Today is the day for our Spooktacular Halloween Short Story Blog Fest! Later on, I’ll post a link with all the participants so you guys can check out their stories as well! Enjoy!
What The House Knows
The house looked just like it did when I left many years before. It seemed like it took to taking care of itself, despite being abandoned for so long. The only thing different was the white paint peeling off the sides of the house and the porch railings leaned more than they did.
I stood in front of it, frozen in place, unwilling to take another step forward. I felt the memories consume me, almost to the point of suffocation. Clutching my chest, I tried to control myself. They can’t get me now, I thought. You’re safe now.
But was I really? I didn’t want to come back to this place, but my husband, Tom, thought it was a great idea.
“I want to see where you came from,” he said, smiling after announcing the idea at the breakfast table one morning. “I want to experience rural life for awhile.”
After hearing that, the only thing I could do was paste on a fake smile and nod my head mechanically. Once Tom got in an idea in his head, it was hard to get it out. Over to my left, he was pulling suitcases out of the back of our beat up station wagon. He came over to me and put his arm around my shoulders.
“Man, this place is gorgeous,” he said. “I can’t wait to start my book here.”
Tom was a great writer, but he claimed the city life was getting too distracting for him. He wanted peace and quiet. Unfortunately, I knew we wouldn’t really find that here.
“I can’t believe you still have this place. Why wouldn’t anyone else snatch it up?”
I tried to smile. “Maybe people don’t like the area. Or the house.” I added, quickly.
His eyes widened and he threw out his arms. “How could you not love this place? I think we should move here permanently.”
It felt like my heart dropped to my stomach. “Let’s not be hasty,” I replied. “I think you should stay here for a night and then think about that.”
Tom waved me away and started moving our bags into the house. A few days before, one of my parents oldest friends came in and cleaned it out for us. Matilda asked me if this was something I wanted to do and I lied. Of course it was, I said. Tom wants to see it, so what’s the harm in a few nights?
Now that I was actually standing in front of it again, I was beginning to regret those words.
Walking inside, my insides screamed out in protest. I leaned against the wall as the memories invaded my brain. I could hear the screams and the objects being thrown against the walls. Glancing over at the couch, I could still see the blood smeared on the fabric. I knew that it wasn’t the same couch that I grew up with, but it was still there. In my mind, every horrible memory was still there.
A hand grabbed my shoulder and I jumped, letting out a scream. Tom’s eyes widened and he took away his hand.
“What is the matter with you, Madeline?” he asked. “You’ve been uncomfortable since we got here.”
I shrugged it off. “Nothing. I’m fine. Maybe we should get some dinner in town. I just need to eat, I think.”
Tom nodded, agreeing that was probably a good idea. Luckily, there was no food in the house for us to eat anyways. He had no choice but to agree.
I tried my hardest to stay away from the farm as long as we could. Tom could only be distracted with dinner and shopping for so long before he wanted to get back and settle into the house. I sighed and didn’t argue with him as we went back to the house where I knew everything was waiting.
That night, I found myself wide awake while Tom continued to snore beside me. After dinner, he found inspiration on the back porch of the farmhouse. If only he knew that was where it all began.
I wouldn’t go up to the master bedroom alone. I waited for him to finally feel exhaustion and close up his laptop so we could go to bed. But, even with him sleeping beside me, I still saw the images in my mind. Looking at the new beige carpet, I still saw the pools of blood forming around their bodies. Tears sprang to my eyes as I heard the house creaking in protest. Shadows danced on the walls in the moon lit room.
Suddenly, I heard a door creak open downstairs and footsteps on the wood floors. Thump, thump, thump.
With each step, my heart started to pound faster in my chest. I sat up, shaking, wondering what to do. As the noises downstairs got louder, I shook Tom awake.
He opened his eyes and looked up at me. “What’s the matter?” he mumbled half asleep.
“There’s something downstairs,” I whispered. “I think someone is in the house.”
“What?” he asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “I don’t hear anything. What is going on with you?”
I sighed and shoved fingers through messy hair. “I don’t know if I can stay here. This house knows too much.”
“What are you talking about?”
A tear fell down my cheek. “My parents were murdered in this house. I found them on the floor in this room after a sleepover party. They laid on that floor, stabbed and left to bleed to death.” A crash downstairs caused me to jump out of bed.
Even Tom heard that. He took a deep breath and searched for pistol he brought with us for extra security. He bent over and kissed my cheek.
I wanted to stop him from not going, but I couldn’t find the words as he disappeared out of the room. For the next few moments, I sat in the silence of the night and prayed that it was just my imagination playing tricks on me. Everything’s fine, I thought. You’re okay.
It was the shouting that caused my eyes to fly open. The gun shot that followed made my heart leap in my chest.
As I sat there, frozen to the bed, the shadows danced more quickly on the walls. It was like they were taunting me. The creaking got louder and the room got darker. I tried to calm my nerves and see what was going on downstairs.
As I stood up my shaking body, I looked over and saw a figure standing near the doorway. I jumped back, knocking the lamp beside the bed onto the floor with a crash. It came towards me slowly and I got a closer look. With a gasp, I recognized the long brown hair and big, blue eyes.
My mother smiled at me and reached out her hands. Hesitantly, I looked at her. She seemed just like I remembered, wearing her long white nightgown with her hair spilling onto her back.
“It’s okay, Madeline,” she said. “It’s all in your head.”
As she said those words, I could see the blood forming on her nightgown. She smiled again as I gasped, rushing out of the room. I ran downstairs, anxiously searching for Tom. Please let him be okay, I thought. Please don’t let this happen to me again.
The living room appeared to be empty. There were no shadows looming above me or figures standing in the doorway.
“Tom?” I whispered. “Where are you?”
My heart continued to race as I reached over to turn on the lamp beside the couch. Walking towards it, I slipped on something wet on the floor. Catching my balance on the arm of the couch, I turned on the lamp and flooded the room with light. As my eyes adjusted to the change, I looked around the room, not finding anyone standing there. Something on the floor caught my eye and I looked down slowly. My hands went to my mouth as I saw Tom laying there with a pool of blood forming around him.
“No, no, no,” I cried. “This can’t be happening to me.”
It almost felt like the house began to shake with laughter. It knew my fears and played with them. It knew everything.
A figure appeared by the doorway and smirked at me with cold eyes staring me down. I fell down on the couch and screamed as its hands went towards me.
“Madeline? Madeline, wake up.”
My eyes flew open. I sat up in my bed, shaking and covered in sweat. Looking around, I found myself safe in my own home, far away from the house that knew everything. Tom put his hand on my shoulder, looking concerned.
“Did you have another nightmare?” he asked. When I nodded, he sighed. “Honey, that’s the fourth one this week. Do you want to talk about it?”
I shook my head almost violently. I didn’t want to talk about it in fear that saying it would bring it to life again.
“It’s just a dream,” I said, putting my head on his shoulder.
The next morning, Tom made me breakfast in bed. It helped ease my mind and we tried to forget the nightmare.
“You know, I’ve been thinking that we need to take a vacation somewhere. Let’s get out of the city and relax. I think that’s what you need,” he said, smiling.
I nodded my head, putting some raspberry jam on a slice of toast. “And where do you suppose we go?”
His smile got even bigger. “Well, I was thinking about that old farmhouse from your childhood.”
My hands slipped and jam spilled all over the carpets, causing a red stain. Oh, no, I thought as Tom continued to talk. Wake up. Please wake up.
But I couldn’t. It was real this time. That house and it’s inhabitants was waiting for my return.