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The Demon-Haunted House

Author's Note: I was struck by this idea for a brief story about a house haunted by a demon, so I wrote this to get it out of my system.

A rough-looking man with short black hair and coarse stubble sprinted through the tall yellow grasses. Having recently escaped from prison, he was constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure the cops weren’t hot on his trail. He remembered how he evaded their drones by hiding inside a spider-infested culvert the previous night, but he knew he couldn’t stay in one place for long. He had to make it to Mexico. No one would be able to find him then. For several hours he ran through the countryside until he came across an abandoned house. All the glass was broken out, the wood was gray and rotten, the roof was full of holes, the whole thing looked like it would fall apart with a stiff breeze. A perfect hiding spot, he thought.

The door fell off its hinges as soon as he opened it. The wood floors creaked as he walked into the entryway. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dirt and dust, most of the plaster on the walls and ceiling had fallen off, and all the corners were covered in cobwebs. Making his way to the kitchen, he found food wrappers and water bottles on the floor, as well as a lighter on the counter. Judging by their sheen, he knew those items couldn’t be more than a year old.

The Sun was setting. He turned and saw a stairwell leading to the basement. Grabbing the lighter, he went down. The small flame could barely illuminate anything, but he could tell that the concrete floor was filthy, and black widows and brown recluses laid eggs on the ceiling. Slowly navigating the darkness, he came across a strange red symbol painted on the ground. He assumed it was left there by teenagers, but when he took a closer look, he realized that wasn’t paint. It was blood. He then noticed the bloody knife nearby. He put it in his pocket, knowing it would be useful later, but he couldn’t help but feel that a crazy person was here before him.

His attention turned to a large black book nearby. It was left open on a page showing a mouthless, noseless figure in a dark, ragged cloak. On the opposite page was a name, Murmur, and below that was the same sigil that was painted on the floor. He looked at the cover and saw that it was a copy of The Infernal Legions. The only thing he knew about it was that it was on a list of forbidden books. He pawed through the pages and scoffed at the contents therein. He thought all the depictions and descriptions of demons were silly. Once he got bored, he tossed the book aside and went to sleep on the cold floor.

Sometime later, he could feel tiny feet crawling all over his body. He quickly got up, flicked the lighter, and saw there was nothing there. He was certain there were spiders all over him. He darted his eyes around and noticed a brown recluse moving towards him. He stomped it flat and went back to sleep.

“Hello? Open the door. I have a gift for you.”

The man awoke and a chill went down his spine. He recognized that voice. It was his grandmother. She was one of the only people who showed him any sort of kindness in his youth. He then remembered that she died 20 years ago. He crept up the stairs and opened the rickety kitchen door. There was nothing, save for the grassy plains illuminated by the Moon. He went back to the basement, lied down, and shut his eyes, hoping nothing else would bother him that night.

He dreamed he was at a beachside mansion in Mexico surrounded by beautiful women in skimpy clothes. The building was decorated in the finest marble and ivory. Marvelous paintings hung on the walls. Splendid sculptures stood in the halls. Jet skis raced across the waves. Waiters served the finest drinks and cuisines. He was like a king in this place. The men wanted to be him and the women wanted to be with him. Nothing could top this.

“Open your eyes.”

The women began to stretch and distort like putty. The sculptures turned to ash. The food instantly rotted and the drinks evaporated. The walls of the mansion began to melt like paint in the hot Sun. The Sun itself began to bleed like a broken yoke. The jet skis dissolved in the water, and the ocean turned a blood red.

“Open your eyes.”

The ground and sky became one. The colors coalesced into a kaleidoscopic maelstrom that spun faster than a lathe. The air was filled with a deafening howl that sounded like a million sinful souls screaming simultaneously. Hideous faces emerged from the chaotic vortex of colors and made sinister scowls and opened their mouths wide with rage.

“Open your eyes.”

He could no longer ignore that icy murmur. He opened his eyes, and floating inches from his nose was a vaguely human face. Its skin was dark gray, its large eyes were black as night, and there was only smooth skin where its nose and mouth should have been.

The criminal let out a terrified scream. He reached for the knife in his pocket and furiously stabbed away, but was shocked to discover that his attacks phased through the entity’s body. He sprung to his feet and sprinted up the stairs. He looked back as he threw open the kitchen door. The demon floated up from the darkness, its ragged black robes fluttering, and extended one of its long bony hands towards him. He jumped off the crumbling backdoor steps and frantically ran towards the horizon. He didn’t care where he was going. All he knew was that he had to get away from that house.

He eventually made his way to a wooded area. He sat next to a tree to catch his breath. He sighed in relief, thinking he escaped that thing.

“Open your eyes.”

His heart leaped to his throat. He looked around and saw nothing. He quickly realized the demon was murmuring directly into his mind. He plugged his ears with his palms and screamed, “Shut up!”

“Open your eyes.”

“Shut up!” The criminal was crying now.

“Open your eyes.”

He couldn’t take it anymore. He grabbed his knife, plunged it into his neck, then violently pulled it from left to right. The pain was excruciating, but he was willing to go through it if it meant freeing himself from the murmuring voice. In less than a minute, he bled out. His skeletal remains were found by police three months later, his jaw wide open as though he were screaming in the afterlife.


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