About a month or so ago, my mom was in her bedroom at night when she heard the front door of the house open and close. She stepped into the hallway and saw my dad's figure standing in the shadows of the living room. Afraid that my dad might be heading to the bathroom to occupy it for several minutes, she dashed in there and closed the door behind her. Some things simply can't wait several minutes.
When she exited the bathroom, my dad was nowhere to be found. She claims she did not hear the front door open and close again, but nobody was in the living room. She called the downstairs phone, and after several rings my dad answered. "Were you just up here, Jim?" No, he responded, he had been napping downstairs, and my mom had just awakened him.
So, who was in the living room? My mom insists that the person she saw had the exact same build as my dad. Were the shadows playing tricks on her eyes? Did she see a ghost of my dad's dad, who built that house? Or was there an intruder in the living room, who slipped in and out in the dark without making much noise?
Fast forward to the present. Stephen sometimes keeps the back door open so that the cat(s) can come in or go out at will. But ours is a quiet, safe neighborhood. He once left the house for a few hours, forgetting that he had left the front door wide open. Nothing had been molested.
Stephen went to a friend's house tonight for a few hours. Sometimes when he leaves here he lingers around the house for a bit, taking care of a few odd tasks here and there, going out the front entrance and reappearing a few minutes later from the back. But once he leaves, he leaves. That's what was so odd about tonight.
After he left I sat in the living room watching the Tivo. As night darkened everything, I did not bother to turn any lights on. After Stephen had been gone for a little over an hour, I heard a noise from the back of the house. It was too loud to be the Foz cat, so I figured Stephen had come in the back entrance. Unconcerned, I continued to watch t.v. Then I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye, so I looked into the kitchen. I can't be certain, but I think I saw a human figure moving quickly from the bathroom side of the kitchen towards the back exit. But Stephen usually turns on a light when he gets home, and the apartment was still completely unlit, except for the grayish light cast by the television that I think briefly lit up a long shirt sleeve moving from right to left.
I got up nervously and slowly walked towards the kitchen. I turned on the dining room light first, then peeked into the kitchen and turned on the kitchen light. I walked into the kitchen. Nobody was there. I turned to look into Stephen's room. The door to his room had been slightly ajar when he left, but it seemed to me that it had been opened about a foot since I last saw it. I called out, "Hey, are you home already?" No response. Then I heard what sounded like a tapping sound from the stairwell. My heartbeat and nerves were racing a million miles per hour. I thought about investigating further, but in my mind I was thinking about all those slasher movies where you scream at the idiot on the screen, "Don't follow the noises! Can't you hear the music getting louder and spookier? Don't go into that room!" So I stood still for a good minute, then I checked out the rest of the apartment, turning on every light I encountered. Finally, I went to the stairwell at the back entrance, turned on the outside light and the stairwell light, and peered down the stairwell. I did not go farther than that.
When Stephen did come home over an hour later, he found the apartment ablaze. He turned off a few lights, then sat and joined me as we watched the Democratic debates and ate some pizza. I debated whether or not to say anything to him. Before I retired for the night, though, I asked him a couple of questions. "Hey, do you know if the back door has been open?" Yes, he left it open so that Foz could come in and out. "Out of curiosity, did you come home briefly between the time you left for George's and when you came back through the front door?" No.
I have no idea whether my mind was playing tricks on me or whether there was someone in our apartment. I do, however, know that we're going to be keeping the back door shut from now on.