The House on the Corner
By: Ella Garbarsky
I have been scared of the house on the corner since I was a little boy. The way it looms over everyone that passes, casting a dark shadow for all to see, or the way the roof warps and bulges, or the blue siding that peels from the exterior of the old house. And most nights, I can stand the eerie sounds I can hear coming from inside. Most nights, I can ignore the constant screeching and scraping of the porch swing held up by chains. And unfortunately for me, most nights are not tonight.
Ghouls and goblins are running around behind Tyler and I, and a group of small witches, no older than five, are yelling "trick or treat" at the house next door. The streets are filled with children and teenagers of all ages, and every house has their porch light on, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next trick or treater; every house except the house on the corner.
"I dare you." A voice whispers behind us. Tyler and I spin around, and our baseball caps twist about on the top of our heads. I grip my baseball bat tightly in my hand.
"Huh?" It’s Darby Smit: the boy who bullied Tyler and I from second grade and on. I thought we were past this whole "I dare you" stuff, but apparently Darby never was. As kids, Darby would dare us to do stupid things like climb to the top of the playscape and sing, or pour milk on our sandwiches, but this is much worse.
"I said, I dare you." Darby takes a few steps closer to us and looks me dead in the eye.
"To do what?" Tyler asks, but his tone is more of a command than a question. Both he and I know exactly what Darby wants us to do, we are both just too afraid to say it.
"To go inside." I gulp. Tyler glances over at me and I swear a few beads of sweat are forming around his hairline.
"No way, man. It’s Halloween!" Tyler starts to walk down the sidewalk and away from the old house. I stay put.
"Fine. Then you go, Roger. One of you has to go into that house or else..." His voice trails off and a sly grin forms on his face. The green paint glistening in the moonlight and the white smile painted on his face add to his whole villainous demeanor. He clenches his fists into tight balls, and that look of mischief sparks in his green eyes.
I spin back around and take a long look at the house. The shattered windows, the cracked driveway, the weeds that tangle throughout the yard where actual grass should be, and the gargoyles that lie at the entrance to the house. Two lions, perched perfectly beside one another, their eyes stone cold and black.
Now, I don’t know what came over me, but I had this sudden urge to run inside that house and tear it apart. To break down the madness inside and clean it from the inside out, myself. I have stared at this horror my entire life, and tonight seemed like the one night maybe it could all go away.
"I’ll go." I say quietly at first. Darby tilts his head and stands so close to me that I can feel his hot breath on my face.
"Say it one more time. I’m not sure I heard you." I swallow and fix my posture so that I am taller than Darby. I stare at him dead in his cold, beady, green eyes and I say, "I will go inside the house on the corner." Tyler rushes over to me and begs me to stay. He begs me not to go. Darby, on the other hand, looks pleased with himself. Proud even.
"It’s just a house. I will be fine. I will be fine." I say to myself a second time as I turn around and walk along the broken concrete and to the front door. I look back only once to see Tyler running up the concrete towards me. Darby is laughing behind us.
"I will come with you. C’mon." Tyler grabs his bat and holds it high above his head as I twist the brass handle of the maroon colored door. It was loose and it took me a few tries to finally push it open.
Tyler and I burst into the house. Dust explodes into the air, and it is hard to breathe and see. The floorboards creak as we take a few more steps further into the house on the corner. I peer around the room. There was a red, velvet couch in one corner of the room that is sinking into the floor and covered in holes in the fabric and cobwebs. There is a giant chandelier that hangs from the ceiling with white, waxy candles draped in white spider webs.
"Tyler, turn your flashlight on." I whisper. Tyler clicks the light on and shines it around the room, the dust still scattered everywhere.
I follow Tyler into the living room, where an old, vintage coffee table is revealed hiding behind the velvet couch. The glass on the coffee table is shattered, and a few pieces are lying on the floor, shimmering in the light of the flashlight.
"Oh cool! It’s Santa!" I spin around to look at the fireplace where there is a creepy, old, plastic Santa standing inside. His face is partially burned, but I can still see the sparkle in his eye and one of his rosy cheeks. Tyler takes the flashlight and shines it into the plastic Santa's eyes and then up and into the chimney. Nothing, but dust and-
"Ahhhh! Get it off, get it off!" A swarm of bats comes flying out of the chimney and right into Tyler’s face. I am laughing so hard, and I expect Tyler to be laughing with me, but when I look up-he’s gone.
"Tyler? Tyler!" I call in the dark.
WHAM! The door slams shut and the windows scream as the wind howls outside. I go back into the corner of the room and fall to my knees. I rest my head in my hands and take a few deep breaths.
"It’s fine. It’s all fine. You can do this. Just find Tyler and go. Yeah, just find Tyler and go. "
I get up and walk back towards the fireplace. I take a few quick glances around the old bricks, but nothing catches my eye. I turn around and face the stairs that are covered in cobwebs, and most of the beams in the banister are broken. I walk towards it. I take my first step. It creaks and warps as I step onto the bottom step. I take another, and then another, and then I am sprinting up the spiral staircase as if the stairs behind me are falling as I run. I launch myself onto the mucky red carpet in front of me and dirt covers my left cheek.
My breath seizes. I hear a sound. It sounds like... it sounds like footsteps. I stand up, brush myself off and, carefully and quietly, I walk towards the noise. It appears to be coming from the third door down the hall. Step, creak, step, creak, step... There was no creaking. The person had stopped.
"Tyler?" I say it in almost a whisper. My voice is shaking. I am at the door. It is open ever so slightly. My hands are sweaty, my breath quickens, and my heart is pounding. I take my hand and carefully open the door so that I can see what is going on inside, but then a cold, bony hand grabs my hand and pulls me inside.
"Hey! Get off of me! Stop!" The hand wraps around my face and covers my mouth. It feels like ice. Chills run through my spine and I hold my breath-afraid of what this "thing" will say.
"Shhh, they are coming." My heart stops. My eyes close. And all I see is black, horrifying darkness.