When It Knocks

By Matthew Rush

‘Pizza’s here!’ I yelled, walking into the white, stainless kitchen, holding a large, pepperoni-scented box.

The sound of small feet rushing along wooden floorboards became louder. Seconds later, a small, pale boy with light blonde hair and green eyes rounded the hall corner. He swiftly turned to face me, standing in the kitchen archway. He was wearing dinosaur-themed pyjamas with small brightly coloured dinosaurs covering the blue cotton material.

 ‘Yum pepperoni. I love it when you babysit Jessica!’ The boy exclaimed.

Charlie ushered me towards the kitchen’s large, rectangular oak table and sat in one of the matching chairs. He eyed the pizza box in my hands while he bounced on his seat waiting for me to place the box on the table.

‘Hey, you remember the rules, don’t you?’ I raised my hand and pointed towards the hall entrance. ‘Go wash your hands first, Charlie. Then you can have pizza.’

Charlie frowned, slumped out of his chair and trudged into the hall towards the bathroom.

From my experience, Charlie was like most six-year-old’s: loud, energetic, slightly spoiled, incredibly naïve yet sweet and too curious for his own good, though I didn’t mind. The job was generally hassle-free so long as you knew how to manage kids properly.

I grinned, placed the pizza box down on the table and went over to the cabinets to grab the plates.

Knock! Knock!

Was someone at the front door?

It was faint, but I thought I heard someone. It must be the delivery guy. I turned away from the cabinets and walked into the dimly lit hallway, making my way towards the large front door. I turned the brass knob and pulled open the door to the chilling winter air, only to be met with nothing. The porch lights illuminated the rough stone pathway all the way from the door to the metal gate. The gate was closed, no note or anything just…nothing.

I pushed the door shut. The wind probably blew something against the door, but still, it was unsettling, just like this whole house.

The house was the only thing I detested about babysitting Charlie. Charlie was easy enough to manage, the job fitted into my schedule, and the extra cash was nice, but still…this house. The long, narrow hall that turned sharply through the home. The dim lighting. The black painted doors that creaked. The gravel paved sideway that led from the front yard to the backyard. The large, square, wall-sized window in the lounge that faced towards the pitch-black backyard. The house was shadowy and creepy.

I walked back down the hall and turned into the kitchen to be welcomed by Charlie. He had already set the table while I was answering the door.

‘Who was at the door, Jessica?’ Charlie said, looking at me expectantly for an answer.

‘Nobody, just the wind,’ I sighed and sat in the chair opposite him. ‘Anyway, let’s eat.’ I opened the box and plopped a slice of pizza on his plate.


After dinner we sat quietly on the couch and watched cartoons together until I noticed the digits on the digital clock above the television.
‘Oh wow, nine pm already. Alright time for bed.’ I yawned and pulled myself off the couch onto my wobbly legs.

He frowned. ‘Can’t I stay up a bit longer?’

‘I’m sorry. I could get into trouble with your parents if they found out you’re still bouncing around this late. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?’

He sulkily shook his head side-to-side in response.

I smiled and led him down the hall to his bedroom.

After reading him four short stories, I pulled up his covers, turned off the light and quietly closed the door on my way out into the hall.

Once I reached the lounge, I raised my arm slowly, my fingertips brushing the switch in a downward motion, and the last light in the house went off. With no lights left on, I was enveloped by the dark from all angles except the direction of the television, which emitted blue light. I used the light to guide myself over to the couch before sinking into the soft, red leather with my back towards the window.

Finally, the tension was gone. I faced the television, away from the shadows, away from the dark, and away… from the glass. My eyelids grew heavy, and my vision blurred as I drifted off to sleep alone in the lounge.


Bzzzt! Bzzzt! Bzzzt!

My eyelids felt heavy as they opened, I rubbed the gunk out of my eyes and started peering around the room for the source of the noise. Eventually my gaze fell upon the clock on the mantle, ten o’clock flashed repeatedly. Charlie’s parent’s must have set an alarm to keep me from falling asleep.

