Verboort

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Summary

When Andrew and his family move into an old home in rural Verboort, unexplainable changes begin to haunt the family. If only he could understand why before it is too late. Who lived here before them and what is their connection to the dusty mirror in the attic?

Genre:
Horror / Thriller
Author:
Braden
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
6
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Verboort

Verboort

At first, he was hesitant to pull the canvas off the object. It was a large, old, dusty mirror, set in a deep mahogany frame embossed with gold inlay. But it wasn’t the gold or the reflective surface that drew him in. The mirror seemed to call to him, it didn’t seem to belong here. It was surrounded by smaller, cheaper antiques from a forgotten era, heirlooms from a Dutch past. Verboort was founded as a Dutch settlement which, like most things nowadays, had become Americanized. The mirror seemed to loom over the rest of the pieces in the attic, dominating the air with its otherworldly presence. Andrew touched the edges and traced the inlay. Over the top arch he traced an engraved, cursive word that read ‘Verboort’. Andrew hated touching objects, especially old ones. They seemed to have a history he could sense, if just faintly. He half expected to be shocked but was comforted when he met cool, hard wood. Some objects, like the painting of the Mona Lisa he had seen at the Louvre when his family vacationed in Paris, spoke volumes in a language composed of faded memories and deep emotions. He looked at her eyes and instantly knew she was keeping secrets. That feeling was the same with the mirror but clouded. He took one last look into it and held his gaze. He saw himself staring back, half covered in dust, half not.

As Andrew’s family gazed upon their new home, from the worn and wooden front door threshold, a loud ‘dong’ greeted them from an unknown location. His dad jumped back, startled, but he and the rest of the family were too exhausted to be fazed.

After taking a moment to rest his race-horsing heart, Andrew’s dad stepped forward.

“Seems the house knows we are here,” he said. “It’s just trying to be friendly”.

He looked back at his family. Elizabeth smiled back, tired in her eyes but confident and reassured with her stance. Mandy was already gone, exploring the dusty kitchen.

“Ha-ha very funny” Andrew said emphatically.

John smiled sheepishly and turned around, “Let’s see where that noise came from”.

After nearly five minutes of searching the house, Andrew discovered it. There was a slight rectangular indentation in the ceiling of the living room. The noise would have been forever a mystery, another unknown in an endless list of unknowns surrounding the house, had the yellowing wallpaper not exposed the attic’s entrance. The edges of the doorway were lined with a deeper hue of mustard yellow. “There must be moisture up there,” Andrew thought to himself. He didn’t want to share that with his parents now. They were already stressed from the move and had anticipated lots of repairs. His dad would figure it out as soon as he saw the yellowed ceiling. They had not expected to move. Andrew had not expected his dad to be laid off from his job as a car salesman, but the failing economy made lots of nightmares come to life. That’s what he had said. So here they were, in a cheap, dusty, one hundred and something year old house trying to start life anew.

“When life gives you lemons…” Andrew muttered to himself.

Sliding a boxcutter from his pocket, Andrew’s dad reached up and cut along the doorway. Dusty flakes of plaster showered Andrew’s face, like pieces of grit pulled loose during a sandstorm.

After pulling the ladder down, he went back into the U-Haul to find the box of electronics.

Andrew stared up into the abyss of darkness, thinking about the creeping mold and abandoned cobwebs that lay inside, waiting to be discovered. He waited patiently for his father’s return with a flashlight; no acts of heroism from me today, he thought. The darkness seemed to be swirling, as if dark shapes moved out of sight. Andrew looked down and shook his head then rubbed his eyes. After a minute, John came back with a black, bulky flashlight. Climbing the ladder, they peered inside, like archaeologists discovering a Pharaoh’s tomb. A musty scent greeted them, and Andrew thought of moldy old books. The blinding light revealed shrouded objects wrapped in dusty canvas, a burial shroud. Andrew thought the objects looked like covered tombstones, the dust in thick patches over the tarps looked like snow-colored moss. If a house could have a cemetery, this was it, full of forgotten objects of irregular dimensions. There should have been natural light flowing in, but the two windows were boarded up. Andrew spotted a covered object in the back corner that was tall and thin. After locking in on it for a second, he glanced past it, following the light and his dad’s gaze. He didn’t want to reveal his moment of fear and panic, but he thought it looked like a covered body, and only seconds before, he could have sworn he saw it move.

“Andrew, you with me bud?” His dad stared at him blankly, waving the flashlight in his eyes like a doc would in a routine check-up. “We gotta go down, time to unpack then help mom with dinner.” Andrew nodded, shaking his head as if to dislodge the fragments of deep thought still clouding his mind. Before heading down, Andrew’s dad walked by the grandfather clock and gave it a gentle pat.

“Something must’ve bumped into it to set it off. I can’t imagine it’s been chiming up here all these years by itself” he said, grinning. Andrew waved his hand in disbelief, refusing to be scared by his dad’s joke. He headed down the ladder, but not before glancing at the large mirror, half-covered in canvas and half-covered in dust. He took one last look, shivered, then headed out.

The unpacking was tedious work, but Andrew didn’t mind it. It gave him time to dream. His new room was smaller than his last, fitting his queen-sized mattress and deep oak bed frame as well as a tiny nightstand with a lamp off to the left side. There was maybe a foot and a half of space lining the floor between his wall and bed frame. Across from his bed stood a wardrobe, grand and elegant but also obnoxiously large for his current room, even though the thing wasn’t more than four feet wide. To the left of the wardrobe the bathroom door could be seen. As Andrew pulled out his books and painting supplies; deep green swirls of oil and bright rough canvas, a knot began to form in his belly. I can make this place my home, he though to himself. I have to.

That night they finished the day of unpacking with a frozen meal of beef stroganoff. The creamy sauce invited Andrew to eat more, but the Jell-O texture of it warded him off more. He didn’t eat much, swirling his fork in his plate and thinking. They were all exhausted from the day’s work and eventually slunked off to their bedrooms, the old wooden house creaking and moaning in their place. Andrew followed suit and crawled into his bed. The room was cold and particles of dust were visible in the crack of moonlight filtering through his window. They move like dancers, he thought. Like dancers in a real moonlight sonata. He didn’t know if the thought made any sense but laughed anyways before closing his eyes and slipping into sleep. Then he began to dream.

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