The House

December 12, 2008
By Nicola Pritchett, Highland, UT

“I’m not going to be late Mack!!!!” Holly shouted, stretching her thin arms towards the foamy tiled ceiling.

“That’s what you’ve said the last seven times! That boyfriend of yours takes up to much time! Plus he’s not even half as good-looking as me!”

Holly giggled as her good-natured, pot-bellied boss strutted out of the kitchen sporting a filthy apron and hairnet over his nearly bald head.

“Oh I can’t argue with that!” She called from the front, where she leaned against the chilly glass of the front door watching for her ride. “Oh look there he is now! Would you like to tell him that I’m running away with you or shall I?”

“Oh get out of here Holly, and make sure that man of yours gets you here on time tomorrow!” Mack called, his stout frame already disappearing through the grimy kitchen door.

Holly chuckled and turned back to the icy window. Her stomach leapt as she watched her boyfriend of three months slide from his car. She brushed her hand down the back of her head smoothing her shiny black hair and tugged at her huge work shirt cursing it’s un-flattering size as Todd swung open the door, immediately sweeping her into a warm hug and kissing her cool cheek.

“Hey, love.” Todd said smiling warmly down at Holly.

She grinned back wordlessly, until she noticed Mack and a few others from the kitchen staff watching them intently through the rounded windows of the swinging kitchen door.

“How about we get out of here?” she muttered. Not wanting an audience.

“Ha! No problem!” Todd laughed. Noticing the on-lookers and waving, as he pushed the freezing door open. Holly slipped her hand into his and blew a final kiss to a blushing Mack as the door swung closed behind them.

The ride with Todd was shorter then she had hoped, and she was reluctant to leave his toasty car to enter her home.

She hadn’t had the address for long, it was an ancient Victorian style house that seemed to be falling apart in every way. Its grimy peeling green paint was nearly non-existent and the cracked windows did no good keeping the wind from sweeping through the entire house, yet Holly had been immediately drawn to the house, admiring the fact that it was surrounded by quiet cornfields and deer frequently wandered through the yard, nibbling on the leaves of the ancient oak and willow trees that dotted the yard.

Although she had told Todd and her parents about these “charming” features of

the house, they had repeatedly warned her not to buy it. They had said it was too far away and too old. A “fire hazard if I ever saw one!” her father had said. Giving the house a loathsome glare. Ignoring the warnings of her loved ones she had bought the house.

She gave Todd a swift kiss and hopped unwillingly out of his car making a dash for her front door, carefully avoiding the rotting front steps. As soon as she was in the house she heard Todd’s car make a quick u-turn and sped back up the old dirt road. Holly sighed and slid her hand along the cool chipped wall searching blindly for the light switch, when her fingers finally reached the switch however the lights wouldn’t turn on. Holly cursed under her breath and pulled out her cell phone, using it’s feeble light to lead her along a dark hallway towards the kitchen. When she had finally reached it she grabbed a few long black candles that she knew must have been sitting in the knife drawer for ages. She leaned in peering at the sharp blades that lay still and silent glinting blue in the light of her phone. She could clearly see her own reflection squinting back at her, but what was that behind her? It looked like a oddly out-of-place shadow in the already dim room. But, as she leaned in closer she could see nothing. She quickly shut the knife drawer and, grabbing a matchbook she lit three of the smooth candles and placed them in various spots around the kitchen. Then, glad that she had eaten at work as to not spend more time in the spooky kitchen, she lit a last candle and carried it with her along a second hallway up to her bedroom. She disliked this hall. It’s walls were covered in old photographs of the first owners of the house. A rich family of four who had all disappeared suddenly in the early 1900’s, at least that’s what the realtor had said.

She doubted the story was true, more likely it was a ploy to attract ghost hunters and mystery fanatics.

Yet, she still felt uneasy looking at the ancient pictures, they always showed such serious morose faces, as if they already knew they were doomed to go missing. Holly made a mental note to replace them as soon as she had a free day.

