Home-Sweet-Home

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Leah Wilson is an eighteen year old girl who has been bizarrely included in her distant relative's will. Pleased at first, Leah travels to collect her inheritance, but an unseen terror ensues...

Submitted: November 25, 2011

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Submitted: November 25, 2011

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As Leah Wilson stepped out of the black cab a viscous wind whipped her hair across her face, shivering she tucked the ash blonde curl behind her ear. Rummaging in her overloaded backpack she found the right paperwork. Yes, this was definitely the right address, but it was not what she had been expecting.

What loomed before her was grey and gloomy, dark and depressing. The solicitor had assured Leah that she had inherited a lovely, secluded farmhouse complete with twelve picturesque acres of land. Leah’s shoulders rose and fell into a deep sigh as she recalled, with slight embarrassment, her excitement upon receiving the letter informing her of this distant relative’s gift. Ethel Balwick, was the name she had read, apparently she was her aunt’s sister-in-law, whose brother had married into Leah’s family.  Leah had never met this mysterious woman before, and her parents had little to tell of her when she quizzed them, apart from that Ethel refused to have any contact with the Wilson family, disowned them all and moved here to North Wales; a hundred miles from her comfortable home.

The sting of a tear pricked in Leah’s eye as she gazed up at the leering building, with its drooping windows and patchy roof. As she tentatively stepped onto the crooked path her mind wandered to her friends. They were travelling in Australia on their gap year, yet here she was taking the option of sprucing up her inheritance instead. Another long sigh escaped. Scanning slowly from left to right Leah’s eyes took in a clear view of uninterrupted horizon, this place was secluded indeed. The windows of the farmhouse reflected the evening’s moonlight down upon her; there was something sinister about them, as if they observed her every move, heard her every melancholy thought. “No, don’t be childish” she suddenly found herself announce to the open air “this is ridiculous”, she shook her head back and forth, her teeth chattered in the evening’s strong breeze. Leah took a deep breath and marched onwards along the weed ridden pathway, her bags catching on the overgrown shrubbery.

As Leah neared the house leaves blew around her legs, as if in warning. She reached the door, pulled out her key and hastily shoved it into the lock. Glancing down she noticed a worn doormat reading ‘home sweet home’.  Raising an eyebrow at the irony Leah wiggled the old key in the lock but it was stiff with rust. Suddenly she heard a clunk and the door swung open so fast it crashed into the inside wall with a bang. Leah gasped in surprise, but was too grateful to get out of the growing winds to query the happening further. Rushing inside Leah noticed the hall was rather small and cramped, horrendously decorated with worn burgundy hangings and pale green, stained carpet beneath. Thick cobwebs hung miserably from the ceiling, gently blowing in the draft of the hall. The basement door stood to the left, slumped against the wall with its dark oak finish.

Dropping her bags clumsily to the floor, Leah edged further into the house. As she moved around the ground floor she realised the place was much smaller than it had looked outside. Entering the lounge she realised the farmhouse bore no means to electricity, as large candles sat droopily on various window ledges and mantelpieces. They were already alight. “How strange” Leah murmured to herself slowly moving into the room, “the solicitor said no one had been here since Ethel died months ago...”Suddenly a fast cold wind flew through the room, washing over the candles and putting out their flames.  Leah screamed out, rooted to the spot with fear. She groped in the sudden darkness for something to find her bearings with – a chair, a wall, anything, but her hands reached out and clasped thin air. Shuffling precariously to her left Leah tried to calm her breathing. Finally her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she realised a small window on the right of the room was wide open.  Feeling her cheeks redden she shakily laughed to herself “it was just the damn wind”. Her heart began to slow as she collapsed into the velveteen armchair but her palms were still damp and quivering.

After sitting silently and still in the armchair for a long while, Leah rose and lit the lounge’s fire under the stony mantelpiece in a bid to make the house less cold and intimidating. She then found her backpack in the hallway and found some tinned food her mother had packed for her. A sudden rush of emotion filled her heart as the first pang of homesickness washed over her, but Leah was quick to regain composure, “oh get a grip” she thought, “I only left this morning!”  She warmed her meal on the old single hob stove, and then leaned against the kitchen counter as she ate. So far this was the most comfortable room in the house.

Following dinner, Leah felt more relaxed about being in the house. It was not all bad after all; she concluded it just required some redecoration and thorough cleaning. Standing in the cramped kitchen she thought about how lucky she really was, just eighteen years old and owned a whole property! Of course, Leah did not plan on living here, it was far too isolated, but with some work she could sell it and buy her own place in London, where she was due to study medicine at university the following year. “I should be more grateful” she contemplated, “not many people get this kind of luck”. After the stresses of the day a small weary smile formed on her face, her muscles finally relaxed and Leah felt comfortable for the first time all day. A gust of wind was not going to derail her.

