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Our House goes Dark

by Heather Stanton 6 months ago in Short Story

After the arrival of the package

“Husband, everything that came from Amazon today is on the bench.”

“Hello, wife. Great, I need the brake fluid. This box has household items. You could have opened it.”

“And take your fun away? I don’t think so. Dinner is ready in five.”

“I’m starved. I’ll get these open and clean up before we eat.”

“You’re the best!”

“What’s this weird box, wrapped in brown paper?”

“No clue. I didn’t notice it.”

“Where was it?”

“I assume on the porch, mixed in with the other boxes and packages. I carried all of it in and dumped it on the bench.”

“What should we do?” He scratches his head looking over. “I’m afraid to open it. There’s nothing written on it, not even our address.”

“It arrived on our porch, somehow.” I move closer to him. “It’s not making noises is it?”

“Kris, why would you say that?” His expression is horrified, as he moves us back a step. “What kind of book are you reading?”

“One that has nothing to do with exploding boxes. Should we take it outside?”

“No.” He wraps his arm around me. “What if it blows up when we move it?”

“If it was going to, it would have already. I threw the boxes, as I always do. Who could have put it there?”

“No idea. We should have gotten a Ring doorbell. Then, we could have watched the video.”

“That feels like spying.” I shiver. “But, after this, I’m all for installing one.”

“I’m going to open it. We can’t stare at it all night.”

“No Bri! Don’t touch it.” I grab his arm. “I have a bad feeling.”

“Kris, you have bad feelings about everything.” He gently removes my hands. “Something is burning. Go turn off the stove. I’ll wait for you.”

I hurry into the kitchen. “Shoot, dinner is ruined.”

“That’s alright, we’ll order in.”

When I jump, my arm sizzles against the hot pot, that I’m carrying to the sink. “Brian! Don’t sneak up on me like that. I’ve been working on dinner all afternoon.”

“Sorry wife. It smelled good. Can you save any?”

“No, it’s a dead loss. I should have set the timer. Where’s the box?”

“I left it on the bench.” He walks behind me. “How’s your arm?”

“Fine, I’ve had worse. My heart is pounding, but I’m alright. What are we going to do?”

“Go change. We’ll go out for dinner and talk about the mystery box, away from here.”

“Give me a few minutes.” I kiss him. “Don’t open it without me.”

“Hurry, please. It’s giving me the creeps.”

“Same here.” I look over his shoulder, into the living room. “I’ll only be a couple of minutes.”

“I have my phone if you need me.”

“Sorry I snapped at you. I love you.”

“It’s alright, I thought you heard me coming. I know how scared you get when people sneak up on you.”

“Am I ever going to get over my past?”

He wraps me in his arms. “For the most part, you have. Give yourself credit. Do you want me to come up with you?”

I want to say yes, but force myself away from his protective arms. “No, I’m good. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

Dashing up the stairs, I shower quickly. Now, more than ever, I wished we had a new dog. I haven’t been ready since we lost Buster, but I think I am now. Every light on the second floor burns brightly. Fear of the dark is another remnant from my past, a scar that won’t quite heal.

I’m dressed and walking towards the stairs when I hear a thump in the attic. There’s someone in the house. The whole time I’ve been up here, I felt eyes on me. I reach in my pocket for my phone, only to remember I left it in the kitchen.

“Hello?”

I laugh. Of course, if there’s someone here, they’re not going to answer me. Kris, pull yourself together. The attic door is shut and then creaks open. When I try to turn on the light, nothing happens. “Darn, he told me he fixed this.”

Something crashes! I squeal and peer up the gloomy stairs. I’m unable to make anything out clearly. The blinds are drawn, and the curtains tightly closed. I try to force myself into the dark space, but I’m frozen in place.

The room is breathing. The more I strain to hear, the louder and harsher the sound gets. Spinning around, I race downstairs and out the back door. Since I’m not paying attention, I run right into Brian.

“Kris, what’s wrong? You’re shaking and pale.”

“There’s someone in the house. This time, I’m not imagining it.”

“Calm down and tell me what happened.”

“I heard a noise and someone breathing and then I ran.”

“Where’s your jacket? You’re ice cold.”

“I don’t know. Maybe on the hook in the bathroom.”

“Stay here. I’ll grab it, along with your phone, before I search the house.”

I lean against his car, in the fading afternoon light. I’m being watched, but can’t force myself to look around. Who’s tormenting me and why? I’m too frightened by the answer to dwell on the question for long.

“Kris?" I’m so busy worrying that I don’t notice him standing in front of me. “I couldn’t find your jean jacket. I grabbed you a sweater instead.”

“Thanks, I must have left it somewhere. I thought you told me you fixed the light.”

