Dark House

Molly lived in the dark house on the block. The one with the forest for a yard. The one disconnected from the its pristinely maintained urban neighbors. The one adults didn’t see as they walked past with their dogs. The one that was haunted.

Molly lived there.

She never particularly cared much that the house was haunted. She went about her business and the house went about its. She didn’t mind if the house was killing people as long as it didn’t kill her.

Aside from living in a haunted house, she lived a normal life. She worked as a paralegal for a small law firm, belonged to a book club, and had just started dating a computer programmer named Martin whom she met through a friend. Martin was sweet. He had sandy brown hair, lived alone, and called his parents every Sunday.

Martin couldn’t believe his luck at finding someone like Molly. When he first saw her at the bar for Tom’s birthday, he immediately classified her as a WINF, his short hand for something like a MILF, only with “Women I’ll Never” replacing “Moms I’d Like to”. Most women fell into this category. The few who didn’t he labeled as “pandas”, a nickname he got from WWF, which was what he and his college buddies had called “Women I Wouldn’t…” He had no nickname for women he liked who would sleep with him. He had just called them Mary and Liza.

They had nothing on Molly. Her green eyes sparkled in the dim bar light, and just a glimpse of creamy white cleavage showed through her collared work shirt. Her long black hair swirled about her shoulders with a caressing softness that reminded Martin of being toweled dry after a childhood bath. Definitely a WINF, he thought and smiled before turning back to his conversation. Best not to dwell too much on WINF’s. Just spot them and move on.

So when Molly came over and said “Hello”, he nearly spilled his lime rickey. That she seemed to find him interesting and funny sent him over the moon. After a suitable number of dates, she spent the night at his place with her clothes on the bedroom floor, except for her black-and-white polka-dotted bra with the little pink bow, which landed on the lamp.


To say the house killed people was something of a misnomer. It really more trapped them. They certainly ceased to be alive, but they weren’t exactly dead either.

Molly knew something had to be wrong with the house as soon as she saw the listing on eBay. A house that size, for that price, in that neighborhood? She wanted to see it for herself so she drove by it… several times before she finally figured out that the overgrown jungle of a lot she kept passing actually sheltered a house within. Ah, she thought. That’s the problem. Nothing a little landscaping couldn’t fix. She bid on it and won. Of course, she was the only person who bid on it.

Not long after moving in, she discovered the real reason for the low price and the motivated seller. But after a few nightmarish weeks, she and the house arrived at a truce. She stopped trying to redecorate or help people, and the house left her alone.


Martin had never even seen Molly’s house, let alone been inside it. Somehow in the intoxicating glow of a new relationship, Martin hadn’t noticed. All he knew was that she lived close enough to walk over at a moment’s notice, and that’s all that mattered.

One evening, as Molly and Martin lay entangled in each others post-coital arms, Martin heard a squeak and then a flutter. He turned on the light to see a bat flying around the corner of the room. In the ensuing chaos of screaming and flying sheets, Martin grabbed the first handy object, his brass pedestal lamp engraved with the United Federation of Planets insignia, and heaved it at the bat. Missing badly, the lamp crashed through the window and continued its maiden voyage to the street below. The bat, thrown into hysterics itself by all the high pitched screaming (coming mostly from Martin) followed the lamp out into the calm night.

Martin stood naked at the foot of the bed panting. Molly leaned against the corner of the room wrapped in a sheet. She’d grown so accustomed to tuning out horrible sights and sounds, one little bat shouldn’t get her heart racing, but there it thumped.

They both heard it at about the same time. Their gazes floated up to the ceiling and the faint cacophonous screeching hum beyond. Slowly Martin edged his way over to the pull the cord that lowered the drop ladder to the attic. Molly’s saucer-sized eyes followed his hand as it reached up to grab the hard plastic ring on the end. He pulled.

It was as if the attic had been filled with a strange fluttery brown noisy liquid that now flowed down and swirled around them before draining out the broken window into the night sky. They both screamed as Martin pushed Molly out of the room, down the stairs, and out into the darkness.


Molly was uncomfortable, to say the least, with the idea of Martin spending the night at her place. If her embarrassingly out-dated décor weren’t enough, there was the whole problem of her house being haunted. Unfortunately, the bat expert had insisted Martin’s house was uninhabitable until all the bats were gone. The risk of rabies was too high. Molly didn’t think rabies sounded all that bad. Rabies was curable, assuming you got your shots right away. Her house was fatal.

