Option Three

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A married couple sets out to find a house, and hire a real-estate agent with a taste for murder.

Submitted: September 27, 2016

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Submitted: September 27, 2016

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Option Three

She scrubs the ground industriously to get the deep red stains out of the timber, her manicured nails scrape along the polished surface.  She curses as one of them breaks at the edge, her hand shaking in pain.

‘Not again!  Bloody nails…’  She mutters.

Examining her hand, she wraps a band-aid around the end of her finger and kneels back down to the floor.  She really did a number on it this time.  Hopefully she can get it clean before her next client arrives.

Sighing to herself, she gets up from hard, wood floor and climbs the steep flight of stairs leading out of the basement.  She poured enough cleaning solution on the floor to mask the smell, but hopefully it wasn’t overkill.  Not that it matters, in the dark they probably won’t see anything.  

She casually walks through the house, picking up her bag and clipboard in the living room on the way through.  She takes the keys and locks the door behind as she exits, and straightens the ‘For Sale’ sign at the front of the house.  No one will even look at it if this isn’t up.  Now, back to work.  

* * * * *

‘John, can you help me with the groceries please?’  Sophie asks, staggering through the door with too many plastic bags in her hands.  

‘Sure.’  He replies, catching a bag just as it starts to slip from her hands.  He goes back out to the car to get the rest of the bags and bring them inside.  The small apartment barely has space for the two of them, but they do the best they can.  

He comes back inside, carrying the rest of the bags, and slowly starts unpacking them.  Sophie flicks through a newspaper as he’s unpacking, looking for any houses in their price range.  They have been stuck in this apartment for a while, but she is determined to find their dream house and get out of here.  

‘Find anything?’  John asks from the kitchen.  

‘There’s a few that look okay, but we still don’t have an agent.  Do you think we can afford one?  I mean, not that we’re poor, but we’re saving money for the deposit.’  Sophie replies.  

‘Yea, I think we can afford it.  We need one if we’re going to find the best house, they’re advice could be valuable.  After all, it is their job to sell houses.’  He says.  

‘Alright.  I might go on the internet to see who has good ratings, wouldn’t want to be ripped off.’  She continues.  Putting down the newspaper, she grabs their shared laptop from the table and settles on the couch.  It’s not the best computer, but it gets the job done.  Flipping the screen up, she begins her search for a real-estate agent.  

She finds a website, localagentfinder.com, and begins scrolling through the list.  All their photos show stiff individuals in suits, trying their best to smile.  Most of them are middle-aged.  

‘I’m sure they all know what they’re doing, but I’d prefer a younger person.  Know what I mean?  Someone who could understand what we’re going through.’  She remarks.  

‘Yea I can agree to that, but If we don’t have that we’ll just have to take anyone.  Hopefully it works out in our favor regardless.’  He answers.  

‘Yea.’  She replies.  Suddenly, amidst the sea of tired faces, one catches her eye.  A young woman, with white-blonde hair and striking blue eyes.  She seems to stare right through me, even though it’s just a picture on the screen.  

‘John come look at this!  She’s perfect for us.’  She says excitedly.  He leans over her shoulder to have a look.  

‘Well, she’s certainly young.  And has a good record too, all the reviews say she’s very good.’  He says.  

‘Yea, she’s the one.  I’m gonna call and see if she’s available.’  Looking at the number given on the page, she dials it in on her home phone.  1-3-0-0-9-7-5-7-0-7.  She types each number in carefully, and lifts the phone to her ear.  It rings twice, and a monotone voice answers on the other end.  

‘This is Carmen’s office, can I help you?’  She says in a bored tone.

‘Oh, hello?  I’m Sophie, I was wondering if I could speak to Carmen?  My husband and I are looking to buy a house.’  She asks.  

‘She’s out with another client at the moment, can I get her to call you back?’  The receptionist answers.  

‘Sure, she can contact us on my mobile, 0491 570 110.  Did you get that?’  Sophie says.  

‘Uh-huh.  She’ll be giving you a call soon.  Buh-bye.’  She abruptly cuts off the conversation and hangs up the phone.  

‘Huh.  That woman was kinda rude, must be sick of her job.’  Sophie says.  She closes the laptop, putting it back on the coffee table, and goes into the kitchen to start making dinner.  

‘Not all of us like what we do.  Just be thankful that agent has your number, we’re well on our way to getting a house now.’  John answers, yawning as he talks.  

‘Don’t fall asleep yet, I’m still cooking here.’  She laughs.  He nods lazily in response, and starts idly flipping through channels on the T.V.  She is cooking spaghetti bolognese, his favorite meal.  

