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author: hazard_us ([livejournal.com profile] hazard_us)
email: scorpio_kaur [at] yahoo.com



Sarah liked quiet, gray mornings, lounging in soft pajamas and socks. She liked a newspaper that gave her ink-stained fingertips. She liked Cheerios with lots of milk and sugar and hot coffee made the same.

She did not like blood in her breakfast.

The crimson dot snaked through the holes in her Cheerios and a pink cloud pushed tendrils through her milk. Sarah glared at the ceiling where blood was already congealing.

She picked up her cereal, poured it down the sink and ran the garbage disposal. Rather than the familiar grind of metal on cereal, it growled like a hell-beast. She peered more closely into the dark hole and saw two red dots glaring back at her.

Sarah flipped the switch much harder than she needed, the only manifestation of her general frustration.

Then it really started.

"Ma! Mr. Clownie is doing it again!"

She heard an eerie giggle from the stairwell and tiny footsteps that belonged neither to her children or the family mutt. She raised her voice so the whole house could hear. "Well, Mr. Clownie knows that if he misbehaves, he goes straight into the spin cycle."

The footsteps stopped. "Thanks, Ma!"

She went upstairs and stuck her head into the bathroom. Her daughter, Carol, was brushing her teeth with bottled water. They kept a case under the sink for these kinds of mornings.

Carol saw her mother's reflection in the mirror and rolled her eyes - not at Sarah, but at the situation. Right now, the mirror was suggesting that their skin was rotting off and they were covered with maggots.

"Did you get a shower before - ?"

"Yeff, fank Gott," her daughter said through the foam.

"Honey, you and your friends last night didn't happen to..."

Carol spit into the sink. "No ouija boards, no ghost stories. We watched TV."

"What show?" Sometimes even a melodramatic Lifetime thriller could set the house off.

"Saturday Night Live, Ma." This time the eye roll was for her mother. "It wasn't the funniest one we've seen, but I doubt it was bad enough to start the house up again."

Sarah knew her daughter was telling the truth. Carol's first slumber party had been a disaster and her daughter didn't want to repeat it anymore than she did. It had cost a fortune to replace the bathroom mirrors and Ellie's mother had not been happy about having her hysterical daughter dropped off at one in the morning. Still - the girl had learned the importance of following another family's house rules.

Sarah looked in on her son in his bedroom. Danny was sitting on Mr. Clownie. He and the Faceless Twins were watching Joyjoy and Kazoo's Morning Lollapalooza, one of the Faceless Twin's favorites. "Danny, Mr. Clownie misbehaved, but does he deserve that?"

Her son frowned, but did not turn away from the TV. "We told him what we would do if he laughed like that during our shows. We told him."

The Twins twisted their necks so that their featureless faces, smooth like giant eggs, were all the wrong way around and nodded emphatically. The Twins hated their shows interrupted.

"Well, if you told him." Mr. Clownie's eyes were blank right now. Sometimes they were red and flashing. Sometimes he had a pointed tongue that could lick his eyebrows and sometimes he giggled maniacally in the shadows.

But Danny did love him so, when Mr. Clownie wasn't running around trying to break toys or pull down the curtains. It was a little sad when the toy tried to cause mischief; a difficult task when his hands had no fingers or thumbs.

"Were you digging in the garden, kiddo? Or poking in the basement at all?"

Danny's eyes did not waver from the screen. "No, Ma."

She went back downstairs to call her husband to see if he knew what was up.

"The H-O-U-S-E is acting up again," she said as soon as he answered. It hadn't learned how to spell yet, which meant it was less intelligent than their dog.

Get out, whispered the wall in the hallway.

"Did you talk to the kids?" Michael asked.

Leave this place. The temperature started dropping.

"It wasn't them. Can you think of anything off the top of your head?"

She gasped when a face pushed out of the plaster wall like it was a plastic sheet. She had never gotten used to that. You will all perish! the face said directly into her mind.

"Are you in the downstairs hallway?" her husband asked.

"Yes."

"Is it doing the face thing again?"

"Yes."

"Put the phone up to the wall."

Sarah did and waited for her husband to explain that he was at Home Depot next to the sledgehammers and was contemplating a more open and airy floor plan. The face dissolved back into the wall and the house was silent.

"Is it done?" She said yes. "Sorry, hon, I can't think of anything. And while you're on the phone, do you want the shutters to be forest green or vert?"

She thought for a moment.

Forest green.

"Forest green is good."

"Was that the house? Michael's irritation crackled over the phone. "I thought we said we're not giving in to the house."

"Allowing it to bleed all over the carpet is giving in. Allowing it to have an opinion on what it looks like - well, we let the kids choose their clothes."

Her husband hung up and Sarah paused. The air was less oppressive now. Maybe that's all the house wanted - a little reassurance that they weren't going to paint it pink with polka dots. They'd tried to keep the renovations slow and easy, but it was a very old and skittish building.

Sarah went back into the kitchen and sighed. The ceiling had stopped dripping but the cabinet drawers began banging open and shut as soon as she walked in. A knife hovered in the air above the counter; the point was aimed directly at her chest.

That had scared her the first time. Now she just had to look at the squirt bottle near the door and the knife settled back onto the counter. The cabinets also shut obediently.

Michael had come up with that idea. The squirt bottle worked on the dog; a squirt bottle filled with holy water worked on the house.

She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. Everyone had warned them. It was haunted by the ghosts of family slaughtered by their own serial killer son, they said. It was built on an Indian pet cemetery, they said. It contained a gateway into a hellish dimension that would rip out and feed on their souls for all eternity, they said.

