The Tale of the Very Old House, or Why Curiosity Killed the Cat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Two teenagers go snooping where they oughtn't be.

Submitted: October 10, 2017

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Submitted: October 10, 2017



The house was old, much older than the people who whispered the stories to their friends in the night. The house wasn’t old: it wasn’t as old as the oldest in London, or even in New England. But it was still very old, and very old houses always have skeletons in their closets, always have whispers that surround them. It was a large house, two stories plus an attic and a basement. Its large yard was shielded from the sun by a dying oak.

The stories of the old house varied wildly with the telling. A man butchered his entire family in the attic before hanging himself; seventeen pregnant women were sacrificed in the basement to some nameless devil; the ghost of a woman in white could be seen every night at half past midnight, searching for her missing head; something dark crawled through the shadows; a demon prowled the grounds in the dark hours before the dawn. None knew if these stories were true or not. All history could tell was that one night, as dark and stormy as any, a family went to sleep in the house.

They were gone by morning.

It was these stories that drew the teens to it one Halloween night, with the Cheshire Cat grinning in the sky and the wind blowing the fallen leaves of the oak across the lawn. Sean and Lisa were young, foolish, as blissfully unaware of caution as any teen could be. They crept across the dark lawn, flashlights in hand, and up the porch steps.

“Should we really be doing this?” Lisa asked, blond hair whipping around her face as she pulled her jacket tighter. It was a cold night, with a cold wind, and it just seemed to get darker and colder and windier as they got closer to the house.

“Probably not,” Sean answered, his red hair poking out from under his beanie. He reached a freckled hand through the shattered glass of the front door, unbolting the lock. “That’s why we’re doing it.”

The door opened up to a long, dark hall. A doorway to the right led off to a darkened room, and to the left was a flight of stairs heading up. The teens crept in, beams of light only serving to darken the shadows around what was illuminated. Nothing stirred, and dust covered the floor.

There were footprints in the dust.

“They’re going up.” Sean pointed at them, tracing their path up the stairs with his light. “We should follow them.”

“Follow them up the stairs in the creepy house?”

“What could go wrong?”

“Everything. Everything could go wrong.”

The teens followed them anyway, of course. Curiosity beckoned the cats ever forward, up every creaky step. Up one flight of stairs and then another and then another, until they found themselves entering the attic. The footsteps stopped at the mouth of the stairs. Light from a streetlamp fell through the lone window, and they immediately went for it.

“It’s a nice view of the street at least.” Lisa looked through it, frowned. “We could see this window from the lawn, if there was someone he-“

A floorboard creaked behind them and they swirled around, lights flailing wildly.

“Just the wind?” Sean’s voice was uneasy.

“Just the wind.”

They started for the stairs and froze before they made it halfway. They glanced at each other before quickly looking at the stairs again. There were eyes peering up at them, eyes that reflected the light they shone on it. They stood there, hardly daring to breathe.

And then it spoke.

“Who goes there?” The voice was quiet, a chilling wind that crept up their spines and made them shudder.

“W-we were just leaving.” The redhead offered, stepping in front of the girl. The flashlights stuttered, casting darkness on everything for a brief moment. When they came back on the eyes were closer. The light wouldn’t show them anything but the eyes, only impenetrable darkness.

Both of them screamed, scrambled back to the lone window.

“Just leaving?”

Another stutter, another blanket of darkness.

The eyes ever closer.

“Yes sir, just leaving.” Lisa’s voice wavered. She tugged the boy in front of her, hiding behind him.

Their lights went out and didn’t come back on.

© Copyright 2019 M. Lee Cottle. All rights reserved.

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