Several years ago, Brett and I visited his brother and sister-in-law who live in
Virginia. In August.
I mean, they don’t just live in Virginia
in August (that would be silly) but it was August when we visited them. Actually, that was silly. I’ve only been to Virginia twice, once in October and once in
August. October was brilliantly sunny
with a delightful crispness in the air which perfectly complemented the trees
turning into flaming bonfires of orange, red, and yellow. August was… well. It was hot.
Dang hot. Like, Tarzan hot. And humid.
It was literally 99 degrees and 99% humidity.
It should be noted that at this time I was also suffering from an undiagnosed thyroid condition, the main symptom of which is “heat intolerance.” And not just heat intolerance like, “Gosh, it’s hot and uncomfortable~I wish I was drinking lemonade in the shade” kind of intolerance. This was more of a… how shall one say, “GIVE ME A GUN AND KILL ME NOW JUST SERIOUSLY PUT MY OUT OF MY MISERY LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING IF I HAVE TO BE SO HOT WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO HOT AND WHY CAN I NOT GET A MOMENT OF RELIEF” kind of intolerance.
Avoiding the heat became an obsession. It occupied all my waking thoughts and some of my dreams. There was never enough air conditioning. Not in the house. Not in the car. Not in the stores or the restaurants. I desperately just wanted to park myself in an igloo in my underwear and never come out.
So, it was while we were visiting Bill and Suzanne (who have a perfectly lovely air conditioned house which they maintain at a perfectly lovely temperature) that one night I determined that I COULD NOT SLEEP ONE MORE NIGHT NEXT TO THE BLAST FURNACE WHO CALLS HIMSELF MY HUSBAND. I went in search of cooler, less populated surroundings.
The unfinished basement with its cool cement floors and wide open spaces beckoned to me. I tiptoed down the stairs and pulled the chain on the single hanging bulb. I had planned to sleep directly on the concrete if necessary, but the futon seemed like a better place to start.
I watched a little TV to relax and cool down. Ahh… so much better. I might be able to sleep after all. I closed my eyes and began to drift off.
I was somewhere between sleep and waking when I heard.. a voice.
I snorted and sat bolt upright. “Yes! I’m down here! Just getting cool…” I said in the direction of the stairs. I was sure it was Brett looking for me to come back to bed. There was no reply.
There was no sound of any kind. No footsteps or breathing or shuffling or anything that would indicate that I was anything but alone in the dark basement. I must have imagined it. Part of a dream which my brain misinterpreted, I’m sure. I laid myself back down and drifted off again.
Once again as the murky twilight enveloped me I heard a voice. This time there was no mistaking it. I couldn’t make out what it had said, but it was definitely a man’s voice and it was definitely in the room with me.
I leapt up and pulled the chain on the light. My eyes struggled to adjust as I spun frantically around. I saw no one and aside from the neat row of cupboards along the wall there was no where for someone to hide.
“Someone is going to hide in a cupboard and try to scare me by talking in the middle of the night?” I wondered. He would have to be devoted. He would have had to have gotten in there to hide before I went to sleep. And he would have had to wait for me to finish my show. And he would have had to wait for me to fall asleep. And, most importantly, he would have had to know that I would end up sleeping in the basement tonight. A fact which I didn’t know myself until an hour prior.
It was unlikely, but since I couldn’t think of a more reasonable explanation, I tiptoed over to the cupboards. I threw open the doors quickly and violently lest the prankster get the upper hand by bursting out and scaring me before I could uncover him.
The cupboards were full of board games and baby toys which the kids had outgrown. No pranksters. No monsters. No voices.
Now what was I to do? I desperately wanted to sleep. I was too hot upstairs and too scared to stay in the basement. I pondered my plight and inspiration struck me. The TV! Of course! I must not have turned it off properly or there is a video game or something still playing in the background. Better check the electronics.
Satisfied that everything was off and stopping short of unplugging everything that could possible make any noise I resumed my position on the futon. And because I’m a pansy, I left the light on. The basement was silent and with the light protecting me I closed my eyes.
Again! A voice! It was deep and slow and distorted, bearing an eerie resemblance to what a demon in a movie might sound like! But this time, it didn’t stop. It kept groaning on in a distinct cadence that was frightening but oddly familiar at the same time.
“Nrgh… nnnnrgh wr grrr… craaaaaaw,” it droned. “Phrrr… phrrr wr grrr… orrrrrrrs.” A chant. Some kind of demon chant.
This basement is a portal to hell and I am about to be dragged into the lake of fire and brimstone.
So hot. So very, very, very hot.
Don’t they know I have a thyroid condition marked by severe heat intolerance?
I can’t go to hell. No way. I’ve already spent a week in
in August. I’ve already been there.
I steeled myself and walked toward the sound. No little demon was going to get me without a fight. Pre-emptive strike!
I found myself standing next to the cupboard which I had checked just moments before. I flung open the door, ready to gouge out the little red eyes which I knew would be staring back at me.
“C… C is for cow… D… D is for dog…”
My nemesis which I stood poised and ready to destroy was not some naked, scaly, cloven-hooved, bat-winged succubus. It was a Fisher Price Barnyard Speak-and-Say children’s toy.
With trembling hands I pried the batteries out and dared it to taunt me a second time. It did not.
Good thing, because if it had continued to speak I don’t know what I would have done.