By J.J Cheesman
Lately, I have been addicted to an online poker game. I have spent the past couple of weeks down in my furnished basement at my computer desk, playing hand after hand of Texas Hold ‘em. I would come home, take off my work boots, and be right down at my computer on the weekdays. On the weekends, I would get up early and make a pot of coffee before sitting down with a mug of joe and playing poker. By the evenings, I would already be on my third pot of coffee.
My wife hated this, as you can imagine. Often she gave me irritated looks as I bounded toward the basement steps. She was light-hearted about it though. She knew I had an addictive personality that burned out quickly, all she had to do was weather the storm for a week or two, and I would be sick of card games for a while.
When I was down in my cozy little basement, my wife would send a text to my cellphone every thirty minutes or so. It was usually something funny like a picture of our dog snuggled up close to her face, her expression one of mild annoyance. If it wasn’t a humorous text, it was to let me know dinner was ready. My wife has always been good to me.
One night after returning home from work, I performed my usual routine of making coffee while my wife and I talked about each of our work days. When the pot of coffee was finished I poured me a cup, kissed my wife, and headed down to the basement to play poker.
I was eager to play that day because I had recently made a new friend named Dan. He and I shared the same love for the game of poker and as we played, we would talk about politics and anything else in the media that was relevant. Thanks to one of these conversations over a particularly long game, I lost track of time.
I had already spent an hour and a half playing and talking with Dan; so enthralled with our conversation that I didn’t even get up to refill my coffee, when I heard an abrupt *BANG* from somewhere upstairs.
“Alex?!” I called out overhead, but got no response. It could have been nothing more than a door closing and Alex not hearing me while she was in the bathroom, but I started to rise from my seat to investigate anyway. Then my phone lit up notifying me that I had a message. I grabbed my phone and saw that the text was from my wife.
When I opened the message it had a picture attached to it of our dog Opie, lying in bed. The message below the picture held the words ‘Sorry, he fell of the bed’.
Then that picture was followed by an emoticon of a tongue sticking out of a smiley face. I sent a reply that said ‘LOL, is he okay?’. I didn’t get a reply back but I heard footsteps upstairs which probably meant Alex left the phone in our bedroom and was about to make dinner. I began playing poker and talking to Dan again, but just a minute later I was interrupted by another text message.
‘Bet I can sneak up on you without you knowing’, the message read. I replied back ‘Ha ha, you are welcome to try’. And after that I waited for a minute listening for my wife’s footsteps.
My phone lit up once again, this time another picture message of my dog. Opie lie there curled up on top of a pillow on my side of the bed. The words below the picture said ‘If I do you have to sleep with us tonight no matter what!’ and there was another smiley face.
On my latest nights in the basement I made a bad habit in my sleep-deprived and groggy state, of passing out on the couch because I was just too exhausted to make it into the bedroom. ‘Sounds like a deal!’ I typed back. Again I waited to hear my wife’s footsteps on the basement stairs, but all I heard was the distant steps of her somewhere overhead.
Then, suddenly the loud *Bang* from upstairs came once more and I heard footsteps head into the bedroom. My phone lit up, heralding yet again another text message. This time the message was just simple text, but it contained ten words that sent horrifying shivers down my spine. ‘Sorry, went to the store and left my phone here’.
I sprung up from my chair and grabbed the baseball bat I kept at the bottom of the basement stairs. I ran upstairs in a frenzy, searching every room. My wife was understandably troubled by my behavior and kept asking me what was wrong but I didn’t answer her at first.
Once I searched every room in the house I went to my wife in the kitchen and asked to see her phone. She was confused, but reluctantly showed me the messages on her phone. Only two messages shown on her phone from that day. One while I was at work that I never replied to about what she should get for dinner, and the very last one that was sent to my phone that sent me flying upstairs. Confused, I said
“Hold on, I’m going to show you my phone, I left it in the basement but I swear you were texting me this whole time.”
I left a very bewildered-looking Alex in the kitchen as I headed toward the basement steps. I was stopped abruptly however, when my eyes caught sight of something on the ceiling.
Starting from the very top of my basement steps; ending down further into the basement, were deep dark stains. Stains in the shape of footprints that were too small for a grown adult’s. Footprints that suddenly stopped on the space of the ceiling just above my computer chair.
The chair I was sitting in when I promised whatever was watching me, that I would be sleeping with it that night.