'Devil House' Chapter Two

A seemingly endless, flat road led us to our destination. I watched, anxiously as a little brown spec hatched into a blooming log cabin. I couldn’t see the details yet, but the ping of apprehension in my chest felt like a ton of brick. I shoved my hands under my thighs to hide their tremble from Kayla. Why did my stomach twist into knots at the thought of our new home?

Home.

What really made the difference between a house and a home? When I lived with Sharon, it wasn’t really anything more than a simple house. My certainty in the existence of Mr. Peebles, and Sharon’s obsession with perfection, and her denial of my special talents, killed whatever feelings of a home that I may have had. A dwelling that meant nothing more than shelter from the elements dictated that definition. The warmth of the Masterson’s loving hearts brought more comfort than any number of years with Sharon. After I exorcised Jeffrey, I felt confident, secure and safe. I felt at home. Maybe it’s the warm, fuzzy feelings that change a simple house into a home. I love Kayla, plain and simple. Did I want to build a home with her? Absolutely. But for now, it was only a structure made of wood and concrete. I shouldn’t be scared of it and Kayla would be devastated if she knew. I’ll have to tell her at some point, but not now. I need some time to decide how to approach the topic. I glanced in her direction, hoping she didn’t see my body quivering.

“Are you excited?” Kayla’s lips pulled back into a grin that the Cheshire cat would have envied.

“I’ll be glad when we get there. I hate surprises.” I was glad she mistook my fear for excitement.

“Only ten more minutes.” Kayla winked and I turned my gaze back to her bare legs. Her creamy thighs disappearing beneath her denim shorts helped ease my mind. My hands stilled and I fought the urge to slide my hand down her smooth flesh.

“Okay David, close your eyes!” She giggled childishly.

“What? No!” My stomach churned.

“C’mon, don’t be such a spoil sport!”

“Fine.” I surrendered. It isn’t often I see this playful side of Kayla come out. Despite my nerves, I closed my eyes tightly.

“No cheating,” she teased.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” With my eyes closed, my other senses came alive. I could feel the gentle thump of the tires bouncing along the road. The slight hum of the engine, mixed with the jingle of the keys hanging out of the ignition came together like a lullaby. The faint aroma of coconuts drifted from the little tree that dangling from the mirror. Even with the relaxing atmosphere, my nerves were creeping back to the forefront of my mind. With a slight lurch, the car finally came to a stop. I resisted the urge to lift my lids.

“Keep them closed.” She warned, slamming her car door. A cool breeze brushed my face as my door opened. “Don’t look.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. “Okay! Now!” she squealed. My breath caught in my throat, and I pulled my eyes open. The darkness I saw behind them melted against the bright sunlight. Slowly, as my vision returned, I drank in our new house. Kayla’s wide eyes searched my face for a reaction, but only a single word came to mind.

Wow.

The majestic red wood cabin stood proudly before me. Our new house was unlike anything I’d seen before. Most buildings have an underground level, but the foundation of this one lay even with the ground. Various types of greenery had been planted around the house, but bits of the cement foundation peeked out from between their branches. The bottom level had been redone, but something about is just didn’t match the rest of the building’s splendor. The paneling on the two visible walls still showed some signs of wear. A crack here or a chip there, but somehow, the house didn’t feel neglected. Strange as it is, the beauty of the house is truly haunting.

The next level is truly the pride and joy of the building. Almost twice as tall as the first level, two windows rested in each wall. The way the tops of the glass slant upward meeting in a sharp point reminded me of church windows. An oak deck had been built around the second story door, extending from each side closing around the perimeter. It looked like a distraction from the first level resting above ground. A small staircase led straight to the front door and covered a different door that had been masked by red paint. Had two more stories been added?

The top level resembled the second story in appearance, except for the two sides of the roof coming together to form a point, and two single windows facing the forefront. The dull, beige curtains hanging lifelessly behind the glass made these windows sorely stand out. None of the other windows had any such covering, what makes these windows so special?

I’m strangely drawn to the bottom floor; my eyes keep drifting back to it. There must be some sort of residual energy lingering somewhere inside. There seemed to be enough energy to catch my attention, but not enough to raise any red flags. Residual energy isn’t necessarily something to fear. In fact, it’s usually the result of something traumatic or highly emotional that occurred in a location. Almost like a spiritual thumbprint left in time.

“So, what do you think?” She wrapped her arms around my waist and looked up at me with her eyebrows arched expectantly. “We’re surrounded by five miles of solid forest. The nearest neighbor is three miles out, and town is just shy of six miles away. I know you value privacy, and here, you’ll have all the peace and quiet you could ever want.” I stood speechless, taking my time to let all this new information to sink in. Kayla’s serious side took over as she spewed the cabin’s details.

“Built in the late 1800s, it was owned by the Garrett family until around 1920 when Joshua Garrett passed it down to his step daughter, Mary. The single story, hand built cabin was in her possession until the 1930s when the Gray Stone Real Estate Company was willed the property when Mary died. The cabin has since had a few tenants, but none stayed too long. Eventually, the company handed the property off to a fledgling subsidiary, Round Rock, who invested and turned the shack into the glorious structure that stands before you today. There are three stories, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and all new appliances. The bottom story is actually the remains of the original home.”

“It has its faults, but it really is a nice place. I wonder why no one else has shown any interest in it.”

“Well, we are in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure high gas prices have dissuaded a few potential buyers. So, what do you think?” She pressed. What did I think? It truly is a beautiful building, but the sight of it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Should I mention the chill that climbs my spine when I look at the bottom story? No, she’d tell me that it’s nothing. As it very well could be. I concentrated, scanning the place for energy. Without anything but the nervousness I’d been feeling, and the absence of the ringing in my ears, I chalked everything up to my over exaggerated, paranoid brain.

