A Physicist's Tradition by BloodySpaghetti
My grandfather is probably the coolest old man there is; at 92, he still maintains a healthy active social circle and you would never be able to tell him apart from the average 60 year old, aside from his antics; in the mind he is far younger than his biological age. You see my grandfather, collectively known in the family simply as “Old Man”, is a retired physicist and he understands the issues that come with age, therefore he maintains an active lifestyle to avoid said issues. If you are wondering how active, the Old Man is actually still playing basketball. I wouldn’t call him strange, but he does have the odd habit of playing an old gramophone throughout the rainy season; he never really told anyone why he does this. He just calls it his personal tradition. Mind you as old as he is, the Old Man does not fear technology and even has a smartphone that he operates as well as a teenager would.
It has been a decade since I have stayed over at the Old Man’s place and so when the opportunity presented itself yesterday, I took advantage. I know he did not mind, I can’t say he was overjoyed by my decision to stay over while visiting my childhood home town, that’s because I visit him quite often. Anyhow, I’m drifting away from the subject here. Yesterday, after paying a visit to all of my friends and acquaintances from days past I went to the Old Man’s house at the so called rich people quarter, I say so called because it’s mostly the old folks quarter, rich old folk, but old nonetheless. Once I showed up at his place, I found him getting ready to leave; apparently, this old man had planned to spend the night on his fishing boat at a nearby lake. He took advantage of my arrival to dog-sit his two-year-old black Lab bitch, named Jessica. I didn’t mind really, I thought I was going to have a nice quiet night there, and then spend some time with my grandfather.
The Old Man was on his way out when he stopped in front of the front door and said in a somewhat cold tone, “If the weather sours up, turn on the gramophone.”
I asked him why but all he did was brash me off with his usual response to the matter “It’s a tradition in this house, boy.” He then left the house, closing the door gently behind himself.
From what I know, he’s been living here for the last thirty years or so, he and my grandmother, who’s now deceased, bought this house a few years after they got married, in their early thirties. The thing is, I can recall a few conversations between the Old Man and other family members regarding the history of the building, apparently there were many resident’s here before him, not a single family managed to last in this place for more than a year. Even today, people ask me how the Old Man’s doing because of some curse or some odd urban legend surrounding the house. The Old Man always said its nonsense and that a bunch of fools built this building on a piece of according to him “God forsaken soil in the town”. Him being he, I guess he means it was built on an unused part of the city’s land.
Well, anyways, after the Old Man left, I prepared myself dinner and went on to kill some time playing an FPS game; judge me if you will, I don’t care; the most important thing to remember with me is that I game on a mute, especially in shooter or survival themed games, to challenge myself. Therefore, everything was fine for around a couple of hours, and then the room began to get cold. I looked at the window to see that it had begun raining, profusely; now, funny thing about the Old Man’s house; the roof is thick as hell so you hardly hear when it is raining when the house is completely silent. After seeing that it’s raining I went to turn on the Old Man’s gramophone, some Little Richard would have been lovely at that moment. Unfortunately, the gramophone went dead after a few minutes of playing.
“Oh well, there goes the Old Man’s tradition tonight”, I thought to myself after being unable to restart the old machine.
I went back to my laptop and continued killing my pixilated enemies as I did beforehand, after a while though I began to feel anxious. It wasn’t just a sense of anxiety, I felt a sense of dread, I did not even know why. I thought it might be a result of all the adrenaline in my system getting a little high because of my gaming. Therefore, I’ve decided to turn my laptop off and take a shower.
I went to the Old Man’s room to get a towel from his closet and after doing so, I went straight to the bathroom on the second floor. Once I got to the bathroom, I flipped on the light switch and stepped inside the room. In the bathroom, there is a shower cab, well not exactly a cab, just a segregated square that is covered by thick nylon curtains. The showering space is located at the left inner corner of the room, facing it there’s a toilet seat and next to the toilet seat there’s a little plastic drawer chest filled with soaps and other hygiene related stuff. I placed the clean towel on the chest and started undressing myself, hanging my clothes on the hangers. I looked back three times in the process of undressing myself, I don’t even know why… I just felt like there’s someone there with me… I felt like there’s someone else with me in this house… The sense of dread I had in me did not make me feel any better, it hadn’t left me until the water in the shower was running at full force making somewhat a lot of noise.
Taking a shower did relieve all of the dread, it was gone completely once the first droplets of water had hit my body, I felt great again after taking the shower. Once I turned off the water however, the good feeling I had started wearing off.
