By J Cassidy
Lisa’s here to win a bet. She has nothing to be afraid of.
She pauses for a moment at the start of the long path to the front door. The wood is rotting, the windows devoid of glass. This late at night it looks like the typical haunted mansion, deserving of its reputation. Her friend Kathy says a kid she knew went inside two months ago and still hasn’t come back. Lisa thinks it’s just a story. As she starts up the path, a hand grabs her arm, hauling her back.
“Don’t do it,” a coarse voice says as alcohol-soaked breath washes over her from a bearded face. A scar runs over his sunken eye, his mouth and chin. The stinking man looks like he hasn’t seen a bath in years.
“Get off me!” Lisa says and tugs her arm away. The man steps back in to the shadows of the unkempt hedges. She rushes up the path, arms tucked in, reaches the forbidding entrance and pushes the door open. It’s warm inside. Wanting to check that the drunkard hasn’t followed her, she walks over to a window and stands on her tip-toes. A gasp escaped her throat when she sees daylight. Running outside, she notices the houses of her village have been replaced by silver towers. All she can do is stare, open-mouthed.
Lisa doesn’t know precisely how long she’s been here. She’s lived in the garden of the house for too long to remember and too afraid to go back inside. It looms over her, windows becoming eyes, its shadow reaching for her. It almost seems alive, waiting for her to go in. It wants take her some where she can’t survive, as if bringing her here wasn’t enough.
Lisa waits by her worn tent, watching her meal hop towards her trap. She holds her breath as the rabbit pokes its head in, breathes out as the trap snaps shut. She skins the rabbit with a practised hand, using rainwater collected in a pot to rinse herself off.
Just as she’s about to sip from the nearly empty bottle of home-made that’s never far from her hand, Lisa spies a young boy at the end of the path, gazing at the house. She leaps to her feet, grabs his arm and hauls him away from the house. She can see the young boy has a scar running over his eye, mouth and chin.
“Don’t do it,” she says.