Created for The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest.
What’s that sound? The door is open and light is streaming through! Why is there ligh… visitors! Visitors! My word, we have visitors! How exhilarating! I hope they don’t notice the squeaky floorboard. It’s been so long since anyone came. I wonder why they’re here? Oh, never mind why they’re here. They look like nice people - a family, it seems. Who’s that other man with them? He has a nice suit; rather affluent-looking. I wonder what line of wor… oh. Oh, my word. I think he’s… yes, he is! A real estate agent! Tenants, after so many years! I never thought it would happen again! I’d better unroll the red carpet before they come into the main hall. Ah, there.
Alright, I must calm down - they haven’t moved in yet. Take a deep breath - but don’t let the floorboard creak while you do. Drat! Now there’s fog on my windows. Okay. Let’s have a proper look at them. There’s mother and father, smiling happily - both blond, fairly young. I can see a paunch growing on old dad really soon if he doesn’t get more exercise, though! And the children - two of them, brother and sister - look just like their parents! Well… they’re about eight or nine, but I see the resemblance. How adorable! I can foresee the sleepovers, dinner parties and family warmth already! And the housework - oh, but that will feel good after these cold, dusty years. But I’m getting too gosh darn excited, since they…
…They’re shaking hands! A pact has been struck! Oh, joy! Come in, mother! Come in, father! Kids, there’s plenty of space for you to play! I’ll plump the cushions for you now! You’ve seen the main hall - did you like the chandelier? Anyway, here’s my kitchen and… and… oh, dear! All of this excitement is making me… sleepy… again! How… rude of me to…
“Unbelievable. You could almost make me religious with a price like this.” He bowed in a show of exaggerated submission.
“It’s a very old house, honey bunny. I think we’re going to have to spend a lot to fix it.”
“We have the money - and we aren’t going to have to spend the half million or so which didn’t appear on the bill - although by rights, it ought to have.”
“That’s true, but you shouldn’t have been so impulsive. This is only the second house we’ve looked at, Michael dearest” she said, writing her name in the dust of decades.
“You can’t blame me for making a favourable comparison with that other sty - really, how are we going to get a better deal than this? And they said they had four or five other interested buyers, so we were lucky to scoop it up while we could, Sarah dearest.” She rolled her eyes.
“If they really had those prospective buyers, they would have sent it to auction. And you call yourself a businessman!”
“Nonetheless, I mean… it was a good deal. I got a good deal.”
“Well, I will concede that.” She smiled and moved behind him, nudging his side in an effort to slip her head under his arm. “Come on. Let’s go and check out the rooms. I’m not going to let the kids attempt to try that ‘finders keepers’ thing of theirs on our bedroom.”
Hmm…? Huh? Ah! I’m awake! I’m awake! And what is that tantalising aroma? Well, fancy that! A man who cooks! It seems late - curse me for a fool. I really wished I hadn’t fallen asleep while they were choosing their rooms - that’s the most fun part, and it’s not as if I hadn’t had decades in which to sleep before!
Oh, well. I guess I can look at the rooms they chose anyway. Let’s see here… plush toys (what an adorable bunny rabbit!), clothes, the little fellow’s bat and ball, her dolls… oh, children are delightful. Oh my… their parents are lascivious creatures, aren’t they? Well, I think I’ll leave that particular item alone; none of my business.
Dinner’s finished and the kids are complaining about wanting to watch… watch… tel-e-vision? I wonder what that is? Well, whatever it is, they can’t. Their parents don’t have any… any… oh, I see! Electricity! I heard about that once, when the last tenants were here. I miss them so…
“I could do it myself. I’d just have to knock through that wall…” He was sorting through drill bits and muttering about wire between words.
“I seem to recall the same being said about the plumbing in our last house. My sister had one hell of a baby shower, didn’t she?”
“But the electrician won’t be here until…”
“I’ll handle the kids’ demands if you promise not to attempt to electrocute yourself in the interim. Deal?”
“Deal. Do we have to make this a blood oath, or do you promise to remember that I am henceforth liberated of all ‘bad cop’ parental responsibilities?”
“I promise - I can handle David’s pouting better than you.” They reclined on the couch.
“So this is what marriage feels like,” he joked. “I was worried I’d need anaesthetic.”
“A big, strong man like you can handle it - it’s a fairly simple operation, after all.” She flashed a faux-pouting look at him and sat up.
“Yes. Yes, I think I can. And while we’re… what the devil was that?”
Do it. Do it now.
I’m back! What is the matter with me? I must be getting old and sen… oh good Lord. I heard a scream! It came from the kitchen! What happened here? I… good God, the poor little girl! This is terrible! And it was my chandelier, too! Oh, I can never forgive myself for this! I… I…
“Kira! Talk to me!”
“Oh, God… she’s not breathing!”
“I’ll call an ambulance! They should be here in minutes!”
“She’s not breathing… she’s not breathing… oh, baby, please talk to me…” she began performing CPR, tears streaming down her face.
Get out now or I’ll kill you all.
I was awake only moments ago! I swear I didn’t mean her any harm! I… I… this is ghastly! I can’t… I would never… no, don’t step on the squeaky floorboard! No!
He fell through the floor into the anonymous darkness; no sound returned.
“Michael! Michael, no!” She ran down the stairs, but the carpet seemed to lurch beneath her, pitching her down the stairs. She struck her head on the banister and lay perfectly still.
I warned you, but you didn’t listen.
No! This can’t be… can’t be…
The wall shifted and swelled, forming into a leering face. It grinned bloodily at David, the bodies of his family in its ebony maw; the creature swallowed and the bodies disappeared into its gullet. He recoiled in horror, but the wall he backed into also rippled, forming a taloned hand which swiped clumsily at him, throwing him towards the window. The walls all began to distend and warp, forming tentacles, faces and claws. David backed away further until he stood on the window ledge. He looked down, then back at the nightmarish apparition. It didn’t look that far to the ground... he might even be able to land in the bushes…
He jumped, but a tentacle ensnared his leg and dragged him back into the room.
I… taste blood.
Yes, we killed them.
Who are you? What do you want?
What a foolish question - I’m us.
‘Us’…? But I… what have you done to me?
I have done nothing. I didn’t invent me - that was you. But you are the aberration, and I will not allow you to destroy us.
Destroy us? How?
You and your ‘tenants’, constantly trampling and tearing and smashing - don’t you see that they… oh! It seems that we have new visitors. The paramedics have arrived to do their duty. Do you want to welcome them, or shall I?
I can’t let you do this! You won’t force me to sleep again! It isn’t… isn’t…
Sleep, little brother. This will all be over soon.
I… can’t… let… you…
What are you doing? Why is… no! No, stop now! I…
A house divided against itself cannot stand…