I don’t know why I became so obsessed with the peephole in my solid wooden door. It’s nothing special really, just a hole in a door on a street. An average street. My life is not exciting; I am an insomniac and an agoraphobic, so I am awake through the early hours and rarely go out. The last time was three weeks ago, and that was with a close friend by my side.
First it was an occasional thing; I peered through whenever I heard noises outside. I live on a busy street you see, in quite a deprived area, and you get a lot of different sounds and drama here.
We’re all secretly nosy neighbours really, no matter how highbrow we pretend to be. Everyone loves to have a front seat to witness the action, especially if we feel unseen, invisible in everyday life. Maybe it even feels a bit voyeuristic, who knows?
I don’t know when the peephole became a kind of compulsion. But every time there was extraneous noise out the front; I found myself leaping up to pad quietly across the room and place my wide eye against that peephole. Something so strange about that hole; it becomes a safe way of becoming connected to things without fully taking part. You’re aware of the mild ridiculousness of it all; how absurd it would feel if anyone outside saw you craned and peering, your eyes frantically darting left-right, left-right, your sense of drama heightened. Are we hoping for something exciting or something terrible?
Domestics happen mostly during sunny weekends, I've noticed. I guess alcohol plays a big part, plus of course as soon as the sun starts shining things seem to kick off. Drink and sun, plus of course the penchant for control; the devil’s combination for toxic violence. When that shouting, yelling, swearing and the smashing of glass happens outside, I am there at my concave viewing theatre, peering and squinting, sometimes even snacking.
When those sirens sound, or I catch a glimpse of blue flashing lights, I am there at my rightful place, avid viewer that I am. It is far cheaper than a cinema seat of course! My Netflix film has to keep being paused or rewound, but that doesn’t matter when you have whole evenings stretched out before you night after night.
This past week there were many sirens, two or three times as many as usual. I try not to watch the news, to get too caught up in negative headlines and propaganda. I did start seeing a few things pop up on my phone news feed about a virus that had come over from somewhere and was spreading quickly. The usual negative rubbish designed to get us fearful, compliant and spending money, I would imagine. I didn’t worry.
Even when the sirens were almost constant and the headlines increasingly alarming, I continued to stay blasé about it all. I rarely went out at the best of times, and there was no way this fear-mongering would encourage me to venture out now. I messaged my close friend to see how she was and ask her if she could bring me some essentials, and went back to my usual routine of sleeping in the day and watching Netflix films in the evenings. This of course being regularly interspersed with trips to the peephole to ponder where the sirens were going and whether anyone that I knew was sick. I didn’t have any living family, so my Facebook friends were everything to me.
From scanning my Facebook feed, there had been a lot of fear over the last week, followed by a sudden radio silence. It was unnaturally eerie. Especially as my friend hadn’t replied, which never happened. So, I did something unheard of for me; I rang her. After seventeen rings it went to voicemail, with her bubbly voice informing me that she was away from her phone having fabulous adventures, and could I leave a name and number? I did, but with a slightly queasy feeling in my stomach.
I had my dinner, then started watching another film. More sirens, ridiculous amounts, every few minutes and then seconds. It was like one long continuous whine. My eye frantically tried to ascertain anything that was happening through the peephole; I could hear shouting, and what sounded like… running.
A loud animal-like snarl sounded close to the door and I jumped back, startled, as another pair of feet, this pair sounding heavier and more erratic than the first pair, pounded past, slapping on the pavement and smashing into doors as they ran. More sounds; smashing glass, doors being kicked, car alarms, and a few more shouts and screams. The sound of dull thuds like heavy objects being hurled from windows.
I placed my hand to my chest to try and calm my pounding heart, and braved peering through again. I couldn’t see anything. Just distant sounds in my ears, and a dreadful feeling in my stomach which was intensifying with every moment.
I tried my friend again; nothing. I went back onto Facebook, and nearly felt my heart stop: no new posts. No new posts.
Not possible surely, in this age of 24/7 activity. Where was everyone? Was the internet down? No - Netflix was still working.
The last stand
With a heavy heart I placed my eye once more to the peephole. I knew, somehow, that it would be the last time I could stomach it. The eerie sounds of silence and chaos told me that. I saw a candle lit in the window of the house opposite me, which suddenly snuffed out. It felt apt somehow.
Then another nightmarish sight greeted my wide, staring eye when I looked right. I had to blink several times to take it in. They were all coming for me. The sick, the infected. Coming up the street towards me in a slow, steady motion, strangely as one, like a walking cloud of sickness, where my house stood at the top, at the end of the terrace.
I knew I would likely die here in this house. I was no runner, and I couldn’t brave the outside world at the best of times, and certainly not now, facing unimaginable horror like this. I found myself putting the catch on the door. It might buy me more time. I had a hammer upstairs, and I fetched it.
I decided that I would do one last thing to commemorate my stupid, pointless existence on this planet, before they reached my house. I set up a Vocal account and I started to type.
About the Creator
A mum, a friend to many and I love to explore dark themes and taboos in my writing. I am an optimist with a dark side...
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Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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