In the old days, we spent our evenings as a family parked in front of our old black and white TV set. There were only four channels back then: 3, 13, 8, and PBS. Being down in the hills, we could only pick up two: 3 and 13. If atmospheric conditions were just right, and they seldom were, we could pull in a very snowy channel 8.
On this particular night, sometime around 1967' or '68, me and my brother were in our usual places sprawled out on the living room floor in front of the boob tube. Dad was lying on the couch, and mom was in her favourite chair.
While we were watching TV, I remembered something I wanted. Unfortunately, it was upstairs - a place that experience had taught me to avoid at all costs on my own at night.
Whatever it was that I wanted, the desire for it was strong enough that I was willing to risk life and limb to get it.
So, there I stood at the bottom of the stairway looking up at the vinyl, accordion style door, and debating whether it really was worth the risk.
Finally, I decided to go for it. I carefully slid the door open, hoping with everything in me that the noise wouldn't awake "Mr. Titus," the family ghost.
Stepping onto the first step, I reached up and turned on the two-way light. I couldn't feel his presence anywhere.
I cautiously walked up a few more steps. He still wasn't there - I was going to be safe!
With a grin like the Cheshire cat, I ran up the rest of the stairs, made the quick U-turn down the hallway to my room. Flipping on the light, I grabbed whatever it was I needed. I stood there for a moment bursting with pride. I was in my room, at night, alone, and I wasn't afraid. I was growing up!
Just as I got to my bedroom doorway, my legs became heavy. I froze in my tracks. My heart began beating like it was going to shoot out of my chest like the creature in Alien. I was suddenly filled with that inexplicable fear that overwhelmed me every time Mr. Titus appeared. But this didn't feel like Mr. Titus. This was something different. This thing wanted to hurt me. I was trapped.
The ghost of Mr. Titus was annoying at best. This thing was new, terrifying, and at the end of the hall, just inside Mom and Dad's room - waiting for me.
All the excitement I had felt about being so brave and growing up was gone. I was terrified. I wasn't used to something invisible wanting to actually hurt me.
I knew I only had three choices, and I didn't like any of them. I could yell for help and listen to my family tell me to stop being stupid, and possibly hear snide remarks from my brother until morning, or I could stay put and risk it coming after me and killing me.
In the end, I decided the best option was to take a chance on beating it to the stairs, and get down before it could hurt me.
It was comical to think I could beat it to the stairs. From my room, I had to run the length of the hallway, make a fast U-turn, and run down the stairs. "It" just need to walk two steps and it was there!
I mustered up all the courage I could. Took several deep breaths. Steeled myself. Then bolted down the hall as fast as my trembling little legs could take me. "It" was nowhere in sight! I was going to make it!
But just as I was about to make the U-turn, a huge black shadow shaped like a stretching square came out of Mom and Dad's room. It was at least two-thirds of the wall high. I felt as though I was being suffocated by it. As though it were trying to engulf me.
There was no way I could turn back now. I had to force my little shaky legs on. Forcing my way onto the top stairs, I stretched out my arms to brace myself against the walls so I wouldn't fall. Then, I felt a hand on my back. It was pushing me forward. I was missing steps all the way down.
I somehow managed to land on my feet when I landed on the living room floor. I quickly turned around and looked up the stairs. There, at the top, stood Shadowman. We stared at one another for a moment. He had made his point, and he knew it. He slowly turned away and went back into Mom and Dad's room.
This wouldn't be the only time he would push me down the stairs. It happened a lot after that. In time, he must have gotten bored, because he eventually stopped. For which, I'm quite thankful.