A midnight break in goes awry.
By Alicia Bruzzone
“If you think it’s a ghost, how am I supposed to photograph it?” I huff as I shuffle the weight of the borrowed camera bag on my shoulder. Most people had more exciting plans on a Saturday night than breaking into deceased estate houses. I have to assume those people have normal friends.
“I think it’s an alien,” Caulder protests as he slinks up the creaky verandah stairs. “I said it might be a ghost, Kellie. The old lady did die here.”
This is why Caulder’s stories never get printed in the school newspaper. Because journalists are supposed to presents facts, not the tripe he always hands in. Hence my involvement. Caulder thinks photograph evidence is all it takes to legitimise the super natural. Since there’s obviously no such thing as lens flare. Or, you know, Photoshop.
“Did you hear that?” Caulder asks, stopping dead in his tracks as he crouches like a cougar ready to pounce.
Radio static sparks to life from somewhere within the house, behind hushed whispers I can’t decipher.
My chest thumps with a single loud boom while Caulder’s face cracks into an enormous grin. “I told you, Kellie! Didn’t I tell you! There’s something in there.”
He completes his travels up the porch in a single bound, slowly turning the creaking handle of the front door.
The chilling voice that calls from the depths of the gloom makes the hairs on my arm raise. “It’s probably just a television left on somewhere,” I remark to Caulder, forcing my shoulders back. Except it doesn’t sound like a television. It barely sounds like a voice. Still, I quickly unzip the school’s camera bag and take out the camera, slipping the strap over my neck.
We work our way through the tenebrous entry, footsteps padding on worn carpet as we find the living room. It’s eerily silent, our heavy breaths the only background to the awaiting room.
The static rumbles, and Caulder pulls out a torch, flicking it to a lifeless TV. The beam carries over furniture to a portable radio. I flick on a side table lamp to get a better view of the equipment. My inspection falls short. It isn’t even plugged in, and too light to be carrying batteries.
“It’s coming from over here,” Caulder whispers, the trail of light winding back out into the hall.
I quickly shuffle after it, not wanting to be alone. I don’t like the odds that someone on a tight pension had an extra television set up in a spare room. Which means the noise is coming from somewhere else. Or, as much as I hate to admit it, something.
The radio static plays again, my heart bursting in time with the sudden noise.
“Yu goon a eet. Ore jus look? Jus look?”
I splay my palms flat against the wall as I press myself back, trying to disappear. The camera strap sticks to my clammy skin as I take a breath and regain control over my erratic fears. There is no such thing as ghosts. Or aliens. My sweaty palms indicate otherwise as I heft up the camera and chase after Caulder. “What was that?”
“Communicating long distances through space causes interference.” His eyes are wide with excitement. “So it’s probably an alien. The obituary did mention an unexpected death.”
“She wasn’t, like, mauled or anything?” I ask, wishing I’d taken Caulder’s tip more seriously and actually done some research before following through with his hair-brained idea.
“Don’t know,” he replies cautiously, eyes strictly trained to the path of light. “I couldn’t get into the funeral home to check.”
He takes a step forward and the floor grunts in disapproval, echoing down the hall.
“Hoose a prittie boi?”
Caulder freezes, his entire body rigid as he stares at the moulded oak door to the right. The voice came from in there. And whatever it is, he’s been spotted.
“Wotchoo doin? Kom heer. Kom heer,” the alien voice taunts.
Caulder turns paler than the ray of light that dances over the door. “They’re picking up our language.” He no longer sounds excited. “Kellie, get the photo and let’s go!”
There’s urgency in his voice as the static once more crackles down the hall, followed by a babble of language I can’t decipher.
“Prittie, prittie doin. Yu goon a eet, yu goon a eet. EET PRITTIE BOI.”
The voice is getting louder, shrieking as it pierces the night air.
It takes me a long moment to uncap the camera, my hands sweaty and shaking. My spine chills one vertebrae at a time as I force my body towards the closed door. “You’ll have to reach in and turn on the light.” My voice is barely audible, cracking on every syllable.
Caulder pushes the door in hesitantly, snaking a hand through the slither of opening to fumble with the wall. “On three,” he mouths, colour still drained from his face.
My knees shake as I turn on the camera. Gulping down a breath, I try to force air past the lump in my throat and down into my lungs.
I fling my weight at the door as Caulder flicks the light.
“Hoose a prittie boi?”
I fluke the focus, and manage to snap a perfect picture of the old lady’s pet budgerigar.
I don’t think Caulder’s going to make the paper.