I was trying to keep the search as short as possible with night beginning to fall ; my vision had adjusted to the gathering gloom and I had been wandering aimlessly for about half and hour around the gardens. There was still no sight of Lucy and I began to fear the worst - goodness knows what my face would have looked like. The silence of the suroundings was only broken by the noise of twigs crackling under my feet, and my own laboured breathing as I fought to keep down my increasing sense of panic.
Despite my determination to continue the search for Lucy, it was becoming clear that it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I staggered across the copse, a feeling of powerlesness beginning to overwhelm me. Tears streamed down my face and an awful sense of apprehension ran through me like an icicle. While the air grew colder, and goose pimples broke out on my arms, a shudder ran through me. Blinded by my sorrow and the fading light, I lost my balance and fell to the ground.
Looking down, surprise and horror spread across my face as I picked up one of Lucy’s shoes. I dried my tears and as far as the eye could see, there was no trace of a second one. This unexpected find held out a faint glimmer of hope which might lead me to where she was.
To my great surprise I came to a high, iron gate half open and covered in tangled weeds. I stood motionless, wondering whether or not to go in. Through it I could see a winding, paved stone path which I presumed led to some kind of a house. I finally made up my mind and squeezed through it, shaking with the cold.
On each side of the path lay grass verges almost as tall as me, with different kind of trees silhouetted throughout the darkness. Their bushy, long and thin boughs over my head were swaying in the chill breeze. A few steps further, my heart missed a beat when I heard the gate creaking on its hinges. Spinning quickly around, I glanced nervously about but there was no one there. While I drew nearer, and still in the distance, I could make out the shape of a house, and I suddenly felt an odd sensation; it was as though my body were out of my control; as if it was acting independently of my mind.
Before me stood a large wooden structure which, by it appearance, had fallen into ruin; the boards were warped and the roof bore the traces of years of neglect. Shutters hung from their hinges as windowsills did from their nails, and instead of windows were shards of glass with tattered cloths for curtains.
I stepped onto the porch and specks of dust rose as the door opened slightly of its own accord, letting out beams of light. I felt my forehead and my hands sweating, and reluctantly crossed the threshold. No sooner had I entered than the door slammed shut, making me jump like a startled rabbit. My heart pounded erratically.
The stench of rotting flesh hung in the air and assaulted my senses. I stumbled along the carpeted hall covered with mildew on which woodlice scuttled past. Overhead, spider webs shadowed the ceiling, and unshaded light bulbs brightened the room leading to large arch on both sides. I was suddenly struck by the whistling of a kettle, and instantly thought about Lucy; I called her name.
‘In the kitchen’, she cried out, in an ordinary way. Completely baffled by her reply but relieved to hear her voice again, I quickened my pace.
She stood there, kettle in hand with an apron tied around her waist ready to pour a cup of tea. Looking at her, words failed me; she was acting as if she were at home. The glint in her eyes appeared different to me. Her cheeks were paler and even her accent sounded strange.
‘I know you like it,’ she told me, putting a cup on the kitchen table.
‘Why did you come here, sister?’ I asked her, my face etched with unease. ‘I told you not to go away.’
‘It’s the house which comes to me,’ she said. ‘I could not do otherwise and it was the same for you’.
‘What! You’re out of mind,’ I observed, looking baffled.
She was staring at the sink, and suddenly whirled round to face me, eyes filled with hate. Never in my wildest imagination, had I expected to see what confronted me; my own sister holding a knife fully intenting to stab me.
Her murderous look sent a chill down my spine and I stepped back without taking my eyes from the weapon. Not having quick reflexes, I thought my last breath was coming. As she jumped at me like a wild animal at its prey, I reached out and grabbed her wrist, bending it backwards as far as it would go, before sending her crashing against the wall. The impact was sickening.
Reacting in such a manner and with such a strenght was unusual for me. Still, the strange sensation I had felt before filled me now. With emotions now firmly under control, I looked down at her and my heart ached.
‘I’ll sort it out, sister,’ I murmured to myself, shaking my head to clear my thoughts.
I rushed towards the hall and I tried in vain to pull the door open but it was jammed. I spun round and was about to make a run for the living room when the unthinkable happened.
I froze in shock; senses on full alert sending an icy chill throughout my whole body. Shadows marched along the walls in my direction; they seemed to spread out to cover the hall faster, and I began to feel them whirling around me. Suddenly the room was filled with strange, almost childish, but terrifying, wails and screams.
Then the ceiling started to shake, making the chandelier swing wildly and before long it shattered. Raining shards of glass struck me, scratching my face and arms. I screamed in pain, unable to move away as it had happened so quickly.
‘What the hell is this house?’ I wondered while the silence returned the room.
In a tearing hurry, my legs carried me toward the stairs but I stopped briefly, and glanced back into the kitchen. I was startled to find not only that my sister was no longer there, but that neither was the knife. I carried on and my feet kicked up a thick cloud of dust into the air, making me choke. At the top of the stairs a gloomy corridor was flanked on either sides by a series of doors. The floor was of stone and so cold that my feet went almost numb, and as I looked up, the ceiling seemed to disappear into the inky blackness.
