Tapping on the Wall

March 19, 2012
I gradually lapsed into consciousness in the blackness of my room. The space was blanketed in harsh blacks and mediocre greys, turning the myriad scattering of miscellany that inhabited the upstairs room into ferocious silhouettes of their diurnal incarnations. The rain and snow from the days before had long since abated, and the wind with it. Light spilled in carefully from the half open blinds. A gentle LED fought for a place in the dark. I rolled over to see my clock. It was well past midnight, and every other soul in my house had taken to bed. Then I noticed it.

The sound was not particularly loud, though exceedingly percussive and bearing a spectacular potential for simulating the effects of a certain East - Asian country’s most famous method for making secrets spill out. It was almost like a finger tapping on a thin sheet of metal. Or a fist on a table, striking gently and rhythmically. Or a hammer on a wall, carrying out some nefarious clandestine mission. Or perhaps a wild animal, working its way through the wall of a perfectly nice residence.
These explanations and more came in a blitz of worry, punching their way past the innocent, sleep-addled rationality that was trying to hold its ground on the battlefield of my mind. I lay there in the dark, breath held slightly, for some reason or another thinking that the unavoidable danger outside would pass me by if I kept quiet. The tapping danced along the wall and into my skull. It was as if one meticulously patient parade was using my sanity as a route.

In short, it was driving me nuts.

I lay there, wishing it would stop. The sound hadn’t started out loud, but it now seemed like an angry column of elephants rampaging through a town while a battery of cannons let loose a ferocious hail of cannonballs. But, more importantly, I had no idea whatsoever why my wall was imitating a drum set. Of course, I quickly came to the conclusion that someone should be told about the noise, though that thought was not followed through. For one reason or another, I just continued to lay there, trying fervently to convince myself that the sound wasn’t there, which, naturally, yielded no fruit. It was there, and it appeared to bear no intention of ceasing to be.

I cannot fathom what a burglar would be doing hitting the wall near the compost pile, though I wasn’t really in the state of mental lucidity that would be required to grasp this concept. Instead, I lay there in the dark, hearing all variety of illicit acts being preformed on a wall next to a pile of dirt and organic trash. Besides, no competent evildoer, which is the only kind of evildoer one has to fear, would have kept up his illogical wall-tapping for the impressive amount of time I listened to it. Again, I didn’t really care about this minor detail. These were not thoughts that I considered important, and, eventually, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I rose quietly to my feet, barely breathing, and slowly crossed the blue carpeted floor to the window, the short synthetic hairs finding purchase between the toes of my cold feet. I pulled the drapes open as carefully as possible, ready to dive away at the first sign of an approaching projectile. I craned my neck and stared into the night, trying to somehow look around the corner. The orange streetlights from Simms glowed along the road, though no cars passed to end my practically silent vigil. Only one sound disturbed the night.

The Tapping on the Wall.

Fear gave me an unnatural persistence, almost trying to force my skull through the chilly glass and get a glimpse of the adjoining side of the house. However, it also gave me an aversion to the same, and for more reasons that the undeniable fact that it would be rather painful to break a window with my head. Half my brain was lucratively curious as to the origin of the percussive report, and the other half kept me glued to the spot instead of creeping out of the building and around the side. Perhaps it was more of the hope that if I were to locate the sound’s source I would find something innocent and harmless that had brought me to the window. Maybe I just wanted to find out what threatened me and take the necessary precautions, though what those precautions would be cannot be fathomed. In all likelihood, it was the same human flaw that brought someone to run about in a rainstorm with an effective lightning rod in their hand. I stood there for several minutes, until the sound became too frightful for me to endure, and I crossed the short distance back to my bed and huddled beneath the covers.

I returned to my original cowering, trying to force the sound out of existence through sheer force of will. Eventually, I gave up, and tried to get some sleep, but the Tapping didn’t give in for a second. I lay in the dark, barely daring to breathe or move, my mind a viscous, murky pool of inarticulate and illogical worry. My hands and feet were slimy and uncomfortable with sweat, and a freezing one at that. The blankets were all tousled about, giving too little warmth to some regions of my body, and far to much to others, but too sick with delusional terror was I to rearrange them to provide a bit more comfort. I kept my back pressed against the wall. It tingled with the feeling that something was there behind it, ready to pounce and make me wish I’d been facing the other direction and at least had the time to shout some kind of expletive that would be comedic if I wasn’t being attacked by a wall-tapping demon. A gentle breeze blew outside, making the aspen trees whisper to the night all the secrets that trees have been keeping form us. Perhaps if I’d been in that frame of mind to listen, I could have convinced myself that trees know everything, but far to occupied was I with trying not to listen to the Tapping that that was the only sound I heard, which effectively ruled out all other baffling-come-morning thoughts in the dead of Tapping-filled night. I wiggled my toes there, trying to get a thicker blanket over them without moving my arms, but with no success.

The sound echoed around the cavernous depths of the world, ringing like a bell. I lay perfectly still, focusing on anything but the Tapping, and ultimately ending up focusing only on the Tapping, it being the only thing to focus on. My breathing was still providing barely enough oxygen for me to think, which may have been part of the problem. I hungered for knowledge and safety, and, my mind still full of unsettling explanations for the sound, waited fitfully for dawn.

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