Reddit series: The House

Series inspired by r/WritingPrompts. Short stories for every day read.

“You and your genre-savvy friends decide to stay the night at a haunted house. A few hours pass with nothing happening. You go to use the restroom and see a fogged up mirror, wiping off the condensation you realize to your horror that you are the monster.”

There was always something there. All the time, scratching at the surface. Sometimes, it would be hunger. Hunger for something bloody and moist. Other times, it would be anger, boiling and hard to contain, to the point of twitching with it. There was lust other times, so strong, it would feel like your hands just needed to grab, your mouth – gnaw, your body – pound. It was always there. Hard to contain, even harder to resist.

That night was in cold autumn, very close to All Hollow’s Eve. Every child knew it was dangerous to go outside on a night like this – with crescent moon and flocks of sleepless crows. But every child, the older they get, became reckless with curiosity and disobedience. And just like every child, the four boys, barely thirteen summers behind them, slid out of their rooms, through windows or unlocked doors and gathered at the war monument in the small town square. From there it was only few minutes to The House.

Everyone called it The House. A large manor that once belong to a powerful, rich family who all died off mysteriously. Since the last heir – an elderly man of questionable sanity – died, falling from the stairs inside his own dilapidated house, the manor had forever earned reputation of haunted and no one ever called it by its real name. A superstition to be sure, but townsfolk have gotten used to calling it The House.

The boys went without hesitation, wrapped in warm cloaks, whispering among themselves fervently, a small, portable gas lantern illuminating their way through cobbled road. It didn’t take long for them to reach the rusted gate to The House, which stood unlocked for many years. The manor was elongated, overgrown with ivy and trees that now stood leafless. All windows, some boarded over, some not, watched the four youngsters approach two-sided door. One of the boys tried to pry open the door, then, angrily asked the others to help. All four pulled at the right side of the wooden door, until it gave way.

The four went in, this time less assuredly than in the square. They stepped through decades of unmoved dust, looking around a spacious hallway with stairs leading up. The old carpet was so moth eaten, they had to light some candles dusted candles rolling around from a fallen candelabrum on the floor to not trip over holes. They went upstairs until they found a salon with furniture covered with white sheets. They occupied the armchairs and a sofa, with their lanterns and candles in the middle like a miniature bonfire.

The boys told stories, all of them no doubt scary, for screams, followed by laughter echoed throughout the manor. For one moment, if one tuned into their imagination enough, could see The House coming back to life, hosting these brave, reckless and curious children.

One story in particular drew so much attention the group went silent, except the oldest storyteller. It was that of a monster, so hideous and savage that it had to hide away from everyone, for it would devour any living being before it. So strong was the urge to tear apart everything, yet so pungent, repulsive and large was the monster that everyone knew the odor – as soon as it would whiff through town, the folk would hide away in their homes right before they mark their door with consecrated chalk from the Church. Then the monster would have no way of entering the houses and would just wonder around until they found someone who didn’t hide well enough. Then, blood, guts and bile would be left and most disgustingly – a pair of eyeballs, for the monster couldn’t eat them.

This story invoked the most fear in the group of boys, save for one of them, who burst out in rage, yelling that it’s all wrong, it’s all made up and they all don’t understand. He ran out of the salon, leaving others in fearful surprise. The raging boy wandered the empty house, stumbling in the darkness and what shy light the crescent moon dished out through dirty windows. The boy could feel the rage boiling, he wanted to thrash and scratch everything – which he did from time to time, as he went through dusty corridors and cobwebbed passages, sometimes stumbling into a room and throwing chairs and other clutter around. He was furious. He hit himself a couple of times, but it only made him angrier. All he really wanted was to tear his friends apart for telling those repulsive stories that were not true. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but they didn’t understand. It was not true. IT was not like that.

After a while, his friends decided to look for him and started yelling his name. The raging boy hid in a derelict bathroom, with a copper bowl, full of leaves, dust cloths and dead insects. There was a rusted tap over it and a mirror, so dirty and dusted the boy could only see the outline of his head. The moonlight fell from the single window on his left. The young boy, fighting his fit of rage, tried turning the tap. After a few moments, rusty, cold water came out into the dirty sink bowl. The boy splashed the water on his face without hesitation, lots of it. The rage didn’t stop. He pounded his hands on the mirror, shattering it, the sharp pieces piercing skin on the boy’s fingers and palms. The sight of blood, the smell of it… The rage inside. The boy looked at his own reflection in shattered, wet mirror. Dozens of red eyes looked back, dark, rotting flesh, long fangs and claws. Long, split tongue touched the bloodied fingers and a crooked, vicious smile came on the cracked lips.

There was shouting of a name and where are yous. The creature growled with pleasure.

A lot of tears were shed the next morning, as townsfolk gathered in and around The House, investigating screams heard during the cold night. All that was found were much blood, nauseating intestines, bile and 6 eyeballs. The four missing boys were quickly presumed to be the victims of a heinous crime of a madman, but no one could figure out what happened to the fourth missing boy. He was never seen again.

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