Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is the house haunted?

The house was abandoned, sitting desolately upon a high foundation, set back in the yard surrounded by white picket fence.

The fence and the yard were charming, well maintained, somehow only making the charred remains of the old house seem more startling.

There was a sign on the door "Danger, Keep Out!" I couldn't fathom who would want to go in. With walls eaten by fire, standing as they were, maintaining almost the resemblance of the ornate Gothic style which had made it a beautiful home before.

It was creepy to look at, a chimney; white brick, wide on the bottom, tapering into a thin column, standing naked in what used to be the front room. The roof and half of the walls were completely exposed, as if a wild, mad giant had cut the house clumsily in half.

A lone crow stood on the fence near the house, staring imperiously at any who dared pass.

Thus stood the old house, I shivered and passed by it. Seeing it brought to mind people, stuck in there with no escape. The image was too grotesque so I tried to think of something else. I wondered why I hadn't noticed it before, it seemed as if it had been standing there for ages, ready to crumble. Afterwards whenever I walked to the store, I avoided that back road, taking the long way around.

Imagine my surprise when told that the house was to be restored, that someone wanted to live there. I thought "Crazy!! Madness!!," the house seemed sinister and evil to me.

Not long afterwards, my father came to me and asked if I would babysit for the new owners of the house. It had indeed been rebuilt and painted a mint green color with black trim, it was, to me, as if a facade had been erected over the bones of the old ghost house. I could still see the blackened remains in my minds eye, and the people...

So braving my fears I walked in to find pleasant wood floors and a congenial atmosphere. Though it felt odd to be walking in the door that had once warned of danger.

I watched as the children I was to babysit scampered down the hallway and into the dark, and I looked at the fireplace and shivered.

The kitchen was off the main room to the left, we walked in there and I saw that you could look out another doorway leading back to the hall again. I remembered the wall that blocked it off from the living room, the way it had looked in the ruins. It was white brick and so had stood above the other walls that had been burned. As the flying toe headed kids ran through it and back out again, I wondered why there were no doors, were they ghosts?

In the back of the kitchen was a short hallway that led to the back door. Someone was out there banging around, I wondered who it was until the lady explained that it was the neighbors.

More and more I was starting to wonder if I was up for this job. I Surreptitiously checked the walls, the fireplace, expecting any minute that the facade would fall, not only that of the walls, but that of the people walking around.

I hadn't known these people before, where had they come from? It was my father who had set me up with the job, was he deluded!?

These people were mad, they were walking skeletons, clothed by flesh, about to abandon me to their wild skeleton children. I kept near the counter in the island of the kitchen, as the lady was explaining things to me.

I was only half aware that she was pointing out telephone numbers to call in case of an emergency, "we will be back late, will you be alright?" I nodded my head, she seemed unconcerned by my panic stricken countenance, my clinging to the island in the kitchen, she seemed unconcerned... why?

Then they left, the lady and her husband who had been hanging back near the door, I was alone with the wild children. I let go of the counter and opened the refrigerator, surely that would be calming, to see the normalcy of the families fridge. They had jars and jars of stacked unfamiliar items, not reassuring, so I closed the fridge and backed away into the hall.

I heard the cry of a little baby, so I walked down the sparsely decorated hallway, into the shadows, to find the source. Glancing briefly at the wall to see if I could find a switch, I was moved to urgency by the babies cry.

No light entered the room as I opened the door, so I turned one on and found the baby nestled in a beautifully appointed nursery. It was a very young baby indeed, maybe only a couple of months old. I had not held a baby like that before, it made me nervous, so I gingerly picked the baby up.

I didn't know which kind of baby it was, blue or pink, so I glanced around the room looking at the colors, green and yellow, that told me nothing.

It felt rather strange to be holding the fragile infant who was squirming and fussing in my arms. Panic stuck me again!! What do I do, I had never cared for a baby before!! The realisation that this was indeed no doll, and that I had no bottle at hand, nor any idea of where it's diapers might be was burning through my brain.

So I sat in the rocking chair ready almost to despair, the baby was rooting around on my shoulder and I thought ironically of my undeveloped bosom. I heard the couples 4 year old son in the hallway so I put the infant down, still squirming and then howling, and sought out the other children.

The little boy had tousled blond hair, and was in his pajama's, he looked chubby and rosy enough, dispelling my previous impression of wild skeleton children. "Hi" I said shyly to him. "Where's my mommy!?" he shouted back at me. I blinked nervously then put on a brave face. "She left me here to tend you, do you know where the baby's bottles are?" He glanced suspiciously at me then ran off down the hallway to the kitchen, where he climbed up on the counter and started to pull things down from the cupboard.

I ran in to stop him until I realised that he had pulled out the bottles for the baby. I handled the unfamiliar objects as if they were part of a scientific experiment, lining them up on the counter from the largest bottle to the smallest and then the nipples as well.

I thought of the milk in the fridge and pulled it out. The four year old looked at me solemnly and shook his head, reaching for the formula can that had been sitting by his little bottom on the counter. This new curiosity was also handled with solemn attention as I read the instructions. All of this while the baby was howling and the other unknown child was throwing towels out of the cupboard.

Eventually I got the bottle made. I tested it on my wrist as it showed in the picture and shook it as I walked down the hall and stepped over the towels. I didn't want to know were the other wild child had gotten to.

I told the 4 year old that he should go get his brother to pick up the towels. He ran off with a smirk on his face, I didn't think that it was going to happen.

Finally the gulping, greedy little baby slowed down to a slow slurp and then off to sleep, so I laid him down. I decided it was a him because he had a blue airplane on his pajama's, no parent in their right mind would put that on their little girl, right?

I walked out into the hallway again and the impression of dark spookiness returned again. Agitated I grabbed the four year old who's brother was into the linens, and asked him if there was a light switch around.

He walked further into the dark and found it for me on the far edge of the wall, so I flipped the switch and the light flooded the hallway and my eyes, blinding me for a moment.

Finally the other little boy emerged from his nest of blankets and linens and asked me if there was anything to eat.

I went back to the fridge and found the jars of unknown substances again, and a block of cheese, this I cut up into cubes. Then I found some apples and cut them up too. I laid the fare out for them on the table and they greedily devoured it. They asked me if I could make something else for them. I eyed the gas burners on the stove and thought that I shouldn't use it. So I got the cheese out again and cut up more cubes.

I had the little boys help me with the towels, the blankets and linens. Then I sent them off to bed. It seemed like I had been there for ages, and I was so tired.

So I crept into the living room and sat on the far side of their couch, away from the chimney, and snuggled down trying to get comfortable. They had a large fish tank across from the couch, no TV set. So I stared at the blue and purple water, somehow lit from beneath, and at the exotic fish that swam lazily about.

I closed my eyes, and drifted off to sleep. Until finally the mom and dad came home, no longer just owners, but people with howling babies and wild kids. They paid me and the mom offered to drive me home.

I walked out into the starless night, lit only by the orange glow from the street lights and the full moon. I wondered at the solitary crow that flew from the high branches of a nearby pine, seemingly across the moon and I got in the car quickly, shivering as I rode home to finally escape and to fall asleep in my own bed.