By J.J. Cheesman
When I was a boy I; like many children do I suppose, had an incredible fear of the dark. After being tucked in at night, I would beg and plead for my Mom or Dad to not shut out the lights, and they always agreed. That is until the start of my second grade year. My parents decided I was a big boy and I needed to learn that the dark was nothing to be afraid of. To help with this transition, my Dad bought me a very bright night-light for my bedside table. I hated the idea of just having the nightlight on at first. But after my Mother shut off the room light switch and showed me how bright the nightlight was I warmed up to it. That first night with only that little light by my bedside is a memory that I can recall with certain clarity after all these years. For that night marked the first of many visits from the knocking girl.
The glow of that little light was comforting, like a beacon of safety in the dark. It made me feel safe and before I knew it I had fallen asleep under its protective glow. Three distinct knocks woke me from my slumber sometime later in the night. My eyes flew open and my head turned to look at my bedroom door which was left slightly ajar. The only thing there that intruded was the light shining in from the lamp in the hallway. Then, once again came three sharp knocks from somewhere beyond the foot of my bed. I shot up in a sitting position and stared passed the foot of my bed at my closet door. Thanks to my adolescent mind, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. I just sat there staring at the dark wood of that door, only partially illuminated by the light at my bedside. Then once again and so abruptly it made me jump, came three knocks. Only this time they were louder, and the time between each separate knock was greater. My breathing became heavy and my heart pounded, and just I was about to call out for my parents I was cut off. A soft but somehow warped little girl’s voice, called out from behind the closet door.
“Let me come out Joshua, I’m so lonely.”
I screamed. I screamed louder and harder than I ever had at the time, or ever since. Both of my parents burst into my room and asked me what was wrong but I couldn’t answer, I just kept screaming. It took some time but eventually my parents calmed me down and I was able to tell them what happened. They told me it was just a nightmare, but I wasn’t having any of that. I told them I was never sleeping in my room ever again. My father being the progressive problem solver that he was however, fetched a screwdriver from his toolbox and began taking the closet door off of its hinges. Once the door was off, my parents stayed with me until I fell asleep.
The knocking girl never returned to my room after that night, but she never left me alone either. I found out the very next day a couple of rules about the knocking girl. The first one was that it didn’t have to be dark for her to visit me. The second rule, is that it doesn’t have to be a closet.
The following day that I was first visited by my knocking nightmare, I was sitting in a bathroom stall at school. It was just after gym period, and the physical exercise had helped move along that morning’s breakfast to my lower intestine and I was pretty thankful when I found the bathroom empty. I was just finishing my business, when I heard the echoing footsteps of someone entering the bathroom. I froze in my seat. It was clear from the slapping sound on the floor that whomever the new arrival was, they were barefoot. I waited as the footsteps drew nearer to the stall I was in, which was located at the very end of the aisle and up against the wall. I decided to call out then.
“Hello?” I asked but received no reply, only the *Slap, Slap, Slap* of feet on linoleum. Somehow, the silence was more frightening than if anything at all would have answered me. I didn’t call out anymore after that, but out of instinct I picked my feet up slowly off of the floor and scooted as far back on the toilet as I could, placing my feet on the rim of the bowl. *Slap, Slap, Slap* The footsteps were nearly at my stall now, and I closed my eyes tightly as the sound of steps continued.
*Slap, Slap, Slap* Whoever was out there was now directly in front of my stall. I kept my eyes closed and hoped the intruder would just leave. Then a familiar sound resounded throughout that bathroom stopped my breath in my throat. Three hard knocks pounded against the door to my stall, followed by that same warped voice.
“Joshua, there’s nothing to be afraid of. I only want to make you my friend.”
Tears began to freely fall from my closed eyes, and I shouted,
“Joshua” The voice replied,
“Don’t be like that. If you don’t let me in, I’ll have to come in there after you!”
The threat made me open my eyes, and what I saw under that stall door made me scream until I sent myself into a panic attack and blacked out. Under the stall I could see two bare white feet, but that’s not what caused me to lose consciousness.
A face stared at me from under that stall. The face of a girl with a wide glaring blue eyes and a mouth that had its bottom jaw removed, so that her tongue hung down and swung loosely from her open maw. Her neck was unnaturally long, and twisted underneath the stall door just enough so that her head was partially in the stall with me. Those blue eyes are all that I remember before waking up in the nurse’s office.
Apparently the school janitor was mopping the hallway just outside the bathroom when he heard me screaming bloody murder. The school called my mom and I was questioned over and over about what happened to me in that bathroom. I really didn’t know what to say so I made up some story about falling asleep while I was on the toilet and having a nightmare.
The school sent me home anyway, and my Mother was furious. She didn’t ground me or anything though, I think she just felt sorry for me and didn’t know how to help. I told her I was fine when she asked later that day. I lied.
From then on the knocking girl came to me at any time that I was alone. If my parents were outside and I was walking passed the hallway closet, I heard knocking. If I was alone in my kitchen, I could hear knocking coming from inside every single cabinet. Sometimes she would call out from wherever she was knocking. Telling me that she needed a friend to keep her company. I don’t know why she couldn’t just open the door and come get me, but I was sure as hell glad she didn’t.
