Horror logo

Home

by Kelly Peppe 6 months ago in fiction
Report Story

When you enter the mouth of the house and it swallows you whole, there's little you can do to save yourself from the stomach. Once it's done digesting, you too will be home.

Illustration by author

A ripe couple, hungry for a home. Newly engaged and eager to start their lives together separate from their family's disappointment in them. A for sale by owner sign is posted to an oak tree out front. The young woman, inspired, imagines a tire swing there. From inside her large belly, 7 months along, the baby squirmed. As if to share in her excitement.

The exterior needed work, but the property was large and had potential. The wood shingles appeared dated and worn. The lawn hadn't been maintained for what seemed like years. The young man was good with these kinds of things, and knew when summer came, he could get around to fixing them.

The woman hoped for the best. They're offers on other homes had been rejected in their desperate search for a place to belong. As an unmarried, expecting, interracial couple, they realize people were less likely to sell their home to them. This rundown home in the shanty part of town seemed to be their last hope.

She knew if she hadn't been born a black woman, her fiancée's life would be considerably easier. It felt strange to feel bad about something she had no control over, however, she could not help it.

"If he had only fallen in love with a white woman, he's only making it hard on himself." That is something she had overheard his mother say. Change was happening in this country, but it seemed to only really effect the newer generation.

The young man didn't care about the color of her skin or the texture of her hair. He fell in love with her spirit. He never saw what others did and never understood why he couldn't have his families support. The pregnancy was unplanned, but he in no way regretted it. It only gave him the push to really act on his true desires. He was glad he was with her, he just wished he was more established before things got so complicated.

As soon as he had found out she was pregnant, he put a ring on her finger. He wished he had done it sooner and made an honest woman of her. He wished children came later, so he could give them a better life. But he was trying to correct everything now.

He steps out of the car and around to open the door for her. With both hands, he helps her maneuver out. As they approach the front door together, the woman inspects the home. A few broken windows are patched up with what looks like cardboard and tape. What remaining windows are left have out lookers; many small Victorian dolls with white porcelain skin and small eyes that followed. Nothing would turn her away however. The man laid three soil thuds on the door.

An old man larger than the frame of the door greets them. Somewhat decrepit, like the home in which he resides. Dressed like he was not at all expecting company; however, he says, "Come in." They say thank you and enter reluctantly. As they take the place in, their senses are overwhelmed with a stale smell.

"I didn't catch your name on the phone." He states. "Mr. And Mrs. What was it?"

"Campbell, sir." The young man responds. The man turns towards a hallway without much of a word. The man and woman follow. He approaches a table and retrieves a book; he opens it up and hands it to the man.

"Would you write your names in here?" He casually asks. The couple finds this strange, however.

"What for?" Mr. Campbell asks.

As if he were delighted to answer he smiles and says, "Well, I enjoy keeping a log of all my visitors. This book goes all the way back to 1947 when I bought this house. Right after the war. My wife lived here then, but now it's just me. But she never really left. I feel her sometimes."

As Campbell takes the book from the man, A phone rings from another room and the machine picks it up.

"We saw the young couple go into your house Richard. We're going to" The man leaves the room and picks up the phone before anything else is said. A quick exchange of words occurs while the couple shares a few glances.

The woman rubs her stomach and says, "Maybe we should leave." The young man thinks for a moment and goes to speak, but Richard returns scratching his facial hair. A long, unkept beard.

"Let me show you the place." he says. The woman hovers near the door, but her fiancée takes her hand.

"Please." He says. The man leads them down a dim lit hallway. The whole house appears this way. They pass open doors of dark rooms, each room filled with dolls of variation. Piles and piles of the things. The woman's arms erupt in bumps, never before made so uncomfortable by inanimate objects. "Big collector, huh?" Campbell asks.

"Ah well, those were my mothers. She left them with me. I just can't seem to part with them." The man turns to look at Campbell. "She had her treasures and I have mine." Campbell appears curious, so he adds, "My book." and continues guiding them down a somewhat unleveled hallway towards a kitchen. He stops at the entrance to let them enter first. The woman tights her grip on her fiancée's hand.

The appliances are dated for the 80's and assumedly far too weathered to actually still function.

"Is everything original?" Campbell asks as he bends down to peak into the oven.

"Everything down to the paint color." A cucumber green. He nods. Campbell looks to his fiancée, she looks back. They share a non-reassuring look. They knew their options were limited. But they had nowhere near the amount of money they needed to fix this place up.