She places the spaghetti in a pot of boiling water, waiting for them to soften, and gets to work chopping up the mince she bought from the butcher earlier today.  As the mince cooks, she throws in some chopped vegetables to add to the meal.  Tomatoes are a must.  As she stirs, the smell starts to waft out of the kitchen, awakening her husband from his tired daze.

‘Damn, that smells fantastic.’  He comes up behind her, and gently nuzzles his head into the crook of her neck.  

‘That won’t get you food any earlier, honey.’  She says, leaning up to kiss him.  The kitchen timer goes off loudly, signalling that the spaghetti is done.  

She pulls away from him, and begins to dish out dinner into bowls.  First the the spaghetti, and then a portion of mince.  There will definitely be leftovers, she cooked enough for an army.  She gives him his bowl, and they sit together on the couch eating dinner.  

They finish, and John takes the bowls and goes to clean up the kitchen.  

‘Do you want help?’  She asks.  

‘Nah, I’m all good.  Go to bed, babe.’  He answers.  

She smiles, and gets up from the couch to get changed.  She enters her bedroom, and takes off her work clothes to get into her cotton pajamas.  She thinks of having a shower first, but decides against it because she’s too tired to function right now.  She flops into bed, and falls asleep within a minute.  John tucks himself into bed beside her not long after.

* * * * *

‘It’s been three days.  Is she even gonna bother to call us?’  Sophie says impatiently while staring down the phone on the counter top.  

‘Relax, it’s a Sunday so I doubt she’ll be busy.  Hell, maybe she’s not working today, we don’t know.  Did you give that receptionist the right number?’  John replies.  

‘Yes of course!’  She snaps at him.  She instantly regrets her tone, and begins to apologise, but is cut off by her phone ringing.  This has to be her, she thinks to herself.  She picks up the phone, almost dropping it while fumbling it around in her hands, and answers.  

‘Hello?’  She says.  

‘Hi, this is Carmen.  You’re looking to buy a house, correct?’  She asks.  Her voice is sweet and clear, she talks in the same manner as a songbird singing.  

‘Yes, and we’d like you to be our agent, since we don’t have one currently.’  Sophie says.  

‘Well I’d be happy to help, but I’ll need the two of you to come into my office for a consultation.  What time would suit you?  I’m work-free for the rest of the day.’  She hums in response.  

‘Oh, ummm… how about 2:00pm?  Does that work for you?’  Dummy!!  She just said she was work-free, why ask if it works for her??  

‘Perfect.  I’ll text you the address of my office, see you there.’  She says.  

‘Bye.’  Sophie says, and presses the red button to the end the call.  This is it, now the search for a house can begin.  She punches the air in triumph.  

‘Yes!  Now we’re getting somewhere.  Are you ready to go?  We’ve gotta be there in half an hour.’  She exclaims.  

‘Yea I’m ready.  We haven’t given her much time though, will she even have anything to show us?’  He replies.  

‘I know she will.’  She says confidently.  

They both get their valuables, as well as the laptop, and leave the house to get into their car. Sophie’s phone buzzes, it’s Carmen’s work address.  They type it into their car’s GPS, and drive away from the apartment.

* * * * *

They pull into the carpark, and look up at the monolithic, grey building.  It must have ten or more floors, good thing Carmen texted Sophie exactly where to go.  Sixth floor, room three, on the left. There must be a lot of agents working here, for the building to be this massive.  Maybe they have other departments in the same place.  

Sophie and John walk into the building, and into the elevator, pressing the number six button. The elevator shudders in place slightly, groaning with every movement, before travelling quickly upwards towards the sixth floor.  They look at each other anxiously before the doors open, and they step outside onto the office floor.  

A long hallway yawns out before them.  It seems to go on forever, good thing her office is only number three.  They walk a short distance, and then arrive at the office.  A bold number three is printed on the door in black, along with her name.  The office looks the same as all the others, grey and rather dull in appearance.  But the agent here isn't like the others.  

They walk into the office, and the receptionist tells them to take a seat.  Carmen’s silky voice can be heard through the door.  She's coercing someone into a sale, most likely.  She hears them agreeing on something, and then the door opens.  Carmen herself comes out after the client, and beckons them inside.  Her lithe arms and legs move fluidly as she crosses the room to her chair.  She sits down, crossing her legs and tapping her elegant nails on the desk.  

