A Tale of Terror
Caleb and Georgia loved everything about their new house, except for one tiny little thing.
The hideous patterns on the floor looked like something you might find in a Stanley Kubrick movie, and the first thing they planned on doing once they got together enough money was to rip them up and replace them with something a little more modern. The concentric circles with interwoven triangles dotted throughout them looked repulsive, especially in the unusual colour combination of beige, olive, and pink, and they unfortunately ran through most of the house!
Georgia stared at the carpet as she waited for her husband Caleb, who was busily hunting down the car keys so they could drive to the airport to pick up her mother.
“I can’t find them,” he told his wife, “do you know where the spare set are?”
“They’re hanging from the fridge, where you put them.” Georgia rolled her eyes impatiently, “Come on, my mum’s flight is due to arrive at the airport any minute. You know how she doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
Caleb shuddered at the thought of his mother-in-law visiting for the next three weeks. The only consolation would be that eventually she would have to leave, and it would be another glorious year before he had to put up with her put-downs in person again.
Grabbing the car keys from the magnet that held them to the fridge, Caleb danced around their dog, Musso, who was asleep in the middle of the kitchen floor, and raced to the front door. Musso stirred as he heard the front door slam behind Caleb and Georgia and padded his way into the kitchen doorway. He looked down at the carpet in the hall and, as if to give his own impression of what he thought of it, swiftly threw up.
Caleb drove slowly down the motorway towards the airport, not wanting to get there too early and have to listen to his mother-in-law drone on about how horrible the flight had been. She lived in Florida, where she’d thankfully retired to a few years earlier, but that didn’t mean that her influence stayed on the other side of the Atlantic. Far from it. She called regularly and made the usual interfering suggestions you’d expect from your husband or wife’s parents.
“Can’t you go any faster?” Georgia asked, “If I knew this was going to be like a scene from Driving Miss Daisy, I’d have driven myself to the airport.”
“We can’t go much faster,” Caleb told his wife, “there’re road works ahead, so the speed limit’s been reduced.”
“So what?” Georgia growled, “There aren’t any police cars around, so just speed things up a bit, will you.”
Caleb looked at his speedometer and pressed lightly on the accelerator, adding maybe a single mile an hour to his speed. It seemed to pacify his wife anyway, and it made him happy to know that he was getting away with driving slowly.
On arriving at the airport, Georgia’s mother was already waiting, sitting down next to the luggage carousel in the arrivals lounge with her suitcases by her feet, looking very lost.
“I told you we’d be late,” Georgia fumed at Caleb as the two jogged over to her. Georgia’s mother looked up at them as they approached.
“Oh thank God,” she breathed a sigh of relief, “I thought you’d forgotten all about me.”
“Of course not,” Georgia hugged her mother, “we’d never forget you.”
“If you were that worried, you could have called,” Caleb said.
Georgia’s mother glared at him, “I wasn’t going to use a public phone,” she told him, “there was an Arab looking fellow nearby and he might have been holding a bomb.”
“For Christ’s sake, don’t say such things,” Caleb said through grit teeth, “it’s bad enough you have to be so racist, but you don’t say bomb in an airport.”
“It isn’t racist to call someone Arab if they are Arab,” Georgia stuck up for her mother, but even she knew she was in the wrong about her mother assuming all Arab’s carried bombs around with them at the airport.
After bundling the luggage into the boot of their car, Georgia and Caleb drove back home with Georgia’s mother in the back seat, complaining all the way.
“Do you have to go so fast?” she asked Caleb, who was going at least five miles under the limit.
“Yes, honey.” Georgia agreed, in complete contradiction to what she’d said on the way to the airport, “Could you slow it down a little? You don’t want to get a speeding ticket.”
Caleb eased off the accelerator, knowing that the drive home was going to be a very long one, even longer now that he had reduced his speed.
Once they arrived at their home, Caleb took the cases out of the boot of the car and carried them up through the front door. Georgia’s mother stared at the house with a look of judgement on her face.
“What a quaint little place,” she said condescendingly, not bothering to wipe her feet before walking into the hallway, “and such... lovely carpeting.”
“We’re getting it replaced,” Georgia told her, showing her to her room.
“I could do with a drink after that terrible plane ride,” Georgia’s mother told her, pulling a bottle of wine from her carryon luggage and pouring some into a glass that was sat next to her bed. A glass that had been put there for night-time water, but clearly Georgia’s mother was finding a different use for it.
Having already taken the rest of the bags to his mother-in-law’s room, Caleb headed to the kitchen to grab a drink himself, but stopped just short of the kitchen door.
Next to a small puddle of sick on the carpet lay a charred corpse, one that looked like it might have once been a pet dog. Caleb stared in horror at his beloved pet, charred to a crisp in the middle of hall carpet.
“What the hell...?” he shouted, drawing the attention of his wife and mother-in-law from the spare room.
