SUBJECT: The Man in the Attic
We moved into a new house toward the conclusion of my high school career. One difference I noticed between our former 1-story home and new 2-story house — the sounds.
Only In Real Life…
Let’s get you oriented: If you sat on the main couch to watch television on the first floor, then the stairs would be directly behind your head with the loft immediately above you. My room was also on the first level and so I liked to camp out on that couch (with my notebook, a book, homework, and/or sketch pad, etc.); everyone else’s rooms (including that of my brother, Anton [1, 2, 3]) were on the second level.
Combined with this general arrangement, Anton and my bizarre senses of ridiculousness yielded the following chronic behavior:
- When I chilled on the downstairs couch, Anton would steal gingerly across the creaky loft, slide very slowly down the stairs, careful to avoid certain steps that squeaked, shift around behind the stairs from where he slipped into the space between the couch and the wall on hands and knees, and made his face appear next to my arm rest (usually with a crazy smile) — and then stared at me until I noticed (OH man he got me good SO many times!).
My paranoia reached an all time high. If Anton was home and I was on that couch, I became hyperaware of every sound the house made, frequently whirled around expecting to find him lurking (whether or not he was actually there), and/or sat on the floor with a better angle of the stairs so I could actually relax.
I quickly became familiar with the sequence of sounds made by movement across the loft and on the stairs. Sometimes when I heard Anton overhead, I waited the amount of time I anticipated it’d take him to arrive at the bottom of the stairs, and then whipped around (AHA!) to find him on the last step, frozen mid-creep like a goofy deer busted trying to steal cookies from a cookie jar (it became a sort of game, one which we took very seriously).
Sneaking Sounds & Suspense
So, that sequence of sounds. There were times when I was home alone watching TV downstairs with my writing notebook and I’d hear the those sounds — but I knew there was no one else in the house. (I checked and rechecked everywhere, found zilch; but the sound sequences were so perfect…). Gave me the heebie jeebies.
Wanting someone to validate the freakiness, I told Anton about it. Sure enough, when he was home alone, he heard it, too. He also investigated and found nothing. (Freaky house sounds…)
Fun fact: When the empty-house sounds made us especially uneasy, we either (A.) turned on all the lights, (B.) blared music/television to drown out said house sounds, (C.) holed up in our rooms until other people returned home, or (D.) all of the above.
(Yeah, maybe we’re chickens. Imagine it, though. You’re sitting downstairs with a side view of the dark stairs, with the only light emanating from the lamp beside you; and hearing that logical sequence of sounds overhead — mentally following them through the loft, to the top steps, coming down to about midway and hiding on the upper steps that you can’t see from across the room… In that moment you honestly expect someone to be crouched on the steps right out of view so that, between breaths, you might catch a fraction of a face of peeking out at you.)
P.S. We weren’t/aren’t horror movie buffs. When we did/do watch ’em, the four or five of us siblings begin the movie lounging on various couches and beanbag chairs; by the middle of the movie, we’re all on the floor; nearing the end, we’re all under the same blanket. Still amuses our parents.
He’s Our Bro Now
Anyway, I dubbed the house-sound phenomenon “the Man in the Attic” because I rationalized that the dude creeping around the second level has to go somewhere when people come home (why not the attic?) and, all these years later, we’re cool with him (he lurks because he’s shy; it’s not his fault).
Example, a year ago when Anton and I were home from university, our mother made muffins and asked us if we’d prefer she leave them on the kitchen counter for us to snack on later, or if she can pack them away in the freezer. Our responses:
- Me: “Nah, leave ’em out for the man in the attic .”
- Anton: “Yeah, he comes down for snacks and Netflix when everyone leaves anyway.”
Ghost, monster, or other — Man in the Attic will absolutely have a story built around him. And his book’s dedication ‘ll probably go something like this:
“Dedicated to… The Man in the Attic for being one seriously creepy and all around consistent dude. Just so you know, man, you sneak like a herd of elephants. P.S. Mom left the muffins on the counter. If you get hungry, go for it.”
Best part? When most readers see that dedication, they’ll have no idea what I’m talking about (HA!). Not family, though. Family will see it and KNOW.