"What you're asking for the house is cheap, but we couldn't afford renovations." Campbell regretfully informs him. Richard shifts in his spot, visually upset.

"What's wrong with my home?" He asks as if some deviant energy climbed into his body.

Campbell's wife, for the first time speaks up, "There's nothing wrong with your home, it just needs some updates." The man still appears offended.

"Donna, that's alright, just let me." Campbell says to his pregnant fiancée.

"No, I apologize. I shouldn't have reacted with such anger." Richard apologizes. "At least let me show you the rest of my home."

"I think it's our time to go, actually." Donna says, uncomfortable. A terrible sinking feeling sets in her stomach. He can pretend to be as nice as he wants, but his true vile self showed through his eyes just a moment ago. And again, as if to share in her discomfort, the baby kicks around as if fighting off invisible harm.

"No, please let me show you the upstairs." Richard insists. "It's where all the bedrooms are. There's a perfect one up there for a nursery. There's less work to be done up there." Convinced, thinking of the baby, Campbell nods. Richard smiles, an over-exerted one.

A terrible feeling runs through Donna. She knows nothing good is going to be found upstairs, but she follows her fiancée regardless. Richard leads them down a different dark hall. Donna glances through open doorways, again catching the eyes of countless dolls; some too real to be porcelain. As if there were people hiding within the massive piles of tiny artificial bodies. Or maybe not hiding, but hidden. Finally, they approach a closed door. He opens it to a flight of stairs; going down. Quicker than any movement the young couple could have ever expected from an old man, Richard grabs hold of Donna wrist and jerks her forward. She tumbles down the steep steps, mostly on her back, but briefly on her stomach as well. From the top of the stairs, the door slams. She hears her name being called desperately. A commotion is heard from behind the door.

Donna rolls onto her back and breathes. Her senses, already enhanced, pick up a pungent strong odor. As she takes in her dark surroundings, she's aware she's now beneath the house, in the basement. As her eyes adjust, she can see the culprit of the foul smell; tar covers the walls. Her stomach does flips and she keels over to vomit. The door opens from the top of the steps and Richard dumps her fiancée and he topples down, unconscious. His face is bloody and swollen. Donna cries as she crawls towards him, desperate.

From upstairs Richard paces. It's a rush thinking about all the many ways he could dismember them. Frustrated by the constant noise in his head, he Grabs hold of a small porcelain doll, bashing it against his head repeatedly.

And from downstairs, Donna breaths heavily through the trauma. She rests on her back, but knows she can't stay there long.

"David." She says to her fiancé, which renders no response. Donna cries, shaking him in despair. "David, please." He is still and he bleeds from the head. She fears her efforts are worthless after a few minutes.

More scared than she had ever been, she finds her balance and climbs to her feet. She knows that if she doesn't take action now, she would probably never leave this place. She looks down at David and makes a silent promise to get him out of here. She touches her stomach and takes a deep breath to steady her nerves. She searches around her, looking for anything worthy enough to be wield as a weapon. She has a choice, fight or flight. Fight with everything in her and put all of their lives on the line or take the first opportunity to flee and try to get help for David.

She knows she should think of the life in her belly first and foremost, it's what David would have wanted. She couldn't find it in her to care more about the nameless baby than her fiancée. She knew she couldn't leave him here. Things to use as weapons were limited to a few trash bags, a bundle of twine, and whatever other objects my reside at the bottom of the pit she nearly stumbles into. Too deep and too dark to make out anything at the bottom or to tell just how far the bottom may be. Donna receives what feels like a viscous blow to her stomach. Like something crawled up from the pit just to deliver it to her. A thought forces its way into Donna's mind. She's going to end up at the bottom of this pit, and she wouldn't be alone. No, David would join her eventually, and she would have the company of a poor soul's body that was emitting the rancid odor of decay from beneath her. One if not many.

For a moment she dwells in paralyzing fear, unable to moving, letting herself for the moment believe there is only one way that this end; looking down into the pit as if it were telling her the future. Her future, David's future, this baby's future.

From upstairs, loudly a record begins to echo, startling Donna B-A-B-Y, baby by Carla Thomas plays. Donna's mother's favorite. A favorite of hers as well. The static sound, like hypnosis, brings her elsewhere. She sees her entire life in a moment, and in that same moment she sees her future. It's not at the bottom of this pit, it's in a kitchen cooking, singing, laughing. David's there, swaying his hips, a little girl in his arms.

