's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Vacuum Hour

Submitted by Corduroy G

Most days I would remember to wear earplugs during
vacuum hour, however, sometimes forgetfulness gets the best of us, especially
when vacuum hour happens to be at two in the morning. I’m not certain as to how
the rest of my family can sleep through vacuum hour, with the distant clicks of
the vacuum sucking up debris and bumping into doors and furniture and whatnot.
Maybe I’ve always just been a light sleeper. Maybe my parents are just accustomed
to sleeping through infants crying and the sounds of commotion from the outside
world. Maybe my baby sister has always been used to vacuum hour, that it’s her
own brand of a normal night’s sleep. Much to my chagrin though, its not my normal, as vacuum hour only became a
thing about four years back. I didn’t really understand it much back then, and frankly,
I still don’t really now, but it’s just the same amount of mundane existential
confusion I get on a daily basis. We just allow stuff into our home at random
hours; most of it is harmless, others we’re advised to stay away from. When the
Neighborhood offers to clean your floors for free, you don’t ask questions,
even if you’re not allowed to venture outside your room or even look at the thing cleaning your floors.

I haven’t ever been able to get a good look at the
thing anyway, save for passing glances brought on by prepubescent, unbridled
curiosity. When the vacuums were first deployed, my mother for my safety,
locked my door every night. It was probably for the best, since I made it very
apparent that I wanted to look at the vacuum, and she didn’t want me to end up
like Uncle Josh when he was my age, and curiosity got the best of him when they
first deployed toaster hour. He suffers from kinds of burns that I think somehow
manage to go beyond third degree. It’s
not a pretty sight, but not enough to deter the kind of stubbornness a
12-year-old can have.

How could I not have been curious? I would stay up late even on school nights just to hear the
whirring come to life; excitedly waiting on edge as it would pass by my room,
the faint outline of its hose sucking the carpet between the door frame’s gap.
My imagination stirred so many possibilities that at some point I knew I just had to get an eyeful of it. So, one
night I stayed up late as usual, only this time around 1:58, I crept towards my
door. It was still locked, but what my Mother didn’t account for was the fact
that the gap between my door and the carpet was big enough for a peeping eye to
look out of into the hallway. My heartbeat quickened from adolescent rebellion
as I heard the distant clicking kick on about two minutes later; finally, I
would get to see it and tell everyone what it looked like!

I waited about 15 minutes for it to get to the
upstairs hallway, as it always does. What I could see was limited from the dark,
but the slow, clicking motion of several fingers brushing the carpet made
itself known to me. I had to squint to really get a look at them. They were
definitely organic, almost like human hands. Only these hands were much longer,
like giant fingers stretched out from a taffy machine, moving and bending in
ways I’ve never seen real fingers move before. It was like they could snap and
articulate themselves to detect dirt, scurrying along like a mass of insect
antennae to find what needed to be cleaned next. The popping noise was drowned
out by a long, droning whir of air being channeled into a long, trunk-like
vacuum hose from a direction I couldn’t see. The details were blurred; as I
said earlier, I couldn’t get a proper look at all the things this creature had, but I know it had way too many of them.
My eyes felt so strained just trying to stare at it, it was almost like it was
impossible to properly grasp its entire being. Maybe it didn’t like to be
starred at, and who could blame it? As it finally neared my door, I drew back,
ducking behind my wall so it didn’t brush by my nose. I waited for a minute to
pass before exhaling softly in relief, hearing it start down the hallway again
to clean downstairs. I was feeling bold so I peered out the door crack again,
only to see I wasn’t alone this time.

It was staring at me somehow, even if it didn’t have
any eyes, like a rubbery, veiny mannequin head, devoid of any features. I felt
my heart almost stop, as I knew somehow it was looking right at me, right into me. I didn’t account for the fact that
its neck would be long enough to bend back so far and to the floor, but I
suppose where it had many things, they were also all very long. To say
it didn’t have any features would be doing it a disservice though, as it certainly did have a nose, if you could
count the long, prehensile, and fleshy trunk that slowly reached out to brush
my face ever so slightly.  A feeling of indescribable dread filled me to the core, like I was in a dream where I
suddenly fell and woke up. I was only left with those petrified emotions as it
phased away from my sight, continuing on where it had left off to clean the
house, as if I was a mere afterthought.

After that experience I learned to start wearing
earplugs. Some things are just better when they’re out of sight, and even
better when out of ear-shot. After all, the five-inch hose I’ve grown from my
face since then, tends to writhe uncontrollably when listening to vacuum hour.