The bat expert had brought them down some clothes, and all the excitement had made Martin hungry. Molly insisted they eat at the late-night Chinese place up the road. She didn’t have any food as her kitchen was just too dangerous. Even in her current state of détente with her house, she didn’t like to go in there. Martin had suggested getting the food to-go, but where would they have eaten? The dining room was seriously off limits at the moment. She had no TV in the living room, and she flat out would not allow any food in her bedroom after a traumatic incident in her last apartment involving mice.

Molly encouraged Martin to drink several beers hoping the combination of the evening’s excitement and the alcohol would send him into a quick deep slumber. Unfortunately as they made their way back to her house, she could tell while he certainly wanted to go to bed, but not to sleep.


Everything seemed to have turned sepia-toned, as if Martin had just stepped out of Oz back into Dorothy’s house. They’d somehow navigated the trees in the dark and climbed up the rotting wood steps without stepping on protruding nails. Molly clicked on a light and creaked the door closed behind them.

The entryway had paisley wallpaper down half the wall, a chair rail, and then knotted pine paneling down to the hardwood floor. A dark mahogany hall butler stood sentinel by the door caught with them in the tiny pool of light thrown down by a strange flower shaped fixture in the beige ceiling. The hallway disappeared away from them.

“There’s no place like home,” he said looking around.

“It was like this when I bought it,” she said and bit her lip. “Haven’t had time to redecorate.”

“No, I like it. Very homey.” He lied unsuccessfully, expecting Elmira Gulch to pop out from around a corner strangling Toto. Mostly he wanted to go back to his bat-infested apartment as quickly as possible. He even turned back towards the door, but then, noticing the pile of shoes at the foot of the hall butler, he went to take off his shoes.

“Oh! No, you don’t have to do that.”


“You can leave your shoes on.”

“I don’t mind,” and he popped both of them off. “I can’t stand wearing shoes without socks anyway.” The bat expert hadn’t been overly thorough in bringing them clothes. The smooth floor felt cold under his bare feet, but oddly comforting at the same time. The sense of dread that had been creeping up his back receded down to his ankles. He didn’t so much want to move anymore, let along leave.

But then he caught a glimpse of Molly’s breasts through her button down shirt, bra-less, again thanks to the bat expert. What followed was only slightly less chaotic than releasing a pack of hyenas into a slaughterhouse. Molly initially resisted but got swept up in the moment, a victim of a few drinks herself and her complete inability to resist any man with that exact shade of sandy brown hair and encyclopedic knowledge of Philip K. Dick novels. They floated upstairs and lost themselves in a flurry of pillows, sheets, and creaking bedsprings that built until they both shook with violent ecstasy. Martin even thought he felt the house shudder and moan a little when they climaxed. Then the wind howled and the shutters banged.


Martin awoke sometime in the night both parched with thirst and desperate to pee. He slipped out of bed carefully and pulled on his frigid pants off the floor. Outside in the hallway, he closed the door to the bedroom and pawed the wall for a light switch. He found an old push button one and hoped for the best. A series of dimpled glass orbs came to life in the ceiling. As Martin’s eyes adjusted to the warm tan glow, he could just make out the bathroom down the hall.

Martin sat down to pee at night, so he could close his yes if he wanted to without having to worry about his aim. But as he emptied what felt like a 5 gallon water coller into the bowl, he got bored and looked around the room. Molly had an old claw-foot tub. That could be fun. He made a mental note to suggest a bth. The tub looked strange somehow, and in the dim light from the hallway (as in his haste he hadn’t bothered to hunt for a switch in the bathroom) he could just make out that the feed weren’t claws at all, but looked more like regular feet. He’d never seen a regular-foot tub before.

He stood up and pulled the cord on the toilet, the reservoir being up near the ceiling. Turning the knob on the sink unleashed a tiny rivulet of water and a horrible chunk-chunk of a sound that seemed to lurch the entire vanity. He shut it off quickly, scrambling for enough water to at least rinse his hands. He wouldn’t be able to drink from that faucet though without waking neighbors several blocks away.

Back down the hallway quietly, he looked down from the top of the stairs into the void. Maybe it wasn’t worth it, trying to find the kitchen, but the back of his throat burned for water. He couldn’t fall asleep this thirsty. He’d just take a minute to get a glass of water. Then he could crawl back in bed beside Molly’s warm body and fall asleep.


He moved through the downstairs hallway trying not to squeak the floor and wake up Molly. The winds that had been so lout earlier in the evening had died down, leaving the house gripped in silence. Martin could hear his own heart beating in his ears. All the doors along the hallway were closed, but straight ahead Martin could just make out an ancient refrigerator with a large chrome clasp through an archway.

