By Mary Ann Moody
In an older country home, a thirtysomething man trembled when a sudden noise disturbed his concentration. The wife and children were out. He believed himself to be alone. They lived in a single story, four bedroom, two thousand square foot home. The décor was out of date with dark wood paneling on the walls and red carpet on the floor, but dammit, it was his home and he liked it just the way it was. He got up from a cozy sofa chair and proceeded to walk into the hallway connecting the bedrooms. He flipped on the light as he rounded the corner.
He peaked into the bedrooms. Everything appeared in order, even when he took a closer look. Once he felt satisfied with the inspection, he returned to the wonderful sofa chair. He wondered when his family would return. It was terribly dark outside and he hoped they were safe.
Just as he propped his feet up, something fell in one of the bedrooms. It hit the carpet with a hard clunk.
The man jumped from unexpected noise. Goosebumps ran over his arms and a wave of terror started at his toes and ended at his face. The home seemed to betray him by harboring sinister secrets. Slowly, he got up from the chair.
Where did I place my gun? he wondered.
He felt a presence watching him as he picked up a small pistol from the coffee table. The unmistakable feeling of someone breathing on his neck made the hairs on his head stand up and he spun around, waving the gun in the air. He faced the kitchen and found it empty. Small beads of sweat fell from his forehead as he focused on the large space. The family room connected to a red kitchen with an island and small breakfast nook. Despite the intense feeling someone watched him, the rooms were empty.
He spun to the hallway and aimed at the darkness. To him, it sounded like something fell in the closet, but that was impossible. He swore he placed everything back where he found it. Outside, snow fell from the sky, covering the house and foliage with layers of ice. He hadn’t prepared a fire but gave it a second thought as he crept down the chilly hall. A bright lightbulb blazed in its socket and gave him plenty of light, the downside were the shadows it created. He mistook the bookshelf in eight-year-old Maria’s room for a monster with white fangs. At first glance, the chair beside six-year-old Garrison’s bed appeared as a head poking up. When his eyes adjusted to the light, he let out a breath of relief.
He had to know if he was truly alone and decided to check the closet inside the master bedroom. He gripped the handle of the gun firmly and took a deep breath before opening the closet. He focused on the darkness as he opened the door and kept his hearing sharp when he reached up to pull the light cord.
In front of him, the light revealed the corpse of the man who owned the house, Doug. Blood leaked from sections of the duct tape covering his mouth and nose. Doug’s eyes bulged outwards and his mouth was open despite the tape. The corpse remained tucked away underneath the hanging clothes. Once again, he determined Doug was dead, so he couldn’t be the one making all those noises.
Just then, a cluster of excited voices emanated from the somewhere outside the house. He closed the closet door. Doug’s family now belonged to him. He smiled and waited in the darkness to greet them.