④ Gone Guests
Silence has never been so deafening.
The room around me, the space, it’s all a fog compared to what I see from where I lay. I wondered why all the other guests were so quiet, so spellbound, in such a deep trance as they lay atop their beds, gaze frozen as they stared up blankly at the pasty square of ceiling above them.
We were all small-minded before we were gone.
But then we should have listened to sense when we heard about the stories concerning the house if we wanted to avoid the pull - of people who came in and never came back out, as if they were under a spell, fazed and frenzied if anyone tried to snap them out of it. The afflicted even killed, apparently. But we didn’t listen. It all sounded too fictional, too many ends untied and questions without answers.
They still wonder why that’s so common.
It’s an abandoned old house, similar to the ones you see in those cliche horror movies - dusty and dirty and embellished with flimsy cobwebs at almost every corner. We were supposed to be helping the kids gain inspiration for ‘creative writing’, and this house is the oldest and darkest building they could find that isn’t too far away. Parents sign and hand in permission slips obnoxiously, and off the children go, a small group of them, to sleep over and write whenever struck by influenced imagination, with candles and sconces that flicker and strain against the wicks as dim, yellowed lighting in the night.
There’s so much I want to write now, but I won’t move an inch for anything. I wonder if I’m still breathing? Does it really matter?
The children wrote well, of course, with myself and another adult to watch over them and their doings. There was a lot of unease concerning the surroundings - a few of them naming the place ‘cool’, but still glancing about in awareness. Fear of the unknown holds all fears, and it seemed that in this house, those emotions were highly concentrated. They wrote a couple of good passages before they were sent to the guest rooms for rest, which they were even more hesitant to do. But they went along with it after a little persuading. For every guest needs a room, and sometimes, a room isn’t always a physical space.
They were all completely empty. Stripped of all personality, walls bare and the creaky chest of drawers coated in a thin sheet of dust. The floor was cold and almost concrete, the small chandelier holding several more candles above the chamber and casting a soft highlight to bolden your shadow. It was a house that didn’t seem like it belonged to the era, or the world for that matter. No internet, no gadgets, nothing. But then again, it wasn’t a home. It was a house.
It was dark out by the time the kids had settled down and turned in to rest, but I was doubtful of my chances of sleep in such an unfamiliar and unsettling place. There was only one window in the bedroom, and even that was barred with sturdy metal poles, as if the house was preventing any chance of its aura to mix with the outside world’s.
It didn’t need barred windows to do that.
There wasn’t much else to do except to try and sleep. Keeping the candles alight, I lay down on the surprisingly warm and soft mattress, a fraction of the tension I had easing off. There was a strong scent I hadn’t noticed before that started to fill my senses, one that’s hard to explain - sharp and sugary, but sour at the same time - like hundreds of sweet spices all mixed together and set on fire. My tension wore off increasingly as I breathed it in, not bothering to question the source of the sensation.
I did attempt to fight against the pull to giving in and giving up completely, but the effort was so painful I stopped almost instantaneously, limbs throbbing and eyes stinging for several moments before it vanished, and the smell of spiked spices washed over and enveloped me fully.
I looked up at the ceiling in a trance-like state, my body rigid and heavy. I saw nothing but the ceiling’s faded white colour, but by this point, I was as good as gone. A goner. I don’t know how it happened, and even if I did, I doubt I’d ever tell. It’s too good. I’m not high, I’m not, but I’m smiling, though I can’t feel it, and all my thoughts are somehow twisted into something dark and dangerous and acrid.
Maybe the cliche horror movies were right. It’s always too quiet, and it always will be, except there are no jumpscares. And even if there are, they’re silent too. If I wasn’t so frozen, I’d jump each time I heard droplets of blood spattering to the floor, from somewhere on my person. Let it spill. It won’t change a thing.
There are voices at this point, but you can’t hear them - they’re thoughts, they’re spoken thoughts inside a mind, my mind, and though they don’t make any sense, I’d shatter if they stopped.
All of us, gone guests in an old haunted house at an hour that only just classes as early morning. The skies are black, and so’s our vision. Invisible ice-cold hands hold us down, and we don’t do a thing about it. Maybe we don’t want to be saved. I know I don’t. I’m a part of the house too now, and I fit right in.
Eventually, they’ll find us. They’ll come looking, and they’ll dare to break the silence that looms over our limp, heavy selves in concern. I hate that. Nobody’s imaginative anymore. It’s all too boring, too samey and droll and innocent. If the Earth was introduced to what we goners have, they’d be living a dream. Quite literally.
Silence will always be so deafening. Always, for the gone guests.