Inheritance

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Avril arrives at her inheritance, an old clap board house. It is late, she is tired, but will she be able to sleep?

Submitted: June 01, 2016

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Submitted: June 01, 2016

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Inheritance.

It is barely light by the time Avril brings her car to a stop. These roads in the middle of nowhere are a nightmare to navigate through, no names, and mostly no numbers. The hand-drawn map she had been provided with hadn't been much help until she gave up on her own attempts and asked directions at a gas station.

The man there had looked at the map, looked back at her and said, “Ethel Carlton's place is way up along that road there. Go past these houses here and keep going. You can't miss it, it's the only place up there.”

And Avril had got back into her car. As she checked in her mirror to pull out on to the road she could see the man watching her, fingering a cross he wore around his neck.

She'd written it off as imagination. He was probably just scratching. But now, parked outside, Avril isn't so sure. The house sure looks spooky enough.

It is white clap board, badly in need of paint and repair. The garden and drive are overgrown and neglected. At one point she had thought that she would have to abandon her car halfway along the drive, it's surface was so rutted and uneven. But it was the windows that almost turn her around. They are dark, dirty. She feels as though she is being watched.

But she's been driving all day. She is not going to just turn back round. She'll steel herself, get a grip and make herself go through that door. This house, after all, is her inheritance.
 
********************

The first thing that strikes Avril when she opens the door is the smell. A rotting, cloying smell that even tastes of decay. Something must have got trapped inside and died before making its way out. A rat or a bird, maybe. She'll have to put up with it until the morning when she'll have a chance to seek it out and remove it.

It is getting so dark that she can barely see the light switch on the wall. It looks ancient but it still works. A single dim light-bulb dangles from the ceiling by an old and frayed looking wire. So that is another job to add to the list of things to get done – re-wiring. This isn't looking like much of an inheritance at all; more like a money pit.

Even with the light switched on the room is almost in darkness, but at least she can see what and where things are. She has to be standing in some sort of kitchen and living room combined. On one wall there is a big stone sink that on closer inspection seems to be full of spider corpses and some sort of rusty coloured stain.

Avril shudders and turns her attention towards the cooker. She might be able to clean it up enough to use for a while but it is so rusty it could well prove to be a health hazard. It isn't obvious whether it runs on gas or electricity. There is a saucepan on one of the burners, the inside of which is full of some sort of burnt mould. Avril sighs. She's too tired tonight but she will chuck it away in the morning.

There is a big wooden cupboard of some sort that she has no intention of investigating in the dark, a rickety looking table that thankfully appears to be free of anything but dust and an old armchair. It is the last of those things that Avril feels drawn towards. She has never been able to work out how driving could be quite as tiring as it is but all she feels like doing after too many hours in the car is sitting down.

She inspects it first. It doesn't look to be the stablest of things but the springs feel firm. The cushions aren't too dirty if you don't look at them....

Avril picks up her bag and carries it over to put beside the chair. She ignores the cloud of dust she disturbs while sitting, and sighs.
Taking a bottle of water and an energy bar from her supplies she sits back and closes her eyes. She'll investigate further after a few minutes. She just needs to close her eyes.....

********************

Avril wakes with a jolt, not sure where she even is. The single light bulb still glows dimly and it slowly comes back to her. She is in her house, her inheritance, although it definitely feels more like a curse.

Reaching down towards her bag for more water, Avril freezes when she hears a scuttling sound. Could she really be surprised by the presence of a few mice? She can cope with that for a night, so long as they are indeed mice rather than rats.

Avril peers at the floor nervously but there's no chance of her spotting the culprit unless it decides to stand right under the light bulb to introduce itself. Everywhere there are shadows so deep she can barely make out the shape of the sink.

Now, she wishes she had made the effort to explore earlier. She's not going to be able to discover much tonight but she can't just stay in the chair until morning. It is about as comfortable as it looks which is not at all.

Standing and stretching, Avril tries to recall if there had been any stairs in the room. It was clear from outside that the house had at least three floors so there must be stairs somewhere around.

After an almost blind search her hand finds the handle of a door. Of course! She is so stupid. There has to be more than one room at ground level. There would be space for two or three the size of the one she is standing in.

