I stared up at the sagging, rotted building. Near the top there was an old, crooked, sign that said HAUN ED HO SE. Some of the grey, sad letters had already fallen off. I had walked past here, half an hour before, walking home. But this hadn’t been here, it was just a dirty, trash smelling alley before. Now this haunted house had appeared. I looked around me, seeing if anyone else noticed this decrepit old place. But as I looked around, on what was a few minutes ago a bustling downtown street was now an empty and silent place. I put my hand on the golden brass doorknob, tarnished with weather and age. My heartbeat raised. I turned the cold sad doorknob and pushed. It opened seamlessly, which was surprising for the age of this place. I entered. The floorboards didn’t creak, they kept firm under the weight of my shoes and feet. Then I heard a cheesy voice from a speaker nearby, that said “Welcome! Entry is free for one.” Then it laughed, a hideous laugh you wake up from in nightmares. I looked around me at the silver cobwebs and old wood. The speaker was nowhere to be seen. It was probably hidden, under a floorboard or wall panel. I turned around. I didn’t like the feeling of this sagging old place. But the old door I had just entered a moment ago was gone, replaced with the same, old wooden wall panels that were on the rest of the wall. It was even complete with a silver and dry spider web. Then the hairs of my neck shot straight up. I slowly, stiffly turned around and stared. Nothing was there, just my vivid imagination. I hurriedly turned back around, and stood tippy-toed to get a good view through the thin strips in the shutters. The outside world had become a pitch black. I curled my right hand into a fist, and banged on the rotten wood. But my hand bounced off what looked like then voice spoke again,
“Good luck! You won’t be getting out until you face the scares in the Haunted House!” Then there was that hideous cackle again. I turned around again, and for the first time, really took in the rest of the house. It was like an old Victorian mansion, and everything past the entrance was in perfect condition. Right in front of me was a rich wooden staircase with a soft Persian yellow and red carpet going up it. The staircase ended at a small balcony with a singular wooden door with a golden brass doorknob. At the ends of the handrails were luxurious golden candle holders with tall white candles that burned with a bright orange glow, the black wicks never getting shorter, and the wax never melting. Above me hung a gold and crystal chandelier, glowing brilliantly with twelve of the same white candles. The whole placed looked like it had never been touched. I put one foot onto the Persian rug in front of me, but it fell through the illusion. My entire body fell forwards into and through that Persian rug, into nothingness. And the wind stole my scream.
I awoke in a hospital bed, but I felt fine. In front of me was a doctor. She was older, fifty or so, kind, but the smile was… off. Too wide somehow. But it shouldn’t bother me. I smiled back.
“You feeling okay?” she asked, like someone who really knew how to be nice. For a moment, I couldn’t respond. I finally settled on “yeah,” but it came out feebler than I wanted, sending daggers down the insides of my raw throat.
“Do you want some water?” she asked, in that sweet voice of kindness. I nodded, not wanting to feel the pain in my throat again.
“I’ll be right back” she replied, and left the room, the faded green door whooshing shut behind her, almost without sound. Now that there was no one else to focus my attention on, my eyes lazily drifted around my meager room. The walls were painted a light green, now faded with age. Around the room were multiple scuff marks of the previous patients’ bumps and bruises. There was a red door I presumed to be a bathroom near the exit. To my left was a window, covered by a white plastic shutter, just letting in thin strips of yellow, afternoon light. To my right was a plastic curtain with flowers, dividing the room in half. I didn’t hear anyone sputtering on the other side, and the room was awfully quiet. Straight across from me on the green wall was a simple black and white clock, ticking softly each and every second. It was 4:37. I tried to lift my leaden arms and stretch them, but I didn’t get very far. I looked down at myself. I was in a green hospital gown, my old clothes were nicely folded, laying on a white bedside stand beside me. I took them, and struggled to get up. I did, and stood wobbling on my feet for a moment. I then hobbled over to the bathroom, one foot shuffling after the other. In the bathroom I changed, and immediately felt better and stronger. I got up and looked at myself in the mirror. My features were sullen, my eyes drooping, seeming as if I hadn’t eaten or drank in a month. I turned on the sink, and let the cold water run on my hands a minute before I cupped them and drank, the sweet cold water healing my parched throat. I walked out, passing the other hospital bed. It was still empty and clean, freshly washed. I went over to my bed which wasn’t nearly as pristine as the empty bed. I sat down on the edge of it and stared up at the clock again. It read 4:33. I stared at it a couple of seconds, unable to comprehend what that meant. As I stared, it clicked back again, to 4:32. It was going backwards. I got up, and opened the window shade. The other side was just a panel of white light tinted with yellow. I squinted, and waited a moment for my dazed eyes to adjust. But they didn’t. It was was still a large rectangle of light. I hurriedly closed the shade and turned around. And there was the doctor from before, with the same off-putting smile. She smiled, and handed me the white styrofoam cup. “Looks like you’re feeling better already,” she said in that same, sickly sweet voice. I looked down into the cup. It was filled with cool clear water. I raised the cup to my parched lips, and took a sip of the sweet liquid. I looked back down at the cup. The water was turning red, swirling around in the cup. I looked closer, leaning my head over the cup. Floating in the now red tinged water were several of my white teeth. All of a sudden pain rushed through my mouth, and I lifted one of my trembling fingers to my mouth, and felt the insides. I dropped the white cup, the bloodstained water turning the beige linoleum red. My finger felt not my teeth, but the raw bleeding tops of my gums. I took my finger out, and stared and the red blood that coated it. I looked up, to where the doctor had been, just a moment before. But she was gone. I ran from my room into the hall, passing the empty bed. But as I ran past, I noticed it was not empty, but laying on it was a complete rotting skeleton, but with one of its old brown legs shattered.
