David stumbled to his car in a daze. The last couple of hours were a complete blur. Haunting images would sporadically cross over his mind, slowly reminding him of the hell he was now leaving behind. He felt in his pocket for his phone and dialed 911. There was no way he could explain any of this, but for some reason his first reaction was to call--maybe they could just come here and confirm that it's a normal house, nothing more. They could put his mind at ease and he could go home, live a normal life with--
Then he remembered. The dirt under his feet slipped around him as David tore back to the house.
Maggie was in there. As he ran, he flipped through his phone - looking for the old texts he knew he'd sent, but there was nothing. There were texts to Maggie and from Maggie, but all of them were blank. David swore under his breath as he reached the door. He tried the knob, but it was no use. With both fists he pounded on the door, screaming Maggie's name. Nothing. His fists were red and burning, and David slumped to his knees, palms dragging down the door as he went. After a few moments, David felt his eyes sting. He had left her in there. The woman he loved went in there to save him, and took his place. He had to find a way in. There had to be another way in. David rose to his feet with a renewed energy, but before he could move he felt his phone vibrate. It was a text, and looking at the name gave him relief.
It was Peter Terry. Maybe he could help.
-Hey, Dave. You alright? Haven't heard from you in a while.
-peter - jesus - where are you
-I'm in the House. I went in to find you, man. I told you not to go.
-its passed now whatever but peter i need to get back in - do you know how
-Go around back - there's an oak next to the house with a trap door at its base. Go through there, it's a service entrance.
-what why the fuck would this place need a service entrance
-Just get to the tree, man. I'm trying to help you.
David didn't have time to ask anything more. He took off running down the porch to the other end of the house, leaping over the side rail and landing in an awkward pile below. He could see the tree wasn't far. Or maybe it was--the tree was so big that the depth perception was hard to figure. And was that even there before? Yeah, he had other shit on his mind earlier, and who really takes notice of trees, but this one--it was massive. He ran up to the side and there it was: a small, wooden door on the ground below it, like one of those old cellar doors houses used to have leading into their basements. David looked around him and behind his back, and he wasn't even sure why he did. He just had one of those feelings. Shaking it off, David yanked on the handle. The rusted hinges groaned in protest, but after a few hard pulls, it gave way and revealed the darkness below. With a heavy sigh, David slowly made his way down.
Jesus, it was dark. But soon, David was hit with a smell that put the darkness to shame. It was like burnt hair covered in shit and mold. He spit onto the ground. He could fucking taste that smell. David got his phone out and turned it to it's highest brightness. It wasn't much, but he was at least able to see the surrounding walls. Looking around in the dim light, David noticed something strange. He hadn't been in too many underground tunnels, to be fair, but he assumed the walls would be dirt, mud, or something like that. He couldn't quite see what it was, but it wasn't anything man made, or that could pass as dirt. Curiosity got the better of him, and with his phone outstretched he went up to one of the side walls. He had to get close to see it, with the phone almost touching the wall. David's eyes grew wide. No. Can't- With his other hand, David prodded at the wall. It gave a bit, but was solid. He was reminded of the smell, and now knew its origin. It was flesh. The walls of the tunnel were covered in burnt skin. David moved the phone a few inches and followed the light. He saw areas where different skins were sewn together with some rough metallic string, almost like copper wire. One section made his stomach turn over on itself. It was a face. A human face, stretched out and elongated, with the eyes and mouth sewn shut. The nose was removed, and the hole that was left behind was sutured as well. Maybe it was the smell, or the sight of this but David couldn't take it. With a lurch, he turned to the side and vomited on the ground.
The tunnel went on for ages. What was most likely only a few minutes felt like hours to David. He had to get inside and save Maggie. Nothing else mattered. Peter was a friend of his, but if it came down to it, Maggie was the first to save. Peter could rot in there if need be. Then again, he was the one that told him about this path. David's mental debate ceased after something from behind touched him. With a start he spun around and was face to face with nothing. Confused, David brought his phone up and reached out into the blackness. Nothing. Nothing, except a wall. A wall that wasn't there two minutes ago, rank and covered in flesh. David screamed and pounded on the wall in front of him, and it gave only slightly. The hall was shrinking. Trapping him in as he walked. It hit David like a train. He was in the service tunnel, but he was in the house. It had him. There as no going back, the house was pulling him in, and it was glad to see him.
Earlier, this may have fazed David more than it did at that moment. There, in that hell of a tunnel, David barely flinched. He had seen what this place was capable of, and he had witnessed some of the most sanity-testing experiences imaginable. He'd seen it all--or at least he thought. As he walked, David could now hear the tunnel shrinking in from behind. The grinding, sloshing noise of flesh twisting on itself to seal him in made him feel sick again, but he only sped up his walking. After a moment, he heard something that made him stop dead in his tracks. It was a voice. A girl's--and it wasn't Maggie's.
“Why did you come back? Why did you come back?”
David stood there frozen. The voice seemed to come from every where.
“Why did you come back? WHY?”
The screaming was getting closer and David braced himself against the back wall. Soon he heard the thudding footsteps of someone running towards him. And then he saw her. A girl, no older than thirteen, running up to him yelling her constant question. David was too stunned to react short of just standing there. The girl ran up to him and began to pound on his chest with her fists, hard at first, but then weakening--like a spoiled girl hitting the ground when she doesn't get her way.
“Why, David...? Why did you come back...?”
