The Eyes – Mokumoku Ren

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Hideo dashed through the lashing rain, his wooden clogs slipping on the dirt track, his back weighed down by his heavy travelling pack. He looked desperately around but he was surrounded by abandoned rice paddy fields and there seemed to be no shelter to be had.

He made for the nearest tree which was only just taller then himself. Hideo shivered and wondered how far it was to the nearest village. Trying hard to convince himself that he wasn’t lost, Hideo fell into prayer.

When he opened his eyes and looked down the road, he saw a gate sticking out of the undergrowth. Smiling and feeling like his prayers had been answered, Hideo walked over, the rain and wind whipping around him. He tugged himself through the half open gate and went up what had once been a path which led him to an abandoned house.

Entering, he called out and listened to his echoing voice. Normally he had would have taken off his clogs and left them at the porch but he had no idea what would be on the floors and thought it might be safer to keep them on for the moment.

The abandoned house’s roof was sound and the all the rooms were dry. Hideo went into the front room and set himself up on the floor. He was tried but he had something to eat and drink before settling down to sleep.

The rain hammered on the roof like a banging drum and the wind howled through ripped screen windows. Normally such a racket would have kept Hideo awake but he was so tried sleep came easily.

Sometime time later, something disturbed his sleep and Hideo woke up, he lay in the dark wondering what it was. Thunder rumbled and he decided the storm must have awakened him. Grateful, he had found this abandoned house, Hideo lay down to sleep again but a creeping feeling of being watched prickled the back of his neck.

Muttering that it was just the storm and tiredness, Hideo tried to rest. The feeling wouldn’t go away and seemed to grow until he was forced to give in and light his lamp.

‘I’m sorry for entering your house!’ Hideo spoke in Japanese, ‘I was only seeking shelter. Please let yourself be known. I mean no harm, I am but an old travelling merchant who became lost in the storm.’

Hideo listened to his words faded but heard no reply. He debated getting up and walking through the house, making peace and saying thank you for the shelter. Something flickered out of the corner of his eye and Hideo turned to see a shoji screen behind him.

Another flicker of movement and a human eye was staring at Hideo.

‘Thank you for letting me stay here,’ Hideo spoke and bowed low.

When he looked up again more eyes had joined the first and they seemed to be forming across the screen.

Hideo swallowed and watched as soon the whole screen was taken over by staring eyes.

‘Mokumoku Ren – haunted shoji screen. The first sign of a haunted house,’ Hideo whispered.

Quickly, Hideo began uttering prayers, blessing and thanks, everything he could think of that might keep the spirits of the abandoned house at bay.

Finally exhausted, he collapsed on the floor and fell into a deep sleep.

Sunlight tickling his face woke Hideo. Startled, he looked around, the memory of the haunting eyes hurried him to leave this place. Gathering his thing, he rushed outside then remembered to be respectful and turned back with a low bow to the abandoned house.

‘Thank you for letting me stay. Please don’t haunt me!’ Hideo called.

Spinning around, he ran down the pathway and back onto the dirt road, praying that no spirits followed him.

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Footprints

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Every morning, she would come down to find a trail of footprints across the floor from the back door to the kitchen door. They were small, child’s size and looked wet.

At first, she had blamed local kids for breaking into her house. She had replaced the doors and windows, fitted security locks and confronted every family in the neighbourhood.

Still the footsteps appeared.

Mopping them away, she tried to come up with reasons. Maybe, there was a leak?Perhaps, she was causing them in her sleep? Or and she keep coming back to this, it was children playing tricks on the nasty old woman who hated everyone.

‘I’ll stay up tonight and catch them at it!’ she said aloud.

That night, she made it seem like she had gone to bed but then, she crept back down into the kitchen. Sitting on a stool, torch in hand, she listened into the darkness and waited.

Hours passed, the clock chimed three in the morning and she dozed off.

The sound of a child crying and running wet feet awoke her. Quickly, she turned on the torch and saw before her eyes the footprints forming on the floor.

And there was no one there.

Mystery Mail #CCC

The postman knew the house was empty because he had never delivered any letters there. So, it was a shock on Monday morning when he saw a letter with that address.

Frowning, he went up to the house and saw a metal box with mail written on the lid. He posted the letter through then looked around. There was no signs of anybody.

Weeks and months passed, the postman kept delivering letters but he never saw anybody. Perhaps, no one had moved in and someone was just using the address? Criminals? Lovers?

