Chapter 8

I did what I was doing earlier: I just opened doors and looked in the rooms. Pretty quickly I had to turn on my headlight, then I took out my flashlight too, so that I could have extra light when I needed it. It truly was dark. I didn't see, hear or even sense anything else. And I sure didn't find anything. I realised that I was beginning to search rooms I had already visited when I found the room with the painting again. I didn't need to look in there.

I closed the door and turned to my left in order to reach the main stairwell, since I hadn't yet seen anything in the left wing (apart from that cellar of corpses). I froze. Right at the other end of the corridor, standing in front the window, was that man in my dream. That executioner. He just looked at me. He wasn't even swinging his axe. The faint light coming through the window outlined the point of his head. Point? Since when was a head pointed?

I blinked. He wasn't standing there anymore. There was no one there. I quickly looked behind me. No one there either. Once again I felt it, that feeling that someone here wanted me dead. Almost like the house wanted me dead. I hurried to the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, I shone the flashlight towards the door to find Luke wasn't there. I quickly went down the stairs and just as I reached the bottom, I simply had my head pointed at the door. The headlight showed vapour coming through the peephole. Oh no, I wasn't looking there again. That just secured the bad feeling in my gut. I hurried to the kitchen's closed door.

The door opened easily. Luke looked up from where he was slouching. He was just sitting on a chair by a table. I let out a heavy breath, so glad to see him again. I closed the door quickly.

"What did you see?" he asked me.

His question startled me. "Am I that obvious?" Woah, I sounded shaky.

"Did something scare you?"

I walked towards him. "I saw 2 creatures. First I saw this weird bloody man-thing crawling along the floor. His head was completely bandaged and his clothes, it was hard to tell his clothes from his skin. His skin was that pale, clothing was that pale too and he was just bloody. And then," I became even more shaky, "and then I saw the executioner watching me."


I swallowed. "Yeah, like in that picture. Except not."

I took off my backpack; I'd been wearing it for several hours already and it may not have been heavy, but I just wanted free shoulders. I placed my rod next to it too. While shaking the shoulders and arms, to loosen tense muscles, I inspected the kitchen. There were things missing, like a cooker and a refrigerator, but the built-in furniture like shelves, cupboards, drawers and surfaces were still there. The kitchen had a sink, but I doubted I could get water from the thing. There was of course that table, with 3 chairs.

I idly wondered if there was anything in the cupboards. I opened up a couple. One cupboard had some blankets and a box.

"There's a box in here," I said. I pulled it out. It wasn't light. Luke watched me curiously but didn't bother even moving. I closed the cupboard with my foot and placed it on the table. "You know anything about this?" I asked.

He concentrated on the box real hard. "I think I packed it," he said, "but I'm not sure why."

He reached out and opened it up. Inside there was a kettle, washing up liquid, a packet of sponges, a small spoon, some mugs, some tea bags and 2 plates. After taking all this stuff out-which was when I opened up my backpack to take out a bottle of water-he found some polaroids. He held them like they were treasure and he smiled brightly.

I swallowed some water before taking a seat next to him. He put a polaroid down before me. "That's Robert."

I could only stare at the photo. That was him, the corpse next to Luke's. But wow, Robert was hot. The way he smiled made me think of Prince Charming in any fairy tale.

Luke laughed at another polaroid. "This was when he tried to take a picture of me." The photo just showed fuzzy air.

"Who took the photo of Robert, then?" I asked.

"I did. He let me play around with the camera."

"So all those things are Robert's?" 'Were', I mentally corrected myself.

"Yeah. He brought this stuff here so that he could come here straight after work. He was a librarian."

I laughed. "A librarian?" I found it too hard to believe, no one that hot was a librarian.

"He told me he chose to be one so he could research whenever he needed to. In fact, he did a lot of research on this house and its old owners."

I felt a rumble in my stomach. I went to my backpack to get the sandwiches out. When I brought them back to the table, I asked about the house history. Or at least, if it was interesting.

He thought about it while I chewed. "Well, this house was owned by the Rauber family. They were a family of mostly historians and sociologists. Um, I remember that this house got abandoned in the 60s. There was an artist in the family, who decided to move. She had a husband and kids I think. So her brother was left here alone with some servants. It was normal for a while, but he slowly got insane. Needless to say, his family had to get him help. So that meant this house was empty. For whatever reason they couldn't find a buyer."

Luke sat back. "I remember Robert saying something about buying this house. He was wondering if he should. I couldn't tell if he was joking when he said he could just buy it for $10."

"I wouldn't be surprised," I said quietly, after I had swallowed some sandwich.

He gave me a small smile. "Enjoying them?"

I felt uncomfortable. "Sorry. This is just probably reminding you-"

He laughed. "Don't worry about it. You need to eat. What kind are they?"

I shrugged. "Tuna."

We then realised we could hear voices. They were really quiet and distant. It sounded like a man and a woman in conversation. Neither of us even twitched as we tried to listen to them, figure out where they were coming from too.

Luke stared through the window. "I see lights over there."

"Oh crap," I moaned. I got up to go over to the kitchen window, Luke followed me. "I bet it's my dad out there. I said I'd meet him just after sunset. Of course, I have no way of communicating with him." I stared out. "Huh, weird. I don't see any sirens."


"Yeah, sirens. I thought something bad would happen to me so I told Dad to call an ambulance if I wasn't there."

Dad and...whoever, were standing just inside the gate. They each had flashlights, but naturally they weren't pointing the lights at themselves. Dad suddenly moved towards the house, determined almost. The woman ran after him and grabbed his arm, trying to stop him. Their voices got louder at this point. I still couldn't see her, but I could tell from her voice that I did not know this woman. I heard her saying something like "dangerous" and "wait" and letting her prepare for something.

"Can you make any of that out?" I asked Luke quietly.

He shook his head. "They can see your headlight though, they're looking this way."

Dad let himself get reluctantly pulled back to the gate and away from here. I didn't know if I should be relieved and thankful, or feel sad and abandoned.

I sighed and went back to the table. "Guess I can't rely on any outside help." I continued eating a sandwich.

Luke stood a while longer. He was really quiet and I didn't know why. Eventually he went back to his chair and sat down. He just carried on thinking.

"The kitchen is safe," he said. "I don't know why, but I taught Robert one time to cast a protection spell from bad spirits. He did it in this kitchen."

That made me wonder. "Luke, you were alone for at least some time today. Didn't you see anything?"

He shook his head. "No creatures. Weird things sometimes, like strange shadows and blood drawings. Even before today. I still don't remember much from before today though." He looked at me. "I still don't get it. Robert came in, I learned I was dead, I spent time with him and looked forward to seeing him everyday. Then I forgot. I have this weird feeling that it happened again with someone else, even before you came along."

"But not with Ray?" I asked.

"No. I don't remember anything of Ray. But why would I even go through this, uh, routine? Shouldn't I retain my memories somehow?"

I stared at the spot where my eaten up sandwiches used to stand. I yawned. "I'm gonna guess you have a reset button. You know, something that triggers you to forget everything and then you have to re-learn all over again?" I drank some water and rubbed my eyes afterwards.

Luke smiled gently. "Maybe you should sleep? You can take one of Robert's blankets, the floor isn't exactly comfortable."

I stretched a really long time. "Yeah, I'll do that."
© Ruth Hüneke 2009