She was tired of seeing that damn dot flickering in the camera that was stationed in the corner of her house. In fact, she was tired of seeing it in every room of her house. She wished, more than anything, to buy some spray paint and just cover them for good. What the hell do they need to see from an old bag like me? she often wondered.
Her house was as ancient as she felt. At 95, there wasn’t much that Mimi wanted from the world and felt that it shouldn’t want anything from her either. Her wooden floors creaked as much as her joints did when she walked. Most of the furniture was shredded apart from when the stray cats would take refuge in the home, something Walter had absolutely hated. Outside, the appearance of the house showed its age as much as she did. The shingles were missing in places, the gutters were either clogged or hanging badly from the roof, ready to fall off on any good gust of wind. Most of the siding was weather worn or broken, compliments of the cheap shit they called vinyl. Not that the wardrobe she had was much better. Most of her clothes were either sewn together with patches or were worn from several washes.
Mimi let out a sigh before lowering herself onto the flower patterned couch. In front of her was a big television, compliments of the GGE so everyone globally could keep up to date on the latest news. Not like she cared any for it.
“On!” she said to the television. Nothing happened.
“I said on!” this time she said it louder and with more conviction.
“Oh come on, don’t make me use the damn phone to do this,” she said, looking directly at the camera. Still nothing happened. With another loud sigh and a flip of her middle finger to the corner of the room she grabbed her phone and opened the lock screen. It took her a better part of a month to realize the damned thing had to look at your eye in order to let you do anything around the house. When the phone popped open she nearly dropped it from the light that seared her old eyes through her glasses.
“For fuck’s sake,” she mumbled picking it up. The next five minutes were spent with various things turning on and off around the house. First the lights turned off in the living room, and then went from dim, to completely on. Next, different sinks throughout the house began spouting out water and before she had a chance to stop them, she had managed to flush both toilets in the home. From outside, any neighbors that were watching would have probably been enjoying the light show from Mimi’s home. Finally, the television roared to life in a deafening cry of triumph with the volume being set to 80. For anyone else, it would have been way too loud, but with her hearing close to gone, it was just right.
The weather channel was the first thing on and so she sat and watched with horror as she saw a storm was rolling in from the northeast.
“Well that explains the damn aches pretty much throughout my body,” she said, and just then a boom of thunder shook the house, as if mother nature was responding. Mimi played with the gadgets on her phone a bit more before finally being able to get the television on the game show network, one of her favorites. On the screen there was a man/woman/who knows hosting a show that involved some sort of thing with a computer. There was another clap of thunder before some other noise entered the home, a rapping at the door.
“Who the hell could that be?” Mimi pondered out loud. She let out a loud groan as she stood and reached down to grab her 20 gauge off the floor. The GGE had forbidden anyone from having a gun that didn’t have a hunting license but Mimi just wanted to try and see them take hers away. She moved slowly forward, holding the Old Faithful between her arthritic hands, while she struggled to tighten her faded pink robe. It took her a few minutes to get to the door and during which time the rapping at the door only happened once more. She unlocked two of the three bolts, leaving the chain still there. Cautiously, she poked the barrel of the gun out into the gale that was beginning to form before peaking her head out as well. The front patio was empty.
“Damned kids.” She closed the door and as she locked it, another clap of thunder reverberated through the house. Again there was a rapping at the door, but this time it came from the rear of the home. Mimi’s brow began to sweat and it slowly slid from her recently permed hair down to her face. She wasn’t sure if it was because she was becoming afraid that it may not be the neighborhood kids or if it was because it took a lot of work to get from the living room to the front door. Mimi decided maybe she would call her grandson Walter to come over. Half the house was up to no good because of the phone anyway, it’d be a good reason for him to come over.
She was making her way through the foyer when again she heard a rapping from the back of the house, and this time she was sure it on the glass of her back door.
“Go away!” she let out in a croak. Her voice, much like the rest of her body, had slowly been going and getting loud was always a struggle. Once again in the living room she picked up the phone after guiding her body to the couch and resting Old Faithful on her lap. How she wished she had a dog to deal with hooligans.
“Hello Walter?” she said after three rings.
“Hello grandma, what can I do you for tonight?” he replied, his voice sounding so strong and reassuring to Mimi.