Walking across the room to the kitchen sink she proceeded to wash her dinner plate and cutlery, the tap water was surprisingly warm and steam rose gently from the basin as she let her hands rinse for a moment. It felt nice and Leah relaxed more, softly humming a random tune to herself as she washed up. The basin was small so washing up was a noisy affair, as items bashed against each other, emitting tinny rings of distress. Breaking from her tuneless humming Leah glanced up to see the view from the window above the sink.  She noticed something on the glass, the window had steamed up but there was something written on it. She squinted at it, “mine” she read aloud “that’s odd...I didn’t see that before”. Her mind began to wander but she grabbed hold of it quickly, “of course, It’s an old doodle...it’s just there because of all the steam”. She recalled a memory of herself as a seven year old, her mother telling her not to write on the steamy car window as it would reappear again and again. She smiled, her head leaning slightly down, and turned off the tap.

Leah spent the evening reading a novel she had packed, after an hour or so she grew tired and heaved herself up the creaky stairs to the bedroom. Entering the room she saw it already had sheets and linen. After a moment of deliberation she decided she was not comfortable sleeping in Ethel’s bed, who knows if the sheets had even been changed since she died? Slipping on her pyjamas she curled up into the armchair beside the nightstand. Leah fell asleep quickly, but awoke throughout the night to eerie winds howling and thunder growling in the sky.

Next morning, Leah awoke feeling stiff and tired, with a gaping yawn she decided she would have to find somewhere to buy fresh bed sheets from today. Her mother rang  her mobile for a rushed chat as she hurried to get Leah’s younger brother into school. However, soon after Leah could say she was fine and the house had been ok her mother was forced to hang up as the young boy’s teacher wanted to talk to her. Leah still felt happier though, even if the conversation had been much shorter than she expected she was glad to hear from her family.

Leaving the bedroom she padded lazily across the hallway and into the pale blue tiled bathroom. Dark mould climbed the walls from every corner and the bath was the tiniest she had ever seen with a small sink and round mirror on the wall opposite. As she showered behind the dark, but faded, navy shower curtain, Leah found the water was again surprisingly warm and found herself reluctant to get out even after half an hour. Eventually she stepped carefully onto the cool tiles and pulled on her dark pink dressing gown, grabbing her toothbrush from amongst her make up in her wash bag. She looked up at the small mirror, she gasped aloud. In thick, smudgy red were the words ‘my house’. Leah felt weak all of a sudden; she leaned onto the basin for support as her legs wavered. Her toe touched something, glancing down she saw her most expensive golden lipstick case, the lid off and the deep rouge, previously barely used, stick was now a squashed stump. Breathing shallowly she reached carefully to the floor, snatching it up. Her shaking hand threw it into the bin. Her mind raced. Who could have done this? She was sure she had locked all the windows and doors.

Leah dressed as fast as possible and trod down the stairs. She wondered if her mind had played a trick on her, was she dreaming...was she even in this house really? Fighting back fear she entered the lounge, lit all the candles and began to read yesterday’s newspaper in the armchair. The room remained strangely dark considering it was now midday and the cold sun was high outside over the Welsh countryside. Leah’s skin felt icy and her muscles began to ache with chill, she rushed to the hall and grabbed her sweater from her bag. As she pulled it on a bang sounded from the lounge, she screamed out but then ran towards the sound. Perhaps there was someone here? Maybe they wrote on her mirror? “You creep!” she yelled as she stared into the lounge. Empty. She threw herself down the hall to the kitchen “who do you think you are!” still empty.  Her heart pounded in her pale throat. Sweat ran down her temple and her mouth hung open as she gulped down air. What was going on? Shivering, she dead bolted the back and front doors, grabbed a small but sharp knife from the kitchen and returned to her armchair. Her newspaper lay on the floor, now unwanted. After nearly an hour of statuesque sitting, Leah let her eye glance from the lounge door to the floor, the knife still clutched in her small hand. The paper’s headline screamed out from the page “GET OUT!” she read, “strong words from an agitated landlord”. Her brow furrowed. Was this some kind of sign? She longed for her mobile phone, left abandoned on the bedroom dresser – she didn’t dare move from this room as terror planted her firmly still.

After another hour of non movement Leah’s muscles seized in pain, they wanted exercise. She finally gave in and silently lifted herself from the chair, taking tiny steps towards the mantelpiece, stretching her neck from left to right. Suddenly a great pressure fell upon her whole body, as if someone was pushing her into the ground, she fought to stand upright, the colour draining from her face. The pressure focused on her neck, squeezing her airways tighter and tighter. Desperately she tried to scream, but a dry gasp was all that came. She frantically grabbed at her neck, searching for the source of her pain, but there were no hands, no rope, nothing. She dropped to the hard wooden floor. The candles all blew out, darkness enveloped her. No breathe, she felt weak, her eyes rolled skyward...Then it all ceased. Her neck was released, the invisible attack was over. Sweat ran down her forehead, she gasped for air, her fingers clinging to the floor. Her heartbeat thundered in her ears, she struggled to focus her eyes on anything.

She lay in that position, clinging to the floor as if it were a cliff edge for what felt like an eternity. The only movement was the slow drip of tears down her face as she sobbed silently. Leah was completely weak, clueless as to what was going on. Her head throbbed with pain and her body still gently quivered every now and again. Thoughts played on her troubled mind, she thought she did not deserve this, and she had never hurt anyone. She thought about Ethel, about how she could hate Leah’s whole family so strongly without even meeting them, how bizarre a thought that was to her, having never hated anyone in her life.

