The house was dimly lit throughout, a layer of dust choking its visitors. Sanjay coughed as quietly as he could, for fear of disturbing whatever was in the house. “We should split up,” Aaron said.
“That’s a perfectly horrifying idea.”
“You clearly haven’t seen any horror movies in the last millennium.”
“Nope,” Aaron grinned at Sanjay. Sanjay sighed.
“I guess we should start exploring, or whatever,” Sanjay said resignedly, “Lemme remind you that this was your idea, not my suicide wish.”
They ventured into the house cautiously. “Wait, so are we splitting up, or no?”
“No, you idiot.”
“Oh, okay.” Aaron shot another stupid grin at Sanjay. Aaron took out his flashlight and immediately mice scampered from beneath the flashlight’s gaze. Aaron’s grin disappeared. The house seemed to be fairly normal, architecturally at least. Directly opposite the front door was a set of dark wooden stairs which turned to the right and out of sight. On the wall to their left was a painting of water lilies. Sanjay took out his own flashlight from his backpack and shined it on the painting. At the bottom, it said, “Claude Monet 1904.”
Aaron walked up the stairs, producing an eerie creak. Sanjay hesitated to go up with Aaron. Before he knew it, Aaron was out of sight.
“Aaron, I think we should retrace my steps,” Sanjay called, trying to make his voice more confident that he felt. There was no response. “Aaron?” Again, nothing. Sanjay uttered a few of his choicest curses before climbing the stairs. As he turned around the corner, he could hear a faint noise coming from upstairs. Sanjay proceeded to go upstairs, and as the second floor came into view, Sanjay gasped.
The floor was empty. It couldn’t really be called a floor, more like a one-room upstairs. A huge window covered one entire wall, though it was molded to the point that it could barely qualify as translucent. There was a single door leading to a closet on the other side of the room. Sanjay inhaled sharply before walking ever so cautiously toward the closet, the door of which was trembling. Suddenly, a sneezing Aaron erupted from the door, screaming.
“What was that all about?” Sanjay asked as Aaron wiped the sweat and dust off his face.
“I was locked in hell!”
“Closets can be hell, yes. Which shirt to choose, what matches what, oh so many CHOICES!”
“Shut up. I was locked in a closet. You would’ve sissied out too if you were there.” Sanjay ignored Aaron and continued to investigate. “I thought you were scared of this house. Does it also bring out your inner sass?”
“I am just as scared as you are,” Sanjay retorted forcefully.
“Ooooooh snap! Not even using contractions!”
Sanjay suddenly froze. Aaron was confused. “Hey man, what did you die for?” Sanjay lifted a solitary finger and pointed over Aaron’s shoulder. Aaron followed the finger and whipped around, heart racing to see... nothing, just a blank wall. Sanjay burst out laughing.
“Okay, okay, now I really think we should investigate this hellhole.”
“But, but there’s nothing here. You were wrong. This ain’t no Percy Jackson bullcrap, seeing reality through your dreams.”
“We may as well explore the rest of the house--”
“And get scared out of our wits? HAIL NAW!”
“Eh, I guess so. I didn’t really see anything of note in the kitchen.”
“THEN LET’S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE, MR. P KRISHNARAMKIJAIBAGHAWAN THE SECOND!”
Sanjay raised his eyebrows.
“Something I saw on the internet, never mind that. Now let’s GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”
Sanjay nodded, still surprised by Aaron’s pronunciation of the Indian-not-Indian name. Aaron ran to the stairs, grabbing Sanjay along with him. As they ran down the stairs, Sanjay caught a glimpse a boney white hand and the tops of a pair of black sunglasses disappearing under the moldy window.
Aaron sprinted out of the house with Sanjay in tow to be met with multiple wailing police cars. How they didn’t hear the sirens before, Sanjay had no clue, but there they were, the glorified neighborhood crime watch of Clare View Point. One was holding a gun. Heading these police was none other than a haughty Roger Davies. Sanjay glared at him as Aaron pulled Sanjay in front of himself as a human shield, but when Sanjay looked into the old man’s soulless eyes, it occurred to Sanjay that, today, Mr. Davies was looking particularly like the embodiment of evil itself. Maybe that was because his skin was tinted pale yellow. Or maybe because his eyes were black.
The dark figure gazed upon the situation unfolding before the abandoned house. His lips curled into a sinister smile. Perfect. Everything is falling into place. It decided that it would have a name. Yes, a name that people would learn to remember. Even fear it, if necessary. But only if it was necessary. For fear, was a powerful tool, but it had to be used with caution. Otherwise, there was no telling what the fickle, bickering humans would do. Anything better than what they were doing now. Anything more than nothing.