Much as she'd rather not, Avril is going to have to force herself to open that door, and then make herself walk through it. Anyway, she scolds herself, it can't really turn out to be much worse.

After turning on the torch she had at least thought to bring with her, Avril opens the door. The stench that hits her is so much worse than the one she has now grown accustomed to. It's almost enough to make her vomit where she stands but at least it clears a bit once it has somewhere to escape to.

Avril gingerly reaches her hand round the corner of the door frame, and draws it back rapidly when she feel something both coarse and soft. Can rats climb walls? She doesn't know, can't think, but the door is open now and she will have to find the courage to go through it.

She feels around, reassured that what she had felt before was nothing more than some sort of material. Hopefully the light switch would be in roughly the same position.......Yes, her fingers find the switch. Avril pushes the switch down but nothing happens, not even a little flicker or a pop of a bulb blowing.

She shines the torch through the open door. It is only a small torch and doesn't give out much light. Avril can make out shapes, presumably furniture, but not much else.

Stepping inside she finds that the carpet by the door has rotted away just a few steps further in. The floor she finds herself walking on is hard and sort of sticky. Once again Avril find herself shuddering but tries to convince herself that the stickiness will easily be removed once she gets a mop to it.

As she swings the torch around Avril gets a glimpse of a staircase. It is positioned right across the other side of the room, of course, but at least now she knows which way to head.

Conscious of the dwindling life of the torches batteries, Avril doesn't pause to attempt an inspection of the room she is making her way across. All she wants to do is avoid obstacles.

The staircase almost in reach, Avril lets the beam of the torch move onto the lower steps rather than where she is walking. Her foot hits something. Something that is firm but yielding.

Letting the torch beam trail back down, Avril finds herself instinctively taking three steps back. A large crow, wings outstretched, neck gaping open, is blocking her path. She frantically spins the torch beam around but there is no option. If she wants to get to the staircase she is going to have to make herself walk over that corpse.

The light from the torch is not sufficient for Avril to see the entire bird, wing tip to wing tip. She moves to one side so that she only has to step over the narrowest part of the wing. With a foot either side, Avril feels the wing stir.

She launches herself up onto the stair case and runs up the first four steps before pausing. The house is semi-derelict; Avril knows that it would be foolish to carry on ascending the stairs in such a reckless way. Turning back she can see that the crow is still laying there. The movement must have been caused by a draught.

Avril lets out a deep breath before continuing upwards, keeping to the side of the steps as she is pretty sure she has heard that that was the strongest part. Four steps up she comes across a stair that has all but rotted away, leaving sharp jagged edges of wood poking out. Haste would have sent her back down to join the crows corpse.
At the top of the stairs is a landing with three doors leading off it. They all appear to be closed. A light switch on the wall once again fails to light a bulb so Avril remains dependant on her torch, the beam of which, she notices, is getting dimmer.

********************

If anything the stench is worse upstairs than it was down. The thought of opening any of the doors is terrifying; there's no knowing what kind of horrors she might discover inside these rooms.

But Avril is only too aware of the corpse that lies at the bottom of the staircase and of the rotten treads that could so easily send her plunging down to join it. The torch is now fading by the second so she will just have to force herself to look inside them, at least until she manages to find a bed or something to sleep on.

The first door she opens leads Avril into a bathroom of sorts. She can make out shadowy shapes but that is all. It's a relief really; going by the state of the kitchen she dreads to see what sort of filth and grime is lurking in wait.

The second door she comes to opens up into what appears a quite spacious bedroom. Avril glances quickly around it before committing herself to step inside. Satisfying herself that there are no visible corpses of either bird or beast she pushes herself to enter.

The furniture looks old, heavy, made of dark wood. It seems to soak up what little light the torch is now producing while hiding itself at the same time.

 A wardrobe of sorts seems to be against one wall, with some sort of dresser beside it. There appears to be a greasy gleam coming from the top of it, some sort of mirror, Avril presumes. She strains her eyes in an effort to see more but the torch has all but given up. There is a bed and an armchair. She makes her way across the room towards them.

The bed is large enough, maybe not as big as a modern double one but not far out. Avril slowly reaches a hand down towards the top of it, making contact with some sort of cover. She can't draw her hand back quickly enough to stop the shudder coursing through her body.

