Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 10

Anthony slides off the table and holds up a book, “Got something!”

“What?”

“The solution is to seal the symbol.”

“What?”

“According to this, the symbol opens a door. We need to close it and lock it.”

“And how are we supposed to do that?”

“Drawing another symbol.”

“Really?” Val narrows his eyes, “That seems too easy.”

“Maybe but I’m not complaining. Mike, where did you put the symbol?”

“Second floor, just outside the back window. On the roof.”

The trio of boys staring at him.

“What?”

“Couldn’t have been like, just outside the shed? Or the front door. Or somewhere easy to get to?”

“I wasn’t planning on getting shoved around by a house!”

“We do have a problem though.”

“What?”

Jacob drops a book between them. A shadowy creature is drawn on one page.

“What is that?”

“That is what is causing the problem. The writer doesn’t have a name but he does say ‘a door unlocked allows anything to pass through. Beware the beasts that wait for an opened door.’ Which I guess is this fellow here?”

“Maybe. Do we have to kill it?”

“Nope. He never found a way to kill it.”

“Oh, great.”

“Right? Jacob looks at the others, “So. We go. We draw this symbol. We avoid getting killed by this… beast-thing. We go home?”

“After a drink.” Mike adds, “I’m going to need a drink after this.”

“Right. How do we get back to the house?”

The walls groan and dust falls on their heads as the walls return to their proper place. The shed’s door swings open on creaky hinges. Mike leads the way out of the shed with Val right on his tail. The boys take deep breaths.

“I can’t believe how stuffy it was in there.” Jacob says as he begins to jog to the house.

“Right?’

A terrible wail fills the air. The four boys slide a stop. Lights flicker on and off across the house. They see the building visibly shake. Part of the house explodes, sowing wood and facade everywhere. A shadowy creature stalks forward. Lightning crisscrossing across its body.

“What do we?” Jacob yells.

“RUN!”

In a heartbeat, they split up. Jacob and Val head left while Mike retreats. Anthony dodges to the right. The creature howls and charges after the brothers. Anthony glances to the left as he runs towards the house. The brothers disappear around the corner as the shadowy creature chases after them. Lighting scorches the ground as he passes by.

Anthony disappears through the opening in the wall. Already, the house slowly repairs itself like a wound healing.

He slides to a stop in the kitchen. The door is destroyed. The edges are burned to a cinder. The pantry door and pantry has been torn apart. The ground is burned and now sports deep grooves in the ground.

“Chloe! Dani! WHERE ARE YOU?”

The teen slowly makes his way through the house. It creaks and groans as if it is in pain. Tony passes through the remains of the kitchen door and into the hallway. Scorched marks leave deep furrows on the walls.

Scratching noises appear behind him.

The teen turns around, waiting for some attacker.

Instead, he sees the old walls peeling. After a moment, the boy can read the words “hallway closet” formed out of the wood paneling.

Keeping his ear opens for danger, Tony makes his way down the hall. He comes to the closet and pulls on the door.

A body rolls out of the closet. A blonde hair with pale skin. Dead, black eyes stare at him. His stomach lurches at the sight. He drops to his knees and checks. Her flesh is cold and he can see a slice across his throat.

Tony backs away and tries not to throw up.

He fights against the rising bile and carefully puts the girl back in the closet. He shuts the door and tries not vomit again.

The teen turns and moves away from the door. Instead, he wanders down the stairs towards the basement. The door opens easily. He finds the ease suspicious but he hears voices from the basement. The teen follows the voices.

X

The two girls slam into the ground hard. The girls’ eyes adjust to the light just to see the ceiling close overhead. The last thing Dani sees is a dark mass of energy overhead.

“Ow.”

Dani rolls over and crawls off her sister’s legs.

“You okay?” Chloe asks.

“Yeah.”

“What was that?”

“I don’t know.”

A scream fills the air. It vibrates the very ground and shakes their bones. From above comes a terrible screeching noise. The screaming gets louder. The abruptly the house falls silent. A shudder runs through the house. Slowly the shaking slows to a stop.

“What was that?” Dani whispers.

“I don’t know.” She answers.

Dani pulls back and leans against the wall. She rubs the temples of her head. Chloe grimaces and scoots over next to her.

“Fun night, huh?”

“Oh yeah. Loads. Got a house that is either trying save us or kill us. Got a monster running around here.”

“Come on. We can pull through. We always do.”

“Yeah, but how many wounds are we going to get after this one? How hurt are we going to get when this is all over?”

“I don’t know.” She nudges her shoulders, “I know one thing though.”

“What?”

Chloe smiles, “We’ll be there afterward.”

“Right.”

The two girls hear footsteps coming down the stairs. The girls look up and tense, ready to run. Tony appears at the bottom of the stairs. He looks carefully around the room. He finds the two girls lying against the wall.

“Dani? Chloe?” He walks towards them, “Are you two okay?”

“We’re fine.” Chloe answers, “Just had a run in with an electricity, shadow monster.” She frowns, “What happened to you?”

“We got shoved into the shed. Later, we got released..” He looks up towards the roof, “Then we met that monster creature. I don’t know but it chased after Val and Jacob. No idea where Mike is. We gotta get going. We got a plan to end this.”

“You found something?”

“Yeah.” Anthony raises a leather bound book, “This one talks about what is happening here. And how to undo it.”

“Great.” A howl fills the air. The teens feel a shiver run down their spines.

“What is it?”

“The short version is this. Houses can come alive because of special humans. You can also open the door to a place where monsters live and let them into this world. Another symbol shuts that door.”

