House of Memories 4
DescriptionA man seeks to find clues about several disappearances in a remote area. He finds them.
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4: ProblemsAlan quickly stood up. It was one thing to see Calvin's cut, after all, special effects are pretty good these days, but missing half a head... that was a magic trick he didn't know. The woman, with one green eye, glared at Alan as she said, "These people don't know what they're talking about. They've never seen anyone leave this place once they enter... Stop staring at me." She said as she turned her missing part away. Alan was at a loss for words. Surely this whole thing was fake, yet he still felt ashamed for staring at her. Finally he muttered "Sorry." "Nobody has ever survived the night and tried to leave in the morning either." Florence said to the woman. "Mike, it's okay, we're harmless." She said, obviously reacting to Alan's nervous gaze at the woman. "This is Melinda. She's been with us for a few years now." "There is no reason why he won't kill you the moment you walk outside tomorrow, and then you'll be just like us." Melinda said. "What... Who is he?" Alan said, finally beginning to believe in the possibility of what they were claiming. Just as he asked, the loud sound of glass shattering coming from out front stole their attention. Expecting to find more damage to his car, Alan ran to the window to pull back the curtain. Instead of finding his car in even worse shape however, he found two wide yellow eyes staring at him from directly on the other side of the window. In his surprise, Alan fell back onto the floor. His jacket fell from his hand when he hit the floor, exposing the taser to the others. Alan quickly scrambled to his feet when laughter that sounded almost like high pitched cackling came from outside. The yellow eyes were gone from the window but the laughter seemed to become quieter and louder rapidly, as if the sound was moving away hundreds of yards and back in split seconds but there was no way anything could move that fast. It faded after a few moments, leaving Alan shaking with adrenaline. Florence walked over to help Alan up as she said, "Oh, I had hoped that was a gun. You might have had a better chance tomorrow." "Still want to leave right away?" Calvin said as he turned to walk out of the room. Melinda had already left, likely as soon as the curtain had been opened. Alan stood there, speechless and dumbfounded. He picked up his jacket and looked toward Royce, but had nothing to say. No longer having the benefit of gun's illusion, he put the taser away, now feeling foolish for using the way he had. "Sit down, Michael." Florence said. "I'll get you some tea, no drugs." Alan had no real reason to distrust her now as it was clear they could easily subdue him now without the need for poisons and deception. He sat back down, this time, at a table further from the windows. He couldn't help but glance up at the windows every few seconds. All of Alan's confidence about this situation evaporated. He held the taser in his hand, with now it doing nothing but showing him how helpless he really was. He put it and his jacket on the table and sighed. Alan shakingly withdrew his phone from his pocket and turned it on. It still showed no signal at all, not even a roaming emergency signal for dialing 911. His GPS was on, but it couldn't get his location either. So instead, he went through his pictures. Alan tapped his camera roll and the first picture was the one he had taken a screenshot of earlier. It was when he was looking at the street view of the dirt road leading to the lodge. The man with yellow eyes, wearing all black, stood in the middle of the road, in broad daylight. Florence returned with the tea and set it in front of Alan. He looked up and said, "Leaving during the day won't work." He said as he turned the phone to show her. She looked at the picture and her face became grim. "There he is, standing there in the day. There's no reason he won't attack, regardless of the time." Alan said as he shut off the screen and put the phone down. Alan looked down at his tea, the tag on the teabag had a brand he didn't recognize. That was when he realized, that it was unlikely anyone was bringing in supplies. If this place really was a death trap for the better part of the last century, then any food they had, is long spoiled and gone. He took a sip of the tea and his worries only grew. The tea was very bitter and almost sour. "Oh, let me get some sugar." Florence said as she went into the back and came back with an unmarked bag of sugar. "We have lots of sugar, haven't used it since... Well, we can't taste anything anymore." "What all do you have?" Alan asked, expecting an answer he would dread. Florence's face became grim as she said, "Don't worry too much about all