She returns to herself. Finding that she is not safe within the walls of her mind, but present in what is possibly the most crucial moment of her life. David is no longer swaying to Carla Thomas. He lies on a cold cement floor. She can feel her feet planted on the ground, but her body is numb with an overwhelming sensation that she is floating outside her body. But she is taken over by sudden rage at the situation. As if the tether to her body had been yanked, her senses snap into high alert.

Keenly sensitive to her surroundings, she can hear Richard upstairs. He's yelling incoherently.

Richard exists in a world of his own. Developed by years of trauma, both physical and mental. He'd done his time in the service, but that wasn't where the trauma began. The war was his exit strategy, he jumped at the chance to leave home. Even if it meant dodging bullets to escape the torment of his father.

War was a breath of fresh air compared to cigarette burns and leather belts. In war, when someone shoots at you, you shoot back. You protect your brothers in arms. He never grew up with any brothers, and they had been his brothers for a short time. That was until one by one his brothers died. He was discharged with tinnitus. Between tinnitus and post-traumatic stress, eventually the ringing in his ears turned to voices. Voices belonging to his brothers, mostly all at once; as if they were all in competition to make the most noise. Chanting, yelling, singing war songs. The constant chatter drove him mad. It crept in slowly.

He even had a simple life for a short while. He had been married and took care of his ill mother. But it all became too much when his mother died. Her voice filled his head with unfortunate thoughts, and because it was his mother, he had no choice but to listen to her. She never liked his wife; so late one night while she was sleeping, to appease his mother, he put a pillow over her face and held it there until she no longer felt the need to struggle. And since then, there had been many more. The ever-growing pile of bodies only added to the chatter in his head.

Donna hastily rummages through Richard's things, but again left with nothing entirely useful. She approaches David. She knows at the very least he has his keys, that is if Richard hadn't taken them before throwing him down here. She doubted it, he didn't seem like he was in the frame of mind to actually think about such a thing. His actions seemed hasty. Richard used to be good at this kind of thing, but lately his heads gotten crowded and he's gotten sloppy.

Donna reaches into David's pockets and pulls out his keys. She knows she can use them as a weapon, but she has to have the element of surprise for them to be at all effective. She knows she'll have to hit him in a spot that counts. A place that will hurt so bad that it will stun him long enough to get past him. The moment has to be just right, she'll only have the one chance. If she shows her hand too soon, there's no way she'll manage to overpower a grown man while she's 7 months along. She needed to be smart about it, and Donna was a smart girl. No one really gave her enough credit, not even David.

Donna was ready with David's keys, strategically placed between her fingers, when Richard was heard coming down the basement steps. Wire she had found early stuffed into her breast pocket for safe keeping.

Richard comes stumbling down as if he were intoxicated and confused. It’s dark in the basement, the only light coming from under the door at the top of the stairs.

Donna’s eyes have adjusted slightly, but Richard squints. He holds a kitchen knife in his hand, a much more intimidating weapon than she holds herself. But she realizes the only way out is through.

She hides herself in the shadows for a moment watching. Waiting for the exact moment to strike. She’ll know it when she sees it. She’ll have to. He makes his way deeper into the basement, pulling a cord that illuminates a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. She realizes the moment is now, there’s no more hiding.

Donna lunges at him with a war cry, her fingers tightly clench around one of David’s keys. She aims for the only place that would hurt Richard enough for her efforts to be worthwhile. He’ll have a hard time killing her if he’s having trouble seeing.

Donna launches her arm towards him fueled with rage and desperation. She’d been angry for a while, but she’s been very good at hiding it. Angry at herself and Daivd. Sometimes she’s even mad at the unborn infant inside of her. She knows it’s illogical, sometimes she blames it on the hormones.

Truthfully, she knows deep down that when she found out she was pregnant, it was the worst moment of her life. The second worst moment was when David told his parents the news. They didn’t try to conceal their distaste. They hadn’t approved of the relationship before the complication of pregnancy. They believed the relationship would eventually sizzle out. So, when David’s God fearing mother found out Donna was pregnant, she begged them to get an abortion.

David couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He’d loved and respected his mother his entire life, but this was a turning point in their relationship. He never knew the extent of her prejudices. For her to completely turn on her own beliefs as a Catholic woman because of the color of the baby's skin. He felt like he didn’t really know his mother at all. His mother turned her back on her God that day, and David turned his back on his mother.