“Wow.”

“Three hours of reading.”

The sisters glance at each other, “It’s been three hours?”

“Since this started.”

Another howl fills the air.

“We gotta go.” Tony says as he helps the girls up, “We are going to draw this symbol and hopefully end this whole thing before anyone else gets hurt.”

Chloe hears something in his voice. She notices that he is pale and doesn’t look very well.

“What is it?”

“You know Jenny?”

She nods her head.

“I found her upstairs in the closet.”

“Is she…?”

Tony nods her head slowly.

“Where did you find her?”

“Hallway closet. I closed it.”

“Let’s go.” Chloe says, “I’m ready for this night to end.”

They wander up the stairs. The house shakes as they walk up the stairs. The teens brace themselves against the walls as the house shakes become violent.

“What is going on?”

“I don’t know!”

The girl struggles towards the wall and looks out. Tony struggles to a window and looks out the window. Below, a creature howls as it tries to catch Val. He screams as he tries to throw a rock at the creature.

“What is he doing?” Chloe yells.

“Not a clue.”

“What do we do?”

“We finish this.” Anthony struggles down the hall and pulls out a knife as he forces the back window open. Chloe and Dani hold on to him as the house vibrations become worse. Outside, the shadow creatures notice Anthony.

His howls fill the air, adding to the vibrations.

Chloe can see the shadow coming towards the house.

“Anthony, whatever you’re doing hurry up.”

“Why?!?” He grunts as he continues to carve over the painting.

“Because that thing is coming straight to us!”

“Oh great.”

They feel the house shift as the shadow creature comes closer. Val runs up from behind. He throws stones at him. His left arm dangles at his side.

“Anthony!”

“Almost…”

The shadow’s head appears. At this range, the girls can see sharp teeth in its mouth. Lighting dancing through its black eyes.

To Be Continued…

Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 9

Chloe stands up and shoves Dani into the pantry. They shut the door just as the kitchen door breaks. The sound of energy crackling fills the air. The two girls kneel in the darkness. Something passes near the door. A heavy breathing fills the air. The doorknob begins to turn.

”Come out, come out to play.” A raspy voice whispers through the wall, ”Come out and join me out here. You cannot hide. You cannot run.”

A moment passes in silence.

”I know why you are here. I know why you left your home on the coast. You ran and you ran because you made your choice. But you can’t run from what you have done. I know what you did on the night of the August Fifth.”

Dani looks at her sister with wide eyes. Her sister cups her hand over Dani’s mouth to keep her from crying out.

“It doesn’t know.” Chloe whispers hoarsely, “It doesn’t know.”

“Yes, it has to.”

”I know what you did. He died screaming. Alone and afraid. Because you refused to be with him. He died because of you!

Dani squeezes her eyes shut and curls into a ball. She clamps her hands over her ears. The creature on the other side cracks laughter. Dani whimpers. Chloe pulls her close but her sister shoves her sister away.

”You are alive and he is dead! Why do you steal the lives of others!”

Dani shudders and crawls towards the pantry door. Chloe struggles to keep her sister from reaching the door.

“Let me!” Dani chokes, “Please!”

“No! I won’t let you!”

The girls struggle while the shadow laughs. The door rattles and the knob slowly turns.

“NO!” Chloe kicks at the door with her feet. She keeps the door pin. Dani fights again to open the door.

“Please!”

“It’s lying!”

“No! I know it’s true!”

Without warning, the ground drops out from below them.

X

“I found something!”

The boys look up and Val raises a hand. He pushes off from the wall he was leaning against.

“This guy here. He says that he found the symbol and some kids drawing them. The symbol was used according to a fellow in the ancient world. According to this fellow, he and who ever he works with discovered that certain humans… could create golems. These humans could make things come alive, creating life with their history as their essence. It seems that these special humans continue even today. However, only those involved in constructing things with their hands are able to bring stuff to life. The humans have long since forgotten to truly make them alive. Instead, they become aware.”

“Okay. So… some guy who can build things that make them alive made these houses.”

“It would seem so.”

“So why are the houses suicidal?”

“Maybe because of bad stuff? If their history is bad then maybe their personality is bad?” Jacob asks, “Is that what they mean?”

“Maybe.” Anthony says quietly, “I don’t know.

“What do we do? To kill the house? Burn it?”

Val flips through the book, “I am not sure. He doesn’t say. Just a list of observations over a week or something.”

“I think I have the answer.” Anthony says as he pages through a book, “I remember seeing something about humans possibly triggering stuff.”

“What?”

“Here. It didn’t make much sense to me either. Okay. Here. We observe a man painting a symbol on the houses who were behaving alive. The house then became hostile. Several houses have become sources for haunted stories. We have not discovered why these men are painting the symbols or their motivations.”

“Okay. So a human can make a house alive without realizing it. Then they are other houses making them angry?” Val says, “I feel like we are saying a bunch of stuff but not really going anywhere fast.”

“Maybe but that is how our little story is going.”

“Fun times.”

“Mike?” Val says, “Are you okay?”

“I… I there was a man in town. He had old books with hand made notes and images in them.” He takes a deep breath, “That’s where I got the idea of the symbols from.”

“You mean there is a man, in town right now, that knows about what is happening?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Great! Then let’s go talk to him.”

“How, Jacob?” Val waves his arms, “We’re still stuck in a shack in a space of three feet by five feet! Or have you found a way to get us out of here?”

“Um. Not yet.”