Once I had left the showering space, I felt a chill crawling down my spine, I felt cold… the room I was in could not be cold; it was full of hot vapor from the shower I had just taken. The dread was back moments later; it crept its way back into my core. I could feel my heartbeat steadily rising this time. I wrapped the towel around my hips and began combing my hair. My action was cut short by the terrible noise that sounded as if someone with a horribly dry throat is inhaling loudly. It made me jolt in my place, I ran out of the bathroom to see if there was anyone inside the house, I was expecting a burglar playing tricks or something and so I yelled loudly “Hello!” hoping to shock the intruder if there was such into making a sound. I must admit though, my voice broke half way through my scream because of my hyperactive senses and it sounded is if I am about to cry with fear.
No sound came back… Nothing… utterly silent… only muffled rain drops hitting the roof of the house….
I went back into the bathroom and began combing my hair again, as I did, I was pretty sure I spotted a blurry movement behind me in the mirror. The sight made me freeze in place; I felt my heartbeat escalate from a hundred and twenty or so to three hundred in a millisecond. I slowly began turning my head backwards, only to find nothing there. Nothing, just the fully lit hall behind me, I started thinking I might be losing my mind but then another anguished inhale filled my ears. I froze, trying to rationalize what was happening inside the house, so many thoughts ran through my mind, but nothing could provide a logical explanation. I began feeling colder again, why was I feeling cold, it makes no sense; the room was still full of vapor and heat.
I put the hairbrush down pulled off the towel, then I began getting dress again, the lack of heat did not subside, I felt cold even when I got fully dressed. The sensation of someone’s presence came back; I was considering looking up a therapist’s number at that point. I picked up the towel and left the bathroom, half way through the hall another dreading dry inhale filled my ears. I froze dead in my tracks and the lighting had to strike at that moment, its lights illuminated the walls of the hall in a shape the resembled long thin claws stretching from one side of the walls to the other. The imagery made me bolt as fast as I could across the hallway and down the stairs, so much so I almost found myself falling across them. I threw the towel in the laundry box and then bolted even faster to the guest room where I was going to sleep. I turned on the TV on some comedy show and blasted the speakers as loud as I could without causing discomfort to myself. After turning on the TV I collapsed on the bed and started trying to regain my breath, I swear I felt like I ran a whole marathon. Soon enough I began to feel better, It started with the feeling of another presence dissolving and then I stopped feeling cold, eventually even the sense of dread went away and I felt as if a rock had been lifted off my chest.
Forty minutes after I finally found a bit of peace, Jessica, the dog, began barking… You know dogs sometimes bark softly in their sleep or let out a bark or two when they hear something passing by their territory, but she, she was barking as if she was trying to scare someone off. I guess I shoved all the strange details of my evening to the back of my head by that point because once I noticed Jessica wouldn’t stop barking, I walked out idly into the living room where she was sleeping beforehand.
The second I set foot in the living room, my body froze; literally, I was unable to move. You know the feeling you get when someone throws a bucket of ice at you – I felt ten times that. Everything went cold, really cold. I began shacking uncontrollably. In front of me, a black Lab bitch was barking at something… that’s the best I can call what I saw there, “something”
The thing Jessica was barking at was a tall, snow white, partially transparent figure, around the seven feet in height, skeletal, It’s features were clear as daylight; from the long bony fingers, to the emaciated deathly looking exposed torso… this thing was unbelievably think, I could count the ribs through. Its mouth wide open but no teeth were visible, and the eyes… Oh god… The eyes… no pupils, no nothing, just spheres of pure white. This thing stood there with its head slightly tilted to the side, mouth wide open, it did not move but that made this thing feel even more petrifying.
My first physical reaction was to wince as hard as I could, I clamped my hands shut hoping like a little kid that the scary monster in front of me will be gone once I re-open them. Oddly enough, once I dared opening my eyes again, I was alone in the room, just Jessica and me.
No tall and pale thing in sight.
Jessica began wiggling her tail and ran towards me; I grabbed her and carried the 67-pound bitch to the guest room before this thing could make its return. I could not sleep last night, whenever I closed my eyes, I could see this… this… thing… staring at me. Any time I was about to fall asleep, I was jolted awake by my own fears.
It was the worst day of my life.
The Old Man came back at around 9AM and I told him all about what happened last night, he had begun laughing uncontrollably when he heard my story and decided to tell me about the Physicist’s Tradition. It turns out that whenever rain hits the roof of the Old Man’s house the impact creates a low frequency sound, not high enough to be consciously noticed but just high enough to affect the eyes and ears and that’s why he has his gramophone playing through the cold season, to avoid disturbing hallucinations.
Although when I mentioned his dog barking at the thing I had seen his skin went pale and his eyes widened with what can only be referred to as sheer terror.