It took all Leah’s will and her last ounces of strength to crawl to the lounge door. She used the splintered door frame to pull herself to her feet. She looked up and down the hall, everywhere was silent. With a sudden burst of energy Leah leaped for the front door, grabbing the handle and yanking it towards her. It would not open. She turned the key anxiously and pulled as hard as she could. Beginning to panic she yelled out “what do you want me to do? I CAN’T get out!” She stormed to the back of the house, to the last remaining exit in the kitchen, but it was exactly the same. She threw her fist at the wooden door in anger so hard that her knuckles split open and blood trickled onto her sleeve. Leah winced in pain and ran her hand under the tap. Again a deafening bang sounded and she was thrown to the floor, she cried out in pain as her back crashed against the cold tiles but jumped to her feet and ran to the hall.

Leah flung the basement door open and threw it shut behind her in a panic, bolting it from the inside. There was a sudden weight in her jeans pocket, reaching in, miraculously, she found her mobile phone. A great flutter of relief washed over her and she laughed erratically -she was saved. However this glee was shattered as she looked closer and read ‘no reception available’ printed tauntingly across the screen. She hurled the phone angrily onto the dusty concrete with all her might, it fell apart. “What kind of sick joke is this!” she screeched “what‘s your point?!”.  She dropped to her knees, begging “please...please...this is not...it can’t be real”. Her knuckles stung as blood dripped from them onto the floor beside her whilst she sobbed heavily, struggling to keep control.

Glancing up she noticed a small, oak desk in the corner with a fragile chair in front of it. She walked cautiously towards it, rubbing her sore back. A red leather-bound notebook sat proudly in the centre. Leah picked up the book and squinted at the inside cover. She inhaled slowly then exhaled. She calmed herself, and moved close to the small high window at the top of the basement in order to read it. Upon reading the first page Leah realised it was a diary, belonging to Ethel Balwick. The writing reminded her of the scrawl on the kitchen window, but she tried to brush off this thought “impossible” she whispered.

As Leah read each page her heart sped up and her knees grew weak. This woman truly despised her family. Each week the hate grew stronger and more vehement. She seemed to obsess over it. Ethel wrote how disappointed she was with her brother who married into ‘such a truly despicable family’.  She wrote what a disgrace he was, how she warned him he would be disowned if he married ‘that Wilson girl’. Yet Leah could not find any reason for her hatred, no one had wronged Ethel...The diary carried on and explained how Ethel blamed Leah’s family for her mother’s suicide, ‘those  people drove mother to that atrocity!...mother was never happy about it, no, she told me she was horrified that he could marry so lowly...” Leah gasped, what was so terrible about her family? That they weren’t wealthy? She wondered how someone could commit suicide over something so trivial. Leah read pages and pages, Ethel dwelled on her hate for months, fixated on it, right up to the last entry, dated a week before her death ‘...yes, that disgraceful lot, they repulse me- them and all their offspring! Low class parasites that’s what they are...How dare they ruin my family. They killed my mother...I will have my revenge.” Leah read aloud, her mouth remained open after the last sentence. Was this her revenge? This cursed house? Her throat dried. She sat down into the chair before the desk and tried to collect her thoughts. “What the hell is going on?” she desperately questioned the empty room “what am I meant to do? I never did anything to that mad woman!” as the last word left her lips the chair she sat upon flew backwards. Leah hit the floor hard before she could even scream as she was flung into the air. She had landed face first. Raising her shaking hands to her face she realised it was covered in blood; her nose was bleeding heavily and throbbed with a hot pain. She cried aloud and looked frantically for the phone she had discarded; it was nowhere to be seen. The basement became colder, her hot breathe rose as clouds from her gasping mouth. All of a sudden the squeezing sensation on her neck returned, she screamed helplessly. It echoed around the room. The choking eased; she shot to her feet and whirled around in a powerless panic. Her mind flicked to her knife...where was it? Leah growled in anger as she realised she had put it down when she cut her hand.  Her pasty hands balled into fists but she felt defenceless against this intangible thing.

Leah’s eyes shot to the small window high up the wall and ran towards it, panting. She heard a soft bang and turned around; the diary lay open on the floor. The last page was open, Leah squinted down at it. A sudden boiling searing pain shot across her neck. Her mouth fell open, she reached up to her throat; it was slit across the side. She fell hard to the ground, her head smacking the bitter floor. Leah laid still; her eyes wide open in shock. Her breathing grew ever more short and shallow. Gradually it stopped. She lay silently as a thick crimson stream formed around her head, stretching slowly across the room. In its centre a line of concrete became visible. Then letters began to form in the red puddle...an indivisible finger sketching them out, carefully, slowly, one by one. It ceased. The room was deadly silent, dark. The words read ‘home sweet home’


© Copyright 2017 GemmaKilkenny. All rights reserved.

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