She would've recognized that house anywhere, just as sure as she would her own reflection.
It was the exact two-story building she had seen in her dreams – the faded red-brick casing; the boarded-up windows; even the crumbling gray sidewalk was broken in all the same places.
And just like that feeling in her dream, she knew she shouldn’t be here.
She wasn’t invited.
Or was she?
Was she to believe that this was some sort of coincidence? That after years of awakening from the same dream she finally became its reality? That being here, out-of-state and visiting, she just happened to come across a replica of her dream? No. This wasn't an accident. It was a sign.
She had to see it up close and touch it; see what was inside of it.
“Stop the car,” she yelled at her husband.
Startled by the urgency in her voice, Mark slammed on the brakes, throwing the couple forward with a jolt. A pick-up truck swerved around the car’s rear bumper; its driver laid on the horn, screaming an obscenity out his window.
“What the hell?” Mark barked.
“Pull over, honey,” she ordered.
Mark pulled the car over onto a gravel clearing. “You can’t do that while I’m driving, Emma. I don’t know the area and-”
“Sorry, hon,” she cut him off, grabbed for the door handle, and hopped out of the car.
“Where are you going?” he asked the empty passenger seat. Killing the engine, he fell in behind her on the crackled sidewalk. “Emma. What are we doing here?”
“I just have to see it,” she said.
“See what?” Mark asked.
“This house,” she answered, looking up to him with child-like excitement. “This is the exact house as in my dream. Remember the one I told you about? That dream that keeps coming back to me over and over again?”
“Are you sure about this?” he asked, eyeing up the decrepit mass. "It looks more like a shack than a house."
"Oh, It's identical," she replied. “It is so crazy how it stands here - right before me - beckoning me to come and visit."
Mark looked at his watch - a watch that he hardly ever wore, except for special occasions like weddings and funerals and - if he remembered to - Sunday mass. Today, he busted it out for the family wedding. “We better go, Emma. Maybe we can stop back here and check it out after the reception.”
“We have to check it out now,” Emma demanded.
“But people are expecting us. We cannot be late.”
Emma strutted up the chunky sidewalk. “I’ll just be a minute.”
But Mark could tell by her tone - and after ten years of marriage, he knew just about all of her tones by now, and this one said that she’d be more than a minute. And after a decade with her, he also knew that no amount of arguing was going to make a difference. Still, he tried. “Come on, Emma. It’s getting late.”
Ignoring her husband, she took the three steps up to a wooden door. As if on cue, a gush of wind whisked through the air, paused to play with her hair and hit against the decaying door. It pushed it open.
Emma paused, turned around to look at her husband and began to giggle.
In that moment, Mark realized just how she would’ve looked at seven years old. And he knew that in this one moment, he could never love her more.
She gave him a big, goofy smile and scurried through the open door.
“Don’t go in by yourself,” Mark yelled, running after her. He took the steps in one bound and grabbed for the door handle, just as it slammed shut behind his wife. “Emma!” He pounded his fist against the door. “Emma!” His voice was strained. “Open up!”
Inside, she couldn’t hear a thing. She didn’t hear the door slam behind her or the rustle that came from the upstairs bedroom. To her, there was only an awkward silence. A hush so quiet it was deafening.
The empty room she stood in was spacious. Her feet met a hardwood floor, brittle with age and covered with a thick layer of dust and grime. Yellow, peeling wallpaper hugged most of the room and the only light was a single beam that shone in through the boarded window on the far left wall. A dilapidated staircase hung on the opposite wall, most of the steps rotted away and looking like sink holes. The banister was overrun with glossy spider webs. The place looked to be hours away from caving in on itself.
Emma stood in awe.
“So beautiful,” she breathed out, unaware of the decaying mess about her. All she could see was a house well kept; a sitting room fully decorated with glass tables and an antique hutch, lush brown carpeting and posh furniture, thick gold-encrusted curtains, and a dangling chandelier that cast the most beautiful shadows about the white walls, like the way a diamond ring catches the afternoon sun.
For a brief moment, Emma was at peace, admiring the house and all of its charm that she had so often visited in her dreams - unable to believe the good fortune she had to stumble upon it. But her respect for the place was fleeting.
In the next moment, she stumbled about the room like a drunk, trying to keep herself from falling over. She caught herself on the sofa, but it disappeared. She fell to the floor, smashing hard against the splintered wood. It was if she was being thrown about by some invisible force.
Next, she was gathered up and tossed against the front door she had just entered. She gripped the handle for support, but it wouldn’t be enough. She was strewn again and ended up near the staircase, her head hitting off the banister; her hair now adorned with those silver webs.
“What the hell?” she mumbled, the blow to the head finally jolting her out of her daydream. She stared about the room with what seemed to be a new set of eyes, now aware of its decay. She forced herself up and scrambled for the door.
She needed to get out.
She needed Mark.
The feeling of immediate danger swelled up in her throat like the thirst for water. She knew she had to get out of this place.
As she fumbled with the doorknob, a sharp pain grabbed hold of her. It was like someone took a screwdriver and lodged it right up under her jawline. Emma screamed out. She could hear a faint knock on the opposite side of the door, and wondered for a brief moment if it was Mark; if he would be able to save her; if they really were going to miss that wedding reception. She would give anything for a stiff whiskey sour right about now.
Emma screamed out again as another invisible jab hit her neck. Her knees buckled.
The pain was excruciating and overtook her body, just like a seizure. What started out as a dull ache - like a tooth festered with infection - grew, spreading throughout her body like a warm heat, intensifying with each passing second. Emma writhed in pain, smacking the back of her head against the door, pounding her fist into the rotting floor boards and releasing a howl, like that of a wild coyote. It was as if she was being slaughtered from the inside out. A deep cry erupted from her diaphragm as a mix of saliva and blood slid out of her mouth and dribbled onto her chin.
The pain was unbearable.
She finally understood why some people would welcome the end; why some people overdosed on pain medication; why some craved death over life.
Everything was happening too fast and it was too much for her body to take. She wished for the reaper to come for her. She wished for it all to be over.
Actually begged for it.
Begged for relief.
Begged for death just like some would beg for life.
And - as if reading her mind - a rustle from the staircase roused her attention.
She looked up and beheld the most frightening creature that any horror movie could ever conjure up. A shadowy figure that was made up of raw meat, dead body parts and lost souls began its decent down the stairs - its gaze never wavering from Emma’s. Its skeletal face housed the most wicked smirk. Empty black holes that masqueraded as eyes looked down upon her. The figure moaned a deep, endless wail, as it glided towards her.
Emma whimpered with fear. A small pang of desire arose within her; an instinct to live. She mustered up all of her energy and fear and bundled them into strength. She grasped at the doorknob again, her one last attempt at life.
It wouldn’t budge.
The creature made its way closer and closer; an awful stench - like a mix of urine and fish - radiated from its form.
Emma screamed out again.
Outside, Mark was screaming back at her. His fists bloodied to a pulp, trying to beat down that rickety wooden door that wouldn’t budge. “Emma!” he cried out. “Emma, baby, just open the door. Please. Just open the door...”
written by: Deevious