The girl slumped to her knees in front of him, with one final hit against his leg. David stood there in shock, hands slightly raised and tense. His fear began to ease out of him. She clearly wasn't a threat, and didn't seem to be a ghost or anything.
“Hey,” he began, “it's alright. Who are you?”
The girl jumped slightly at his words. Slowly she lifted her head to look at David. His heart sank as he saw her face. No eyes. Absolutely no eyes. Blackness. And when she spoke, he could see inside her mouth. No tongue and no teeth, just a void.
“You came to save us...didn't you?"
The girl stood up and brushed her hair out of her face. For some reason, even taking into consideration how terrifying she should have been to David, there was something oddly... normal about the girl. She had shoulder length brown hair, and was skinny as a rail with a few specs of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Even her clothes could have been found in any store: black tank top and jeans tucked into black-red boots. She was older than he first thought, as well. Closer to sixteen - if she even had an age. A hum from behind them startled them both, and dragged David back into his current situation.
“We have to go,” she said. “Now.” And the girl grabbed his hand and took off. Surprised, David followed and nearly dropped his phone. He tried to hold it up as far as he could to light the way.
“No need,” the girl raised her free hand in front of her as she spoke, “I got it.” She mumbled something under breath, something that couldn't have been English, and a glowing light pulsated in front of them and followed. It was like a spot light from above was following their movements. The hum from behind was getting louder as they approached the first fork in the tunnel. Without hesitation, the girl veered them over to the right. Clearly she knew where she was going, and David wasn't about to argue. After a moment, the humming stopped, and they stood in front of a ladder leading up into darkness.
“Just up here!” And the girl began to climb the ladder before them. David snapped back into reality, and he was incredibly confused.
The girl stopped mid climb and looked over her shoulder.
“Look, I know this is weird-”
“No. No, I know what weird is. I've seen weird. Who are you?”
“I'll explain soon, okay? We just really kinda need to get out of here, okay? No one is supposed to be here and we, well, are. So--” And with that, the girl returned to her climb. David was about to retort, but the hum from behind grew louder. Survival outweighed understanding at that point, and David grabbed the ladder and followed the girl, leaving that tunnel hopefully for the last time.
The ladder lead the pair into an empty room. It almost looked like a huge broom closet. A few scattered buckets and mops were lining the walls, but for being a part of the house, it was very unassuming. The girl next to him shook herself off and shoved her hand toward David. Her mood swings were clearly something to be impressed with, and David reluctantly took her hand and shook it.
“You're probably wondering who I am, and why I know you.” The girl didn't even wait for David to respond. “My name is Natalie, and this is sort of my house.”
“What are you talking about? How is this your house? This fucking place is your house?”
“I know, I know, but you have to understand what happened. It wasn't always like this, it--”
“And what the hell--what was that thing you did? With the light down there?”
“Yes, I know - this is all a part of it. It all relates, just let me explain.” Natalie paused and looked at David. He closed his mouth and looked back at her, letting her know she was now free to talk without interruption. “This is my house. I know it may seem like hell right now, and you're right. It is. My family kind of dealt in some weird stuff. We moved into this house about ten years ago, and it was nice. A small, quaint place, yeah, considering I'm used to the city--but it was nice. The problem is, my family, we...can do things. Witches, I guess.” Natalie kind of laughed at the thought. “Mostly just parlor tricks, like that light show you saw in the tunnels. But some of us, like my brother, took it a bit too far. He started to mess with some dark dealings--demons and summonings and the like. I mean, summoning isn't always bad. I can summon a cat, for instance, which is kind of cute but what my brother dealt with was far worse. We would try and tell him to end it, but the power was kind of getting to him. Peter was never one to listen to reason.”
“...Peter?” The ideas was circling David's head, but he wasn't quite ready to accept it. Peter had been his friend for years... he thought.
“This one night, seven years ago, my brother took it too far. Summoning demons for a few minutes here and there wasn't enough for him anymore, he needed more. We would ask him why he was so obsessed with all this, and he would only respond by asking, 'Why not?' What happened over the next few nights...it's kind of hard to talk about it.” Even with her blacked out eyes, David could tell this memory really pained the young girl. All of this--this hell--was because of her brother, his friend. It seemed to David that this girl was just as much a prisoner as he was.
“Alright,” David said, putting a hand on her shoulder, “then let's get you out of here.”
David took a look at his surroundings. His heart jumped slightly as he glanced around. Aside from the hatch in the floor they just entered through, there wasn't any other exit. Just smooth cement walls.
“Do you know where we are?” He asked the girl, hoping to God she had some idea.
“Yeah, of course,” she said, with a bit too much hesitation for David's liking. “It's my house, isn't it?” And with that she made her way over to one of the far walls. The surface of the wall was a smooth brushed gray cement. There was no way through, no door, nothing. Natalie reached into her pocket and took out what looked to be a small piece of artist's charcoal. She pressed it to the wall and began to draw a long, swooping line about three feet in length.
Line after line followed, and David watched in awe as the girl stood back and admired her work. David had never seen anything like it outside of fantasy movies. It was like a yin yang mixed with a pentagram mixed with a child's doodle. Natalie placed the charcoal back into her pocket and ran her fingers through her hair. After a moment of silence, she raised her hand and placed her right palm against the symbol, resting two fingers against her temple with the other. At first David thought she was speaking to him, but then realized that she was chanting her weird language again. Soon the symbol seemed to be vibrating, and David watched on as it began to steadily glow a deep purple. Natalie smiled to herself as she felt the wall shake before it split in two.
"I've always loved doing that."
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