The picture used for this post is from Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors over at nofacilities.com. When I saw it, I felt a shiver go up my spine. This was the house in my head when I wrote this story several years ago.
Two young men stared at each other, mouths open. The erudite individuals in question were loitering outside the home of an elderly man who had recently died. Perhaps they were remembering the life so recently passed. Or perhaps . . .
“Cool! What the fu. ., .sh . Aw man, I promised my girlfriend I’d stop swearing!”
“Wait, Boondog, you got a girlfriend? When? You didn’t have none yesterday!”
“Yeah, man. We’re in looove. She just ain’t met me yet.”
The two erupted in gales of laughter.
Boondog was actually Alfonse. He was a high school drop out who fervently believed that he would one day be a multi millionaire. He just needed the rest of the world to recognize his genius.
His companion was Edgeley. No one knew his real name, probably not even Edgeley himself. He didn’t seem to live anywhere in particular. He just kept showing up.
The two young men gravitated to this spot most days. Each day they would spend time smoking a particular illegal substance. This was the perfect spot. They were hidden from the road but were still quite close to the house. Ah, yes, the house. It had been built in the early 1900’s. It was three stories tall and had a veranda that encircled the main floor. It was an imposing abode that had seen better days. More than a hundred years had wandered through the rooms of that house. What had been said and done on those solid wood floors?
Our intrepid adventurers were deep in a metaphysical discussion.
“This Burrito is the bomb!’
“Hey, you got burritos? I like Mexican food!”
“No, man, the Ganga is good!”
“Dope, weed, pot, grass! Boondog, don’t you know noth’n?
For the next few moments they said nothing. The smoke whirled above their heads as they inhaled the noxious weed. Oblivious to the medical consequences of the drug on their brains, they breathed in even deeper.
Time seemed to stop.
Edgeley was the first to speak.
“Do you think his cats ate him?”
“Did he have cats?” asked Boondog with something akin to excitement on his face.
Silence. Time barely seemed to pass.
“They said he was rich. I bet he’s got cash stashed all over.”
Our two geniuses continued to stare at the once opulent house. After some time they both managed to stand (after a few mishaps). Then came the giggles. Two grown men trying to keep each other from falling and fumbling up the decrepit steps might have been funny to watch but no one saw them enter the house. Almost no one.
As Boondog reached for the front door knob, the door opened. He didn’t seem to notice.
“Hello . . “ He shouted, as if he had just returned from a long day at work.
Edgeley slapped the back of his head. “Shhh! You wanna wake the dead?”
“Is he here?” Boondog’s panic was very apparent.
“Nah, man. I’m just messing with ya.”
The front door opened into a huge foyer with an even larger room off to one side. They headed there. The two men started to wander around the room. Edgeley immediately started to open drawers in the cabinets, methodically working his way from one side of the room to the other. Boondog couldn’t take his eyes off a painting of an old woman. There was a name at the bottom, his lips moved as he read what was there: Daniela Winslow, died 1893.
As he stepped back, he looked directly into the eyes of Daniela Winslow . . . . . only to see Daniela looking back. Boondog gasped!
The front door closed, violently, the bolts thrown. The shutters on the windows slammed shut. Within seconds the air became cold, too cold. Edgeley stopped what he was doing and looked up. A mist started to rise from the floorboards. It seemed to caress Boondog, who was frozen in place. It then moved on. Gently, oh so gently it touched the furniture, stroking the wood of the cabinets.
Edgeley looked at Boondog. All the effects at the previously smoked marijuana were gone. Neither man was at all unaware of their predicament. Any thoughts of looking for stray cash had gone. All they wanted now was to leave, quickly.
Almost as if it was choreographed, both moved as one towards the front door. Grasping the handle Boondog tried desperately to open it. The door wouldn’t budge.
“Hello boys. . . “
The voice was low, soft and ominous. They couldn’t tell if it was a man’s voice or a woman’s. Or even where it had come from. The two boys turned back from the door, fear emanating from every pore. Boondog started towards the steps to the second floor. He just wanted to get away from the voice. Before he could reach them, the mist descended and formed a barrier. There was no going upstairs. He returned to stand beside his friend. This couldn’t be happening!
Edgeley hadn’t moved. Sweat started to soak through his clothes. The sweat of fear has an acrid, pungent smell, it smelled of death.
A fireplace they hadn’t noticed before, burst into flame. The cackling sound of the flames seemed to break the spell and they moved.
They huddled next to the fireplace as if for comfort. There was no warmth from the flames. They seem to mock them, rising and dancing as if to music. There was no music, then, no sounds. It became oppressive, the silence. The men, so brave and bold mere minutes ago, reverted to their childhood fears. They were terrified. And then . . . she screamed.
“I am hungry!”
Edgeley started to whimper. “I’m sorry . . . I’m so sorry . . .
Alfonse started to mutter unintelligibly. He raised his head. His eyes had changed. He grew larger. Then he smiled. “No one will miss you Edgeley. And we will all feed!”