The Haunted Cottage #END

Jacob stumbles inside the room. Fists clenched in anticipation – and yet he is met with nothing but darkness and silence. Tentatively he moves farther into the room. “Slam” Jacob jumps at the sound of the door slamming shut behind him and he puts weight on his bad leg in a stroke of bad luck, causing a mix of surprise and pain to take hold of him. The darkness spreads to the end of his vision now that the candles from the cavern don’t reach him anymore, making him effectively blind. Still, there is no way but forwards, and thus he continues walking, in search of something. There has to be something, right? Underneath his feet comes a loud crunch, making him halt in his tracks. With a trembling hand, he reaches to take hold of the thing he trampled. Slippery. Hard. Sharp… Suddenly a single candle lights up to his right, and Jacob starts screaming with fervor. He stands in a sea of discarded bones and skin. In a haste he hurls the bone he picked up and starts running towards to door, adrenaline pumping through his blood. Jacob runs headfirst into the door, slamming his hand against the door before having the sense to try the handle.

“Open dammit” the door is closed shut, and yet Jacob continues to drag at the handle with great exertion, his survival instincts at full run. “There is no way out, I am stuck in here”. As soon as this realization hits him, as soon as he has begun to accept this fact; resigned himself to his fate, that’s when hope is lost. But… not yet, he still sees one last glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. From within he tries to summon courage, tries to remember his mission, but the fear is still up there with his anger, intermingling, neither side giving ground. With reluctance, he turns his head to scan the room now that there is a measure of light. Bones. Skin. FLESH. Spread at the floor are what appears to be human remains, bones ripped from flesh in neat little piles. What is even more alarming is that on one such pile sits Alice, sitting on a pile of bone and smiling at him. Jacob starts to walk toward her. “Tell me what’s going on, did you get away from the creature, and what even was that thing. More importantly perhaps, where is that thing?” As he gets closer to her slim figure, that’s when he realizes that, despite a candle being right next to her, that she has no shadow. “And where is your shadow?”. The warm and slimy substance drips down on his shoulder, and he now knows it for what it is. Saliva. Pressing down a gulp in his throat he turns his eyes to Alice again. Suddenly her face twists unnaturally into a face of pleading and fear “Oh no, Jacob please help me”. Then just as quick her face twists into a wicked grin, her eyes turning white, something inhuman “Hahahaha, you sure are stupid. But I do not blame you, a white knight such as yourself must of course come to help a damsel in distress.” With shock and disbelief in his eyes he starts to move backward, but manages to slip in a pile of bone and fall with his hind to the ground. Jacob tries to say something, opening his mouth to speak, but there is nothing. “Poor poor Jacob”. The creature in the guise of Alice moves closer to him and brushes a strand to hair from his hair, simulating a look of empathy. Come now, I’ll let you escape, all doors are open.

“I can leave?” Says Jacob as tears stream down his face. “Of course you can,” says Alice smiling, “now off with you before I change my mind”. He moves then haltingly back to the door, his hand shaking as he tries the handle. “Creak” it opens without resistance. Trudging through the cavern towards the staircase he notices that the saliva has started to amass in large amounts at his feet, what does all of this mean, why would he be allowed to escape. “Do not think. Move”. He crawls up the staircase as his right leg now aches more than ever. Where his hands touch the surface is saliva, warm and slimy. Yet he continues, steady and slow. He reaches the top of the staircase, and hope begins to return. He sees the door lit up by a candle, still burning bright, but with no small amount of wax amassed at the ground next to it. Images flashes behind his eyelids. Food. Sleep. Freedom. Maybe he will even get to see his sister again. He finally reaches the door and allows a sigh of relief before putting his hand to the handle. Then suddenly he feels a warm breath tickle his neck, and Jacob manages but a scream before being dragged back into the darkness.

The sound of rain splattering the roof mingles with that of the young man’s scream – giving rise to a twisted cacophony as the pain in his voice is coated by the rhythmic tapping of heavy rainfall.

The End.

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