I was back at the old house. I did not know how I got back here, all I could remember was running through the maze like hallways of the hospital. I shuddered, not wanting to think of those horrific memories again. I looked back up at the entire place. My eyes fell on the golden wood door at the top of the balcony. It sat there, taunting me with its own unreachableness. I planted one of my feet firmly on the perfect wood flooring, and tentatively stuck the tip of my grey shoe into the carpet, but it passed through with ease. I thought I would be swallowed up by the darkness again, but my white knuckles held firmly to the wooden railing. I look up to the door again. The only way I could get there was with the carpeted stairs. The dream-carpet covered all of the wood, leaving no room for me to place my small feet. Then, I had an idea. I could wedge my feet in between the posts of the railing, like I did when I was five years old and playing around our own house. I stuck my foot between the first two posts of the railing, having to turn it sideways so it would fit. But it did. I moved my right foot to the other side, between the third and fourth posts, gaining confidence. It was an agonizingly slow process, but eventually, by my strength of will, I got there, my entire body pounding much harder than usual. I gently put my foot down on the golden wood of the balcony. To my relief, it held. My other foot soon followed it, and I stood there, for a moment, regaining my balance, and trying to calm down my breathing. I looked behind me, at the carpeted staircase and wood floor. I seemed to be impossibly high up. I turned back around to face the golden door. I reached my hand out, but then the thumping started. It was a deep thumping, ricocheting of the walls and into the deepest corners of my skull. I clamped my hands to my and squeezed my eyes shut, trying to shut out the noise. But that did not stop it. It vibrated throughout my entire body, unrelenting its attack. I reached out to the doorknob, straining to get used to the noise. I opened the door, and the throbbing only got louder, and clearer, unmuffled the the wooden door. I entered, and the door closed soundlessly behind me. In the center of the room was the source of my madness. In the middle of the room was a red, beating heart, suspended from the ceiling, and tied to the floor with a long, thin red cord. The whitewashed walls were covered in thin veins leading out of the central heart. The heart itself was tiny, the size of one of my now clenched fists, and beating louder than anyone would guess it could. It disgusted and intrigued me with a morbid fascination. And I realized then, this heart kept the whole old house complete, and alive. I looked behind me to where the door was, but the wooden door was gone, now just another whitewashed wall covered in the same red veins. I was trapped. I then realized what I must do; kill the heart. I suddenly felt a heavy weight in the left pocket of my jeans. My hand unconsciously reached down past the hem of my shirt, and I felt the cool handle of a silver knife. I pulled it out and held it in front of me, trying to keep it steady, but my hand disobeyed and let the cold blade waver. I slowly edged forward, the beating growing ever louder with each step. I reached the knife out and, with painstaking agony, brought the knife to the red cord connecting the heart to the web of red veins on the ceiling. I paused for a moment, letting the blade hover over the dark red heart. But I pushed the bright edge through, and it cut like warm butter. The heart fell to the floor, a thick red liquid spewing everywhere, all over my clothes. Then, the whole place shook. I looked around me in surprise. The house shuddered again, and then started falling inwards, the previously red veins turning black and falling off the wall. I backed into a corner, narrowly sidestepping a falling piece of ceiling. I squeezed my eyes shut, and curled up into a ball, trying to protect my own head and heart. I heard the rest of the once white ceiling fall, and dust plugged my nostrils. I opened my mouth, gasping for air, trying to breath in as much as I could.
I woke up back in that alley, the dust free from my eyes and nose, the air once again fresh and free. Nothing of the old house remained. I uncurled myself, stood up, and walked away free.