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.

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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

Monday Stories: Dangerous Water – Chapter 8

Ash and Ellia stare in open shock. Remains line the length of the chamber. Some are fleshless skeletons. Others appear to be badly decayed mummies. However, all sport circular bite marks. A soft whimpering sound echoes through the chamber. The two teens turn and see a survivor and another one of the creatures.

Ash leaps forward.

Energy flows and explodes as a point of light. The creature howls in pain as the impact from Ash’s attack slams into the cavern’s wall. The teen struggles to keep her blade in place as the creature writhes in agony.

A few moments later, the creature grows still.

“Is it… dead?” Ellia asks from the chamber entrance.

“Yes.” Ash says as she kneels down next to the captive.

She gently pushes the captive’s hair back. The Fae is young, maybe fifteen or sixteen human years. There are a dozen fresh bite marks. Ash makes short work of the chains. Ellia kneels down next to the teen.

“So this is what a feeding looks like…”

Ash looks over at the second Fae. Ellia’s face is pale with a hint of green to it. She cannot judge too harshly though. Her own stomach is twisted at the thought of being fed on. With an effort, Ash shoves the feeling aside.

“Come on. Talon should be done with the Ta.” At that, Ash frowns. She glances at the now dead creature. “I thought there were only two.”

“So did I.”

“Come on.”

Ash and Ellia helps the unconscious Fae. Ash looks at the others. Her heart aches at the dozen or so dead.

The sounds of stones and chattering noise fill the cavern. Neither one says a word. The noise fades away.

“Something isn’t right.” Ellia says quietly as they work their way through the cavern, “That is what you are thinking.”

“Maybe. I am hoping that only one of them went up to deal with Talon and there other came down here.”

“To feed? When there is an enemy on the nest?” Ellia replies, “From everything I have read about…the Ta says that they group in pairs.”

The stench of burned and rotting flesh fills their nose. Ellia groans and steps back from the smells. Ash tightens her grip. She gives the younger Fae an encouraging smile. Ellia still looks as afraid as before, but she isn’t walking away like before.

Together the three of them walk forward, following the smells. Ahead of them, harsh white light casts long shadows. Stones gleam in the light. The three Fae come to a stop at the edge of the entrance. They wait until their eyes adjust. The Fae step forward into the cavern.

Ash feels her stomach drops into the ground.

Dozens of pods fill the immense cavern. Each one is a frame of six ribs with semi-transparent wall between the ribs. Inside the pods, more creatures are stirring. Their clawed limbs press against the clear membranes holding them trapped.

A shadow flies overhead and slams into the wall.

Ash throws up a defensive barrier as loosened stones fall from the wall. She readies herself for another fight but the creature falls lifeless to the ground.

“Ash? Are you hurt?”

She turns and sees Talon walking towards them.

“No. Are you?”

“Ten percent damage. But you need to go.”

“What is this?” She waves an arm.

“They are growing an army.” Talon says grimly, “I will destroy them.”

“Understood.”

The three girls leave the room and head towards the entrance of the cave. They can hear the crackle of energy exploding and the dying screeches of Ta.

The teens break into the open air. The fresh air is a relief compared to the horrid smell from inside the caves. Dawn is already breaking across the sky. The girls head towards the town. Their freed captive begins to stir. She jerks but Ash and Ellia hold her steady.

“Easy. You’re safe.” Ash says quietly, “You’re safe.”

The Fae sags with relief.

“They fed on me.” She moans in pain.

“We’re going to take you home.”

“Please. I want to go home.”

“We’ll get you home.” Ash says. She turns to Ellia, “Both of you. You’ll be drinking water drawn from the Mans River itself.”

The crunch of tires causes all three girls to look. A small car rolls to a stop. A man and a woman leap from the tires. The girls freeze. Ash’s mind races as she tries to come out with an answer. Two adults step out of the car.

“Ash?”

“Mr. Joseph. Miss Penny.”

“What happened?” Penny calls out as they run towards them, “Joseph, she’s bleeding! They’re bleeding!”

“I’ll get the medical kit!”

“Hurry, we can get her to the car.”