Whoever it was, was none of his business and he was just doing a job.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/crimsons-creative-challenge-32/ thanks).

Kettle #FridayFictioneers

Relics of the past reminded me that no one had lived in this house for sixty-odd years. It was like a time capsule, frozen forever in a single moment.

I would have liked to have know what had happened here. Why had everything been left behind? Where were the owners? But those answers were long gone.

I took photos, documenting everything because despite this museum likeness, I knew it wouldn’t last. Vandals, burglars and homeless people would eventually find the house then the silence would be broken.

All would be lost to time as it should be.

 

(Inspired by;  https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/06/12/14-june-2019/ with thanks).

The Blue House #FridayFictioneers

The new owners had done the house up nicely. They had even decided to stick with the blue and white colour scheme. I could smell the fresh paint as I walked by.

Stopping, I looked at the rows of plant pots because these were new. I heard a window opening and turned sharply to leave.

‘Good morning!’ a cheery woman’s voice called. She had bright red hair and huge glasses.

‘Hello,’ I called back.

‘I just love this house and we got it so cheap too!’

‘That’s because it use to be my house and I buried ten people in the cellar.’

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/06/05/28-june-2019/ with thanks).

Three #3LineTales

an old enamel number three sign

For years, I had been having dreams about a house with a three on the door, I would go up the steps and try to open the door but I couldn’t budge it no matter what I tried.

I knew that beyond the door was the answer to a question that I was desperate to discover, though half the time I couldn’t remember what it I was needed to know, it was like sand slipping away.

Would the dream door ever open? Or would the secrets behind it stay sealed forever, never to be in my grasp?

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/05/30/three-line-tales-week-174/ with thanks).

 

 

The Witch’s House

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The children called it the Witch’s House and told tales of a horrible old woman who kidnapped people and used them in potion making. There wasn’t any truth behind it but seeing the state of the house the tales were easy enough to believe.

 

 

Lorn (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Lorn; lost, ruined or undone. 

The stairs looked forbidding, so Caleb and Beth climbed up slowly and gingerly. Beth had left the books on the doorstep, ready to collect when they left. Some of the stairs railings looked like they had been gnawed by rodents, making the banister unstable.

They found the rooms in better shape up here. The bathroom, four beds and the en-suit hadn’t been touched by the flood but the vandals and squatters had been here. The bath, toilet and sink had been smashed up; cream porcelain chucks covered a chequered lino floor and water stains dotted the wall like a painting.

The first bedroom – possibly Grandpa’s room was mess of clothes, bedding and bits of furniture. The wooden bed was broken, the remains against the wall. Two double mattress were on the floor, blankets draping over. Someone had patched the broken windows with newspaper and old fabric.

‘Let’s spend time looking for things,’ Beth said.

Not giving voice to his disappointment, Caleb nodded and warned her, ‘look out for glass and needles. Who knows what was going on here.’

‘I’ll be careful,’ Beth answered.

The searched the room and found some coins, empty beer cans, food wrappers and a few photographs. The clothes weren’t worth going through. It seemed the house had really been robbed out.

‘Recognise anyone?’ Beth asked, sharing the photos with Caleb.

He shook his head, ‘no. Maybe they were Grandpa’s but I don’t know.’

‘Do you want them or not?’

‘No,’ Caleb answered and turned away.

He went into the next room which was a smaller bedroom. There were three single beds squished in, clothes heaped on the floor, rubbish in the corners and the smashed window letting all the elements in. On a bedside table, was a pile of used cigarettes, ash scattered about.

Caleb went in, just to check but there was nothing of Grandpa here. He meet Beth in the doorway and they moved on to the next two bedrooms. At some time, they had been children’s rooms going off the old wallpaper which was mostly torn away. Like the first two rooms, people had been sleeping in here but Grandpa had been using them as storage and there were a few boxes to look through, though they weren’t the first to do so.

‘More books,’ Beth said about the first box.

‘Any be saved?’ Caleb called.

‘Possible. Let’s take them. What’s in that one?’

‘A tea set…Some of it anyway. Few bits of smashed. Next one…’ Caleb trailed as he looked through another box, ‘videos.’

‘Same in this one too,’ Beth laughed, ‘and some music tapes….Your Grandpa liked sixties rock and country. Irish ballads?’

‘No idea,’ Caleb spoke, ‘there’s some photo albums here. They look okay and a school year book….Let’s take this box.’

