I was glad to be moving. I never liked my city. It was too loud for me anyways.
I looked around at my family members in the car. My parents up front, were chatting cheerfully away at what our new town will be like. My father, who was driving the curves of the street carefully, was offered a lawyer position at the town that paid him double what he made back in the city. My mother, an antique store owner, was happy to be able to open up a bigger antique shop in our new town. My brother, sitting quietly beside me, had his headphones plugged in his ear as usual. He was only a year older than me, a senior in high school. He was the only person in the car that felt bitter about our move.
The move into our new house went by quickly. The mover trucks came the next day and we got down to business. It took us about two weeks to fully move into the house.
The house was big and beautiful. My father was so happy we could afford it. My mother loved the fact it was so old. Her antique geek side loved everything about the house. My brother never really spoke since we got there. He just shuffled around the house in the sour mood he took on since he heard we were moving. Myself? I thought it was pretty rad. My room was huge and I was able to put everything in its place. It didn't even matter that the floorboards were creaky.
The house was the last house on a large street, far away from the city. Beside us, was another large house; and beside that was another. All three houses were very aged, and there was a tremendous amount of space between them. My father loved the amount of acres we had. He had plans to build a nice shed and bring in some farming material. "We have to fit in with the rest of the town, don't we?" he always joked.
Fast forward. It was our fourth week into the house. The summer air was dry and the sun beat down into the window of my room. It was an absolute beautiful day, and I was excited to go into town. I got up and had breakfast. My mom baked muffins and fed us bacon. I always loved her cooking. I got upstairs and hopped into the shower. I cranked the radio up high and sang loudly as I showered. I was in an excellent mood.
I hopped out of the shower and started to towel dry my hair. Suddenly, I heard a tapping at the bathroom window. A bird? No. That couldn't have been it. My bathroom window was somewhat small, and it was the faded ones. You know, those kind of windows that you couldn't see outside of. I opened the window a bit and found a tree branch hitting itself against the window. I glanced behind it.
Rain. Lots of it.
It was so ugly outside. Where did the beautiful sun go? That dry, crisp air was replaced with a gloomy, sad atmosphere? Despair continued to wash over me as I continued to look outside as I got dressed. Our day plans were ruined.
Everyone stayed inside that day. We found things to do. We cleaned the kitchen, and reorganized the living room to look better. My brother even helped for the first time. "We'll go to town tomorrow. This is probably just a summer storm," my dad reassured me. I got into bed that night, praying we could go out tomorrow.
The next morning hit me like a ton of bricks. I woke up in a daze, sticky with sweat. The sun shined in my room, leaving a rainbow pattern on my ceiling. It was another beautiful day, but I felt terrible. Cold sweat ran down my legs and my head was pounding. I decided to sleep a little longer. I hoped if I woke up again, maybe the headache would pass.
I woke up three hours later, and still felt sick. Something felt different though. I glanced out the window. It was pouring again. It was worse than yesterday. Fog stuck to my window and I couldn't see more than three feet away from the house. Raindrops hit the leaves on the trees violently, causing them to thrash about. Our plans were ruined once again.
Just like yesterday, we stayed inside. We found more things to do. We dusted the shelves, we mopped the floor, we even rearranged the living room again.
The fourth day. Rain would not stop hitting our roof. It was disgusting outside. We had no connection to the outside world. We hadn't even had time to hook up our cable or our internet. It was too dangerous to go into the city, let alone have them come out to us. The roads were slippery and it was starting to flood. The rain felt like it was draining my energy. I started staying in bed longer.
The sixth day came. The rain still poured. Thunder greeted us with a cackling laugh. We were running out of food in the house and my brother started to get more angry. We needed to get out, but we were trapped. The roads were flooded and we still had no connection to the outside world.
We ran out of ways to rearrange the living room.
I rolled out of bed around one in the afternoon. I felt so gloomy lately, I hadn't any energy to get out of bed. I sipped some orange juice and made myself some toast. My mother had stopped making breakfast.
My father paced around the house. He was nervous for himself and our future. He hadn't gone into work since we got there. He was scared he would be fired; but his coworkers were stuck inside due to the storm, right?
The eleventh day came, and nothing seemed to get better. The trees became bare from the wind. The sky was a murky, dark blue tint. We were all miserable. The last of our food sat on our kitchen table. We were so hungry, we needed to eat. We sat around the island and finished off what we had left.