Anthony turns to Mike, “You know what you need to do now, right?”

“Yes.” Mike mutters, “I need to focus and remember what the guy looks like.”

“Wait. If houses are coming alive. Wouldn’t this person be watching this house?”

“True. So why hasn’t anyone come for us?”

“I don’t know. There is a lot I don’t know.” Anthony looks at the cramp space then back to the books, “Apparently we haven’t found what we are supposed to find yet.”

“Then we need to keep reading.”

“And hope the author wrote down the solution.”

To be continued…

Monday Stories: The House- Chapter 7

The boys land in a pile. Among the groans and moans, Anthony feels cold. He straightens up. The brothers lie in a tangled mess. Mike pulls himself out from underneath.

“What just happened?” Val mutters.

“The house just went monster on us,” Jacob growls.

“Maybe.” Mike looks around, “Where are we?”

“I think we’re outside.” Anthony answers.

“What makes you say that?”

“This looks like a shack.”

The boys turn their attention from their aches and pains to the room. Like the house, the dust covers everything. There are tools attached to the walls. Their surfaces are coated with rust. There is an oily smell in the air. The windows are coated in grease.

“Okay.” Val mutters, “Stupid question. How do we get out of here?”

“Really?” Mike replies, “I thought it would be, ‘how did we get here?’.”

“Oh, I skipped that one since we don’t actually have an answer.”

“Good point.” Mike looks towards the door, “First. The basic solutions.”

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“We try breaking the windows.” He looks back, “I assume none of you tried to break a window to get out, right?”

“Also true.”

Jacob lifts a shovel and slams it against the glass. It bounces off with an unnatural thud. He tries three more times before giving up.

Val turns towards the others, “Plan C?”

“I got nothing.”

“Maybe we can go get out another way.”

“Really?” Val snaps, “Really? Because if you haven’t noticed, we’re in a shack outside a house that is coming to life. What do you think we are going to do?”

“Actually.” Jacob asks while raising his hand, “Why did it stick us here?”

“I don’t care.” Mike answers, “I want to get out of here and back to reality.”

“What about the girls?”

Mike takes a deep breath and slowly shakes his head, “What can we do stuck here?”

“I don’t know.”

“Any ideas?”

“Well. What do you all remember?”

Anthony frowns, “It was cold.”

“And fast.” Val glances out the window, “It shouldn’t have taken that short of time to get here. Do you know what I mean?”

“Yes.” Jacob replies, “What does that mean for us?”

“I think that means we’re in trouble.”

“Agreed.”

Val stomps his foot in frustration. The ground echoes metallically under the blow. The boys look down and stare curiously at the ground. Val and Anthony drag away the dirt, revealing an old metal door. Together, they pull the door open and reveal a black chamber with a ladder inside.

“Okay.” Jacob says, “Who wants to go down the ladder first and die?”

“I think there is a light switch.” Anthony reaches over and feels around the edges.

“How do you know?”

“Dad used to have something similar with our storm shelter.” At a soft click, yellow light fills the chamber below, “There it is.”

A cement floor is covered with dirt and boxes line the sides of the walls.

“What do you think?”

“I think we need to be careful,” Anthony says as he begins working his way down the old ladder.

In a few short minutes, the teens are underneath the shack. The boxes cover the entire left side of the wall. Opposite of the boxes is a metal door. Between the two of them is a desk covered with leather-bound books.

Anthony wanders over to the desk while the brothers examine the crates. Mike studies the lock on the door. The walls shake and tremble for a moment. Dust falls from the ceiling. The boys look up then at each other. Val turns to Mike.

“Can we get through the door?”

“Nope.” He says, “There is some freaky combo lock there.”

“Fun.”

“I might have found something.” Anthony raises a hand.

“What?”

“These journals.” He glances at the different corners, “They are about the house over the past few decades.” Anthony flips to the back, “Quite a few decades.”

“How far back?”

“Almost a hundred years.”

“Wow.” Jacob replies, “What is it about?”

“The house. It seems like someone has been watching the house and noticing weird stuff.” Anthony turns towards the others, “June 3, 1875. The house is once again changing. We haven’t discovered why but the house is alive. We are worried that the disease is spreading. The house has tried to kill three occupants. However, it was unsuccessful.”

“That’s good.”

The teens pick up different books off the desk.

Val flips through the book, “This one is talking about the house. Says here that the writer thinks that something is triggering aberrant behavior. But he also states that a house can change behavior by the events happening within the house.”

“And this one.” Jacob says, “There are markings that may be triggering the changes in the house behavior. Oh, they even drew a symbol.”

Jacob turns it and shows it to the others. A triangle with a half circle underneath. A single line goes from the top of the triangle to the bottom of the circle.

Anthony notices Mike has grown pale.

“Mike? What is it?”

“That symbol.” He points with a shaking hand.

Val raises an eyebrow, “You’ve seen it?”

“I drew it.” He steps back and puts his hands on the back of his head, “Today before everyone got here. I painted it so to scare the girls. The last big thrill before the end of the night.”

To Be Continued…

Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 6

“What are you talking about?” Val growls impatiently, “I am getting sick of this stupid plan of yours. I knew I should have stayed home but no, I had to let you talk me in.”

“Look!” Mike says and he points towards the wall.

The teens crowd around the hall. Mike pulls out a flashlight and shines it on the lower part of the hallway just before the stairs. Barely readable in the weak light are the carved words “Seal it. Free me. Undo what was done.”

“Oh wow.” Jacob mutters, “That makes so much sense now.”

