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To whoever may read this. The following is an account of some of the melancholy events that have befallen me in my dark tinged lifetime in my own words. I hope that some of you may for a moment put aside the pressures and events in your lives that may have some actual importance and listen, or read rather as I recount the tale of my life. In particularly my life insofar as it relates to a certain devil house which once constituted my family’s estate. It is a grim tale, and not for those weak of stomach or depressed by nature. Before I begin I suppose I must give you some information on whom life you are about to see inscribed on paper. I am 25, a failed writer and somewhat of an English scholar, I say somewhat as I never finished formal education, or at least not as much of it as I really should have. I now find myself as a failed writer and a journalist who hates his job. I will not use my name in this story for fear somebody may use it in order to find me and therefore the horror which I will now die attempting to keep from the world.
When I was a child I lived in a small thatched cottage in rural Devonshire, England. It is an eerie old house, the type that would look quite at home in some cheesy horror story. During the autumn and winter thunder storms where common in my area and on a dark night with the wind howling, the rain belting and with lightning chipping away at the surrounding mountainous countryside it could be quite a sight. It was also strange old place, the sort of house where you would wake up early in the morning with your heart thumping and beads of warms sweat streaming down your face onto your soaked sheets without any memories of a nightmare or any sign of what could’ve woken you. The sort of house were you could be alone in a room but even if you lock and bolt the doors you would find yourself sub-consciously glimpsing over your shoulder as if the very walls were sprouting unseen eyes and watching you.
There was always certain malice about the place. You never felt truly alone. It was never a place I could call home but I don’t think I was the only one. The house seemed to reject any sentient life that dared step foot into its dank rooms. It made you feel unwelcome by projecting its own darkness unto whoever entered it as if left tainted by the hateful heart of some previous deceased owner. We knew nothing of the houses history with my parents having only purchased it in the early 50’s. We had no significant contact with the houses previous owners other than to exchange money and legal papers. So when my father and mother (who was pregnant with me at the time) moved in they knew nothing of the place but we could always tell it was old. I don’t know quite how old enough to have seen a lot in its time.
There may well have been a whole village there when it was first built. But now there is only the house and the desolate country side that stretches out for miles each side. There it stands like a sentinel, standing erect in that untouched area of countryside, keeping its cold watch, ready to stop anything from touching its strange serenity. But there was also something meek and pathetic about the house, like it was the last survivor of some near apocalyptic event in which all its brethren was wiped out, now doomed to stand its lonely vigil until the its very earth gave way beneath it. Sad, alone, weak, with a crooked old heart filled with hate. I believe my poetic side is reading too far into it, so I will stop boring you with my romanticising and instead get to the bulk of my tale.
I lived in that house for all of the first 18 years of my life with my mother; a quiet and nurturing woman, my father; a rather traditional English gentleman, he commuted to the small village a few miles away where he worked in the isolated village’s bank. I also had a younger sister who was eight when she vanished. My sister disappeared from our family home on the 4th of November 1970 I was only ten myself when it happened. I don’t remember the details of what happened. I only remember that one day she was there and the next day she was gone, leaving nothing but a distraught mother and numb father to prove that she had ever been there at all. My parents called the police at a payphone in the village (because after a particularly brutal storm the week before knocked out the phone lines [at that time there was no internet and I still can’t figure out how we even had electricity and a phone line]).
The search went on for a few weeks after she disappeared but nobody was ever recovered. The police gave up the search reasoning that she had run of during the night for some childlike adventure those young ones raised in rural environment’s tend to go on and had fallen or gotten lost. There had been heavy rain and decent wind speeds on the night she disappeared so it wasn’t hard to imagine a young girl running through wet rocky area in pitch black tripping and breaking her neck or falling down into some crevice. The police knew there was no hope of finding her alive and this was long before the time of Facebook missing person’s campaigns. So the police stopped the search in the knowledge that all they would be doing by sending more officers into a secluded rocky area in harsh conditions would be risking more lives. So my sister was essentially classed as missing and presumed dead.
Although I might not remember the events surrounding her disappearance, what certainly stuck in my head were the events leading up to and the aftermath of her disappearance. My parents took her disappearance harder than I did. I was too completely young to comprehend what was going on and neither of my parents really felt like explaining it to me. All I understood was that Sal was gone and now mummy and daddy are sad. My mother took it hardest of all. She had clearly always wanted a daughter and my sister had been extremely close to her, following her around almost everywhere. It didn’t take long for my mother mental state to Deteriorate to a startling degree after my sister’s apparent death. She completely withdrew into herself.