“I was wanting you to come over and help me with this blasted stuff the GGE is making me use,” she said. “Everything is on in my house and no matter how hard I try I just can’t get it to turn off!”
“Grandma,” there was a sigh and she could hear it in his voice, no matter how bad her hearing got. “I’ve shown you plenty of times how to turn those things on and off. Do you want me to text you the video again?” No, I want you to come here and scare away these damn hooligans is what I really want, she thought to herself. But her pride would not allow for it.
“No, that’s okay,” she said. “I’ll just struggle through the damned thing until I figure it out. Don’t worry about your old grandma. Or the money that would go with helping her out.” She knew money was always a good incentive of getting her grandchildren over. That and baked desserts. Another sigh came forth from the other end of the phone.
“Alright Grandma Mimi,” he said. She knew he never used her name unless he felt annoyed or defeated. This time it was both. “I’m currently visiting with the parents but I can be over in twenty. Does that work for you?” She wanted him there sooner, but couldn’t say so.
“Absolutely,” she replied. As she said it another clap of thunder shook her home. “Love you and drive safely.” He responded the same and hung up. She turned her attention back to the game show.
Within a few minutes she could hear the pattern of rain on her roof and the claps of thunder to accompany the sound. She was already starting to feel better when she heard the rapping on wood once again. This time, it was from somewhere in the house. She looked quickly to the camera, nerves beginning to fray her already elderly face.
“Well,” she said, “are you good for nothings going to do something to help me or are those things useless?” Her body was now quavering and she moved to stand up with her gun back in her hand. She stood and listened again for the rapping on some door or wall. A clap of thunder pounded through the rain and for a moment nothing happened. She began to assume that it may just be something that was coming loose from the home, until she heard it again. This time, it came from what the door leading out to the garage.
“If they’re not going to help an old woman like myself,” she said aloud, “then the blood that’s about to follow is on their hands.” She began to hobble down the hallway that lead to the kitchen now. She passed the stairs that were carpeted a bright red, but were now closer to burgundy from years of mud and greasy footsteps. Past the white walls she went, with pictures of her family surviving after the war. She looked with leaky eyes at the picture of her husband, a man that passed a few years too soon. She wasn’t sure if her eyes were leaking in seeing the picture or from fear of what she’d find when she reached the kitchen. Another clap of thunder reverberated through the house and now, yes now she was certain, the rapping was coming from the door leading to the garage.
She hefted her gun up more and prepared to fire as she passed like a ghost through the kitchen and to the door. When she reached for the lock to let herself in where her old jeep lied dead in it’s grave, the rapping at the door stopped. No more rapping, no more tapping, no more wapping at the door. It was if whatever waited on the other side knew she was approaching and stopped its effort.
She flung the door open as quick as she could muster, wanting to have her gun ready for whatever was waiting. The door blew at her quickly and she lost her balance, nearly spilling to the floor and surely ready to break a hip like those dreaded commercials that played on the oldies station always warned of. She used Old Faithful to catch herself and did her best to get into a position to point it at an intruder once again. But there was no one.
Instead, she saw that her garage door was completely open. She assumed the worst at first, someone had managed to gain the code to the outside and had let themselves in. She felt around for a light switch before remembering that they were no longer required with the tech upgrade to the entire house.
“Damnit!” she said under her breath and waited for a round of lightning to show her the assailant lurking in the shadows. And the lightning did come, bright and flashy, like a camera going off in the garage but accompanied by another roll of thunder. She took it all in at once. Her old rusted jeep sitting idly in the middle. Her husband’s old work bench covered with tools. The grandkids old toys scattered through the rest of the area. Everything seemed in order at first, except her old jeep. She looked at it again and saw to her horror a shadowy figure sitting atop of it.
She took a step back and aimed Old Faithful at the figure. Soon enough, another light burst through the air and as she pulled the trigger there was a screech from the thing sitting perched on the jeep. It flopped and shook before hitting the ground. It made grotesque noises as it crawled towards Mimi. She had fallen further back into the kitchen, the recoil from the gun being more than she remembered. As it crawled into her home, smearing blood across her white tiled floors, she was dumbstruck by the creature before her.
