Short Story: The House – Chapter 12

Mike whistles to himself as he walks down the alleyway. The light from the emergency vehicles caste white, red, and blue on the lights. The harsh lights ruin Mike’s night vision but he is unafraid of being spotted. The fences and tall trees easily shield him from prying eyes.

He laughs as a helicopter flies overhead. He climbs up a nearby tree and takes a look at the street. The house is a wreck. Emergency workers are carefully carrying out covered bodies. A news reporter is already on the scene with a camera man.

The wails of mothers and shouts of fathers reach his ears as well.

The sound makes him laugh.

“You laugh? Why?”

Mike spins. He waits for a moment. Only the sound from the house breaks the silence. The teen continues to wait. His eyes slowly scan the region.

Slowly the shadow beneath a tree stretches until a piece breaks off. It rises out of the ground until it has the shape of a man cloaked.

“Did you get what we need?”

“The blood of three in pain. Yes.”

“Very dangerous, releasing a shade. You’ll bring them down on us.”

Mike snorts, “Let them come.”

The shadow laughs, “You were never one for avoiding trouble.”

“I have been trapped here for decades!” Mike growls, “You try living here for that long.”

“Speaking of which, an interesting form you have here.”

“Borrowed, I assure you. A boy was running from the house. I decided to take his form. Just in case people asked questions.”

“Your father would be so proud of you.”

Mike looks away.

“No. He wouldn’t be. He would have been disappointed.”

“What of those you leave tonight?”

“What of them? Two dead. One will be blamed and the last one traumatized for life.”

“Blamed?”

He shrugs his shoulders, “I left this one’s face alive but in the company of a dead girl.”

“Then why did you not take her blood?”

“She wasn’t on the grounds when the symbol was activated.”

“Right. It seems my time is up. Shall I carry word back to your father?”

“Yes. Tell him I am returning. And I am not alone.”

The shadow begins to fade. “I must ask though. Why children?”

“Why not? They’re the most vulnerable of any age.” He laughs, “And this age has made them even more so. Placing more and more adult responsibilities on them. They’re growing up before they’re ready. Making them easier prey.”

“Perhaps I shall join you there for a hunt.”

“Perhaps.”

“We wait for you. When shall we expect your return?”

“In one more year. There is one more house. I have all I need. I just need one more thing.” He smiles cruelly, “And it will happen soon. Then the streets will run free with blood.”

“What about the survivor? She could derail everything.”

“Maybe. But I doubt it. She didn’t know what or why.” He scowls, “Except the writers knew I was here. I will have to send them a message.”

“Then what?”

“Then I shall return and there will be a few more dead mourned then forgotten.” Mike laughs once more as the shadow vanishes, “Forgotten and dead but they will return.”

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Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 11

The creature drags itself onto the roof and raises a clawed hand. Lightning arcs between the fingers. It howls as it lashes out with its attack. Abruptly the creature staggers as if it was struck. Its hands cover its chest. The creature roars but this time it is of pain. The creature tumbles from the porch and out of sight. Anthony sags in relief and the two girls pull him back into the house.

“Got it,” Anthony says in a shaky voice. He drops the knife to the floor. “I got it.”

“Cutting it a little short.”

“A little.”

“Hey! Are you three okay?”

Anthony risks glancing over the edge of the porch. Val stands in the lawn. He holds his arm gently. He looks around the lawn.

“We’re fine. What about you?”

Val doesn’t answer right away.

“Val?” Anthony calls.

“Where is it?” Chloe says in alarm, “I don’t see it.”

“Val?” Anthony, “Did you see what happened to it?”

“It… I don’t know. Just faded out. Like it went ghostly and then disappeared into the ground.” Val stumbles and he winces.

“Stay there! We’re on our way down.”

“What do your books tell you?” Chloe asks as they make their way through the house, “Did it say what happens when you… closed the door?”

“No. We were so busy trying to find a way that we never spent time looking to see how it would end.”

“Great. So we don’t know if it worked.”

“I’m guessing it did. Break the seal. Close the door. Stop the creature.”

“Seems too easy.”

“Don’t jinx us.”

“Sorry.”

They join Val outside on the front lawn.

“Did you see what happened to Mike?” Anthony asks.

“No. We just bolted.” Val closes his eyes. His next words come out slow and husky, “It killed Jacob. One hit. He… he just looked so surprised.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Val whispers.

“For–”

“The only person whose fault it is is Mike.” Val’s eyes snap open, “And that coward ran. We ran around towards the back. You to the front. And him. He ran for the street. When I see him next I am going to beat his ass.”