She never spoke to anyone, not even my father. Yet, sometimes I would hear her talking though, but not to any person. To my young mind it almost sounded like she was, well, talking to the walls. Like she and the house were engaged in some deeply private conversation in hushed tones. What really stands out in my memory today is the fact that I could hear two distinctly different voices. At the time I assumed that she was either speaking with my father or talking in funny voices (I mean, at the time I saw nothing wrong with this).
In retrospect however neither of these things could be true, with my father apparently always having an alibi and the fact that that voice could not possibly have been my mothers. Not only was it in a completely different frequency, it also didn’t sound human. I know that sounds cliché but by inhuman I don’t mean it was the deep guttural growl of some demon or animal. There was something pure yet scratchy about its voice. The closest thing I could compare it too is the noise thick foliage makes when a strong wind blows. Something in between a whistle and a scream. Only a year after my sister’s disappearance my mother also vanished late on an October night. The investigation was short with the obvious, be it brutal verdict being that she had slipped of in the middle of the night without the intention of returning. There are many caves, hills and streams in the surround area a person could use to quietly take their life and never be found.
My father became cold and distant after my mother’s death. He was hit hard by my sister’s death but with the loss of my mother he felt he had nothing left to live for. I could tell he still cared for me and did not act distant to hurt me. My father was an honour bound man, there was no way he would take his own life but at the same time he had no hope, everything he had loved and tried to protect had been taken away from him in the course of one year. He never turned to alcohol or quit his job. He never left the house and lived in it every remaining day of his life. He just stayed in his own honour bound limbo until he died 20 years later. Once I hit eighteen I left to make my own way in life, although I wanted to be there for him I sensed he didn’t really want me there.
And so I lived a normal life. I got a decent job as a mechanic and bought myself a decent sized bungalow in a small town in Hampshire; I lived well but not in luxury. I then discovered my father had passed away aged 64 leaving the house and what humble possessions he had left to me. After I left home me and my father had never patched up our relationship, in fact I hadn’t spoken with him in 11 years and had only found about his death one I was approached about his will. I had over time blocked out the events of my childhood. Not even because I found them traumatising, but more because I thought them to be unimportant, particularly when I was younger. The moment I heard about my father’s death all the memories (many with new detail and context the older me could pick out) came flooding back. At that moment something happened; I was not filled with some strange curiosity, some urge to go back there, I was not suddenly aware of some great truth I had left unseen, not even the lightest flame of interest was ignited in my heart. I quickly, quietly and above all simply; lost the ability to live a normal life.
I can’t explain it, it wasn’t something understood by my higher thought processes. I simply could no longer continue with my endless dull routine of; work, eat, sleep. I found myself unable to focus on any of these activities. I found it especially hard to do them in any order uninterrupted. I was just accompanied everywhere by this nagging sense of insecurity follow me through life with the continuous sub-conscious feeling that returning to the site of my family members death’s would somehow ease my mind. I was not sure that it would and I wasn’t nervous about doing it either. It was just a vague hope, but a necessary one. A hope that, in the end, became just as nagging as the problem to which it was supposedly the solution. I eventually decided to claim a few weeks of work to visit the home (if I can even call it that) I grew up in.
It was a Monday I left for the house. I had no significant other and only a handful of friends so I had no-one to really miss me. My limping old ford twisted its way over the desolate Devonshire countryside until I finally came to the remote hilly area my childhood house was situated in. It hadn’t changed a bit. Then again I shouldn’t have been surprised, why should I expect an area which looked like it hadn’t changed in perhaps thousands of years to have changed purely to stroke what little sense of nostalgia I may have had. I had no pleasant memories of that place. I was always a quite reserved boy. Not meek or sickly but simply more at home with his own thoughts than out playing in the green wasteland that stretched out for miles around my childhood friend.
