The Old House

           The old house, with its wildly overgrown garden, was silent, secretive.  The building itself was worn down from the elements but still intact, made of worn stone and wood paint peeling off it.  It stood in heart of the city, but it felt like it existed in its own little space, so close yet so apart from the rest of the world.

            On this evening, the silence was broken by a handful of people who were methodically setting up their equipment throughout both the inside and outside of the building.  They set up their cameras and ran their lines, setting up their own little command station to view all the cameras from a single computer in the dining room.

            Standing apart from it was Kenzie stood dressed fashionably in a sundress and heels with perfectly styled hair and flawless makeup.  It was a great outfit for a party, but a lousy one for traipsing about through a ragged old house and a garden that was only the smallest step above untamed nature.  She glared at anyone who interrupted her from her phone, her long fingernails clicking away against the screen.  Someone came over, unphased by her demeanor. 

            “We’re ready for you in there, if you can tear yourself away from your phone.”  Taylor said.  She was dressed for the environment in jeans and a baggy hoodie.

            “This has got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”  Kenzie said, not taking her eyes from her phone.

            “I honestly don’t care what you think, you already paid for this charade.  We have about twenty minutes to gear you up before midnight.  So, you can either go inside and get ready to play at hunting ghosts, or go photoshop yourself into some pictures, and take some inches off your waist in while you’re at it.”

            “If you’re ready for me, then why are you wasting my time talking?” 

            “Oh, I am definitely going to hate tonight,” Taylor muttered to herself, before gesturing towards the building and started walking. 

            “Okay, here we are in the basement,” Kenzie said.  Her demeanor was far more pleasant than it had been when they were setting up. “The owners of the building say that whenever they come down here, they hear voices whispering from the depths.  And things keep getting knocked about down here when there’s nobody around.  Some have said that there is a darker spirit down here that wants to hurt anyone who comes down here.  I hope that nothing too bad will come after us tonight.”

            Taylor’s soft chuckle echoed throughout the basement from behind the camera.

            Kenzie twirled around and glared at Taylor, fury in her eyes.  “What the hell is wrong with you?  All you have to do is not make any noise, and you can’t even do that right!”

            “What’s wrong with me is that I am stuck here with an absolute fraud who is too self-important to bother reading the history of the place that I provided you!”

            “Oh, gee, I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize that hunting ghosts was such a bastion of ethical practice.  Am I getting in the way of you jumping at creaks and hearing voices in the static?

            “What surprises me most of all about you is that you actually paid us upfront.  Don’t you type usually try to pay people in exposure first?” 

            “Why don’t you go switch with that person at the computers?  I’m sure that he would know when to shut up!”  Kenzie said, angrily walking over and jabbing a finger into Taylor’s shoulder.

            Scowling, Taylor’s hand clenched into a fist, but then the ground began to shake violently without warning. At the same time, an unearthly shrieking began that forced everyone present to drop everything and cover their ears to avoid the agony.  In the chaos, they fell one after another onto the dirt floor, helpless as jars and cabinets crashed to the ground all around them, and long settled dust sifting down from above on top of them. 

            Once everything seemed to calm down. Kenzie gingerly sat up on the floor and looked around.  The basement appeared alien to her as it had just a moment before.  Everything that hadn’t been secured had been tossed about like dolls.  Old canned goods had shattered on the ground, and all the other clutter had collected into a pile.  Fortunately, they had stuck to the clearing at the base of the stairs.  The single flashlight was on the verge of breaking, as it was flickering like it was about to go out.  Only slightly slower, Taylor was also in the process of recovering herself. 

            “What the hell was that!” Taylor said, dusting herself off from the mess.

            “Where’s the cameraman?”  Kenzie asked after pulling herself off the floor.  She grabbed the damaged flashlight and swept it around the basement, but there was no trace of him.  The flickering light just made the situation feel more eerie.  She had worked with him several times but couldn’t think of his name.

            “Maybe he went upstairs?” Taylor said, glancing up the rickety wooden steps.

            “I guess he has to be.  There’s nobody else down here, that’s for sure.”

            As they reached the halfway point of the stairs, they heard a very human scream of terror coming from somewhere above.  A moment later, it was followed by a roar that was decidedly inhuman.  It seemed to be still far away, but they could feel it rattling in their own bones.    It sounded far more primal than anything in nature.  The two women froze, silently glancing at each other, then back down to the basement.  Their thoughts were the same, hide in the basement and maybe be safe, but cornered, or up where they could move, but closer to the danger.  Both started moving up the stairs, but Kenzie turned off the flashlight.

