Mr. Keith’s House – Part VI
Mr. Keith’s house is proving to be a surprise and not a pleasant one. I thought, relaxing against the back of the chair. I look at Mom and see she’s found new strength and is regaining her composure. Good! It doesn’t hurt to starve the monster and shut off its food supply for a change.
It knows that because the howling starts again, only louder. Maybe it’s my imagination, but do I hear a hint of desperation? That makes me smile inwardly, hoping its fear is real because that means it’s weakening.
Sure enough, I hear the lock click, and the door opens, flooding the house with warmth. The brilliant light chases away the dark shadows.
Mom, controlling her feelings, stops the power source from streaming into the being. Weakening its ability to hold them prisoner but following that line of thinking. What better way for it to refuel than manipulate her fear and despair by tempting her with escape?
She glances at me and then back at the entrance, towards the freedom that beckons them to move. “Is it letting us go?”
I turn to her. “Right now, I trust nothing this place does, as it might be a trick.” I sigh before continuing, “However, we don’t have a choice. We need to get you out while we can. I’m staying and have a better chance if you leave.”
I glance back at the door and the temptation lurking at the threshold. “Shall we accept its invitation and abandon this dump?” A weak attempt at a little humor.
After attempting to smile, she inhales a steadying breath and nods, then stands up from the table. She reaches for my hand as I step toward her and fold her hand into mine. Hand-in-hand, we trek to the radiant sunlight flowing in from the entrance and the potential liberty it offers.
We reach the door only to have it slam in our faces, and we hear the lock click – it was a trick. The damn thing has no intention of letting us go. I hear the laughter reverberating through the house, exceptionally pleased with itself. I thought as we return to the kitchen. But as we pass the hallway, a face stretches out of the wall, lined with family portraits near the staircase. Its mouth opens, and a chilling scream emanates as it lunges at Mom.
She jumps backward into me with such force I’m slammed into the opposite wall. Yeah, it’s playing with us using the open door and causing us to drop our guard. I realize, slumping to the floor, her body collapsing, screaming on top of me.
I gently push Mom off me and regain my feet, pulling her in my arms, and I smile grimly, holding her, listening to the sobbing against my chest. As the storm continues, I swear that thing will pay for my brother’s disappearance and my mother’s pain.
When the tears cease, and she finally pulls herself together, I guide her back to the dining table and place her in a chair. I go to the cupboard and pull out two crystal tumblers and a bottle of Crown Royal. After pouring a hefty amount, I set one glass before Mom before sitting beside her with mine, taking stock of her condition.
She looks near her limit, and I’m unsure how much more she can take. Although I grudgingly admit she’s doing better than I expected, as it’s not every day an invisible being locks you inside possessed quarters. Then a face comes out of the wall and attacks you; that is even a first for me, and that concerns me. But this structure feeds off emotions. If mom calms down, that means less energy.
I debate how much to tell her about the situation. I don’t want her to go over the edge, but she needs to get a grip on herself and stop feeding whatever this is.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple ghost infestation. It means all the training I took over the years doesn’t count for shit! I have to rethink how to deal with it. The only thing I know for sure is that it had taken my brother. Second, it isn’t a ghost, as ghosts do not have this power. Can the house itself be alive?
I latch onto that concept. What does that mean for the two of us if this place is a living entity? How does one deal with something that eats people?
I scan my memory of any classes I attended about animated buildings. Nothing leaps out then, and my confidence and well-laid plans evaporate.
Well, this sucks!
Mom lifts her glass and empties it. My eyebrows raise. She is a teetotaler, so seeing her drink that much at once is eye-opening. I wait for what happens next when she takes a fortifying breath, setting the glass back down.
“Is that normal? What happened in the hallway?” She asks, meeting my gaze.
Her eyes flutter closed when I hesitate. “I don’t think so.” Then she opens her eyes to lock with mine. “So, what do we do now?”
I tell her the truth as I am out of my element, and we will have to do this together if we are to get out of this alive. It becomes apparent we are dealing with something I don’t have the experience to deal with.
I answer her questions. “Honestly, I don’t know since none of my training covers this situation.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?” Her voice rises an octave. “I thought you took classes or something to deal with this?”
“Mom, I can deal with ghosts and haunted houses, but nothing prepared me to deal with this.” I stop and count to twenty silently in my head before continuing. “This isn’t a normal haunting with a spook living inside; this abode is sentient.”
Confusion sweeping across her face would be comical if my discovery did not unnerve me too.
“What’s the difference?” She asks.
“A haunting is where an entity or ghost inside the domicile causes the commotion. Here, the building itself is causing the supernatural happenings.”
The silence thickens, and then she asks me the question I’d dread. “Will I disappear like Kyle?” she asks tremulously.
I can’t look at her, nor can I meet her eyes. I don’t want to answer that question. But she doesn’t let up and presses. “Answer me. I have the right to know what to expect.” Her voice shrill.
“I’m not positive,” I tell her, and then I look up and meet her scared gaze. “But, more than likely, yes.”
The house laughs.