A Small Disturbance

Creative Non-Fiction

There is something living in my bedroom walls. I don’t mean that in an ominous way. It’s just that every night, I hear claws scrabble up and around, through the wall next to my bed, all the way to the ceiling, then over to the other side of my room. Its scuttling noises trace a path that I can roughly estimate with my ears. I know its path, but other than that, there’s not much else I know about my next-door, then upstairs, then again, next-door, neighbor.

Or are they neighbors? I can’t quite tell.

The noises start around 12 to 1 in the morning. Sometimes muffled thumps punctuate the scratching— perhaps the animal has hit its head, or fallen off an attic beam, or maybe even body slammed the wall. Other times, the noise sounds more like a crash.

Even though this has been happening for at least two months now, I still get scared. Occasionally the sounds wake me from my sleep, and I am momentarily petrified. In the dark it feels like the animal could fall straight out of the ceiling onto my face. I used to, out of a combination of frustration and curiosity, pound on the wall with my fist. I’ve since stopped from a gnawing fear that one day, the animal might come out and exact some sort of revenge. (Besides, it hasn’t accomplished much.)

A few days ago, I heard a new sound. It was a series of soft, desperate screeches, and it seemed to be emanating from the wall behind the radiator. I gingerly knocked on the wall, then again, a little harder. The quiet screeches heightened, then subsided. Could they be little babies? I imagined a nest of squirming, hairless baby squirrels. 

All of this was enough to make me curious. I Googled, “noises in my walls?”. The first website, a pest control company, listed the potential candidates: Squirrels, rats and mice, raccoons, bats, opossums. The scuttling could be rats, it said; the thumps could be raccoons. Photos accompanied the descriptions, and the camera flash had caused all the animals to have bright, white pupils.

I could see it. A black mass of bats gumming the wall, mice chewing a hole through the ceiling over my head— the litter of baby squirrels proliferating, doubling, then tripling—

The white pupils burned in the back of my brain. Disgusted, I closed my laptop. It was too much for me.

(408 words)

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