Once inside he found a speckled counter top that disappeared into a large porcelain sink. Martin could see the reflection of the hall light in the u-bend of the pipes. The air smelled old and he could feel the cold of the tile floor wrapping its way up around his legs embracing his entire body. Standing there, he nearly forgot why he’d come downstairs in the first place. Ah yes, his driving maddening thirst. He swallowed a dry sort of swallow and locked his eyes on to the faucets of the sink.

The pipes sang quietly as the water sputtered out into Martin’s cupped hands. He couldn’t poor it down his throat fast enough and soon bent down to drink directly from the faucet feeling the metallic taste on his tongue. Sated, he grasped the cool sink as he caught his breath. With his feet on the floor and his hands on the sink, Martin comfortable and relaxed, as if he were melting into them. His mind drifted into the darkness swirled through his memories of happiness and joy.

Then a sound brought him right again. It was a soft wisp of a sound. His ears led him out into the hallway to the door just next to the kitchen. It had knots on it. So did the paneling along the bottom of the walls. Martin stared at the knots on the door. They seemed to make a little face. Two knots for eyes, another for a round moth. A screaming mouth. A frightened mouth. He saw another on the door and another. More on the paneling. The wallpaper on the walls, the paisleys made grotesque frightened faces too, screaming at him, crying. Everywhere the screaming faces stared at him through hollow eyes. Spinning around him. Knots on the floor. Shadows on the ceiling. If he stood on the ceiling, they couldn’t get him. The screaming faces couldn’t…

A child. That’s what it sounded like. A wimpering child. He pushed the door open and the hall light struggled to fill the room. He could see the edge of a large dining room table but not much else. Except the table had no chairs.

The wisp of a sound had grown initially louder and then stopped suddenly as if silenced by the light. Martin held his breath, but could still faintly hear the wheezing sound of breathing. “Hello? Is someone there?”

A sharp intake of breath and a sniffle. “I’m sorry,” said a voice as fragile as a snowflake, “Was I too loud?” Sniffle. Snort. “I’m sorry. I’ll be quieter.”

Martin stepped into the room squinting in the darkness. “What?” His hand groped the wall for a button to turn on the lights.

“I’m sorry if I was loud. I didn’t mean to bother you.” Snif. Gulp.

“Who are you? Where are you?” He couldn’t find the switch.

“I’m sorry?” The voice started to break.

There it was. He pushed the button into the wall and a dusty chandelier flickered to light in the center of the room. Only a few bulbs came on casting a dull brown light down on the room below. Martin scanned the room for the source of the voice, but only saw a series of dishes and platters set on a shelf around the room. “Where are you?”

The voice shattered into tears. “Oh my god. You’re not the lady. You’re not… Can you help me? Please, can you help me?”

At the end of the table, no taller than the chair sitting next to her, stood the dirty, tear stained face of a young girl with curly brown hair.

“What’s wrong? Are you lost?” Martin walked towards her around the table. Something looked odd about the girl. Her hface seemed flatter than it should be and her unkempt locks fell about her shoulder in a pattern that reminded Martin… Well, it didn’t remind Martin so much as look strikingly like the weaved pattern in the back of the old dining room chair next to her.

“Please, can you help…” she babbled on, tears jumping to her red blood-shot eyes.

As Martin came around the head of the table, the girl came into full view. He stopped and looked at her. Her legs were bent out in front of her as if she were sitting, but she had no chair. Her abnormally long arms clung to her sides with her hands reaching out for the ground below. She didn’t seem to have feet. No, she was on her toes, but her legs were all skinny and smooth below the knee. How could she balance like that? Her toes seemed rooted in the floor.

“Help me.”

Martin looked at the chair next to her. The front legs were the same, or almost the same. The back ones seemed skinnier, like stretched out arms. The weaving. A face in the back of the chair. Faces in the plates, in the table. The girl sobbing. The cold floor on the bottoms of his feet made him stand up on his toes. He tried to grab the table. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t think.

A scream snapped the world back into view and his feet back on the floor, but it wasn’t his scream. The girl. A high pitched warbling “Stop!”

Martin caught his breath.

“Don’t let it get you too!” She sniffed and snorted. Snot shot out of her nose.


“The house. Don’t let it get you too. Once you’re feet get stuck, you can’t get free. I tried. I tried and tried and tried to free Ana, but I tried too long. My feet got stuck too.” She turned her eyes and her head as much as she could to the chair next to her. “Now she’s gone. Please, can you help me? I don’t want to become like Ana. Please, I don’t want to become a chair. Sometimes… Sometimes I can still hear her crying.”

