He had no idea how much time had passed. It didn't matter. Hudson House made its own time. When he eventually left here, when the sacrifice had been made, he would walk back to his house and sleep. He would feel as if no time had passed at all, though several lifetimes might have bloomed into existence and been shattered to bits in that time. The house controlled those things, so he didn't have to worry about it.

He couldn't tell if he was sitting of standing. The evergreens had taken him in, absorbed him, hidden him. He was somewhere on the outer edges of what most people considered reality. He was on the cusp of penetrating the far deeper worlds where this house ruled as the almighty. Soon. Very soon.

A young man in a suit was walking a dog past the house. The man stopped to appreciate the house and jealousy raged within him. Who was this asshole in a suit with a stupid dog on a leash? He had no right to look at Hudson House. It was mine. Mine!

The man rubbed his eyes and yawned. He shook the leash. "Come on, already."

The dog was sniffing at the edges of the lawn which had overgrown enough for people to say, shouldn't somebody cut that? but not enough to any of them to want to go far enough to see the job handled. The grass would grow no longer. The house knew what it was doing. People didn't want to see the house and it didn't want them to, either. Only the chosen ones.

Only him.

The dog stepped onto the grass as if afraid the ground might give way at any second. Perhaps it would. Perhaps it would swallow both the dog and his asshole owner. Serve them right for looking at his house.

Laughter erupted inside the house. The flashlight beams shot out around the plywood-covered windows like a sunrise in a magical world.

The man stared at the house for a moment longer and then turned back to his dog. "Are you gonna go or you a tease like your damn mother?"

The dog looked up, tilted its head.

"Well?"

More laughter from inside and the sounds of a scuffle. Maybe the teenagers would beat each other into bloody near-lifeless masses. That would make things easier, though it would ruin much of the fun.

The dog whined.

"It's grass. Piss! Shit! Do what comes naturally."

The young man shoved the dog all the way onto the grass. It froze. Then its back legs started to shake and the hair on the back of its neck stood up in a large puff. The dog growled almost inaudibly.

"Hell's wrong with you? Are you gonna piss or what?"

The young man yanked on the leash and the dog yelped. The sound echoed down the block. The dog jumped off the lawn and ran into the street. It pulled the young man after it. A moment later, they were at the corner and then gone somewhere down Jackson Avenue.

Dogs might sense the power but their owners certainly didn't. The young man hadn't noticed the beams of light at the windows or heard the laughter from inside. The house kept those things contained. But not for him. The house wanted him to see and hear everything. He was the chosen one. This house was his destiny.

He took the knife out of his pocket. It felt heavy and fit his palm perfectly. Like it had been created only for him.