‘Finally one,’ Beth pointed out, she moved over and opened it, ‘things wrapped in news paper…..oh, it’s horse!’

Beth held up a porcelain horse and Caleb crossed the room to look. Removing the rest of the yellowed newspaper, Beth passed him the brown and white horse. Then she picked up another wrapped form and peeled back the newspaper.

‘This one’s a shire horse. Look at the leather stuff, he’s ready to pull a cart!’

‘Do you want them?’ Caleb asked, running a finger over the cold, smooth face of the horse.

‘Sure,’ Beth said.

‘Let’s check theses drawers and wardrobe.’

There was only a few items of clothes, shoes and children’s toys. Caleb pulled a teddy dog out and turned it over in his hands. He didn’t recognise it, so put it back.

In the next room, they found more books and children’s toys. They saved the books and got ready to leave.

‘I forgot about about the attic,’ Caleb said soon after they had brought all the boxes they were taken down to the front door.

‘Where is it?’ Beth asked, looking back up the darkening staircase.

Caleb went back up and stood on the landing. He looked along the ceiling for a few moments the pointed out the almost hairline rim of the attic door, ‘there!’ he said.

‘Can you get up?’ Beth asked.

‘I’ll need a ladder….Maybe a neighbours got one,’ Caleb wondered, he came back downstairs, ‘you load the car and I’ll go and ask around.’

‘Okay…but don’t take too long, it’s getting late.’

They kissed, Caleb give her the car keys then headed out. Beth began moving the boxes and loading them into the back of the car. Soon after she had finished, Caleb appeared with a ladder and a middle aged man in tow. He had a grey, balding head, a rough covering of beard and worry lines on his face. His hands and body showed the lifestyle of a construction worker. He was wearing dirty jeans and an old blue t-shirt.

‘This is, Reggie,’ Caleb said.

‘Hi,’ Beth greeted the man.

‘We’ll go up. Why don’t you wait out here?’

‘No, it’s okay. I might be able to help.’

They went back inside. Reggie helped with the ladder then Caleb lifted the attic door and shone the torch from his phone inside.

‘Oh wow, it’s packed up here!’ Caleb called down, ‘looks untouched too. I guess no one was able to get up here. Okay, I’m going in.’

‘Be careful!’ Beth called.

‘I shall be. Here, let me pass stuff down.’

Together, the three of them emptied the attic. There were cardboard and plastic boxes filled with books, photos, film, bric-a-bric antiques, papers, two landscape oil paintings, old toys, including a collection of metal cars, a small stuff rocking horse that had seen better days, a sixties recorder player and some other things.

‘There were treasures in this house after all,’ Beth cried.

‘Some of this stuff could be worth a bit,’ Reggie stated as he inspected one of the paintings which showed a river going though a forest with a herd of deer coming for a drink.

‘Beth! Look at this!’ Caleb yelled.

‘What is it?’

‘My grandparents wedding stuff! Their clothes and photos. Wow! This is amazing. Here, I’m going to pass it all down.’

Excitedly, Caleb passed Beth and Reggie a huge white box and another that was black. Then a battered cardboard box, over flowing with dusty fake flowers, photo albums and other things.

Beth took the lid off the white box and couldn’t believe her eyes. Folded inside was a lacy white wedding dress from the fifties with a huge veil laying on top.

‘I can’t believe this survived,’ Beth uttered.

‘The old man probably wanted to forgot all about it,’ Reggie cut in, ‘from what I remember, she died young.’

Reggie handed her a loose photo which showed a  veiled bride sitting in the back of a Rolls Royce.

‘What happened?’ Beth asked.

‘Some disease. She was only like in her thirties.’

‘That’s sad.’

Reggie nodded then Caleb yelled there were some more boxes and they got back to work.

The attic was soon empty and Caleb climbed back down, ‘thanks for your help, Reggie.’

‘No probs. Be nice to see this place fixed up and lived in again. Those yobs made a right mess,’ Reggie said.

‘Yeah. The builders are coming tomorrow and hopefully, things will be better,’ Caleb explained.

‘I can’t believe all of this was still up there!’ Beth gasped, she had been looking through some of the boxes, ‘how are we going to fit it all in the car?’

‘I’ll give you a hand,’ Reggie said.

They loaded the car up, just about fitting everything in. They said goodbye to Reggie and watched him taking his ladder back across the road to his house.

Caleb then turned and looked at his Grandpa’s house.

