I heard the satisfying crunch of the gravel as I sped down the driveway. Hearing the crunch at 3am was somehow different from hearing it at noon. Perhaps the darkness of night impelled me to divert extra attention to my hearing.
The tunnel of trees eventually gave way to reveal the house. The lights that were always on at night were on. The lights that weren't always on were off. The interior lights were off. The barn lights were off. The ... the upstairs bathroom light was on.
I must have just left it on when I left. But I left during the day, so why would I have turned that light on? The window lets in plenty of light.
I parked the car, slowly engaging the hand brake with what would otherwise be reassuring clicks. Engine off. The sounds of the door opening and closing must have carried a long way through the still night air and probably also across the still water of the nearby lake.
Though it wasn't as if anyone were trying to hear.
At least probably not.
I stepped lightly but briskly to the back door. The part where I walk from the car to the house is when I'm most vulnerable to predators. I hear bears can get to the Human McNuggets inside a car but in a car I could probably forcefully drive away provided too much of the bear wasn't already in or on the car. In the house I can shut the doors and barricade myself somewhere like the bathroom. No place is perfectly safe, but between the car and the house I am the least safe.
Step, step, step, turn knob, pull, step, turn myself, pull... exhale! I'm in!
I'm in the house I'm staying in, but it's not my house. It belonged to my grandparents and it is mostly still laid out the way they had it. As I step into the kitchen, turning on lights as I go along, a hundred little porcelain turtles eye me carefully.
"Hello?" I call out.
I walk to the other end of the kitchen and approach the stairs up. I see the bathroom light on at the top.
"Anyone in there?"
The green glow of the stair chair, parked at the bottom, illuminates the opening steps. I climb them. Then the bathroom light takes over for the top steps. I climb those.
"Is there someone in the bathroom?"
"Y at-il quelqu'un dans la salle de bain?"
"Czy jest ktoś w łazience?"
I hear nothing but silence. I step into the bathroom. In the bathroom I find...
"Amy, what's a scary thing you could find in a bathroom? In a scary story."
"Evidence of someone else being there? Like different coloured hair in your hairbrush? The toilet paper mounted facing the other way than you normally have it? The guest towel has been used?"
"How about a pin? Provided it's sitting on top of a package of condoms."
I found none of those things. I turned out the light. But... absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Whatever or whoever it was could still be in the house right now. Oooooooo.
That was a terrible scary story but at least it was original. The last time I tried to write one I just stole a story from one I read in a collection. Unfortunately, someone else in my class had read that collection and after I told "my" story, he said he'd heard it before. That was scarier for me than the story I retold.