The Wolf in the Wardrobe

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

The following is based on a true story that happened to me as a teenager... Laced with references to things that rocked my world in the 70s/early 80s. I hope it rings a few bells whether you dig campanology or not!

I woke up suddenly in the night. It was 04.38 a.m. according to the luminous hands on the wind-up alarm clock by the bed. The room was pitch black. And isolated, as it was situated downstairs at the front of the house, as opposed to the rest of the family bedrooms which were all cosily tucked away on the first floor. This was more than a little worrying, as something felt decidedly out of place.


To reinforce this feeling, my heart was beating wildly and the skin on my neck was doing a pretty good impression of Limahl from Kajagoogoo's ridiculous hairdo. If only my cheap hairspray could have the same impressive results. 


It took just a moment to hone in on the reason for my abrupt awakening. There was an unearthly sound emanating from the wardrobe in the corner of the room. A loud, repetitive KEW! KEW! KEW! noise which, at that moment was growing into a visually complete and terrible vision, thanks to the growth hormone fuelled imagination of a 14 year old.
In my mind's eye I could see a crouching, shaggy haired, bloodshot eyed, yellow fanged wolf monster, scarely fitting into the wooden confines of the wardrobe. With the corner of my lace edged gypsy skirt hanging haphazardly over one ear,  this hairy harbinger of death could almost have been described as cute.  Apart from the pink, blood tinged slaver dripping from its glistening chops and onto my shoe collection. And that horrible noise? Being caused by hungry jaws clamping down on a recently severed human leg (possibly belonging to our next door neighbour and my English teacher Mr. Suggitt).


You know that special effect during horror films? The one that was invented for Hitchcock's Vertigo. The camera zooms in on the subject in shot whilst simultaneously being pulled backward at speed on a dolly. causing the outside of the shot to become blurry. Suddenly I was in that scene in the dolly zoom of my mind. Except it was my mortality that had been suddenly thrust into a vulnerable state of focus.  Despite the uselessness of the gesture, I raised the coverlet over my head and licked around my dry lips.


In the movies, this is the point where the expendable student at the frat party goes to investigate the noise. Alone. And usually less than a minute before being decapitated, hung up on a hook or chopped in half with a chainsaw. This was not the wise response to danger, which I knew for a fact. I'd watched all my father's 1970s horror film collection on vhs tapes. But only when the grown ups were out in the afternoon, the curtains drawn and with several friends for company. The smart thing to do was to make a run for it. So throwing off the covers and with uncharacterist nimbleness I leapt out of bed  and hot- footed it up the stairs, clearing two at once. Heading, not as you might imagine into my parents' room. But instead, into my sister's.

Meet Emma. Three years younger than me but already taller, she was the Xena Warrior Princess of the Wilson household at this time. Still bra-less but also fearless. Not renowned for her calm personality and with a fiery response to sibling rivalry., She had previously cattle branded my leg with a red hot poker and on another occasion had also pushed me into a lit fireplace whilst I was wearing that firehazard- fashion- faux pas; a crimpolene dressing gown. But the piece de la resistance was the previous Summer. A Benny Hill style chase ensued round the garden after fighting over who would sit in the front of the car during a family outing. Not so funny when I tripped over the 'snake in the grass' hosepipe lying on the lawn, thus fracturing my arm. However that battle was mine as I couldn't sit my mock exams due to the injury and got 2 weeks extra Summer holiday instead! So I had grown to respect her unruly powers.

I almost dragged my 12 year old super-sister down the stairs, still sleepy and a bit confused. When we got to the bedroom door I motioned for her to be quiet and I flipped on the light switch and held my breath as we cautiously entered the room.

Everything appeared normal. The wardrobe stood serenely in the corner. Nothing seemed to have been moved. My Jackie annuals lay open on the floor where I'd been reading them the day before. Gary Numan gazed out moodily from the poster on the wall, totally rocking that p.v.c. jumpsuit look. The dansette with the lid open was waiting to receive its next musical order. My modest record collection standing by, vertical and at the ready in the KTel record selector (free gift from Woolworths record department with every LP for a limited period only). Push the first one gently forward and all the others followed suit 'for ease of selection' as it said on the box. At the time I thought it was high tech at its finest, but in retrospect realise that this product was about as impressive as a one legged man entering an arse kicking competiton.

Emma started to look annoyed and as I opened my mouth in protest, the wolf monster started turning Mr. Suggitt's other leg into a bread stick. "Kew! Kew! Kew!". We looked at each other with wide eyes and in a moment of sisterly solidarity she reached for my hand.
This situation was getting the better of me and the sensation of crawling skin was getting so bad that I could almost feel the hell hound's bristly fur rubbing against the back of my leg.
OH SHIT!!!! Something WAS there. I  jumped and screamed as a flash of something black and furry ran past us. Emma jumped and screamed. Partly through fear and partly because I had dug my nails really hard into her hand. But wait!


Looking up at us and enjoying the game immensely was Angus our daft labrador, who had slipped in through the open door. He didn't seem overly concerned that he could be turned from dog into dogfood in 0.4 seconds. Suitably restored by the sight of Angus' wagging tail and thus feeling the bravery of companionship, I decided the moment had come. So with Warrior PrinSis at one side and Sherlock Bones at the other, I made a lunge for the wardrobe door, grabbed the handle and yanked it open.


In an instant something scuttled between us and as we jumped out of the way, Angus' keen nose was on the scent. I just had time to see a tiny brown body with a long pink tail before it disappeared under the bed. A mouse. It was just a mouse. But how could such a tiny creature make such a scary noise?

My sister was rummaging around in the wardrobe and emerged triumphantly with a tennis racket in one hand. A slightly modified version, sporting a big hole in the middle that was surrounded by a halo of frayed nylon strings. So the mouse had been making a racket by chewing on the racket! Staring intently at the hole, I knew exactly what Emma was about to say. "Hey! This is mine! I didn't say you could borrow it!" Exit sisterly solidarity. But when you have just shared a near death experience of excruciating proportions, the tendency is to let things go. And as a token of my appreciation I also decided to let something go. So I gave Emma my prized Starsky and Hutch sew on patch. Actually I didn't want it anyway because David Soul had just got married so I'd decided I didn't fancy him anymore. But some things are best left unsaid.


With the threat of a devilish room mate resolved, Mr. Suggitt lived on to regret my English homework. And my bedroom returned to its' previous status of safe haven and ongoing exhibition of teenage angst. On cold nights I would light the coal fire in the hearth and lie on the bed while the warmth permeated the room and the flickering shadows of the flames danced on the walls. Sounds romantic, doesn't it? But in reality, an open fire indicated no central heating. No central heating meant ice on the windows in Winter. The inside of the windows. And on really cold mornings I would sometimes have to get dressed under the bed covers. Including footwear. This could result in unusual excuses by the time I got to registration class. 


"Sorry I'm late Miss. It took me a long time getting ready for school 'cos I spent 10 minutes trying to get my left welly on before I realised it was the hot water bottle!"


Maybe nostalgia isn't what it used to be.



 


Submitted: April 30, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Amanda Caroline Wilson. All rights reserved.

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