I was out with my mom on a nice autumn weekend the leaves had just started to change so we had decided to drive through the country to enjoy the scenery. We had been driving since afternoon, and had been enjoying a small town full of big, old Victorian style houses when the car started to sputter and came to a stop at an intersection, “What happened? We run outta’ gas?” I asked her as I looked around for oncoming traffic and a near by gas station.
“No that can’t be it we just filled up an hour or so ago remember? But at any rate we need to get the car out of the middle of the road” My mom said, as she got out of the car after putting it in neutral. I climbed out after her and started to help her push. I began to realize how eerily quiet the town was and the lack of traffic. Once we got the car out of the intersection and off to the side of the road we started to walk, looking for a gas station.
“Hey there’s one” I said as I pointed down the road a ways “it doesn’t look very open though”, as I noticed the lights were out and a majority of the pumps had out of gas signs hung on them. We decided to find someone who was home and ask to use a phone, because oddly enough we both forgot our cell phone. As we went from house to house knocking on doors and ringing doorbells, we began to realize something was a bit off. Almost all of the houses had cars in the driveways lights were on, but no one ever answered, no dogs barked, and all of the doors were locked the few times we tried to open them.
“Maybe they don’t like us?” I joked trying to lighten the mood, my mom laughed but not much as we walked up to the next house. This house was… different from the others it wasn’t well kept or new. It was a two story Victorian like most of the houses in the town, but three windows on the top floor were boarded up, and the two facing the porch had moth eaten curtains coving them. We walked onto the porch passing between two of the four large pillars lining the railing, the paint was chipping and almost completely gone in some places. As the wood groaned and creaked under our weight I questioned if it would hold us. We walked cautiously to the front door. It looked like the slightest tap would cause it to fall from its hinges, none the less I tapped it lightly with my knuckles. There was no answer. That didn’t really surprise me much but I knocked again anyways. As my hand just barely started to brush the door it slowly swung open with a loud groaning, like the sound of steel being bent. I looked back at my mom who was looking at me I shrugged my shoulders and looked into the house, it was dark and the light that came in through the door showed a stairway only a few feet in front of the door.
I looked back to my mom, “So what do you think should we go in? It looks abandoned to me”. She thought for a moment, “I’m sure it is but maybe there something in there we could use like a tank of gas and if nothing else it’s a place to rest, it is starting to get dark out”. I looked back into the house a strange sound was coming from inside, it reminded me of bent wind chimes, I hesitated a moment before walking inside. My mom followed after me the floor inside protested the same as the porch did. It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the dark, when they did I saw a room to the left which was a dinning room. IN the center of the room was a table probably long enough to sit ten people on either side, it was set for two, one plate at each end. A door at the far side of the room was barely visible but I assumed it lead to the kitchen. To my right was the living room, the bit of light coming through the thin curtains showed a room with a love seat and a high back chair facing a fireplace. In front of the love seat was a coffee table, it was split in two with a steel pipe stuck in the hardwood floor which was splintering around it. I stared at it for a second before the strange sound caught my attention again, it was coming from above. I looked up and flinched as I saw steel pipes cut to jagged edges at the bottom, rusted and hanging from chains that were attached to a ceiling concealed by darkness. The pipes swung as if blown by a gently breeze but no wind stirred that I could tell. “What the hell?” I asked as much to my mother as I did myself I looked to see if she had seen them but when I turned she was gone I looked around the room, “mom??........mom?!..... Where the hell did she go?” I never heard the floor creak when she left but then again I never heard the door close either. I shivered as I looked around the empty room it felt cold and lonely without company, I tried the door. The door knob twisted but didn’t open. I started to explore the rooms with the little light I had, but every few moments I would have to glance up and the pipes, sometimes I found my self staring at them. I was never sure how long I would stare before coming back to reality, but the sounds of the hollow pipes striking one other and the gentle rattle of the chains left me a bit disturbed and somewhat at ease.
As I explored the living room I never went near the high backed chair, in the corner of my eye it reminded me of a vulture looming over its prey. I never looked on the other side. The dinning room was no different from the living room pipes still hung from the ceiling that I couldn’t see, I walked the length of the table and at the end there was a chair was pierced by several of the pipes some still had chains attached which sprawled the floor, others left endless chains hanging from the ceiling. I moved through the door into what looked like a kitchen, but the light from the dining room window barely reached here. Everything seemed grey and drained of its color. As I took step after slow step into the kitchen looking for a light switch a smell filled the air. It wasn’t rotting flesh or repulsive like you would expect in such a place, but I think if death had a smell this would be it, unnerving and yet soothing. It made me feel sick to my stomach. I finally found a switch and flipped it with a loud clack. After a few seconds of buzzing the light hanging amongst the chains and pipes flickered on then off before coming on in a dim glow, like when the sun has just gone out of sight at night. The kitchen was barren aside from a few wires and pipes coming from the walls, save for the refrigerator lying on its side in the middle of the laminate floor. There were two chains crossing one another wrapped around it. I turned the light off and left the room. I stopped when I was at the front door and looked up the stairs, the chains held pipes above the stairs as well. I watched them sway and hit one another for a few minutes, maybe an hour I don’t really know, before traversing the stairs.
Something moved behind me as I stepped onto the landing on the second floor. I looked over my shoulder just in time to see a long slender leg disappear into the dinning room. Mom? “Mom? Is that you?” there was no answer only the sound of the floor groaning under my feet and the sounds of the deadly wind chimes above. At the top of the stairs the hallway went to my left and right with the doors on both sides of the hallway, but as I looked down the hall I couldn’t see the end either way. I started down the hall to my right and I knew that by the time I gave up trying to find the end of the hall I had walked at least four times the length of the house. I stood in the middle of the hallway and looked back the way I came. I couldn’t see the stair well anymore, I looked the way I was going and saw a faint line of light. I quickly started towards it hoping that I had finally found some other life. I came to the door, all four edges were lined with light seeping through the cracks, and it was open ever so slightly. I tried to peak in but the light was so intense inside I couldn’t see anything, I leaned back blinking as my eyes readjusted to the dark. The light shifted behind the door then shifted again with the sound of groaning wood.
My hand slowly grasped the ice cold door knob, my hand was shaking, and the pipes above finally stood still and didn’t make a sound. I turned the knob, it twisted with ease and the door swung open without a sound. Inside there was but a single candle stick sitting in the middle of the empty room, illuminating only a few feet around it, I couldn’t see any of the walls. Then I looked up and for the first time I saw a plain and empty ceiling, ever so faintly in the candle light. I smiled for the first time since I had entered this place at the sight of something normal, and walked to the candle. I sat cross legged next to it the flame didn’t dance didn’t even flicker as I had sat down; there was no wax on the floor or dripping down the candle’s side. As I watched the candle I heard the pipes and chains start to sway again in the invisible breeze. The sound of the crooked wind chimes, the calm flame, and the faint warmth it gave became very soothing. I didn’t even hear the door close or the sounds of foot steps coming up behind me. My eyes began to close and as I started to lay back I saw a tall looming figure staring down at me. I tried to open my eyes up, but they were too heavy, I tried to sit back up, but I couldn’t move. My eyes closed and as I felt hundreds of icy cold hands start to grab me, my eyes opened to my ceiling and the gentle hum of my fan blowing cold damp air in from the stormy summer night outside my window. I looked around my room saw all of the walls and my ceiling, but I found my self longing to hear those deadly bent wind chimes again.
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