Death House

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Two cousins encounter an abandoned house in the middle of the woods.

I

When Gareth Bronze went to his grandparents’ house, the dogs were out the back. His grandmother and his grandfather referred to him as ‘Bing’, because of his volatile and short attention span that when he was introduced to a new idea, topic or genre of conversation or understanding, he would become obsessed with it. His grandmother and grandfather had adopted a young puppy, a West Yorkshire White Terrier, and the dog loved Gareth very much. They went everywhere together. Gareth would always leave school and immediately enjoy the company of his grandparents for a while before putting the lead on Elvis (the dog) and taking him out for a walk beyond the young dog’s wildest dreams. Gareth would take Elvis on multiple mile-long walks and play fetch, trying to allow for the young dog to mature and develop to be a functional, family dog. Elvis would sit in the middle of the living room and cry or moan because Gareth would be late for Elvis’ walk, and the grandparents would be awfully cruel to the young dog. The grandmother would take her slipper off and hit the young dog with it to establish authority and to ensure that Elvis understood who the real boss was. Elvis for a while, in his puppy mindset, assumed that Gareth’s grandfather Arthur was the real boss, since he took him for walks when Gareth was unavailable and since Arthur lit the fire every evening and assumed that he controlled the proceedings of each evening. Arthur and Mary adopted another dog called Dawn almost a year later and the dog proved to be a great addition to the pensioners’ household, and the two dogs became very close. Gareth would not walk Dawn very often, as he felt that Elvis may become jealous (his juvenile mind) and would pawn the walking of her onto his cousin Jack.

One day, when Gareth carried out the daily ritual of camping out in the living room of his grandparents while his mother was at work and his father was at work, his cousin Jack was preparing to walk the dogs.

II

‘I’ll not be long’ shouted Jack from the kitchen.

Jack had gathered up the dogs’ leads, collars and coats and put them on the two dogs. Dawn cooperated and had a smile on her face, while Elvis fought with everything to refrain from getting his coat and lead on and having to be walked by the weird guy in the family that smelled like date cheese and cum. Terrible combination.

Gareth walked into Arthur and Mary’s house and sat down on the sofa beside his grandfather, unaware of the presence of Jack in the kitchen. Gareth and Jack did not get along very well and they more than occasionally had a silly, juvenile argument over stupid shit like who would walk the dogs, whose football team was better, who was better looking etc. Gareth held an emotion in his heart towards his cousin that closely resembled hatred, but for his own health, sanity and temper saving, he fought very hard to get along with Jack, for the sake of the family. In their grandparents’ eye, Jack was the apple, even though Jack had nothing to offer society and decided to fuck girls on a street corner like a dirty dog and play the victim to his grandparents whenever something went wrong in his life (very usually his own fault), which would always result in Arthur and Mary pampering him by giving him money and providing false consolation about his looks and personality that made him think he was the shit. This treatment was incredibly reserved for Gareth, who very, very rarely received such care from his grandparents. Arthur and Mary knew for a very long time that their two grandchildren were not very fond of each other, yet their own inadequacies inhibited their ability to sit them both down and work through their issues, although this would be an action reserved for their respective parents, but they did not get along either. Dislike runs in the family when Gareth and Jack are involved.

Gareth looked into the kitchen from the sofa and noticed that Jack was handling two collars and leads. The coats came after. Gareth felt an incredible sense of jealousy arise in his heart, throat and limbs, for he wanted to grab Jack by the throat, throw him to the ground and stand on his heart, but he also held reservations for this action because he cared a lot for Elvis’ happiness. Gareth was more than willing to concede this one to Jack, until he heard Elvis’ squirming in his coat and fighting against Jack.

‘Stay still you fat little cunt!’ Jack screamed before delivering a thunderous kick to the ribcage of Elvis. Elvis let out a cry that sounded just like the cries of a newly born baby.

Gareth jumped up from his seat and went for Jack’s throat. He squeezed the Adam’s Apple and forced him to the ground and was readying himself to land a giant kick to the back of his head before he felt himself being thrusted backwards by Arthur, who had risen from the sofa almost immediately after Gareth had grasped Jack’s throat.

Gareth was readying himself to throw a punch to Arthur’s old, beat up face before gathering himself. Instead, he retired to the sofa beside Mary, in a frown. Jack shuffled his jacket and gently massaged his throat before sitting down beside Arthur.

‘Why don’t you two take the dogs out for a walk together? You need to work on your relationship, ruining the mood every time you are in the room and your grandfather and I should not have to put up with it at our age!’ Mary hissed.

Gareth shuddered. The dreaded day had arrived. He had always known that his constant bickering and fighting with his cousin would result in an intervention, so to speak. He would of course be happy to get along with his cousin, for the sake of the elderly and his own health, but there was nothing redeeming about Jack. Jack felt the same way towards Gareth, but they both hated the fact that the only time they shared each other’s company was under the roof of their grandparents, and they both loved them very much and did not like to upset them. Gareth glanced over at Jack, his face still red from the handbags, and nodded approvingly. Jack did not share this sentiment, but he nodded back to save face. He did not want to be thought of as the one who did not try to fix things, for the sake of the grandparents. After all, he had just been assaulted, deeming his reservations about the whole thing understandable.