‘You okay?’ Beth asked.

Caleb nodded, ‘just feeling bit tried.’

‘Same. Let’s get back to the apartment, unload all of this and get take out for dinner.’

‘Then tomorrow, we’ll be back to see the start of things.’

‘I’m sure it’s what your Grandpa wanted,’ Beth said and put her hand on Caleb’s shoulder, ‘he wouldn’t have left everything to you otherwise. I’m sure he was proud of you, despite everything. But none of that was your fault.’

‘I know,’ Caleb said quietly, ‘it was my drug addict teenage mum.’

Beth squeezed his shoulder but didn’t say anything else.

Caleb started the car and they drove away into the evening light.

Lorn (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Lorn; lost, ruined or undone. 

The house was ruined. Caleb stood in the doorway, his hands running over the damp and rotting wood. He tried hard to remember the home his grandpa had once lived in but he had only visited a few times as a baby and toddler. Now, the house was Caleb’s but he didn’t know what to do with it.

‘Is it bad?’ his girlfriend’s voice asked from behind him.

‘Looks it,’ Caleb answered.

Beth poked her head in, her mess of red curly hair tied high in a bun tickling Caleb’s arm as she had ducked underneath him. Her nose wrinkled at the smell, she pulled a disgusted face then smoothed it out into a sad expression.

Caleb moved his arm, bring it over and down to go around her back. He curled his fingers around her side and held Beth for a few moments. He shut his eyes on the scene then felt Beth stroking his flop of black hair and trailing her fingers down to his cheek.

‘We don’t have to go in,’ Beth spoke quietly.

‘I need to. I want to see if anything is left before the builders come,’ Caleb answered, ‘better be careful where we step,’ he added.

Testing the bare floorboards, he stepped carefully inside and keeping close to the wall. He held out his hand and helped Beth across. Together they went into what had been a living room. The damage from the flood and vandals was worse then Caleb could have imagined, even though the lawyer had prepared them for it.

A dirty, water line about four foot up the wall ran around the room, marking the height of the flood. Wallpaper was peeling or had fallen off, plaster clumps lay about and in some parts the red bricks could be seen peering out of holes in the walls. The windows were boarded up, expect for one which was missing glass and allowing light into the miserable room.

Broken pieces of rotting furniture stuck up from the sinking floor like the arms of drowning men asking to be saved. Caleb and Beth’s feet knocked and tripped over wood, fabric bundles, glass and electric wires. Some parts of the floor giving a warning creak, making them change direction to avoid falling through.

‘I wish I could have done something,’ Caleb whispered.

‘There was nothing you could have done,’ Beth said.

Caleb kicked an empty drawer and spotted something underneath. It was a photograph. Badly water damaged but Caleb could see himself as a baby being held by his grandpa. With a flicker of a smile, he turned to show Beth.

‘He looks like you,’ she responded, ‘same crazy hair!’

‘Yeah’ Caleb said with a hint of laughter.

‘Maybe, there’ll be some more baby photos round?’ Beth wonder and she inspected the floor hopefully.

‘I doubt it. Mum didn’t bother taking many and none of the foster people had any contact with Grandpa. My adopted parents did but they would have sent high school photos,’ Caleb explained.

‘Oh,’ Beth uttered.

She stopped looking and wiped her dirty hands on the old pair of jeans she wore. She avoided looking at Caleb, hating to see him upset by the bad memories of his past.

‘Nothing else here,’ Caleb said.

He slipped the photo into his pocket and carried on his walk through.

In the kitchen, everything that wasn’t nailed down was gone. The three remaining cupboards were empty, doors hanging off. A dark flood line ran around the walls and the floor had been dug up, the plastic lino ripped back expose how bad the water had leaked through. The window and back door were boarded up, but someone had kicked it in.

Beth went to the door and swung it back and forth. It let out a squeal as the wooden board scrapped the floor.

‘Probably, squatters,’ Caleb spoke, ‘though why they’d want to stay here is beyond me.’

‘Better then the streets, I guess. Warmer and drier,’ Beth suggested.

‘Maybe, but still.’

Caleb went over and had a look at securing the door whilst Beth stepped into the over grown garden. It was hard to tell how big it was because of the tangle of bushes and plants. Rising above was an apple tree, budding with new leaves in the spring sunshine.

‘This could be nice….Needs a lot of work…’ Beth trailed.

‘Everything needs work,’ Caleb huffed.

