The house appeared to be empty. No one was in the living room, no one was in the kitchen, and no one was the bathroom. The upstairs bedrooms were completely deserted. Not a single soul could be found. Unless, it didn’t want to be found.
This did little to out the woman at ease. At 24, Mara took pride in her thick skin. Very little got to her. And yet, a nervousness held a cold grip over her heart and refused to let go.
Where am I? How did I get here? Emma wonders. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. The last thing she remembers is her and a couple of friends just getting back to her place from bar hopping. Everyone, including herself and her boyfriend Nick, was exhausted so Mara let them stay for the night. She then opened her eyes. She couldn’t remember anything else.
The house she was in was small. The living room had a ripped up couch a with two sofa chairs on each side. The rips looked too clean. This wasn’t from overuse or an overzealous cat. If Mara didn’t know better, she would think someone intentional ripped it. A TV was standing opposite of the furniture. Mara pushed the on button but received nothing but way-too-load static that nearly gave her a heart attack. The walls were dark red and, maybe she was just seeing things, but Mara could’ve sworn that something was dripping from the ceiling and walls. She briefly watched the mysterious drops roll down the wall before disappearing into the dirty carpet. The paint must be wet, Mara figured. What else could it be?
The kitchen was in worse condition. At least the living room, while bleak, was somewhat organized. The kitchen on the other hand looked like a tornado blew throw it. Pots and pans littered the floor along with shards of broken glass from the window above the sink. Cabinet doors were flung open while some were only just hanging on with a single screw. The stove was rusted beyond use and the oven was in no better condition. The table was missing a leg and leaning lopsided. There were no chairs. Those were smashed to bits.
The bathroom was small and dank. To say it was in disrepair would be compliment. The mirror was cracked to the point Mara couldn’t see anything and the floor tiles were chipped or not present at all. Was there a fight or something? The bath tub was gross to say the least. Something coated the bottom, leaving a suspicious black rim around the tub. The ugly wallpaper that used to be white was in a trial separation and currently attempting to leave and has had some success.
The upstairs was blocked by some boxes. Overall, the whole house looked like a Hollywood war took place. Everything was broken and strewn about. It looked like a cheap set from a horror house. Regardless, Mara wanted to leave. The house still managed to give her the creeps.
Except one small problem stopped her. There was no door.
“Hello.” She called out. “Is anyone here?”
“Mara.” A voice called out. “It’s time, Mara.” It was slightly masculine but sounded to mechanical and strange to be from a human man. It sounded more like two identical voices piled on top of each other from a diseased mouth. The warped echo came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
The unease escalated into fear but Mara’s expression kept it hidden. She was strong and capable of defending herself. She could handle this, right? Right?
There has to be a way out. She explored the house again and again but couldn’t find any means of escape. There was no backdoor and every window was either locked or broken with the remaining shards too much a risk to climb through. Not that it would do Mara any good though. There were security bars on each window. How ironic. Those are supposed to keep intruders out not keep them in.
Mara griped the bars until her knuckles turned white. They were strong. There was no way she could bend those; they looked way too new compared to the rest of the carnage. An unsettling thought passed Mara’s mind: was someone or something keeping her here? No, that was foolish. Who would want to keep her captive in this cliché of places?
"What is it time for?” Mara asked the voice. “Why won’t you let me LEAVE?!” Something deep in Mara’s gut told her that she could not leave until she found where the voice was coming from and what does he/it want.
“Time for what?” She asks again. But either the voice didn’t hear or refused to speak up because silence was all she received for an answer.
“Fine. Don’t help. I’ll find…whatever it is… on my own.”
Mara searched the house again with the goal of finding anything in mind. However, the results were the same.
“Aghh!!” She jumped. She had turned down a hallway when a person suddenly appeared. The person was female around her mid-twenties and of a slightly smaller than average height. Her hair was blond (almost white) and wavy with a pale complexion to match. Her waist was tiny but so were her breasts. It was as if they were balancing each other out.
Without thinking, Mara curled her hand into a fist and punched the would-be-attacker. A distorted cobweb of cracks covered the woman’s body and face. And the, she fell apart. The sharp fragments of what was left of her hit the ground, multiplying upon contact. The sound shattered the silence in the house briefly amplified by the quiet.
“Fucking mirror.” She cursed to herself. Jumping at my own reflection? How pathetic.
Something warm and wet slid down her fingers. Confusion temporally replaced her annoyance and fear as she brought her hand to eye-level. Her hand was bleeding. The dull beads of blood slowly traveled down the flesh of her fingers.
Mara waited for the pain to take hold but it never came. One minute passed then two then three but still nothing. Yet the blood continued to flow.
I need to cover this. Mara thought. But there was nothing to use. No bandages and the only cloth she could find was coated with a yellow paste.
“Gross.” She said upon the cloth’s health inspection. It failed.
The blood refused to stop but there was nothing to do. Mara forced herself to continue onwards, the wet feeling of the blood being her only proof that she could still feel.
Mara, having returned to the living room, was quickly running out of false bravado. Then the voice was back. “Come to me, Mara. Let’s go home. It’s time to go to sleep.” The voice called out mockingly.
There was a change though. This time there was a source to the sound. In the living room before walking into the kitchen was a door. Wait, that wasn’t there before. Yet, that was where the voice was coming from.
Terrified but driven to finally being able to leave this house of dread raised her hand. Taking a deep breath, Mara closed her eyes in mental preparation and grabbed the handle.
The handle was rusted and felt really weird under Mara’s blood stained fingers. But she paid it no mind and turned the handle.
“MARA! WAKE UP!” A different voice shouted in her ear.
“Whaa?” Mara opened her eyes and found herself in her bed back home. It was just a dream.
“You were having one hell of a nightmare. You kept saying ‘He’s in the basement. He’s in the basement’ over and over. I tried waking you up but it was as if you were fighting a demon possession. What the hell were you dreaming about?” Nick asked.
Wiping the sweat that has settled on her forehead, Mara groaned. She was so close that time.
“God damn it.” She whispered to herself.
Her bed was in disarray. Pillows were thrown across the room and the comforter was in a tight tangle around her body. Sheets were barely holding on to the mattress from Mara’s tussle. Her extra blankets were strewn about in bundles close to her bed or as far as possible having been pushed off if not thrown alongside the pillows.
Nick continued to stare at her waiting for a better reply.
Mara cleared her throat and said, “It’s not that big a deal.” Nick’s face dropped into an exasperated scowl.
“I had to practically hold you down. What the fuck?”
Mara then explained what happened: being trapped in the house, the voice, everything. “It’s just a reoccurring dream that I’ve been having for a long time. I don’t know what it means or why I keep having it. I don’t know why I toss and turn either. ”
“Are you ok?” He asked concerned.
“I’m fine.” Mara replied with a shrug. She normally keeps this type of thing to herself but even though Mara would never admit it, it felt good to share the experience with someone else.
“Uh huh.” Nick was unconvinced. Mara was shaking but he knew better than to press the issue.
“So what’s behind the door?”
Mara simply looked at him, “I don’t know. It’s always locked.”