House of Memories 2

Horror story written by aussj4link on Saturday 18, July 2020

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Description
A man seeks to find clues about several disappearances in a remote area. He finds them.

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2: The House
Alan studied the old, possibly hand-made sign. The wood was rotted, and metal bracings held the posts together. It had been repainted many times. Alan wondered why the owner just didn't go ahead and replace it. Alan looked at his phone to see what the internet and online maps said, but no such place came up at all. According to maps, this road didn't exist. Street View showed the sign and the dirt road a little ways ahead, but not much else. He did however notice a man in dark clothing standing on the dirt road some distance away from the main road. The man seemed to be staring directly at the camera, though facial features could not be made out as privacy protection laws required the site to blur the face. At the man's side, there appeared to be something metallic but the low quality made it impossible to tell what it was. Alan decided he would visit this lodge and see if perhaps it's owners knew anything about the disappearances that the other locals hadn't already told him. He was hopeful because in all the public police reports he never found a single mention of this place despite it's proximity to the disappearances. Alan found the dirt driveway a short ways up from the sign and turned in. It was obvious that this dirt road had not been driven often. Nature had almost fully retaken parts with vegetation and debris covering most of the road. A worry that he might run over a nail or something out here came over him. Alan half expected to find an abandoned lodge and nothing to show for this except wasted time. He also felt a bit uneasy looking into the darkening woods around him as he drove. It was now fast approaching nightfall as the sun now turned the sky in the west to a bright orange. He thought, after this, he would head back to the motel to get a fresh start in the morning. A short ways down the dirt road, he came upon what appeared to be the lodge. A single car was parked near the entrance. Alan parked next to the car and immediately noticed the tires were all slashed. A large amount of dust and debris from trees covered the car. Alan assumed the car had not been driven, possibly for years, by the looks of it. Stepping out of the car, Alan immediately noticed the air was heavy with humidity and had a slight metallic scent, almost like copper. The sun was now setting with only a few rays of light passing through the trees. The lodge looked as though no one had been keeping it's condition up for many years. This would have lead Alan to suspect he may just be approaching an abandoned property, but he saw a couple of lights on in upstairs windows and heard muffled voices from inside. Before approaching, he grabbed his jacket and a taser he had bought a few months back but had never used, and walked up the porch to the front door. Most places of business had clear view windows with which to welcome new customers. This place's windows were all covered. Although he couldn't tell what was being said, he heard three different muffled voices coming from inside the large house. Alan knocked on the door, not really knowing what to expect. Immediately, the voices stopped and he heard some shuffling toward the front door. He kept the taser under his jacket as it rested on his right arm. The door had pane glass in the shape of a cross frame window. Curtains from the other side shifted to reveal a short old woman peering through at Alan. The woman's gaze was almost scowl at first but then immediately turned to an expression of surprise. The door opened quickly and the old woman said, "Come in, come in! Haven't had a guest in quite some time!" She seemed very excited and happy to see a potential customer as she ushered him in with a smile. Alan immediately got the impression it was an act as her behavior was a little over the top. Right away, Alan knew something was wrong a. His grip tightened on the taser and he did everything he could to not leave his back exposed as he entered. "Thank you. I'm actually just passing through." Alan said with a fake smile as he scanned the interior. A rug covered most of the very dark brown wooden floor leading from the front door to a large candle lit desk with a shelf of keys behind it. A few chairs lined the corner to his right. He saw a small living area behind a large doorway that had no door at the far wall. Behind the door was a yellow glow, likely from a lamp. Another door was behind and to the right of the desk, he saw a shadow move that indicated someone was inside. And finally, to the left of the desk, there was a large set of stairs leading to the second story of the house. A small glow crept around the corner from the top of the stairs. The old woman quickly shut the door behind him and then quickly shuffled ahead to the front desk. "A room for one?" She asked as she picked up a pen and ledger. "No no, I'm just passing through, really. Looking for information about the area and then I'm heading back to the motel I already rented. Thank you, though." Alan replied. "Ah, well, would you like to sit and have some tea?" She asked. Alan felt very much as though she was trying to keep him there. "I suppose. Thank you." Alan replied as she waved him to a table in the living area. This room was lit by a few oil lamps as well, Alan had begun to wonder if the place really did come from the past where electricity was non existent. The angles of the lamps casted abstract shadows across the walls. There was 4 large windows along the outer walls but all of them had their curtains closed. The wood floors creaked loudly under his weight as he walked over and sat down at a table that already had a small candle burning in it's center. When the old lady moved across the floor, it made no sound whatsoever, this only put him further on edge. He made sure not to loosen his grip on the taser and jacket, nor did he turn his back to any area he could not see. Alan lightly sat down on the wooden chair, noticing it and the table had been repaired several times as patches and glue were obvious on the legs. The windows were simple pane glass that could be broken easily. If need be, he could throw a chair through and escape quickly. Alan pulled his phone out of his pocket and started recording audio. Alan had just put his phone away when the old woman came into the room with two cups of tea. "Let's get some more light in here shall we?" The old woman said as she put the cups down on their table and then grabbed an electric lantern from a far corner and turned it on. Surprisingly, the small lantern illuminated the room much better than all the oil lamps. At this point, Alan could see the old woman considerably better and noticed she seemed to be quite pale with a very frail frame covered by a somewhat bulky dress. The dress was not modern by any means and it too had obvious signs of repeated repair. Alan thought she was just the type not to go with the times and instead live in her time only. "Electricity hard to come by here?" Alan asked as he looked up at a small unlit light that hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room. "Well, sort of. The mainlines don't come out this way anymore, though we do have a generator in the basement. We conserve the fuel as we don't get very much very often." She said as for just a small brief moment, she looked down as if very sad. Then she immediately looked back up returning to her seemingly forced cheerful attitude. She sat down across from Alan and said, "I am Granny Florence and I own this little place in the woods." She then reached out her right hand to shake. Alan's right hand was hidden by his jacket still clutching the taser, so he had no choice but to use his left hand. Alan realized in that moment that Granny Royce was not oblivious to the fact he kept his right hand hidden. With an awkward handshake, Alan immediately noticed her hand was very cold. He decided not to draw attention to that and said, "My name is Mike. I work in real estate and I'm looking into this area for some possible future developments. " Alan said, deciding to ditch the private detective act this time as he felt it was not safe to possibly make himself a target. He figured being in real estate would help explain away any suspicion about why he would be asking questions for the area. "Well Mike, what would you like to know?" Royce asked as she took a sip of her tea. When she pulled the cup back from her mouth, Alan noticed her lips seemed to have become a darker red, as if the tea put more color in, somehow. "Well, I'd like to get some history. I've read online about the area, but I haven't had the chance to talk to locals and really get personal views. Is there anything you could tell me, that I wouldn't find in public records?" Alan asked and then heard the sounds of steps above from the second story of the lodge. This seemed to indicate that this was either a working establishment, of which he was hopeful, or a family of psychos. "Well, I've been here nearly my whole life. The lodge was built a little over 100 years ago. My late husband and I took the business from my aunt after she passed away. This place had all the business in the world before they moved the highway and took all the traffic with it." Royce said as she took another sip of her tea. Again, Alan noticed a brief change in her lip's complexion. "Oh, that's good tea." She said as she glanced at Alan's cup. Alan was not going to drink it. "Yes, I read about that. I bet it's been rough ever since then. How's business fairing these days?" Alan asked, hoping to get some indication of foul play. He wondered how they got supplies this far from everything especially not being visible on any online maps. "Well, we don't get too many customers these days, but we do get by. Speaking of which, if you stay, I'll give you a much better deal than whatever motel you already have, anything we can get helps a lot." She said with an almost pleading tone. It was obvious she desperately wanted him to stay and now Alan was sure he wanted to investigate this place, but from a much safer perspective than sitting inside the lion's den. "You keep saying 'we'. Didn't you say your husband had passed?" Alan said trying to get a bead on how many people were here as well as find any possible holes in her story. "Oh I do have a couple of helpers. They're upstairs right now as well as a couple of guests. I have a very nice room you could get for a very good price and in the morning, you could ask me all the questions you need, deary." She said with a smile. Alan then heard the sound of a chair sliding back in the room behind the desk that he first noticed when he entered the lodge. "Thank you for the offer. How about instead, I make a donation to help out and I'll come back in the morning to ask more? I left most of my stuff at the motel, anyway." Alan replied and then began standing up. "Well, I'll give you the room, free of charge. I'd hate to see you have to drive all the way back. You look tired and these old roads are not kind to weary drivers. Please, stay here the night, I assure you, no one will bother you. We're all very quiet people." She said as she also stood up to nearly beg him to stay. When she stood, she appeared to briefly wince, as if in intense pain. "Here's a hundred for your trouble." Alan said and pulled out his wallet and handed her the money. He had far more than that in his wallet, but he figured most people couldn't actually spare more than that and he didn't want to give away that he was rich. "Thank you for your time, I'll return in the morning to speak more and perhaps I'll spend the night tomorrow. As it is, I really must get back to the motel. Thank you." He said with a smile designed to convey honesty. He hoped that saying all that would allow him to leave and not have to fight his way out, should Florence sick her "helpers" on him as he tried to leave. Just as he smiled, he heard the sudden grinding sound of metal on metal coming from outside where his car was parked. He quickly went to the front window, still keeping Florence in the corner of his eye. She looked almost terrified as she stood there silently watching him with the money still in hand. Pulling back the curtain to see out, it was now pitch black night and he could see nothing beyond the glass. Quickly, he pulled his phone out and turned on the flashlight. He shown the light into the darkness and saw the lawn along with his car. The tires were flat and a large gash was made down the entire passenger side. "Shit!" Alan exclaimed as he quickly turned from the window and went toward the main entrance. Florence was still staring with a frightened expression, not saying a word, but just as he was about to open the front door, she yelled, "If you open that door, you will die!" A rough screech was in her voice as she yelled that revealed obvious desperation. Alan, stopped with his hand on the knob. He slowly turned to face her, half expecting her to have a gun pointed at him, she did not. Instead, she was standing at the doorway to the living area, tears had welled in her eyes and her hands were clasped tightly at her sides. "Why?" Alan asked, he was now very serious and his tone mirrored it. "Because it's what he does." A male voice responded from the backroom. In the doorway to the room behind the desk stood the silhouette of a man leaning up against the door frame with his arms crossed. Alan gripped the taser more tightly and briefly wondered if the sweat from his hands could somehow cause him to be electrocuted. Alan squinted to see the man, but the dark lighting made it impossible to discern any detail. The man seemed to notice Alan's squint and stepped forward into more of the light from the foyer. In that moment, Alan recognized the man immediately. "Calvin Davidson? You're one of the people who has been missing for decades." Alan said, not believing his own words. Calvin was one of the people Alan had researched and knew the man disappeared almost a century ago. He had seen many pictures of the man and recognized him instantly as the spitting image of those old photos. "Yeah, about nine decades now." Calvin said as he stepped more into the light, revealing a very large wound beginning at his neck and running down his chest and behind his clothes. "And you'll become missing too if you go out that door."
   

