(This is an actual experience which happened to me, around 1979, whilst I was in my late auntie’s flat, all alone, one Sunday afternoon. I still get goosebumps to this day each time I reflect on it!)
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in early Spring. I was minding my auntie’s flat whilst she was out visiting relatives. As the Sunday afternoon movie on TV wasn’t quite to my liking, I thought I would pop into the bedroom and relax with a good book.
As I lay there, deeply engrossed in my adventure novel, I suddenly heard the faint sound of shuffling footsteps from somewhere inside the flat.
I listened, frowning as the sound of the footsteps grew more distinct, as if they were shuffling, nearer and nearer, towards the closed bedroom door. The footsteps sounded just like those that my auntie would make . . . or any old woman with a habit of dragging her feet as she walked.
Putting my book down, I listened closely. My immediate thought was that maybe my auntie had come back to the flat, for some reason. However, I could not recall her knocking on the door, or even using her own key to let herself in . . .
“Fran, is that you?” I called out.
The footsteps shuffled to a stop. Right outside the room in which I was lying.
I frowned puzzledly.
“Fran, are you back?” I called out again.
Still no answer. A deathly silence.
Expecting the door handle to turn any minute, I jumped up off the bed, my novel falling to the floor with the sudden disturbance, and rushed towards the door. My breath seemed to catch in my throat. My heart was thudding madly. Suddenly, a weird feeling of unease was gripping my stomach.
I pulled the door open, expecting to see a figure standing there to greet me.
But there was nobody there.
The flat was completely empty, except for myself.
Then I remembered that the old lady who used to have the flat before my aunt, a woman called Jessie, had died there a few years ago. Like my aunt, she too used to drag her feet as she walked along.
Were the shuffling footsteps I had heard so clearly actually been hers?
Suddenly, I was in no mood for further contemplation. I hastily put my book away, locked up the flat, and was out of it like a shot.
Right to this day, I can still hear my dad’s reaction that Sunday afternoon as I arrived back home:
“Your’re back early, Al. What’s wrong?”