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An Infernal Machine


Again, memory veiled this until recently. This shoud be the last of my recountings.

It was nineteen eighty-six, and I was spending the night at Dave's home in Avon Lake. He'd grown up there, living with his parents, presently just his mother, as his father had passed away about four years previously.

Mister Rathmore had worked the steel mill for many years. That, plus a pack a day cigarette habit had given him emphysema. For the last three years of his life, he was bedridden, breathing with the aid of a respirator, the sound of which could be heard all over the house, as it pumped air into his frail form. He died in the fall of eighty-two.

The bedroom was closed off, and the respirator returned to the medical equipment renter.

Dave and I got to Avon Lake about nine-thirty or so-by then, he'd taken over the basement as his residence, with his mother sleeping in another first floor bedroom, across the hall from the one his dad had occupied. We made coffee, and sat talking and watching tv for about three hours or so, catching up on events, as we'd not seen each other for several months.

I'm not sure when the noise started- I just remember suddenly being aware of it, a pumping sound, quite audible, coming seemingly from the vacant bedroom above and to the right... I didn't place the sound at first, then I remembered... It was the sound of a breathing machine, a respirator. I looked across at Dave, who was looking across at me-plainly, we both heard the sound, and recognized it.

We bolted up the basement stairs, and raced to the bedroom; by then, the noise had ceased. Dave flung open the door, and turned on the light.

There was nothing to be seen but a stripped bed, dusty furniture, and no machine.

Dave's mother came out of the room across the hall. When Dave asked her if she'd heard the sound, she vehemently denied it, although the look on her face gave the lie to that. This would not be the last time she'd react thus.

Dave and I went back downstairs; the noise did not recur.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, alandhopewell, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

alandhopewell (28 stories) (145 posts)
8 years ago (2014-04-28)
ALLESGUTE- God bless you, as well. Dave's mother was, to be sure, in denial, about much.
allesgute154 (3 stories) (254 posts)
8 years ago (2014-04-25)
This story was really scary. The sound of the machine must be really jarring on the nerves. Dave's mom seems to be in denial mode. I love the way you write (loved the title for this story too), and have read most of your stories. God bless.
Argette (guest)
8 years ago (2014-04-23)
I think Dave's mother just doesn't want to admit something's going on. Not that I blame her. I won't speculate why, but that's the feeling I get from reading both pieces.
alandhopewell (28 stories) (145 posts)
8 years ago (2014-04-21)
ARGETTE- I've got a letter from Dave at home that I must answer; he writes about every other month, and won't touch a computer for love or money.

His mother passed on seventeen years ago, and the house went up for sale. For another account of happenings at that house, check out, "A Shady Character".
Argette (guest)
8 years ago (2014-04-21)
Perhaps Mrs Rathmore feared the noise meant that her husband's spirit was restless and unhappy. How very sad for everyone.

Alan, are you still in contact with your friend? Has anything else occurred, to your knowledge? Did the sound return?

I sure hope this is not your last story!
Fergie (40 stories) (1159 posts)
8 years ago (2014-04-20)
Ha! Alan, that is a classic case of sound being imprinted in the 'fabric' of the house. That must have been unnerving and a horrible reminder of the suffering that Mr Rathmore went through. I wonder why the lady of the house was so anxious to deny hearing it, if she clearly had?

Thank you for sharing Alan.

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