The house stood alone at the end of the street and I stood before it, just taking it in. It was a small home, a two up two down as those types of houses were known. Once and I’d have not have noticed this if I hadn’t looked it up, the house had been an end terrace place and built for the local cotton mill workers. Now, it was standing alone, surrounded by a wire fence hung with signs that said danger, keep out.
The front garden was overgrown and looked like a meadow. Totally, strange in the middle of this town were even a large patch of grass was sacred. This estate was almost through being done up and most of the houses had been demolished and rebuilt. but this one, stood alone, looking highly unwelcoming and yet begging someone to go in and discovery why it had been left out.
I looked closer and saw the front door was slightly a jar as if someone had just nipped back in. The door number, letter box, bell and knocker had been taken off as if the resident was desperate to be left alone. The four windows – two close by the door and two above them were not board up, though at one time they had been. The glass was broken in one of the downstairs’ windows and half broken in the top one opposite. The rest of the house was in shadows and as it was quickly becoming night, the house looked even more dark.
I unzipped my large fleece coat and withdrew my camera. Carefully, looking around, I saw no one about and heard nothing other then the wind and a dog barking. I turned the camera on and saw a ghostly like reflection of my face before pointing it towards the house. I took some photos, one after the other, not really bothering to be artistic. This wasn’t that kind of photo shoot.
With another quick glance around, I walked off the street and down the side. My shoulder and rucksack brushed against the wire and made a zinging sound. I side stepped a little, but didn’t want to loose my footing in the other grown grass. Halfway past, I stopped and took some more photos then carried on.
The back of the house was in worse state then the front. The garden was too overgrown and was pushing hard against the fence. I looked for a way in and found nothing. Letting my camera rest against my neck, I dug out my small torch and wire cutters. Timing the clips with the dog barking, I chopped my way into the fence.
Squeezing through, I felt myself sinking into wet earth. Moving fast, I came to stand in the back garden on more solid ground. Looking up in the dim light, I could see that the back looked the same as the front; a door and four windows. These windows though were board up and so was the back door.
Pulling a face, I put my things away and took a few photos. I looked at the small screen, but saw nothing of interested yet. Of course, I was torn between hoping to see the ghost and hoping not. I believed in all that un-dead stuff, but this place and it’s story was something I couldn’t get my head around. That’s why I had to see it for myself and experience it too.
Slowly, I walked down the other side and towards the front door. Once there, I give the door a shove and slipped in. I stepped away from the crack of streetlight bleeding in and turned on my torch. The hallway was bare, but covered with rubbish. Teenagers had been using this house to hang out in. There were tins of food, cans of drink, cig ends and was that a needle?
Shuddering, I shook it off and tried not to think about what could have happened recently in this house. I took some photos, finding comfort in the weight of my camera. I shuffled down the hall and into the first room. My torch picked out a broken sofa before a fireplace. There was a collection of ashes and rubbish spilling from the grate. I circled the room, taking only a few photos.
Then I left and crossed into the next. My torch picked out the corpses of books and newspapers. There were beer tins and food wrappers. Two chairs sat facing each other on either side of a low table, which was covered with burn marks and wax. I took photos of it all. More then just teenagers skipping school and hiding from their parents had been hanging out here.
I stepped back into the hallway and froze. Something was moving above me. I looked then shone my torch on the buckling staircase. The noise was shuffling; bare feet on wooden boards trying to go unnoticed. I felt a lump in my throat and a twisting knot in my stomach. Was someone alive in the house beside from me?
Unable to bring myself to call out, I walked upstairs. Gently, I went through the two bedrooms and the bathroom. The rooms had all but been ripped out. I found some fitted shelves still in place in the front bedroom and a broken book in the middle of the room. The second bedroom was in worse state with graffiti on the walls and burn marks on the floor. And the bathroom….everything had been taken out, even the wall tiles.
There was no one up here.
I checked for an attic hatch, thinking that maybe someone could’ve gone up there, but I didn’t spot one. I went back to the second bedroom and found a good spot to sit on the floor. It was in one of the corners, so at least I had my back to something. It was pitch black though and I switched out my torch for the camping lantern I had brought with me.
The crying came as a little soft, hushed sound. It was childlike and almost trying to go undetected. In the silence of the house I heard it too loudly. The hairs stood up on my arms and back of my neck. I rose my camera and began taking photos. The crying grow and changed into a wail. Now it sounded like a old woman in pain and distress.
I stayed still, watching and waiting, sometimes taking photos. A few times I suddenly remembered to breath and dragged in freezing lungfuls of air. I felt a pain in my chest and legs, then the wailing switched to crying and screaming. The noise echoed all around me and I couldn’t pin it down. The floor and wall vibrated, causing the urge to flee to kick in.
I held out and took more photos, not caring how they looked, just desperate to capture the thing making all the noise. Finally, I found my voice and yelled out, ‘I know what they did to you Dorothea! I want to help you, come to me!’
My words faded, mingling with the screams. I licked my lips and spoke again, ‘your family disowned you and left you here to rot. You cursed them! But the curse also trapped you!’
Something flickered at the doorway. A shadow? A shape of light? Frantically, I snapped photos one handed whilst the fingers of my other hand scrapped across the floor. My whole body was shaking, I just wanted to get out and run far away.
‘Dorothea! Show yourself to me!’ I screamed.
There! A figure in the doorway for sure! I clicked the camera button hard so many times I thought my finger might break. For all I know it could have done because my body had now frozen solid to the floor. I felt myself losing conciseness. I wrestled against it and tried to move. I couldn’t though, my limbs felt too heavy and brain was going into overdrive. You won’t run from the danger, so you’ll black out from it!
I screamed, trying to get myself out and awake my body up, but it was too late. I felt my eyes closing and my back slumming. Right before I lost it though, I saw her; Dorothea, the gypsy witch, standing over me.
When I came too the house was silent. My body ached all over. I got up, un-sticking myself from my camera and the wall. Pins and needles ran down my arms and legs, my feet felt so cramped I didn’t think I could ever walk on them again. Somehow, though I found I was able to stand and begin moving like a crippled dog.
I made it out of the house and back on to the street. There in the growing dawn light, I used the last of my camera battery to view the photos. It was the last handful I become interested in. Was that the corner of a dress in the doorway? The outline of fingers? A face appearing out of the gloom?
It was too hard to tell, but perhaps….perhaps there was something there…..