It didn’t occur to me immediately, but eventually I wondered how she could even speak in the first place if her bottom jaw was removed. I suppose if you’re being haunted by a spirit that is a silly thing to wonder, but honestly? I sort of got used to her. Eventually she even stopped speaking all together. She just knocked from behind whatever barrier she could for whatever reason not pass through. That made it easier become more relaxed.
I don’t mean to say I was never afraid of her. Don’t get me wrong I never wanted to see that horrible face again. But as I grew older, she sorts of became a normalcy. I just lived my life by specific rules. I never went to a public bathroom anymore, my bathroom breaks were scheduled at home and when there were people in the house. I also grew accustomed to never opening a door unless someone I knew was on the other side of it.
Then when I was ten years old, the worst happened. I was staying all night at my friend Reggie’s house. Yes, I had friends. Despite being known as the kid that passed out in the bathroom one year I was popular enough. I never told anyone about the knocking girl though, that’s probably why I didn’t have any trouble making friends. God I wish I would have.
Reggie and I were sitting in his basement playing Nintendo on the small T.V. down there when Reggie decided he was going to get us a couple soda’s. He opened the basement door and bounded up the stairs, shutting the door behind him as he did so. I continued playing until I heard a loud knock from the front door. I then heard footsteps as Reggie walked from the kitchen to his front door and open it. I heard the muffled noises of what I took as quiet conversation, and then the front door slammed shut. All of this happened, but I was only half paying attention as I was pretty immersed in my game. I heard Reggie walk back to the kitchen and then after a moment, I heard footsteps on the basement stairs again.
Then from the bottom of the door, rang out three hard knocks. *Bang, Bang, Bang* I froze and my heart raced in my chest as my thoughts immediately went to the knocking girl. “Reggie?” I called out.
“Yeah man, could you open the door for me? I brought down some snacks too and my hands are full.”
It was Reggie’s voice alright and although he sounded a bit off, I assumed it was from the strain of holding a load of junk food. “Hold on just a minute.” I said, getting up off of the couch and walking over to the door. Before I could reach the door however, he knocked three more times with his foot. *Bang, Bang, Bang*
“Hold on, I said I’m coming!” I said a little irritated, but then I stopped just before my hand touched the door handle. A half-formed idea was brewing in my mind. A mystery that I had wondering about for quite some time but I was just missing one piece of the puzzle, a piece that I would never have because it would mean endangering my own life. I hoped I was wrong then, but I thought that Reggie must have unwittingly provided that first piece when he answered the three knocks at the front door. I then knew how the knocking girl could speak without a bottom jaw. It was likely that I once thought belonged to her, never did.
There was a sizeable gap at the bottom of that basement door, and I fell down on my hands and knees to peer under it. When I did, I was met with the immediate sight of two piercing blue eyes. I threw myself back and scooted on my butt all the way against the far wall as the basement door began to immediately be assailed by a flurry of angry knocks.
“NOOO!” I could hear a voice from the other side of the door shriek as the pounding on the door grew louder. The voice was not quite the knocking girl’s and not quite Reggie’s, but an amalgamation of the two voices along with several others.
“NO!!!! YOU WILL BE MINE BOY IF IT TAKES ME ONE-HUNDRED YEARS, YOU WILL BE MINE!!” The myriad of voices assaulted my eardrums and I had to cover my ears because the pounding and screaming became too loud. My heart began to race and I began crying loudly as I was stricken by my second panic attack, and I fainted.
I woke up sometime later in Reggie’s living room surrounded by my parents as well as Reggie’s crying mother, along with some policemen in uniform. The police asked me questions while my Dad stood by listening to the interrogation and my Mother tried to console the woman who would never see her son again. They asked me if I remembered what the intruder looked like, and they asked me how I kept the door barred while he attempted to break it down. I didn’t really know what to tell them so I just shrugged and nodded to most of it. I was confused and scared, I didn’t know how to tell them there was no conventional intruder. Why would they believe me anyway? I later found out that Reggie’s Mom had left the house just before Reggie came up to get snacks for us. She needed to get some milk for the dinner she was going to prepare for us and thought that we would be fine in the five minutes it would take her to get back. When she got home she found the basement door had several scratches and indentations in the wood. She found me at the bottom of the stares unconscious and immediately called the police and the ambulance. While she was on the phone she frantically searched the house for Reggie. Like I said, she never found him. I felt bad for Reggie, and I felt bad for his Mom. But I didn’t know the knocking girl would come after anyone else, how could I have? Still, I wish I would have said something, even then. If I had, maybe Reggie would have been the only disappearance I would have to mourn.
That day at Reggie’s house was so long ago. I am a fully grown adult now, living in my parent’s house that was left to me in their will after they too disappeared. Every door in the house is removed of course, except for the front and back door. Tonight I’m opening my third bottle of whiskey this week, it’s always easier to handle the nights when I’m toasted. Tonight will be like every other night, I will sit in my easy chair facing the front door and I will wait for the knocking girl to come. She always does, sometimes she speaks in Mom’s voice, sometimes she speaks in Reggie’s voice. Sometimes she speaks in Dad’s voice, and sometimes she speaks in a completely different voice that I may or may not recognize. But she always knocks, entreating entrance into my home. I have dealt with the knocking all my life, and at thirty-three I have grown quite tired of the knocking.
With each bottle of whiskey however, I believe I am growing closer to answering that knock. Maybe tonight will be the night, that I let the knocking girl inside to play.