            Upstairs seemed to have been affected just as much as below.  The rooms were twisted and covered with debris, and the furniture had decayed into piles of mushy old furniture, and the windows were shattered, and plants were growing from the outside in.

            “This is impossible, Taylor said, speaking in a very low whisper as she picked up a moldy old book off the floor.  The few parts that weren’t damaged quickly crumbled to dust in her hands. 

            “This is supposed to be a haunted house.  None of this shit can be real.”  Kenzie muttered as she examined the ruined room.

            That same bestial scream came from outside the house, followed by very human screams.  The two women pushed towards the window in the room, peeking out into the night.  The moon was bright, but the trees were thick out there resulting in limited visibility.  For a moment something crossed into their view.  It was a monstrous humanoid that was at least six feet tall and built like a tank. It was hard to tell in the moonlight, but its skin seemed to be some sort of a greenish gray tone. Its hair was wild and untamed, dressed in crude leather and holding a massive club, and it had tusks coming out if its jaws.

            The two women stared in horror as the creature stepped into view, this time looking at the house.  Both Taylor and Kenzie ducked down instinctively, but it seemed to do nothing as the creature lumbered towards the house right at them.  They shared a glance at each other, then both turned and started to run, going in different directions. 

            Kenzie took off through the dining room into the kitchen.  The computers were destroyed, and there was nobody there as she ran through.  Behind her, she heard the creature smash its way into the house.  No time to stop, so she kept moving, into the kitchen.  No time to think, she kept moving, out into the garden. 

            Kenzie only made it a short distance into the guardian before her heel caught in a crack, and she fell.  She felt something pop before white-hot pain shot through her leg.  She cried out in pain before she could stop herself.  In pain and shock, she heard the heavy footsteps of the creature approaching nearing her.  All she could do was drag herself behind some rubble and pray.  But that seemed to do little, as those footsteps drew ever near, until she could even hear the creature’s heavy breaths.

            Meanwhile, Taylor had found her way upstairs into a bedroom. She held her breath as the creature moved below, not making any move to alert it  Once she heard the scream outside, and the creature move in that direction, she went to the window, and sit it approaching Kenzie hiding behind a ruined statue. Her heart froze with fear as the creature raised its club over Kenzie. But then the creature froze, glanced at the woods. 

            Calm purpose overtook Taylor.  She looked down, at her feet was a vase that was mostly intact.  She grabbed hold of it, leaning out the window and taking aim, then screamed at the top of her lungs.  Somehow, the vase flew true, and it struck the creature.  The creature snarled, then turned to face Kenzie. 

            As Kenzie was waiting for that cruel club to down, she found herself eerily calm.  Not more than a few feet away, she saw something sticking out of a pile of rocks.  It looked like a sword stabbed down into the rocks.  It certainly wasn’t there before everything went crazy.

            Dully Kenzie heard Taylor screaming, heard the vase breaking against the creature, but that sword drew her in.  She climbed to her feet.  Pain radiated through her ankle, but it didn’t register.  She walked to that sword, wrapped her hand around the hilt.  The sword effortlessly came free of the rubble.  She turned around to face the creature, sword in hand.

            The creature turned around to face Kenzie at the same time.  When it saw her with a weapon, it narrowed its eyes and snarled at her, then lunged forward. 

            Kenzie dashed forward.  She felt the whoosh next to her as the club narrowly missed her.  Her sword was impossibly sharp as she sliced upwards into the creature’s chest.  Blood splattered and gushed, and the creature froze.  It tried to roar, but its breath was gone.  Its club fell to the ground, and then it collapsed to the ground.

            Kenzie watched numbly as the creature went still.  As the adrenaline rush faded, her ankle couldn’t bear the weight, and dropped to the ground, the sword landing beside her.

            “What the hell was that!”  Taylor yelled as she came running out of the building.

            Kenzie just shrugged her shoulders.  “Help me inside, would you?  I think that I’ve had enough of nature today. 

            For once, Taylor held her tongue and assisted Kenzie back inside the house.  “What if another of those things shows up?”

            “Then I think it’s your turn,” Kenzie said, handing over the sword as they waited for sunrise to sort things out.

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