Walking up the walkway, he gets the feeling that he is being watched, that he is no longer alone.
“Hello? Who’s there?”
Inside his arc of life, the area that shows how things used to be, he sees nothing, but he senses something or someone just outside, just out of view. In his view he sees what appears to be another immaculately kept lawn, just like the one before. Every blade of grass seems to be the same length as the one next to it, no weeds to be seen, someone spent a lot of time trying to make it look this good. What he doesn’t see is any fancy fountains or statues in the yard. The walk way is just concrete leading up to the front door.
Something is wrong here, he just has this feeling of unease, a feeling that things here are not real, although he wonders how any of this can be real. Looking around the front yard, he does not see anything other than the grass running right up to the house. House looks like it had just been painted, pure white. The few windows he saw were trimmed in gold, but this was definitely gold paint and not the real thing like the house before might have been.
Moving to the front door, he prepares himself. Based on the previous two houses, the weirdness is about to start. He stares at the gold painted double doors and hesitates. He does not want to go in, but he does not see any other choice. He is tired of hearing that damn voice telling him to help people. He just wants to be away from here, to be by himself again.
He presses the palm of his hands against the doors and pushes slightly, they creak as they open inward. Standing just outside the door, not wanting to cross the threshold, he waits. He tries to look inside but his view is limited only to the front door and the small area just inside. It is quiet, way too quiet, but he knows that if he doesn’t go in, he will not be able to move on.
He steps into the threshold bracing himself for the bright light and what has felt like a lightning bolt through his chest before. Even thinking he was prepared was not enough to avoid it, the light is so bright, as if someone was holding a high powered flashlight just inches from his eyes and turns it on, the feeling in his chest so strong as if a long needle had just been rammed into him. Then he hears the names
He finds himself standing just inside the doors, the light, the pain in his chest and the names have all faded away. He looks up at a chandelier hanging over his head, maybe half the size of the one at the Walker house, but still nice he thinks. Starts walking through the house, he notices several curios in the front hall, all filled with fancy looking small statues of famous people. He starts to read the names on the statues
Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela. There are hundreds of them, all look like they are hand sculpted. All meticulously placed facing in the same direction, as if there was a focal point that they were all staring at.
‘These must have cost a fortune.’ he thinks. He reaches for the door of the curio to open it up, picks up the one that looks like Muhammad Ali and realizes it is plastic. Checks a couple others and they are all plastic. ‘So much for them costing too much’ he says with a condescending smile crossing his face.
He places the few statues that he had taken out back where they had been, closes the glass doors and moves on. Just past the front hall is what appears to be the living room. He notices how clean and organized everything appears to be. The furniture looks antique, immaculate. The kind of furniture that looks beautiful, but is not comfortable enough to sit on. He notices a wall that at first appearance is just filled with shelf after shelf of books, but as he gets closer he realizes that it is just wall paper to give the appearance of being filled with thousands of novels.
‘Why would anyone do that?’ he wonders.
To the left he sees the kitchen, wooden cabinets adorning the walls above a spotless counter. All painted white with gold trim. Opening one of the cabinets, he sees that it was empty. One by one he opens them until finally he finds one that contains something, but it is just a bunch of plastic cups and paper plates. He comes to a door and not feeling any weird vibes from it, opens it. It is a cupboard. Inside he sees a box of minute rice and a small bottle of chicken bouillon cubes, nothing else.
Then he hears it, a thumping noise coming from behind him. It is not loud, just a constant thump, thump, thump from somewhere that he cannot see yet. He makes his way back through the family room and finds a hallway. Has not seen any stairs in this house so he assumes it is just this one level.
As he passes through the front hall area, he notices something out of the corner of his eye. It is the statues in the cabinets. Where they had been all facing forward toward him when he was looking at them, they are now turned to the right, as if they were looking down the hall. . . where the thumping was coming from.
His first thought was, of course, to run out the front door but he already knows that it is going to be locked. But just in case he tries, sure enough. So he heads toward the hallway. It is not a very long hallway, only three doors. One on either side and then one straight ahead of him. The door on the left is a bathroom, on the right is a bedroom. As he goes in he hears the names
in his head. Looks around in the room but doesn’t see much. A nice, clean, comfortable looking room. A white and gold comforter covers a large bed, probably one of those king size beds. He goes over to sit down on the bed for a minute to gather his thoughts, as he really does not want to check that last door.