Finally, the fourteenth day came. My brother never came out of his room anymore. He just laid in his bed, his eyes never blinking. As always, his headphones were plugged into his ears. I don't think he noticed his battery died two days ago. My father was lying on the couch. He did not move, he did not make a sound. He had been lying there for a while then. Was he taking a nap? I'd never witnessed a grown man napping for that long. Myself? I sat beside my mother on the kitchen table. Her body felt cold and her eyes were shut. She laid her head down an hour ago and had stopped responding to my questions. I had been living off the crumbs I could find in our garbage. Gross, I know—but what was I supposed to do?
For the next few days, I sat beside each individual family member and talked to them. I talked to them about everything. My fears and anxieties about the new school year, and the friends I hoped I would make. They never talked back, just listened. It felt good to be listened to. I was sick, skinny with hunger. The house started to smell bad, but from what? We had no food left... what could be rotting? I tried to ask my mom what we should do. She never answered.
The rain still poured, it never did stop.
I needed fresh air. I needed to get away from that awful stench. Where could I go? It was a disaster outside. I shuffled to the door. I could barely hold myself up anymore. I turned the knob and opened it. The door creaked powerfully and the floorboards underneath me creaked as I stepped outside to the front porch. I suddenly felt like I was in water. Everything was dripping all around me, almost like the world was melting. It was like I had dove into the ocean. I took a few more steps, until I was off my porch and on the grass. It felt slimy with the rain. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. The air was damp but it felt good going through my dry nostrils. I opened my eyes and—
It was liked I stepped into a whole different world.
The rain was gone. Actually, it was like it was never there. The trees were back to normal, with their crisp, green leaves. The road was no longer flooded and our grass was back to a nice and bright green. Finally, the sky was light blue and the sun was shining down on my face. I was confused, to say the least. It was hauntingly rainy before. Now, it looked like a drop of rain hadn't hit the floor in weeks. With the last energy I had in me, I shuffled to where the road started. I turned around and my dry, red eyes grew wide. In front of me, stood our new house but it didn't look like the house that was there in the beginning.
It looked rotted. It slumped down, almost like it couldn't hold up its own weight any longer. I remember seeing it move up and down, almost like it was taking deep breaths. I swear my eyes were playing tricks on me. Water dripped from every part of the house and the windows looked steamed, water droplets forming in them. The wood on the roof was starting to peel.
I had no energy left. Just like the house, I couldn't hold itself up anymore. I knelt to my knees. I laid my head down on the warm road. It felt good against my cheek and I could hear the house creaking loudly. I slowly closed my eyes.
"Excuse me, miss? Excuse me?"
I heard a voice. I didn't have the strength to open my eyes.
"Does she have a pulse?"
I felt a cold finger press against my neck.
"Do you think she'll make it?"
"Let's hope to God she does."
I opened my eyes to find myself in a hospital bed. I was so weak, so skinny. I could barely keep my eyes open. A doctor stood at the corner of the room and he was speaking to a female nurse.
"I can't believe she made it," the nurse sighed.
"Yes, it was a miracle. She's in critical condition," he said, scribbling things down in a notebook.
"Poor girl, did you hear the sheriff? Her whole family died of starvation." She shifted her weight. She looked uneasy.
"I just don't get it. They never even left the house when they got there. It's like they wanted to starve themselves." He glanced over at the window.
"Did you hear the rumors? The sheriff went and investigated the fact that no one heard from them since they moved to town. Everyone was buzzing about them, but they never showed up anywhere. I believe people were getting worried." She shifted again. "He found her family stuck to the floorboards of the house. He said it almost looked like the roots of a tree were going into their veins." She hesitated and brought her voice down to a whisper. "They said the house was draining all their energy."
"That's a load of bullshit," the doctor's voice chimed in. A little too high, I supposed. The nurse shushed him. "It's bullshit just like the other stories of the family before them," the doctor whispered.
"Yes, but don't you think it's weird that it's the second time this has happened? We're lucky the girl survived."
"Maybe this time, we can get some answers," the doctor replied.
I bobbed my head to the side lazily. It felt good to be around people again. It had been such a long time since I had heard other humans speak outside of the house. I bobbed my head up again and forced my eyes open.
"Oh, look. She's awake," the nurse announced. Her expression changed and a smile played across her face. "Good morning. How ya' feeling?" I blinked my eyes and shook my head back and forth. "It seems you're still groggy? That's alright, we'll get you feeling in top shape soon enough," she happily said. I blinked again and nodded as my head fell down. I felt so weak.
I looked down at my narrow wrists. My veins popped out, a circuit of dark blue lines running up my arm. Then, in my dazed state, I noticed my veins throbbing. I focused and lifted my wrist closer to my face. Protruding out of a vein was a tiny splinter, exactly the same color as the floorboards of my new house.