‘Fine by me’ Gareth said, getting up from the sofa. He walked over towards Jack and snatched Elvis’ lead from Jack’s hand. He looked down at him, thinking that if he done one thing that pissed him off when they left the house, he would kill him and say that he got kidnapped and that they took Dawn with him.

Jack got up from his seat, offered Gareth his hand and he shook it. They both took their respective leads, hugged their grandparents and left the house together, bound for the woodlands not far from the house.

III

Gareth followed Jack out of the house, his eyes skimming across the chilly, blue skyed afternoon. He felt that the world right now represented his internal dialogue, that the sunny, blue sky symbolised his efforts to reconcile and get along with one of his few cousins that remained in his city; the rest of his family had emigrated to either Australia or to the United States, and that the chilly, cold air represented his disdain for the very idea that he should make any effort at all with Jack and that the thought of it made him cold on the inside and not welcoming. He thought that he may hurt him, but he also thought that he could wind up hugging him, depending on the outcome of the afternoon, a constant battle, a tug-of-war between the good and evil in his heart.

When they arrived at the end of the steps leading out of the front garden of their grandparents’ house, they walked in single file up the street towards the woodlands. They did not speak, and the lack of dialogue pressed the ideology further onto them that they would never get along, so long as they were outside a therapist’s office, but who decided to go to therapy to rectify and improve their relations with a cousin? Cousins either got along or they did not get along, a sentiment shared by them both, something they agreed on.

When they finally reached the end of the street, they again walked in single file to the immediate entrance to the woodlands that was decorated with the finest chocolate bar wrappers and Coca-Cola bottles. A bin sat nearby empty, which outlined and summarised quite beautifully the reason Gareth wanted to leave this city, an idea he never verbalised to anybody, for the people in it were dirt, at least in his mind they were dirt. He did not think he could ever leave the city if it meant leaving Elvis behind as well as his mother and his two grandparents. He decided to stop thinking about pastures new and decided that the only way that he would ever see light again (philosophically speaking), he would have to make the effort to crawl his way through this dog walk and come out on the other side away from Jack. He would simply mention to his grandparents that the entire walk emitted bad vibrations, although the thought that Jack was one of the ‘dirt’ people that throw their shit onto the ground despite the presence of a bin was the real reason why his hatred was amplified since entering the woodlands. Still, he thought to at least try.

 

 

‘Sorry for trying to hurt you back there, it’s just that you were hurting the dog’ Gareth said.

‘No, it’s alright it’s my fucking temper at it again, don’t worry I would have done the same’ Jack replied.

Gareth smiled slightly, trying not to give much away at that last comment. They continued to walk and have minimal dialogue.

‘Have you ever been up here?’ Gareth said, his feet crushing autumnal leaves as he walked behind Jack, Elvis following closely behind.

‘No, I haven’t, I was always told that people got lost when they came up here’ Jack replied.

‘Well, I’ve been up here many times and have always found my way back, although I never go as far as a few hundred metres from the mouth of the woodland’ Gareth replied.

‘I thought so, because I remember reading something in the paper before about a group of 15-year olds that came up here drinking with their girlfriends and they never returned. Their bodies were found like 3 days later in a pile of mud’ Jack replied, his voice shaking slightly while Dawn moved ahead of him, sniffing the environment for a suitable spot to shit on.

‘That’s weird’ Gareth said, ‘maybe they got fucked up by a gang of foxes or some shit, maybe a pack of wolves decided that they were hungry and that these kids looked like a delightful main course.’

The mentioning of wolves made Jack shriek and stand still. He occasionally had nightmares about wolves climbing into his bedroom and eating him, starting with the feet, then the legs, the cock and balls, the torso until they finally reached the heart. He always envisioned that his death by wolf pack would be a slow, painful and humiliating one.

‘Why did you need to mention wolves?’ Jack said, his voice trembling slightly.

‘Relax, there are no wolves around here, believe me somebody would have seen one or hunted one and brought it back to the village for every fucker of the day and night to drool over’ Gareth replied.

They continued to walk along the dirt path until it came to an end. Nobody had ever ventured further than the path enough to produce a clear path.

‘I guess this is where we turn around then’ Jack said, a sigh of relief being released after his utterance.

Gareth stood still for a moment and questioned himself internally. Why didn’t anybody go further along the path? Would there really be something like wolves or some other kind of animal that would not be afraid to look upon two boys and their dogs as prey? The possibility of wolves seemed more plausible now, for nobody ever went up further than they were now, and whoever did, never returned.

‘Why don’t we keep going?’ Gareth asked, ‘just a little bit further, just to see what the fuss is all about?’

