The Creaking Door
The din wasn’t particularly loud, but it was enough to jolt Patricia Mercer out of her sleep. After her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she caught her breath, she sat up and gave her husband a shake.
“Will, did you hear that?” Patricia asked.
“Hear what?” William Mercer grumbled, half asleep.
“That creaking noise,” she said.
“I didn’t hear anything.”
She listened for a moment. “There, there it is again.”
He was groggy, but he heard it that time, the unmistakable squeak of the hinges, the door creaking as it swung back and forth.
“It’s the storm door,” he said, rolling over, showing her his back. “It’s just the wind blowing it.”
“I could’ve sworn I secured the storm door,” Patricia said.
“Did you lock it?”
Patricia thought about it for a few seconds. “No, I don’t think so. But I’m positive the door was latched.”
“Just the wind,” he repeated. “Probably blew it open.”
“That’s a pretty heavy door,” she pointed out, still hearing the hinges creak and moan.
“Patty, it’s just the wind. Go back to bed. Please, I’m tired. Tomorrow’s my only day off.”
Patricia rolled over and turned off the lamp on her nightstand. They’d been married so many years, they slept back-to-back. Their snuggling and cuddling days were over. The love for one another was still there, but not the affection. That can happen when you’re married for over thirty years.
Still, they were happy together. They never had children and it was too late now. Patricia was past her childbearing years and William was a few years away from retirement. But that just meant that all they had was each other. And that’s all William and Patricia ever needed. They were content with the life they had built for themselves.
The floodlight popped on outside. Patricia nudged William.
“Will, the light just came on.”
“So? They’re motion activated.”
“That’s exactly my point,” she said, unable to hide the exasperation in her voice.
“What I’m saying is, anything can set them off. It’s probably a raccoon or a squirrel or something. Hell, those lights are so sensitive, even a moth could trigger them.”
The wind wailed outside, hammering the windows. The door wasn’t creaking anymore, it was banging against the side of the house.
“Would you please get up and check,” Patricia pleaded.
“Son of a…” he grumbled and trailed off before he finished his thought.
He wrestled his way into a pair of jeans that were sprawled out on the floor and threw on a warmer shirt with long sleeves. He trudged down the stairs and walked through the foyer to the front door. He unlocked the door and saw the culprit.
The storm door was unlatched, and the wind was batting it around like a ping pong ball. He reached to pull it shut, and the floodlights popped on again.
He saw the outline of a man standing along the sidewalk, facing the front of the house.
“Who’s there?” Will called out.
The stranger walked briskly up the cobblestone path towards the front porch, clutching something in their left hand. It took a moment for his brain to register what he was seeing. The stranger wasn’t a stranger at all.
He was staring into the eyes of his exact double. The man was his height, looked to be around the same weight, had his graying hair and thick beard and pale blue eyes. The fact that he was holding something in his left hand even indicated that he was a southpaw like Will.
But by the time William saw the object in his twin’s hand, it was too late. The doppelganger swung with all his might, the wrench striking him above the right temple, bringing William to his knees. He raised the wrench, and brought it down again with enough force to cave in his skull.
He closed the bedroom door, took off his jeans and changed back into his pajama pants, and crawled into bed.
“What was that?” Patricia asked.
“What was what?” he asked.
“That noise? Was it just the wind?”
“Oh, yes…just the wind,” he assured her. “Now go back to sleep,” said the man who had replaced Patricia’s husband.