As I walked up to the gate of the house I finally saw something to assure me that I was in fact returning to the house rather than letting the creeping feeling I never left takeover. There at the gate stood an old wiry hazel tree which I remembered from my youth. Now however the branches where torn and crooked and the tree was a sickly shade of grey. I looked to have taken a lighting strike some years ago. The entire tree was fried and the top of the trunk had been totally blown off. I hated that tree, as a small child I found its dark bark would sometimes make shapes that, too a young child, resembled a human face all too much. Now the once healthy young tree stood crippled and hunchbacked leering down at me with its dark mangled faces. I opened the gate and it screamed as I pushed it open as if the house was warning me not to take a step close.
As I got a closer look at the tree I noticed multiple small patches of a pure black mould growing out of the holes in the wood. It looked smooth and thin and whistled at me as I walked past. I got the strangest feeling as I walked away from the tree. I felt as if the tree was watching me with its many strange faces. I could feel its eyes scorching the back of my neck. It felt as though I had woken the tree from a great slumber and now as it came around the frustration I felt in its gaze transitioned into something else. It was something primal, common to all higher thinking beings to some degree. Something we all keep locked away in the backs of our minds as we have no use for it. It’s the way a predator eyes its prey. Not even prey its hunting, just something that, under other circumstances it would be hunting. It didn’t take long to realise I had awoken the house and now it was watching me.
I was never one to keep diaries. I never felt the need or had the patients and commitment to keep one. At this point in my life however, for those few days, I did keep a diary for the sake of documentation. It is less my diary and more the diary of that house. So for now I will recite to you an abridged version of that very diary. I will hand over to my younger self for now.
1st November 1991
The journey here was uneventful. The round between my current home and this house is basically a remote country road so no terrible traffic. I think I’ve brought enough food to last me a week. I have a small-fridge which I’ve already plugged in and I can use the water from the tap in the kitchen with the cups I brought. It looks like we’re in for a storm in the next few days. Being here got me thinking about father and what it must have been like alone. The phone doesn’t work and there’s no-one living for miles. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for an old man living here alone. It makes me feel bad I wasn’t there for him but I know I wouldn’t have been welcome. I would only have made things worse.
It doesn’t feel like I’m home, in fact it feels as if I’m invading somebody else’s sanctuary. They say father died from some sort of reaction to an unknown contaminate, signalled by a black rash. So I’m being especially careful not to touch things when it’s not necessary. Years of poor upkeep mean the house if full of damp spots since the thatch on the roof hasn’t been changed in years so the one upstairs room I’m staying in has water stains down all the walls. I hate to think what it’s going to be like if it does rain. There’s one window looking out onto the front garden and the rolling hills and rocky crevices beyond. The walls are covered in small black spots of mould on the damp patches. What shocked me however the fact that there was mould on the window. There it was. Multiple small black smudges on the windows.
I was immediately` fascinated by this phenomena and upon finding the mould was thankfully on the other side I took a closer look. Each smudge was around the size of my thumb. What was strange about them was the fact that each of the smudges on closer inspection seemed to have spiral patterns were the glass showed through. This gave the weird effect of making smudges resemble fingerprints as if some unseen figure had been prodding at the window. Anyway, I’m now going to prepare some canned beans and go to sleep. I decided that since it was still here I would sleep in my old bed. I am staying in my old room so there’s no point in buying a sleeping bag with my childhood bed being right there.
2nd November 1991
I woke up at around three in the morning last night to a sound that resembled something hitting the window with an impact considerable enough to cause a loud smacking sound but not quite enough to break it. My first though was that a bird must have smacked into the window. It was pitch black outside after all. I flicked on the light and went to the window to discover what unseen event had startled me so much. When I opened the blackened curtains I was greeted by quite an unnerving site. New mould had grown on the window. This time it was a far larger single patch of mould that looked like a bunch of small patch’s stuck together. They all shared the strange marking I had seen on the other one with the spirals. There seemed to one large circular one with five small oval shapes coming of it. I very quickly realised what this looked to be and jolted backwards the moment I did. It still seemed to be on the outside, which came as some relief for some reason. I decided I was tired and my mind must be exaggerating just how much this silly patch of mould looked like a hand. I was about to turn off the light to go back to sleep when I caught one last look at the old hazel tree, and too my weary eyes it almost looked like it was looking back up at me.
