Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019

Death in the Estate

The floor creaked under the weight of the man who stalked the halls of the residence. His footsteps made no sound themselves, but as he leaned on each step, the bare, splintered wood complained with the same groan each time.

The man reached the end of the hall, spun slowly on the heels of his feet and started back down the way he had come. Slowly, patiently, deliberately he walked. Each step letting loose another groan of the floorboards.

Another echo added to the sounds the old house contained.

The master bedroom leaked a thick yellow-green liquid from a corner of the ceiling. It dripped with a dull thud onto the floor where it had eaten away at what was once a thick blue carpet.

The bed, made of a deep red wood, had long since rotted. Eaten away by a nest of something that now stood in its place. The nest throbbed with the energy of the hive creatures that lived within it.

The man who stalked the halls turned again and peered into the nursery. A shrine to a child who was never born. A cot sat in the midst of the room, its foot end towards the door. It had been white, once upon a time. Now it was black with mould. There was no light in here, save the dull glow that entered from the hallway. Something breathed in the blackness of the shadows, deeper in the room. A wheezing, wet breath.

There was no food in the kitchen. But the smell of its rot remained. The taps dripped a pungent green water which ate away at the metal of the basin.

Forks and spoons were scattered across the floor, and the knives had been thrown into the walls. One of them was stuck into the bones of a human hand, severed part way up its forearm.

Downstairs, in the basement, forgotten and abandoned like the rest of the house, a mouse who hadn't learned this lesson yet poked its nose out from behind the rotted and infested cupboards. A sharp metallic noise whistled through the air and the mouse was cut in two. It twisted in its final movements before both parts were whisked into the air and disappeared into the shadows that engulfed the upper half of the room. Where the mouse had stood a second ago, a well polished metal knife wiggled, its sharp point embedded in the floor.

A cold wind blew around the house. Branches from large, dead trees fell onto the roof with a sound reminiscent of inch long fingernails dragging slowly down a pitted and broken blackboard. Glass from the windows not yet broken fell out of their frames and the sound of their shattering echoed throughout the long, abandoned halls.

Through the now empty windows, the wind called out a ghostly cry, making curtains flick like whips and paintings clatter to the floor. The eyes of the paintings subjects, empty, hollow and dead stared off into the middle distance forever seeing nothing.

At the top of the house, overlooking the driveway, a small circular window let light into the attic.

Lightning flashed and the shape of an old woman was silhouetted in the glass. When the lightning came around again, it was gone.

Inside the attic, amongst the messy spiderwebs, were the remains of dozens of cardboard boxes. The dampness had eaten them to nothing and spilled their contents across the floor. Magazines, children's toys, tools.

In the middle of the floor was a lamp with an old shawl draped over it. From the right angle, it kind of did look like an old woman staring out of the window.

Behind the house, not sheltered from the wind, yet unaffected by the perpetual gale, stood the small wooden shed. Like the house, its windows were empty. The glass broken into shards and embedded, sharp edges up, in the dead, yellow, grass below.

The door rattled against its hinges. Then stopped. Then rattled again. Irregular, frantic and angry. On the front of the door was a thick padlock. Brand new and well kept. The only thing holding the door closed.

The back garden of the house was a maze of shingle paths. Each step taken on them would send an echo of shifting stones throughout the yard. Further in, more footsteps could be heard. Scrabbling, running. Something on the hunt. With a scent in its nose. And then nothing. Dead silence. The scent lost, perhaps?

Roses and other plants covered with thorns grew as they would against hedges and old benches. Across the paths they strung themselves. Matted with fur from something and blood from something else, they caught everything that passed down these shingle paths.

At the bottom of the yard was the pond. The water black and stagnant, yet in the middle of it, circling slowly, a stream of bubbles popped on the surface. Everything else was still. A cat, feral and angry stood at the waters edge, sniffing something on the breeze. It arched its back, its fur on end. It hissed and yowled at something unseen and took off back the way it had come. Moments later, more scrabbling footsteps and another yowl, this time cut short.

On the far side of the pond, far from the house, but never quite out of sight was the crypt. The final resting place of the family who had built the house. The only people who had ever lived in it. Who had abandoned it one night and yet who all ended up back here. Like they were drawn to it, even in death. Like the house, the surrounds, the estate would not let them abandon it.

It was made of thick, grey stone. Hand carved. It was the family stone. A stone they shared its name with. It was much larger than any reasonable person would expect a crypt to be, especially with only five people resting inside.

There was no door. No windows. There was no point of entry on any side of it at all. No plants grew within a few meters of it and the ground that was close to it was littered with the bones of a dozen small animals unlucky enough to get close.