Do you remember the sound of the violins during the shower scene in Psycho? Two discordant notes, shrill and staccato, repeatedly assaulted our ears, heightening the fear.
My nightgown and sheets are soaked with my acrid sweat as the violins shriek in my mind. What is that shadow outside my bedroom window? I squeeze my eyes shut, willing the specter to be gone. When I peek, it has grown and changed shape, waving grotesquely twisted arms, beckoning me closer. This must be my punishment for too many cocktails at the Halloween party last night.
A throaty moaning, deep and singsong and utterly alien shatters the silence. I respond with a high pitched scream and the thing modulates to match mine in a macabre synchrony. The moaning takes on a pitch and rhythm unlike anything earthly. Mournful. Plaintive. Lovesick? I suppress a giggle at the thought, dissipating some of the terror.
My window is open a crack and a fresh wave of terror washes over me. What if it comes in? Idiot, I tell myself. It’s an alien. It goes through walls. I tentatively sing a short phrase from a long forgotten song, mentally kicking myself for goading it on. Its raspy voice repeats the snippet in a different key.
Curiosity begins to overcome my terror. I crawl toward the window, low to the ground so it can’t see me, forgetting that it can probably also see through walls. Still, it remains motionless, non-threatening, apparently waiting for me. The violins in my head and my rapid heartbeat continue to beat together as a rapid trio, almost synchronously, but just off enough to create a pattern. As I near the window, it picks up the cadence and adds a rumble in counterpoint. Can it feel my fear and fascination? We are now a quartet.
I stand by the window silently, seeing only a shadow, not daring to seek its cause. The rumble continues. Is it waiting for me to sing again? The theme from Alfred Hitchcock’s old TV series leaps into my mind and I start humming it. Dum de deedle de dum de dum, dum de deedle de dum de dum.
The creature steps forward, appearing in profile like the line drawing of the old master of terror himself. It finishes the theme with me, completing the quintet. The profile smiles, then disintegrates before me, leaving only my empty backyard and an echo fading away.
Judy Salz, a semi-retired physician, is a native New Yorker currently living in Las Vegas and enjoying the sunshine and lack of slush. She has published a number of short stories in the past year. “Mikey,” published in The Literary Nest in April 2015, won the fiction contest. She invites all interested to visit her webpage, judysalz.com.