“What is it?” Georgia asked, coming to see what was going on and stopping next to Caleb when she saw the charred doggy corpse, “Oh my God! Musso!”
“Someone truly twisted must have done this!” Caleb shouted angrily, pulling his cell phone from his jacket pocket and dialling 9-9-9, “I’m calling the police!”
“What if the sicko who did this is still in the house?” Georgia whispered as Caleb dialled, “What if we’re next?”
Caleb held his hand over the mouthpiece of his phone, looking at his wife, “Don’t be ridiculous,” he told her, “we’d have seen them by now, We’ve been in most of the rooms already.”
Suddenly a scream came from the other side of the house. It was Georgia’s mother.
“Mum!” Georgia shouted, running down the hallway to check on her mother. Caleb followed close behind her.
When they arrived at the spare room, they found Georgia’s mother lying on the carpet next to a spilled bottle of wine, her body blackened by some sort of accelerant that neither Caleb nor Georgia could identify.
“Mum!” Georgia wept, crouching down futilely to check her mother’s pulse. The body was still hot from being burned, but she was definitely dead.
“What’s going on, Caleb?” Georgia asked, weeping heavily, “Who would do this? And where the hell are they?”
Caleb ignored his wife as he finally got through to the police, “Hello?” he said, “Please, you’ve got to send the police around immediately! Someone has set fire to my dog!”
Georgia stared at Caleb through teary eyes. Caleb licked his lips before adding, “And my mother-in-law.”
After giving the address, Caleb ended the call and put his arm around his wife.
“it’s going to be okay,” he told her comfortingly, “the police will be here soon, and they’ll soon figure out who is behind this.”
“That won’t bring my mother back,” Georgia sobbed.
“I know,” Caleb said, a slight smile flickering at the corner of his mouth, “I tell you what, I’ll go make us both a nice relaxing cup of tea.”
Caleb went to the kitchen stepping over the charred corpse of Musso the dog, and switched on the kettle. Once it had boiled he poured out two cups of tea, bringing them through to his wife who was still in the spare bedroom with her mother’s dead body.
“Here you go,” Caleb said calmly, handing his wife one of the cups. Her hands trembled as she took the cup of tea, and a few spots of liquid spilled over the side, soaking into the carpet.
As they did so, Caleb and Georgia heard a growling noise coming from the floor. They looked down to see the carpet moving, changing shape. The circles started to snap open and shut, the triangle shapes forming pointed teeth as the carpet sprouted mouths throughout the hallway. Georgia screamed, throwing her cup at the nearest mouth, which swallowed it whole. Flames started to shoot from the mouths, catching her dress on fire before she accidentally stepped into one of the gaping mouths and disappeared from sight.
Caleb barely had a chance to react before his wife’s body suddenly shot back out of the carpeted floor, landing on the ground completely burnt to a crisp. He stared at his own cup of tea, gingerly placing it on the bed side table before racing down the hallway to the front door.
Too scared to watch where he was going, Caleb tripped over a potted plant in the hallway, crashing to the ground and sending the plant falling with him. Soil and stale water spilled over the carpet, and Caleb heard the growling noise again as he pushed himself up onto his knees.
The carpet in the hallway burst into life, the circular patterns snapping open and shut as they tried to get a hold of Caleb, flames licking from their depths as he tried to back into a corner.
But it was no use. Caleb felt his hand give way beneath him as it plunged into an open mouth, flame licking up his wrist and forearm as he plunged sideways into the burning depths, only to be spat out again as another burning corpse.
As the flames died down, there came an abrupt knock at the front door. Two police officers stood on the doorstep, one holding a half-eaten doughnut in his hand as the other knocked on the door for the second time.
“Sounds like nobody’s home,” said the doughnut eating police officer, “let’s go back to the station.”
“We’d better check round the back first,” the knocking police officer suggested, “the report said that someone had been set on fire.”
The two officers walked around to the back door, peering through the glass of the door into the kitchen. Just across the room they could make out the charred remains of Musso the dog.
Frantically the officers smashed the glass in the door, reaching in through the hole and opening the door so they could check on the remains. Glass crunched underfoot as they crossed the kitchen lino and approached the dead dog.
“It’s just a dog,” the doughnut eater said, “it looks like someone set him on fire for some reason.”
“There’re three other bodies in the bedroom,” the knocking officer called out from the spare room, “these one’s look like they might have been human.”
The doughnut eater followed the sound of his fellow officer’s voice and came to the spare room, his mouth dropping open in disbelief when he saw the charred remains. His hands trembled, and crumbs from his doughnut fell to the carpet.
“Careful,” the knocking officer warned, “we don’t want to contaminate the crime scene before forensics can get here.”
The doughnut eater looked at the crumbs by his feet as a growling noise rose up from the floor. He stared at his colleague, his brow furrowed in a look of confusion;
“Did you hear that?” he asked.