By Olybrius (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The house appeared one day, just as if it had always been there. I did not stare at it dumbfounded as I should have, on first glimpsing. Rather I felt as though I had stumbled into a dream.I even rubbed my eyes in that sleepy way that children do sometimes, before crawling into their beds, afraid to dream of monsters.
The house was a monster, I was sure of that. It sat like a hunchback in the middle of the land, its window-eyes open, but unseeing, its gaping doorway a mouth without teeth. I stood there in silence in that lane for some moments looking at it, and wondered how I had come to be there, in that place in the middle of the night.
The moon was fat and full and gloating over everything. I got the distinct impression that it was because of the moon, that the house was here, or rather, the house and the moon were somehow married together, that they belonged intrinsically to each other, like lovers.
A gentle wind grew around my ankles, it swirled up and around me, tossing the crisp brown leaves here and there into the street. I felt then that I was the focus of the magic, not the house, or the moon or any of it. I have never enjoyed being the centre of anything, even my own life, so the most perplexing thing about this whole affair was that I was deliciously pleased at now being at the very heart of this energy primordial.
It was an old as time, I got that distinct impression. The house was as it was because I was looking at it. In another time and place it might have been a mere shed, or a castle, or not a building at all. Perhaps it might have been an ocean, or a tear drop; a note of music or a bottle of cheap wine.
Ages past. I don’t know how long I should there, gaping at its crumbling masonry. The more I looked, the more I saw. Sometimes I thought I could glimpse a figure gliding past the windows. I saw its silhouette outlined by the yellow glow cast out from the glass by some lantern, lit in perpetuity. Sometimes I would hear a woman singing, soft, melancholy. Her refrain would rise and soar up into the night and then fade sadly into nothing.
A long time I waited for the house to reveal itself to me. I thought there must be some reason for its presence in that lane that night. Who would call a place like that home? Why did they never leave, and why did they never call me in? They must have known I wanted to be with them now, so much. It was like a narcotic, the call of that house, of those shades and singers.
I was numb with cold now. My limbs were frozen and felt too heavy for my body. I wanted to escape my corporal self completely, and how I wished I could be transported away from it into the warmth of those lantern lights. But I stayed were I was, waiting.
Day break came and I must have passed out. The last thing I remember about it were the rays of sunlight thawing out the sky. I heard a door slam shut in the great house and the faint whispering of some maleficent magic. I felt a shudder pass through me and then I slept at last, right where I was.
When I awoke it was night again, and I had been awakened by the sound of laughter. I tried to move my hands but they remained rigid, cold as bone. My eyes remained fixed on the house. Try as I might I could not tear them away. It was then that I strove to remember how I had come to be in that place, but my memory of all that went before was gone. Wiped clean like an empty slate.
The laughter came closer. I wanted to turn my head to see who it was approaching me now, coming down the street, but I was trapped inside myself utterly. I kept gazing forward at the house, searching its cragged exterior for a face, or some semblance of life, but the magic had gone and the place now seemed to vanish before my eyes as if it had never been there at all. In my dismay I now heard the sound of a bicycle being wheeled along, slowing, the spokes clicking, and voices talking.
“Nah, see, there’s nothing down here, let’s go back.”
“Just a bit further, I don’t want to go home yet.”
They were the voices of children.
“Yeah but it’s getting late, and we always catch hell for being late, every year.”
“You worry too much.”
“Ah shut up.”
The children were in front of me now, a skeleton and a vampire. They looked small and tired, in their cheap face paint, now hopelessly smudged. In their hands they carried little pumpkin buckets filled with candy and rainbow coloured party favours.
“Hey, you remember that guy?”
“What?” The skeleton looked up at me, he scratched his chin and shrugged.
“I guess so, I mean, I don’t know. We didn’t come this way last year, did we?”
The vampire nodded. “Yes we did, but I don’t remember him.”
The two trick-or-treaters stayed a moment longer, gazing up at me, perplexed.
“He’s pretty funny looking isn’t he?”
The vampire pointed down towards my shoes.
“Doesn’t say who he is, it usually says, on statues.”
The vampire placed his arm around the smaller boy and then began to walk away, leading their bicycle with them. I wanted to shout out after them but I had no voice at all anymore.
“I wonder what the statues’ for?” I heard the skeleton say, looking back over his shoulder. The vampire answered in an authoritative voice.
“Oh who knows. Maybe it’s something to do with the vacant lot, you know, the one that burnt down.”
“It burnt down?”
“Yeah! Right over there, right across from the statue. Heard they used to do all kinds of weird experiments in there and stuff, at least that’s what I heard.”
The voices were becoming so meek now. The night was dropping down onto the land thick and fast. I listened to them talk until their voices become just whispers on the wind.
“They say it used to be cursed.”
“The old house did. But it burned down twenty years ago, something like that. There’s this old story that says that the night before Halloween, the house comes back and the ghosts come out to trick people, yeah something like that.”
“That’s just a story right?”
“Yeah sure it is. No one believes in that kind of thing anymore.”
I was alone in the street now. All around me silence gathered, as my eyes stared straight ahead, trapped, and waiting.