WARNING: This is a PREQUEL to J.T. Warren's first horror

novel, Hudson House, which can be read by viewing his profile.

1

1981

Soon it would be Halloween. On that night, the house would show him what it really wanted, and how it would satisfy his every desire. The house on the corner of Mangle Lane and Jackson Avenue had stood for thousands of years, though none of the suburban neighbors surrounding it would have ever recognized the house as a holy sanctuary, as a gift from beyond, as a blessing from forces far greater than the human brain could even comprehend. For the residents of the Stone Edge Development, the house was just an abandoned building where teenagers sometimes gathered to drink and smoke pot and wasn't it past time for the Town Council to have the place condemned and razed already?

They didn't understand. They couldn't comprehend what the house offered because they had long ago shut out their minds to things of unlimited possibilities. For most people, the house was so far in the background it didn't even exist. They were too weak to let in the mighty forces that lived and pulsed through every inch of Hudson House. They let the towering evergreens surrounding it keep it separate from their lives. They walked or drove past it quickly. They never turned to admire the mighty oak tree in the front yard or the simple, yet inviting design known as the American Foursquare. Aging plywood that matched the gray tones of the sagging front porch covered the lower windows, but the third floor windows, dormers, were open and protruded from the house like engorged eyes. The house watched the world around it and for the one it invited to look back, the one who stared into those eyes, the house offered divine promise.

Hudson House would give him what he wanted, but only if he did its will.

Thy will be done. He smiled.

He walked down Mangle Lane slowly, though his heart pounded frantically. It was tough to control his excitement. He wanted to run there, fall to his knees beneath that oak tree and stare up at those third floor windows and declare his faith. Someone might notice and then the police would be involved and things could get difficult. If he did something so blatant, the house might still shield him, but he was in no position to test the power of Hudson House. That could come later.

First, the house demanded a sacrifice.

Wind pushed his coat open behind him like a cape. The brisk air soothed his hot flesh and filled his nostrils with the gloriously sweet aromas of apples and firewood and pumpkin pie. And beneath that pushing breeze was the undertow of the house. It pulled him closer with invisible arms that had gotten so much stronger as the hot summer melted into the cool fall.

The house was building its strength and it needed him to help.

Narrow flashlight beams crisscrossed back and forth inside the first floor.

He stood across from Hudson House on the opposite side of the street. Hands in his pocket, occasionally tipping back on his heels and gazing up at those open windows, he might have been an innocuous resident of this town just out for a stroll. He might have been like everyone else.

Except for the hot energy boiling inside him.

Except for the things he had to do.

Except for the blood that must be spilled.

Except for the almighty power he would soon wield.

Several teenagers erupted into laughter from inside the house. At least a few of the kids were girls. That gave him the chance to pick the best of the litter.

Thy will be done.

He moved across the street and toward the perimeter of the property where the evergreens stood as giant sentries.