Before you read: This story was originally a submission to a small newspaper that got rejected. I love this story since it veers away from my usual style and wanted to share it with you. It reads like a children's campfire story. Enjoy!
THE SECOND HOUSE ON THE RIGHT
The second house on the right— where vines crept into the windows and ran over the dust bunny floors. It was always dark, always watching, and never— I stress — never sleeping. The first house on Beech to crumble and creak, the long strips of paint plucked like dead leaves in the wind, leaving little scars where hangnails had been. Where worms went to shrivel and tumble and die— it was the first house on 233 Beech, on the right.
“The first house on Beech to crumble and creak…”
The first house I saw turning into the drive when I shivered at listless possibilities of life. What if a great evil is watching me? Or flames licked my bed frame as I dreamed, unknowingly? The dogs howled themselves silly and sparrows cried with— what I assumed was— too many mouths to feed. I knew it then, and it haunted my sleep. The second house on the right was— indeed— watching me, with its arching doorway and twin-window eyes, carving my thoughts with feelings of dread.
And when the children rang the old doorbell that night, laughing and pointing and scaring themselves, the bravest stepped inside. She crept through the halls with a snicker and smile, then a voice softly whispered, Go to sleep, little child. Go to sleep, go to sleep. You’ll always be safe at 233 Beech. The children hollered my name and cried in their hands, Please help her, please! The house took our friend!
I pressed my face to the glass and called— no response. Fear fluttered in my stomach and writhed in my gut and, when the door creaked— and oh, how it creaked! I tumbled down the rotten stairs in defeat. What horrors lay inside? What monsters or villains? My imagination flickered to most-awful images. I gathered my wits, prayed to this god or that, and felt the house shake as if starting to laugh!
“Fear fluttered in my stomach and writhed in my gut…”
My feet passed the threshold and door closed behind, but fear stuttered suddenly and steeply declined. Welcome, it said. Would you like to come rest? The house was beautiful, so beautiful— warmth welled in my chest. I laid my head down, feeling the slow pull of sleep, and the floor flickered beneath me as I started to sink. I woke to not a man, not a human, but a home! My being one of many in a valley of souls! We laugh, and we knock, and we play through the night— until hunger creeps.
Won’t you come rest at the second house on the right?
When I was ten, I showed my first horror story to a boy at school. It was about a ghost with a bloody face that ate children playing in their backyard. The boy read it and was (understandably) horrified. I’ll never forget the look of shock on his face, yet it was that specific moment that deepened my love for writing scary stories. To me, fear was the strongest emotion there was; it was stronger than happiness and love. You have to understand, I suffered from horrible, horrible nightmares for years when I was young and often felt a pressing lack of control. If I opened my eyes, whatever horrors I saw in my dreams might be standing at the foot of my bed. But when I started writing stories, that fear ebbed from me. I was the one with the pencil. If I wrote monsters, I controlled them. SodaWrites is special to me because these past couple of years have been hard, and sometimes I still need help controlling the ghosts.