“No.” Ash says, “We need to go to our home.”

“But she’s hurt.”

A low rumble rolls through the ground. The trees tremble.

“What was that?”

“Talon at work.”

“What is going on?” Joseph notices the remains of the Ta. “And what is that?”

“A longtime enemy of the Fae. We thought they had passed after the great wars. Apparently they have been massing a force here.”

Another rumble and they can feel it through their feet.

Joseph and Penny exchange worried looks.

“Go.” Ash says, “Take them.”

“What is happening?”

“Trouble.”

“What is going on?”

“There is a force of enemies from our world. And Talon is in trouble.”

“Do we want to know?”

“Probably not.” She says with a smile. It fades after a moment after another shock wave rolls through the ground, “Take care of them. Please.”

“Wait, you said you were going to explain everything.”

Ash chuckles, “We were, weren’t we? I guess I’ll tell you afterwards.”

Ash turns and runs towards the cave entrance. The ground begins to split in several places as shockwaves roll through. Joseph helps the girl into the car. As Joseph gets in the car is pitched three feet into the air. He slams the car into reverse and starts driving backwards. He comes to a stop at the edge of the lake.

“We need to leave.” Ellia says, “Now.”

“Wait, why are they staying?”

“Because she is a soldier and he is a weapon.”

“Why are they fighting?”

“Because that is their duty.”

“But they’re just kids.”

She smiles weakly, “Who else is going to stop them?”

“But what are they fighting?” Penny asks.

Ellia sags in the seat, “They’re fighting something that should have disappeared a long time ago. But there are dozens here. And they’re feeding.”

“What does that mean?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Then what happened to my daughter?”

“Chloe?”

“Yes.”

The ground bucks and knocks the car into the air once again. Joseph glances at Penny. He turns around and drives away from the lake. He looks in the back and he sees that both girls sport deep wounds.

“What will you do?”

“I don’t know.”

The adults exchange worried glances.

“Our people.” She answers their question, “They would have closed the door on him.”

X

The End

Friday Thoughts: Moments

Good morning! It is Friday and we have made it through another week. Unless you are in a different time zone that results in a different day. Then I’ll just say good morning.

This past week, my coworker reminded me that I need to take each day one at a time. Not to plan out far into the future. My own devotions have stated that God has given me so much time to work with.

Despite whether you believe in God or you like to plan ahead, everyone has a limit to what they are able to handle. Some can handle more. Others are only able to handle less.

But here is the question that I encountered: is there a difference between “living in the moment” and “living for the moment”?

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any difference. However, I think there is a difference. A big one that can shape how one’s life unfolds.

Living in the Moment

I believe this means to focus on what is current. Whether that is living day by day or hour by hour, just work with what is immediate. It could mean working on a project that is due next week for work or school. Or it could mean focusing on your child’s dance recital instead of the tomorrow morning’s work meeting.

Instead of trying to figure out what is going to happen for Christmas or where I am going to be in five years, I focus on what I need to do now. I need to eat today. I need to check in on my friends. I also need to get a design done today.

Living in the Moment does not mean I am ignoring planning for the future. Just not taking on tomorrow’s worry.

I find living day by day helps reduce how much stress I have on my shoulders. This also helps me find the little things that make life enjoyable. A joke by a coworker or watching the sunrise as I commute. For me, these things is what makes life living.

Living for the Moment

It reminds me of the phrase “you only live once”. A phrase that implies just do whatever comes to mind because life is short and you only have one. This life plan strikes me as short term and short sighted. From my understanding, the idea is that you are looking for the thrill from one moment to the next. What gets you excited and that every day you are making it an adventure.

While that does sound fun and a joy, life doesn’t not unpack itself like that. Each day is full of responsibilities that need to be attended to. If you are always looking for just the fun, then you’ll forget to get your work done and life becomes difficult.

It also makes it hard to enjoy life.

If every day is an adventure, then you’ll need to find a bigger high every moment. Life has it dull moments and that’s okay.

Take Away

Enjoy your life and have your adventures. But not at the cost of your responsibilities or your sanity.