Nothing is ever what it seems, have you noticed? Bubbling under the surface of the masks that we present day in and day out is a vast reservoir of secrets. Things we hide from our wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, our friends. That strip club you visited last weekend. The test you cheated on. The relationship you ruined, the girl who’s heart you tore apart. We tell ourselves that we lie to protect them. But at the end of the night, when we’re lying awake with the sheets wrapped around and eyes locked on the ceiling; we know better. We lie to protect ourselves.
Well here’s my secret, NoSleep. I think I’m losing my mind.
Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
It began a few weeks ago. In my picturesque suburban neighborhood, young professionals buy a big ticket house for their family, as their aged counterparts move on after their children have long since jumped ship. Such is the circle of life in suburbia. Two weeks ago, a new couple moved in across the street.
One of the first things they did was dig a giant hole in their front yard. I own the house across the street, so naturally, I decided to stop by and ask why my new neighbors were digging such a large hole in their front yard.
I knocked on the door, and at first, no one answered. I rang the bell a couple of times and was about to give up when a man in his late twenties / early thirties answered. He was clearly disheveled, he wore atypical office clothing, but it was ripped and askew.
“Hey! Welcome to the neighborhood. My name is Matt, I live across the street.”
“Oh… hello Matt. Can I help you?”
I was a bit taken aback by his lack of hospitality, but I continued on nonetheless.
“I was just curious as to what the hole was for. Did you guys have an oil can leak? A lot of us have had to do the same thing.”
He paused, and for an instant, a terrible look of fear crossed his eyes. “No… no oil… we are building… Well there is some oil I think. We mustn’t disturb her…”
He was clearly avoiding the topic. I shifted uncomfortably and tried to begin explaining how many houses in our neighborhood had switched to electric heating, and had to do away with the oil cans buried under our yards. Except, I was interrupted.
“I have to go. Busy with work.” And with that, the door was closed in my face.
I thought nothing of it, to be honest. I assumed I had a jerk of a new neighbor, and decided on ignoring him and going about my own business. I was working from home at the time, recovering from my second knee surgery in six months (which is another story, with which some of you may be familiar). So every day I would come outside and view the progress of the hole across the street. Deeper and deeper it went, until one day, they stopped digging. This was on Friday, I believe.
Saturday evening, I was up late. Browsing a few NoSleep stories, to be quite honest, had led to exactly what the title entails: I couldn’t sleep. It was about 3 A.M., and I decided to go outside and grab some fresh air.
At night, my neighborhood is really quite nice. My nine to five neighbors have long since gone to sleep, and there is a beautiful stillness and silence to the area. On cloudless nights, I’d grab a blanket and map out the stars above with a cigar and a beer in hand. If you’re lucky, you might even see a deer or a fox venturing out of the woods to find food, blissfully unaware of the surrounding threats.
As I sparked my cigar, my eyes wandered towards the hole across the street. Oddly enough, there was a bright light emanating from what seemed to the bottom. Fluorescent, I assumed. Probably so the workers could see what they were doing, somebody must have left it on.
I let the cancerous smoke envelop me, and reclined on my blanket to survey the mess across the street. There was dirt everywhere at this point. Several sizeable holes were scattered across the property haphazardly, and it looked as if a giant dog had dug a bunch of ten feet deep holes, then gave up and moved on.
I must have dozed off. That’s the sane and logical explanation, though there are plenty of others that have creeped up through the back of my twisted imagination. Regardless, I came to about an hour later, lying on the blanket in the freezing cold.
When you’re standing on my driveway or in the street in front of it, any noise made is repeated through a massive echo. This is likely caused by sound bouncing off either my or my neighbor’s house, depending on the location. The moment I woke, that loud echo broke the stillness of my quiet night. It wasn’t a whisper, or a shout, or the scurry of a critter escaping back to the woods. The best way I could describe it, was a loud scratching, almost like fingernails on concrete.
I looked around, confused and disoriented, cursing as I realized my newly lit cigar was now a mess of pulp and ash. Eventually, my eyes found the source of the scratching as the noise got louder.
The hole across the street. As the noise grew louder, and louder, it was almost deafening. I looked around at the houses to see if any lights had flickered on. Surely I couldn’t have been the only one to hear it. And then suddenly, it stopped.
I began to stand up, to make my way over to the hole to find out what was going on. Maybe some poor animal had gotten stuck, attempted to claw its way back up the hole and had simply given up. Maybe it was dirt sliding down the side, slowly caving the hole in.
But I didn’t need to get up. The creature came to me.
Slowly, it lifted a leg over the top of the hole. Then the other. Then it stood, it looked around quickly, and then its eyes met mine.
It looked like a small person, hunched over with long, black, stringy hair that fell to its knees. It was wearing some sort of dirty, ripped, overcoat that looked like it had been dipped in mud and dried. It’s facial features were distorted, to say the least. It’s eyes were blood red, and… it didn’t have a nose or ears. Just a filthy mouth, filled with jagged, unkempt teeth.
For what seemed like an hour, I stood there staring at it. It stared right back at me with an unflinching, unsettling gaze that made my very bones rattle under my skin. Out of the corner of my eye, I searched for something to defend myself. A large, broad stick sat on the grass to my right. My dog had been running around with it, and must have dropped it on the grass. I lunged, and grabbed it.
As soon as I moved, the creature let out a noise I had never heard before. You know the sound a rock can make when dragged across the pavement? It was that, except prolonged.
And with that, it got on all fours, and sprinted towards the woods.
Naturally, I tried to approach my neighbor about this the next couple days. I have not seen or heard from him, and I’ve tried ringing his bell several times.
I have not seen the creature either since that night, but I’ve heard it. That terrible screech now comes from the woods, excited and triumphant as the first time. It only happens at night. I’ve barely slept, even with locked doors, windows, and all lights on.
What’s worse, is, last night.. I heard other noises.
Different screeches and howls, completely different in length and volume from the first. They sounded together, as if speaking and responding to one another.
I will attempt to record the noises and post them there, but I don’t know what else to do..
I think there’s more of them.