They could hear them dancing. They were sure of that, of the blow of the feet and the palms of the hands of the couples that were dancing in a way they didn’t think they would dance. In between dreams, it seemed like the dance resounded so much that the pictures on the walls drummed with the rhythm, always with the rhythm. Mai was slowly waking up, with the eyes almost closed, looking the golden light that entered through the windows.
The other side of the bed was empty; Enoch was gone for a few hours now. The two nurses knew the tiredness in the body, but the woman, with the head burning, remembered why she didn’t miss it. She bit her lips, while she was getting out from under the sheets, and dragged her feet to the end of the hallway. Carefully, she opened the door on the right.
The thin and little figure of a four-years-old boy looked like he was disappearing in the pandemonium made with the machines around him. Rem was breathing weakly, and if he wasn’t connected to the machine that measured his pulse, it would look like he wasn’t breathing at all.
The house was an ordered disturbance, made of medicine notes, papers, books and clothes, all characteristics of moving from another house. She went down the wooden stairs until she reached the little and dark kitchen, where she made herself a lazy breakfast and dissolved two aspirins in a glass of juice. When she turned over, the silent and pale figure of her boy startled her. He had that empty and tired look when he stabbed his big black eyes on her, and sometimes made her think, God forgives her, that he wasn’t her son.
-Honey, go back to bed- She asked sweetly, hiding the trembling on her voice.
The damn dance started at some time in the late night, but only the screams of her son waked her up. It was another attack of the strange fever that bothered him since a few days, a symptom that wasn’t from his illness. When she found him, he was sitting on the bed, eyes wide opened, wet from a cold sweat, almost like if he could watch the invisible dance in the darkness. They couldn’t take him out from that state until they disconnected him and took him to one of his emergency medics.
-I don’t want to sleep anymore- He said. The mother kissed him on the forehead; she covered him with a coat and sit him on the chair. She opened the windows just to see the cloudy day, with big black clouds full of rain. It looked beautiful to her.
They moved into a little house in the countryside, a place almost deserted that since a few months was the strategic point of real-estate companies for house building. The artificial neighbourhood extends down a road, every house identical to the other, with the exception of one or two details. Most of the buildings were uninhabited. She painted the door of a gorgeous electric blue colour, hoping to enjoy the calm of the distance with the city, which should stop the illness a little bit. I gave her the possibility of being together, the time they had left.
But then this happens. In their first week the unknown neighbours waked them up three times, late at night. She will have some words with them, but later, until then she didn’t have a way of knowing which of the three houses was the guilty one.
-Do you want to help mom with the garden? – She proposed him, while she served the toasts and the marmalade.
She gave him a glass of water and the five coloured pills. Those pills invaded her with a strange feeling, mostly because they looked like little toys with rainbow colours, round and with an animal face printed on the sides. Rem never complained of the bitter taste, and he never complained of the needle permanently on his vein or the intravenous medication that his mom had to change every night.
-Yes- His voice was soft.
Rem would never be able to go to school; that was what the medic diagnosed a year before. The instability of his system, plus the aggressive reaction of the illness to the stress, made it difficult for him to leave home. That is why Mai and Enoch agreed that the little boy was going to be home-schooled. And maybe a garden with vegetables and a little coop would be a nice way to get in contact with nature.
That is why Ami fell in love with the ease that the garden had to make anything grow. It was the middle of autumn and the place was covered with red flowers, while in the side of the house, big blood coloured roses grow tall. The young plants she planted adapted easily to the ground. Soon she would harvest.
They worked on the earth until late in the afternoon, raking the ground and watering the plants. Even the tomatoes, a summer fruit, awaked big, red and juicy. It was just when they were about to finish, before the wind starts to blow; when she saw the face over the fence, looking at them.
-Good afternoon, neighbour- Said the old man. He had a smile typical from granddads that showed too much innocence.
-Good afternoon- She smiled -How did you sleep?-
-Not so well. That music was terrible, but it wasn’t you, right?-
Ami looked at him with a fatal look, full of eye bags and tiredness. Isn’t it obvious that it wasn’t me?
-We didn’t sleep either- She said every word slowly, carefully.
-Then it could be the other neighbour, but I’m almost sure that the sounds came from here. Anyway, have a nice day- He pronounced with a sharp tone.
While she observed the adjacent house with a annoyed look, she discovered the pale and thin face of an old lady on the window, who was slightly resting her head on the glass. She had the eyes white because of the cataracts and a quiet expression. Ami shook her head; she won’t let anything scare her. She greeted with her hand, if hands greetings were sarcastic this one was, and then she went inside the house again.
The noises returned two nights later, without any kind of music but two singing voices. Sometimes it sounded like a whisper, a mumbling laugh. The couple, still stunned by the sleep, thought that the sound came from the walls, which was impossible. Some minutes later, while the senses started to awake, they could discern what was the deep voice saying.
-Come here, come here with me- Repeated once and again, sometimes stronger. Sounded like a child, like a woman, like a men. And again -Come with us, come with me- They sounded happy.
And between every silence they could hear the soft and smooth voice of a child that answered.
Ami was paralyzed and Enoch ran outside. The dark hallway was empty. The family pictures, the striped wallpaper, nothing looked weird and nothing looked out of its place. It seemed like the house was empty, with the exception of the little voice that escaped from the last door, half opened.
-I’m going, I’m going, I’m going, I’m going, I’m going-
He tightened his fists while he pushed the wood slowly. He was a skinny man, the kind of person that spends the time on office works, writing prescription for medicines. But if it was someone inside, waiting to jump over him in the shadows, then it was the right moment to attack. The door opened completely, and the young dad was frozen on the door frame, with all the muscles tensed, at the point to jump inside. The little room was slightly lighted by the intermittent light from the machines, reflecting the tiny shape of his son in bed, the stuffed toys in the closet, and nothing more. There wasn’t anyone inside. He sharpened his hearing and he could hear Rem breathing softly in his sleep.
-I’m going, I’m going, I’m going-
While the voice that called him fell silent suddenly.
Ami’s shout startled him, and the turned around so quickly that he hit a photo which fell to the ground, making the glass explode in little particles.
He rushed to the room and discovered her with the windows almost opened, with the nose on the cold glass. She pointed, unable to speak, moving her mouth without making any sound.
-There is a man with a shovel in our garden-
A shadow twisted itself, desperate over the ground. The back of the man went up and down while the shovel removed the earth above his head. It sounded like he was incredibly furious with his body attacked by spasms and the cold wind ran. Enoch hurried to the phone that rested on the nightstand but the storm cut the telephone and the electricity. With the exception of the generator that keeps the machines of his son running, they were isolated in the middle of nothing.
-I’ll go outside- He decided, while he put on the boots and a coat. Mentally, he tried to remember anything that could be a weapon in defence of the possible attacker. He rushed to the garage, planning to go outside by the garage door.
Ami tried to stop him, screaming in the whispering.
-No, you are not going out. It’s dangerous, let him there. That madman isn’t trying to enter home, don’t risk yourself- But she made a step back when her husband picked up the sledgehammer. If he was fast enough he could hit the man in the leg before he hits him in the head. That would be in the worst-case scenario.
They could hear him screaming.
-I’m here, I’m here, just shut up! – And the sounds of the furious shovel he was stabbing in the wet ground.
-Lock the door and don’t open to anything or anyone unless I say that it’s me- He said in muted tones.