‘Welcome!  I have some homes for you to have a look at.’  Straight to the point.  She pushes a folder towards them.  It has multiple pictures of three different homes in it, along with information about each.  All of them are within their price range, within this short time she has already picked excellent choices for them.  Sophie finds herself wondering if she even told Carmen any of this information, surely she must have for her to know this much.

‘I’d like to show you all three of these homes within the next week.  Sound good to you?’  She looks at both of them.  

‘Sounds just fine, I can take the week off work and John works from home, should be no problem.’  Sophie replies.  John nods in agreement.  

‘Excellent, shall we resume tomorrow?  I'll meet you at the first house at 10:00am sharp.  We can look at the first two houses during the day.’  Carmen says.  

They both agree, and Carmen escorts them out of the office.  The consultation couldn't have taken more than ten minutes, Carmen was so organised that they were like putty in her hands.  They walk out of the office space, and back down the hall into the elevator.  

‘She was pretty good, those houses looked far better than what we usually deal with.’  John says.  

‘Yea, they all were up to my standards for once.’  Sophie replies, not knowing what else to say.  She hadn't just done well, Carmen had exceeded her expectations in every way.  They walk in silence the rest of the way to the car.  

* * * * *

The alarm next to the bed buzzes frantically, waking Sophie up.  It's already 9am, and she doesn't want to be late.  Mysterious as she is, Carmen is still their agent, and she doesn't want to be late on the first day of house hunting.  She shakes John out of his stupor, and he rolls out of bed awkwardly.  They organise themselves quickly, and climb into the car to go to their first open house of the day.

They pull into the driveway, and walk into the house.  John, still groggy from being woken up, rubs his eyes before walking slowly around the space.  Within minutes, Carmen’s platform heels can be heard clicking across the tiled floor.  She carries a black and silver designer handbag, and a plastic clipboard with papers attached to it.  After quickly scribbling down something with her pen, she walks towards them and begins to describe the house.

‘Nice big rooms, plumbing’s in working order.  Shouldn’t have to renovate anything in here, which is good for you.  No money needs to be put down on the house except the deposit.’  She says cheerily.  She walks up the stairs to the second floor, and they follow her.  Sophie notices that despite her towering heels, she has no trouble climbing the stairs.

‘The house has a second story, with a few more rooms that you could use for other purposes. Plenty of room for starting a family.’  She continues with a smile.  As she walks them around the rooms, she opens the windows to show the impressive view.  Sophie wonders how the house could be so cheap, if it’s in such good condition.  She runs her hands along the windowframe as she looks outside.  

They are given the tour of the rest of the house, and Sophie keeps it in mind as a solid first choice, but she would like to see the others first.  John agrees, but he generally agrees with everything she says when it comes to houses.  He seems to be happy as long as he’s with her. Carmen leads them outside, and talks to them about the next house.  

‘The next one isn’t too far away, we could go there now if you like.’  She says curtly.  Her lips are almost rose red, and her flawless skin doesn’t wrinkle as she smiles.  

‘Okay!  We’ll see you there soon.’  Sophie replies, tucking her phone away in her bag and taking out the keys to her car.  They both hop into the car, and pull out of the driveway to head to the next house.  

‘You didn’t say much, are you alright?’  Sophie asks.  

‘Yea I’m okay, just tired.  Really they all look the same to me.’  John answers.

‘Well I guess that’s fine, I’m the one picking the house at this point aren’t I?  You’re just along for the ride.’  She smirks at him.  

‘Best ride of my life.’  He smiles back at her.  Blushing, she turns her attention back to driving. The next open house comes into view, and it’s a bit smaller than the first, but just as charming. A quaint garden adorns the outside of the house, creeping vines climb up the pillars.  It’s beautiful, but not too much work.  Carmen’s silver car pulls in behind theirs, and she opens the door and walks out to greet them.  

‘This is the second house, as you can see it’s a tad bit smaller but just as lovely.  I’ll give you the tour.’  Carmen says, and walks them into the house.  On the inside, it’s more rustic in appearance.  In place of tiles the floor is carpeted and soft underfoot.  It’s definitely more cosy than the other one, with a fireplace in the living room and a chimney on the roof.  

‘This house has carpet instead of tiles, nice in winter when your feet get cold, but expensive to clean.’  Sophie is glad Carmen is telling them the cons as well as the pros.  

‘Also has a fireplace and a chimney, a little old fashioned but very homey.’  She gives them a tour of the house, and the rooms are smaller than the other one.  But it is still in pristine condition, and the price is lower because it doesn’t have a second floor.  

‘Another good choice, but as always that decision is yours and yours alone.’  She says, referring more to Sophie than John.  Carmen can see she’s the one in charge here.  

