The other day some friends and I went over a friend’s house to watch Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Yes, Phantom does have a sequel and no, it’s not as good as the first one. We enjoyed it, nonetheless, but nothing prepared us for the phantoms we’d encounter that day…
At one point during the film, while the three of us are engrossed in the intrigue, mystery, and passion that is Love Never Dies, my friend notices that there’s a man sitting on her front lawn.
“Do you know him?” I ask.
“No,” she says. “But his butt is sticking out his pants.”
The three of us watch, hoping that this guy isn’t about to crap all over her lawn. But he just sits there, playing with a cat.
“You’ve never seen him before?” I ask.
My friend shakes her head. “No. But people on this block are really weird.”
We go back to watching the Phantom and eventually forget about the creepy guy outside. But then there’s a knock at the door. It’s the guy.
You gotta be kidding me, I think to myself.
As the only guy in the group, I’m voted to answer the door as my friends stay behind, praying against whatever creepiness is about to manifest. A random guy moons us and plays with a stray cat on our lawn then knocks on the door. Nothing good can come from this.
I open the door and the guy has a giant Cheshire smile on his face that makes my insides crawl. Why is he so happy?
“Hey!” he cries. “Is this your guys’ cat?”
He shrugs. “Okay.”
Then he walks away with the cat following him close behind.
That was weird.
We go back to watching Love Never Dies and eventually finish it, having laughed, cheered, and cried to our hearts’ content.(Not really crying, but whatever.)
We spend the next several hours reminiscing about the school year, teasing each other, and plunging into soul-searching conversations deep into the night. Before we know it, it’s one in the morning, but we’re having such a great time it feels like the day has just started. Then, suddenly, there’s a ground-shaking boom outside.
Boom isn’t the right word. It’s a screeching, roaring, wailing explosion that comes and goes in a fleeting instant. I’ve never heard anything like it.
“What the heck was that?” I ask.
My friend runs to the wall and shuts off the lights.
“I don’t know,” she says. “But it didn’t sound good.”
We sit in the darkness and slowly make our way to the window to peer through the blinds. Our hearts are pounding and there’s not a sound in the house. We pull the blinds open an inch and my mind is racing with images of what we’ll see. A Decepticon has landed on the lawn. A group of Satanists is sacrificing pigs in serpent oil. Or worse, the cat guy is back.
We pull open the blinds and look out the window and none of the above is what we see. It’s worse.
There’s nothing outside.
The only thing on the street is my car parked in front of my friend’s house. There’s literally nothing in our field of vision but houses and empty road. From the looks of it, nothing has happened all night. But we can’t shake that other-worldly sound out of our heads.
What was that?
There’s no way we can go back to our conversation now, not knowing what kind of sorcery has just been initiated outside the house.
“I’m gonna check it out,” I say, ignoring all the horror movie scenes playing in my head.
“Be careful!” the girls warn me, and they go back to rebuking and binding spirits in Jesus’ name on my behalf.
Then I open the door and step outside…