It started when we got a new gaming system. Or I guess I should say when my roommates got one, because I don’t do much with video games; I like the computer better myself. But I was the smallest one in our house, so of course they had to get me to crawl behind the TV to get things set up.
It’s a pretty tight fit back there, to be honest. There’s maybe just enough room for me to go in sideways from the shoulders, and even then I have to squeeze. It was also pretty dark, so I had to get one of my roommates to hold a flashlight over my head so I could even see what I was doing.
We’ve got a pretty nice TV, but it’s kind of old at this point. (I say old but it’s more like three or four, which is pretty old in technology terms.) There were a bunch of wires in the back, and I couldn’t even tell where all of them led. It was like sticking your hand into a nest of inert rubber snakes or something. In fact, while I was in the process of unplugging stuff and trying to untangle things, I actually jabbed myself hard enough to bleed on the metal sprongs of a plug. We joked that I’d been bitten, but after I wrapped a tissue around my finger, it was pretty much all I needed, and I got the rest of the connections hooked up.
I got everything hooked up for them, though, so that made me the hero of the day. When we ordered pizza that night M paid for my share. It was a stupid little thing but I felt pretty proud of myself.
The thing was, the next day, things started going a bit funny.
I have a big old monster of a desktop, see, and it’s not my gaming machine, but it’s the one I use for pretty much anything related to work. It’s clunky and starting to show crow’s feet, but it’s good for what it is, and I don’t really have any reason to get rid of it yet. And it was about nine at night, so it wasn’t too late, but it was definitely dark outside, when I heard a rustling.
My computer’s right next to the window, so that’s not so weird. On really windy nights, you can hear it screaming as it smashes branches against the glass. When I looked, I could see stuff moving, so I just chalked it up to that and kept working.
But then I heard it again, and I realized that it didn’t sound like it was coming from outside. It sounded like it was coming from under my desk. So of course the thing to do was to push my chair back and look, right?
Underneath, where my computer’s tower was, there’s a whole tangle of wires. The connections for the computer to its power cord, to the monitor, to the mouse and the keyboard and my external hard drive, stuff like that. Then there was the power strip I had, which stood out among the others for being fat and white, and also had the cords for my phone charger, for my desk lamp, and for the old DS charger that I never used any more.
As I sat there, looking at that mass, I actually saw it move.
It wasn’t very much; it wasn’t like it just suddenly started shaking or anything super obvious. It just kind of … shook a little, like there was something inside that tangle of cords. My first thought was basically shit, did we have mice? Did our lease agreement cover pest extermination? I mean, K had a cat, but he was a meek and shy thing; I don’t think he’d know what to do with a mouse if he was faced with a real one. Would that have to come out of our lease agreement? My cousin had had a landlord that basically tried to dock their entire deposit because they found mouse droppings in the pantry when they moved out.
I slid down off my chair and reached out to the mass of wires, trying to lift it up. If there was a mouse, I had to promise myself not to scream. I mean, I was an adult! What kind of grown up screams at a itty bitty widdle mousie?
But when I lifted the wires, there was nothing there. No mouse, not even a bug, nothing that would have hinted why they moved. Maybe I’d been imagining things. It’d been a pretty long week, maybe I was just too frazzled by everything, so I just imagined it.
I got back into my chair and went back to work. Nothing at all happened the rest of the night, but in the morning, I woke up to the same soft rustling sound. It wasn’t very loud, especially not compared to my alarm, but it was the sort of creeping noise that gets into your ears and then suddenly before you realize it, boom! You’re wide awake and can’t sleep again. That was me, and I lay on my side for a long time with my eyes closed, listening.
Finally I sat up and grabbed my glasses. It was still too dark to see anything clearly, but there was a window next to my bed, and enough light came through that I could see across the room, under my desk.
The bundle of wires was definitely moving. It wasn’t like last night, where it had just been a twitch to the side. It was definitely continuously moving, shaking from side to side.
Somehow, I didn’t really think it was a mouse any more.
I sat there with my knees against my chest and I watched it move until it stopped. It felt like it took hours, but it probably was only a few minutes. As soon as it went still, my alarm went off, and even though I was still tired, I had to get up and get dressed and ready for the day.
My job was the same as always, at least. I never thought I’d be grateful for how boring it is, but it did a lot to make me feel better. My manager stopped by my desk briefly to encourage me; he told me I was doing a good job with my current project, and even made some vague hints about going on to doing bigger and better things once it was finished.
So I was feeling better by the time I got home … and then I realized I was home alone. Since it was Friday, I always got home first.
As soon as I realized this, I could hear the rustling. It was louder than before, and closer than it should have been.
I turned on the light and looked at the TV area, where we had our nice fancy entertainment center set up. There was the TV, on its shelf, with the drawers where our DVDs and games were underneath and closed. There was the new console I’d help set up, its power button glowing red.
But from behind the TV, stretching out like — I don’t know, like tentacles or something! — were the wires.
There were so many of them, more than there had been the other day, when I’d actually been behind there, hooking things up. As I watched, they kept spilling outwards, more and more, like they were actually growing. It wasn’t really like they were getting bigger, but they were getting longer. And I could hear more noises, in other parts of the house, even from the kitchen and the bathroom. (K has a fancy salon hairdryer, M has a hair straightener, and we’ve got a toaster and a toaster oven, and K’s mom sent us a blender as a house present that we just got set up … who knew.)
When I looked at the stairs, I could see at the very top of them a tangle of wires. They looked like the ones from my room, complete with the fat white cord of my power strip.
For a moment I thought about throwing my phone at one of them and trying to run, but honestly, I knew that wouldn’t really do a whole lot of good. If I wanted out, then I’d have to think of something better–
Something touched my ankle. I looked around to see a thin black cord wrapping around it. It tugged, but it wasn’t strong enough to pull me off of my feet yet. But it held on even when I lifted my leg and shook it, and somewhere in me I knew that I was definitely stuck. I thought about how I’d cut myself the other day setting things up, but that’s the sort of stuff that doesn’t happen for real, does it? That’s just superstition made up to scare people.
But I have to tell you, I’m scared now.
They’re crawling up my legs now. I can hear more than just their rustling now; I can hear little electric zapping noises, and it sounds an awful lot like things talking to each other. The cords from my computer are nearly at the bottom of the stairs now, and they’re growing a lot faster than the ones from the TV. Maybe it wasn’t really my blood after all; maybe that’s just how they were. Waiting.
But that part’s almost over.
My phone battery’s dying.
K, M, if you see this, I hope you’re not coming home.