© 2013 Karli Rush
My short story – free right here on my blog- I will publish as I write this, hope you enjoy!
As promised here is part one from The House.
The only thing stronger than love is insanity.
One more step and the skin-crawling, creaking sound echoes throughout the hall. “Richard! Don’t, I—I really don’t feel good about this anymore,” I practically bark at him as we edge closer to the last door. We’ve investigated the lower floor, all the old, decrepit rooms, and the chancy stairs were my worst fear but we managed to sneak past the precarious areas. Now, we are standing at the last room down the unlit hall. The door is wide open like it’s welcoming us inside. The hot humid air has dropped significantly in temperature. It’s been well over a hundred degrees all summer long and now, I can see my breath. I can see his.
“Rich, please. Let’s just head back, it’s getting late. We can start fresh tomorrow,” I plead but he shakes his head in refusal.
“Naw, we got this, Keria.” He tugs on his lucky baseball cap, easing it over his eyes a bit and quirks a smirky grin at me. My eyebrows bolt up and I wave the flashlight purposely in-between us.
“Do you not see this?” My breath expels out a cold mist and the hair on the back on my neck rises.
He taps on the device in his hand and explains, “Yeah, it means we’re not alone.” The meter looking ghost detector is completely lit up green. It doesn’t flash nor flicker, just a steady, solid color. Which makes me grimace even more, I’m not a paranormal investigator like Rich is. This is my very first time exploring a haunted house. I suck in a nervous breath as he motions for us to move forward. The house goes perfectly still as if it’s waiting for something, hanging onto an eerie anticipation. Five more steps and we’re at the threshold of the pitch-black room.
“Rich, you’re sure about this? I mean we don’t know how long this place has been abandoned or how secure this structure is,” I probe as I flash the light around us and then shine it inside the room. My hand goes sweaty and I grip the flashlight tighter, there’s nothing in the room. It’s not like the others, it’s entirely bare, empty, as if someone sterilized it from the ceiling to the floor. You know how they always say rooms like this smell moldy or musty? Well, this one smells like it’s tainted with blossoms, it’s so over-powering even Rich glances back at me. We both distinctly smell it and he reaches out, giving my hand a gentle squeeze.
“You know, for being a Rookie, I’m impressed. Come on, it’s the last room.” I attempt to send him a quick confident smile but something breathes down the right side of my neck. I grasp at my throat and stare at Rich. How do I tell him I can’t do this? How can I step one foot in front of the other when all I want to do is run the other way? My answer comes when he steps through the time-worn doorway.
“Come on Keria, give me some light. It’s dark as shit in here!” I raise my shaking hand holding the flashlight and watch him walk to the middle of the room. An icy cold touch lands on my shoulder and I drop the light to the floor.
“Keria! Get it together girl!” he shouts but I’ve already snagged the flashlight from the ground and twirl around to see if I’m still the only one standing in the darkened cold hall. Whirling back to Rich I shake off the feeling of being observed.
“Got it, sorry.” I start to take a step into the room when I hear the house breathe, literally every board and nail within the room screeches together. And in the center, where Richard stands, the floor bows and bends upward and then breaks away. He plummets with the pollution of rotten wood and rusted, eroded fumes. My light illuminates a nothingness as he disappears from my sight.
“Richard!” The cracking and splintering shards of wood resound with a deafening residual. My ears ring and my heart pounds as I scream out again, “Richard!”
Breath…it’s the only sound within the room.
I readjust my hand on the Maglite and run toward the stairs. I’m shaking, everything in me wants to lock up but I’m so terrified I bolt without another reasonable thought. The worn wooden steps hold my weight as I race downstairs. It’s hauntingly dark and vacant. Nothing appears in my sight as I shine my light through the bleak hallway. Pace after wary pace I enter the room where Richard fell through. I clamp my hand fiercely over the only thing which guides me. Not a breath escapes from my lips when I approach the doorway, the lambent luster grazes slowly across the flooring. But I see only the hardwood surface. Untouched, no clouds of dust or debris, no broken shards of rustic wood. No Richard. As if nothing at all had happened. I take a step closer, suck in a hearty breath and whisper, “Richard!”
I cling to my shirt as I ease in, I can feel my heart pounding, trembling through the fabric. The fractional light threads outward offering me nothing but the barren baseboards and lifeless walls. A smell drifts by just as the cool air bristles the hair down my neck. The scent is intertwined with sunflowers and blood. And that same panicky feeling surges a rush in me, a dire urgency to get the hell out of here. But I grit my teeth together and raise my voice a bit louder than before and yell, “Richard, please! Where are you?!”
The house is abnormally quiet as I drag my light downward, searching the floor where I thought Rich would be. Chairs, aged books, and raged, dusty curtains are all over creation in here. It’s exactly how we first saw it before, not a thing out-of-place. And I raise my flashlight upward, to the ceiling, half expecting the hole that he fell through. But I know from seeing the room there will be no evidence to what I just witnessed on the floor above. The ceiling is still committedly intact. Am I losing my mind? I know I’m not, I know what I saw and he has to be in here. I take another step further inside the room, and just as my hand slips off the door frame, a cold unpleasant shiver weaves through my spine. A deep, detached voice growls right next to my ear, “Get out!”
I nearly drop my light as I spin around and run for the front door. Ambling faster down the broken cement steps I charge for my car. Never looking back, never losing my balance because I feel the vileness, the immorality breathing inside that house. I’ve, we’ve trespassed into something I can’t even begin to explain and Rich is somewhere still inside. I fumble with my keys to get them into the ignition. Once my headlights glare at the house not forty feet away, I lock the doors and debate. He’s in there and I can’t just drive the hell off. I rub my hands over my face and in-between my shaking fingertips I look up. In the window I see a shape, a silhouette of a tall man and it’s not Rich. My foot slams heavily on the gas pedal and I drive like a maniac on the rough, isolated dirt road.
The entire time my eyes flicker nervously back and forth from the road to my rearview mirror. The sensation of being followed keeps prickling my frayed nerves. I even feel like the woods have eyes and are watching me speed pass the trees. Something malicious lives inside that abandoned house, it’s real, just as real as the tears that swell inside my eyes. And I never want to go back there, but I have to find out what happened to Richard. Worry, fear, and guilt consumes me. What happened to him? Is he still alive… alive inside that cursed house?
To be continued…