The House and life after death
The haunted school is becoming more than its origin. It’s growing, encompassing the feelings, memories and tales of other dark houses. The more time I spend in there, the less frightening it becomes, the less apprehensive I become.
I was moving, I knew that much. Most of my things were packed and already in an automobile or Uhaul that someone else was operating for me. Was I moving from the haunted school, an apartment-dorm compilation my mind fashioned or The House? Unknown. The walls and rooms shifted. I just knew that the place felt old. It was at its best in autumn sun; cast in gold it appeared timeless and still, exuding strange warmth and comfort while maintaining its mystique and harrowing presence… the perfect poison apple.
There was a mix of activity, most of which eludes me now. I remember that I noticed I had left out some clothes at the house. did not intend to leave them behind. Why are they here? I knew it was not mere forgetfulness; there was a reason they went unpacked.
The sun changed position in the sky, and it felt like eternal dusk.
I was outside then, walking. This time the presence of The House was unmistakable. The haunted school was one with The House; their souls and innards assimilating. Outside was a playground, rusted, old, burnt but completely functional. A group of young boys were playing. They all looked related: blonde, light eyes, sinewy but strong, brilliant and fae-like. A tall man that I took to be their father was pushing a 4-year old boy on a swing. At first glance, the scene was a negative image, reverse colors, and I saw symbols on their foreheads. As the colors flipped, the symbols were gone. A rottweiler zipped by ecstatically, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, panting, legs barely touching the ground. He was running circles around The House.
I approached one of the boys about the age of six or seven sitting in the sandbox, listlessly drawing pictures in the sand. I noticed that as I knelt down to speak to him all the others immediately directed their attention to us. Their eyes were powerful but not hostile or suspicious. I felt a draw to each of them, as if I knew them to be some part of my family.
The 7-year old was a somewhat somber child. He smiled little, furrowed his brow at the sun and looked at the world with tired eyes. The only time he burst into a ball of light was when the rottweiler went running by.
“Is that your dog?”
The boy, still glowing, nodded.
“What’s his name?”
No answer. He retracted his light a little. Impasse. Both of our attention was focused on the dog lapping the house with incredible speed.
“Have you had him long?”
The boy directed his gaze to me and looked confused about how to answer. I turned toward him more. I felt his mind reach for mine. At this point, I knew it was only about asking the right question.
“How did you get him?”
This opened the flood gates of his memories and visions. Images rolled over me, toppling my ego and sense of self. I was lost in the wash and sudden flashes, reliving them as him. It was awful and beautiful, terrifying and oddly comforting. They all died. And they all had come back by some virtue of this place. Their deaths were a haze, some part that I was not allowed access to, and it was really of little importance. Their lives now were detached from their former ones. After their deaths they were buried around The House, usually by one of the other family members. It seemed the mother was left behind, last to die and consequently had no one to bury her body before the state got to it. There was a burial rite that included a specific symbol drawn on the forehead, in the position of the third eye. This specifically allowed them to keep their identity and increase their mental and psychic abilities. Part of the symbol indicated that they were to be “non-contagious.” I never found out what this actually meant; I could only guess that it related to aspects of death were not passed on to the currently living. The boys and father were bound to The House at birth of their second life, only able to travel to the village below without the onset of weakness and the beginning of decay.
Finally we got to the story of the dog. The boy had always wanted one. While in the village, they found the body. They immediately knew that it had died, in part, due to its own aggressive tendencies. The dog’s mind held memories of abuse and abandonment. They took him to The House and buried him in the playground area. During the rite, they erased his memory of the abuse and abandonment and lessened his anger and aggression. He was reborn a happier dog with a clear memory to be filled with his new family. Though the rebirth sometimes had unpredictable results. The dog had two heads, one right under the other like Zaphod Beeblerox. I looked around at the family and noticed some of their anomalies upon rising. They were hardly noticeable to untrained eyes since their amazing psychic capabilities kept imperfections hidden. One boy had small wings. The father was much taller and thinner than a normal man. The young boy in front of me had strange eyes, at times transparent, reflective black-metal pools or a myriad of small worlds harbored inside his irises.
The scene changed.
I was inside The House. Candles, incense, pillows, a small table and tea were set up on the living room floor in front of a wall of glass. There was very little furniture anywhere inside. No one person lived here. It seemed to be a communal space. Living in The House was for the temporarily homeless or outcast or for those who needed a particular space to either hide from the world, exorcise demons from themselves, kick habits or communicate with those of the other life. There was running water but no electricity. At night fall, the torches were lit. Most read from the wide selection in the library on restful nights. This was also the time that The House was most malleable. The House was not inherently terrifying or haunted; the inhabitants could make it so though… and some did. It was a place that could drive one mad if one wished it and allowed it. Most benefited from the responsiveness of The House. It was a place of trial and discovery, not for the faint hearted or weak willed.
My friend had arrived. He was to help me move. I looked at my things still at The House. I wanted to stay a bit longer, but I realized that it was time for me to go, for now at least.
A pile of jeans distracted my friend. “Were these worn here?” he asked.
“Yes, there is still dirt and sand on them from the playground,” I answered.
A hungry look passed across his face. “You know you could sell these. You’d make a fortune,” he stopped and re-evaluated for a second. “Keep one for yourself by all means, one that fits. But you should really consider selling them. People would give an arm and a leg for the organic material of this place.”
It felt wrong. The House responded to the challenge by allowing me to see his perspective, feel his desire for wealth. I tried some of them on again, acting as if I agreed with him, but the whole time my mind was tugging at me.
“No.” I said after I tried the last pair on. Many of them did not fit me; I knew they were not mine. I had lost weight since coming to The House, and the one that used to fit me no longer did. “They belong here,” I said “with The House. Nothing gets sold from this place.”
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