Donna and Richard struggle, but Donna’s efforts were fruitful. He is having a hard time between the voices in his head and David’s car key protruding out of his eye. But Richard is still a rather large man and much stronger than Donna. It doesn’t take much for him set her off balance with her being so middle heavy. Donna falls to the ground and Richard grabs her by the hair. That fall wasn’t great for Donna. She can feel the baby inside of her thrashing, pushing at her walls. Donna yells out in pain as Richard cranes her neck back, holding the knife to her throat.

Blood from Richard eye socket drips off of his nose and onto hers. Donna fills with disgust. She wants to vomit. She feels like she might, but the nausea turns to an infernal burn. It starts at her belly and spreads between her legs. Donna holds her stomach, wreathing in pain. She needs to fight back, but she can hardly breath.

Richard drags Donna by the hair behind him, yelling at people only he can see. Donna thrashes, scratching and clawing at his firm grip on her once perfectly pinned hair. She can feel her strength wanning as a clear trail of blood is left in her wake. It flows freely from between her legs. She grabs at anything within arm's reach.

Richard drags her to the center of the basement where the pit he dug himself resides. He’s proud of his hole. It took him three straight days of digging with no sleep. The only thing that kept him awake through it all was the consistent motivation from his mother. He dug the hole for his mother. It was a place he could keep all of his offerings to her. All of Mother's play things: All of her dolls. He’d caught her a pretty doll this time. His mother would enjoy some diversity being added to her collection.

Ricard drops Donna's head and it bounces off of the cold ground twice. He leaves her side, but only for a moment. He disappears into some shadows, but returns before Donna has any chance of catching her breath.

Richard still has David’s key fixed in his eye, but he hardly feels it. He doesn’t feel much now adays. Blood pours out of his eye as blood pours out from between Donna’s legs. He doesn’t try to stop it or wipe it, instead he licks his own blood from his lips as he holds two porcelain dolls by the feet. They swing by his sides upside down staring blankly at Donna.

Donna stares at them, fixated as they sway. One had a deep complexion and long curly black hair. She had had one similar as a child. She had picked it specifically because it looked like her. Realization sets in as she looks to the other. It’s a porcelain baby doll. Donna physically reacts, clambering up on all fours. She’s afraid to stand, afraid to be pushed into the pit she is so deathly close to. Richard carefully places the dolls onto the ground beside him and follows after Donna. She makes it to the bottom step of the basement stairs before he grabs her by the ankles, dragging her from them.

Donna rolls over onto her back. She kicks viscously. She lands her heal on his inflicted eye and Richard reels back losing his balance. Behind them, David stirs. He opens his eyes for the first time since being knocked unconscious. He’s disorientated and bleeding profusely from the back of the head. He rolls his head to the side seeing Donna in the fight for her life, but Richard has recovered from her counter and is now winning the battle.

David climbs to his feet, unnoticed to both Donna and Richard. He unsteadily lunges to Donna’s rescue, tackling Richard to the ground. David yells to Donna, he tells her to leave him and run. The two men roll briefly for dominance, but David is no shape to beat Richard. He is barely fazed by David’s attempts and feels no remorse as he plunges his knife deep into his sternum. Richard wasn’t interested in David’s soul. Only the girl and the baby.

Davids head hangs over the edge of the pit. Richard hands are around his throat now, squeezing what remainder of life is left out of David. Donna half way up the stairs, stops. She reaches into her pocket retrieving the wire she had hidden earlier. She wraps it twice around both hands and pulls the line tight. She races down the steps, but immense pain shoots down her legs and back. She’s in labor, but she has no choice. She runs for Richard, hooking the wire around his throat, pulling backwards with the force of her entire will and body weight.

Richard one eye bulges in desperation. He hits and scratches at Donna’s arms, but she only pulls tighter and tighter. Eventually he goes limp. He stares up at her, empty, his throat now wet with blood. Donna rolls him off of her, into the pit. His body slides over the edge and disappears. A few seconds later Donna hears him meet the bottom.

Donna crawls to David. His eyes are wide, but they too are empty. She cries in out turmoil, but also great physical pain. The baby has begun to crown and it is coming fast. Donna lays on the ground, ready to deliver her own baby. Donna holds David’s hand as she pushes. Donna screams, her voice bounces off of the tar covered walls. It only takes twenty minutes to deliver and when she’s done, she no longer has the strength to escape the house. She couldn’t sit up if she wanted to. So, she lays there holding her screaming child. She coos it. Her eyes are heavy now and her whole body grows incredibly weak.

“She’s beautiful, David. She’s so beautiful.” She shuts her eyes, just as she can hear the distant sound of sirens.

fiction

About the author

Kelly Peppe

Writer and illustrator from New York.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.