“In the attic? I did last weekend. Why?”

“It’s not working. That’s where the noises are coming from. When I tried to go up there, the light was out.”

“You hate the attic. Why would you go up alone?”

“Aren’t you the one who’s always telling me I have to face my fears?”

“Never alone my love. I’ll grab a flashlight and check it out.”

“No.” I reach for him. “Let’s just leave and stay in a hotel. We can call the police and have them investigate.”

“Kris, you know they aren’t going to come, not after all the false calls that have been made.”

“I’m not making this up. I swear there’s someone in our house.”

“I believe you. Let me go and look around. If you hear or see anything, call the police. Do you still have the officer's number?”

“The one who thinks I’m silly? Yes, I do. I don’t like us being separated. Did you try to call your brother?”

“One step at a time, wife.” He kisses me and turns to walk into the house. “Did you move that odd box?"

"No, it was on the bench when I ran out here, like an irrational person.”

“Being scared does not make you irrational. I believe you. The box is gone. I looked all over the first floor and it’s nowhere.”

“We should leave, now.”

“We’re not going to be forced out of our home. I’ll turn the lights on while I’m walking around. Remember, if anything happens or goes wrong, make the call.”

True to his word, every light goes on. I study our deserted street. None of the neighbors are home. No one is out walking with their children or dogs. It’s as if everyone decided to avoid our house and street, all at the same time.

I pace, biting my nails. I can’t let him take care of this alone. There has to be something I can do to help. When I stare at my phone, I notice that there is no service. Jogging across the street, there was still nothing. I start walking backward and stop, as soon as it turns green.

Our house has become a dead zone. I’m halfway up the block and can barely see it. While I stare, the lights go out and a horrific scream sounds in the still night air. I’m frozen with indecision. Do I make the call or don’t I? If it were only me, I wouldn’t. However, he doesn’t deserve this fate.

Let her think I’m silly, as long as she shows up and brings help. “Officer Claire, it’s Kris. Please, don’t disconnect. Something is going on in our house and there’s no reception. I had to run up the street just to call you. The lights went out and I’m going back. Please, come and help us.”

I toss my phone on the tree lawn, as I take off running. My heart is in my throat and tears stream down my face. Time is running out and I have to get to him before it’s too late. I shiver, once I’m standing in front of our back steps. The house looks deserted from the outside. It’s completely dark and silent.

My husband is inside, somewhere. It may be too late, and I’ve already lost my great love. Just thinking this, makes me sag with fear and there is no one to blame but myself. My past has finally caught up with me. Terror is a living thing within me, making my knees weak and my bowels lose.

With more courage than I have, I take the first steps up the stairs. It’s time to finish this, once and for all. At the last minute, I change course. Jumping off the back stairs, I duck around the house and decide to use the basement stairs instead.

Luckily, the key is hidden under one of my vegetable pots. I silently open the door and slip into the house. It’s as dark as midnight in the basement, but I quickly find a flashlight and a claw hammer. There are sirens in the distance, but I’m afraid they won’t reach us in time.

There’s no turning back now. As I slip off my shoes and creep across the cold basement, fear courses through my body, threatening to overpower me. I push it away. No one knows this house, better than me. I’m the only chance the two of us have of making it out alive.

On tip-toes, I walk across the floor, making it to one of the small lamps. Before I click it on, I cover it with a towel, but nothing happens. Do I try to get the power on or take advantage of the dark, just as my tormentor is? I choose darkness. If he’s using it to hide, so can I.

On weak legs, I sneak up the stairs. Counting as I go, I make sure to skip the one that groans. My heart is racing, making it almost painful to breathe. It sounds like thunder to me. If I can hear it, so can my enemy.

Before I open the door that leads into our dining room, I take one deep breath. If I don’t calm down, he’s going to find me before I find him. As silently as possible, I quickly open and shut the door. The only light in the room comes from the very top of my windows. Someone has tightly shut all the curtains in the house. The flashlight is off and shoved in my pocket. I don’t need lights to find my way through our house.

Footsteps are coming. I duck around the table, allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness. A shadow passes within a foot of me, making me hold my breath until it disappears. From the living room, I hear wounded animal sounds.

Foregoing caution, I sprint into the room, wielding my hammer in front of me. A stream of light hits Brian, who is tied tightly to a chair. Blood covers the floor and walls, with splatters on the ceiling. His head rests on his chest. Is he alive or dead?

Before I’m able to reach him, there’s a sharp pain in my back. The sirens sound like they’re getting closer, but what’s taking them so long.

“Teresa, you belong to me. Wherever you go, I’ll find and punish you.” These are the last words I hear, as I slide bonelessly to the floor.

Short Story

Heather Stanton

Read next: Sights

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