It’s cold. The rain is hammering on the window and the sound is almost deafening. I climb out of my bed and go over to the window, slowly reaching over to draw back the curtain. The rain crashes down on the glass as my hand moves closer and closer to the fabric. I pull it back and –
Nothing. There’s nothing. Just the garden and, beyond that, the garden fence.
I sigh in relief and lower my arm, allowing the curtain to fall back into place before returning to my bed. Within a few seconds of my eyes closing, the rain starts to come down heavier than before, smashing against the window as though it’s about to break through the glass. And then –
Tap tap tap
A sound on the window, just like every other night. I pull the bedding higher, covering my face as I try to ignore the noise. I breathe slowly, anticipating the tapping again.
Tap tap tap
And there it is. It isn’t going to stop until I react and I know it. I push the covers away and climb out of my bed, then move over to the window to have a look at the culprit. The curtain feels heavier than last time and it takes more effort for me to move it, holding the fabric back with both hands as I stare out of the window into the darkness.
It’s there, just like it always is. Every night. Only – it’s closer this time. I stare at it and two bright yellow eyes stare back.
It sits cross-legged on the grass outside of my window. That’s all it does, but then the fact that it never does anything more than that only makes it creepier. The rain doesn’t seem to disturb it. It just stares and stares – it never blinks. I don’t think it needs to. I don’t know what it is and I don’t wish to find out, but I do now that it hasn’t always been there. There was a time when it wasn’t there. There was a time when nothing tapped on the window and I slept peacefully every night.
Then, one night that had at first been like any other, the tapping had started.
Every night since, it’s been sat there. I never hear it moving towards the window to knock on the glass or moving away from the house. By the time I climb out of my bed and pull back the curtain to look outside, it’s always sat down on the grass. I fear seeing it up close. I fear seeing anything more than that dark figure and the two unblinking eyes of a monster.
I wonder if it will leave me alone tonight. Sometimes, it only taps on the window a few times. Sometimes, I find that after I’ve looked out of the window, it stops knocking (as though seeing me is what satisfies me, as crazy as I am to look at it). Sometimes, it taps all night long.
I let the curtain fall back down and return to my bed. It takes a long time for me to drift off to sleep; though the thing does not tap again, I lie there waiting for it to do so, hesitant and afraid. When I do eventually fall to sleep, I dream of yellow eyes staring at me from the other side of the room.
It only taps a few times the following night. The night after that, it only taps once, which is rare. I look out of the curtain each night and notice with gladness that it has moved no closer to the window. I think about inviting someone to sleep over at my house for a while and wonder if that will make any difference. My parents would love to come visit me and it would be a comfort to know that there’s someone else in the house. Someone else who would hear those taps on my bedroom window.
I wonder what they would think of me if I mentioned it and they didn’t hear or see anything. I wonder what might happen if they were there, in the room with me, and I was the only one to hear the taps; if I was the only one who could see the thing sitting in my garden. I’ve got no idea whether it’s real or in my mind any more.
The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it can’t be real. I decide to take an approach that won’t publicise my insanity and set up a camera outside of my bedroom window to record the thing at night. If I get footage of it, I’ll have evidence of this thing. It’s a better approach than simply taking a picture of it from inside the house: the flash might startle it or cause it to move closer to the window, and this way I would be able to see where it came from and where it went when it left.
That night, I climb into my bed and wait. Sure enough, it returns.
Tap tap tap
I close my eyes and draw in a sharp breath. It’s always hard to encourage myself to get out of the bed and make my way over to the window.
Tap tap tap
I shiver at the sound, certain that it’s a little louder this time, a little more insistent. I hear the bed springs creak as I climb off the mattress, wincing at the noise. My feet touch the carpet and my toes curl as I hear the thing tapping on the window for a third time.
Tap tap tap
I stand and make my way over to the window. The curtain feels heavy again tonight as I push it aside, leaning towards the glass to see the figure in the garden. It’s there staring at me, those eyes gleaming in the darkness. It’s not raining but the wind is rough, blowing through the bushes in the garden; the weather doesn’t seem to affect the black shape sitting on the grass. It’s immobile, like a statue, silent and unblinking. I retreat to the bed.
