As he walks down the hall, he looks into each of the rooms to see what they are. First room on the left looks like the family room. He walks in and sees an older TV sitting on what looks like a door lying across two barrels. An old antenna sits on top of the TV, something he has never actually seen being used, but has heard about them. ‘Why wouldn’t they just have cable or satellite like everyone else?’ he wonders.
A couch sets across from the TV, battered and worn. Old blankets thrown over it. Lifting one of the blankets he can see that the cushions are badly stained and ripped, pale yellow color. No wonder they covered it up. End tables with lamps bump up against each end of the couch, one with no lamp shade. A blanket hangs over the window where curtains should be.
A door in the back of the room leads into the kitchen. The smell is the first thing that gets his attention, floors are blackened with scuff marks from years of neglect. A table that looks big enough to seat six is positioned in one of the corners of the room, underneath a web infested chandelier that is missing five of the six light bulbs that it can hold. Only one chair adjourns the table which is covered in old clothes, newspapers and piles of unopened mail. Kitchen sink piled high with dirty dishes that look days, maybe weeks old. Seeing the refrigerator he thinks better of opening it, based on what he has seen so far, that cannot be a good sight inside.
Kitchen leads back out into the main hallway, right at the foot of a stair case. A door directly across from the stairs is closed. He tries the doorknob, turning it, feeling like it is going to come off in his hand, he pushes the door open and reaches around for a light switch. It is a bathroom and based on the smell that rushes toward him, one that is not very clean. He quickly shuts the door with no desire to see what was inside, turns and looks at the stairs.
Within his view, he cannot yet see the top of the stairs, but decides to check out what had been up there. As he slowly climbs the stairs, each step letting out a loud creek as he puts his weight onto it, he is starting to hear voices from the darkness that is beyond his sight. Very faint, but definitely voices. Each step up brings another step into view, he finally sees the top of the stairs.
The section of the hallway at the top of the stairs has a doorway on each side, turning to the door on the left, he reaches to touch it. As he does, he gets the definite feeling that there is someone else with him, a presence of sorts. Very unnerving. Pushing the door open he steps into the door way, and gets the same feeling he got when he was coming through the front door.
A voice is saying “Tamara Maldanado” over and over. He hears it as long as he is standing in the door way. He walks into the room to see that it appears to be a young girls bedroom, painted pink, dolls and pieces of board games spread out all over the floor as far as he could see. Unmade bed in the middle of the room, a pillow with no pillow case, sheets hanging off onto the floor. Shaking his head in shock and disgust, he goes back out in the hallway.
For each bedroom that he comes to, he gets the same feeling as he enters each room. The next room apparently belonged to Arturo Maldonado, and was in no better shape than Tamara’s, in fact it might have been worse. The master bedroom, where according to the voice Eduardo and Eileen stayed was basically empty, just an oversize mattress in one of the corners and piles of clothes all around the room. Dust covered wooden floors exposing his foot prints as he traverses across.
Going back out into the hallway, he saw one more door at the end of the hall. As he approaches it, again he hears what sounds like a low moan coming from inside, it wasn’t the voices he had heard before announcing the inhabitants of each room, it was like a dull growling. He reaches for the door knob to go inside, but it was locked. And this door seems different than the others, it fits solidly into the door frame, the door knob is not loose and when he tries pushing against it, he can tell that the door is built much more solidly than the others. After a few attempts at trying to get it open he gives up.
Walking back down the hall, he could still hear the moaning from behind him, which did not make any sense to him. Since the only thing that he could see was the half circle of life in front of him, he had not heard any noises from anywhere else. But this was different, it was strangely drawing him to come back. looking back over his shoulder unnerved him as there was nothing there. No floor, no hallway, no doors, it was as if he was floating above the ruins of the house below. Turning his head quickly back to look straight ahead, he was seeing the hallway again.
Lesson learned, need to always look in front, not going to do that again. He made his way out of the house and down the steps of the front porch. Walking to the street he turned again to look at the house, but it was not there, just the original pile of rubble that he had seen from the street originally.
“‘YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.
This thought echoed through his mind, “what exactly am I supposed to help them with?” he thought. “What answer do I need to find?”
Walking down the block, the next house number painted on the street curb was 1716. Not knowing exactly what he found in the first house, the Maldonado house, he walked toward the next one. “Let’s get this over with!”