When I got up this morning I decided to have a look around the house. All the rooms look exactly like they did when I left. In fact it looks the exact same as it did the day my mother disappeared. It must have reminded my father of her, keeping the place like this. The only new object in the house is an old photo of my mother and sister sitting alone on the dusty, mouldy mantelpiece. What I did find however is a door outback which appears to lead underground. I don’t recall us ever having a basement but I never went out back and I don’t see when we would’ve used it so it would hardly surprise me if we did have one and I just never came into contact with it or don’t remember ever having. I tried to pry the door open but it just wouldn’t budge as if something was holding it shut from the other side.
I went for a walk around the countryside, something I never did while I was younger. I’ve never felt as alone as I do here. The beautiful terrifying desolation of this place is palpable. The loneliness is the kind of loneliness you feel when the whole world turns on you and you have nowhere to hide. When the very earth itself seems to look up at you with a mix of disgust and contempt. Half ways through my walk it began to rain. By the time I had jogged back to the house it was belting down with the first signs of dark lightning storms moving over the empty tundra. I was soaked when I got in and intended to take a bath. When I got to the tub I found it still filled with the last disgusting remnants of the last water poured into it. The thought that this may have been the last bath my father had ever taken sent shiver running down my body. So I dried of and settled for some new clothes. The more I think about it the worse an idea this trip seems.
I still don’t know what I hope to achieve with this. I came on the logic that I should pay my final respects to my father. But that’s not what I’m here for and I know that. I just think that if I can get down into that Basement maybe I’ll find the answer I seek, even if I’m not even sure what the question is yet.
3rd November 1991
Last night was hell. I couldn’t sleep over the persistent feeling someone was watching my slumbering when no-one is there. In the middle of the night I became aware of the sound of something greasy squeakily rubbing against my window. I waited for the noise to stop and got up. I turned on the lights and opened up the curtains. Despite the heavy continuous rain the dark imprint of a hand seemed even more pronounced and there was a new pattern. There the black mould was, forming a human face. I almost yet out a yelp when I saw it. The face was large, as big as both my hands side by side. It looked human but there were things wrong with it. The eyes seemed that littler bit too small for the face, the nose was invisible and the mouth was stretched into a long crooked grin, a grin I might almost call hateful. It might have only been mould but looking into the things “eyes” I could have sworn I sensed malice. Reached out to touch, to see if it really was there and it wasn’t something the exhausted imagination had pulled from the darkest part of my psyche.
Much to my horror it was wet. Not even wet, but slimy and smooth. It was on my side of the glass tonight. I jerked my hand back. It felt like rubbing thousands of tiny smooth strands of seaweed. I felt a throbbing pain in my middle finger where I had touched it. When I looked at it I did not see a normal finger, where I had touched the mould the finger had gone black and grey. The nail had curled of and when I prodded it with a pencil it slid straight off. I was too tired for everything that was going on so I went back to sleep and just as I turned the light out I could sworn the face’s sadistic smile had widened.
The day went by without anything eventful happening. I woke up and attempted to nurse my finger. The pain had stopped and I ran it under cold water, to no avail however. The skin itself was black and shrivelled and there didn’t seem to be much I could do for it other than bandage it up with my small portable first aid kit. I figured that since it was no longer causing me any distress and it didn’t seem to be spreading I would risk the seven hour drive to the nearest hospital. With my finger like it is now I decided it wouldn’t be worth it. I would just keep it clean and keep applying fresh bandages and antiseptic. Until I find the answer. I need the answer and I’m not stopping until I find it. I won’t leave until I’m sure I understand this house. I took another look at the basement door. After years of decay and rainfall a small corner has snapped off, I managed to take it by the sodden wooden corner and pry it open. Its smells like decay down there but I can’t stay in this house, not for another night.
I went into my bedroom earlier and upon looking at my bed I noticed that on the walls above it are two large patches of black mould. They appear to be in the shape of humanoids in the crouching position looking down at the bed. They appear malnourished and misshapen. Like the pale imitations of the human for you might see in a child’s painting. The wretched creatures seem to be looking straight at the bed ready to spring from their position at anyone who falls into their trap. Any tired ignorant person. Me. I don’t know what they would do if they caught me off guard sleeping but I know it wouldn’t be good. I can’t sleep in that room again. I have decided that I will go down into the basement, get my precious answer and leave this cursed place.
