Chapter 1

I entered Dr Walkman's office. She was black, almost my parents' age but not quite, a very average woman, you know, definitely not skinny but definitely not fat. She seemed friendly enough. I closed the door behind me and she smiled professionally. Yeah that's right, she gave me a professional smile. Something to do with psychiatrists not getting too close to their patients or something, I guess.

"Take a seat."

I sat down and got comfortable. And wow was that chair comfortable. She then read out my name to make sure it was written right.

"Tanya Hyung," I corrected her. "Just say 'young' with an 'h' at the front, then you'll get it. But just call me Tanya, I'm not too good with formalities." Seriously, I don't like being addressed as 'Miss Hyung', it makes me feel like I've done something wrong.

"Very well, Tanya. That's certainly an interesting name combination."

"My dad's Malaysian." My mom's not, so I don't look that Asian. Except my hair. I was somehow born with really black hair, but that's fine. I just look like any white kid in the US and only really look obviously Asian whenever I wear a Chinese dress or traditional kimono. But that hardly happens.

"So you have family in Malaysia?"

I shrugged. "Yeah, distant relatives. My dad was born in the US so he doesn't know much about his parents' home and culture. He can barely read the writing." This made Walkman quietly laugh.

It was just quiet for a short time, then Dr Walkman asked another question. "Did you go to school today?" I shook my head. "Your parents told me that once the body was found, you had trouble concentrating, so much so that you took entire days off." I just nodded my head. "What was your boyfriend's name?"

I snapped. "Don't you already know? His name and stupid photo got slapped onto the fucking front page!" The anger quickly left. "Sorry," I muttered.

"Don't be," she calmly said, as if these outbursts happened in her office all the time. I'm guessing they do. "I can remember his first name but the point of these sessions is for you to explain to me everything you can, regardless of whether I already know or not. Even if you regard certain facts as boring or irrelevant, please tell me them anyway."

Made sense. I sighed. "His name was Raymond Morano."

"And when was the funeral?"

"Yesterday." I sighed again. "It's funny. A lotta people there were assuring me that I'm still young, that I can get over this, that it's truly tragic but I can deal with this..." I rolled my eyes. "I felt like a widow that everyone was ignoring."

"Did the funeral change anything for you?"

"No. Why should it? And that's another thing. A lotta my friends-his friends too-were trying to find some positives in this mess. That at least his body was found, at least we know he's dead and not just another face in the missing persons reports. But I just don't think that's good enough. Something's off!"

Dr Walkman seemed confused by this. "What d'you mean?"

"Well...Raymond's body was found by chance. Some stupid kids were playing hide'n'seek or something in fronta this creepy house, they just opened the door, found a body and then told their parents. The cops examined the body and figured out how he was killed, but they found no clue who did it. And they have no idea why that house of all places. But they don't seem to care about the mystery, they're just glad a case came to an end so they can deal with current problems like drug-trafficking."

"So you feel the authorities should take some of the blame?"

"" How could I say it? "I could go on forever looking at it like that. The cops wanted to find the killer, I could tell. But there were no obvious leads. Not enough manpower, not enough money, not enough time, it all just meant the cops have a policy of only trying to solve cases that've got clues all over the place. This was just a dead end. So after learning all this I asked them if they'd checked the house. And they said no. Their point of view is this: the place is large and whenever they look for clues there's a 50/50 chance they'll find one. They can't just search the entire property for several hours or even days on the chance that a clue will show up. They think the price is too high."

"You want to find out what happened to him, then?"

Suddenly I realised I did. I wanted to search the house myself, find out who killed him and why.


After the session with Dr Walkman I cycled around. I didn't want to go straight home, I didn't think I could face my parents with my plans. The sky was grey, just like yesterday and the day before. Typical weather for Fall and normally I wouldn't have noticed too much, but right now it just matched my mood. For some reason I felt the need to go to the house.

Lo and behold, I found myself leaning the bike against the gate at the front of the house. It honestly took me a while to get here but I wasn't in any hurry. The place screamed abandoned. Gates hung open, the house was completely lifeless, the front lawn looked like a jungle. A scary one at that. When the cops wandered around here it didn't look so intimidating, just depressing.

I had been here once before of course. For some reason the cops wanted the body officially identified as fast as possible, so they contacted Ray's parents, who came to pick me up. Thinking about it, it was probably to get the autopsy quicker. It was surreal, being told my boyfriend was dead and being driven to a place I'd never been to before. Back then it was a crime scene, taped off and everything. It was unbelievable, seeing my boyfriend a bloody, lifeless corpse on the floor, his eyes looking at nothing. How could forensics not wanna close them? His parents broke down. I didn't react. I was just too shocked and couldn't believe what I saw.

Right now, I still didn't want to walk up to the front door. The memory was still too fresh. I forced myself to go in. What I couldn't help noticing was how lifeless everything was. I couldn't see or hear any animals, was I the only living thing here? The house somehow seemed to get darker the closer I got. I walked slowly up to the front door. I was somehow not quite willing to lift my hand and open it. I felt...I felt like this was a gateway to an abyss, but not an empty one, an oppressive one. This was what it was like to open a door into a pitch black room and stare at it, except you would also feel something alive in there. Was that clanging I heard? I heard very quiet but threatening noises of metal banging on metal. It was too regular, clang...clang...clang...

Suddenly I grinned. I was about to do something completely stupid, so stupid no one I know will dare come with me. Ray and I, and plenty of others, often joked that people in horror movies are somehow so silly und non-self-aware that they'll just enter a scary house or whatever with no preparation; no supplies, no weapons, or even a clue as to what they were up against. Well I definitely had no clue, but I could always trust my instincts.

I stepped back. Now I noticed I couldn't hear anything. I had a plan: I would go home and pack the things I would need. Tomorrow morning I'll come back. I made my way back to my bike, suddenly realising how dark it had gotten and being forever thankful my bike has a front lamp. But I felt edgy. Just as I went through the gate, I looked back at the house. Was it watching me? I had no idea why but a building, a thing, suddenly seemed alive.
© Ruth Hüneke 2009