The Night Death Came Calling

The Hooded Figure Stood in The Doorway

3rd January, 1986

I had just moved back home to my parent’s house, which was a three-bedroom, one-bathroom number, which meant for the seven of us living there, we kids were crammed in. And when I say crammed, I was sleeping on the couch. At the time of my return, I had gotten a job at the same pub my parents used to manage down by the seaside of our town, and I was working multiple shifts.

Having completed the shift that night and home by ten thirty, I walked into the house to find my dad watching the telly and having a coffee. We did the usual small talk, and he carried on watching his show. Next, I went and got myself a coffee in the kitchen and read the morning’s newspaper. When finished, I had a shower and got into my pj’s and got ready to sleep.

By about ten past eleven, my dad got up and said he was off to bed. We said our goodnights, and I proceeded to get my sheets and pillow ready for the couch. I walked over to the front door to turn off the light, walked back to the couch, and got comfortable.
Now our lounge room was tiny, had two sets of windows covered with a bunch of my mothers 1970’s burnt orange, netted curtains. The streetlight across the road shone through those curtains, giving the room a look of a moonlit night. So I would sleep the opposite way towards the wall and hallway opening into the lounge.

Just a rough set out of home on the night. Other furnishings were in the house but I never put them in.

When laying that way, to my right is the tv and on top of that was the video player that had a lovely bright green timer display on it. The time when I was settled was 11:15pm. It was a warm night being January in Australia, so a sheet would do, and I pulled it up so no mosquitoes would bite me. Then, finally, I started to fall asleep.

I woke with a start feeling that something was wrong in the house. Dread. I got up on my elbow and looked around the room, looking to see what was wrong because my heart was pounding. The room, as I said, was lit up by the streetlight but that night, it took on an eerie shadow that was a little darker. I quickly scanned the room to see if everything was ok, but everything looked normal. The video player beamed at me 11:25pm.

As I laid back down, closing my eyes, a warning bell was going off in my head, and it had to do with the room. I kept going over it and everything seemed in its place. And then for some reason the word Mirror popped in my head. My mother had bought this large round mirror from her expedition to an antique store and placed it right in the middle of the hallway. It reflected light into that area from the lounge, and us girls used it for putting on makeup and doing hair, which I had looked into when I came home from work that night.

I had not seen it a minute ago.

Opening my eyes, I was frozen with the most terrifying terror of the form standing before me. I wanted to and tried screaming, but it was like I was being gripped around my throat. Finally, all that came out of my mouth was a gargled whimper.

It was a hooded figure, well over 6 ft tall and slouched in the hallway doorway, its form hitting the top of the frame. I saw no face but only darkness where one would be. I couldn’t stop looking at it, and yet I wanted to look away. I could see the folds of brown material that made up the cowl, the realness to it, only a couple feet away from me. It was like we were locked in a staring contest for ages until it lifted its right hand at me, and that, my friends, is where I lost it.

I broke free of the stranglehold of fear and screamed bloody murder to the house, and my mother yelled out from her bedroom.
“What’s wrong?”
“IT’S come to get me!” I screamed
“Close your eyes and say your prayers.”
My father pipes up with one of his tsk sounds of the annoyance of being woken up.
I closed my eyes, and I said I believe in Jesus Christ over and over and then did a round of the Rosary for extra protection.

I opened my eyes finally and saw the mirror. Jumping up, I ran and turned the light on and left it on. It was on the clock now 11:32pm. I sat on the couch trembling and my heart pounding still. WTF did I just see? Was that death? Did death just come to our home and just point at me? WTF! This was so freaking scary, I could hardly close my eyes when I finally tried to sleep. I was waking up every now and then to see if it was still there waiting for me.

The following day I woke to my father’s grumbles of leaving the bloody light on and how much electricity costs. Walking through the hallway was a bit of yucky feeling, as the fear was still in the pit of my stomach. At breakfast, I needed to talk about what I had seen and do you know what? Everyone laughed and made a joke of me. I told them this was not a dream, but no one listened.

For days and days, I wondered why that thing came to our home. Was it me that was being told I was going to die? I would lay until the late hours contemplating it all, frighten. I had no one to talk to about this and it played on me for so long, making me unable to sleep for a long time afterward without sleeping with a light on.

“Because I could not stop for Death – 

He kindly stopped for me – 

The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 

And Immortality.”

Emily Dickinson

And then Death did come knocking again to collect … two weeks later on the 17th January 1986.

My sixteen-year-old brother drowned after an accident off a bridge, with friends, fishing. My mother’s heart and mental state also died that day and went with my brother.
“It should have been you!” she would scream at me after drinking herself into her oblivion.
“I was ready for you to die! Not my Boy!”

She has never regretted saying those words to me, and though she no longer drinks, she has wasted so much of her life on grief, hostility and agony, with no one else’s feelings ever taken into account that we too lost someone we loved.

Death can make the living as lifeless and as cold as those we bury. Death hit our home and took so much in our minds, in our lives, but for some of us, it didn’t erase our lives, but gave us more understanding of living it.

Yes, Death came to our door and came calling.


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