The Dwelling Place

The banging on the door continued for more than an hour, before the car honked outside and the banging stopped….

It was bright, windy and almost noon when we reached our destination for summer vacation. The house was a two storey bungalow that looked somewhat dilapidated with a lake along the backyard. As soon as the car stopped, Riley took off barking towards the lake and Cis followed her, so I got stuck moving all the baggage with mom and dad. After finishing moving, mom called us all in to have lunch. I was starving after all that workout so it was a relief.

Cistine is three years younger than me. I call her Cis for short. She is frail, so we worry about her and try to keep her spirits up, but I think she is stronger and braver than any of us. She doesn’t like to talk much so we mostly communicate through sign language since she was three. The only times she talks is when it’s important. After finishing our lunch, mom and dad decided to unpack, so Cis and I went to tidy up the house a bit.

The house wasn’t that run-down from inside. It has a hall room, kitchen, piano room, which contains a grand piano, and three bedrooms on the first floor and an attic. We went to the piano room first since Cis loves piano. She played Heart and Soul by Hoagy Carmichael on the Grand Piano after we cleaned it. Riley also joined me to listen to her play, and went outside again when she finished. She spent most of the time outside after coming here as if she can’t stand being inside. Next was the bedroom which we stayed in. It had two single beds on opposite sides by the wall, a study table with a rusty lamp just in front of the window and a large wardrobe. I expected the wardrobe to be stuffed but it was empty; though we found some blank diaries, pens and a star-shaped ruby pendant in the study table.

The peculiar thing was that every clock in the house was stuck at three including….  The sky darkened and it started raining soon, which gave Riley a chance to finally come inside. After checking all the rooms, which were almost the same, we went downstairs. During dinner, Dad told us, “Really sorry guys, I promised I would spend time with you but I’ve to go to work tomorrow”. As expected; since his work requires him to be present at the office most of the time. We both said its okay and we understand, in sign language. It had become a habit to communicate in sign language in our family.

Cis, I and Riley went straight up to bed in our room after dinner. By then a storm was brewing outside. I’m scared of darkness so we kept the lights on while sleeping. I woke up to whimpering of Riley and found the lights being off. The flashes of lightning from outside showed me something from which I couldn’t avert my eyes. There was a smoky figure standing near the table, staring at Cis. I was frozen for a moment before dashing to turn on the lights. Whatever it was wasn’t visible anymore. Just then Riley started barking towards the door, which was open. However, I remember closing it myself. Then she ran downstairs. Cis woke up due to the commotion. I told her what I saw and her face darkened. I could tell that she was scared too. Mom and dad had already arrived and Riley calmed down before we went downstairs. I relayed them the story but Mom assured me, “You are just exhausted and had a bad dream. I’m sure it’s nothing to be worried about. You will feel refreshed after having a good sleep.”

Although I said I wouldn’t worry, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Cis and I decided to stick together from then. We went up to sleep again after making sure the door was closed and lights were on this time. I slept restlessly that night. In the morning dad went off to work after breakfast. To distract ourselves from the last night’s incident, we watched T.V. but still I felt uneasy. Cis, I and Riley went to the lake at evening to watch the sunset. As it was raining last night, the ground was muddy so Riley was playing and getting dirty in the mud to her heart’s content. I started feeling a bit relaxed as nothing happened since morning, only to be proven wrong. I was chasing Riley when suddenly Cis blurted out, “Look!!” while pointing towards our bedroom window. There was a woman staring right back at us, scratching the glass. Due to the orange hue casted by the sunset I wasn’t able to see her features clearly. But what I saw, sent a chill down my spine… her eyes were blood red.

I sprinted to our room, trying to remember where I saw that color before but to no avail. Cis was close behind me. There was no one when we reached, but it confirmed our suspicion of the place being haunted. This time I wasn’t the only one who saw it. The sky was getting dark but the wall clock in our room as well as my wrist watch was stuck at three, even though I changed the batteries. While we were contemplating how to tell mom about this, we heard the piano being played. I thought mom might be playing it since she often performed duet with Cis. It was same song that Cis played yesterday. We headed towards the piano room. Riley started barking downstairs and it suddenly got chilly. Something was definitely wrong now. There was a woman wearing a black gown with a veil over her head playing the piano. As we reached there, she stopped playing and started turning her head slowly. She had a wrinkled face, her complexion was as white as snow; irises of the eyes were blood red and sclera was pitch-black. It was the same woman that we saw at the window. The lights started flickering and fused out. We were surrounded by darkness. I wanted to run but my legs weren’t moving. She lunged herself at me, shrieking. Her skeleton like hands stretched out to grab my neck. I surely would have died if Cis hadn’t pushed me and closed the door at the right moment.

Mom came rushing from the kitchen, holding a torch light and asked breathlessly, “What was that scream?” We were just about to tell her when the smoky figure appeared in front of the door. It became clearer and appeared as a small boy with the same blood red eyes as the woman. We grabbed mom’s hand and ran upstairs to their bedroom with Riley and locked the door. We told mom everything that happened. Just as we finished relaying this, continuous loud bangs started on the bedroom door. I was so scared that my hands won’t stop shaking. There wasn’t any escape route except for the window. I was about to suggest this when we heard the horn and the banging on the door stopped. Dad came back.

He doesn’t know what’s happening and probably is in most danger now. Dad came in shouting, “Where are all of you? What happened to the lights?” We took our chances and opened the door. I couldn’t see any of the two spirits around so we sprinted downstairs. He was in the kitchen lighting a candle. We were about to warn him when the woman appeared, hovering over him. She grabbed his neck and opened her mouth. It seemed like she was sucking the life out of him, devouring his soul. Riley sprang forward to help him but the boy turned up behind him and was doing the same thing with Riley. We were standing there paralyzed.

The lifeless body of dad and Riley hitting the floor snapped me out of my trance. My heart was throbbing so fast that it started to hurt. As mom grabbed the car keys, I grabbed Cis’s hand and we dashed towards the door. We got inside the car and went off that cursed place as fast as possible.

No one spoke a word for what seemed like an eternity and then we started crying at the same time. It felt safe but along with a sense of dread over losing dad and Riley. After a moment, I remembered where I saw that blood red color of the eyes but now I saw something that can be defined as nothing but pure terror. I asked, “Mom, where did you find that pendant?” She replied in a quavering voice, “Why are you asking that now? I found it in your room, it was attractive so I tried it out but it seems I forgot to remove it.” My wrist-watch is still stuck at three.