Boys and Ghouls!
Welcome to the Pen & Muse Haunt!
The Haunted House looms before you, threatening to swallow you up. It’s larger up close, isn’t it? You know that you shouldn’t really be here. In fact, now that you’re here, you want to leave.
But you chose to come inside. Even though you knew something felt a little off. All you can really do now is try…try to stay alive.
You can see the live list of participants and their post dates on this link.
Good luck. You’ll need it. Muahahahahaha!
by Mari Wells
A brick house stands in the center of a large green yard. Daphne, our Realtor, pulls into the driveway. Jon parks on the curb and turns off the engine. He pulls the keys from the ignition, and unbuckles his seatbelt. My stomach twists as I look at the face of the house. Sun shines around the property, but clouds keep the sun from shining on the house. Making it look grey and gloomy. A shadow moves in the center window on the top floor, my heart races.
Taking slow breaths, I watch Daphne get out of her car and wave at us. I close my eyes and lean my head against the headrest. Still controlling my breaths, in –two -three, out –two -three, I try to rationalize the feelings that overwhelmed me. It’s the house we’ve been looking for, opening my right eye I search the blue sky for clouds that would shadow it from the sun. There aren’t any. Closing that eye, I inhale count to three and exhale.
“It’s what we always wanted,” Jon says placing his hand on my thigh.
“Honey,” he turns to look at me for this first time since he turned off the ignition, “What’s wrong? Should I tell Daphne we can’t see the house today?”
Keeping my eyes shut I shake my head from side to side, “It’ll pass in a minute.”
Squeezing my hands into fists, my blunt nails cut into my skin. This is the house we’ve been looking for. Now two years later we’ve finally found it.
“Madi, are you,” A knock on the window stops him from asking what I saw.
“I’m just nervous, that’s all. “ I say pushing the button to release my seatbelt and pulling the door handle.
“Isn’t it beautiful Madison?” Daphne asks.
Forcing a smile, I nod.
“It’s great,” Jon says, “we’ve seen a few that are perfect on the outside but not on the inside.
“The owners updated everything inside. You’re going to love the kitchen, Madison.” She leads us to the front door, bends down, and pushes buttons on a keypad releasing a key.
“They’ve laid wood flooring or slate tiles throughout the house.” she pushes the key into the lock. “New cabinets and granite counters in the kitchen and bathrooms.” she says as she twists the knob. “There’s three full bathrooms.” she says placing her hand on my shoulder.
The smell of human waste assaults me as Daphne pushes the door open. Waste mixed with the tang of copper twists my stomach, forcing my breakfast up my esophagus. The walls across from the door ooze.
Jon reaches for my hand as he walks across the threshold.
My free hand curls around the medal I wear around my neck. Wood creaks overhead.
“Let’s get some light in here,” Daphne says pulling the drapes open.
Black ooze stops sliding down the wall. The floor sucks the puddles of steaming blackness. I stare at the bare white wall, surprised by not seeing my shadow or Jon’s. The wood overhead creaks again, and again, making me think of a pendulum. I look at the ceiling, Jon tightens his grip and lets go. He and Daphne step into another room, the kitchen I assume.
The white ceiling fades away leaving rafters. I look at the wall again swaying across the painted whitewall is a black shadow. With heart frozen in my neck, I look over my shoulder. Wrapped around a wooden stud is a rope, on the other side a small girl dangles. As the body swings in the air, the body spins revealing her face to me. Her eyes are missing, leaving deep black holes in her skull, her flesh is grey, her lips are blue. Those thin blue lips begin to move, Help me, Help us, she mouths repeatedly.
My grip on my necklace tightens, Saint Michael, protect us from evil, before I can continue the prayer, the girl disappears. The scent of rotting meat and fish stings my nostrils. Walking a small circle around the living room area, I keep repeating my chant to the protecting Archangel. As I glance into the kitchen and dining room, Jon and Daphne are talking about the house and upgrades. “How old is this house?” I ask.
“It was built in the 1930’s.” she says.
“How long has it been on the market?”
“Oh,” her body stiffens, “I don’t know. I don’t have that information.” She flips through some papers she’s still holding.”Come look at the kitchen.” They stand in blood. I shake my head, as I watch blood drip from the ceiling.
