a corner of the room. Much to his surprise, it still worked, so he had amused himself by taking shots of the room, the kitchen and the bathroom. Sam's voice interrupted his reverie "I don't like this woman at the door uncle AJ, she's scary" Sam's finger was pointing at the back door of his room. The landlord had told him the door was always locked, that it was originally built as a sort of emergency exit or fire escape but the key had been missing for a few years. It was one of those old, heavy doors, built (in his reckoning) to withstand a minor earthquake. "What woman? It's just a door there lil' buddy" he said to Sam. "Come on, let's go outside and get your brother...who wants ice cream?" Simon's voice floated in through the window "me! I want ice cream!" Laughing, they all hurried to the end of his street, where an ice cream shop was nicely positioned. He didn't mind watching the kids for his sister, he was fond of both boys as they were of him...they thought the world of 'Uncle AJ' and his photographs always held a magical form of amusement for them. Of course, the regular ice cream treats weren't to be sneered at too, so it was perfect for the kids. In the evening, his sister came to pick them and after solemn handshakes, AJ promised to come and visit the next weekend.
The pictures were lying on the bed and he picked them up to arrange them in the box he usually kept his 'work' when they were developed and dried. In his hurry, he almost missed it. Hullo, what was this? The handle of the back door seemed to be bent, as if someone was trying to open it from the outside...or was closing it. It was angled and HE could see it clearly in the picture. The back of the house, where the door opened to was covered with a thick, tangled mess of weeds. He didn't think anybody would be walking through THAT, let alone trying to open a door that was always locked. He looked up, the door was still firmly shut. In the fast approaching darkness, the door seemed bigger than it actually was. He looked at the picture again and he would later on swear that he saw the handle move even more, almost angling towards opening point. AJ flung the picture away and rushed to the door. The handle was static. HE was being silly he thought. When he picked up the picture again, the handle was as it should be, in the locked position. "Well, there you go, my mind is playing crazy tricks on me." Putting the box away, he sat down to read a book before he would turn in for the night. Instant darkness enveloped his room. "PHCN" he cursed. There was a rechargeable lantern at the side of his bed and he groped for it in the dark. There! What was that sound? It sounded like metal scraping against metal...they needed oiling. It seemed to be coming from the back door. He moved towards the door and he heard the sound again. The handle was turning! "Who's there!" he shouted. The handle stopped. Silence. Then a scratching sound and a low, blood curdling moan came from behind the door. The handle was turning again, this time faster. He looked up, the door was still bolted. Good. Let the handle 'turn' all it liked. Someone was probably playing a silly trick on him. He was going to open the front door stealthily to go around and catch the prankster in the act when the scraping sound started again. THAT was not the handle turning...that was something else! He was suddenly sick. He knew what that sound was now, hadn't he heard it several times growing up? The bolts to his dad's store had rusted and made those sounds whenever they were opened. The bolts of his door WERE moving. With an urgency born of primeval fear and unspeakable fright, he groped for the rechargeable lantern in the dark. He KNEW he had to put on the light. There WAS something out there trying to get in. Instinctively, he knew if it got in, IT was going to eat him, suck out all the marrow from his bones and discard the empty husk that was once human. He HAD to find the lantern. THUD! The first bolt was open. Now the lower one started to move...
Lovely short story by Marcel. Enjoy!