The brothers glare at the taller boy.

“What? I didn’t do this!”

“So you claim.”

“Would I do this? Seriously?”

Without warning the house shudders. A great creaking noise fills the air. Cracking of noise accompanies each teen as they disappear out of sight. Dani’s wheels her arms as the floor beneath suddenly shifts. She lands on her back as the floor seems to move away from the others. She turns back just to see Val and Mike slide down the stairs. Anthony is swept into a room by a door. Her sister disappears through a wall. In an instant, Dani finds herself alone and in the dark.

A moment later, weak lights appear in the distance.

She winces in pain and checks herself for injuries. Save for a few scrapes, she is unharmed.

“Chloe!” She yells. Her voice oddly muffled in the thick air, “Anyone?”

Only silence answers her. The air seems heavy. It lies on her like a thick blanket. Carefully, the teen stands to her feet. In the distance, a lamp flickers on. In its light, a red desk is revealed.

Dani pauses, debating whether to follow the light or not.

“Well.” She mutters to herself, “I always say to the people in the movies and books don’t do that so I’m not going to do that.”

The light of the lamp is enough to walk down the hall. Like before, the walls are worn and dust lies heavy on the surfaces. But there are no doors. Only a cross section. With a sigh, Dani takes the right hall.

Once out of sight of the lamp, she is left in total darkness. Slowly she feels her way along in the dark. Occasionally her hands brush across the hard shell of a bug.

She turns away and wanders down the hall. She feels around with her hands. She rounds a corner and is suddenly blinded. She blinks her eyes as spots float before her.

After a moment her vision clears. At the same time, her heart drops down into her stomach. It is the same lamp that she turned away from. The same red desk. The teen turns around and looks back where she came from. However, only a closet stands open.

Slowly, the teen turns back to the desk.

It is unremarkable save it is extremely old. Like any desk, it has a surface to write on and drawers to keep things. There is no chair.

Dani turns away from the desk but the doors slam shut, even the closet. The light flickers for a moment.The young teen steps back from the desk. The darkness grows thicker and she feels an urgency in the thick air.

X

The ground suddenly moves and Chloe feels herself being thrown across the hall. The blonde teen braces herself to slam into the wall. To her surprise, she passes through the wall. She notices the very boards bending as she passes by.

She turns her head and Chloe can see her sister being dragged away.

“Dani!” She screams as the wall shuts in front of her. The ground drops out from below her and she rolls along. With a sharp pain, Chloe slams into a cold wall.

The girl slides the floor with a groan and she rolls onto her back. A naked light bulb burns overhead. The walls are made of stones with wood rafts overhead and cement flooring. The girl sits up and tries to get her bearing. She peers through a nearby window. The teen finds the world still dark and that she is facing the empty backyard. Chloe tries to open the window but it refuses to open.

With a sigh, she turns around and begins looking for the stairs.

The basement is simple in design with stone pillars holding the ceiling up. Like the rest of the house, there is dust and cobwebs lying on everything. Her steps sound strange to Chloe as she wanders through the room.

After a few moments, the girl finds the old boiler and the place where the washing and dryer once stood. Confused, she looks around the basement again. She counts the rooms and looks for unique markings in each of the rooms.

Four rooms. Four minutes. No stairs.

“What is going on around here?” Dani mutters to herself, “Hello? Anthony? Dani? Can you hear me? Anyone?”

The house rumbles and dust fall from the ceiling. One portion of the wall crumbles and a chest falls to the ground. Chloe stares at the ceiling. Fear fills her. The house shivers again and the ground moves. In a blink of her eyes, the chest and the teen are side by side. Another shiver and the walls close around her, trapping her with the box.

For a moment, Chloe stares at the chest.

To Be Continued…

Monday Story: The House – Chapter 05

The teens turn and stare at Anthony. He doesn’t look at them. Instead he runs his hands against a nearby wall.

“Ten years ago there were three kids who were supposed to go through the initiation. Just like us. And it was going great. They had grown up together since they were two. They had back snacks and treats and everything.”

“Wait.” Val interrupts, “This doesn’t have to do with anything with Old Tom does it?”

The teen nods his head slowly.

“Yeah. It was Tom and his friends Brianna and Taylor. They had gone just at sundown. But just before midnight a late night jogger heard screaming. They could see the three teens bagging on the windows and trying to get out. Of course the jogger ran up and tried to get them out but none of the doors or windows could be open. The kids told her that they were hearing things in the house. That things were being moved around. Finally a blackness filled the windows and they could see and hear things happening inside the house. Loud screaming and anger. Finally shadows filled the room and the jogger couldn’t see in. The last they heard was “destroy the symbol. Destroy it!”

“What symbol?” Chloe looks at the black marking, “This one?”

“I don’t know.”

“What?” Jacob frowns, “What do you mean you don’t know?”

“The police finally got there, the house had resumed its empty-like state. They were able to open the front door with ease. Painted on the upper hallway were two different symbols. This one and one shaped like a ‘U’ with three blocks sticking out from below it.”

“How do you know so much about this?” A smile breaks across Val’s face, “Oh you’re pulling our leg, aren’t you? Mike has you working another angle? Right?”

He shakes his head, “This is the truth. That jogger was my mother and my father was one of the cops who investigated.”

“What happened to the kids?”

The teens turn in surprise to Dani. Her eyes stare intently at Anthony. He almost takes a step back from the intensity of her gaze.

“What happened to them?”

“Two died. The last one left town.”

“Why?” Val crosses his arms, “Did the town suspect them of doing something?”