And it was all those things; that was true. But it was also over two thousand square feet of prime real estate, kept their commutes under thirty minutes, and was located in one of the best school districts in the state.

Sarah and Michael brooked no nonsense and they hadn't gotten where they were in life by letting anybody run roughshod over them. They certainly weren't going to let their house do the same. Blood couldn't kill anyone. The Twins, the Hanged Man, and the Moaning Lady could be disturbing, but they didn't really do anything. Danny's stuffed animals coming to life were scary at first, but they had no opposable thumbs, and the house had remarkably poor aim when it was flinging cutlery.

But what was setting it off? Sarah looked out the kitchen window.

Blackie, standing in the middle of the backyard, was staring back at her and wagging her tail, a femur bone clenched in her jaws.

Sarah sighed, picked up the other squirt bottle, and headed for the back door.

the end

Date: 2007-09-30 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aefallen.livejournal.com
This is an absolutely lovely and unique story! It was a genuine joy to read, and I enjoyed how both the family had learned to live with the house, and how the house had learned to live (in a manner of speaking) with the family. ;) This was one of my favourite lines:

"Allowing it to bleed all over the carpet is giving in. Allowing it to have an opinion on what it looks like - well, we let the kids choose their clothes."
I loved the tough attitude taken by the family to the spectral misdemeanours. *grin* What a lovely contrast to the usual scream-and-run show we get way too often in the media! *laughs* Thank you for writing and sharing this, it was great!

Date: 2007-10-10 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
Thanks so much; I'm glad you enjoyed it. That was one of my favorite lines too!

Date: 2007-09-30 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lob-lolly-pine.livejournal.com
Wonderful! I like how you dragged out the horror cliches and turned them in to such a funny story. Nice work.

Date: 2007-10-10 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
Thanks! I liked researching the cliches; it reintroduced me to quite a few good scary movies.

Date: 2007-09-30 09:53 pm (UTC)

Date: 2007-10-10 02:26 am (UTC)

Date: 2007-10-01 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mythicbeast.livejournal.com
That was a great story-- really puts a different spin on the idea that old houses have their own personalities. XDDD The ending was great, and the introductions to the house's eccentricities (Mr. Clownie would scare the CRAP out of me) is done well without overloading the reader with information... yeah, it's just a great, solid story all around and I really enjoyed it. The idea of a squirt bottle for a haunted house made me snicker, too. My favorite lines have to be

She did not like blood in her breakfast.

and

It was haunted by the ghosts of family slaughtered by their own serial killer son, they said. It was built on an Indian pet cemetery, they said. It contained a gateway into a hellish dimension that would rip out and feed on their souls for all eternity, they said.

Seriously-- those made me giggle aloud. Awesome job.

Date: 2007-10-10 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
Mr. Clownie was based off a real toy I had. I used to have a giant patchwork clown that I carried around until my cousins made me watch IT...he went straight into the toybox after that!

Date: 2007-10-01 08:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] originalpuck.livejournal.com
Loved the tone and feel of this entire piece! The pace was wonderful, the characters were lovely, and you had some wonderful lines in there!

and the house had remarkably poor aim when it was flinging cutlery.

That line had me snorting into my juicebox (heh-heh, I feel like I'm five when I drink them). Loved this!

Date: 2007-10-10 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
Thanks! I always wondered how haunted houses had better aim than most average people. I know I couldn't hit a barn door if I flung a fork at it...

Okay sure, supernatural powers give the houses awesome aim, but still. ^_^

Date: 2007-10-01 09:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chrysan.livejournal.com
Maybe that's all the house wanted - a little reassurance that they weren't going to paint it pink with polka dots. They'd tried to keep the renovations slow and easy, but it was a very old and skittish building.

Very very cool. And the above was my fav. part. And the squirt bottles made me go LOL endlessly.

This is one very tough family indeed. XDXDXDXD

Date: 2007-10-10 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!

Date: 2007-10-01 09:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] letterbugg.livejournal.com
This is hilarious. I loved everything about this story, from the title right down to the missing opposable thumbs and even the end where it goes the end.

Date: 2007-10-10 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
I was tempted to do "the end...or is it?" but it really was the end. ^_^ No use building up suspense.

Date: 2007-10-10 07:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] letterbugg.livejournal.com
I think you ended it at just the right length for this story, which just adds to its appeal. Alhough anyone would be sad to see the finis of a good story, but that is where we scroll up again. =)

Date: 2007-10-01 11:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arrghigiveup.livejournal.com
Hahaaa... I love the descriptions of the "old and skittish building", and that is one cool family. Lovely story.

Date: 2007-10-10 02:26 am (UTC)

Date: 2007-10-01 07:33 pm (UTC)
ext_1502: (Default)
From: [identity profile] sub-divided.livejournal.com
XD. Great opening, the whole thing is hilarious.

Date: 2007-10-10 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2007-10-02 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
Hahaha! God, what an awesome story. I love the idea of a family learning to control their haunted house. You're also really good at including genuinely creepy details (Faceless Twins? Agh!), while still being very funny. I loved reading this.

Date: 2007-10-10 02:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazard-us.livejournal.com
I'm glad you found it funny! There *had* to be twins though (see also The Shining).

Date: 2007-10-11 05:29 am (UTC)

Date: 2007-10-11 12:41 pm (UTC)
ext_38613: If you want to cross a bridge, my sweet, you have to pay the toll. (heart of darkness)
From: [identity profile] childofatlantis.livejournal.com
This is awesome - I love the way you roll out all the menacing cliches and then manage to make it seem like the house just wants some attention. I feel kind of bad for it.

I also love the thing about the two squirt bottles. :D

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