by Travis Brown
Ring doorbell camera
Motion detected at the front door.

Motion detected at the front door.

I glanced down at my phone. Another two alerts from the new Ring video doorbell I’d installed that morning. Since sundown, the thing was going off every few minutes.

“Another alert?” Becky asked.

I picked my phone up from the nightstand and opened the Ring app. “Yep.”

“Anything on the camera?”


Live feed from the Ring showed a huge amount of nothing outside our front door. Becky and I lived in a small townhouse in a tidy, quiet neighborhood. There wasn’t enough traffic, walking or driving, to explain the constant motion alerts. The screen on my phone showed a well-lit night, our porch, our cars tucked in their two spots, a bright slice of moon and-

Motion detected at the front door.

Nothing had moved. Nothing I could see. I gripped the phone a little tighter. That little shake that comes along with an adrenaline dump was making it harder to keep the image steady. My mouth was dry and chest tight. I felt…watched, anxious. But there was nothing there. Becky sat up in bed and watched the screen with me. The glow reflected back on her face, caught in her eyes.

“Maybe it’s ghosts,” she said in her best spooky voice. “Or, more likely demonic in origin.”

Becky giggled and the tension was gone. How silly to be afraid of nothing at all. The Ring was probably broken or overly sensitive. For all I knew some squirrel two counties over could sneeze and set off the motion detector.

“Nick, aren’t you frightened?” Becky added. “We’re under siege.”

She ducked under the covers then peeked out one eye.

I cleared my throat and hit the intercom button on the Ring app. “If there are any demons out there you’d better fuck off. We’ve got salt and holy water and, and uh, holy saltwater. And we’re not afraid to use them. So, yeah. Screw you. You’re nothing. Nada.”


“I guess I must have scared-”

A violent screech of static blasted out from my phone. I dropped it on the floor. Becky yelped.

“Fuck,” I said, breathing hard. “Fuck. Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Becky agreed, coming out from her blankets. “What was that?”

“Feedback. Some malfunction.”

I stared down at the dark outline of my phone on the bedroom floor like it was a particularly large and clever looking spider. It was facing down but if I picked it up would the camera feed still be up? Would it still look out over a clear, empty night? Gingerly, I bent down and scooped the phone up and placed it on the nightstand without looking at the screen.

“Anything there?” Becky asked.

“No, all clear,” I lied, turning over and resting my head on the pillow. “Just a glitch.”

Motion detected at the front door.

There were forty-two notifications from Ring on my phone when I checked it the next morning. Maybe we didn’t need a video doorbell at all. We lived in a safe neighborhood. Nobody even fucked with our Amazon packages. I made a deal with myself: if there were any more unexplained notifications, invisible motion, any fuckery of any flavor I would remove the Ring. Not just remove it but go full Office Space on the device, shatter, burn, break, bludgeon, humiliate and bury deep.
As I sat in my office all day pretending to work the tension crept back in. It settled between my shoulder blades and festered. I felt like a tasty gazelle surrounded by tall, rippling grass where hungry things might lurk. When a fresh alert popped up on my phone I nearly threw it across the room.

Motion detected at the front door.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck.

I opened the app to check the camera. It was supposed to record for a few seconds whenever triggered by motion. The video played back.

It was the fucking mailman dropping off a small package.

I let out a half-groan, half-laugh. The Ring could stay. My imagination just needed a vacation.

Motion detected at the front door.

Motion detected at the front door.

Motion detected at the front door.

“Nick, what’s wrong?”

I looked up from my phone at Becky. We were downstairs watching a movie. Date night.

“Nothing. Ring’s glitching again is all.”

I brought up the camera and Becky scooted closer. Nothing. Only solid, empty, harmless night-
Motion detected at the front door.

“Fuck this,” I muttered, standing up.


Trying to swallow down the oily taste in my mouth, I walked to the door and tossed it open. No one was outside. Of course, no one was fucking outside.

So why was I sure something, some things, were right there, close enough to touch.

I opened the glass storm door. “If there’s anybody out here...leave. Go. Just go away. Please.”

The last word I whispered. I didn’t want Becky to hear. I returned to the couch and we watched the movie without speaking for several minutes. I was starting to calm down.

Motion detected at the front door. Motion detected at the front door. Motion detected at the front door. Motion detected at the front door. Motion detected at the front door. Motion detected at the front door. Motion detected at the front door. Motion detected at the front door.

Becky and I both stood up and stared down at my phone. The screen snapped to the live camera view on its own. Nothing outside.

The doorbell rang. Then again. And again.

Something started knocking, softly at first then louder.

Hesitating, I finally took a step towards the door.

“Don’t,” Becky whispered. “Please don’t.

The ringing and knocking slowed to a trickle then stopped. Becky called the police anyway to be safe. They couldn’t find anything. Kids, they suggested. A prank.

Invisible fucking kids, I asked. I saw one officer roll his eyes before they left. Then Becky and I were alone.

We tried to sleep but I couldn’t stop checking my phone.

Motion detected at the front door.

Motion detected at the front door.

Motion detected at the front door.

Eventually, Becky made me put it away in the drawer on the nightstand. We heard the crackle of static for nearly a minute. Then the doorbell rang once more.

I haven’t slept all night. The sun’s up now and the alerts have stopped. Becky and I both called out of work for the day. I’m going to take the Ring down today but I’m...I don’t know if that will fix it. Something was knocking, something we couldn’t see. Something that wants in.

It still feels like I’m being watched, surrounded by tall, shadow-soaked grass and hungry, invisible things.