“Of course. Of course I’ll help you.” He leapt at her feet and tried to pull her up off the floor. “Of course. How do I help you?” He pulled at her feet.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Oh please.”

He heard thumping down the stairs and a distant call of his name. He scratched and clawed at the girl’s feet, cold and hard and stuck to the floor.

“Martin!” Molly slid into the doorway, her robe trying to continue down the hall. “Martin!” She yelled again, straightening her robe out and closing the front.

Martin stood up next to the girl. “Molly quick, we have to help her.”

“Martin,” Molly screeched, “Get out of there. Get out of there quick.”

“Molly, we have to help her.”

“No, Martin. You can’t. Get out of there.”

“We have to help her.”

The screamed at each other from across the room. The girl sobbed. The house groaned a loud shuddering moan that shook dust down from the ceiling and shocked them all into silence. The large door started to swing shut.

“No!” Molly thrust her shoulder into the door and stopped it with a loud crack. “Not him!” The house answered loudly.

“Molly, we have to help her.”

“You can’t” she screamed back. “You can’t help them Martin. The house will have them.”

“Them? How many are there Molly? You know about this? You knew she was down here.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, lady. I tried to be quiet. I tried.”

“Shut up!”

“Molly! She’s just a child.”

“You can’t help them. I tried, Martin. Believe me, I tried.” Tears now stained Molly’s cheeks. “When I first moved in I tried, but the house almost had me too. I couldn’t save them. I couldn’t. You can’t.”


“What would you have me do? Saw off their legs? You can’t… Just ignore them. Just leave the house alone.”

“But Molly, she’s just a child”

“I know. Martin…” The hinges screamed as the door pushed against Molly’s shoulder. “Martin, I can’t hold the door forever. Please…”

“How many, Molly? How many since you moved in?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know Martin. I had to stop. I had to leave them alone.”

“I’m not leaving without her Molly.”

The door heaved against Molly’s shoulder, pushing her feet back in to the hallway before she regained her traction. “I can’t hold the door forever Martin!”

“I’m not-“

“The house will have you too. No!” She forced the door back a few inches. “I won’t let you take him. I love him.”


The house screamed and the floor boards shuddered.

“I love you Martin.” They looked at each other from across the room. No woman had ever told Martin she loved him, no woman other than his mother.

“I love you Molly.” He said it without thinking. He did love her, with all his heart. He could look at her beautiful face for the rest of his life and die a happy man. Her robe fell away slightly, and he could see the soft slope of her creamy skin leading down to breasts naked beneath the terrycloth. He wanted to fly across the room and kiss her and carry her up to the bedroom. But the girl sniffed and snorted beside him, and the house started to rumble from deep below their feet. Molly slammed her weight into the door.

“I’m not leaving without her, Molly! You can’t just let her die.”

“I can’t let you die.” The hinges of the door let out a screech as the door pushed Molly back into the hallway. She could just see Martin from around the door. “No. No!” The door slammed shut and threw Molly against the wall.


The light of the chandelier flickered out, and the room went black. The girl’s scream split Martin’s ears as the cold floor gripped his feet.


Molly pounded the door as the house shook. “No. No. I love him.” She slumped against it and slid to her knees. “I’ll do anything… anything to save him.” In a flash she knew what the house wanted. “Even that, but you have to let him go. You have to let them all go.” The house twisted and popped. Molly stood up and screamed into the din “Only if you let them all go!” And the house was silent.

Molly walked back down the hallway letting her robe fall away to the floor. The cold air embraced her skin as she glided back up the stairs and into the bedroom. The door closed gently behind her.


Martin sifted through the wreckage of the house as the sun rose. The girl, Juliana, and her friend Ana sat cross-legged on the sidewalk watching him. All the others had left, wanting to get as far away from their former prison as they could. They had been mostly children. Martin wondered if any of them still had homes to go back to.

Every now and then one of the girls would shout “Molly!” and he’d listen hopefully for a response. His own voice had been shouted away long before. He pulled aside splintered boards and broken hunks of plaster to no avail. Then he lifted away some shingles and a piece of the rough to reveal her bed completely intact, and yet different somehow. The sun cleared a tree limb and sent a shaft of light directly onto the headboard. Her beautiful face now carved in wood stared back at him. The rubble shifted and the bed slid through a gab down towards the foundations lost in the darkness and a cloud of dust.

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