Suddenly the sound of breaking glass echoed through the hallway, Holly hurried forward and quickly found the source of the noise. One of the photographs had fallen from the wall. But, as Holly lifted it gently to gaze upon it she was horrified to see the face looking back at her. It was not a serious family portrait, but a picture of a child, a young girl. The detail that had frightened Holly was the girl’s face. It was twisted into an evil and satanic smile, her eyes were black as coal and her small fist seemed to be clutching a knife. Michelle shivered and dropped the photo face down, she felt the unease flooding through her and straightened up feeling distinctly as if someone was watching her from behind, but spinning around she saw nothing but the dark hall she had just walked through. Her stomach tightened and she quickened her pace down the hall, ignoring the chills that slid down her spine, she quickly reached the staircase and climbed it to her room. She walked immediately across the bedroom to her oak bed and crawled inside still wearing her clothes. Perhaps buying a house so far from the rest of the world was a bad idea.

She could still sense that someone was watching her and she was starting to feel sick. She pulled her knees up against her chest resting her chin on her knees peering back and forth in the blackness looking for the source of her fear, but her searching eyes found nothing but the shifting shadows and the faint sound of the wind whistling through the house, like whispering spirits. Michelle sighed, she was getting way too freaked out by something as silly as an old photo! She relaxed the grip around her legs and reached towards her nightstand for her favorite weathered paperback. She could feel herself instantly begin to calm once her eyes began skimming over the pages of the story.

But, what was that?! She had seen a flash of white from out of the corner of her eye. Her head shot up but she saw nothing. As she once again began to lower her eyes towards the withered pages she saw the white again. But this time, it did not instantly vanish. Slowly, cautiously she raised her eyes again; The sight that met her froze her entire body. It was the girl. The girl from the picture was peering straight at her. He eyes were wide and blank. They lacked any emotion, just blank black holes into a black lifeless soul. Her face was so drawn and pale she looked more like a skull than any kind of human. Slowly her face sunk below the base boards sliding out of sight. Holly could not move. Where had she gone? Lurking at the end of her bed? Behind her? She did not want to wait here, a sitting duck, to find out. She could get to her car in a matter of seconds, she would drive straight to Todd’s; it wasn’t far. Just the thought of him seemed to chase away some of the fear and Holly swung her legs out of the bed and turned to get up. She screamed. The Girl was there, only inches away, her face now twisted into a sick smile. She reached out towards Michelle. Her small claw like hand scratched at Michelle’s face leaving a trail of blood behind. Michelle scrambled across the bed leaping away from the girl towards the door. It seemed so far, she had leapt up too quickly, the rush of blood to the head combined with her terror was making her stumble, she tripped cutting her leg on the rough wooden floor, crawling towards the door and stumbling blindly down the black hallway.

Suddenly down the hall she saw a flicker of one of the black candles through an open doorway, relief flooded her body she dashed to the doorway only to find another pair of sickening empty eyes staring back at her. The girl’s mother, she’d seen in one of the ancient portraits. She stumbled back only to be caught by icy hands. Fingers curled around her arm the boy’s blood soaked hands cutting into her flesh. She screamed, writhing and twisting to escape his hold; while slowly the long dead family closed their tight circle around her pressing in, their faces sliding closer and closer to her own.

Todd had started to worry. 2 days without word from Holly had alerted him to the fact that something was definitely wrong. As he wandered up the creaking stairs of her haunting old house guilt seemed into his mind. Perhaps she just didn’t want to see him, he was going against her wishes. Despite his worries he continued on towards her bedroom. He smiled to see the candles strewn down the hallway. Of course the power in here would go out! He slowly wandered through the doorway to her bedroom, peering around the door frame. Sitting on the bed smiling in welcome, was Holly. Eye’s wide and her face pale. Todd returned a nervous smile, moving forward-had her eyes always been so dark?

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