The cold air from the Spring storm pushed its way through cracks in the old house. I couldn’t help but shiver as the walls creaked. My skin crawled with restlessness. Realizing sleep was out of the question, I pushed the covers from my body and lurched out of bed. My feet hit the icy floor like two oddly shaped potatoes as I stumbled forward.
This wasn’t my house. Well, I suppose it is my house. Now, anyway. All the dark corners and strange noises that I remember as a child were ever-present. Somehow, I thought that by coming back as an adult I would feel less scared. I didn’t though. If anything, the terror seemed to root itself even deeper.
I can remember visiting my Great Aunt Milly here as a child, and her whispering strange things as she shuffled around the house. As though she was in a completely different world. My mother had always loved Milly, but constantly warned me she was different and sometimes saw things that weren’t there. Later diagnosed with schizophrenia. Milly was born here and died here. And for whatever strange reason she had left this monstrosity of a house to me.
I moved quickly through the hallway, trying to put the scratching noises out of my head that were coming from the walls. They always seemed to follow you as you moved through the house. I can remember not running from them as a child but being drawn to them. I used to tell my mother that there was a Mongoose in the wall who told me to do naughty things. It all seemed so real then. The day I lit the greenhouse on fire was the day my mother had enough. I screamed it was the mongoose. That he had told me if I didn’t do it horrible things would happen. To be honest, I don’t really remember much of it, except always feeling terrified here.
The moonlight reflected on the waxed kitchen floor. I flicked on the light and warmth filled the room. Thank God for electricity, I thought. I took a match and clicked the gas on the stove, the flame puffed out at me as I moved the match in. The chair was cold as I sat watching the tea kettle begin to rumble over the flame. And that’s when I heard it.
The faintest hissing whisper, “Shall we play with fire again little pansy?”
My body bolted upright, rigid. I am dreaming, I must have dozed off. My heart pounded and all the warmth the light had given the kitchen seemed to have sunk deep into the cracks in the floor leaving only the wet spring air. The tea kettle whistled making me jump.
“I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.” I muttered as I poured the water into the mug.
“None of us are ever really okay, especially you,” the words this time sounds as clear as day. The same hissing voice echoed through the room. As though it was all around me.
“Who’s here!?” I screamed as the teacup slipped from my hand shattering on the floor and splashing boiling water on my feet. I winced and jumped back in pain.
Cackling boomed through the kitchen. That’s when I saw the creature slither from underneath the floorboard. His beady little black eyes stared up at me watching every move I made. His sleek brown fur repulsed me. I recoiled back, my spine striking the edge of the counter making me shudder in agony.
“But little pansy, I thought we were friends. Aren’t you happy to see me? I asked my Milly for so long to bring you back to me.” He said slinking closer.
I rubbed my eyes, my throat tight and dry. This is not real, I made this up when I was little. “I am dreaming.” I pushed out as a closed my eyes and began counting to ten.
“You are NOT dreaming!” He screeched in rage.
My eyes shot wide open. He was inches from my face, his hot breath prickling my nose. I fell to the floor sobbing.
“Oh, don’t cry my little pet, I will take good care of you.” He cooed as though I was the animal. “All you need to do are a few small favors for me every once in a while, and I will give you anything you want.”
I stared at the small furry creature in disbelief. “Like what?” I whispered.
“Just some small things my pet, that is all. But to show you my end of the bargain, make a wish.”
I sat there staring at him, my mouth hanging open.
“Make a wish!” He hissed impatiently.
“I wish I was somewhere far away!” I cried squeezing my eyes shut.
And then all of the sudden I opened them, and I was sitting in the greenest field I had ever seen overlooking the ocean. Salt spraying on my face and the soft warm wind tangling my hair. It was a dream! I’m here! I don’t know where… and then it all began to blur and dissolve and the small weaselly face stared closely at me. I could feel the icy damp air to my bones. I shuttered in disbelief.
“What happened?...” I choked out.
“I told you, I can give you anything. You just need to give me a few things.” His dark eyes gleamed.
I sat looking at the small creature wondering why I had ever been so afraid, what could he possibly ask for? And if he did, he was so small he couldn’t do very much harm. He could give me anything, take me anywhere…
“Do we have a deal?” he grinned with sharp teeth.