The creature, or monster as the blasted reporters called them, seemed to be some sort of hybrid between a squirrel and god only knew what else. Its eyes were slitted like a cat’s and yellow. Its face was longer and looked closer to that of a rat, with a long jaw and two buck teeth in the front. It was completely white from its head down to its body, although the body seemed greatly disfigured, and not just from the gunshot wound it took. The whole thing was swollen to three times its size, as if it managed to inherit the body of a possum as well. There was only the stub of a tail, like that of a boxer, and it slowly wiggled back and forth. It looked up at Mimi with what seemed like some form of intelligence, but she failed to see it.
Mimi hefted up Old Faithful again and as the thunder clashed she brought the butt of the gun down on it’s head. A sickening crunch sound echoed through the kitchen and for one last time, the sound of rapping came into Mimi’s ears. The paws, which were no bigger than that of any other squirrel’s tapped the ground a few times, before the intelligence and life left the slitted yellow eyes. Yellow beams of light quickly began to flood the garage as Mimi stared at her kill, out of breath and tiring greatly. Walter’s door open and slammed shut as he ran into the garage and stared at the dead thing on the floor.
“Don’t worry Walt, I got it,” Mimi said before letting herself slide to the floor. Her head fell to a rest against the wooden island in the middle of the kitchen and everything went black.
When Mimi awoke, she was lying on her couch and Walter was sitting in the chair nearby her. Nearby a flurry of people from the GGE were hard at work. She slowly worked her way up, noticing the afghan that was helping conceal her and her robe, the only clothes she had on.
“What the hell are THEY doing in my home,” Mimi spat towards Walter. She hated them.
“Grandma, you know I work with the GGE,” he said. “What came into your home last night, the thing you managed to kill, is new to us.” He looked at her with sympathy, trying to understand why she was upset.
“I still don’t understand why the hell they have to be in my home,” she said.
“It’s because after you went down, I found a few more of the monsters,” he said. “They had a nest in your attic, basement, and garage. How you had not managed to find one until now is beyond me.”
“So what, are they just exterminating them now?” she replied. She began to cool down a bit. As much as she hated them, if they were clearing those creatures out, good on them.
“They’re collecting them,” Walter said. “The organization I work for is relatively new but we’ve been assigned to capturing these things for study. The nests that you’ve found are helping us to better understand them.” Mimi looked at him with little interest. She didn’t care what the GGE was doing with them, she just wanted them out of her house.
“Alright, well don’t leave until they’re done,” she said. “I don’t want any of them in my home without you. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to try and get some more rest. Maybe next time you’ll come visit just to visit and not just because I needed help.” She gave him a smile that made him wince before snuggling back into her couch.
She awoke that evening feeling refreshed. She looked around and saw that Walter had turned on the television for, despite the volume being far too low, along with several of the lights. She worked her way up to a sitting position and began to look for Old Faithful. That gun was more than just her protector, it also helped with her standing and sometimes walking. It was nowhere to be found. The GGE must have taken it. Damn them. Mimi began to reach for her phone when she heard it. There was a rapping at her door. She froze. It started at the same place as last night, towards the front. The rapping upon the door continued. She tried to stand but found she couldn’t. The absence of Old Faithful made her woozy.
She grabbed her phone and tried to dial out but the “charge battery” icon was flashing at her. She looked at the camera and yelled for help. This time the rapping didn’t stop on the door, but settled in on the backdoor as well. She swung her head in that direction but as she did, she began hearing a rapping on the garage door as well. The tiny thrum of paws smacking on each door made her eyes well up in tears. Soon it began in on the windows. Then it was above her from the attic. It started to come from the basement too, a rapping on that door as well. She sunk into the couch and pulled the afghan over her head. She laid there and cried, tears of fear and sorrow. She listened as the rapping came closer. The windows burst and glass rained down, rapping gently on the wooden floor. She heard things splinter, one at each door. One from above and one from below. The rapping and tapping came pulsating through to her ears over the wooden floors. Soon it would be in the living room and there was nothing she could do. She closed her eyes and embraced the darkness. The rapping continued. She prayed to see daylight, a daylight she knew would never come.
I am from Peru, Illinois and a graduate student at Eastern Illinois University. I am currently working on a collection of short stories that analyzes the horrors of neglecting the environment while critiquing ideas of extreme patriotism. My work is all based in the future and mixes elements of science fiction in with horror. This piece is just one that is going into the collection. I am a new writer and have yet to be published.