The first night I heard the tapping, I had just ignored it as nothing. My bedroom is on the first floor of my family’s house, and is the only one on the ground floor. Everyone else is upstairs, which I always joked that I’d be the only one to survive a fire since I would be able escape faster than any of them. As well, my window faces our small suburban front lawn, next to the street and sidewalk.
There’s a garden bed of roses my brother and I built for Mother’s Day one year, though we just let it do its own thing these days instead of tending to it. This resulted in one particularly annoying branch of thorns that sways in the wind at night and had a tendency to smack against the window. It was one of those annoyances that make you sigh, but you don’t really care enough to deal with it.
So when I had first heard the tapping, I didn’t think much of it - it was just a rose bush after all. And I didn’t think much of it the second time. Or the third. And soon enough, I’d lost track of the number of times the tapping had woken me up.
So it caught me by surprise one night when I listened a bit more carefully and found that the tapping sounded louder than usual. I sat up groggily and reached around for the blinds, trying to move them aside enough to get a look outside. The branch was just swaying as normal, but when it did hit the glass it wasn’t as loud as I had previously heard. My window also had a bit of a draft, and the wind didn’t sound nearly strong enough to make the branch hit very hard. Confused, I just lied back down and went to sleep.
The next night it woke me up again. It was louder than it have ever been. I growled, being awoken from my slumber, then quickly pulled the blinds away to look outside. The branch was still - there was no wind. A slight shiver trickled down my vertebrae, with my imagination jumping to the conclusion that something had been at my window.
I told my parents about the tapping the next morning. My dad thought I was just overreacting, and that the wind had been blowing hard for just a minute before settling down. He got out the garden trimmers and cut the branch that afternoon.
The tapping continued the next night. Now I was getting spooked. Upon being woken this time, I rushed to the blinds to lift them up. Nothing was at the window that could’ve made the sounds. But the moon was out, and my heart leaped into my throat when I noticed what showed up in the moonlight’s reflection: fingerprints.
I woke my parents up and told them that someone might have been trying to get into my room at night. My dad checked out the flower bed, but found nothing. No footsteps in the soil, no trampled grass, nothing. But the fingerprints were evidently there! He just said that someone must’ve hand their hand on the window while doing some yard or house work - heck, he even suggested that he might’ve placed his hand there for balance the day before when removing the branch. Though I was skeptical and still a little worried, I accepted his response.
I decided that the next night, I’d sleep on the living room couch, also located next to a window. It was irrational, sure, but my mind was too uneasy to sleep in that bed, next to the street, where anyone could’ve been running up to my window and freaking me out in the middle of the night. Eventually, I got comfortable in an awkward position and welcomed the embrace of sleep.
I woke up to the tapping yet again.
For the next few nights, I slept around in different rooms, both near and away from windows. I wasn’t going to sleep in my parents’ bed or with my brother in his room - I was a teen and teens don’t do stuff like that. But the tapping was driving me nuts. It continued following me around every night, and despite many sleepless nights waiting for the tapping to come so I could immediately rip the curtains asunder, there was no sign of anyone or anything causing the tapping.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that the tapping was probably in my head, possibly even coming from my dreams or nightmares, and that I was going to keep hearing it as long as I believed in it. So I returned to my room and tucked myself under the covers, staring at the blinds that blocked my view of the night. And soon enough, sleep came.
The tapping came yet again, but this time it stopped abruptly.
For a moment, I thought that it was over, that I had overcome this craziness. That was until I heard a wooden creak - the sound of my window opening. I flung off my covers and immediately yanked up my blinds to find the face of a bald man staring back at me. His eyes were fully open, unblinking, bloodshot to hell and back. His facial hair was ragged and patchy, with scratch marks and tiny drops of blood pooling where the skin was most bare. I could see his skin stretched out mercilessly over his bones, and his crusty fingertips were inside my room as the window was open a whole inch, dirt lining the very small edges of his clearly well-bitten nails.
My psyche couldn’t take it anymore. I screamed louder than I had ever screamed before in my life, and as I heard my parents rushing downstairs to my aid, the man took off from our yard, only wearing a pair of stained workout shorts as he passed under a streetlight and disappeared into the night.
The cops could find no trace of the man. He had been standing on the bricks of the flowerbed, leaving no full footprints for them to use. There also weren’t enough fingerprints to go off of; they theorized he had just been… tapping the window with his index fingers over and over, since some of the prints matched each other.
All I know is, I’m never sleeping on the ground floor ever again.
Written by RedNovaTyrant