Ever since I was young, I've always dreaded visiting my Aunt Rachel’s house. I've never dreaded Aunt Rachel – quite the opposite actually – when she visited our house I welcomed her with open arms. She was quirky, fun and – most importantly – got on with me like a house on fire. We’d often spend a lot of her visit drinking tea and talking about the news, politics, and whatever else came up in our conversations.
But I’d always hated visiting her house. On the outside, it was completely normal – a two-floor detached house painted a creamy white. The interior seemed normal too – two upstairs bedrooms and a bathroom, and a kitchen, dining room and living room. However, embedded in that living room was a larger-than-life suit of armor right next to the television.
The suit, as I remembered it, covered the entire body, letting no daylight through. The only part of the armor to allow contact with the outside world was the head, though there was still very little room for vision. It seemed reasonably clean – despite its age, Aunt Rachel had kept the suit almost unscathed, and as a result, it always gave a much more youthful appearance than it actually was. I presumed she’d polished it, for a fear of it rusting. It’d always confused me why Aunt Rachel had kept this. She, herself, was a fifty-something year old widow who enjoyed playing card games and watching television. Why she’d want a Tudor-period metal suit had always been beyond me.
I should probably mention, however, I’d only visited her house twice in my lifespan – once at the age of three, and again at the age of six. My first visit had been stable – my family had visited for the day and gone home just before sunset. I'd wandered the house, though I avoided the living room, fearful of the suit. My second visit, however, had ended abruptly. I’d been coaxed by Aunt Rachel to join her in watching one of her romantic sitcoms. We left twenty minutes later. Sitting on that sofa, watching the television with the metal suit just adjacent to it had affected me. I’d bawled to go home and vowed to never come back – I never explained to my parents about the suit. I’d seen Aunt Rachel many times since that visit, but never in her house. As much as I had enjoyed her company, I still never wanted to return to her house, for a fear of that damned metal suit.
So when my parents had informed me a few hours prior to my parents going out, that I’d be staying there for the night, I almost jumped out of my skin. I protested a number of times, giving reasons that of fifteen years of age, I should be allowed to stay home alone. My parents refused to permit this, however.
“I remember what happened last time at Aunt Rachel’s house, but you were only young then, dear,” my mother attempted to reassure me. “I don’t care that you’re fifteen, I’m not leaving you alone for several hours at night.” If you hadn't guessed by now I’m an only child, which made the prospect of going to Aunt Rachel’s even more daunting. I eventually conceded defeat and just decided to stay at her house.
She lived about five miles away, a thirty minute journey with traffic. Both our family and my aunt lived in the same city, though the road there was long and often congested. My parents had booked a hotel to stay in around her place – they’d wanted to visit a cinema around the area.
We arrived slightly earlier than we’d planned. Aunt Rachel, obviously, was delighted at the prospect of seeing her nephew.
“Oh, would you look at that!” she exclaimed brightly. “Well, I suppose if you really have to stay,” she chuckled. Her laugh was hearty and infectious.
“We’ll pick up Alistair around noon, Rachel,” my mother told her.
“Alright then. Though if we’re in the middle of poker, don’t interrupt!”
Aunt Rachel was my mother’s sister, and though we saw each other rarely, my mother knew that we got on well. She was a bubbly lady – she always found the positives in life, and never failed to make the best of a bad situation. She always wore flamboyant dresses – usually very brightly colored. She was slightly plump around the waist, though unlike most people her age, she never let that stop her.
“Poker?” she asked me. I smiled and nodded. Most people my age would probably consider the things we did "boring" or “lame” though I found them very enjoyable, to say the least. It seemed almost like a ritual, to play some kind of “traditional” game – be it anything from chess to poker – anytime we’d met. She was an avid gamer, and I was often enticed into whatever she was playing at the time.
I sat down in the dining room whilst Aunt Rachel was getting the poker set up. I admired my surroundings – her house seemed fairly old-fashioned. She had several cupboards displaying books and stacks of board games. It’d been so long since I’d been here that this almost seemed alien to me.
We played several rounds of poker, enjoying the mild conversations and banter we’d had between hands. I’d got so wrapped up into it that the fear and paranoia that had overwhelmed me on arrival seemed to have evaded me.
“Oh, good gracious – look at the time.” Aunt Rachel gasped. It was half past ten. That wouldn't be considered late for most people, though my aunt had always been strict on getting enough sleep. “Well, that’ll have to do us for tonight!” she continued. “Your bedroom’s the first door on your left upstairs – you don’t need to worry, I've set up everything for you already,” she spoke in a calm reassuring manner. I started to walk through the hallway.
“Oh and Alistair?” she asked. “If… you need anything in the night, don’t hesitate to ask, okay?” she spoke in a quieter tone than usual.
“Okay,” I replied. I presumed that she was referring to last time, as I had made such a scene, though I’d decided not to talk about it.
On my way through the hallway, I took a glimpse into the living room, only to see the same iron man that had mentally scarred me before. I quickly left – I couldn't look at it for more than a second.
My room was small but homely. There was a lamp on the nightstand next to my bed, which was turned on. The bed itself was placed next to the wall, and seemed to take up half the entire room. I placed my bags down, got changed, and crawled into bed, trying to forget as much of the detail as possible about the armored suit.
“Just one night…” I told myself before turning out the lamp.
I awoke abruptly in the night. My face and body were sweating heavily through my shirt. I was completely unaware of what time it was, though I could tell it was getting late. I was too clammy to sleep. Quietly, I slipped through the house to the bathroom. The floorboards felt creaky, though I trod lightly, to avoid waking Aunt Rachel. Not that she’d need that – she was a heavy sleeper anyway.