4th November 1991
I am lost. Last night, in the middle of the storm I entered the basement of the house. The first thing that hit me was just how warm the air was. It felt like a hot, humid summer’s day down there despite the fact it was a chilly autumnal night outside and it was blowing a gale. I closed the door to attempt to block out the guttural pounding of the rain. As it shut I continued down into the darkness with no company other than the antique miner’s oil lamp my father kept on the mantel. I was bloody lucky there was oil in it. I just then noticed the smell. It was something in between meat, a green field and a rotting apple. It was strangely pleasant yet sickly sweet and totally sickening. They as I stepped down the final two steps I noticed the first of the carcasses. It was a rat nothing more. It looked relatively fresh, as if it had died only a few hours beforehand. The only off thing about it was the layer of black mould encasing its body. I had never seen mould like this. It was so thick it looked more like moss.
As I took a few steps I began to notice the shapes of other dead creature. They were lined up along the room like the trophies of some strange biologist. Who chose to, instead of preserving his specimens in vinegar encase them in this strange mould. There were animals of all types in there. Small birds and rodents to larger mammals like badgers and foxes right up to sheep and goats. All in differing states of decay but all sharing the same ominous layer of soft black mould. As I waved my lantern, at the end of the room something stirred. My mind was whirring as to what could’ve possibly have killed all these animals and brought them down here. A large predator? A Maniac? My own father? As well as what the mysterious mould was doing. My brain put the movement down to something being blow by a gust from the on-going storm outside. However whatever was moving continued to stir and grabbed my attention when it slowly but surely began to rise, like a child taking its first steps.
This pulled me back from the world of possibilities I was considering at the time. They shape raised itself unto its hind legs, it appeared humanoid. Like everything else in the room it was covered in a thick layer of mould, but was older than anything else in the room though. The skeletal shape beneath the tangled mess of fungus looked weak and incomplete. It swayed slightly as if the bone itself was crumbling. To reach such a state of decay would take some time. Perhaps around twenty years. As that creature turned to face me the other creatures in the room began to rise. I felt the rash on my finger begin to throb and burn as I saw the black shadow of another skeletal creature standing next to its larger counterpart. It was much smaller. It resembled the decaying bones of a small child. I had seen enough. I only had time to weakly utter one final word to the creature “Shit” as I bolted for the door. I panicked at first as I struggled with the old wood but my panic was short lived as I began to feel the door crumbling open. And so, I ran. With the shambling creatures slowly awakening behind me and getting up to lumber after me.
I jumped in my car and drove. Ignoring all my possessions I left in the house. I just drove. As I looked back at the house one final time in my wing mirror I saw the door to the basement still wide open with silhouettes poking out from the darkness that, from the distance, I could almost mistake for a woman and child standing and holding hands as the wind, rain and lightning beat the countryside around them.That was too fucking much for me. I drove back to my hometown and am now spending the night at the house of my friend Jess. I cleaned and replaced the bandages on my finger. To my horror I also discovered that during my scramble to get out I had ripped my jeans and exposed the skin underneath to the mould. The rash grew for a couple of hours and stung like hell before calming down. It now covers most of my kneecap. I’ll go to hospital to get it checked out in the morning. For now I just need to sleep in a safe environment and gather my thoughts. Had I found my answer? Was I happy? Was I safe? I don’t know but I doubt it. All that I do know is that I’m far away from that house, and that’s all that matters. I think this will be my last entry.
And so it was. I got it looked at the hospital the next day, they were baffled. This sort of reaction only ever occurred due to the bite of some exotic insect, not some common English fungus. The reaction died down, although the black hue never went away. I stayed with Jess for another couple of months and over that time one thing led to another and over the course of many months we became more than friends. We got married in the spring of 1992. Spring, a fresh start for me, away from the endless fall of that house. We had two beautiful sons and have lived a happy life in our small town for twenty odd years. But I know I need to go back. The house kills and the mould feeds on decay left behind after death. It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship I suppose. The house is a predator that never lets go of its prey and I am its prey and the mould only lives on dead things. I was dead from the moment I touched that face. Therefore the mould will have me one way or another. I doubt I’ll come back and if so I’m sorry I couldn’t have been a husband to my wife and a father to my sons for longer. But I don’t want to take them down with me. I have to go back to that house and face it alone. Because lately, my rashes have been burning. And even more recently, I’ve seen the strangest spots of mould on the walls.