One Last Cigarette (Part 1)

I’ve been telling the story that you’re about to read for 12 years now. I’ve told it around campfires, on halloween, during power cuts and storms… If people want spooking I tell them most of what you’re about to read. I’m going to give you a bit extra, because I hear readers here are more opened minded than your average Joe. You see, people I tell in real life never believe me when I tell them that every single word of this story is true.

When I was 13 I went through an unexplainable, unimaginable experience that my words will never do justice. But I always give it a go, because it is simply too fascinating to keep to myself!

My childhood home was a terraced house that was built in the Victorian era. It was named ‘Eureka Villa’ and had always been creepy. Maybe it was the age, with its tall ceilings and cold atmosphere. There was always ‘old house’ creaking, drafts running through that would blow things over, and echoes that distorted everyday noises.

My mother and stepfather, Shane, were hardcore alcoholics that usually bordered on the line of low functioning. So the place was always in need of decorating. Unless I cleaned and remembered to top up the electricity meter, it was always messy and extremely cold. It certainly wasn’t ‘homely’. All in all, if for some reason you wanted to experience a macabre vibe then my house was the place to be.

It wasn’t just the house itself, though. It was everything about it. Mum and Shane were always shouting and fighting. If they were ever quiet it was only because they had drank so much they’d passed out.

A few weird things occured in that house, but this one is my ‘party story’. It’s an experience that scared me so much that I actually wet myself and fainted. Yep. I’m not embarrassed by it – I believe that most people would have reacted in the exact same way.

It happened when I was 13 years old. It was the end of a horrible day. I’d been in detention after school, as always. I wasn’t a bad kid by any means. I was an anxiety ridden, lanky, awkward teen that always had messy hair. The girls didn’t like me because I was the weird kid, and the boys didn’t accept me because I wasn’t fun enough. I had a couple of friends but overall secondary school was a lonely experience.

Anyway, that day I’d been kept behind after class for not having the correct equipment for… I dunno, the 50th time or something. I’m not sure what logic was applied when teachers decided to punish school kids because their parents haven’t bothered supplying their child with the school stuff they need, but I was punished regularly for it. As if life isn’t hard enough with nothing but a couple of pairs of old pants, hand me down clothes from a tarty, past it mother and a few dog eared books scavenged from car boots. Throw in a teacher breathing down your neck about pens and pencils and things get stressful.

On the way home, I’d bumped into the school psycho who had been in detention somewhere else in the school, probably for trying to burn the place down in Science class again. He’d followed me most the way home; calling me a tramp, goading me to argue, asking why I never bothered brushing my hair, blah, blah, blah. (I heard on the grapevine that he is in prison now for arson. When I think of that I always feel warm and fuzzy inside).

When I got home to Eureka Villa I closed the heavy wooden door and left psycho throwing things into my garden. I knew he’d get bored before long and wander off. I called for my mum regardless, not because I wanted her to do anything about it but because I was upset and wanted some comfort. I was greeted by silence. This was pretty common and I knew where she was straight away – the same place she usually was in the middle of the afternoon. The pub. My stepdad was an electrician and regularly worked away in Europe, setting up big events. This week he was in Germany, and he wasn’t coming back until Friday. I was alone.

The house was silent and I felt crippled with loneliness. Again, nothing new there. I shook it off and told myself even if my mum or stepdad were there then they’d only say something that would further upset me. They really were a pair of bastards. I tried to find myself some food but the cupboards were pretty much bare. I grabbed a few stale biscuits and went up to my room. The hours dragged by until 9pm when I heard banging around downstairs. I knew it would be my mum staggering in.

Whenever she got in from the pub I would automatically get ready for trouble. Most nights her and my stepdad would scream at each other for hours as I listened from my bed. I was scared of the bangs and crashes but knew better than to try and get involved. Occasionally her and Shane would get along, so then they would just pick on me. When I look back I feel very sad for childhood me, but at the time I didn’t know any different so I just got on with it.