Sitting down, it feels like a hard piece of wood. He stands back up and pulls the comforter up to check and all he sees is a large wooden box, looks like it is made out of simple plywood.
‘What the hell? Why would someone do this?’
The sudden loud thumping startles him. He can tell it is coming from that last room. Just a constant booming sound, as if someone, or something, is banging on a large bass drum from the other side of the wall. The beat, keeping a regular tempo throughout, was vibrating his senses. He could feel it in his teeth each time that the banging occurred. A fleeting thought of running away instantly brought on the voice in his head
“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.
“I know! I know dammit!” he yelled, trying to be heard over the incessant rhythmic noise.
He walked slowly to the door at the end of the hallway and just stood in front of it. The door was vibrating with every thump. Not sure what exactly to do at this point and fearing the thought of opening this door, he inches closer to it, raising his right hand towards the door knob, sweat dripping into his eyes making them burn terribly, he notices that the beating has stopped, it was dead silent. No sound other than the sound of his heart trying to come out of his chest, he stands frozen, waiting.
Thoughts racing through his mind, was it over? What is going to happen now? What the hell is on the other side of the door? Dead silence surrounds him, the only thing he can see before him is this door. His hand, still reaching for the knob, is trembling, drawing closer to the door. He closes his eyes to stop the burning from his sweat pouring into them.
Suddenly something grabs his arm, he tries to open his eyes but he can’t. It burns him, whatever is holding his arm is burning him, he yells in agony as it starts to twist his arm back and forth. He pulls with all his strength to get away from this vice like thing that has clamped on to him but he can’t. His arm feels like it is on fire, being jerked back and forth. His eyes feel like they are glued shut, as hard as he tries to open them, he just can’t. He wants to see what is clutching him and burning him.
He screams in agony as his arm is twisted and turned in ways that are natural, in ways that do not seem possible. It is trying to pull him toward the door.
“NO!!!” he shouts “Let go of me!”
Even though his eyes are still closed, he can sense a bright light growing around him. It feels warm, inviting. He wants to see what is going on. His arm is still in a grip of some kind, but it is not thrashing him about any more, just holding on. He hears murmurs but cannot make out what they are saying. It is two distinct voices but all he can hear is mumbling.
Then it lets go. His arm drops to his side as he drops to his knees. He cannot sense the light any more, but he also does not sense anything else. No beating from the door, no voices, . . .nothing. His eyes are not burning any more, he tries to open them. He can, he sees the door in front of him, looking as if nothing had happened, and then he looks at his arm.
Bile races up the back of his throat as he sees what is left of his arm, Red and black burn marks running from his bicep down to his forearm, muscles twisted in knots as if someone had tore them out and rearranged them somehow. At the end of his forearm was. . .nothing. A bloody bone sticking out where his hand should be.
Suddenly the booming noise starts up again, running on pure instinct he gets to his feet and runs back down the hall to the front door. He stops, looking at the cabinets containing the figurines, he just stares at them. In one of them, all of the faces were laying down facing upwards. While in the other, they were all knocked over facing down. He just stares for a moment forgetting about the. . . . pain? He doesn’t feel any pain.
His mangled arm hangs limp from his shoulder, but he doesn’t feel any pain. He just stares at his arm, this does not make any sense at all, he should be in pain, but he isn’t. He wonders why.
He also wonders if the front door is locked. He slowly walks to it and tries the handle, it opens. He pulls the door open with his good arm and walks out as the threshold calls out the names again
He stumbles out the door feeling like he would be losing all contents of his stomach at any time, makes his way to the soft grass and falls to his knees and yells “Why are you doing this to me?!”
“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.
He starts to throw up, heaving uncontrollably on his hands and knees. It was several minutes before he realizes that he was actually on his HANDS and knees. He gets to his feet and looks at his arm, it is fine. As if nothing had ever happened to it. How is that possible? How is any of this possible? He looks back toward the house and starts to hear a faint thumping noise from inside.
He gets up and runs toward the street.