"No man knows fear, until fear comes to him." A wise man.

Like all good Hallowe'en tales, this story is true.
Recounted on many evenings such as this.
It requires no embellishment.
It is told just how it happened.


The Eye


The Partick room and kitchen may not have been our dream semi-detached, but it was ours - my wife and I's. Our first home, a first floor tenement flat overlooking a tyre fitting yard. Our first son had arrived and we set his cot up in a wee nursery within the bedroom recess - the bed recess in the old days. Our bed sat in the middle of the floor, bathed in the light from the big bay window. It wasn't a big flat, just this bedroom, the kitchen/living room next door, a tiny inside toilet and a small hallway leading out to the landing. The old lady who'd lived there had recently died and her daughter had decided to sell it off. Humble beginnings, but we'd fought hard to get it, saving up the deposit, jumping through the hoops of all the legal beagles as they took their cut. We were happy and felt we were on our way.

But something wasn't right. It was M felt it first. While I was at work, especially on back-shifts or nights, she felt jumpy, insecure. But she didn't let on to me... until later.

Of course I knew of our strange neighbour, the old woman who lived in the ground floor flat below us. It wasn't just that she kept a Christmas tree in her window all year round. Or the fact she scolded me once on the stair for wearing a red pullover.

"Red is an angry colour."
She hissed, shaking her head to demonstrate her disapproval.
"It annoys the spirits and leads to aggression..."
She prattled on as I lumbered a heavy Silver Cross pram, laden with baby paraphenalia, up to the first landing. But it wasn't until the time I entered her house that I discovered the true nature of the woman. I can't remember why she invited me in. Perhaps she wanted to talk to me about the baby crying or events in the close, memory fails me on that count. I recall a cup of tea, in china cup and saucer. I remember clearly how the conversation turned to her 'friends'.

"Dont you see them?" She asked.
"Eh? No, cant say I do." I replied, sipping my tea and looking around the time capsule of a room.
"They're all around us," she went on "I talk to them and they talk to me."
A Spiritualist, she spoke to me of her beliefs and the after life, of portents and premonitions. Of the meaning of the strange little ornaments displayed along her mantlepiece and her ghostly residents and visitors.
"They can see you. They're looking and talking about you right now. See, over there..."
She pointed to the sink as though someone were standing there.
I grew uneasy as she explained how they came to her and told her of the goings on in the building, of how she didn't need to leave the house, how she was kept informed by her...friends.

I told M little of this. She knew the old woman was a bit eccentric because of the all year Christmas tree and did her best to keep out of her way. So did I.

The burst pipe was just one of those things. A connection came loose at the back of the washing machine in the middle of the night, water seeped over the floor, and brought down part of the ceiling downstairs.
The old lady was quietly livid. My mate and I did our best to redecorate the damaged area, all the time joking about the spirits watching us and how they were probably critcising our brush strokes. It was tastless humour at the auld yin's expense and she glowered at us, fingering the pieces of one of the ornaments that had been broken by falling plaster. We finally finished and left.

Then things started to happen...

Living up the hill, away from Partick's mainstream, we had quickly become accustomed to the peace and quiet. The street was virtually a dead end, the close rarely seeing visitors. We harboured some concerns when we first moved in that our collie dog, Lassie, might disturb the solitude by barking, but this proved unfounded. Not so the baby and when he began to sleep through the night it was bliss. He would be wrapped cosily in his cot within the recess while M and I snuggled up under the duvet on the double bed, dog curled up at our feet, soft light of the street lamp filtering through the big window. It was on such a night, shortly after the burst pipe incident, when we were all sound asleep and the night couldn't have been quieter, that Lassie howled.
Not just a little whimper in her sleep type howl. No, this was the full timber wolf baying at the moon type howl, as though heralding the arrival of the Prince of Darkness himself.