I took off my shirt and showered my face with cold water before drying it with a towel. I felt refreshed. Her neighborhood was quiet at night, unlike mine, which often seemed full of noise and ruckus. I got ready to go back to my room.
I stopped. A surge of fear took control of me. You know those times, where you can’t even scream because you’re too scared? Fear paralysis, I think it's called. And it had taken over me. It was the suit. It had to be. It couldn't be anything else. I came to my senses and locked the bathroom door.
I heard it again, finding that it seemed to be coming from the kitchen. I still didn't dare open the door, though.
I waited in the bathroom for what seemed like an age. I was kept awake by the snores from my aunt and my own fear. I heard the sound once or twice more in the next hour or so, though it never seemed to move from downstairs. I couldn't stay there forever. I had to escape.
Slowly, I unlocked the bathroom door, relieved to find that I couldn't see the armored death-trap anywhere. I crept around the outside of the carpet to avoid creaking the floorboards. This route, however, required I went past the stairs to return to my room. I heard the sound several more times and saw that a light from the kitchen appeared to be turned on through a closed door. I kept creeping around the edge, just brushing passed the stairs.
No. I thought No! Not now! For God’s sake! I’d been clumsy enough to make noise, and it was loud enough for the armor to hear it. It stopped along with me. I could feel my heart beating. I was petrified. I couldn’t move.
And that’s when I heard it.
The kitchen door opened and the suit was marching fast. I ran to my room without looking back. I closed the door quickly but quietly, hearing the suit stop on the stairs. My body again was sweaty, pressed with my back on the door to avoid that thing – whatever it was – getting in. It started marching again. The stairs didn’t make a sound, unusually, though it stopped on the hallway – I had no idea where.
I heard nothing for another ten minutes. I knew that it was impossible for it to be living, though in it, I felt that there was an entity – a supernatural being – possessing the lifeless metal. I presumed I was safe.
It struck me that maybe, this was what Aunt Rachel had planned. Not this exactly, but maybe she had known about this thing. She had been aware of the life in the seemingly dead metal. What she had said wasn't referencing my last time here – it was a warning of the armor. The thought that someone so close to me as Aunt Rachel had been keeping something – something living – in her home without telling anyone, was extremely unsettling.
I quietly opened the door, my hands shaking, to peek a glance outside. I was crouched at knee-height, too afraid to stand up. The door was open at a head’s width. I peeked outside slowly, confused by my own reflection. I realized it was there. I looked up, to see it staring directly at me, deadly silent. Without warning, it reached down to grab me with its cold, metal hands.
I awoke in shock, drenched in sweat. Daylight had been my savior.
“Alistair?” Aunt Rachel called before coming into my room. She seemed surprised by my appearance. “I know it’s a little hot in this house, but Jesus!” she exclaimed, laughing heartily again. I felt relieved that that – whatever I had experienced – was over. I quickly put on my dressing gown and walked downstairs alongside her.
“Did you sleep well?” she asked.
“Yes, very well,” I lied.
“Well, as long as you weren't kept awake by me!” she chuckled. “I've always been a heav-”
She stopped suddenly, just outside the living room. Confused, I peeked inside, to see the metal suit completely vanished. I felt somewhat relieved, but oddly confused at the same time. Had my dream really been a dream after all?
“Oh God...” Aunt Rachel muttered quietly, before realizing she’d spoken aloud. She’d sounded much more frightened and disturbed than when she’d spoken before. She quickly walked away.
“Forgive me, Alistair. I’m talking nonsense,” she said quickly before walking into the kitchen.
“What did you mean…” I asked slowly, to give her time to respond.
She sighed sadly. “You never liked that armored suit, did you?” she asked, a forlorn expression on her face. I shook my head. I was surprised, though, as this was the first she’d ever spoken of the knight in armor, so to speak.
She stopped suddenly and sighed.
“You’re a pretty smart kid…” she sighed again. The usually warm quality about her seemed to have faded away to reveal a more wretched interior.
“I’m widowed, Alistair. You know that, right?”
“Well, my husband was… a bad man. When we’d married, he was so sweet, and charming. Irresistible, you might say,” she joked. “He was interested in history, and that’s where that metal suit came from. I never liked it either, it looked hideous. Not that I let him know.
“But after the marriage he changed. He became more angry, more abusive – especially towards me. I didn't know what to do, Alistair…”
I nodded again.
“He’d just come home from work and be abusive – he was a shell of the man I once knew. In some way, that armored suit seemed somewhat poetic.
“Eventually I decided that enough was enough. We argued on the top of the stairwell and he pinned me to the wall – I struggled to breathe. And then I did it. I pushed him down the stairs. He died instantly – broke his neck.” Her voice had a hint of guilt. “I called the police. Never blamed myself. Told them he’d tripped and fallen. I got rid of everything he’d owned and moved house. I felt free, released. I didn't have to be abused by anymore."
I began to smile.
“But…” she continued.
“I've moved three times, since your would-be uncle died. I've left the suit behind all three times. And when I've woken up after the first night in the new house, I've found it stood somewhere. I know it moves. You probably heard it last night, clunking around,” she said. I had nodded softly. I began to become fearful.
“I always check the living room in the morning, and there it is; next to the television. But…” Her voice trembled.
“This is the first time it’s not been there.”
A wave of terror swept me as I saw that behind Aunt Rachel a tall, armored knight, carrying a large butcher’s knife, was walking slowly in her direction.
"It's kind of funny, you see," she explained.
"I cleaned his suit everyday – the same way he had done – to make sure it wouldn't harm me. But I always wondered why he never came back for revenge."
Written by Alex the Vampire