‘Leave it. The builders will sort it tomorrow.’

Taking a deep breath, Caleb abandoned the door and walked through an open archway into the dinning room which then led into a second living room. All the wall paper had been torn off and someone had been knocking into the walls. Caleb looked at the exposed pipes as he walked over plaster and window glass.

In the second living room, Caleb went over to a bookcase in the corner. The shelves had been taken out and most of the books because someone had used them to start a small fire with in the middle of the room. There were three books left on the bookcase; Medieval History Uncovered, Knights Of The Middle-Ages and Myths and Legends of Britain. Caleb picked them up and saw they still looked readable, despite a covering of dust.

‘Grandpa liked history,’ Caleb shouted.

‘But you said you didn’t know him,’ Beth said from the connecting archway.

She walked though and joined him, edging around the remains of the black ash from the fire.

Caleb showed her the books, ‘Look okay to keep,’ he added.

‘I don’t mind. It’s good to save books,’ Beth said and she took them from him.

‘They could have burnt the whole place down,’ Caleb pointed out as he moved to inspect the damage in the centre of the room.

He toed a half burnt book and the pages crumpled.

‘This house has survived so much; water and fire, the elements, people,’ Beth voiced, ‘and now you want to save it instead of knocking it down.’

‘The money is there to save it,’ Caleb reminded her, ‘and once it’s done we can live here. Our five years of trying to save for, find and buy a house is over.’

‘And your past?’ Beth asked timidly, looking down at the books.

‘I’ll deal with it,’ Caleb replied.

He moved over and hugged her, resting his chin on top of her head. He could feel Beth shaking slightly and worried she was going to cry, he tightened the hug and kissed her forehead.

‘Don’t worry about me. Think about what you can do with the house.’

Beth nodded, sniffing a little and crushing the books to her breasts.

‘Let’s go upstairs. The flood didn’t get up there, so maybe some stuffed survived.’

 

To Be Continued…

FooFaraw (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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FooFaraw; a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant.

I turned the handle and opened my bedroom door, feeling a slight prickly of fear. Would it look like I had left it when I was eighteen? Or had my great-aunt Dorothy thrown everything I’d had to leave behind away?

The door creaked loudly then bumped against the wall. I let go of the breathe I’d been holding. My bedroom was just like it was. The walls were a pale blue with nothing on them – Dorothy had banned me from putting anything on them- the curtains were drawn over the small window and the ceiling was covered in spiderwebs.

My childhood bed was made, the desk and chair tidy, the single wardrobe was open and empty and the bookcase held a few kiddie books. It was like the room had given up waiting for my return and just settled into a life of abandonment.

I sat down on the bed, the springs squealing. I had hated it here. Dorothy had never loved me or been kind to me. She had repeatedly told me she should never have taken me in and should have given me to the children’s home. The only reason why she didn’t was because my parents had left her money in their will for her to look after me.

Dorothy had physically, mentally and emotionally abused me. Letting all her angry out for her sister’s – my mum’s- happy life before she had passed away and also the fact that Dorothy now had to take care of me. I had no happy memories here. On my eighteen birthday, I had left and the trust fund my parents had left me opened up a whole new world for me.

I hadn’t wanted to keep in touch with Dorothy but we had sometimes over the years. Later it had been nurses and care home staff writing and phoning me. Till the last day and the news she was finally gone, having left everything to me.

But I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to go back to that life. I was different now, free of all of that. There was nothing here for me. I had taken all I wanted before, so why I had come back here?

Because I had wanted to prove it didn’t matter? That everything she had done and said had only made me stronger? That the past was just that and I had escaped from it?

I didn’t know. It didn’t matter. I was making a fuss over something that meant nothing to me. I wasn’t that child anymore. I was a businessman, a husband, a gentle father, a millionaire.

I got up, closed the door behind me and went downstairs. I took nothing from the house. I closed and locked the front door behind me for the very last time.

I got back into the car. My wife looked at me put I avoided her questioning eyes. We were silent until Alexandra couldn’t take it no more and had to ask; ‘what was in there?’

‘Nothing but dust and spiders,’ I said.

‘So, it wasn’t worth you dragging me out here then?’

I shook my head.

‘I’m hungry, let’s go,’ Alexandra snapped.

‘All right. On the way we’ll drop the keys at the housing agency and let them take care of everything,’ I added.

Starting the sports car’s engine, I took a finally look at the house, a sense of complete freedom ran through me.