I forced myself off the couch and stumbled over to flick on the light switch. The bright lights forced me to squint in an attempt to regain my vision. Once I got used to the light, I made my way back to the couch, grabbed the remote, aimed it at the television and switched it off.

But something wasn’t right.

My body tensed as I stared at the television, or more accurately, the reflection on the screen. Within the reflection, I could see myself, the couch and the glass wall. But right over my shoulder, behind the glass, stood what looked like the silhouette of an absurdly tall and lanky person.

My chest tightened. My heartbeat thumped erratically against my chest. In my frantic state of shock, I leapt off the couch to face the glass, holding the remote over my head in defence.

But now I couldn’t see anything. Nothing but the pitch black.
I slowly tip-toed my way over to the spot where the figure was in the reflection and brought my face towards the glass to peer outside. My breath fogged up the glass when I got closer and closer. I pressed my hand to the cold glass and wiped it, but, nobody was there.

Knock! Knock!

I sprang back in alarm, toppled over the couch, and hit the cold, hard floorboards with a thud. I winced and groaned but I was too pumped full of adrenaline to care.

I got to my feet and looked towards the screen again, but nothing was there.

Someone knocked twice, right?

If someone was outside, they probably used the sideway to run back to the front of the house I tip-toed my way down the hall. Each step caused slight creaks from the wood beneath, but I ventured towards the front door.

Once I reached the entrance, I cautiously pulled the door ajar, braced for the drop in temperature and looked through the gap.

Once again, nobody was there.

However, the gate was wide open.

My skin crawled when it interacted with the harsh, cold air. But I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth before I ran barefoot down the stone path.

I slammed the gate shut, put the latch on and ran back inside.

I slammed the front door shut and hastily turned the lock.

We were safe, right?

 I walked down the dimly lit hall but stopped dead in my tracks.


Light was shining through the kitchen into the hall. I hesitantly made my way to the archway and peeked around the corner to see the light protruding from the open fridge.

I couldn’t have forgotten to close the fridge; I would have seen the light, right? Maybe Charlie left it open…


I hurried towards his door and pushed it open. My heart lurched at the sight of the empty bed. I hastily looked around the room to find a weapon in case there was an intruder lurking. Eventually I settled on an old, splintered T-ball bat.

 I peeked into the hall, but before I decided which way to go strange voices echoed through the halls, coming from the lounge.

My heart pounded against my chest and sweat dripped down my forehead. I stepped into the lounge only to be greeted by the sight of cartoon characters arguing on the television and Charlie, who turned around when I entered the room. Realisation sank in, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

‘Why aren’t you in bed?’ I said.

He sputtered, ‘I heard banging and got scared.’

I placed the bat on the ground and picked him up from the couch.

‘No more telly tonight, you need to sleep.’

I carried him back to his room with ease, closed the door behind us and tucked him into bed.

I was just being paranoid. Nobody was in the house; it was just Charlie walking around.

I sat on the edge of the bed and placed my hand on his side.

‘It’s alright, it was just the wind. This old house of yours makes all kinds of noises on nights like these,’ I assured him.

He turned to face me, ‘A-are y-you afraid of the noises?’

‘Yes. Many adults won’t admit it but we’re just as terrified as when we were as little as you. The creaks, the groans, the dark and— ‘

‘The knocks?’ He cut me off.

‘Yes…even the knocks. Just like this…’ I exclaimed before I gently knocked on his forehead with my knuckles, making him smirk.

‘I think I’m ready to sleep.’

‘Then my work here is done.’

I stood up from the bed and walked over to the door but remembered a small warning was in order.

‘Oh, before I forget, television is one thing…but don’t tell your parents that you got a midnight snack alright?’

He starred at me wide eyed and stuttered, ‘B-but I…didn’t.’

‘Didn’t what?’

‘I didn’t go to the kitchen!’

My heart stopped. Before I could say a word…the dreaded noise returned.

Knock! Knock! Knock!