The Burning House

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Read it twice.

Submitted: July 30, 2012

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Submitted: July 30, 2012



She started to look at her watch and panicked at the time. She was late.

But for what?

Part I: The Burning House

My name is Michael, and this is a story you are not supposed to understand, and I’ll tell you it how I remember it, what I did, what I saw. The kitchen light was left on when I entered the house for the first time in seventeen years. The stale smell of moth balls filled the house; the dusty plastic coated the old floral furniture. I tried the lights but it was a long shot. The memories kept flashing through my head. I could start to see the lights on, me and my sister running across the living room into the kitchen, chasing each other around the island in the kitchen. I could smell the cookies my mother used to bake. But all of a sudden it went dark, I could hear my sisters screams as I ran towards her and saw my father standing over my collapsed mother with a knife, the blood dripping off of it as subtle as the taste of vinegar. My eyes filled with tears as the memory faded into the back of my mind. The darkness covered me as I started my way to the center of the house. You could tell that no one had been there for years; the way the dust settled on the floor, hadn't been walked on in those seventeen years.

I put my hand in my pocket and grabbed the matchbook. The tears streamed down my face, I could still hear the screams in the back of my head. The memories started again. I could see my father starting after my sister as I jumped in the way and pushed him over, his head hit the counter in the kitchen and he fell to the floor, sort of shaking as the blood rushed from his head. The clinking of the knife used to kill my mother sent chills through my body. I stood there and watched him convulse into the fire abyss that he would soon enter. The smoke alarm started to go off when the cookies started to burn. The neighbor came running in with my sister at his side. He grabbed me by my head and covered my eyes immediately, but what I saw could not be unseen. My mother, my father, both bloodied and dead.

I had to snap back to reality, I was there for a specific reason, and had to stick to my task at hand. I took a match and struck it against the book; I lit a red candle sitting on a coffee table in the living room. I took the gas can I had brought with me and started to coat the house. I heard a loud bang from outside and started to rush, I could only cover half the house, the worst half. I could still hear my sister’s screams in the back of my head; forever haunting me into this dementia. I began to scream. Screaming so loud that the veins in my head started to show, the blood vessels in my eyes burst and this overwhelming feeling of pain flooded my head.

The second match I lit, I just starred at it until it burned my fingers and I had to drop it. I finally took the third match and lit the rest of the book on fire. I threw it into the gasoline and smiled as the house started to catch. It only took a few moments for the house to catch fire after I dropped the match; my childhood nightmares to go up in flames. The smoke coated my lungs, burned my eyes and dyed my skin. I started to cough and fell to my knees. The feeling of darkness overwhelmed my body. There was no bright white light, there was no angels singing hallelujah, just darkness. That darkness creeps over you, consuming you like a cloak of depression, weighing you down, sinking you further into that dark cavity known as death. The screams started to fade, my job here was done.

Part II: I should have told her

The snow on the ground couldn't help Brianna from sweating. Her head still hurting over the car accident she had been in a day earlier. She was slowly gaining her memory of that night back, she was told that she crashed her car and was found next to a burning house when the police and fire trucks arrived. She thought a walk outside of the hospital would help her remember, but nothing came to light. As she entered her room she could hear the doctor tell her sister that her memory was fading and that she may never get it back. Brianna pushed the door open the rest of the way and the doctor greeted her and walked away. Her sister was in tears knowing that sooner or later, Brianna may not remember her.

The only thing Brianna knew was that she had to attend my funeral, the funeral of her dead lover. Brianna and I were connected at a level that no one could understand. Her devotion to me was unbreakable. It crushed her that I had married someone else, my widow Linda, and it crushed her that we both knew Linda was cheating on me too. She never saw the irony.

Brianna’s sister had set out her pills and clothes for her to attend the funeral. After getting dressed she took a cab to the funeral home. The funeral was bleak, the man that owned the home had been infamous around town for being psychotic, but I had requested this be my burial site in my will. He was a childhood mentor of mine, the man that taught me to reserve my anger and hide the fears from everyone.

She could only see in black and white while the tears rolled down her face. The whole thing seemed to move by in slow motion as my family and friends strolled by the closed casket. She had to stay quiet, slightly crying off in a corner where my widowed wife couldn't see her crying. The funeral wasn't making her as sad as the flashes of fire and smoke ran through her mind like an uncompleted picture album. The slight pinch in her neck and the raging migraine constantly reminded her that she was in the crash and it wasn’t all a hallucination or a dream like she had hoped. She was still trying to remember what made her crash. But no luck.

Brianna avoided all eye contact with Linda, in fear that she would be recognized from old pictures that I kept from college where we met. She couldn’t control her sobs and was often asked if she needed anything, but Brianna was too strong willed to accept anything. I loved Brianna as much as she loved me; I would always bring her things to keep her smiling. Everything from jewelry to stuffed animals. I constantly promised her that we would be together, this time for real. But that was the least of my worries at the time. When I wasn't with Brianna I could feel the ghosts haunting me, the darkness taking over, seemingly reproducing my childhood nightmares over again in attempt to make drive me insane. It worked. Brianna was the only person in my life that could take my mind off the nightmares, and maybe that is why I loved her the way I did, but as I lay in that casket, I felt a sigh of relief come over me. The ghosts couldn't haunt me any longer, they couldn't scare me anymore, they couldn't take what I didn't have anymore, my sanity.