“Nope. She just ran away. Never came back. Last anyone heard of her was that some relatives took her in down in New Mexico.”

Dani and Chloe look at one another.

“Nice story. Still doesn’t mean anything.” Val says as he looks at the symbol, “So you’re telling me we can’t just scratch this symbol and be done with it?”

“No.” He takes a deep breath, “I’ll admit that I may be overthinking it. And it might be Mike just remembers the story too and is using it to mess with us.”

The brothers nod their heads in agreement.

“He’s an idiot for things like this.” Jacob mutters, “A big stupid guy who goes for the laugh without realizing that it might be in poor taste.”

Chloe scoffs as she marches towards the stairs, “This is definitely in poor taste.”

“Whee are you going?” Val yells.

“To find that idiot and get him to undo whatever he’s done so this stupid thing can be over with.”

The girl disappears around a corner, leaving the others to look dumbly at one another.

“What’s her problem?”

“I think she has a test and she was hoping to study tonight.” Jacob answers, “She is close to getting a perfect grade but the last chapter of history has been tough for her.”

Val gives his brother an odd look.

“What? I notice things. Okay?”

“Okay, weirdo.”

The teens troop off after Chloe. They had gone three feet when a terrible scream filled the house. The very walls and floor trembled at the sound and they fell to their knees. The scream passed like a gale, consuming heat and biting against their flesh. The scream faded and the teens looked to each other.

Dani leaped to her feet and ran after her sister.

Her action broke the frozen lock on the boys and they followed suite. They hurry up the stairs. They reach the landing when they hear a second scream. It was quickly followed by the sounds of blows and muffled cries.

All three boys skid around the corner and they find Dani kicking and punching Mike. He raises his arms to protect himself. His words drowned out by the Dani’s yell. At their feet, Chloe lies on her back with a gash in her arm and leg.

Anthony goes to Chloe while the brothers pull Dani back.

“What the heck?” Mike growls as he rubs his arms, “I didn’t do anything! I heard her scream and found her like that!”

“Liar!” Dani spat.

For a moment Mike is at a lost for words. Her eyes were wide with anger. After a moment, she settled down. The boys release her and Mike braces himself for another attack but it does not come. Instead he looks to Anthony.

“She’s just been knocked out.” Anthony reports, “And the wounds are not serious.”

Dani breathes a sigh of relief.

The brothers turn on Mike.

“Explain.” Val growls

“Now.” His brother finishes.

“I have no idea what the frak is going on. I thought you two were getting back at me for that joke with the milk.”

“You didn’t do something to the lock?”

Mike shakes his head in confusion, “What lock?”

“The doors and the windows. You didn’t do anything to them?”

“Uh. No. I was talking about the lights.”

“What?” Now it is the brothers’ turn to be confused, “What about the lights?”

“They’ve been flickering on and off.” He looks around for a moment, “And I swear that the switches keep switching what they control.”

“Did you get hit on your head because that makes no sense. At all.”

He throws his hands up, “Hey. I’m just telling you what I know. What’s been happening to you?”

“Oh I don’t know. Screams, doors locked, and windows won’t open.”

“But they’re not supposed to do that.” Mike protests, “My uncle makes sure of that! He keeps this place in good shape to make the tradition as safe as possible!”

“Your town is weird.”

They look in surprise as Chloe sits up. She winces in pain and looks at her arms and legs. Anthony helps her to a sitting position.

“What happened?” Val asks, “Did something attack you?”

“Or someone?” Dani bites out.

“I said I didn’t hurt her!”

“He didn’t.” Chloe interrupts, “I came up the stairs and I tripped.”

Dani notices her eyes flicker, “What is it?”

Chloe makes a face, reluctant to share. But the teens stare intently at her, “Well I think tripped.”

“What do you mean?” Jacob mutters, “You think you tripped?”

“Well. It felt like the ground was pulled out from underneath me.”

“Like someone pulling the rug from your feet?”

“Exactly!”

“But they’re aren’t any rugs.”

“I know but that is what it felt like.”

“Great!” Val mutters, “I say we break a window and call this whole thing off.”

“Agreed.” Jacob and Mike say together.

They look at Mike in surprise.

“What?” Mike says, “I keep losing stuff in this dumb house. I set the fake witch’s circle downstairs then I came up here to make a fake ritual and all of the sudden the lights are going off and things are disappearing and I don’t like being messed with.”

He glares at the brothers.

“They were with us.” Anthony says as he bandages Chloe’s arms, “The whole time.”

“Where did you get the bandages?” Jacob asks.

“I always have some in my pockets.”

“This is starting to feel like a bad movie.”

Anthony grins, “Don’t go breaking the fourth wall.”

“Fine.” He turns to the rest of the teens, “So we go break a window and get out?”

He gets nods from the teens in agreement.

“Great!”

“Think you can walk on that leg?” Anthony asks Chloe.

“Yes.” She says as she pulls herself up. She winces slightly as she tests her weight, “See fine.”

The teens troop down the stairs. Dani falls back with her sister. Her eyes look over her arms and legs. Chloe notices her sister’s stares and smiles.

“I’m fine. Really.”

Dani looks towards the boys but they are examining something on the wall of the stairs. She tugs her sister to put them a few steps behind the others.

Chloe shuts her eyes, guessing what her sister wants to talk about. “Dani. No.”

“That woman Anthony was talking about…”

“We don’t know.”

“But could she be the same woman?”

“I don’t know!” She opens her eyes, “Not without a photo.”