‘This one is great too, now I'm curious about the last one.’  Sophie says.  Carmen writes some notes on the paper attached to her clipboard.  

‘That one is the best of the three in my opinion, but it's so much better at night.  Really shows the home in all its glory.’  Carmen says, looking strangely satisfied.  

‘We could hit all three in one day, come back later on tonight then?’  She says.  

‘Perfect.  Come to the third house at 9:00pm tonight, you have the address from my text.’  Carmen says excitedly.  

‘Okay, see you later.’  Sophie says.  She and John leave the house, excited to see what could possibly be the best house of the three.  At least that's how Carmen described it.  They both get in their car and drive home for a quick dinner before the last open house.  

* * * * *

They're both silent in the car as they pull into the driveway of the final house.  Night has fallen, in the pitch black they can barely make out the ‘For Sale’ sign sticking out of the lawn.  Being careful of where they step, they make their way to the front door.  Carmen’s car is nowhere in sight.  

Sophie opens the door easily, it's not locked.  It swings open with a creak, and they step inside. The floor is wooden panels, polished enough to see partial reflections in it.  Solid, white walls border the rooms of the house, contrasting with the brown timber panels.  Compared to the other two, it's massive.  Sophie can see at least three floors looking up the spiral staircase.  

Suddenly, the silence is broken by the sound of tapping on the wood floor.  Carmen walks into the room from nowhere, they didn't see her come in.  Sophie reassures herself by thinking that she probably just came through the front door like a normal person, but she doesn't remember hearing her come in.  

‘Well hello there!  Welcome to the third home, this one’s my favourite.’  She says with a grin. Carmen guides them through the house, going room by room just like the others.  She leads them with confidence, and appears to know this house like the back of her hand.

‘As you can see this home is far more luxurious, it has effortless style and much larger rooms. But don't worry about the price, this is one hell of a bargain.’  She says, her grin gets even wider.  

They all go back to the ground floor, and the couple begins to leave, but Carmen has other ideas.  

‘Well, there is one more room, if you're interested…’  Carmen croons.  She tilts her head and beckons them to follow her.  Curious as to what else the mansion hides, they follow her without question.  

She opens the flimsy wood door, and reveals the basement.  It looks older than the rest of the house, and a few of the panels are missing from the rickety staircase.  Carmen almost floats down the stairs, the uneven surface never slowing her down.  The couple has a bit more trouble, stepping slowly and carefully down the stairs while holding onto each other.  After they finally get downstairs, Carmen begins to speak.  

‘This space is great for storage, it needs a little work but I think it's worth it.’  She walks around the dark room, running her hands over the walls and wooden pillars that stick out from the ground to support the weak structure.  

‘Are you sure it's safe down here?  Looks like it could collapse at any second!’  Sophie panics.  

‘Relax, dear.  I've done this before.’  Carmen replies, turning to face them.  Before Sophie can even form words in a response, she sees it.  Skin splitting, the sickening tear of tendons from flesh.  Her perfect skin is tearing itself apart at the seams, and Sophie doesn't even hear herself begin to scream.  

Before she can react, Carmen lunges at John and starts tearing into him.  Her mouth unhinges and opens unnaturally wide, showing multiple rows of jagged teeth.  She can hear bones break as she snaps her mouth shut onto his neck.  Anything resembling a human has disappeared, her once flawless face has split in two down the middle, it looks like she's been decapitated.  Angry red tendons string together her now destroyed face, her jaw barely attached to the rest of her head.  Her eyes have narrowed into slits, as she scrambles backwards towards the stairs.  

Sophie turns to try and climb the stairs, and sobs uncontrollably at the sound of John’s screams. All she can see is the biting, ripping, tearing.  He struggles, but only succeeds in making his wounds deeper.  The amount of blood seems unreal, and the sound is something else.  She's not only biting but also laughing as she does it, a deep, guttural sound that destroys any shred of humanity she had left.

Sophie screams helplessly, and in the fading moments of his life, she sees it in his eyes.  He's begging her to run, and she can do nothing but accept it.  She realises there’s nothing she can do, staying would mean certain death, but leaving means she has a chance.  Staggering up the stairs, she hears the last gurgled screams of her husband, and the tearing of flesh under sharp teeth.  

Breathing heavily, she reaches the top of the staircase.  No looking back now.  Hands shaking, she reaches for her car keys, and makes her way to the entrance of the house.  She tries the doorknob, but the door doesn't open.  

‘Fuck!  Come on, please!’  She struggles with the door, pushing against it with all her strength, but it's not budging anytime soon.  She curses, and starts to look for another way out.  