that. We'll get you home safely in no time. For now, just enjoy your tea." Alan's fears were confirmed. He was living on short time. If the killer did not get him, starvation eventually would. He had to get a signal somehow, but he was afraid to turn on his phone needlessly and waste the battery. Alan decided to try an old trick to getting a signal and get to a higher elevation. "I need to get a signal. How high up can I get in here?" He asked as he stood up, looking toward the stairs in the lobby. "We have an old attic. But if you go up there, please don't disturb the others. They are much worse than Calvin and I. You'll find the pull down stairs at the end of the hallway on the second floor." Florence said and then sat down. "I'll be right back." Alan said. He walked into the lobby passed the room where Calvin sat at a table. Alan briefly glanced inside to see Calvin staring right at him from his table as Alan passed by. He was unwilling to give up and believe he was going to die here. Who knows, maybe this was all some kind of hallucination brought on by some chemical in the air. If he could get outside help, all of this might make sense again and he'd find out he was never in any real danger. Alan reached the bottom of the stairway and saw a glow coming from the 2nd floor. If he still suspected Florence and Calvin of being disingenuous, then walking up these stairs would be a serious gamble. He decided to take a stand, stop being indecisive and trust them completely for now, and put his bet on their word. Alan slowly climbed the creeky stairs. At the top of the stairs, he saw a hallway lit by several candles lining the sides and one lantern to the side, sitting on a small table at arms reach. Alan figured this was meant to be picked up and used here. Single-digit numbered doors lined the hallway with an old brown rug stretching from end to end. At the end of the hallway, a dark window with a small table and flower pot was barely illuminated. Above it, he could see the outline of a rectangle he suspected to be the attic hatch. Alan pulled out his phone and held it up as high as he could, hoping for something from this height. The screen turned on but still had no signal. Alan sighed, put his phone back in his pocket and picked up the lantern. Right as he picked up the lantern, he heard a soft male sob come from one of the rooms. Alan almost jumped and thought the timing was strange. After a small hesitation, Alan began walking down the hall. As he passed by one room marked "6" he heard what he hoped was just a hallucination. There was no mistaking it however, he heard the short cry of an infant come from the other side. The sound made him jump and then look toward the door. The cry he heard sounded as though it came from directly on the other side, as if someone holding a baby was looking through the keyhole at him. The idea made him even more nervous and so he pressed on, quickly moving away from the door and down the hall. Alan reached the end of the hallway and saw the window. It wasn't just dark, something was blocking visibility from the other side. It appeared to be a black curtain, stapled to the window frame from outside. Alan thought this was strange and made a mental note of it. Looking up, Alan saw the hatch. He couldn't quite reach the handle, so he put the lantern on the floor to the side and moved the table from the window to stand on. The table was a bit unstable, but Alan was desperate to get to the attic. Alan stood on the table, devoting all of his concentration to his balance. With a shaky hand, he reached up, grabbed the handle and pulled the hatch door down. Dust immediately fell onto his face and in his eyes. He faltered for a split second but quickly regained his balance as he pulled the door the rest of the way down. He stepped down off the table, pulling the handle with him. Attached to the ceiling hatch, were stairs. He pulled it down to the floor and the base of the stairs rested on the floor with a small click. "What are you doing?" A woman's voice came from behind him, startling him as he turned toward the voice. Melinda stood behind him a short ways down the hall. The large missing part of her head, was just as unnerving and attention stealing as when he first laid eyes on it downstairs in the living area. He quickly forced himself to turn back to the stairs. "I'm trying to get as high up as possible to try for a signal. I don't have a lot of battery left so I have to do this now." Alan said as he turned back to the attic. "It won't make any difference, I tried that a few years ago." She said with obvious disapproval. "Well, I have a different phone than you and perhaps a different carrier. I might be able to get something. Besides,-" Alan started to climb the stairs with the lantern in hand. "-there's no reason not to try." Alan