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Strange Noises

Maggie Thom, Multi-Award Winning Author, Speaker, Writing Coach

Strange Noises


            “Hi. I’m not sure who I should have called but…”

            “Sir, is this an emergency?”

            “Well…I’m not sure. My name is Sam Taylor. I’m at my restaurant, Macy’s. There are some really weird noises coming from the walls.” He paused for a second. “Maybe make that the ceiling.”

            “What kind of noises, sir?”

            “It sounds like someone is yelling inside of a tube – you know kind of muffled.”

            “Could the sound be coming from next door?”

            “There are no other buildings around me.”

            “What’s your address, sir? I’ll have the police come by and check it out.”

            Sam rattled off his address in the west end of Edmonton. He hung up his cell phone and then leaned back against the side of the building. He hunched his shoulders against the early morning spring breeze.

            What the heck did I hear? Ghosts? He shook his head. No. No way. I just don’t believe in them. But what else could it have been?

The sound reminded him of an old movie, where the ghost was walking around dragging a ball and chain.

            This was one of those times, Sam wished he hadn’t listened to his doctor and quit smoking. He sure could have used one. To keep his mind occupied, he tried to focus on what he had to do that day. Only his mind kept wandering. Because he was short staffed, he’d been working a lot of hours lately. Maybe the four hours of sleep he was living on, was catching up with him. Of course then there was his great aunt, who had gone a little loopy in her early sixties, maybe he was doing the same thing but at a younger age.

            Finally, a police car with a young, barely-of-age-to-shave cop, finally arrived. Sam met him at the building entrance. “Hi. I’m Sam Taylor, the owner.”

            “I’m Officer Bryant. What seems to be the problem?”

            Oh great. And he’s got attitude too. Must have picked the short straw.

            Sam quickly explained that he’d arrived at 5:30, same as always to start his day. He’d barely stepped through the front door, when these eerie sounds started to happen. His first thought had been that it was a burglary but in ten years there hadn’t been a successful one. His security system has stopped the few attempts.

            “Look, I know it sounds lame but I’ve never heard that kind of sound. It really bothered me. Come on I’ll show you.”

Sam led the young police officer into his restaurant. The night lights were still on. It was easy to make out the wood tables and plush chairs. As was true to the rule, now that Sam had someone there, there was no noise. The place was quiet, except for the soft hum of the night lights.

            The cop pulled out his flashlight. “Stay here.” He walked the perimeter of the large dining area, then he entered one bathroom and then the other. When he came back out there was definitely enough light for Sam to see the annoyance on the man’s face.

            Well he wasn’t the only one. I’d like to know that I’m not hearing imaginary things.

The policeman head for the kitchen around the large counter that hid its entrance. Sam followed. There was still no out of the ordinary sounds.

            “Sir, I don’t know what you heard. Maybe a cat got into your trash cans out back?”

            “I have a dumpster and it wasn’t that kind of noise.” Sam moved over to the walk in fridge as a horrible thought went through his mind. He yanked it open and then sagged against the door. “Whew. I had this awful thought that someone got locked in here. As you can see it’s empty.”

            Sam pursed his lips and shook his head. The cop gave him a wary look. Sam’s eyes widened. The cop thought he was being scammed or dealing with a nut case.

            “Look. I’m sorry you got called out on this goose chase. I know I heard something weird. Human like.” Sam shrugged and slammed the door to the fridge. It closed with a thump.

            A few seconds later, there was a bang. Sam and the cop looked at each other. Before either could react, the muffled, eerie sound started.

            “What the…” The policeman looked around in confusion.

            Thank God someone else heard it.         

library book floating

            It took another fifteen minutes before they determined where the echo was coming from. The police officer called for back-up, the fire department and the ambulance. They all arrived with lights and sirens blaring. The neighborhood was getting a six a.m. wake up call, whether they wanted it or not.

            The officer who responded, climbed out of his car and walked over to where they were standing by the front door. He walked with that professional but easygoing attitude.

            “So Rick, you have the cavalry here, but I don’t see any smoke.”

            Officer Bryant turned brick red but he didn’t respond to the teasing. He quickly filled in the older policeman.

            The next hour was the weirdest Sam ever remembered in his life. They finally determined that someone was in the ducts. That was why it had been hard to determine exactly where he was – the sound echoed throughout the vent system. To get him out they were going to have to go in the same way the guy did – through the vent in the roof.

            When they finally extracted the guy, he had about sixty cuts all over him. He looked like someone had taken a razor blade and slashed away at his body.

            The older officer kept clearing his throat. Curious as to what was his problem, I stared at him. The man was trying not to laugh. “So Mr. Break and Enter, I see you’ve struck again.”

            “I told you I could do it.” Even though the burglar was cuffed, bleeding and in obvious pain, he stood there with a defiant attitude and stance.

            “Right. How did you manage to get in?”

            The young burglar went through a lengthy explanation. Obviously proud of what he had done. “I told you I’d be able to break into any place in the city.”

            The cop chuckled. “Yes you did. When I hauled you in a year or so ago, you warned me that as soon as you got out of jail, you’d prove you could do just that.” The policeman covered his mouth for a minute. “I’m just not sure you can count this, though, as you didn’t actually make it into the building. You got stuck in the ventilation system. So I’m not sure this qualifies.”

            The young man started swearing so colorfully, Sam got a whole new respect for the versatility of the English language.

            Having heard enough, Sam turned and walked away. He clapped his hand over his mouth, muffling his laughter until he was out of earshot. He couldn’t blame the police for taking pot-shots at the idiot. He definitely gave a new definition to the word dumb.

Sam was just thankful to the lazy worker who had screwed the vent together but hadn’t bothered to reach in and cut the ends off the screws. The sharp ends had been what had held the guy in place for two hours. Every time he’d moved, he’d ripped off more skin and meat. The way the guy was cut up, it would be a long time before he tried something so stupid again.

            At least Sam hoped so.


This is a story I wrote around 2007. There had been a newspaper article on a criminal that had been trying to break into a building to steal, money, goods… The guy got caught in duct work and was there for a while before he called for help. And yes, he called the police to get him out. So I took that situation and wondered what it would be like if it were the owner of the store that heard the noise.

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