Going through the ground floor, she tries every door and window she can find, but to no avail. Everything is locked, Carmen must have organised everything before they came.  She takes her phone out from her bag, and starts to dial the emergency number.  

‘They'll never get here in time, pet.’  The demonic voice speaks from the basement.  The lights flicker on and off before going out, leaving the house in complete darkness.  

‘Let’s play a game, you and I.’  Sophie runs in the opposite direction of her voice, but can only hear her getting closer.  

‘You hide, and I’ll see how long it takes me to find you.’  Carmen says cruelly.  Her voice remains smooth and gentle, unchanged by her demonic appearance.  

‘No one’s going to find you.’  She continues, scraping her elongated claws along the side of the wall.  She finally emerges from the basement, face dripping with blood and chunks of flesh stuck in her teeth.  Through the darkness, Sophie can see her body rippling with red light, arteries standing out from her ruined skin.

‘This was always going to happen, but I’m glad you’ve made it fun for me.  Most of them never make it out of the basement.’  She says, stretching her hideous mouth into a macabre grin.

‘It is a shame about your husband, though.  He barely put up a fight.’  Sophie barely stifles a agonised cry from her hiding place.  Her knuckles turn white from the pressure in her clenched fists.  

‘Run away and hide now, little lamb.’  She laughs.  Sophie gets up from her hiding place under a table, and runs up the stairs.  She can feel her heart racing, and sweat runs down her face in waves.  Surely there must be an exit on the roof, maybe even an attic.  

She holds onto the slightest hope that she can get out of this, and keeps running.  She can hear Carmen behind her, her ruined body contorting itself in horrific angles, bones snapping painfully.  She's holding back, allowing Sophie to gain some distance before killing her.  

Sophie reaches the second floor, and runs into the first room she sees.  It just happens to be a master bedroom.  She tries the windows, but like the doors they are locked tight.  Outside, she can hear Carmen going room by room, ripping doors from their hinges as easily as you'd swat a fly.  She does the only thing that comes to mind, slips under the bed.  Carmen’s clawed toes appear under the door moments later.  

With a deafening crash, the door is torn in half.  She saunters into the room, toes tapping on the polished floor.  She takes her time, ever so slowly searching for signs of life.  Suddenly, from the ground floor, there is a knocking at the door.

‘Police, open up!’  A muffled voice says from outside the house.  Carmen growls at the sudden intrusion.  

‘Well, what do we have here.  You've provided me an entree before the main course!  How kind.’  She turns quickly, and runs down the stairs to the entrance.  While she's gone, Sophie rolls out from under the bed and runs upstairs to the final floor of the house.  

From downstairs, she sees the door swing open and two police officers appear.  Before they can react, Carmen impales them both on wicked claws.  Dragging them inside, she begins to eat them while they're still alive.  Sophie gags and puts one hand over her mouth, and turns to the roof.  The two officers have given her just enough time to get to the third floor, and she can see an entrance to the attic.  Seeing no other options, she pulls down the ladder from the roof and climbs in.  

The attic is dank and dusty, filled with boxes and assorted junk.  She tries the window in here as a last ditch effort, but it's locked like all the others.  She cries and collapses onto the ground, her only hope of escape has been eaten alive and even the attic has been locked tight.  There's no running, going downstairs would be suicidal.  She drags herself behind a stack of boxes, rocking backwards and forewords while shaking.  She jumps on the spot and screams when black, elongated claws poke out through the attic hatch door.  

Carmen climbs into the attic, discarding the broken timber from her claws by flexing her hands.  The shredded timber falls to the floor.  She surveys the room before stalking over to Sophie’s final hiding place.  She knocks the boxes aside revealing the pale, shaking mess of a person because them.  Sophie doesn't bother to move, just quivers in fear and hugs her legs in tightly to her body.  

‘Found you.’  She gently lifts Sophie’s face towards her, caressing the soft skin and making tiny cuts on her face.  

‘Don't take it personally, pet.  We all have to eat.’  She whispers to her.  In one swift motion, she crushes her neck with her hands.  Sophie’s life is silenced in an instant.  Carmen laps up the blood and begins to consume the lifeless body in her arms.  

Rays of light filter through the lone attic window, signalling the end of the long night.  Carmen lifts her head, face coated in blood, and begins to transform back into her human form.  Claws recede into nails, and teeth retract into the gum.  Within minutes, she looks just as she did a few hours earlier, although she might need a new suit.


© Copyright 2017 Elizabeth S-T . All rights reserved.

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