No one has lived in this house for longer than Bean’s been alive, and ugh!, it smells like it too. Bean, Jeremy and Maebe each have their noses wrinkled against the stench and eyes squinted in the dim light. It had been getting foggy outside as they reached the house, but it shouldn’t be this dark with all those windows.
“We should explore?”
“Should we go together or…”
“Split up? We’ll get done here quicker, just remember to find something, yeah?”
“You never split up! Haven’t you ever seen a horror movie?”
“Have you met Lee? Let’s get this over with. I’ll take this room.”
“I… Guess I’ll go upstairs. You’re true gentlemen.”
Maebe heads gingerly up the stairs, stepping carefully since they creak like they’re going to break under her weight if she makes a wrong move. The banister she clings to is smooth and almost as rickety as the steps feel. The first room she opens the door to is a bathroom, and she can’t possibly close that door quickly enough. Her glimpse of the room shows rusted, filthy furnishings and the smell is pungent. It’s like someone forgot to flush the toilet 25 years ago or whenever the last person or hobo left this building. She rushes from that room only to find that she let the stink out into the hall. Maebe either needs to find some fresh air or a less disgusting place to vomit. She scurries to the next door in the hall, hastily shutting the door behind it and gulping in the air that’s only a little bit musty as opposed to absolutely nauseating. Bunkbeds, the covers perfectly pulled up over the pillows, a worn rug, faded pictures and grimy mirror. The room looks perfect and sad, like it was just abandoned one day… Just like the rest of the house, it’s a tableau of someone’s forgotten life. They’ve even left their stuff behind. Your know, the stuff that makes up memories and people. Clothes and toys are shoved carelessly into the drawers and chests, waiting to be used again.
A pretty music box sits on the desk under the finest layer of dust and Maebe can’t help but pick it up. She turns the cold metal key in it and soon the box is playing that creepy, tinny tune that music boxes always seem to play, the figurine inside spinning on it’s base. It’s already tucked under her arm – the conditions of the ‘dare’ are that each of them needs to bring out something they obviously didn’t bring in with them to ‘prove’ something – when she sees the ugly rag doll next to the bed. Despite all the music box’s charm, she doesn’t think twice about leaving it back on the desk and scooping up the burlap toy. Now, to explore the rest of the upstairs and hopefully not find another bathroom!
Downstairs, Jeremy inches his way into what must have been the living room. The fabrics are all faded and the floorboards sound like their haunted as he moves across them. This place is so gross he doesn’t want to touch anything, never mind pick it up and carry it around. Ew. Why oh why did he let Bean and Maebe talk him into this? Why did Eric have to run off like that?? The two of them totally could have convinced everyone that this was a terrible idea. With regrets running through his head he walks over to the old-timey TV and idly twists the power knob. He jumps as the derelict machine turns on. For a split second a picture shows on the screen the sound synced up just fine, and then with a loud POP! (that makes him jump again) the picture turns to snow and the speakers begin to blare the sound of static. As he turns it off he wonders idly why there’s even electricity running in the house, and then forgets he thought that altogether as he heads further into the dining room and towards the kitchen. Maybe there’s a pot or pan for him to take.
Just across the entry hall, Bean is staring at a surprisingly vibrant room. All the reds are rich and it doesn’t smell quite so bad in here. The floorboards barely seem to bend beneath his feet and when he wipes his finger along the bartop, it comes up with splinters but not dust. The glass on the bottles is cloudy and there’s tarnish on anything metal; it certainly looks like nothing’s been used in ages, but everything is clean-ish. With his finger stuck in his mouth as he tries to pull out the little bits of wood with his teeth, Bean crosses the floor and is almost relieved when little puffs of musty smelling dust puff up around his feet from the carpet.
As he watches the particles float away he’s distracted by a spot of discolouration on the floor. Just a small section of boards against the wall look all scuffed up – right where there’d pretty much never be anyone walking. He frowns down at the marks in the wood, they weren’t made by furniture scraping against it, that’s for sure, and there’s a definite direction to it… His gaze shifts from the arced furrows up the wall. It looks… Just like the rest of the wall. The wallpaper is the same as the rest of the room, just as bright, with the same texture and everything. Even the wood trim is the same: Fake and printed on. Wait. No. That can’t be right. A quick glimpse around the room proves that it’s only this part of the wall, at the corner, it’s real wood trim and same with on the other side of the bar. His hands run over the wallpaper, feeling the rough bumps and lines of bricks and not dry wall beneath the the flimsy paper. Within a moment he’s found a single line cut into the paper and a second later he’s pulling at that edge.