Disclaimer: I probably used the word "screamed" too much! I apologize if you find any parts especially redundant. This was written for school. The prompt was "Haunted House".
My bed was cold. It felt like it had not been touched in a year. The mattress was stiff and rusty and oddly listing to one side of the bed frame. The bed was swathed in dark blue linens. The linens were my own, carried with me from California, but even their comfortable familiarity could not guise the radiating aura of ice issuing from the frame.
My room was pleasantly decorated. It was a long, narrow rectangle with a circular bulge jutting out in a window seat at the far edge. The walls were papered a mellow sea green shade, which well suited the turquoise carpeting. It was a room that spoke of the ocean, with all its greens and blues.
I had become quite attached to the little room when I first saw it, but everything maintained a surface cold to the touch. I supposed the little house hadn't been lived in enough. I rolled over and slid out from under the covers. It was muggy in the summer night air.
I paced the soft carpet in my bare feet, restless.
Maybe I needed a drink of water.
I padded out into the hall, which was long and dark. The aged wood creaked softly under my footsteps. The upstairs bathroom was right across the hall. I had a bathroom attached to my room as well, but I wanted to move around more. Soft Hollywood lights popped on above the mirror. I liked this bathroom. The counter was smooth peppered marble in a sort of leopard pattern, with two dips of sinks below the long wall.
I splashed cool water on my face, sighing. Tomorrow maybe I could call my parents and sister to come and visit. That would give me something to do. Maybe then I would be less listless.
I paced back into the hall.
My door was closed. I gripped the brass handle and tugged. The door did not budge. I swiveled the handle sharply and yanked. I could feel the door shudder in its frame. I tried pushing. Nothing. The doors were weird in this house. Some opened inwards and some opened outwards, but all of them opened.
I leaned hard against the stiff wood. There wasn't even a lock on the bedroom doors, so how could they be stuck?
Perhaps the wood had swollen. I'd read somewhere that doors swell in the summer and get stuck in their frames. Or was that the winter? Suddenly I couldn't remember.
I shivered. I didn't need to sleep in my new room, but all my stuff was in there… the next morning I would hire someone to come take a look at it, I decided. In the mean time, I could use the guest bedroom across the hall. I sighed. While pleasant, the guest bedroom did not have any sheets.
The knob on the door to the guest bedroom was very much the same as my own, although slightly less tarnished. I ran my fingers against the tiny beaded rim of metal around the oval and pulled. Pushed.
Stared at the doors that wouldn't move.
It made no sense. I had been opening these doors with movers and lawyers for months! How was it that now the rooms simply refused to admit me?
I felt a strange sort of panic rise in my gut. I had just bought this house! It was my home. How could houses simply not work? What was I doing wrong? I kicked the door, my eyes leaking. A small, cold spark stung my fingers where they touched the knob and I yanked back.
Stop! I thought. You're overreacting. Calm down. It's just a door jam. Doors jam all the time.
Not twice in the same house.
Why not twice in the same house? Why can't lightning strike the same place twice? Every door has the same probability of getting jammed. Or I suppose it depends on the quality of the door.
Even if the probability of door jams are the same for two given doors in the same household, the event of them occurring at the same time on the same day is a thousand times less likely!
… So what?
The point is, these doors did just jam at the same time. So ha.
But how does that even work?
Don't fret about it. You can sleep on the sofa downstairs. In the morning you could even get your doors replaced.
Fine. Can't get locked out of a sofa.
I wished I'd brought a blanket or something, because even in mid August the house was drafty. The staircase to the lower level was a winding corkscrew that split and encompassed the front sitting area. I stepped onto the first aged plank. The creased wood seemed to mold to my feet. My toes looked long and ghostly in the night.
My second foot drifted to the second stair.
Suddenly the wood burned cold. I yelped and leaped back, stumbling. At the top of the staircase I crouched, rubbing the ice from my nerves. On the step in front of me there were threads that hadn't been there before. Steely, glinting threads, embedded in the grain, winked up at me. The strands glittered like the cold metal of my doorknob.
I dipped my finger to graze the metal. An icy heat sprung into flame on my finger tip and I cried out in pain. I was crying, then, without realizing it. I pulled off my nightshirt and placed it delicately on the first step. Nothing seemed to happen. I placed my foot on the soft cotton.
