Monday, October 15, 2007

The Bar Stools in Apartment 302

The bar stools never moved during the day. Only at night, when the shadows served as the only relief in the dark apartment.

Danielle was quite annoyed with her bar stools. She set them the same every night, facing a 90 degree angle and propping their backs against the bar. They never moved while she was awake, watching T.V. and doing her homework. The heavy footsteps from next door and vibrations from below couldn't budge them. Bouncing around the apartment did nothing.

But at night, they chose to spin.

The first night it happened, Danielle was convinced there was someone in her apartment. She woke up, a creaking noise freezing her heart in fear.

"Who is it?" she called irritably. "What's going on?"

Grabbing a bat, she warily slipped out of the bed and crept from her room. Hoisting the bat over her shoulder, she flipped on a light and stood ready in her living room. The stools were swinging back and forth, back and forth. She looked behind the curtains. No one. She looked behind the television. No one. She looked in all the doors, on the porch and even in the cabinets. No one.

The bar stools had stopped swinging and now sat quietly. She firmly repositioned the bar stools and flipped off the light, climbing back into bed. She didn't hear the faint giggle. An hour later, the bar stools began to squeak again. When she stumbled out the next morning, they were facing the opposite side of the bar, as if an invisible person was engrossed in a television show. They had also been pulled out approximately two inches.

At first, Danielle chalked it up to the constant vibrations of partying college students slamming doors, running up stairs and blaring stereos. But night after night, the squeaking intruded her dreams and interrupted her sleep. She would rush out in the living room, bat in hand, only to see the bar stools swinging slowly, side to side. Back and forth, back and forth they would swing. It was almost as if they were squeaking, "What's your problem?" Running her hand through her hair, she would always return to her bed frustrated and a little afraid.

The next day, she went to her sister's house for dinner. She began to complain about the squeaking bar stools to her brother-in-law.

"Maybe you have mice," Ben shrugged. "Or cockroaches."

"Bleah," Danielle blanched. "I already have ants. Isn't that enough?"

"Perhaps your bar stools have loose bolts," Ben suggested. "Or maybe you didn't tighten them enough."

"I checked," Danielle sighed dejectedly. "They're as tight as they can get."

"Well, set up a video camera and record them," Ben suggested practically. "Then you can see if it's a fluke or a rodent."

That night, Danielle set up her parent's video camera to film the chairs. When the squeaking began a few hours later, she smiled grimly. By morning, she'd have the answer.

As soon as her eyes flew open, she rushed to the video camera and plugged it into the television. Fast-forwarding, her eyes widened as something flew across the screen.

"What the hell?" she quickly re-winded the tape and pushed play. The chairs were still, and moonlight was pouring through the curtains. A small furry creature scurried across the floor, giggling and swinging what looked to be a furry tail. Several other creatures followed. They pulled the chairs out approximately two inches. Two creatures crawled up and sat in chairs, and began to spin. The chairs spun around, then began to swing from side to side as their momentum waned. The squeaking began. Danielle heard the shrill giggles and saw the shrewed grins. She felt something touch her ankle and she screamed. She looked down to see one of the horrible little critters grinning up at her.

"Excuse me?" he leered. "We like the chairs. It's fun to ride them." With that, he scurried off, his light fur blending into the carpet. Although Danielle looked, she could not find him at all. Even though she recorded the chairs for a few more nights, she never saw the critters again.

Though, if you wait quietly during the night, scarcely breathing above a whisper, you can hear a faint giggle and then a familiar aching squeak. For the chairs don't move during the day. Only at night.