Under the Ashes

We didn’t have to break in. I was able to reach through the jagged frame and open the door from inside. It opened inwards under its own weight, as if to make our entry easier. Again there was that sense of deadpan invitation, the house’s hatred transformed to a deadly welcome, a poisoned-ring handshake.

There was no point in deliberating. We either backed straight out or plunged in without further hesitation. It had taken years of courage to even get us to the house's gate this evening; but then, the threat had been abstract, vague. Now it was inches in front of us.

Andrew was the first inside. I saw Kirsten screw up her face as she stepped over the threshold, then her head flinched, as if someone had hit her. I closed the door behind us, wondering why.

The door led to a back staircase, its deep red carpet festering with mould. The first few stairs were rotten from years of rain. We had to put our feet at the very side, where they touched the wall. The smell of decay hung thick around the place.

Towards the top some grubby pictures still hung askew. Through the landing door the decor seemed better; but I could swear I felt something moving in there.