My spouse believes in being energy efficient. When we leave a room, we turn out the light. I frequently come home to a dark house, one brave light valiantly beckoning in the room at the end of the upstairs hallway. That would be my spouse’s study, and the only light on in the house.
The laundry room is in the basement, at the bottom and to the right of a long, wooden stairway. There is a light switch at the top of the stairs, said switch being a key feature in my decision to buy the house.
On a typical weekend, I get myself pumped to do a round of laundry. It’s immensely satisfying to begin a task that has a finite and achievable end. This particular weekend, I am home alone, a somewhat unusual Saturday afternoon with spouse out on an errand. I take the two storey trek with my piled high blue hip-hugger laundry basket, down the stairs from upstairs, round the corner, down the stairs to the basement, flicking on lights as I go. I slide the basket onto the top of the dryer, and am happily humming and sorting. Colours, bright colours, whites….colours first, detergent, dials and then the sweet sound of water surging and squishing into the washer… and then….. for no reason that I can fathom, I am plunged into a blackness so sudden and complete that I gasp; I actually put my hand on my chest and reach frantically for a surface….
…. And then I hear these….sounds….the door clicking shut at the top of the stairs, and, unthinkably, FOOTSTEPS, on the ceiling above my head. I’m talking to myself as I gaze about looking for some landmark amidst the hovering looming shapes and then there is a huge CLUNK that literally propels me towards what has to be the door, and away from those awful chugging breathing sounds….
I scrabble my way to what I pray fervently is the bottom of the stairs and, stealthily, I crawl up, one stair at a time, ears attuned to every squeak from the upstairs intruder. I turn on the light switch… softly, slow motion, silently turn the knob and open the door a crack. I peer into my darkened downstairs and see…nothing. I run wildly about the space and turn on every light. Breathlessly, I look around. The next move is mine.