BY RAY AUSTIN
Ray Austin is a former broadcaster, journalist, musician and warehouse worker. Copyright is held by the author.
The noise from below was deafening, especially as it was the middle of the night. My wife and I were trying to sleep, but the little ones…..well, you know how little ones can be. They were running around in the darkness frightened by the sounds below. We tried to hush them up and console them, but the more we tried, the more frightened they became. And the more frightened they became, the more noise they made, although not enough to drown out the noise from below.
We couldn’t figure out what the noise from below actually was. We heard thumping and a high pitched tap tap tap. There was also a quake-like rumble, and long, low, what sounded like continuous thunderous explosions.
You would think we’d be accustomed to the noises by now. They’ve been a part of our lives since we first moved in and that was three nights ago. But they seemed to be getting louder and the vibrations certainly more pronounced then before. My wife and I were doing our best to adjust to the noises, and we were fairly confident that they were not going to hurt us, at least they hadn’t yet. But not so the kids. They just couldn’t adjust and continued to be frightened out of their sleep each night jumping out of their beds, waking us with their screaming and running all over the place. We would try to chase after them, try to convince them that the noises wouldn’t hurt them, but they would have none of that. We wondered if it wasn’t just a game with them. They would run off and we would chase after them. Sometimes this would go on for hours.
And the noises from below just got louder and louder.
The first night, I confess, I was really frightened because I thought we might be in some kind of danger. And you know how it is when you hear noises in the night, but can’t see, because of the darkness, exactly where they’re coming from. All we knew was they were coming from directly below us, and anytime we tried to move away from the source, to another part of our house, the noise just followed us.
I thought, because of the precarious situation we were in, we might have to seriously think about leaving. I really didn’t want to do that because of the great difficulty and time we had had finding this place. We had looked for a good part of late autumn, but vacancies were few and far between. We found some properties, not too far from here actually, but we decided they were not suitable for our needs. We wanted a reasonably large place with enough space for the five of us, plus we needed to be able to get around without a great deal of effort because I’m not as young as I used to be and mobility was becoming an issue.
This place was perfect. It was easy to get in and out of, it was all on one level, and the little ones loved it as soon as they saw it. And we could tell by its construction that it was going to supply the comfort and warmth that we were seeking, especially come winter.
But we didn’t plan on the noise.
During the daylight hours everything was fine. We would get some peace and quiet by sending the kids outside to play while Mimi and I caught up on lost sleep. Now it wasn’t the noise but the silence that was deafening. We purposely listened for noise but all was quiet. I thought to myself, Well, even noise, or whoever is making the noise, needs sleep.
But we didn’t want to sleep the whole day away. We thought it best to spend as much time as possible outside with the kids because we both knew, once winter was upon us, we would much rather be cozy and warm and comfortable inside. So, after a short nap, we would join the kids outside.
On the third night, I just couldn’t take the noise any longer. Curiosity got the best of me. I had to find out what was going on below. I instructed everyone to stay inside, and asked the youngsters to keep as quiet as possible.
From my position outside I could see that the rooms below were well lit but all seemed to be relatively quiet. I couldn’t hear a thing from this vantage point so I moved a little closer to one of the windows and tried to look inside.
I saw a man and a woman, pacing back and forth, talking quietly to each other. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I knew they were planning something because they kept looking up at the ceiling and nodding to each other.
Suddenly the man grabbed a long handled broom and started pounding on the ceiling, while the woman, I presume his wife, started screaming and jumping up and down and began blowing on some kind of horn making such a racket that I could hear it outside.
I knew the youngsters would be scared stiff again and would be jumping and running all over the place because of the loud noises. I had to admit it was scary to watch these two people banging on the ceiling, yelling and screaming. I was happy the little ones couldn’t see these two actually turning red in the face. It would have frightened them out of their minds.
I immediately headed back inside and grouped everyone together, trying to keep the kids as quiet as possible hoping the noise from below would cease long enough for me to tell everyone what I had seen and what I thought we had to do. As much as I hated to leave here and start the search again for another home it was obvious we had no choice. The two people below us were determined to make our stay as miserable as possible. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they just didn’t want neighbours. Maybe they just liked making things difficult for others. Who knows? All I knew for sure was that they weren’t going to stop their jumping and shouting and pounding on the ceiling until we left them to themselves.
Early the next morning, after getting a bit of sleep in the late night hours, we gathered our scant belongings and headed outside. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, warm and sunny; a good day to be out in the fresh air.
We hadn’t traveled very far when I noticed we were heading directly towards the man and woman I had seen earlier last night. They were standing at the end of the driveway looking back at the house and at us as we approached.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I stopped dead in my tracks and instructed everybody to do an about face and, as quickly as possible head in the opposite direction. I took up the rear and told them to keep moving as fast as possible.
I looked back a the man and woman.
“Get out of here,” yelled the man. “All of you.”
We continued to distance ourselves from the couple. As I looked back one last time, the man turned to the woman and I’m sure I heard him say, “Damn squirrels!”