“You’re welcome to try.”

The three teens turn in surprise to see Mike walking up slowly to the house. He is calmly drinking a soft drink.

Val snarls as he marches forward towards Mike.

“You!”

Mike laughs and he draws out a long blade. He moves faster than Val and slams the blade into his chest. Val sputters and blood explodes out of his mouth. The bigger teen lets Val slide off the blade and hit the ground.

The girls scream and they turn to run.

Mike snarls and throws blades across the distance.The girls fall to the ground. A knife extending from their calves.

“Now, now. Why are you trying to run?” He heaves out, “Do you know how many times I had to wait. To find the right house. To find the right time? Centuries of people watching for weird stuff. Paying attention to when people change. Decades. But finally, society is not so intolerant of aberrant behavior.” He laughs, “Finally being able to do things and explore things without drawing attention. And you four idiots had to mess up a century of work!”

“What do you want?” Chloe bits out against the pain.

“Well. Your blood. I need the blood of five kids and a shade. To gain even more power.”

The girls look at each other.

“You see. The symbol only opens the gate. The issue lies in passing through gates. Shades can because they are much smaller than they appear. I can’t.”

“Why would you want to go back?”

“Because I don’t belong here!” He roars, “I’ve taken control of hundreds of people, trying to find a house that a Builder made and thereby created a gateway. Now. I have the door and the blood.” He bellows out in laughter, “The problem is that you were able to undo what I did. I hadn’t realized those books survived.”

“Why Mike?”

He scoffs, “Mike wanted power. I gave it to him. He invited me in and I took his place.” He smiles, “And now. You two are going to be two more keys to helping me own.” He kneels down next to them and waves his knife over their necks, “Who wants to be first?”

“You? With the issues from your uncle.” He says with a smile at Dani, “You who think so hard and so long about what she did to deserve what she got.” Mike turns to the other girl, “Or you? The girl who did nothing for her sister while she was tortured day after day. And you did nothing.”

“So. I’m going home. Any last words you want to share before I take your blood?”

A deep rumble shakes the ground. Mike looks up in alarm. He snarls and starts retreating from the house.

“I’ll kill them. You move against me and they will be dead.

The girls look back and they see house shaking. Ripples move across the surface of the building. The ripples slow but the house continues to quiver.

“Good. Good.” He looks at the two girls, “Unfortunately, I still need your blood. So which one of you is going to help me home?”

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 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…

Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 02

The three teens slowly walk down the street. Chloe and Dani lead while Anthony follows behind with his own camera recording. The redhead glances over. Dani is nervous but not outright panicking. The teen decides it is a good thing.

“Hold up.”

“What now?” Chloe asks.

“I need to give you two your own cameras.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.” He smiles, “My dad said that when he did his tradition they had to keep a journal.”

The girls exchange surprised looks.

“What? You two really thought we were making it up when we said everyone in town had done this? The house has been built here before the town even got out here.”

“Well, we just thought Mike was pulling our leg. Being a jerk.”

“Oh he may be arrogant and little too in love with himself but he loves traditions and learning about them. I think it has something to do with his dad.”

“His dad?”

“Yeah, long time history professor.” He digs around in his bag, “Come on. I know I packed them.”

Again the two teens exchange surprised looks.

“I know, I know.” Anthony laughs, “The guy who goes to the football games in body paint and football jerseys holds a doctorate in history. I had asked him why he is so different when it comes to sport games and he said because of interests. He wants Mike to be interested in history. But he also wants to show Mike that he is interested in his life as well.”

“Interesting approach.”

Anthony shrugs as he hands them two small cameras. Although equipped similarly to his own camcorder, the devices are smaller and not as powerful.

“Thanks.”

“Your welcome. Let’s get this over with. We got a little over ten hours to watch mice scurry across floorboards.”

“What?”

“You don’t like mice?”

“Not particularly.”

“Well. We shouldn’t see too many.”

“How do you know?” Dani mutters as they get closer to the house.

“I’ve done some research. Talked to the adults that have done this as kids. Most of them say that they just sat around drinking pop.” He laughs, “I actually know a couple who did their homework.”

“Oh great. This is exciting.”

“It’s tradition!”

The three teens reach the end of the driveway. They stop at the same time without planning it.

To Chloe, the house looks old and broken down. Several windows are broken and the grass has not been cut in a very long time. The black windows give the house an empty, forlong feel and look to it.

