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I find houses super scary. The upstairs, the basement, the bedroom, the kitchen, the hall, the bathroom with its mirrors. The noises upstairs. You go investigate, leaving the living room vulnerable. You can check the whole house room by room, but never all at once. So you can never check the whole house ever. It’s like having only a small towel to cover all of your body, and trying to anticipate where eyes will go next.
I used to walk up the stairs knowing that the end of the hall on the right would have nothing but a closed door. But only the tiniest part of my brain believed that. I imagined I might see a child playing, or an old lady sitting in a chair and staring at me without eyes, or a very different door than was usually there. A large black folded thing. I promise that you never want to see a large black folded thing. Or the worst: myself. Myself, calm and smiling. Myself, confused and terrified to see myself. Either way, no thank you. Not even going to go into the idea of a man there at the end of the hall, because this is not about that fear, reasonable fear of things that follow the laws of physics. This is the other fear, things that bleed into being in your peripheral sight, are born out of familiar walls.
I finally found the one thing that I could not imagine being evil, so every time I went upstairs, I pictured turning my head and seeing that thing at the end of the hall. A huge cat nose, filling the door frame. For some reason I could see a malevolent entity appearing to me as a cat, but not a giant cat nose. It seemed very safe.
Luckily, the house where I grew up did not have a basement. Being sent to run down to the beer fridge in my grandparents’ basement where fish were cleaned and deer were dressed was quite enough my god. We drive over there in tornado weather, it’s only a few blocks over.
Do not take a shower or a bath. Don’t have mirrors. No bed frame, just put those mattresses right on the floor. No doors on closets. No dolls, for fuck’s sake.
You want a cat, but that cat will stare, frozen, at the fucking wall like there is a portal to where the shadow people scream their plans for you. You call her name sharply, then pleadingly, but her ear barely flickers. She’s pretty busy bearing witness to the unholy.
How do you walk from your upstairs bedroom through the hallway, down the groaning stairs, to open the refrigerator and eat pickles in the middle of the night? That refrigerator’s hum is a warning to you. The furnace kicking. A house tries to tell you there are things slithering in and out of the walls, but you make up a story to explain away each form of help you are given.
Understand that some rooms are for and some against you. Know that your cat will do her best but she is afraid too. There was a basement all along.
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