Walking towards the staircase, I stop. My heart is stuck in my throat, making it hard to breathe. Screams echo upstairs, their pleas pound inside of my head. A gust cold air surrounds me. I envelopes me, and forces me to walk up each stair. Within my fist, my medal gets cold. I squeeze it harder. Upstairs the scent is much worse, my eyes water. I rush to a corner and allow my stomach to empty its contents.
The walls seep old blood. Each step I take pushes the pool of blood up the walls. Something slithers around my ankle, looking down I find snakes swimming in the dark blood. My stomach heaves again. Opening the door closest to me, two twin beds are blackened with blood, maggots crawl over the sheets. A boy lies in each bed. Their heads propped on their pillows, separated from their bodies. I slam the door closed, and move to the other door.
Stepping inside the room gasoline burns my nostrils and throat. A little girl kneels in the corner of the room. Worms slither in her long black hair.
She turns to look at me. “Will you help us?” she asks, spilling fluid from her hands. Her words wheeze through the slit in her neck.
The piece of silver I grip burns my skin. I nod, “Can you get the man and lady downstairs out?”
Her eyes bulge as she tries to shake her head.
“They’re like me, they won’t hurt you.”
Standing, she wheezes again, “He’s coming. I’ll save them. Please save us.”
Frigid air pierces my bones. The small amount of sunlight coming in the window disappears. The girl vanishes. The man she said was coming walks past the closed door. Each step he takes echoes through the walls and vibrates through my legs. Further down the hall, a door creaks as it opens. The window rattles as the door downstairs slams shut.
“Madison? Where are you?” Jon calls from outside.
A woman screams. Letting go of my medal, it burns below the hollow of my neck. I’ve never seen anything like this house, Saint Michael. I really need your help this time. Twisting the knob, I ease the door open. I sneak into the hallway and walk towards the screams.
Something thumps against the other side of the door. A woman pleads for mercy. Before I can stop myself, I barge into the room and stand between a woman weeping on the floor and a man that looms over me. His facial features are gone, raw flesh is exposed. Eyes protrude from their sockets. His pupils shine red within black irises.
His fingers curl around my neck, as he picks me up. I stretch and kick hoping to reach the floor. His laughter pushes into my mind, forcing the visions he wants me to see into my head. Fighting back, I scan the room a crucifix hangs upside down on the wall behind him. He throws me across the room. My body hits the wall and bounces to the floor. Using the last amount of ability in my body, I grip the medal in my left hand and pull it from my neck. Squeezing it tight in my hand, he nears me and kicks the last breath from my lungs.
A black cloud sweeps over me, dragging me into the darkness. A gust of warm wind caresses my skin. Fire bursts in long thin blades around me. Flames emerge from the bloodied floor. The man stops kicking me. Red and orange flickers around me, smoking wood scratches my throat as I force my lungs to inhale. Floating backwards, I’m taken through the house. As I stop in the girls room. She smiles, “Thank you,” she says. The cut in her neck has closed.
The first door opens, the two boys sleep peacefully in their beds. White oak wood flooring shines down the hallway. The walls are bright white and waiting for family photos to decorate them. Warmth and the smell of wildflowers fill the staircase. Bright summer sunshine fills the living room, a fireplace in the far wall promises warm happy winters. The girl hanging from the rafters smiles at me as she fades away. I step out the door and walk across the yard. Getting in the car, I close my eyes. My left hand throbs as I squeeze it tighter.
“We’ve already seen this house,” Jon says.
Opening my eyes, I look at the house bathed in sunshine. Steam drifts from the windows covered in soot.
“Haven’t we already seen this one?” Jon asks me.
The phone on the console between us buzzes. Jon picks it up, as I glance at my left hand.
“Daphne says this house is haunted,” he turns and looks at me, “Is it?”
The image of my Saint Michael medal is burned into my hand, the throbbing stops. “Not anymore.”
“Should I tell her?” he asks.
I don’t answer, not everyone should know I’m a medium. I open the door and get out. Daphne gets out of her car as I walk towards her. “It’s perfect. Let’s look inside.”
Her stories will take you to lands where vampires, werewolves, and witches interact in magical ways. Journey with her to places where myths take on exciting twists, monsters may not be what you expect, and death isn’t final.
Allow her to question all that you know to be true, while enjoying the tale she takes you on. Once you’ve been drawn into her world things that go bump in the night is something you will anxiously await.
Mari Wells has appeared in anthologies, magazines, and websites.