Tap tap tap
It’s going to be a bad night. I bury my head under the covers and press my face into the pillow, trying to block out the noise of that thing tapping on the window.
Tap tap tap
It goes on for some time. In the early hours of the morning, before it starts to get light outside, the tapping ceases and I manage to get a bit of sleep. When I wake, I feel physically drained and spend most of the day only half awake. It’s not until the evening that I remember the camera outside.
It takes me a few more days to work up the courage I need to watch what that camera has recorded. I’ve got four nights worth of footage before I decided it’s time to watch it. Somehow, seeing what that thing does outside of my window every night is far more frightening than what I’ve become used to – going over to the window and staring at it for a few seconds through the curtains. On the previous night, it had looked a little closer to the house, which had been enough to persuade me to watch the footage.
I decide to do it in the middle of the day, aware that if I watch the footage when it’s getting dark I’ll probably freak myself out. I sit down in the living room, the room furthest from my bedroom, and prepare myself a hot drink before going anywhere near what I’ve recorded. The footage can be played on my laptop, but I do everything I can to distract myself from pressing the play button. I’m very aware that what I’m about to watch might make everything I experience at night that much worse. I’m also aware that it might expose everything I’ve been through for the past month or so as an elaborate hoax.
As much as I pray for the latter (it would be a great relief to discover that this is someone’s idea of a joke), I don’t believe it can be a hoax. The idea that someone places a plastic figure in my garden and taps on my window every night seems preposterous. It’s gone on for too long for this to be fake.
I sit myself down with the laptop on my knee, then click play, holding my breath. It’s a while before I see anything significant and I skip through the beginning of the footage until the screen flickers and goes black. I slow down the speed of the footage when this happens, frowning at the computer screen for about half a minute before the screen flickers back to life, showing my front garden again.
Only now there’s a black figure sitting cross-legged on the grass outside of my window. It’s facing the house, two large yellow eyes staring at the window below the camera. I watch it with baited breath, waiting for it to move. The time in the corner of the screen tells me that I had been climbing into bed at this time; for a while nothing happens, the stillness of the creature unnerving as I wait for something to occur.
It’s going to move soon and tap on the window, I know it. Three quiet taps and then it’ll rush away from the house to sit down before I get to the window. I wonder with some fear whether anything about it will change when I pull the curtain back, and my heart beats faster as I wait for the moment of change.
Slowly, to my disbelief, it raises one arm – as black and mysterious as the rest of the creature – and points it towards the window. I tilt my head to one side, bewildered. The window is too far away for it to possibly reach it, but it stretches out its arm anyway as though the window is going to move closer to it.
I expect it to stand and move over to the window when it fails to reach the glass. It doesn’t. It stays cross-legged on the floor, only its arm moving.
And its arm does move. In fact, it grows.
I watch with disbelief as the arm gets longer, stretching impossibly thin and long until the hand reaches the window. I blink, staring dumbly at the screen. The thing knocks three times and in my head I can hear the tap tap tap on my bedroom window. Then the arm retracts and the creature is still once more.
No other part of the creature moved, only that awful arm which grew too long to tap on the window. It happens twice more, each successive time turning my stomach more than the last. The unnatural shape of that arm, the way it seems to grow out of the creature as the rest of it remains motionless, is deeply chilling. Watching it feels wrong simply because I know that arms can’t do that.
After the third set of taps, I sit back in my seat a little, hoping that it isn’t going to respond to the sight of me looking at it from the window. I can’t see myself on the screen but I know I must be at the window by now, staring at that thing. It doesn’t move or respond. I breathe a sigh of relief.
I know it’s going to start tapping again once I’ve gone. I know that arm is going to reach out again and tap the window – and that it will do this all night long. What I don’t expect is for something to become visible beneath those yellow eyes: a set of pointed white teeth, appearing out of the black shape of the creature to create a sinister smile. But that’s exactly what happens.
