The walls were laid bare, revealing moss, other lichens and molds that had been festering under them for untold generations, exposed to the dark interior of the house.
It had been abandoned for twenty-five years, the beams eroding, the stairs falling into ruin, and all but the old stone fireplace being constantly besieged by time.
I stepped carefully and gingerly into the hallway.
Breathing… down my neck…
I whirled swiftly, looking with terrified glances behind me.
A dank, shadowed room stretched behind me. The light of my pathetic flashlight barely served to penetrate the strangling dark. The dim forms of chair, at a time long gone—plush, comfortable, homely, but now foreboding, rotted, and empty—were only just mistakable for the objects they were.
And then… there, just at the corner of the room, where the light could not, DID not reach, there was a glow…
Small… but… perhaps something…
I pivoted on my heels, my breath coming in ragged gasps, sweat continuing to seep out of my forehead and into my shirt. I was caught between a rock and a hard place, forced with choosing between the room, the room with the light of source unknown, or the hallway.
The hallway that seemed to stretch into the black, dankness forever.
I gathered what bare wits were available to me, and—with pent-up breath, and strained mind—took a step into the room.
The chairs and items became somewhat more visible, though with the rot and the mold, this only served to make the Empty House seem more… lived in.
Each step was a dark guessing game, in which a wrong move would certainly mean death. There were holes, rotted away through the floor, which were big enough to had swallowed me whole.
The bare minimum of moonlight seemed to battle its way through the window, and the surviving strands perished in the stagnant air as soon as they were touched.
The light grew slowly closer.
Step by step, feet by feet, I had made my way closer to the light. I stood there, staring at it with an intensity known only to a scholar when presented with a new finding. It captured me. It shouldn’t be here. It has no right to be.
Out of the dark, a creak.
Something was coming.
I rushed back to the door, my footsteps pounding away on the empty, ancient floorboards. I stole a risked glance back towards the light.
It was gone.
Down the hallway I went, down, down, down… 'til I wasn’t even sure that I was in the same house anymore… it was a world that looped, strange, and menacing. The same wall tiles, over, and over, and over… the same knots in the wood of the floor, the same carpet, same and same again, 'til I thought in my mind that it would never end.
Behind me, I looked, that dreadful direction in which no one dare look.
A shadow of a thought passed through my terror-filled mind. A thought to run, to flee, to hide somewhere safe.
For this was the Thing in the Dark.
Its eyes were of hollow sockets, its hands were alight with flame, candle-wax dripping down the lengths of its arms.
And its mouth. Its mouth was the most horrible thing of all.
It was carved, shaped to be identical to a human’s—except on waxy skin—contorted in a way that broke the heart and shocked the mind, weakened the soul and twisted strength. It was aimed at me with a silent howl…
And I screamed.
Suddenly, with what I knew, I was outside.
I lay belly first on the grass… the soft grass… the soft, beautiful, fantastic grass!
I wanted to giggle and holler, I was so happy to be out of there, out of that terrible place. But all I could do was cry; for, a part of me, no matter how small, knew that something, everything was wrong…
Suddenly, I was back inside the house. The same one. I turned around.
And it was smiling.