She could not make out the details but it had felt slimy, damp under her finger-tips. The smell that wafted up to her almost made her retch. Avril knew that there was no way she was going to be able to make herself lay down on there.

She'd sleep on the chair. It couldn't possibly be any worse than the bed and her clothes would stop her skin from making contact with its material. The other rooms would very likely reveal more of the same and Avril felt just too tired to look.

********************

Avril awoke with a jolt. Something had touched her, she was sure of it.

The darkness inside the room was so intense her eyes could barely see anything now. The furniture was nothing more than a deeper black.

What was that?

 Avril's head shoots round, her ears straining to locate the tap, tap, tap sound. Then a fluttering, a caw, a breeze brushing against her face.

A crow? But how could it be? The bird at the bottom of the stairs was so clearly dead, it could not possibly be flying around her. There must have been others trapped inside with it.

Anyway, it has gone now. She can just make out the shape of it going through the door. But she's certain she had closed that door behind her when she'd come in to the room. Her mind must have been playing tricks on her, clouding her memory. In her tiredness she must have forgotten.

She stands up stiffly up and makes her way blindly across the room, her arms stretched out in front of her. As she pushes against the door her eye is caught by an eerie glow that seems to be coming from the far end of the landing. Avril shuts her eyes then opens them again. The glow has gone so she will wait until daylight to investigate.

Back in the chair, eyes getting heavy, Avril jolts back to full consciousness again. There is a noise coming from the ceiling; a strange rumbling noise that sounds as though something is being pushed or wheeled across the floor above her. But that is not possible. There is no one but her inside.

Avril tries so hard to ignore the sound but it just keeps on, becoming more frequent, more persistent. She will have to make the effort to try to find and eliminate its cause if she is to have any chance of getting back to sleep.

********************

That strange eerie glow is back again. Avril had found her torch to be useless so has left it behind in her bag. It will be more help to have her hands free.

She tiptoes towards the glow, then scolds herself and walks normally. Right in the corner of the far wall is a narrow staircase leading upwards and it is from here that the strange light is coming from. The attic it is, then.

As soon as Avril has both of her feet on the tread she can feel a pull, a dragging sensation to make her carry on in her journey upwards. She knows it makes no sense to carry on but her legs don't seem to listen to her any more. They seem set on making her reach the top.

Another three steps and the greenness vanishes. The suddenness of it's disappearance sends her falling painfully to her knees. Avril barely misses hitting her head on the next stair up. The urge to keep going has not faded with the light and she continues her climb on hands and knees.

At the top of the stairs Avril stands unsteadily. If she stretches her arms out to the sides her hands make contact with walls. Very slowly Avril inches forward, her senses all on high alert. The squeaking is still there in front of her and it is to this that she is being drawn.

A single light bulb dangling from a piece of wire flickers on then off, on then off. This strobe effect is making Avril feel extremely nauseous and she finds it so hard to stay standing on her feet.
But she has found the cause of the noise. A wheelchair is facing towards her. It is old, ancient-looking. Avril has never seen anything like it before.

********************

As though in a dream Avril feels the attic lengthen then contract. One second the wheelchair is so far away; the next she is almost upon it.

And Avril screams! Sitting in the chair is something so hideous it can hardly be called human. Emaciated to the point of being little more than skin and bones; straggly hair with raw patches where whole clumps of it are missing. The eyes are empty sockets.

But she can't resist, she can't turn back. Avril tosses her head from side to side like a panicked horse, trying to stop herself from seeing this grotesque creature that is sitting in front of her, holding its arms out in welcome.

Avril tries to dig her hands into the wall to stop her forward movement but the walls seem to give way at her touch and she can't get any grip. The walls are still there though. Avril can feel them scrape at her skin.

'Don't whimper,' she tells herself, but whimper she does until that creature sitting in the wheelchair opens its mouth to expose an endless void. As Avril gets closer the mouth opens wider, becoming everything in her conscious mind; pulling and pulling, sucking her in. And Avril knows that there is no escape.

********************

Avril's disappearance remains a mystery. No one knew of an inheritance. There's no written record of an Edith Carlton. When a rusted, car is discovered outside a derelict house it is presumed to have been dumped there by joy-riders.

After all, it has happened before. And no doubt it will happen again.
 
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(2799 words)

 

 


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