The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Suzanne Madron
Every night since he’d bought the house, he could hear the sounds of footsteps wandering around. At first, he had ignored it. Old houses creak and settle, he knew. He had renovated enough of them to know all of the ways a house could talk if one was quiet enough to listen.
This house was different. The sprawling Victorian had an odd feel to it that he was unable to put his finger on when he had bought it at auction. The owners had been the last of the family that built it, and with no one to claim it when they died, it had gone on the market.
It was his second week in the house, and he lay on his makeshift cot and stared up into the shadows of the crown molding. The first few nights he heard the footsteps, he had checked to ensure there were no squatters or burglars in the house, then chalked it up to old floorboards and plumbing.
He sat up and rubbed at his eyes. What had started as a single set of footsteps now sounded as if an entire group was wandering the halls. He grabbed his phone and the hammer he kept next to the cot and stepped into the hallway. There was no one and nothing but dust motes and the sound of phantom footsteps.
He cocked his head to the side in confusion. The sound was coming not from the hallway, but inside the walls. His heart leaped with excitement when he thought of hidden passageways. It would be a great selling point when he put the house back on the market.
He followed the footsteps through the house, down into the finished basement. He flicked on the lights, sure that he would discover whoever had been lurking inside the walls, but there was no one. The footsteps continued on, past a wall and into what he had assumed was the house’s foundation and dirt in the backyard.
He pressed against the wood of the wall and felt a cool draft. “Nope. Not tonight,” he muttered and went back to bed. He would figure out where this went in the morning.
Sleep eluded him, and as soon as the gray light of pre-dawn crept through the uncurtained windows, he was back in the basement with his tools and a gun. The wall, he discovered, was on a spring hinge, and popped open as soon as he pressed on it.
Beyond the wall was a dark passageway leading along the basement walls and beyond. He shone his flashlight into the space and followed the passage beyond the old foundation.
Roughly fifteen feet in, he discovered an odd space, and impossibly, another building. It was old, much older than the house itself, and made entirely of stone. He wandered around it, trying to figure out what it could have been. There were no windows and only one door. He ran his hands over the strange symbols carved into the ancient wood and lifted the latch.
When he stepped into the building, he was bathed in an orange glow. An entire world spread out before him, and he found himself on a rock ledge overlooking a vast cavern. Bones crunched beneath his feet, and the walls of the small structure were nowhere to be found. He spun around to exit only to find the door was gone.
Below him, the ground began to move. All at once, he understood who – and what – had been making the sound of footsteps in the walls of the house.
Fiction © Copyright Suzanne Madron
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Suzanne Madron:
The house across the street seems to go on the market every few months, but this time nothing about the sale is normal, including the new owners. No sooner has the for sale sign come down and the neighborhood is thrown into a Lovecraftian nightmare and the only way to find out is to attend the house warming party.