My friends from elementary, more accustomed to neighborhoods in the city where the houses were lined up side by side, would spend the night and ask, horror stricken, "What was THAT?!"
"It's okay. It's just the furnace. You'll get used to it."
Some never came back.
I suspected the fear originated not with the furnace, but with where the furnace was located, at the dead end of a long hallway.
Many a night as a child, I would have reoccurring nightmares of being in the hallway. I'd freeze in sheer terror. I'd try to run, but couldn't. I'd try to scream, but couldn't. Remember the lyric in "Thriller"- "you try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it?"
My parents had left me alone one night. I was in the eighth grade. I felt an uneasy, free floating anxiety that someone, or better put, something was watching me.
To take my mind off my fear, I decided to watch television. The comedy show had barely begun when my dog, Chelsea, an intelligent and sweet natured apricot poodle, began to bark hysterically.
Her gaze was locked down the end of the hallway, and she barked with such a fierce furry that she was literally gasping for air in between her barks. I have never heard a dog bark like that before or since.
Immediately I jumped up, equally as panic stricken! Now all this is happening much faster than I can write it to you- there was an awful, awful crash, thud, bang, bam, slam, pop! at the end of the hallway. As if a heavy body had dropped dead-weighted, down to the ground. I RAN AS FAST AS I COULD to the front door and threw it opened.
Unexpectedly met with a black, dark, moonless night; I was terrified to go out there by myself. But something was in the house! Wasn't it? What if it's outside now?
Just then, the phone in the kitchen rang.
I had a choice. Run outside by myself or...answer the phone.
Answer the phone and pass by the long hallway. I'd have to look down the hallway to answer the phone.
I chose the phone.
This is no joke. When I answered, meek and shuddering with adrenalin, my boyfriend, Peter, said, "You sound like you've seen a ghost."