There was no cold. I sighed in relief and tossed the nightshirt to the step below that. Stretching my leg as far as it could go, I slid the nightshirt down three steps and pulled myself to a balance on it. I smiled triumphantly, tears streaming down my face. All I wanted was to leave. Get to the door, run to my car and drive.
I wanted to drive far away, all the way back to my parents' house. Anywhere but here, in my cold, empty house with burning stairs and locked doors.
I did a muffled little slide-hop on the nightshirt to the next step, clinging to the railing for support. Now to the fifth step. I started to wiggle my way to the edge of my stair, but the shirt slid ahead of me and left my feet flailing to find purchase. My heels clamped against the metal bars supporting the railing. My feet were slippery with sweat and had to maintain a constant dance against the bars.
I felt my muscles straining. Would it hurt to fall on the stairs? Perhaps. Maybe it was worth it just to jump over the railing to the floor below? But what if the downstairs floor was like that too? If I could just land on a carpet…
I didn't have an opportunity to further consider this, for there was a great groaning noise and the staircase shuddered and rattled. I wrapped my forearms around the railing and crooked my legs, squeezing for my life.
There was a roaring screeching sound and I saw the base of the staircase warp and tear. I screamed and fell back onto the unbearable coldness of the staircase. I screamed again and leaped for the top floor as the staircase contorted like a pained millipede and spiraled into strips of wood and metal. I inched away from the crashing stair.
With a deadened finality, the remaining planks of the staircase crashed to the floor. I peered over the edge, aching. On top of the rubble was my nightshirt, streaked and punctured with heavy lines of metal.
Bedroom. Bedroom. I ran to my door and pulled and pulled and pushed and kicked, screaming and sobbing. I didn't know what was going on. My house was falling apart. My house was dying. My house was killing me with it.
The door didn't open. I screamed and turned to the closet, the guest bedroom, anything. I wanted a window to jump out of, but all there was were a few skylights in the ceiling – too high for me to reach.
I turned the bathroom. I touched the door and pushed lightly.
It swung open, dark and beckoning. I stared. Goosebumps raised on my arms. This bathroom was the one place in my entire house I was being allowed to go. Suddenly I wanted very much not to go there.
Forget it, I thought. I'll just sleep out here in the morning. I tried not to think about the morning. At this point I had no way of leaving or contacting anybody. There was no hope in morning, other than the fact that maybe I was hallucinating and everything was fine.
I doubted that very much.
I didn't even care about sleep anymore, but I was not going in that bathroom.
Cold snaked under my ankles and I felt myself slide over the wooden floor.
The door swung dully shut and the lights clicked on.
The bathroom was different.
The walls were sharply metallic and angular with diamond-shaped panels echoing each other. The ceiling was dark and high, the pretty little lights woven with a smoky grey substance. The tile floor was intricately laced with silver diamonds snaking up against the powdery molding.
The mirror was huge, taller and deeper now, with intricate inlayed rims engraved in a thick metal frame. The surface of the mirror itself was darkened with a deep grey smoke that billowed infinitely into a foggy nothingness. I couldn't break my eyes away from the glass. I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck.
With a high groan the triangles seemed to flex backward, throwing light at jagged angles. The room was stretching, it seemed, fighting against its constraints. The mirror yawned its agreement, the smoke swirling hypnotically.
The counter and sink seemed to melt into the pulsing walls, leaving nothing but the mirror, which dripped down to cover the entire wall opposite me. I backed against the door, embracing the sensation of my spine turning to ice.
There was a flash.
I blinked. Panicked. There was something wrong. My eyes were fuzzy and hazy and distant and I felt light and disoriented… I tore away from the door and tripped into a wall, slumping to the tile floor. My vision swam and tried to refocus, to no avail. An ethereal curtain had painted itself upon my world. I squinted at the door, groping for the knob, ignoring the heavy pounding in my head.
The walls buckled. I tripped and spun and suddenly the mirror was there, in perfect clarity. The insides were clear of smoke, but the reflection remained devoid of light. I was afraid to look away.
Then something frightening happened.
Something in the mirror blinked.