“Hey Ladies.” Mike calls, “Uh. I don’t suppose any you can read Latin.”

“No. Why?”

“Because someone has. And it wasn’t here when I came up the stairs.”

To Be Continued…

Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 4

Anthony watches the two sisters talk quietly in the kitchen. He can’t hear their words but the boy can see Dani is upset. She paces in the small area with arms wrapped around her body. Chloe stands in a corner and listens to her sister speak.

With a deep breath to calm himself, Anthony turns his attention away from the sisters and looks at the two brothers. Immediately Val puts his hands up.

“We had nothing to do with the doors or windows. I don’t even know why or how they locked themselves. Or why we can’t open them.”

“Then who?”

“I don’t know.”

Jacob glances past Anthony towards the girls.

“Maybe we do know.” He says softly.

“Jacob.” Val hisses.

“Come on! We both know Mike was here before us.”

“Val groans, “Shut up man. Not telling them who was part of the pranks was part of the plans.”

“Getting locked in wasn’t part of the plan.” Jacob bites back, “Something has gone wrong because we’re not supposed to be stuck in here. None of us are.”

“What were you doing?”

“Nothing.” Val answers.

“Well you had to be doing something to be messing around.”

“We weren’t messing around.”

“You just said that you were setting up pranks.”

“Well. We just painted graffiti stuff.”

Anthony looks sharply at the two of them, “Graffiti? Of what?”

“I don’t know.” Val answers, “Stuff from that stupid channel.”

“What stupid channel?”

“The one where they show supernatural stuff. Or proving people’s credibility as psychics or what not. Pretty dumb stuff if you ask me.”

“Show me. Show me now.”

The brothers are surprised by the grave tone. Anthony’s face has become a hard mask. They exchange looks but Val just shrugs.

The teens turn towards the stairs as the sisters join them.

“What is it?” Chloe asks when she sees Anthony’s face.

“Trouble.” He answers.

A short flight of stairs and the five teens are in an old musty room. Rubbish has collected in a corner and an old crate stands at the center.

“Here is one of the symbols we spray painted.” Jacob grunts as he pushes the box aside, “We put at least one in each room. Then we hid it so you wouldn’t notice until phase two.”

“Phase two?” Chloe asks.

“Mike’s words. Not mine.”

“Okay but what is it?”

“I don’t know!”

“How do you not know!?”

Val shrugs his shoulders helplessly, “We were going to make noise then Mike would move stuff around so when you try to find out who was making the noise, you’d find the symbols. That was to be the set up when we used the speakers we hid to scare you with noise.”

“Great.” The redhead says with sarcasm, “Well done. You just ticked us off.”

“What the heck?”

The teens look to Jacob as he kneels next to the crate.

“What is it?” Val asks as he steps next to his brother, “What the heck?”

The remaining teens step around and look down. The floorboards now sport a carving that is three inches deep. Made up of triangles and circles, the carving looks like it was set on fire. Thin, black line spread away from the carving like cracks in ice.

“I take it that you didn’t carve this.” Anthony says.

“No. We spray painted.”

“Did you add anything to the spray paint?” Anthony asks quietly, “Anything at all?”

“No! Why are you asking all of this?”

“Did you accidently cut yourself? Or hurt yourself where there was blood?”

The two boys glance at each other then slowly look at the shorter teen. Both wear curious looks on their faces.

“Now that you mention it. We both became really clumsy whenever we spray painted one of these. Kept falling over and onto stuff. We even cut ourselves on some broken wood but no blood ever touched the stuff we made. We didn’t want to wreck it.”

“How did you know we got cut?”

Anthony answers with a sigh, “Did Mike do anything?”

“What? No! He wasn’t even clumsy. Told us to go outside because we must have gotten too much of the paint fumes.”

“So he was out of sight for a while then?”

“Maybe.”

“Actually.” Chloe interrupts the exchange, “Where is he?”

“Mike? Why?” Val replies.

“Because you keep saying stuff that makes it sound like Mike is supposed to be inside the house but none of us have seen him.” She narrows her eyes, “Unless you two are still working with him? Keeping us busy while he keeps messing around?”

“No!” Jacob says, “I swear the only thing we were supposed to do was to get you to move from one part of the house to the other by knocking outside. To give Mike a chance to move around inside without you knowing.”

“So where is he?”

“I don’t know.”

“Let’s go find out.”

“Alright.” Val turns towards the kitchen, “I’ll start in the back.”

“No.” Anthony says as he grabs his shoulder, “We stay together.”

“Dude chill. Nothing is off.”

“Except the doors and windows are locked shut.”

Val scoffs, “You really did fall for our whole supernatural thing, didn’t you?”

“It’s not a ‘falling’ thing. They are locked and I have a bad feeling.”

“Wait.” Chloe interrupts, “Anthony. You’ve been acting strange since you saw that emblem.”
The teen hesitates to reply.

“I’ve seen it before.”

“Where? When?”

“Here. Ten years ago.”

Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 03

“What was that?”

Anthony looks up from his science homework. Chloe stares towards the hallway. Dani gives her sister a curious look.

“What was what?”

“I thought I heard a noise.”

“Probably a rat. Or the trees outside.”

Dani pulls the blind and looks out of the window. She turns her head back and shakes her head. Chloe gets to her feet.

“I’m sure it isn’t. Or it is Mike playing a joke.”

“Maybe.”

Bang!

The sound reverberates through the room. Anthony finds himself on his feet in an instance. Dani pales. A scraping noise fills the room.

