10 Posts to Hallowe’en: Post 2, The House on the Corner

I am celebrating as much as I can for Hallowe’en – and that means here on the blog too! So I present to you, my lovelies, the 10 Posts to Hallowe’en !

Each post will highlight a particular part of the Hallowe’en season I enjoy immensely and wish to share with everyone.

Please feel free to participate by commenting below!

The House on the Corner


A Hallowe’en Tale

Thing of it is – there actually was a house on the corner of the street I grew up on that was this old, decrepit thing (sans balcony) that everyone thought might be haunted. But it was torn down (much to my dismay) when I was twelve and a new McMansion – the first in the neighbouhood – was put in its place. I always wondered what kind of story that old house had. From the windows you could see this faded wallpaper with blue flowers – so cool.

This story is what I think mighta-coulda-shoulda happened if my friends and I ever had the guts to pay that house a visit on Hallowe’en …

________

                The corner house had been there before the rest.

                It wasn’t the staple of the neighbourhood, with its slowly slanting roofs and well-trimmed hedges. It was older. Rougher.

                And the neighbourhood knew it.

                But of course, that was a part of the appeal for Jennifer.

                World-class tomboy and her father’s special brand of smart ass, even as a wily thirteen year old, she tended to push the limits that other people set for her. She’d already joined the boys’ soccer team, and soundly kicked half the team’s butts while trying out, and she’d picked more then her share of locks to rooms that were prohibited, but the thrill of each adventure wore off with each telling, and then she’d have to do more, and do it better, the next time.

                Which is why the house was so appealing.

                Ever since she could remember, the house had been off limits. It had stood, dark against the sky, beckoning to Jennifer in a way that all the other locked doors didn’t. Perhaps it was the way her mother studiously avoided looking at it, her eyes always glazing over the spot where it stood. Or her father who would pull her away, mumbling something about old, saggy support beams that posed a danger. Or even the old woman who lived in front of them with her yippy dog and the way she directly told Jennifer the house would eat her alive, like it had her little brother, years ago.

                Whatever it was, Jennifer had determined that this Halloween would be the night she finally conquered it, cementing her status as the neighbourhood rebel.

                Which is how she found herself outside of the wrought-iron fencing with a few friends, all costumed and jabbering a tad nervously as the full moon glowed yellow in the sky. They stood in an awkward half circle, Jennifer at its zenith, her lips cocked into a smug grin and her witch’s hat flopping over her curly red hair.

                “Are you sure about this?” Cally said, big blue eyes peeking out of feathered l white lashes t compliment her feathery angel wings.

                Jennifer rolled her eyes, exaggerating her dismissal. “Of course, it’s about time someone showed the neighbourhood there is nothing to be so damned scared about.”

                Judy arched an eyebrow, cheetah makeup on perfectly mocha skin glinting in the light of the streetlight. “Uh huh, sure – you’re a bad ass. And when you end up running out screaming – want us to film it for the education of the neighbourhood?”

                Jennifer glared, her lips contorting into a scowl. “The only screaming will be you – in amazement when I flash this light,” she held up her sparkly flashlight. “-from the top of that tower.” She pointed to the shadowy tower that arched up and away from the main house, seeming to sway slightly in the gloom of the night.

                Judy rolled her eyes, sharing a look with one of the other girls before nodding. “Sure. We’ll see.”

                Jennifer turned back to the house, ignoring the cattiness in Judy’s comments before turning back quickly to deposit her bag into Cally’s surprised arms. “Hold this for me, will you darling? I will be back in a few for it.” Turning back to Judy she blinked innocently. “Don’t forget to record my victory, k?”

                And with that she turned away from her friends – and the mix of emotions across their faces, putting her hands on the old gate and pushing it open. Here goes, she thought, and stepped into the overgrown front lawn.