To Anthony, the house is full of opportunity. Photographing an abandoned building is one of the things he always wanted to do. The age of the house can be seen in the worn steps and damaged siding. But it also holds a lot of history.

To Dani the house is familiar. A sad little building that fell from grace a long time ago.

“Well. Ladies first.”

Chloe glares at him.

“Joking.” He steps onto the small footpath. The two girls follow him.

A cold feeling flows over them. Chloe shivers and looks around. To her, it seems like the shadows have somehow deepened. The redhead glances back at the street. She rubs her eyes and looks again.

“Chloe? What’s wrong?” Dani calls.

She hadn’t realized she stopped walking.

“Chloe?”

“I… Just. For a moment it looked like the lamp post was further away.”

Anthony and Dani glance down the street. The small dim light source looks as it always has. Across the street, they can see Mike sitting in his car. He waves at them.

Chloe frowns and turns her attention back towards the house.

“Something wrong?”

“Your friend annoys me.”

“Oh. He’ll grow on you.”

“I doubt it.”

“Anyways. Shall we?”

“Right.”

The three teens stand on the porch. Anthony kneels and looks at the key. Dani looks around the front of the house. Chloe watches Anthony as he draws out a lock picking kit.

He glances up then smiles as he returns to picking the lot.

“You don’t seem to be surprised.”

“Should we be?”

“Well. Most people question why I am able to pick locks.”

She shrugs, “We can pick locks too.”

“Oh? YouTube?”

“Trial and practice.” She replies, “Dani? Where are you going?”

Anthony looks over and he sees the girl walking towards the edge of the porch. She is facing the woods. Her body stiffens and her hands balled into a fist.

“Dani?”

She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Dani turns back to them with a smile on her face.

“Sorry. My mind drifted. How are we? Can we even get in?”

“Almost…” Anthony murmurs. The lock clicks, “Got it.”

“Let the fun times roll tonight.” Chloe says as she pushes the door open.

It creaks. The teens flip on flashlights and walk into the house itself. The girls step into what appears to be an old hall. Off to the right is an empty room. To the left appears to be a dining hall. A wood table stands at the center, covered in dust.

“Cozy. A real fixer upper.”

Chloe scoffs, “Oh please.”

“Now what?”

“I don’t know. Just pick a room and chill for the night.”

“Great.”

The three teens walk further into the room. Anthony turns and shuts the door. It closes with a loud bang. Both girls jump at the show. They stare at him. He shrugs.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to do that.”

“Well, a lot of the kids like the living room.”

“Why is that?”

“Fireplace.”

“Oh. But it’s warm out.”

“True but at least that place will have a place where we can light and fire and save our batteries.”

“Don’t really care.” Chloe turns to her sister, “What do you think?”

Dani shrugs.

“Alright, Anthony. Lead us to the living room.”

The teen nods his head and walks down the hall. The floors creak and groan beneath their footsteps. Paint peels in long curls. The wall and ceiling are stained yellow with age. Here and there, a forgotten painting or photo hangs on the wall. Thick dust covers the images.

“How old is this place?” Chloe says quietly.

“I don’t know. Maybe fifty or a hundred years ago? I am not really sure.”

“Feels old.” Chloe takes a deep breath. The air is thick and musty smelling. A silence seems to weigh on the house, “Feels very old.”

“I don’t know about that.” Anthony replies as he turns a corner, “I do know that this is the living room. I’d avoid the kitchen though. Mice tend to go there.”

“What do we do about the bathroom?”

“Outhouse out back or the public restroom in the park. There is a path that leads from the backyard to the park.”

“How do you know so much?”

“I like to do my research before I get into things.”

“I see. That would explain the good grades.”

He grins, “Can’t help it. I am a book dragon.”

“Or a nerd.”

The teens laugh and a low creak echoes through the house. Their laughter dies as they listen to the house groan.

“Odd.”

“Yeah.” Chloe notices Anthony’s voice has lost its mirth.

“What is it?”

“Well. A few years ago something happened. No one really knows what went on. Just the mayor, the chief of police at the time, and the kids involved. I do know that it was the only time the police showed up to stop the tradition. The kids never talked about what happened. Neither did the parents. All we know is that two of the kids died and the house was covered in graffiti. Ever since the house has been strange.”

“Strange? How?” Dani asks quietly.

“Odd noises. Odd lights. Kids say that the house has a lot of noises.”

“How would they know?”

“Well. After everything went down, older kids wanted to go with their siblings. To make sure they stay safe through the tradition.”