I slam the laptop lid and run out of the room.
I never work up the courage to watch the rest of the footage; I delete it as soon as I’m willing to go near the laptop again. Those sharp white teeth and that awful grin keep flashing through my mind. I wish that I could do something to make those images go away, but I can’t. For a while, I wish I had shown the footage to someone before I had deleted it, but later realised that if they had seen nothing I would’ve had to face up to the fact that I’m losing my mind. I don’t want to discover this is all in my head.
I decide to sleep in the living room that night. I bring my blankets and pillow from the bedroom before it gets dark and settle down on the sofa, flicking through channels on the television long into the night. There’s nothing on but I watch it just to give myself something to do. Sleep now seems impossible.
There’s a window by my feet but it only looks out onto a path and fence, which thankfully means there isn’t enough room for the thing to sit there and stare at me. Nevertheless, I hear a familiar noise in the middle of the night.
Tap tap tap
It’s coming from the other end of the house and it’s very faint, but I know I’m not imagining it. I change the channel to a 24-hour news channel and try to ignore the taps on the bedroom window.
Tap tap tap
I turn up the volume a little in an attempt to drown out the sound. For a few minutes I hear nothing more, and then –
TAP TAP TAP
The sound is much louder this time, as though it’s trying to be heard over the television. I begin to shake, my whole body moving involuntarily, all of my control gone. It knows I’m not in the bedroom – and how it could possibly know that doesn’t matter. There are tears in the corners of my eyes as I wait for whatever is going to come next. I have no idea what to expect.
I almost fall off the sofa in shock at the noise coming from the bedroom. I’m sure the house shakes a little.
I squeeze the remote tightly in my hand, hoping this will provide me with some stability. I’ve managed to stop most of my body from shaking but I can’t control my right arm as I point the remote unsteadily at the television and turn the volume all the way up. The noise coming from the television is extraordinary and I push my head into the pillow in an attempt to drown it out.
Perhaps the television will block out the banging on my bedroom window.
Perhaps this thing will leave me alone.
Perhaps if I don’t respond, it will go away.
I groan into the pillow. It isn’t going to leave me alone at all. It isn’t going to go away. In fact, it only seems to be trying harder.
The banging continues for about half an hour until I become bored. The volume of the television has all but burst my eardrums and I turn it off, a loud ringing sound echoing around in my ears. I’m tired and I only want to sleep, but the noise from my bedroom won’t stop. There’s only one thing for it.
I drag the covers and the pillow back to my room and throw them on the bed before turning to the window. My throat feels tight; I can barely breathe. The curtain hangs down heavily, the last barrier between myself and the terrifying creature in my garden. I move towards it, raising my hand to push the curtain aside, and with my heart thundering in my chest I grab hold of the material, moving it slowly out of my way.
It takes all of my remaining strength not to scream at what I see. The thing outside of my bedroom window isn’t sitting cross-legged on the grass like it normally does – it’s stood right outside of the window, looking in. It’s smiling, just like it did in the footage I recorded.
That dark head turns towards me when I pull back the curtain. Those two yellow eyes meet my own and the grin widens a little at the sight of me. It reaches up with one arm – this time, in proportion to the rest of it – and stretches out a finger to touch the glass.
Tap tap tap
I wonder, in a moment of insanity, whether it wants me to tap back. I almost do – before I realise that whatever it wants me to do can’t be good for me. We stand there staring at one another for a few moments before I allow the curtain to swing shut and obscure the creature from view.
It doesn’t tap again. I don’t get any sleep.
The following morning, I pack my bags and leave. I should’ve left when I first saw that thing sitting outside of my bedroom window, but at that time I was determined not to let it drive me out of my home. Seeing it up close changed my mind very quickly.
I’m staying with my parents for a while. Just until the nightmares become manageable – I don’t ever expect them to go away. I’m not sure where I’ll go after that, but it won’t be anywhere near my old house. I’ve not been disturbed by anything in the night since I left that place.
I just hope that whoever lives there next doesn’t hear taps in the night.