The first time I heard the voice was on a peaceful Sunday evening while the dogs and I quietly enjoyed an Animal Planet show entitled, “When Canines Ruled Cat Planet.”
Jack, our 8-year-old Jack Russell/Corgi mix was the first to react to the voice by hurtling himself off the living room couch and onto the floor, where he began spinning like a furry black and white top. Abby, his sister, joined him a half-second later and began spinning counterclockwise.
“What was that voice?!” I asked Abby. I felt the hair on my back stand up and goose bumps sprout on my arms. When the dogs had finally ceased gyrating and returned to the couch, I noticed that the fur was raised on their backs.
I rose from the couch and, despite my reservations, forced my eyes to pan this room and the adjacent kitchen.
There was no one in sight.
We waited a few more minutes hoping to hear the voice again. Nothing. Five minutes passed. 10…
“I see what you are doing!”
Abby, who’d been trimming her nails, leaped off the couch and sped to the piano. She sniffed around the keys, then under the piano itself. Then she turned to me:
“Bark, Bark BARK (TRANSLATED: The voice is in the piano),” she said excitedly. Jack, much smaller and simple-minded than his perspicacious sister, followed Abby to the piano. He sniffed a few times, shrugged, then returned to her spot on the couch.
What had we heard?
I gave the piano a cursory sweep with my eyes. Of course, there was no one in the piano! What a silly thought.
“Abby, Jack, and Bryan, I am watching you….!”
“AAAgggh” I felt an invisible frozen hand finger its way up my spine. Then I was off the couch, launched like a space shuttle into space. The dogs leaped out of their fur and began po-going about the living room, clearly distressed.
I closed my eyes and floated down from the ceiling and back onto the couch. The voice echoed in my head: female, perhaps a child’s voice; in my head yet not of this room or realm.
Someone was watching us. Was it a new, ghastly form of technology playing God? Was I going crazy in this house, after self-quarantining for the past two weeks? Or, did we really have a ghost in the living room as Deb had claimed for at least the last year?
I reached for the TV remote and muted the volume. The three of us stood at attention, waiting. None of us took a single breath.
“Get away from the piano, Abby,” came the voice, spookily calm, creepily self-contained. “I am coming to get you Abby!”
After hearing this threat, Abby spun and raced away to her safe spot in the kitchen, under the kitchen table. Jack and I remained in suspended animation.
“I’m cominggggggggg,” warned the voice. Now it sounded as if it were getting closer, the voice you hear in a dream just before awakening.
Abbbbbbbyyyyyy! “Here I come!”
I heard Abby moan in terror.
“Son of a Brussels Sprout,” I muttered between clenched teeth. I need a Ghostbuster!”
Now Jack was spooked. I watched his stubby legs propel his paunch past my feet as he ran for cover in the dimly lit, shadowy kitchen.
“Jack, get back over here, if you want to remain alive!” I shouted, craning my neck at an impossible angle to track his path. I watched Jack leap over the threshold to the kitchen, then over a displaced chair and then… literally vanish behind a moving dark form …. what surely had to be the ghostly possessor of the voice….
My wife Deb.
She entered the living room, smiling puckishly like a teen that has just pulled off the world’s greatest practical joke. She turned on an additional table light, and then walked over to the piano. From a spot just out of my sight, she slid into view what looked like a black ball, mounted on a small stand. I walked over and studied the object; it resembled an enormous black eyeball.
“It’s a monitor,” she said, laughing heartily. Did you hear me calling you from upstairs? Wasn’t that funny?”
“No, Mom,” Abby barked.
“I’m never cuddling with you again,” barked Jack.
“Not funny. Annoying. You had the dogs racing all over the place. Abby will probably bark all night.”
I returned to the couch and plunked down, folding my arms like a petulant child.
“Why do we need yet more technology?” I said. “Last week it was Alexa, and now it’s a camera monitor? Are we so lazy that we can’t put on music ourselves or walk downstairs to see what’s going on in the kitchen?”
“I want to know what makes Abby bark at night and keeps getting us up,” she said, defiantly.
“What else? Neighbors’ dogs, a person changing a tire, cars driving by, a cat descending the stairs, a mouse running through the woods, Jack the Ripper…anything. I don’t want that thing in here spying on me when you are at work and I am home, alone.”
I walked over to the piano and slid the monitor with its ubiquitous eye behind the piano.
Deb slid it back to its original position.
“Touch the monitor again, and you will be sleeping in the shed with the mice and snakes,” Deb warned. Then she left the room and went upstairs.
For the next two nights, Deb pulled “The Voice” prank on us. We ignored her.
Finally, three days after that, she summoned me to the fireplace room. I found her busy on her laptop, her eyes fixed on the screen.
“This is the video the monitor captured of Abby sleeping the other night,” she said. Her eyes were wide with wonder now. The video showed a darkened room, with shadowy image of Abby sleeping on the small couch. Suddenly, from nowhere appeared a translucent white orb the size of a softball but lacking its mass. It hung, suspended above the couch, for a moment. Then it took off, zooming and rising as it approached the camera. Then it disappeared. A moment later, a second orb followed its predecessor, before vanishing into thin air.
Abby, who’d been quietly asleep minutes before, jumped to her feet and began barking at… nothing now.
“There must be some lights somewhere around there doing this…” I suggested, not wanting to confront what I knew to be the truth.
Deb said nothing. She just selected another video file from the computer.
“Look at last night’s video.”
I did and saw the same kind of translucent miniature comets flying about the darkened room with Abby barking at them.
“I think I know what those are,” I said. “I remember hearing (late spiritual guru) Wayne Dyer talk about energy globes. These look like energy globes!”
Silence hung in the air as we tried to reconcile the images on the screen with our own ambiguous thoughts on the paranormal.
“I told you we have ghosts in this room,” Deb said, conclusively. I shrugged.
Since that day, we have not viewed the monitor’s video files. Whatever is happening in the living room at night is best left between Abby and our visitors.