At that moment, a liquid dripped down on to my face. It was cold and slimy. Touching it and rubbing it between my fingers together, I held it up to my nose.
‘Ah, what’s that smell?’ I shouted out loud, screwing up my face in disgust; by the time I looked up again, a dead body appeared before my eyes, floating in the air with arms outstreched as if to grab at me. His face, devoid of flesh, was slanted and seemed to hang from the neck by only a few fibres. His jaw was wide open and growing wider, I caught sight of a thick and long tongue, slimy saliva dripping from it. I cried out at the top of my voice and broke into a run.
I kept running at full speed, without even casting a glance over my shoulder, but stopped, not because of ahortage of breath but due to the strange feeling that this place seemed to be limitless, it was as if I was going round and round in circles.
All of a sudden, a faint voice came to my ears, one which was very familiar to me.
A faint smile crossed over my face; ‘Lucy, is that you? Where are you?’ I called in the forlorn hope that I would hear her again.
‘Just here, please help me. Come to me, brother,’ she whispered.
‘Where? Where are you, sister?’ I insisted, pain gripping my heart as her call of distress hadn’t given me the least hint of where she could be.
Then, she was there, before me in the strangest shape I would’ve ever thought. A dazzling light coming from nowhere lit up the whole place. My eyes took a while to become accustomed to the brightness, and I suddenly became aware of where I was, she was.
Apart from another series of doors which surrounded me now, I stood there alone in the middle of what seemed to be a different room, larger than the previous one. Looking all around, my eyes grew wider and I gaped in astonishement. At each door stood my sister’s ghostly shape, stretching out a hand to me with a mournful look on her face. Nevertheless, what struck me now that I hadn’t really appreciated then was the strange glint in her eyes.
‘No, they must be misleading me, it can’t be otherwise,’ I said to myself.
Within a minute or two and as incredible as it was, the room began not only to spin but even to narrow with a slow and anguished melody in the background; such a devilish merry-go-round. I began to twist, to moan with pain, holding my head; my chest, rising and falling with harsh movements as it came closer and closer; my breath came in short gasps and I flew, my arms before my face before I closed my eyes and gave a cry of despair.
Darkness returned and was all around me. I sighed with relief yet my mind was in turmoil. The room was back to its previously shape, filled with a deafening silence but soon broken by a whisper behind me.
‘Surprise! You didn’t find me, brother, but I did,’ she mumured fiercely.
With a sudden thrust, she plunged a knife into my flesh and I grimaced with pain. Reeling backward under the onslaught, the door behind me, burst open under our weight and we fell in the darkness.
During my fall, my mind seemed to catch the soft murmer of a voice which became progressively clearer while my body fell further and further.
‘Blake? Blake?’ I heard now, feeling hands shaking my shoulders and a breath skimming my face. I suddenly bent forward, soaked with sweat and was breathing heavily.
‘Oh, my darling,’ she said soothingly, mopping my brow. ‘You had this nightmare, once again’.
I just looked at her, still in a state of shock, whilst fighting to regain control of my senses .
‘Your psychiatric treatment does not appear to be working yet,’ she pointed out. ‘Don’t give up, darling. I’m sure you’ll be soon free of this burden,’ she continued, bending and kissing me on my cheek.
I kept listening to her, thoughts tumblings through my mind as I tried to make sense of what was happening.
‘I mean, I know it’s a traumatic chilhood experience you’ve to go through, Blake.’ She paused a moment, took a deep breath and continued.
‘Many years passed since we’ve found the corpse of your sister in the woods. It’s high time you admitted that she’s died in a deadly fall which was only an accident and not because of this fictional house’.
‘Hah! You’re just telling me again I’m going crazy, but I’m not,’ I reminded her casually. ‘As my wife, you should believe me instead of insisting on my some kind of quack,’ I continued, slipping out of bed.
‘Oh, darling, please,’ she begged me, turning away with tears in her eyes as the harshness of my words hit home.
Once in the bathroom, I splashed some fresh water on my face before pulling up my t-shirt. Looking over my shoulder, I ran a finger along the scar on my back, my sister’s face with the house in the background flashing through my mind
With a self-satisfied grin on my face, I came back to the bedroom, sat by her side and put my arms around her neck. Stroking her hair, I whispered words of love and understanding into her ear. She must have sensed my true meaning, and loosening my grip, she turned round to face me, leaped to her feet before and took a few steps back. She stared in terror as my eyes betrayed me with their evil gleaming. A manaical look of amusement and triumph painted a contrasting look agaisnt the almost waxy complexion of my face. I stood up and as she backed further away, I shared with her the complete story of the tale of the Malefic House. Moving slowly towards her, I leered as she realised the full circumstances of Lucy’s, and now her own, fate. The room echoed back her deafening cry of terror as it faded away with the tightening grip which I had on her throat. The house would be satisfied...for the moment.