did not give Melinda a chance to object again and ascended the stairs into darkness. The stairs strained under each step and Alan was afraid they would give way from under him. He quickened his ascent until he was off the stairs and onto the firm attic floor. He held the lantern up to reveal the interior of the attic. The roof was high enough that there was no need to hunch over anywhere. Alan wondered if someone had cleaned recently as the attic walls and ceiling were devoid of cobwebs and other signs of pest life. Alan walked deeper into the darkness. He saw a round window at the far wall where a very small amount of moonlight poured in. Alan had only taken a few steps toward the window when his foot struck something soft on the floor. He stumbled and almost lost his balance but managed to catch himself. He looked down to see that a leg was what he kicked. Alan angled the lantern to see the rest of the body and was struck by intense confusion as he immediately recognized the corpse of Calvin. The body was laid in the position of the letter "T", face up with the eyes closed. The same wound, from neck to navel, was apparent. The sound of the stairs behind him creaked. He turned to see Melinda walking up the stairs and entering the attic. "Melinda, look." Alan called to her and gestured to the corpse. "Hang on, still adjusting to the dark." She said as she walked toward Alan. She looked down and said, "What? It's a floor, most attics have them." "Wha- what? It's a body and it looks exactly like Calvin." Alan said, thinking Melinda was being facetious. He looked down again and noticed another hand at the edge of the lanterns glow. The hand was aligned with Calvin's right hand, almost touching. He raised the lantern closer to see the other hand belonged to another corpse. This corpse was a woman Alan did not recognize. She lay in the same cross position as Calvin, with their feet next to each other and their outstretched arms pointed toward each other, as if to create a pie. "Mike, there is nothing there. You are staring at bare floor." Melinda then said under her breath, "Great, he's already crazy." Alan gave her a confused look and then decided to return to the task at hand. He walked around the bodies and headed for the window. In the corner of his eye, he noticed more bodies in the same position, but pressed on without investigating further. "Don't call me that." Alan said as he reached the window and put the lantern on the floor. "What, crazy? Wouldn't be the first time this place has done that to someone." "No, don't call me 'Mike'. My name is Alan." He said as he squinted through the window and pulled his phone out. Melinda chuckled and said, "Are you that paranoid that you always tell people fake names?" "I made up Mike so that people wouldn't be able to trace me back to this place after I was done." "Done with what?" Melinda asked with the tone of scold. "Done trying to figure out what happened to several people who went missing in this area over the last century... You're one of them." Alan said, holding the phone up as high as he could. The screen still showed no signal, but seemed to connect for a split second and then lose connection again. This gave Alan hope. He thought if he could get up on top of the roof, maybe a connection could be established. "Well, now you know." Melinda said sarcastically and then after a short pause, her tone lightened up as she said, "Hey, trust me on this, don't attempt to leave. When he kills you, and you wake up in this house, the pain will never go away. Just stay here, at least that way, you won't have to deal with something like this-" Melinda gestured toward her head, "-forever." Alan looked at her directly for the first time all night. "Thank you, really. But if I stay here, I will starve to death. So, I really wouldn't escape any pain after all. The longer I wait, the more difficult it will be to continue trying to get out without food." Melinda sighed and said, "I've never seen anyone make it out once they are in here. But, you're the first as far as I know, to have not just made a break for their car as soon as they saw that monster outside. So right now, we're in new territory, with someone who isn't dead yet." For the first time this night, Alan felt like someone was genuinely on his side. He shut off his phone and put it in his pocket and picked up the lantern. "I don't know what implications that could have yet, but I am going to figure this out and help all of you." Alan said trying to reassure himself as well as her. "Let's head back down. I think I need to get on the roof in order to get a signal, but not tonight. I'd rather be able to see what I'm doing up there." Melinda nodded and turned to walk back to the stairs. Alan followed and as they walked a few steps toward the stairs, Alan stopped as he couldn't