A chill wind rushed past me as I pushed open the front door.
"Hello, anyone home?" I called into the darken house, my voice resonating throughout unusually quiet house.
A floorboard creaked upstairs.
"Hello?" I called again.
I shut the front door quietly as the floor above me creaked and moaned with the footsteps of someone, or something. I flicked the light switch up and down. Nothing.
"Great. Just great." I mumbled to myself as I silently walked towards the hall closet.
A man's voice floated down the wide grand stair case, instantly followed by a saying I knew by heart.
"Warning. Do no approach the infected. If you think someone is infected, stay away and contact your local CEDA missionary. If you are bitten, or think you are infected, contact your local CEDA missionary. Do not under any circumstances try to help the infected populace. Remember, do not go out alone, and do not leave your doors and windows unlocked. Always have a supply of bottled water, and canned food. Clean hands save lives, and so do your local CEDA missionary representatives." The man's voice resumed speaking before being silenced.
I slowly opened the folding closet doors and reached in to pull the string hanging down from the ceiling light. A harsh glow exploded into life in the small confines of the semi-barren space, temporarily blinding me. I pushed aside some coats as more floorboards creaked above my head, sending the crystal chandelier into motion. Grabbing the wooden baseball bat, I pulled the string and closed the wooden doors.
I slowly approached the marble staircase and tightened my grip on the baseball bat.
"Just one step at a time…you can do this. There is no one up there…it's just the wind rocking the rocking horse in the nursery…" I muttered as I climbed the staircase.
A door opened then slammed, followed by frantic footsteps running further down the hallway. Another door slammed shut.
"Shit shit shit shit. God damn it!" I whispered as I backed down a few stairs.
I strained to hear anything from upstairs, but got nothing but empty, deadly silence. I stayed still for a few minutes before the pressure got to me. I ran up the last six steps and stood in front of the empty hallway, the sunlight peeking through the partially shut maroon curtains, tinting the air a light red. The door nearest to me was cracked open. I approached it, my ears straining for any sounds of life, but the house was silent as a tomb. I pushed open the door with the butt of my baseball bat. The door opened on silent, greased hinges. I walked into the bathroom, the bat at the ready, eyes scanning the room for any signs of movement. I walked towards the curtained shower, my shoes squeaking across the black and white tiles. Something moved in my peripheral vision, and I whirled around, the bat already in motion. The bat slammed into the mirror, reflective shards fell to the floor as the menacing leaves gently swirled on the floor, rising lightly in the breeze coming from the broken window.
"Shit." I walked to the shower, and ripped the curtain from its hinges.
The glassy eyes of the live-in maid stared back at me from the floor of the shower; her crimson liquid of life ran towards the drain in swirling patterns. I turned away, bile rising in my throat, the image of her throat torn to shreds forever burned into my memory. I dropped the bat, and sank to my knees in front of the toilet. I stayed there for a minute before I heard the creak of a floorboard. I scrabbled for the bat as more floor boards creaked under the weight of something.
I stood, the bat clenched in my hands, and walked towards the open door. A shadow danced across the wall in front of the door. The broken mirror shards crackled underfoot as I got nearer towards the door. I stopped before the door, listening for more creaking floorboards. Whatever it was, it decided to stop moving, and listen. Like me.
I steeled my nerves, and stepped into the red air. Without looking, I swung the bat.
"Jesus H. Christ! Are you mad?!" An all too familiar female voice shattered the tense air.
"What the hell are you doing in my house?" I shouted, dropping the bat.
"Looking for you. Duh." She said it like it was the
most obvious thing in the world.
"Where are my parents?" I helped her to her feet, brushing bits of plaster from her long, curly blond hair.
"Yeah…" She hugged me. "Thank god you're alright."
"You mean…?" I slumped to the floor. "Where are
"Their room. Don't go there. Trust me. It's not very pretty." She crouched next to me, the bat in her bloodstained hands.
"Fuck…this isn't good. Did you find what did it?" I looked down the darkened hallway towards the closed doors of the master bedroom.
"Nope. Have you seen the maid? I can't find her anywhere." She stared at me, tears starting to gather in the corners of her golden brown eyes.
"Shower. Throat torn open." I ran a hand through my dark brown hair and sighed.
"Oh god…When do you think-shh!" She clamped a hand over my mouth. "Take this. Follow me." She handed me the bat as she pulled a hunting knife from near her ankle.
She led me towards my room, and the room next to it. We stopped at my door, and I slowly opened it at her mark. We did a quick scan of the room, and ripped open the closet door. Pushing aside shirts and jackets, we found nothing but boxes upon boxes of random stuff.
Once again, she led me further down the hallway, and stopped suddenly in front of the heavy oak door. She knelt, felt around the bottom, and then looked at the crystal doorknob.
"Yup. You know what they say, the last place you look?" She pointed near the bottom where something had used the door as its personal scratching post. Then again at the doorknob where more scratches were hidden beneath a film of blood.
I pushed open the door, and looked around the nursery. The pink wallpaper was torn, the stuffing ripped out of the plush chairs in the corner. The light bulbs were smashed on the floor, and the crib overturned and split in two. The only light came from the smashed window.
"Thank God my parents never got around to having another kid." I said as I stepped further into the room.
A chill arced up my spine as the door slammed shut.
"Mary? Please tell me that was you."
"Get out of there! It's in there!" She screamed from behind the door.
A low, deep, guttural growl resonated in my ears. I tightened my grip on the baseball bat as I spun around to face, an empty room. The growl came again, closer and louder then ever. The crystal doorknob, smeared with dried blood, jiggled as Mary tried to get in.
"Shit." I did a one eighty and still found nothing.
I felt a rush of air and dove to the left, landing on the remains of the crib. There, crouching where I stood not ten seconds ago, was a hooded creature, the tell tale signs of infection apparent on its arms and legs. The growl emanated out of the hood, and it raised a bloodstained, clawed hand. I stood up as quick as I could. I readied the bat, and it growled one last time. With all the muscle I got from four years of high school baseball, I swung the bat straight into the head of the leaping monstrosity. A loud crack and the baseball bat split in half as the monster slammed into the wall. A dying shriek escaped from the thing as it expelled its last breath. The door burst open as Mary, with a wild look in her beautiful eyes, drew her knife and dropped into a crouch.
"What took you so long?" I dropped the bat and felt for a pulse on the dead hooded thing.
"The door was jammed. Otherwise that bitch would be sporting a couple hundred knife wounds." She sheathed her knife and kicked its head.
"Mhm. We need to get out of here. Like now. Do you want something other then that puny knife?" I stood up, grabbed my bat and headed for the hall.
"What do you have in mind?" She followed me as far as the grand staircase.
"A pistol. For each of us. My dad has two in his study downstairs, with a few extra ammo clips lying around." I skipped the stairs, two at time and turned towards the library, and my father's study.
"Sure? Where are we going to go?" She followed a few steps behind, her warm breath barely brushing against my neck.
"Anywhere but here." I tried the doorknob.
"A key…key…key." I mumbled.
"We need a key...a small golden key. The door is locked." I stood on my tiptoes and felt along the top edge of the door frame, finding nothing but dust and pieces of lint.
"Let me take a stab at it." Mary knelt in front of the door, and pulled out a few thin, oddly shaped wires.
"What are you doing?" I knelt beside her.
"Nothing. Don't ask questions. Do you want the pistols or not?"