I heard my mum staggering up the stairs followed by her phlegmy smokers cough that always left her gasping for breath. Next came the creaks and pings of her bed springs as she collapsed on the bed and lastly came heard her guttural snores. Though I was relieved that she wasn’t going to start a row with me, I did wish I had someone to talk to.

I got an early night because there was nothing else to do. An hour later something woke me up… something that made my body tense up and my skin chill. I didn’t know what had actually disturbed my sleep but I was totally on edge, which told me something was not quite right.

After a few minutes of lying as still as I could, trying not to breathe in case I missed a sound, I finally heard it… a clicking noise was coming from downstairs somewhere. It would go on for about 5 seconds then stop. A few moments later it would go again. Click-click-click-click. I couldn’t place what it was but I was sure that I recognised it.

The rest of the house was eerily silent. My mum must have shifted in her sleep or something, because I could no longer even find comfort in her disgusting snoring. I felt abandoned and nervous.

I waited five minutes but the mysterious noise didn’t stop. I dragged myself out of bed and decided I would have to investigate. But as I made my way to my bedroom door I walked past my window and saw something that made my blood run cold.

From my room there was a bit of view into the kitchen through the window. Mum had left all the lights on when she’d crawled in and I could see part of the kitchen table and the cooker. In front of the cooker was a man standing there. I couldn’t see his face… I could only see his torso, covered in a black t shirt, and the tops of his legs. I could tell by the body shape that it was a bloke. I was terrified. Shane was away till Friday and mum wouldn’t have dared bring another man here, so who was it? And why was he standing in our kitchen?

I was convinced that mum had pissed some rough loser off at the pub and they’d sent someone to trash the house, or beat us up or something. Sure, it sounds extreme… but I grew up in a rough town and that sort of thing certainly wasn’t unheard of. And my mum sure had a knack for pissing people off.

I crept down the corridor to my mum’s room where she was passed out on top of her unmade bed. I hissed at her, “Mum! Wake up!” but she didn’t even stir. My heart leapt into my throat. I jumped over the mess on the floor as quietly as I could and shook her urgently. I was terrified for a minute that the man downstairs had come up and killed her… and he was coming for me next. But as I shook her I heard a grunt. She had just passed out through the drink.

There was no waking her now, which I knew from experience. Scared and alone, I crept back into my bedroom to assess the situation. Sure enough, the man was still standing there in the kitchen. I held my breath and listened while I watched him doing nothing. Click-click-click-click. Fast and close together, the sound was still there. What was it?!

I didn’t know what to do. In a moment of pure panic, I got into my wardrobe and closed the door. If he was going to go on a rampage, maybe he wouldn’t find me. I felt a stab of guilt in my stomach, though. I knew that would leave my mum lying in her room alone like a sitting duck. I had to find out what was going on and do something.

I don’t know how but surprisingly I managed to muster the courage to get out of cupboard, leave my room and make my way downstairs. I had never been a brave kid; I avoided confrontation and had never even been in a fight. I couldn’t just stay in my room frozen with fear all night, though. So I avoided the steps that I knew would creak and I managed to get to the bottom of the stairs silently. I waited there, still as a statue, and listened carefully. Blood was rushing around my head so quickly that it sounded like a roaring, pulsing river in my ears. But before long, I heard the clicking noise again… Click-click-click-click. Still, the man didn’t make a peep.

Not knowing what he was actually up to was killing me! What was I facing? What might I have to protect me and my sleeping mother from? Perhaps was the curiosity that gave me courage, or maybe it was because all the lights were on. It could have even been a protective instinct for my pissed up mother. Whatever it was, I found it in me to take a deep breath and then I strode through the living room full of false bravado.

I waited outside the kitchen, hidden behind the open door. There had been no reaction to my journey across the living room. It had triggered no new noises, but I still hear that incessant click-click- click-click. By now my heart was hammering, I was sweating despite the constant chill of the house and I was ready to fight if I had to.

I leapt around the door to confront the man who was still stood at the oven. He had his side to me with one hand resting against the oven knobs and another clutching his neck. I screamed out loud with the nerves of it all, even though I immediately realised who he was and I then knew that I was safe. Or so I thought…

Part Two

 

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