Emma Froh narrates this tale, adapted by Craig Groshek, about a person who returns home from a business trip to find every light bulb in their home unscrewed just enough so that they won’t turn on. There are no other signs of a break-in. What would you do in such a situation?
If you’re interested in seeing the original version of the story, please check out the blog Do You Believe in X:
Adapted By: Craig Groshek
Narrator: Emma Froh
Returning late from a business trip and more than a little jet-lagged as a result, I entered my house bleary eyed and tired. To my dismay, flipping the light switch in the hall proved ineffective. Fumbling my way to the closet with only the light from my cell phone to guide me, I searched for my box of spare light bulbs. After hastily tossing the vacuum cleaner and a few coats to the side, I found the dusty little box.
Clinking as I extracted a bulb, I strained my arm towards the fixture to remove the expired bulb. Barely within the struggling reach of my fingertips, I twisted it. To my surprise, I found it was not burnt out, but loosened just a bit. With a single turn, the hall was suddenly illuminated. Retracting my arm, I placed the bulb back in the box and pondered how the bulb could have loosened itself. Weighing the possibility of ever knowing how against the amount it really mattered, I retired the thought.
Having been forced to deal with mysteriously faulty electronics after a six-hour flight and a two-hour drive home, I was in a particularly foul mood. Resolving to fix myself a stiff drink and a heavy dose of Tylenol, I shambled into the kitchen.
A sickening case of déjà vu poured through my veins like black sludge as I found flipping the kitchen switch useless as well. My efforts were about as effective as clapping my hands and dancing around the light bulb would have been.
My first thought was to check to see if the television was where I left it. The whole sequence of events reeked of a bizarre robbery.
Sprinting through the darkness, I nearly ran straight into my TV, affirming its continued occupancy in my house. In fact, nothing had be disturbed whatsoever. This, of course, is aside from the minute unscrewing of what I understood to be every light in the entire house.
As I trudged through the procession of dim rooms, one after the other, tightening each bulb, a sense of unease flooded me. In order to tighten the light my bedroom, in particular, I had to fetch a screw driver to open a fixture. Whoever had done this, had it been a person, put quite a bit of effort into it.
Despite the exhaustion lapping at the edges of my consciousness, a compulsion coursed through me. I couldn’t sleep until every single light in the entire house was once again functional and illuminated. Working slowly, but as steadily as I could, I wandered through the remainder of the house. I was filled with dread each time I left a well-lit room for one that was painted in black shadows.
I passed the night in a fog of paranoia; even the fridge lights had been unscrewed. After remedying that situation, and against my better judgment, I ventured into the basement and the attic.
Turning bulbs with shaky, sweaty hands until the safe dusty yellow light graced me once again, I determinedly saw my task out.
As I descended from the attic, not so much as bothering to brush the thick dust off my expensive pants, I noticed the sun rising merrily in my bedroom windows. A thin smile graced my lips as I let my eyes slack and close. Lying down on the cold fabric of my bed, the security of daylight was the only blanket I needed.
Today, I’m still here, on my bed, unable to sleep or move. I still don’t know who – or what – unscrewed the light bulbs. My search of the house revealed no intruders, yet I’m afraid to turn off the lights, or to take my eyes off the lamp beside me.
The old grandfather clock in the corner of my room is chiming nine in the evening. I’m so tired – the events of the previous night must have worn me down even more then I thought. My body aches – no – screams, for more rest. Yet, I’m afraid to submit.
I’m afraid I’ll wake up in the dark.