The Loft by Scott Wilson

We all have fears. 

Most are of spiders, ghosts or monsters, mine are lofts. 

Have you finished laughing? 

You obviously have never grown up in an old house with a roof full of bats and birds. Moving around all day and night causing noises and bangs like a poltergeist. It’s a wonder I got any sleep as a child. 

Anyway, I was lucky to move to a better house in my teens as the Council found our older one decrepit and unstable. Our new house was slightly more modern than our last and I was able to get a good night's sleep for a few years until one day the noises returned. Had they followed me? 

The noises were not the gentle fluttering of bird wings or the squeak of a restless bat. No, these noises were scraping and burrowing of winged vermin and maybe squirrels nesting in the walls and the floor. Their floor, but my ceiling and I often worried that any minute I would see a wing or claw scrape through right above my head. My Mum was getting on a bit and her hip made it hard for her to climb the stairs let alone a ladder to the loft, and I certainly wasn’t going up there, so I pleaded with Mum to call the Council to arrange for them to send pest control or an exterminator around. When she finally got the time away from her busy life watching soaps she gave them a call and they said that somebody would visit. 

Well, that took two weeks and the noises in that time had gotten worse, not only the fact that they kept waking me up but also the ferocity of it. I even began to wonder if a fox or large cat had found their way up there and were desperate to escape. 

I wanted to sleep downstairs on the sofa or even on Mum’s floor in the room below mine, I felt and looked like a zombie with bloodshot eyes and a pale complexion. 

When the pest guy finally arrived, he said, “not to worry, he would either find the pest or set traps”. 

Either way I would be sleeping like a baby in no time at all. 

Our loft didn’t have a built-in ladder but an old rickety wooden one that rested on the wall near the hatch. 

The pest guy (who’s name was Carl) used the ladder to push open the hatch and climb up into the loft. 

There was a nasty smell that wafted down that reminded me of raw meat that had been left out in the sun. I pinched my nose and even Carl gasped at the stench.

The ladder creaked as his foot left it and he disappeared out of sight into the loft. I could hear him crawling about and the boards up there groaned as he shuffled around. There was a click of a flashlight and I saw the beam cross the hatch a couple of times as Carl looked and moved around. 

There then came four words and two sounds that I will never ever forget, and they will haunt me for as long I live. 

“what the…?” 

“no, please..” 

And then a sound that reminded me of an ice cream cone snapping in half. The firm but hollow sound of something breaking or being ripped off and then the noise a wet mop makes as it hits a firm floor. 

Thinking back to it now I would like to have said I was being brave, but that would be a lie. I was simply naive as I climbed the ladder to see if Carl was ok. When I got to the top what I saw made my bones freeze. There was a dark shape crouched over Carl’s body and at first I thought they were kissing, until the shape lifted its head pulling Carl's nose off his lifeless body and into the creature's mouth. Skin and muscle were pulled from Carl's face as it raised its head and looked at me. It had human features with demonic yellow eyes that seemed to glisten in the darkness. It was chewing its mouthful of nose and human flesh and it only took its eyes from me for a second as it chomped off a bite of Carl's cheek. 

I remember screaming and falling from the ladder. I had crawled down the stairs like a human spider to the front door where I had pulled it open and fled leaving my Mother alone in the house in front of her beloved TV. 

I had been found thirty minutes later nearly three miles away. 

Eyewitnesses had said that I had been screaming for the whole time I had been running. If that was true or not I cannot say, it had all been a bit hazy for a while. Anyway, the Police had been called and I had been picked up. As they returned me to my house I began to scream again and even though two Policemen tried they could not get me from their car. 

“Monster” and “demon” were words I apparently cried. 

My Mum had shown “little” concern after telling the Policeman I had “a great imagination” and that I read “too many of those scary comics”. 

Finally they had been able to calm me and I had told them my story. They had obviously not believed a word and even my own Mother seemed to laugh it off. One of the Policemen had looked in the loft but had not seen a thing and had assumed that the pest control had simply left as traps had been set and there was no sign of his van. Of course, there wouldn’t be on a large Council estate where every house (apart from ours) owned at least two cars. He would have probably needed to have parked half a mile away. It took hours to get me back into the house and months of psychiatric help to realise I had made a mistake.

All those years of poor sleep growing up had finally caused me to crack and have an “episode”. Now that I had spent the last months sleeping on the couch my fragile mind had finally fixed itself and it could operate again. 

Life was getting better and I felt like I could see clearly for the first time. I even moved back into my own room. Mum got a new hip too and she finally got a bit more active. 

What a lovely story I hear you cry. 

An uplifting story of a young man and his Mother getting through a tough time and coming out positive and better people. 

I only wish I could end the story here, but I can’t. I’m writing this story in case you should enter our home wondering why the rent hasn’t been paid or the milk taken in from the step. 

You see its back. 

The noises have returned and the loft is hungry again. 

I had been in my bed asleep almost ten months after “the incident” when I heard the scraping and gnawing again. I screamed out in terror. I had even wet my bed I don’t mind admitting. Something that I had not done since I was four. Mum had come to see what the matter was. I couldn’t get a word out, like the fear had caused my speech to leave me. 

There had been another scratch and Mum had said it must have been a bird, but the fourth or fifth noise had caused her to change her mind and she had looked to the ceiling with a frown. 

“What on earth…?” she had said as she left my side and went to the ladder. 

I reached for her, willed my voice to return so I could yell, “NO, DON’T” but all I could do was watch her with horror from the safety of my bed, my legs paralysed from the fear. 

A little “Mum, don’t..” escaped my quivering mouth and my eyes stung with tears as she climbed the ladder, pushed the hatch open and disappeared from view. 

Directly above my head I heard a bang like a bag of potatoes being dropped to the floor and then a noise that reminded me of the crunch from eating an apple. The noise went on for nearly fifteen minutes as the creature ate my Mum up. 

I wondered if I were to sneak a peek up there if I would see those bright burning eyes as it waited for dessert, or if the creature would have simply disappeared back into the shadows and all that remained would be my Mothers false hip lying on the dusty floor. I will leave this notepad, hoping that whoever finds it believes my words. We have not fled, we are still here somewhere. And whatever you do, don't go into the loft. 

Was that the ladder creaking?

Published in Issue #15

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