believe what he just saw. As he and Melinda got back to the center of the room, where the corpses lay, he saw Melinda walk right through them. Alan had kicked one of the bodies earlier, so they weren't just part of his imagination. Earlier when he pointed them out, she acted as if she couldn't see them. Now, after watching her feet pass through their bodies undisturbed, the word 'ghost' crept into his head. After a brief pause, he continued forward, Melinda had not noticed Alan's pause. He lifted the lantern to reveal more bodies. After a brief look, he saw that Florence, Calvin, and Melinda's body, along with several others, were laid on the floor in a circle. Each body was positioned like the first two he saw when he first entered. They all lay in the shape of the letter "T", with their hands nearly touching and their feet pointed at the center of the circle. Alan knelt to get closer to the floor to investigate further. "You really are seeing something there, aren't you?" Melinda asked. Her face made as much of a confused look her face could make. Alan glanced up at Melinda to see her standing near the stairs. "Yes." He reached down to touch one of them, just to be certain. He felt the cold pressure of the corpse, it was as real. "It's the bodies of everyone here, I think. You, Florence and Calvin are laying here, as well as four others. The others I recognize as the missing people." He said as he noticed a black line on the floor coming from one of the bodies. "I don't see anything, though." Melinda said as she came closer. "I believe you." Alan said as he moved the lantern closer to the line. He saw more lines that were intricately designed creating patterns that formed in parallel with the positions of the bodies in artful ways. Getting a closer look, he saw that the lines were dark red in color. "You walked right through them a minute ago." Melinda looked more intently at the spot Alan was investigating trying to see anything at all there, but she saw nothing. "So that means either things are even stranger here than I had thought, or I've gone completely insane and you're a figment of my imagination in my padded cell room." Alan said as he stood up. Alan then had an idea. He pulled out his phone and turned on the camera. He took a picture of the floor with the flash on. "I am not a hallucination of yours. I've been here for years before you showed up." Melinda said, clearly offended. Alan looked at the picture, and sure enough, the bodies were there. "I know, I don't believe you are imagined. Look at this." He said as he showed her the picture of the bodies. Melinda's face contorted in confusion. "How can that be? I'm standing right here!" She said as she stepped back looking at the floor and then back at the picture. "I don't know, but we will find out, okay? We just have to be strong and objective." Alan said as he put the phone away. Alan wondered if any of the others knew about these bodies and why Melinda couldn't see them. It was unlikely, as Royce herself sent him here without so much as a word about them, so she too probably could not see them. Were they really ghosts that were unaware of their own corpses? A low chuckle suddenly came from the window. Both Alan and Melinda turned to see the killer right outside, smiling at them with a massive grin that showed black and yellow mangled teeth. The moonlight revealed mangy long hair coming out from under a ruined top hat. His eyes were as yellow as his teeth. Both Alan and Melinda began backing away toward the stairs. "Well, he can't get in here, so we should be-." Melinda was interrupted by the squeaky sound of the window latch beginning to turn. "Go... Go!" Alan yelled as they both ran for the stairs. Alan heard the window open as it's old rusted hinges whined and cracked. He dared not look back. Alan made it to the top of the stairs first. He looked back to help Melinda as he saw the killer move toward them with unreal speed. The man ran at them but it was like he was a recording of someone shuffling that had been sped up many times. The scene was incredibly bizarre and terrifying. Alan reached out for Melinda's hand but before they touched, the killer was upon them. The man grabbed the back of Melinda's neck with his left hand and with his right, holding a large mangled blade, attempted to slash at Alan, missing him by the smallest degree. Alan fell back into the open hatch for the stairs and hit them hard. The entire mechanism snapped in half under his falling weight, stunning him briefly. He looked up to see the man holding Melinda up off the floor with his free hand as she struggled in vain to escape his grasp. Before Alan could say or do anything, the man pulled her back into the darkness of the attic and he laughed loud and hysterically with a deafening sound that rang throughout the house.