Jack stood in fear that was masked by a hardened exterior.

‘We should be getting back, it’s nearly dinnertime plus the dogs will need a bath’ Jack replied.

Gareth considered this, before continuing along the path with Elvis now on his lead. He did not want to take any chances. Jack was readying himself to turn away when Dawn began running after Gareth and Elvis. Jack called after her, but it proved to be a pointless exercise. He sighed, and then began jogging after them, finally reaching Dawn and putting her on her lead. He decided that he should continue to walk with Gareth, as he had already come a considerable distance from the end of the path and because the afternoon was not as bad as he had first feared. Gareth apologised to him. That moment was huge for Jack, and the possibility of the two of them ever having a normal relationship that was cordial and friendly. The two cousins continued walking for another ten minutes until they found it.

IV

They both stood outside for a moment, taking it all in. What stood in front of them both shocked and amazed them, with Gareth’s mouth hanging open like he had just removed a coaster from it while Jack stood farther back with slight apprehension examining the building. The building was constructed with grey bricks that had lichens and mosses covering a large area of the front and left side of the building, as if it had just gotten its face painted with watercolour that began to come off. There was an open entrance where there was once a door and the windows had two bars stood up in the opening of the stone. On the inside of the building, there was no floor, as whatever floor had previously existed had caved in to reveal tree roots, broken grey stone bricks and both dry and wet mud. The roof of the building had also caved in, which contributed to the mass of broken stone in the dip in the ground. On the far side of the building, there were two more windows, exactly as those in front of the building, and there were small mud dunes that could be jumped between to get to the other side. They both arrived at the conclusion that this used to be a house, but it was a house that had the strangest existence due to its solitude and it could therefore only be a house from hundreds of years ago. But where did the metal bars in the window come from? Gareth asked himself this question as he began excitedly walking towards the entrance of the house to see what was inside. Jack shortly followed while Dawn and Elvis both remained glued to their spots. Dawn was growling at the house while Elvis softly cried for Gareth to come back, as if he knew that the house was not safe and did not mean well.

Gareth walked up to the front of the house and peered in, taking in all the collapsed stone and mud on the ground. He hesitated to enter but decided to walk in for a short while to try and understand what had happened there, while Jack remained in place just at the immediate exterior, close enough to see the far end of the house and the lack of a conventional floor. He understood that the age of the house could simply be the reason why the roof and ground had caved in, but he could not understand why and how the house remained so perfectly in its place, considering that houses near his own did not stand as well in their place in concrete. This house stood perfectly erect and upright in dirt in a woodland that had presented no impression that there was a residence or a former residence that still stood. Considering this, he walked in a little bit farther, just until he reached the point of dropping into the ground. A cold sweat began to gather and form on his forehead and his mouth became slightly dry, dry enough to evoke the compulsive desire for cold water. He wiped his forehead with the sleeve of his grey sweatshirt and jumped onto one of the dunes in the ground of the house. Jack saw Gareth disappear and leapt into the house, only to find Gareth standing a few metres in the ground, smiling.

‘You done?’ Jack asked.

‘I don’t know, don’t know how the fuck I’m getting back up’ he replied, chuckling as he said it.

Jack sighed before offering his hand to help him back out of the ditch. Gareth took it and he then climbed his way out of the ditch and back onto the short plank of floor that survived the centuries. He rubbed the dirt off his black trousers and looked around once more.

‘Okay let’s go it’s going to get dark soon’ Gareth said.

Just as he began to turn away towards the exit, he noticed that there was something spray-painted on the far side of the house. The afternoon light had picked up and shone into the house and amplified the far side. He moved forward slightly and squinted slightly at the writing, which had been done, he thought, by somebody with either poor handwriting or with a massive body stutter. He read it slowly aloud. IF YOU’RE READING THIS, RUN FAST OR FALL DOWN AND PRAY FOR MERCY. Gareth thought that this was written in its manner out of desperation, the scrawlings of a human before they met their end. The cold sweat returned to his forehead and his mouth felt drier than it had before. He turned away and walked out and began walking quickly back towards the two dogs who had not moved from their spots. The writing on the wall make Gareth feel sick and he did not know whether to vomit or panic. He would not usually be frightened by such a thing, but the coupling of the writing with the house and its peculiarity and its broken state but perfect stance in the ground provoked a reaction that he had never encountered before. Jack noticed his sudden emergence from the house and chased after him.

‘What’s wrong? Are you okay?’ he asked.

Jack caught up with him and noticed that Gareth was as white as snow and his eyes were bulging and nearly jumping out of their sockets. His lips were slightly parted and he was breathing in short, rapid bursts.

‘Gareth what’s wrong?’ Jack asked, becoming unnerved by his appearance.

‘Nothing, we just need to go now’ Gareth replied, before turning away, picking up Elvis’ lead and walking back down the crunchy, autumn leaf covered grass towards the path. Jack stood frozen for a short moment before doing the same with Dawn.


Submitted: January 12, 2021

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