The Drain Lady :
My father was a military man. Retired back in ’95 from the Navy after 20 years of proud service to our country. But before that, we moved often… every 3-4 years or thereabouts we’d pack up and get shipped somewhere new. Early 1989, a wonderful opportunity arose and dad took it. A 16 hour flight later, and we were stationed at N.A.S Sigonella, Sicily. I guess I was about, ohhh 10 or 11 at the time. Those years were blurred save those pinpricks of memory that still haunt me. That still plague my dreams from time to time.
Our first home there was an apartment in a complex called “Bellavista” far from the Naval base. There was a waiting list to move into Base Housing that generally ran for about a year and a half’s wait. Until your time to move, you had to live amongst the locals wherever you could. Bellavista was a beautiful place… we lived on the upper floor of the complex and had a wonderful view of the countryside off our back balcony. At night, one could look up at the night sky and see a thin trail of fiery red lava slowly ebbing from still active Mt. Etna. And in the morning, everything left out in the open was often found to be blanketed ever so slightly in volcanic ash, almost like a light dusting of snow.
But naturally, as perfectly nice as Bellavista was, it wasn’t meant for us for long. The lnadlord’s daughter was pregnant, engaged… and homeless. Guess who got the boot? So we moved, with the landlord’s assistance, into another home. Motta S. Anastasia, a little cobblestone-streeted town near Catania, and much closer to the Navy base. The day we drove up to the new place, I felt ill. Of course, nothing was thought of this at the time, but I’d swear in retrospect I was being told something. The place was a 3 story house with an apartment on each floor. I really don’t remember the neighbors, but both were similarly Navy families. And I can imagine I pissed them off a lot with the screaming.
Dad unlocked the door and proceeded into the small entryway. The cobblestone street gave way to a marbled floor entrance and a matching set of marble stairs up to the second floor, which was our new home. The place was stunningly beautiful. Marble floors… glass french doors into the living room area… balconies attached to nearly every room, save the one that was to be mine. Claw foot bathtub…bidet… all the modern conveniences expected of a home in Europe.
I walked into the room that was going to be mine. Small, simple, square and quite cold. To the left, at the end of the wall was a door covered with a “persiana.” Basically, a form of window blinds made from heavy horizontal flaps that was operated via a cloth strap attached to the wall. I pulled it up to see that the door was mostly glass and beyond it was a very small “room” lined with brick along the floor and walls. I opened the door and stepped into the room and looked up to discover the room extended all the way up through the third floor and up to a hole in the roof. There was no covering on the hole either… it went straight into open air. The shaft allowed a fair amount of light to shine into the only room in the house without a window in it, which I thought was pretty damn cool initially.
The chill seemed to come from the room, despite the glaring sun nearly directly overhead. It was then I heard the first whispers. Like… if you were to take a wire brush and softly rub the stiff bristles against your jeans. At the time, I attributed it to echoes off the brick… but I couldn’t help but feel weird about it. It wasn’t coming from any discernable direction or source… but it surrounded me like a blanket, as if sound could be tangible and touchable. It pressed in gently on my ears like pressure on an aircraft ascending or descending. I turned to leave and I noticed a glinting drain in the middle of the floor. It was obviously for rainwater to drain away but my nausea increased when I saw it. My stomach gnawed at itself as I ran out of there and I swear I saw the drain cover jiggle a bit on my way out. I lowered the persiana quickly and rejoined the family in the living room, shaking and sick as a dog.
Now granted… a little brick room was far from the norm for paranormal ghosty stuff. But try telling that to whatever was in there. Christ. For weeks and weeks, I’d get up the nerve to open the persiana in broad daylight and risk a peek… only to stumble back from the door sick as all hell to my stomach and trembling. I tried telling my parents of course… but an 11 year old’s ramblings about a scary brick room generally get chalked up to too many “Freddy” and “Jason” movies. The whisperings rarely stopped at night. They were persistent from the time I laid down until I finally forced myself into slumber. Often, I’d wake up in the middle of the night to silence, and then the whisperings would start up again, as if it was waiting to make sure I was awake.
There was never any real words to the whispering… just a hollow “ksssh sshhhaww hissssshhhhh haaahhh ooooshhhh aaashhhhh” that seemed to repeat, but never in the same cadence. There was no emotion behind it either that I can remember. It wasn’t angry, it wasn’t sad nor happy. Just there. Always fucking there.
One night, after about 2 months of this, I was awoken by a particularly horrifying dream. I seemed to start having those dreams after we moved in… I had never had constant nightmares prior. But I awoke from the dream with the feeling that something was terribly, terribly wrong. Immediately my eyes darted to the door… and saw that the persiana was up. Now, European goons with experience, back me up… Persianas are about the noisiest damn things to have in a house. They’re generally metal slats hooked in with metal hooks that grind and squeak loudly in protest as they’re pulled open. There was no way in hell that the persiana, which was always closed, could have been opened without waking up everyone in the house. But sure enough, it was open about 3/4 of the way up the damned door. A bit of moonlight reflected off the bricks in the shaft and into my room with a dull bluish tone. I lay there for hours, paralyzed in my bed, but unable to look away from the door, lest there be something there when I looked back. Eventually, I just conked out…
The next morning crept up finally and I was freed from my paralysis. I ran to the door amidst a wave of nausea and pulled the persiana shut as fast as I could. There was a light dusting of volcanic ash on the brick floor and I’d swear I could make out footprints or scuffing in it. Mom, still asleep at the time, yelled at me from across the hall after hearing the noise, but I couldn’t care less.
Over the course of the next 3 months, it was the same routine. The whisperings never faltered. The persiana would be found at least 2 to 3 times a week opened, and the blackness of the room would stare out at me in my bed. Then one night, it was different. I still have nightmares of this incident and it makes me cringe and want to curl up in a ball still whenever I conjure it up. I had awoken again in the midst of a terrible nightmare. And sure enough, the persiana was up, but this time it was all the way up. The moonlight was barely filtering in that night, but I’d swear I could make out something there in the room. It felt like I was at just the right angle for me to see whatever it was, and if I were to move the slightest bit, I’d lose sight of it. It was a small sphere that shimmered like a soap bubble does. But it was so faint I could barely make it out. I watched as it hovered there for the longest time. It began to shrink like some TVs used to do when you turned them off… shrink into a tiny dot of light.
But before it winked out, it flashed and expanded. It did so at an alarmingly fast rate and solidified into the form of a woman. She looked to be in her early to mid thirties, dark curly hair… definitely a local Sicilian. When she became “whole” and a solid image, she began shrieking and pounding on the glass doors with both fists. Her head swiveled wrong on her neck, shaking back and forth like if you put a teakettle on a stick and shook the stick around. Her eyes were completely black and full of anger and hatred… The skin around her mouth flapped loosely, giving me glimpses of her teeth and tongue and her hair was tossing around violently. Some sort of liquid oozed in small spurts from the corners of her mouth and flecks of whatever it was flew as she shrieked. Her screaming was horrific and nonsensical, and all I could do was scream back. My dad charged into the room to my bed, thinking I was having a nightmare. She shrank back from the door and… ugh. She slithered down the drain somehow. She twisted and distorted and I’d swear I could hear her bones splintering and cracking as she wound herself down into it. It was awful and to this day, dad says he’s never heard anyone scream so inhumanly before. I often ask him jokingly if he meant from me or her.