Tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap-tap, pause, shuffle, tap, tap. What the hell was making that sound above the bathroom ceiling? Way bigger than a mouse. Mutant raccoon? How would something that sounded that big get UP there? I stared at the ceiling, as though I would suddenly develop x-ray vision. Why would a varmint be tapping? What if it wasn’t a varmint? What if it was Tooms, from the X-files? That episode, while not the first one I saw, was definitely the one that sold me on the series. And now, thanks to my stupid vivid memory and imagination, I was afraid I was going to be his next victim. Except I wasn’t–of course not, FICTION, woman, you know the difference. Ha-ha. Right. Well, I couldn’t drive to St. Paul in my bathrobe. I was going to have to get dressed and ready for the day. Which was difficult while keeping my eyes glued to the ceiling exhaust fan. If I had seen a pair of eyes peek out at me, or a mutant paw reach through the grate, whatever it was wasn’t going to get a chance to kill me. I’d drop dead from terror first.
This wasn’t the first time fear has kicked me across the “over-reacting” threshold. The first time, decades ago, I was standing by the door in a preschool room I was working in and a little vole scampered across the floor by my feet, looking for a way out. The next thing we all knew, I was across the room, standing on a Little Tykes slide. None of us, the other teachers, the kids, even I, knew how I’d gotten there so fast. Either I was a blur, or I somehow opened a little wormhole in time/space. Neat trick, if I could figure out how to do it on purpose, but I was a little surprised that I had had such an extreme reaction. I used to work with mice and rats in a laboratory, and they weren’t my faves but I hadn’t been frightened of them. Of course, they hadn’t been zipping around by the cuff of my pant leg, either. The next episode from my diary of terror, I was in the basement and I heard very clearly the floor above me creak from the weight of footsteps. I froze, and the footsteps stopped. Husband and kids being at work and school, I had been alone in the house, I’d thought. After holding my breath and listening for a few minutes, hearing nothing more, I couldn’t bring myself to go up the steps. I dashed out the back and went to my friend’s house down the street. She was sitting with two of our neighbors and another woman I knew a little. After I tried to laugh off my situation, they all insisted on coming and searching my house to make sure no one was there. At that point I remembered the state of my house, and tried to stop them, figuring death by stranger would be preferable to them seeing the shocking mess in every dang room, but they would have none of it. Mortifying. I can’t even put words to it. The most recent episode before today was another wormhole incident, when Mr. W and I were having a conversation in his workshop. The walls down there were unfinished, just plastic sheeting stretched over fiberglass insulation and studs. To my horror, I saw the plastic over the patio door BULGE out as a fist-sized black something scurried along the top of the door. Mr. W was all, “Hey, look at tha…” but I was twenty feet away, covering my mouth so the scream couldn’t get out of it and jumping up and down.
I don’t know when I got all squirrelly, but it is undeniable. I am a lunatic. But I had things to do. I couldn’t just sit around and wait for whatever was living in the crawl space to finish me off, so I rapped on the ceiling with one of the kid’s broken air soft rifles and the tapping subsided with only the hint of a shuffle. Then I rinsed the bedhead out of my hair as fast as I could, dressed and got the hell out of there. I notified my tweeps, and am telling you now, that if our bodies are found with our livers removed or with oddly large rodent toothmarks on our tibias, CHECK THE CRAWL SPACE. Well, not you personally, I love you and wouldn’t want anything to gnaw your head off, but get a professional. I wonder if Mulder and Scully still make house calls?