“Alright.” Anthony yells out, “Quite that.”

“Not funny!” Chloe adds.

The only answer is a low moaning noise.

“Come on.” Anthony heads towards the hallway.

“Where are you going?”

“To find out who is making that racket.” The teen yells over his shoulder.

Dani and Chloe glance at each other then slowly follow him.

“How do you know?”

“Because there are thick, tall bushes all around the house. Bushes with lots of thorns. The only places where you can come up to the house is at the front and the back. Since Dani didn’t see anyone outside they have to be at the front of the house.”

“Wouldn’t they just run to the back then?”

“Maybe but if I hear noise at the back of the house, I would just send one of you to sound like we are going to the back and then wait here.”

His voice trails off as he comes to a stop. Curious, Chloe steps up next to him and glances to the left. She hears a sharp gasp from her sister. The once empty room has been filled with skulls and candles. A black pentagram decorates the floor while small bowls occupy each corner.

Chloe turns to her sister. She is backing away from the sight. Her skin pale and her hands trembling.

“Dani, Dani. Just someone’s bad idea of a joke. It’s okay.”

Anthony squats down and taps the edge of the pentagram. He stands back up with an angry scowl on his face. With a flick of his wrist he snaps out a knife.

“What are you doing?”

“Going to destroy it.”

“Oh come on.” Chloe mutters, “Just someone trying to scare us. I’ve seen those skulls.” She points to the pile, “I’ve used them! For theatre! Made of foam.”

She picks one up and gives it a twist. The skull resists at first but then splits, revealing white foam beneath a thick plaster.

“See? They’ve just props.”

“Maybe but there is a reality we can’t see. Even joking about it is dangerous.” He bends down and scrapes the paint, creating a gap in the design. He kicks over the bowls as well.

Without a word, Dani heads towards the door and tries to get it open. The door knob turns but it doesn’t open. She tries again with the same results. She slaps and kicks the door and tries to pull it open.

“Easy, easy.” Chloe wraps her arms around Dani and pulls her back, “Easy. It’s okay. It’s okay. Nothing is wrong.”

For a moment Dani struggles but she relaxes. Her breath comes in ragged gasps. A few seconds passes before her breathing returns to normal.

“Why don’t you wait in the living room.”

Dani walks away. Her shoulders slumped and her arms wrapped around her stomach. Chloe watches her until she disappears around the corner. With a deep breath, she turns to Anthony.

“You’re probably wondering what that is all about.”

“A little bit.” He raises a hand to stop her reply, “But it is not my business. We all have things that we don’t want to talk about or can easily explain.”

“Like your anger over some stupid arcane art joke?”

“Yes. Just like that.” He steps out of the room and over to the door, “I am, however, concern about this door.”

“Why?”

“Because it shouldn’t have gotten stuck.”

“Old house.”

“But the lock isn’t.”

Chloe raises an eyebrow.

Anthony gives her a weak smile, “Part of the reason why the tradition still goes on. The house, for the most part, is kept the same way. Except that the windows and doors are maintained. To ensure that kids on their initiation night can get out in an emergency. Ten years ago there was a kid who had to get to the hospital. Allergy or something. Anyway, the kid almost died because the door had gotten so badly warped and the lock was rusted that they couldn’t open the door. Luckily, the mayor at the time had arranged for the police to drive by every four hours. Just to check on the kids. The officer saw that they were in trouble and used an axe to break the door down.”

“Your town is so weird.” Chloe says as she gently kicks the wall, “So what is wrong now?”

“I don’t know.” He squats down and looks at the lock, “It worked fine when we got in.”

He tries the door and it swings open without effort. Only compliant is the creak of the hinges. They share an uneasy look.

“Maybe she wasn’t turning the knob all the way.”

Anthony winces at how weak the words sound. Both knew that Dani had turned the knob all the way. Practically tried ripping it off.

“Well. Door is working now.” He shuts it and reopens a couple of times, “Go on back. I’m going to finish cleaning this up.”

“Are you sure?”

“I am.”

Chloe walks away without another word. Anthony turns his attention back to the designs and sets about crushing the skull props and putting the little fires out. A groan echoes through the house. Anthony looks up at the ceiling and feels something cold crawl up his spine. It is low and seems to come from the walls.

“Please tell me that is not what I think it is.”

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The sudden sound makes him jump. He growls to himself and stomps over to the door. He waits a moment.

“Stop that!” Chloe yells!” He hears the window open from the living room. “Come on! That is getting annoying!”

The boy hears soft laughter on the other side of the door. He puts his hand on the doorknob but waits to open it.

He yanks the door open.

Two left legs appear in the doorway. The legs drop down as their owners stumble into the house. One of the owners ends up doing a poor splits. A groan fills the air as that particular owner rolls over onto his back.

Anthony shuts the door. He shines a light on them. They squint in the harsh white light. Both boys share dark hair and brown skin.

“Val and Jacob. I should have known. Does your mother know where you are?”

“Of course!” They answer. “We have thirty minutes until we have to go back home.”

“Hey Tony.” The leg-split boy mutters, “How are you doing?”

“Annoyed.” He extends a hand, “Why would you do that? You know how I don’t like witchcraft stuff.” He hauls to teen up.

The two new boys exchange looks.

“We didn’t. We were just making noise.”

“What?” Anthony looks between them, “Val. Look.”

Anthony shows the taller boys the living room with the broken skulls.

“Oh. Must have been Mike.”

“Mike?”

