All yesterday afternoon I would hear this thump and rustle. I would pause in my writing and wonder, "Is Master home?" He has been known to sneak in. Sometimes to spy on me, sometimes to scare the crap out of me. Twice I got up and looked out the front window.
It was loud enough to be a door opening or closing... or someone walking in the empty bedrooms upstairs. I would listen carefully but it would be quiet again. Nothing... but then a few minutes later... there is would be again. I even walked around the house, looked in every room... the noise was loud enough to make me nervous. I grabbed the hammer that was sitting on my leather working bench... telling myself I needed it for a little repair job on the main floor, but I found myself gripping it firmly and finding a small amount of security to have a weapon in my hand. But again there was nothing, nothing out of place. The house eerily silent as I patrolled.
Then the more easily identified sound of the screen door and I found myself hurrying to greet Master, my tension making me babble... "Finally, it is you, really you?" (Another release the squirrels moment.) I knelt at his feet, my forehead firmly placed between his feet, so happy he was home. Something creepy was going on in my world and I wanted him here with me... here with me now.
When he lifted my up and wrapped his arms around me, I asked him, "Do you sometimes hear things in this house? Like doors opening and closing or people walking around?" He responded all the time, saying that it must be a ghost. (I know he does not believe in ghosts but it is also true he hears the same things sometimes.) Most of the time it is squirrels dancing on the roof but this was closer, more mysterious, stranger.
Then as we walked together to through the house, I found a clue. A black sooty, ominous clue. In front of the fireplace was a smooth black layer of pitch black soot with the tracks of bare feet going back and forth, my bare feet from each trip I had made through the house. I freeze and point, whispering in pent up excitement... "Look!"
Master's voice was confident, "Something is in the chimney. Sometimes birds fall in and get stuck because they can't fly straight up." We stand still listening but the house is silent for the moment. I vacuum up the mess and run a duster to get up the last of micro fine particles. I open and shut the flue violently a few times... BANG! BANG! BANG! I stick a poker up the chimney and rattle it around but there is not a sound. Maybe it was gone? Master tells me to close the flue tight and go wash off all the soot I had gotten all over me, before I sit on any furniture.
Then later, an hour later, Master calls me into the front room. "Listen." But it was quiet, he says he had heard it, that it sounded exactly like a bird, maybe a jay or a pigeon. Several times through the evening, it would tap, thump and flutter and I would envision that poor thing caught, covered in fine soot, choking on the dust it was kicking up. The practical part of me thinking that nothing could live long in such conditions and hoping it would hurry up and die. The worry wart part of me wondering if this thing would stink or clog up my chimney, vaguely pissed about having one more household thing to put on the list that makes me question and nag my Master.
And now this morning, my precious Friday morning, my one day a week I am not working and Master is. The one day I have to myself to get those extra chores done, to work on special projects like writing, crafts and reading. After Master leaves for work I am sitting in my special place on the couch... there it is... thump, tap, rustle...
Shudder... that thing is still in there, still struggling, slowly dieing. Part of me wonders about going and opening the flue and seeing if it will finally fall out... but enough of me is terrified of what it might be, some kind of black monster that once freed will flutter and flap all around my house, spreading germs and soot. Or worse grow to unrealistic proportions and come after me in some kind of vengeance for my callous wish that it would just hurry up and die.
One of the tasks Master has left me with is to clean all the ashes out of the fireplace. He says that we should try and get the corpse out.
I am reluctant to approach the fireplace... creeped out to being even that close to horror. I think this is far worse than ghosts.
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