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atrox's picture
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Joined: 05/06/2009 - 15:13

Short Story: The House

Tall rosebay willow herb and nettles blocked the path to No 52 Mortonhall Way and the key still in the lock was disintegrating with rust. I reached out to touch it, but recoiled as a prickling chill hit me, even through my gloves. Miriam smiled sympathetically and touched my arm.

We would both gladly have been elsewhere, but there was no point delaying. A draught of foul air blew over us as I pushed the door open, releasing a shower of paint flakes and wood fragments. We stepped inside, flashing our torches around, to catch sight of an ominously stained bulge in the ceiling. But we had to chance it. Under no circumstances must the wider world learn this house’s dark secret, not even if that meant our deaths.

Moving cautiously into the main room, we made our first discoveries: a voodoo doll, pins bristling in all directions; a witch bottle, its contents swirling evilly around a glowing red core. And a couple of fairy cages, their tragic prisoners forlorn and dead. Miriam lifted the bodies out and gently stroked them, weeping as she saw how their diaphanous wings had been cruelly hacked about so that they should never fly, flutter as they might.

“How could anyone be so vicious?” she gulped, though like me she had seen such things before. But the shock comes afresh every time.

A faint, desolate squeaking drew my attention to a table in a corner, on which stood another house of torment. The fairy within lay writhing on the iron floor, too weak to raise itself, though the metal scorched its once-beautiful body. I reached in and picked it up as gently as I could, but even so it squealed as I touched it. I won’t describe its injuries, nor give my guesses about how they’d been inflicted. I looked at Miriam. She nodded and took the fairy, cradling it as a mother cradles a baby and singing through her tears the Song of Nemesis, which only women may sing, which would most quickly and mercifully end the fairy’s suffering and send it to rejoin its fellows.

We moved on, snuffling.

In the kitchen was a pile of rotting meat –but some of the joints were unmistakably human flesh and two more dead fairies lay right in the middle, with maggots chewing their faces.

The bathroom and the bedroom were bloodstained and filthy, but contained nothing of interest.

A dead and mutilated dwarf sat chained to the spare room wall.

We looked in the loft and the garage, checking everywhere for captives and for anything that might need special disposal. We accounted for every square inch, making sure there were no secret chambers. Then we set fire to the house, using celestial flames that burn hotter and faster than any human-wrought conflagration, a blaze that would melt steel and vapourize flesh, erasing all sign of the villainy once done there.

Afterwards I held Miriam long in my arms as we both wept.