Three hundred and thirty four days ago I had a family; I had a life free of responsibility and fear. On august 13th, that changed.
One moment can change your life. One decision can define you future, determine whether you live or die; if your death has meaning or yet another pointless ending in the inevitable cycle of life.
This is the story of how I died. Twice.
I’ve always lived here. Next to that haunted house. Well that what people said anyway, who believes in haunting these days above the age ten? Then again, I seldom went near the place, I don’t what it was exactly, but it had a feel about it, like something really bad had happened there. My sister and I used to play games, silly really, now that I look back on what stupid, stupid things we did, and how it got me here. How being a child inevitably ended my childhood. The irony that my younger self could not comprehend.
I was in a constant competition to better her, go that one step further, so naturally with a haunted house next door, the challenge came. Go into the house, down into the basement and get a vile of whatever disgusting stuff happens to be in a haunted house. So I did exactly that, I did one better.
The door had been old and cracked for as long as I could remember, and probably longer, but that time I took special notice to the escape route; the peeling blue paint, crusty to it exposed the grey-brown undercoat, the rusty bronze door knob, that had the lock broken in it, and the electric bell that hadn’t worked since before I was born. I’d stepped inside and the warm overwhelmed me, not just a musty old house warm, but it was like I’d stepped into the center of the earth. The air was thick, and I could hardly draw breath, it was a hotness that chilled you to your bones. The floor boards creaked under my weight because of years of wood worm, and I forced myself not to wince with every step I took.
The most cliché thing happened to me, I had got maybe four feet into the room when the door slammed shut behind me, I’m sure I jump ten ft in the air, if it was possible. I bit down hard on my tongue until blood filled my mouth, to stifle back a scream, until it was a rasping sigh. I’m sure it was Grace, trying to win her bet, I won’t let her. I stepped further into the house, searching for strange jars filled with pickled limbs or whatever was meant to be in haunted houses. Needless to say, my eight year old self was disappointed, I found nothing. Yet the feeling of being watched didn’t leave me, terrified, yet exhilarated that I would meet a ghost before my sister! But it moved too quickly, too quickly for my human eyes to see. Wanting to gloat, I went for the door, pull the handle, and waited for it to open. Only it didn’t. At first it was a joke, Grace pulling tricks, but the thought of being trapped in here, with that... thing! I strangled and pleaded at the door, but I saw that she was no longer there, and I was alone. Alone in this house, with this silent shapeless stalker.
The heat became more intense, I slammed by fists against the old wood, but it didn’t live up to its age, Tears stained my face, wishing we’d never come here, I sat head resting just below the door handle so I’d know if anyone would open it. Grace wouldn’t just leave me in here!
I hear something smash in the small dark room on my left; I flinched, and leapt further into the house. I ran up the stairs and into one of the bedrooms on the right hand side, I crouched in the corner, crying, and paralysed with fear.
I remember a small light, small enough to go unnoticeable at first, but it inflated and grew, until it was all I could focus on. I watched, fascinated with child curiosity, as my tears dried on my cheeks, as the room got hotter, and hell unfolded...
A great inferno rose up in a wall of flames, licking the ceiling turning it a dark charcoal, wall paper peeling off the walls in swirly amber patterns, like the peel of an orange peeling off revealing the under layer of dark burnt brick. Flames playing shapes, forming dancing figures walking among the flames. Not really figures, but shadows. Logic said it was insane, but I couldn’t look away, I had to watch the tragic scene that unfolded. The first shadow stood apart from the other two, standing tall and gloating, while the smaller figure held the third in its arms, while it silently cried out in pain. The other laughed, I think it was laughing, but what came next didn’t quite make sense. He raised his arms, in an almost cordial way, and fire grew from his embrace; the two figures stiffened, but endured the heat. Illusion, ghost, vision, whatever it was, I was sure it was real. I could feel the heat on my skin, smell the smoke and the bricks burning. The third writhed in pain before finally slumbering to a halt, the other held the figure tighter, and from the silence, screams ignited the flames as if it were gasoline, spreading out to the rest of the house, washing over me as a hot bath, just that little bit too hot. fazed, maybe too shell-shocked to move, by the mass of orange that should have burned but didn’t. I watch the scene unfold.
As a child I believed that this was a ghost of someone long dead, but I wasn’t to know then, that it was in fact the ghost of my future.