In a painfully slow, fluid motion, the darkness lifted on two bright godly eyes. The eyes were sharp and intelligent and charged with an unearthly energy. An alien mix of some sort of hatred and rage bore through my chest. The eyes were no more than swollen irises swimming with molten gold.
The eyes found my face. The emotion intensified.
The pupils dilated. As they bloated, their edges melted and frayed into the topaz liquid surrounding them. Like an egg yolk dissolving in water, black fluid leaked into the glowing circles and the mirror faded…
I was in my bed.
I didn't question it. I didn't wonder it. I didn't bother to feel relief.
I flew to my doorknob and hesitantly poked the door, letting out a sob when it swung open. The bathroom door lingered hauntingly open, and I ran past it, trying to stifle a scream of terror as shivers wormed up my spine. I wheeled the corner to the stairs… which were solidly intact.
For some reason I was afraid to scream or cry, and I whisked down the stairs with frantic speed. The house was dark, but I didn't bother to turn on the lights to search for my shoes or purse. I wheeled around the corner and tore down the front hall…
The eyes stared at me with ghostly clarity.
They blinked slowly, mocking me.
I contorted with blind fear. The mirror stood against the door, completely omitting the entryway. I let down my jaw to scream.
There was a flash.
Tingles ran up my legs and across my palms in a sudden jolt of lightning. My head swam in a sudden disconnect from my limbs. I spun around, but my balance was to the left of my body and I tumbled to the floor. I squirmed to right myself, but my arms and legs jerked uncoordinatedly.
I raised my head from the ground.
The mirror was liquid smoke again, glowing from behind.
It illuminated a smoky silhouette, long and slender.
My head jerked in a garbled yell and I began to claw my way down the carpet. I dragged myself behind the curling staircase and crouched in the shadow of the lower steps. Perhaps I could make it to the back door, in the kitchen? I could run around to the front yard…
I had little optimism at this point, but when one is trapped in a horrible situation, there is a slight freedom in what one feels reasonable to attempt in their would-be escapes. Pausing for a moment to allow my head to clear, I dashed from behind the staircase past the living room.
Shivers crept up my spine as I stumbled against the chilled walls. The kitchen was so close, I could practically feel the polished tile beneath my bare feet. I lunged my arm against the corner between dining room and kitchen and swung my slippery legs around the corner, sliding into the island in the middle of the floor.
I gasped as the breath whooshed out of me. For a second I could only rest my cheek against the cold, soothing marble. I knew I could not delay, so I heaved my twitching arms from the counter and saw…
A ringing filled my ears, starting low and hesitant, but rising into a great penetrating shriek at high frequency. I clapped my hands to my ears and bent double, feeling those golden eyes smirking down on me. I slammed hard into the sink, the whine in my brain distorting my sense of balance.
The mirror sat embedded in the door frame as though it was part of the door, as if it was the door. The figure grew darker. The mirror grew lighter. The eyes grew brighter.
I ran to the dining room window and fumbled with the latch. The window groaned open. I stared at the inky blackness of the night, hesitating for just a second. Then I dug my knee into the wall and stuck my foot on the sill, ready to jump.
A grey stain bled from the right over the window. I leaped back, shaking. A hard oily substance was melting into the open air, sealing the window. I peered into the living room. The substance of the mirror was swirling its way over the house, like a bubble.
Nausea rose in my throat. The mirror wasn't chasing me around the house anymore, because the house was in the mirror. Steel and glass and stone dripped down the walls with a malevolent grace.
I turned back to the kitchen.
The figure from the mirror stood, in ghostly reality, in the doorway. The surface of its body was a shining pearly grey, constantly swimming into itself as if it were a highly viscous liquid rather than a solid. The eyes sparkled hungrily, the pupils now cat-like slits. It led a sluggish trail of metal bubbling in its footsteps as it glided into the room.
I crouched against the wall, wanting to melt into it. Running was useless. I couldn't leave the house. This thing would never slow down. I would though. It would catch me in the end.
My mind knew this in both acceptance and denial, but my survival instincts as a living thing would not allow myself to sit as the evil thrust itself upon me. I threw myself against the wall heavily, crying out as the metal coating stung its way to my bones. I shook at the windows and pounded the glass.
The whine in my ears died abruptly.
The liquid hand reached and grasped my forehead, clamping over my eyes.