Brianna was still sitting in a vacant corner when Linda approached her and asked her why the hell she was there. Brianna could only catch her breath long enough to say sorry, and run out of the funeral home and down the street. She never knew how difficult it would be to explain herself. She had always wanted to confront Linda; she just never had the courage. Linda was a strong woman with a strong presence. She had known about Brianna for a few months and never bothered to tell me, but you learn a lot getting watch people when you’re dead.

As Brianna ran down the street the overwhelming feeling of loss clouded her mind in ways she had never felt before. Her bones shook constantly, regardless of any of the anxiety pills her doctor had prescribed her. Brianna has had anxiety for a long time, but never this bad. Everything reminded her of me, but she couldn’t figure out why I had set the house on fire, she couldn’t figure out what made her crash. Her constant attacks weren’t helping her memory either. She wanted nothing more but to burst into my house and take something to remind her of me, but she had no Idea where I lived. I thought it was best that way.

I had never told her or Linda about my childhood or any of the horrible things I had to witness. They thought my parents died in a bus accident when I was younger and I had a healthy childhood. That’s why I had a good career, a big house and a fancy car. In reality, I had always thought those things would bring me happiness and hopefully drown out the screams I constantly heard.

I should have told her.

Part III: Murder-Suicide

The day after the funeral Brianna received a phone call about a murder-Suicide. Brianna was a reporter for the daily; she had the crime beat so death didn’t bother her much, until I had died. As she pulled up at the scene her eyes were bloodshot and dry; dry because after crying for so long, you can't seem to produce anymore tears. The story was the same old song and dance. The police assumed that the husband couldn't take the mundane life-style anymore, killed his wife and then himself. The only thing that caught her attention was the stuffed teddy bear sitting on the porch. Everyone she asked said there were no children, so why was there a stuffed bear? She had to have it, so she took it. There was something so familiar about it.

It took about an hour to write the first line of the story. She couldn't seem to get that bear off her mind. As she glanced through the crime-scene photos, the clock was ticking and eventually hit two in the morning. She gazed off into the distance and thought about what that bear could mean. Maybe he had come home with that bear as a present for his wife and saw her cheating on him with some man. After he scares him away, he tries to work it out but becomes too frustrated to deal with it and can't help himself. He would get his gun and shoot her, walk down the hallway and realize what he had done and then killed himself. Her memory was still faded; she had to take another couple pills for the headache, much more than prescribed, but she didn’t care what happened at this point, she just wanted to get some sleep.

She woke up in a sweat, screaming. She seemed to have these dark figures haunting her in her sleep; they were all too familiar to me. She sat up and looked at the bear sitting across from her; it was raining for the first time in months. The memories started to come back to her a little bit more, she stared at the bear a little more and couldn’t help but think about the wife that cheated on the man at the scene the night before and how Linda cheated on me and used me, how she deserved the same fate. She could hear those same voices in her head that plagued me telling her what she had to do. But was it those pills talking? Maybe it was the anxiety driving her into the same place I was in. She threw her raincoat over herself and grabbed her keys. It was time.

She opened her computer and typed my name into a search engine in a desperate attempt to find my address. With no luck she slammed the computer shut. Then she saw just behind the computer a letter. A letter I had left there a few weeks ago that I got from work about any address or emergency contact changes. She grinned as she opened her safe and grabbed her gun, she had never actually fired it, and it was a just-in-case sort of thing. She grabbed the bear and got in the car she couldn’t seem to remember picking up yet.

It was now pouring down rain as she stood at the door in her drenched raincoat, holding that pistol. She softly set the bear on the porch then slowly entered the house; quiet enough to be certain not to raise any alarm. Linda was lying on the bed, asleep. My thoughts are, she never felt a thing. She didn't feel the three bullets lunge into her chest; she wouldn't feel her lungs fill up with blood, simulating that drowning experience she probably didn’t feel the darkness consume her like it did me. As Brianna turned and started to leave the house, a man came running out of the kitchen at her, her only option was to kill him too, she didn’t want to leave any witness’. He laid there, bullet wound to the head, blood drifting out of his cranium like a soft fountain at a park. She dropped the gun at his side and started to run. Her memory was starting to come back to her.

She got in her car and rushed home, she didn't have much time. She sat down at her computer and started typing. The blood on her hands stained the keys, but she didn't care. It would be the last story she'd ever write. She could hear the voices in her head tell her what to type, she started to see the complexity behind the situation that none of us saw before. She posted the story to the site and took a few more pills and started to drive wherever her mind told her to go. After a few miles she started to realize where she was and where she was heading. The dots started to connect themselves.

If she could get there in time, she could change everything.

As she approached the place where her tortured lover died. Her phone started to ring as her editor was calling her. He kept going off, asking if she was losing her mind, that she couldn’t expect to ramble about fate and time paradox’s and get paid. She just threw her phone in the backseat and put all of her concentration on to the road. The watery-snow on the ground was slick. She could feel her heart racing. She was in a panic because she started to realize what was happening, her memory was clear now, she knew she was getting close.

She started to have flashes of our first date, the first kiss and all of the better times that we had shared. The tears coated her eyes she could barely see, the car began to lose control. She wound up in a ditch, hitting her head on the steering wheel. She could already feel her memory start to fade. She crawled out of the car and after struggling for a few moments she found her balance and started to jog, slowly turning into a run as she gained her balance. She could see the smoke from where she was. She started to cry, she kept thinking to herself "Why me? Why does this have to keep happening to me?" She could start to see the flames. She kept running towards them thinking if she got there in time, she could save me and stop this from happening again. She could be with her love again. Her memory started fading even more from the accident.

She started to look at her watch and panicked at the time. She was late.

But for what?

© Copyright 2018 Matthew Ryan Mullins. All rights reserved.

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