Val nods his head, “He wanted to do the whole scaring bit. But he said that we needed to keep you on the other side of the house while he sneaked in and set a prank up inside.”

“Well. That was stupid.”

“Not disagreeing with you.”

“And what about the door?” Anthony presses, “What was that for? And how did you do it?”

“The door?” Jacob asks, “We didn’t do anything with the door.”

“What’s going on out here?”

Chloe and Dani appear. Although Dani is still pale, she seems to be in better control of her emotions. Chloe, on the other hand, is clearly mad and ready to take someone’s head off. The two brothers step back and hide behind Anthony.

“Really guys?”

“What?” Val answers, “Nothing wrong with self-preservation.”

“Are you two chuckleheads the one messing with us? Putting up the witch stuff?”

“No!” They answer together.

Chloe glares at both of them.

“Look. We were told by Mike to keep you on the other side while he put a couple of pranks inside the house. We were supposed to keep you on the other side of the house to give him time to get in and set the jokes.”

“Where are the other jokes?” Anthony says,

“I don’t know.”

“Wait.” Jacob speaks up, “I think I might know.”

“You do?” Chloe, her voice laced with sarcasm.

“Yes. Like we said. We had to keep you busy. So we banged the side of the house to get you to investigate. To get you away from the back of the house.”

Anthony’s face lights up and he snaps his fingers, “Cellar.”

Jacob jabs a finger in his direction, “Bingo.”

“Cellar?” Dani’s voice shakes, she gives her sister a panicked look.

“You won’t have to go down there.”

“Right.” Anthony grabs Val by the back of the shirt, “Chuckle Brother One. You’re with me. Chuckle Brother Two. You stay here and finish up dismantling that room.” He shoves Val towards the back of the house, “Come on. We got to find out what Mike did.”

“Yes sir.”

“Sorry!” Jacob yells, “Just meant it as a joke.”

The two boys disappear down the hall. Jacob turns towards the two girls. A smile tugs at his face. He likes how the moonlight strikes Dani’s legs. His smile falters as his eyes reach the look on their faces.

“Hey.” He stammers, “We just wanted a little fun. Part of the tradition.”

Chloe snorts and spins away. Her sister glances behind Jacob. He sees her shoulders shiver before following her sister down the hall.

“Hey.” Jacob yells.

The brunette freezes in her steps. She turns towards him. Jacob is surprised to see the earlier fear missing. Replaced by He smiles uncertainly and holds out a hand.

“I’m sorry. We just wanted to have fun. You know. Scare you a little so you have something to laugh about later.”

“What makes you think I’m not laughing now?”

“Because you keep pulling your arms together. Like you’re cold. And since it is humid as all get, I take it you are nervous.”

“Maybe I am.” She says sharply before walking quickly away.

“Way to go Jacob.” He mutters to himself, “Way to go. Just. Keep your big mouth shut.”

Jacob quickly finishes cleaning up the room and rejoins the others in the living room. Dani is putting more firewood on while Chloe stares out of the window. From the kitchen he can hear the sounds of a conversation but cannot make out the words.

“So.” Jacob mutters.

Dani looks up at him then quickly away.

He would have missed it had he not been watching her.

“What are you doing here?” Chloe asks.

“Oh. Just like I said. Just trying to scare you.”

Chloe scoffs and turns away, “This was stupid.”

Jacob shrugs as his brother and Anthony returns. Val drops to the floor and sits Indian style. Dani and Chloe whisper quietly to each other in the corner.

“Well, we found a couple of practical jokes like a box full of spiders and some sticky mess that would have fallen on us had we not been looking for it.”

“Great, Anthony. Now what?”

“We cleaned it up.” He turns to the brothers, “And these guys go home.”

“Fine.” Val says with a smile, “We failed anyway.”

“How so?” Chloe asks.

“Didn’t scare you.” Jacob answers, “You got mad. Which was not our goal.”

Again, she scoffs.

“Anyway. You two have a great night. Uh, did you two want something to drink? We brought some beer. Or pop if you don’t want beer.”

“I’ll take a Doctor Pepper, if you have it.”

Val grins, “Of course I do you. You’re addicted to it, Tony.”

“Oh shut it. Your fault.”

Both brothers laugh. Val stands up as he says, “Fair enough. Come on Jake.”

“Right.” Jacob glances at Dani before following his brother down the hall.

“You three going to be okay?”

“We’re fine Val. Just trying to catch up on homework.”

“Already? This is why I don’t take those dual credit courses. You get homework all of the time. Even for spring break.”

“Maybe but it’ll help out later on.”

“With your grades?”

Anthony shrugs, “Having an easier time in academics doesn’t automatically mean an easier time in education. You still have to work hard at getting good grades.”

Val shrugs his shoulders, “Whatever.”

He turns the doorknob but the door refuses to open. The teen frowns and tries again. Finally he puts his foot on the door frame and pulls on the door as hard as he can.

“What the heck? Why isn’t the door opening?” He bangs on the door, “Mike! Come on man! The idea was for us to get out. Mike! We know you’re waiting to scare us as we go out the door!”

“Very funny.” Anthony says with a bit of annoyance creeping into his voice, “It’s late. Your mother is looking for you and you tried this before.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The door. We couldn’t get it open earlier.”

The brothers look at one another, “We never mess with the doors. Not what happened last time.”

“If you haven’t messed with the doors, then what did you?”

Without warning the curtains closest to the teens slide shut. Then the shutters slam close. Throughout the house they hear metallic clicks as window latches click shut.

“Oh this ain’t good.”

To Be Continued…