“Oh, lovely.”

Anthony chuckles weakly, “I’m sure it was just bad luck and bad rumors. Sorry for bringing it up.”

“No worries.” Chloe pulls out a deck of Uno Cards, “Anyone up for a game?”

Dani and Anthony smile as they settle down on the floor.

Monday Short Stories: The House – Chapter 01

What if buildings had souls? What if they could tell us their stories? What then? It would be great? Wouldn’t it? To go to England and hear the tales of bygone ages. Or to hear the war stories of forts and camps. To hear how King George III plotted to rule the greatest empire. Or listen to one who witnessed Einstein genius at work?

But what if those souls witnessed terrible acts? Whose very walls were coated the blood of innocent? What if the acts we make, both innocent and evil, could change the way the building behaves? What then?

How would the buildings behave?

Would they be things of evil?

X

Two small girls slip out of a small bedroom window. The brick house is mostly dark save the living room. The flicker of white light is the hint of a television. A door opens and closes. The two girls freeze in place. After a moment, they continue to slip down the roof. They drop to the ground soundlessly. The girls keep to the shadows of a hedge until they reach the sidewalk.

They step into the light of a street lamp.

Both girls share identical small faces, slender bodies, and waist long hair. One has red hair while the other has light brown hair. Although both wear tank tops, the redhead wears a skirt. The other wears short shorts. The brunette climbs up a tree then drops two backpacks down to the second girl. Once they shoulder their packs, they begin to walk down the street.

The redhead girl glances back at the house.

“Dani? What’s wrong? Are you worried? Do you want to go back?”

“No.” She answers softly, “Let’s go.”

“Are you sure?”

She takes a deep breath, “No, Chloe. I need to do this. If I don’t do this, I am never going to be willing to venture back out.”

“Okay. Then let’s do this.”

The two girls quickly and quietly walk down the street. The air is thick with humidity and the sound of insects. The either side of the street is lined with small houses. Warm, friendly light shines out of the windows. Some are made of bricks. Others are made of siding. Street lamps stand at regular points. Young trees provide a warm, homey atmosphere.

Ten minutes later, the two girls step around the corner on Fifth and South West. Without saying a word, the children come to a stop.

There is only one lamp on this street. Its weak orange light is barely enough to shine at its base. The trees that line the street are much older and wilder than the other trees. A few houses can be seen through the thick brush. However, at the end of the street is a single house.

Three stories tall with large windows. Its front porch is lined with ornate pillars. A wide path stretches from the porch to the street. Once it was beautiful and stood with dignity. But now the paint is peeling and parts of the porch are sagging in places.

The two girls come to a stop underneath the lamp.

A few moments later, they are joined by three other teens. The biggest and largest teen flashes a smile at them. The second teen is a boy that is getting some recording gear. The second is a tall girl. All three wear letterman jackets. The weak orange light casts deep shadows.

“Hello, all of you!” The tall boy says, “Welcome to your challenge.”

“Mike.” The tall girl says, “Do we have to do this?”

“Everyone at the school has gone through it. Regardless if they are born her or not.”

“What are we doing.” Chloe says as she folds her arms, “What are we doing?”

“Fine. Anthony. You ready?”

“Almost.”

“Hurry up.”

“Hey, you are asking me to do the job of three people. Give me a second.” He lifts a camcorder fitted with an external mic and light source. “And we are ready to record.”

“Good evening! It is just past ten o’clock.” Mike says, “We are here to witness the night of terror! Where Chloe and Dani must stay the night at the old Miller’s House. Eight hours. Recording this adventure is Anthony. Who also has yet to do this.” He looks at the girls, “Are you ready?”

“Yeah.” Chloe squares her shoulders.

Dani shrugs.

“The rules are simple. One. You cannot leave the house until you can hear the town square clock. Two. You cannot call for help. Four. You can only use what you have in your bags. And lastly, you must be recording at all times.”

“Got it.” Chloe says, “We’re ready.”

“Okay then. Good luck.”

“Wait!” Chloe says, “How do we get in?”

“That is what you three need to figure out.”

The two girls look at each other and roll their eyes. The three teens head towards the house. Mike laughs while his friend glares at him.

“What?”

“This is such a stupid tradition.”

“Hey, our parents did this. Even the mayor did this.”

“Yeah…” She looks at the house, “but… something feels different now.”

“Oh, you have just been watching too many horror movies.” He grins at her, “Come on. Sonic is still open. I’ll buy you a lime aid.”

“Fine.”

To be continued…

X