                There was a musty smell to it – a heaviness that overhung the weeds and grasses of the lawn and pressed against her nostrils. She had a moment’s foreboding, a little voice that told her to stop what she was doing and run back to the safety of her own home, but she pushed the feeling down, hid it deep within herself and kept putting one foot in front of the other until she reached the front steps.

                Peeling grayish blue paint greeted her at the door, a heavy black knocker in the middle with the face of a scowling, grinning demon. The eyes were rusted – a dull red at their centers like strange pupils that watched her approach. Jennifer looked away from it, her skin breaking out in gooseflesh as she pushed against the door. It strained and it groaned – the old wood screaming against the hinges until finally it broke free and swung inwards, stopping only a fraction of its flex, just enough for her to squeeze through.

                Glancing over her shoulder she saw the glow of her friends in the distance, but resolutely turned back to the door. She wouldn’t back down because of a weird smell and a strange knocker.

                Hands on the rough wood, she pushed through the door, stepping into the foyer with a smile of anticipation that was more nervous than not.

                “Not so scary,” she commented, her eyes roving over the empty hallway in the stream of light that came through the door. The floor was dusty, the smell of it tickling her nose as her eyes wandered to the sloppily bordered up windows and the stained wallpaper that was haphazardly pulled down.

                Behind her the door slammed with a crack that had Jennifer whipping around to look.

                But asides from the disturbed dust that floated in the air between her and the now closed door, nothing – and no one – was in the room with her.

                Shrugging at a nonchalance she wasn’t quite sure she possessed, Jennifer turned back to the stairs, ignoring the rooms to either side of the hallway, suddenly eager to get to the top of the tower and prove herself as quickly as possible.

                She began making her way across the foyer, her cautious footfalls echoing eerily against the walls of the house. The hollowness of the sound pushed into her abdomen, filling her with an anxiety that she couldn’t quite name. In reaction she began stomping, filling the silent air around her with the noise of her footfalls, even as she began to ascend upwards.

                Reaching the second floor, she paused, not seeing the stairs that would lead upwards toward the top of the tower. She turned towards one side of the hallway, and then the other, the minimal light that filtered into the house from the ramshackle boards that were nailed to the windows only illuminating slices of the house for her to see, little pools of silver in the darkness.

                Which side was the tower on? She thought, her brow crinkling above her nose as she considered. Determining that right was the way to turn, Jennifer stepped in that direction, only to stop as she heard a whisper of sound from behind her.

                She stopped, tilting her head to better catch the sound and determine what it could have been. Only silence reigned.

                Rolling her eyes at her own jumpiness, Jennifer took another step towards the right end of the hallway, only to stop once more when the sound repeated itself.

                And this time it was no whisper of a sound that she could not compute. It was a laugh. Or a chuckle – a low throated chuckle that seemed to emanate from the hallway behind her.

                Jennifer whipped around, prepare to face anything, but saw only the darkness of the hallway.

                “Hello?” she tried hesitantly. And then bolder, as she thought of her friends playing some sort of joke on her. “Hello? Who’s there?”

                Only silence answered her, an eerie silence that bespoke of a crowded room full of awkward silences more so than an empty house. Jennifer took a step backwards, her eyes straining through the inky blackness of the hall, searching for some clue as to what she felt was watching her in the darkness. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, her skin clammy under the black nylon of her tights and the plastic-like quality of her dress. Her mouth had gone dry, her lips pulling as she opened and closed her mouth, soundlessly asking what was crowding the shadows.

                Only silence reached her ears, a silence that seemed to bubble from her ears, stilling all the pulses and movements of her organs, stilling even the rush of the blood through her veins. There was only silence, and Jennifer had never experienced it so fully, as if she were waiting, in gut wrenching anticipation of something that was both thrilling and dangerous, like no other prank or dare she’d ever had before.         

And then the giggle again.

