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Over Night at Antebellum

          It happened not too long ago when you were driving through the south on an early twilight in October. The sky was split in half by a mass of clouds quickly taking over the sunset. That is when you heard it. That is when it happened. You heard an awful sound. Crack! CRGGGGGZZZZSSSSSSSS!  When all has stopped, you check the engine, but to your dismay, it only lets out a final hisssssss’ of life. Already the storm is close. Already the first few drops began to fall. If you had brought your hardtop, you could have waited it out. But instead, you’ll have to go. You grabbed a little bit of this and a little bit of that, plus a blanket, torch, and snack, and backtrack down the road a ways maybe a mile or so, to find that house you passed. Hopefully, someone is at home. When you get there, the house is dark, worn, and withered-looking. With the night upon you and the rain starting to fall, you lightly rapped at its old decaying door. Hoping to find some reason to avoid this old eerie house you, hesitated. But then without a warning, a flash of light lit up the sky as the thunder boomed and you blow right through the door. Once inside, you flicked on your torch and had a look around. There was not too much in the house a broken chair or two, bare cracked walls, all the way down a long hallway. Turning at the first door, you found the living room. In it, there was some covered furniture centered around a large fireplace. It looked like a good place to set up camp and unpack your stuff. With some floorboards and other scraps of wood, it was not too hard to start a fire. When all was warm and all was lit, you settled down for the night. However, you start to notice that there is a small scratching sound scratch’ scratch’ scratch’  Then a lapping lap’ lap’ lap’. Had there only been a few of them maybe you would just have ignored it, but when it starts repeating, it starts to drive you mad. You had to go see what was keeping you from sleep. Walking into the hall, you turned on your torch nothing was there but a large puddle had formed on the floor. 
“Well that explains where the lapping came from, but what made it?” 
you said as you walked down the hall. Thud! The noise sounded like it came from the end of the hall, so you decide to investigate. Creeping ever closer, always moving forward. You came to a door, a plain wooden door with a large hole at its base. Hesitant to move, you grabbed the handle tight and opened the door. In an instant, a large fury creature, larger than a cat, with six beady eyes darted up a back staircase. 
Taking in a gulp of air, you follow up the stairs as if you were drawn there by curiosity, but with every step, your whole body screamed to go back to the safety of the light and the fire. Every stair creaked louder than the one before. Creak’ crack’ creak.’ Reaching the landing of the stairs, you heard a squeak like a mouse only it came from above. Looking up, a swarm of bats came down, and in the chaos of the moment, you tripped over something in the dark. The bats flew around in circles several times before escaping through a broken window. Standing up and brushing yourself off, you continued on. Reaching the top, you checked every room meticulously. Looking over and under, behind this, and inside that, until there was only one place left, the attic. The door was open; the way was clear, but for a moment, something was looking back with six beady eyes. When you pointed your light to see, it disappeared into the dark. The gig is up; the hunt is over either you go up to face the thing or go back down in defeat. But your mind was made up; you had to find out what it was. The attic was wet and leaking all over, but you kept going. It was filled with large stacks of boxes, odd bits of furniture, and a couple of stuffed birds. You started thereby checking behind some boxes that were not too intimidating. After the boxes proved to be safe, you heard it. Patter, patter, patter. Turning around as fast as you could, you saw it. There it was with its six beady eyes and its long spiky hair.
“Of course!” 
There three feet in front of you stood three raccoons a mother and two kits. How silly the hunt was. How silly it all was to think it could have been anything else. Of course, you really weren’t scared. A coward would not have made it this far. A coward would have run away. What a coincidence that it was at that moment one of the stuffed birds, an owl, took flight for it really wasn’t stuffed just standing still. It was over. The gig was up. You were flying down the stairs. Behind you, the owl was screeching. You made it to the living room, threw a log on the fire, and went to bed before anything else could happen. 
Written by Daniel P.
Wall St. Journal - Online
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