I took my phone out, turning its flashlight on and stepping into the darkness. The bright light did surprisingly little to show me where I was going as if the shadows moved to resist it. I had made just a few steps when I was met by a massive door and an electronic pad instead of a handle.
Great, another puzzle.
Hoping for once in my life I was in luck, I moved my phone in the left hand and pressed the right one to the pad. Hopefully, this thing fed on blood too. A soft click coming from the door confirmed I was very much correct.
The door swooshed open. I took a shaky step forward, raising the phone higher to see what I was getting myself into. It turned out to be a pentagonal room, completely empty save for a big metal container in the middle. I looked around and saw a light switch on the left, and my heart jumped with joy. When nothing happened as I turned it up and down, my heart sunk back down in the pits of my stomach.
Sucking up my fear and replacing it with sheer stubbornness, I took another step further, raising the phone higher again. There was something drawn on one of the walls, no, on all the walls. It looked like a letter, but not one I recognized. Each wall held a different sign, dark and ominous against the solid stone.
“You’re to never, ever enter my study. Under any circumstances. Am I clear?” My father’s voice echoed in my mind.
“If you had told me what you have been hiding, I probably never would have,” I replied to him, then stopped in my tracks. This place was making me crazy, I was talking to myself.
I stepped towards the metal container, bringing my phone closer. It was approximately eighty inches long and twenty wide. There were more of the symbols drilled into its surface, and as I moved my phone up and down, I noticed they covered almost every inch of the metal. There was no lock or opening. The container looked like one complete piece.
Against my better judgment, I leaned closer, placing my ear to its surface and listening in. I stood like this for a minute, but all I could hear was my own rapid heartbeat.
I pulled back, letting out a sigh of disappointment. My father died protecting his secrets, as usual. I didn’t even know why I was getting so wrapped up in this. I was putting this damn house for sale first thing tomorrow morning. This weird thing, whatever it was, was their problem.
A sharp pain spread through my hand as I squeezed the phone in frustration and it dug into the cut. Moving the phone into my good hand, I looked at the blood still oozing for the wound, my eyes returning to the metal container.
Well, it was worth the try…
I raised my hand, placing it on the metal surface. It felt cold and smooth underneath my palm, soothing the pain for a moment. Nothing happened and I was just about to pull back when I noticed the symbols on the box around my hand lightening up. My eyes widened in surprise and I tried to pull my hand back, but it was like it was glued to the metal. More and more runes lit up as the metal seemed to come to life.
Panic gripped my throat and I struggled for breath as I tried unsuccessfully to reclaim my arm. A scream escaped my lips as I noticed the symbols moving towards my palm, gliding over my fingers and moving over my skin.
I dropped the phone and pulled my sleeve up, watching them as they sunk under my skin like an army of ants marching to battle. Apart from the slight tingling and weird light coming from them, I felt nothing else, but still, I rubbed my hand in a stupid attempt to smear them off.
As the last symbol crawled under my skin, the pull on my hand disappeared and I stumbled back, almost dropping to the floor. The soft glow on my body faded down and my skin turned back to normal.
A crack reverberated in the room and I lifted my eyes from my hand to the metal container. A small crevice had appeared in the solid metal box that slowly spread around like a spider web. I wanted to scream, but my throat was so tight I could barely breathe; I wanted to run away, but my feet felt so weak that I couldn’t move.
Another crack resonated in the chamber, followed by a few more until the whole box was covered with them. A cold chill ran down my spine and my father’s voice screamed in my head.
I staggered to my feet and sprinted out of the chamber just as the sound of metal hitting stone filled my ears. I heard a low, sinister growl coming from behind me and I sped through the study and into the corridor. A loud thud told me whatever produced that growl was coming after me and for the first time in my life I wished my father was there to tell me what to do.
I tripped on the stairs and fell forward, raising my hands over my head to protect it. A howl filled the house just as I landed on the floor in the entrance hall, moaning with pain. Fear overcame the pain and I got to my feet, throwing myself at the front door. I found it locked and I looked feverishly for the keys, only to realize I had taken them upstairs in the study with me.
Cursing, I sprinted past the staircase and towards the back door leading to the yard. There was no way out of the yard but I could jump the neighbor’s fence or scream for help. If I wasn’t killed by whatever was chasing me by then they will come to my aid, right? Right?
I pushed the insect net out of my way and rushed over the two small steps, turning back to look at the house. Nothing followed me out of the door and for a moment I wondered if I had imagined it all. Maybe it was the loss of blood, even though I doubted I had lost that much from a cut. But if it was real, then what was it - and more importantly, where was it?
A deep growl came from behind me and my blood turned to ice. I jumped around, stepping back as something dark jumped at me. Still holding the letter opener I swung it, sinking it into its shoulder. The creature let out a painful cry but barely slowed down as it pushed me on the ground, its teeth sinking into my neck. Pain exploded in my body all at once and I screamed, losing consciousness.