Both of us were bolt upright. From fast asleep to wide awake, in less time than our brains could register what had woken us, in a flurry of thrashing duvet cover, crashing bedside lamp and verbal expletives. We stared, wide eyed, through the gloom at the offending beast.
The dog was standing on the foot of the bed, eyes fixed on the bed recess, her fur bristling, hackles raised. She would thrust her head into the air as she howled, then curl her lips back, bare her teeth and snarl at whatever held her attention.
Neither of us had ever seen her like that before. Vicious, threatening, terrifying.
M feared for the baby and, with a maternal courage, pulled herself together and leapt for the cot, while I tried to pacify the dog, trying to talk calmly, afraid to make any sudden move for fear of being attacked.
As M stood, baby clutched to her chest, both of them crying now, the dog turned and jumped from the bed. The howling stopped and she appeared to calm down. With M and the baby safely out of the room and the main light on, I approached the trembling dog and began to pet her. I could hear the baby crying in the next room. A search of the recess uncovered nothing that could have explained the dog's behaviour.

The incident shook us but was quickly cast to the realm of funny stories to be told over drinks in the pub. Lassie was relegated to the kitchen at night but there was no repeat of her howling episode. We slept in peace.

For a while.

Waking up with a feeling of weight on your chest is not uncommon in a semi-sleeping state, and when it happened to me a few nights later, although scary, it passed quickly and I mentioned it to no one.
At first I thought Lassie had got into the room and was sitting on top me while I lay on my back, but no. Thankful not to have been suffering a heart atack I went back to sleep.

But a few nights later, there would no return to sleep.

"Bob. Bob!"
The loud whisper roused me from whatever dream I was immersed in and I became aware of M's anxious voice close to my ear. I was on my side, facing the window with my back to the recess. M was lying in front of me, head raised from the pillow, looking over my shouder into the void behind me.
"What's up?" I whispered in return, unable to keep the annoyance from my voice.
"Behind you... in the recess."
She was scared, really scared.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could make out her face. Her eyes were wide and she looked terrified. Her fingers were gripping my arm until it hurt and I could feel her trembling. She could hardly speak.
"What is it?" I continued to whisper, feeling a coldness seep through my body.

At first she couldn't get the word out, then it came.
"It's an... an... eye!"

I suddenly realised that I lacked any great enthusiasm to turn around and face the source of her fear. In fact the last thing in the world I wanted to do at that moment was turn over.
"Are you sure?" I stammered lamely. My palms become sweaty and I felt icy cold.
"It's there. Oh my god. Over the cot. A big... eye." Her voice signalling iminent hysteria.

Now both of us were terrified.
I lay for stretched seconds. Hoping she'd tell me it had gone, that it was just her imagination. I recalled my scare a couple of nights before and how it had quickly passed. It was just sleep playing tricks. It would pass.
Then I remembered the dog, the howling, the recess.

"Is it still there?" I asked.
M said nothing, just nodded. I was certain she was wide awake. This was no waking dream. Perhaps a trick of the light.
But I knew there were no mirrors in the recess, nothing that would cause reflection.

"Turn around." She whispered. These were the words I'd been dreading. I did nothing.
"Turn around!" She insisted.
As she continued to stare at a point behind me, I felt the presence of whatever was there. I felt threatened. I felt fear.

I began to turn my head. Slowly. Ever so slowly.
As I twisted around I began to wonder what I'd do when confronted with this apparition. Would I attack it? What with? Would it attack me? How could I defend myself, my wife, my child?
Perhaps I could talk to it. What do you say to a disembodied eye? Then the time for thought was over, and, as my widely dilated pupils panned the dark hole that was the object of our fear, I saw...

... darkness.

"It's gone." Said M tearfully. "Just as you turned around it disappeared."

We were out of bed like a shot. Lights on. Checked the baby. Checked the cot and surrounding area.
I brought Lassie into the room. She sniffed around but seemed unperturbed. We didn't go back to bed that night.

So what was it? Some trick of the light? Imagination? Waking nightmare? Or the supernatural? Who knows.

We moved house shortly after without any further occurences. But we slept lightly, and were nice to the lady downstairs.

I'll be seeing you!
     Have a nice evening!

Original story © Bob Wilson 2008
Layout, editing and additional material © Dave Sloan 2016
'tachras' and 'Winding Yarn' © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016

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