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    "Alan stopped the vehicle to take a closer look at the sign. It appeared to have been made by hand, from scratch. The sign was actually well maintained, however, it appeared very old. The wood it was made from was clearly rotted, though metal bracings had been made to hold the posts together. The paint had also been redone many times. Alan wondered why anyone would attempt to maintain such a sign rather than simply constructing a new one. "
    This is a really rough paragraph. It seems is if you are trying to give a nice description of the sign, and you go overboard. A well-maintained sign does not consist of rotted wood. The use of however is completely unnecessary. What you have is way too many words describing an old sign.

    Try something like this:
    "Alan studied the old, possibly hand-made sign. The wood was rotted, and metal bracings held the posts together. It had been repainted many times. Alan wondered why the owner just didn't go ahead and replace it."

    How's that?
    Really enjoying this story, your descriptions are really good and a nice little cliffhanger at the end of the chapter. Well done.
    Thank you for the response, kt. I was doing my best there to convey that while the sign was very old and clearly rotted, someone had been continuously doing their best to keep it up instead of simply making a new sign. I do like your way of putting it better though. It's shorter and more straight to the point than mine. I often have trouble explaining things like this in more succinct ways. I often rewrite a paragraph over and over but always feel like I didn't describe it right which will lead to confusion later in the story.

    Thanks, IndecentAccident. I will have the 3rd chapter up shortly. I'm just going through it now doing my best to proof read, but despite all my efforts I often miss things anyway, hence why I am here hoping to get help lol.