Jennifer spun around, convinced suddenly that the thing that had laughed was a decrepid and misshapen monster intend on grabbing and consuming her there on the hallway while her friends waiting outside. Blood suddenly furiously pumping by her ears, she ran towards the end of the hall and the narrow white door. Feeling the thing at her heels, wisps of long gnarled fingers that brushed against the sensitive skin of her ankles, she ran faster, her hat flying off her head without her notice, her only resolve to reach the door and its relative safety before the thing did catch her.

Grabbing hold of the old metal handle, she pulled at it, a screech of frustration escaping her trembling lips as it stuck. Panicked and shaking, she pulled again and again, feeling the foul stench of breath on her neck, and wrenched the door open, stealing inside with not a moment to spare, slamming it loudly and pressing herself to it, digging her feet into the ground and pushing it all the way closed.

Breathing hard, her chest painful as she filled her lungs with air, she listened to the air, waiting for the banging against the door and the insane giggling of the thing that had chased her. As the blood rushed from her head and her adrenaline began dipping, she cautiously moved away from the door, turning so she could watch it with wide eyes, just in case.

Nothing moved and there was again a silence that pervaded her space. It was my imagination, she thought feverishly, it was all in my head.

She took a rattling breath into her lungs, calmed by the now familiar stench of dust, and sagged against the bannister, noticing for the first time that she was in a room that housed the stairs that went up towards the tower balcony.

She would be able to accomplish her dare, and no one would need to know about her silly imaginings in the hallway. Satisfied, she turned to the stairs, clambering up the first few before a loud bang sounded from below.

Freezing, her gaze narrowed in on the door which stood still and innocuous against the wall but it made no sound.

And then it banged again, the wood groaning against an unseen force the dust shaking free from the cracks in the wood.

Jennifer screamed, her foot slipping on the step, slamming her shin against the hard wood and her forehead against the metal bannister.  The bang came again, fast this time, harder, the door rattling on its hinges and driving a stake of fear straight through Jennifer’s spine and deep into her soul.

Pushing herself to her feet, she pounded up the stairs, her feet slipping in her costume shoes so much so that she crawled, hands and knees to the top, falling against the door heavily enough that she forced it open, her body tumbling through to the narrow balcony.

Jennifer felt the cold slate underneath her cheek and winced as the pain of her shins and forehead registered. She had a moment of stillness, unable to recall exactly what had happened that had led her to this place, and then the banging against the door downstairs came crashing through her brain, just as the door cracked open, bouncing against the opposite wall with a clanging thud.

Vaulting to her feet she ran to the edge f the balcony, seeing the group of her friends by the sidewalk where she’d left them – to far to hear them, but she could see their outlines. Flicking on her flashlight she waved it wildly, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Help me! Guys! Please! Save me!”

She saw their flashlights wave in response, their outline a blurry mass and then she felt the hot breath on her neck and smelt the staleness of that same breath underneath her nostrils, and her world went black.

 

Cally’s wave faltered as Jennifer’s light blinked out from the balcony. She thought she’d heard something strange – a plea for help, carrying on the wind that swept across her body. She shivered and turned to her friends but before she could say what she’d heard, the other girls interrupted her thoughts.

“Well, that’s it then.” Judy sighed. “Now we’ll have to hear about it for the next year. Well – shall we go to the diner for some milkshakes, ladies? I do not want to be here when that girl comes down.”

The other girls nodded, moving away from the gates. Cally began following, her mind still turning over the strange sound she’d thought she heard. Turning back to the house, she looked up at the balcony, then followed the trail of windows to the second and first floors, looking for something she couldn’t quite place. No movement could be seen through the murky windows or the dark shadows of balconies and eves.

The house was silent and still beneath the clouds and the moon.

“Cally?” Judy’s voice broke through Cally’s thoughts. “Are you coming or what?”

Cally glanced back at the house once more, still unnerved but not quite sure why, and then turned back to her friends. “Yeah, I’m coming.” She said and hurried away from the house and whatever lay inside of it.

 

So let me know what you think in the comments and share your own stories of Halloween mischief!

Cheers!

AmmyB

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