My room is lit by the soft glow of various electronic devices silently charging on the bedside table. The PC hums in the corner, its little fan whirring occasionally throughout the long hours of the night. A tiny light blinks behind the television set, telling me I forgot to turn off the sound system before I drifted off to sleep. It’s a quiet, peaceful room, and there is no reason I shouldn’t be able to sleep, except for the animal in the wall.
I only hear the animal at night, sometimes midnight, sometimes later. It’s inside the wall in my closet, which is surprising, because I know there’s only a tiny amount of space between the painted drywall and the mirror-covered wall in the adjoining bathroom. It’s maybe five inches wide, about the length of a smart phone. For four nights, the soft bumping, scraping, chewing sound coming from my closet has kept me awake, and I’m starting to panic. In the bright of day, I discovered the tiny hole behind the shelf where I keep my folded sweaters. I can’t begin to imagine what kind of animal is in the wall, or how it got there, or where it goes during the day, or what it’s going to do once the hole is big enough for it. How big is big enough? How large is the animal in the wall? Why is it coming to my closet? What’s drawing it in there?
I lie in bed, cocooned by my own body heat trapped in my soft blankets, and my eyes stare at the door to my closet. I can hear the animal, chewing, moving, its fur scraping the innards of the wall. It’s industriously working at gaining access to my bedroom, for unknown purposes. I try to tell myself I’m just being silly. It’s nothing but a tiny mouse, and I’ll put a trap inside the wall tomorrow. But, I can’t know for sure it’s a mouse. What if it’s something bigger? What if it’s a whole nest of mice just waiting to swarm into my closet, tramping my clothes with their filthy feet? Then, I imagine sticking my hand inside the hole to set a trap, and I shudder at the thought of an animal lurking inside the wall, waiting for me to place my exposed flesh inside the dark recesses of its lair so it can chomp on me.
I angrily tell myself to shut up, that I’m being a big coward. I jump up, turn on the lights in my room, grab my cell phone, stride across to the closet and swing the door open, determined to face this creature head on. There it is, the hole is definitely larger than it was last night. I slow down, creeping towards the hole, grimacing at the shower of drywall littering my nicely folded sweaters. Turning on the LED light from my cell, I turn it towards the wound in the wall. Nothing happens, and I begin to breathe. Then, a flash of fur, giant eyes, and a show of teeth knock me out of my closet. My fear propels me out of the bedroom, and slamming the door behind me, I pound into the front room and leap up onto the couch, panting. I still don’t know what it is, but I’m calling for help tomorrow. I can’t sleep another night in that room until someone gets rid of that animal in the wall.