“It’s beautiful. You did well Kayla.” I replied. Leaning over, I gave her a gentle kiss. Her supple lips were soft and tasted like sweet honey. Gazing into my eyes, her smile widened. When she smiles like that, I’m putty in her hands.

“I’m glad you approve. I think we’ll be very happy here.” I stopped for a second to check for buzzing, whispers, chills, anything. The stillness seemed unusual, but it was enough to satisfy me. I’m probably making something out of nothing. So many unanswered questions are messing with my mind.

“I think you’re right.” I replied hopefully. Kayla’s embraced tightened and my hands lovingly rubbed her back.

“It feels like our lives are finally starting to go in the right direction. Like our life together has finally begun.” Lifting my head, I took one final glance at the house. My heart stopped for a second when I saw the curtains of the upstairs window flutter. My spine stiffened. Pulses of electricity spread from my back, shocking my senses.

“What’s wrong David?” She quizzed.

“Nothing.” I stammered. “Why?”

“I felt you shudder.” Kayla’s hands roamed up my arms, stroking them lightly.

I blinked rapidly trying to come up with a quick excuse. “A bug landed on the back of my neck.”

“Let’s go inside then.” I felt a pang of guilt for continually lying to Kayla. I didn’t want to crush her hopes until I can explore the place a little more thoroughly.

“Good idea.” We stepped onto the deck and the old wood creaked as we approached the door. Kayla pulled her key ring out of her pocket and plucked the shiniest one of the bunch. The lock clicked as she turned the key, and the door swung open silently.

“Well?”
“What?” I asked nervously.

“Carry me across the threshold! It’s bad luck if you don’t!” With a chuckle, she jumped into my arms, and together we stepped inside.

Inside the front door, Kayla raised her head and kissed me on the mouth. Her tongue pushed passed my lips, massaging mine. I pressed her tighter against me and heard her moan softly. The warmth of her skin temporarily chased away any discomfort that I might have been feeling. The feel of her breasts pushing against my chest helped relax me. She squirmed in my arms, and felt a sheer rush of heat sweep over me. She released my lips and gazed at me passionately.

“That was nice.” I cooed.

“I love you David.”

“Welcome home, Mrs. Hunter.” I grinned.

“Why, thank you, sir! Glad to be here.” She teased.

“No, the pleasure is all mine.” I winked.

“I’m sure it is!” She laughed, hopping out of my arms. “Just look at this place! Not bad for our first house, huh?” The beauty of the inside far exceeds the building’s exterior. The sun beaming through the bare windows helped light the entire room. As much as I liked the way it looks, I need something to cover them. Windows have always bothered me since I caught a rather grotesque spirit staring menacingly at me. The thought triggered my memory and the face of the girl vaguely came to life.

Her face invaded my memory. Beautiful grey eyes glaring at me, cracked lips twisting upward into a hateful snarl. I close my eyes, shaking my head, trying to chase the visage away.

“What happened?”

“Nothing Kayla. I’m ok.” I lied.

“No you aren’t. You saw something didn’t you?” Her eyes widened.

“Not really, only remembering a dead girl I once saw in window.”

“The one from your foster house? Oh David, I wish you would tell me about what goes on inside that head of yours.”

“It’s my cross to bear. I’m glad you don’t have to carry this burden. You’ve already abandoned so much of yourself for my sake.”

I haven’t told Kayla about every spirit I’ve ever seen, but I had to tell her about the ghostly face with half its skin melting away. It’s a particular memory that I try not to think about. I’ve always been plagued by guilt because Kayla had to give up fresh air and bright, sunlit rooms. But at the same time, I love her for not hesitating to sacrifice that simple joy for my comfort.

“You okay?” Kayla squeezed my shoulder gently. Nodding, she took my hand, urging me farther inside.

The house opens up immediately into a spacious den. The walls are colored a warm shade of cream white, like marshmallows just starting to roast. Wood stained like the color of cherries, matched the outside panels.

“Looks like we have our work cut out for us.” I nodded toward the tower of boxes piled in the middle of the room. Our furniture sat neatly stacked against the wall.

“The movers must have arrived ahead of schedule.” She grabbed my hand like an excited child and pulled me out of the room. “We have plenty of time for that, let me show you the rest of the house!” Just past the den was another room of equal size. The colors matched the previous room, and while most would consider it boring, it had a very homey feeling to it. “This will be the dining room.” I noticed that there were no windows in this room.

I pointed to the solid walls. “So we can eat in privacy?”

“Precisely.” From here the path branched out into two directions. As if reading my thoughts, Kayla quickly resumed the tour. “To the left is the first bathroom. It’s pretty standard; sink, toilet and shower all wrapped in very clean white tile. I figured it would be perfect as a guest bathroom. Not that we’ll have a lot of visitors, but you never know. The kitchen is to the right.”

The hallway quickly led into an inviting kitchen. Spacious, with all the modern features that even the pickiest chef would swoon over. What really makes the room stand out aren’t the flashy and new aged computerized gadgets, but the cherry breakfast nook in the middle of the room.

“Wow…” I whistled.

“Right? Now see this!” She exclaimed pulling me by the hand to a white door. “Do you know what this is?” I looked it over. Other than being a very bright shade of white, it didn’t seem so special. Although, I did find it unusual that it sat alone in the darkest corner of the room.

“A pantry?” I guessed.

“Wrong!” She reached for the knob and pulled it open. Inside a staircase waited. There seems to be even more privacy for those with secrets. Clever. The pathway was surprisingly narrow. It was a short climb, but treacherous to anyone inflicted with claustrophobia. Fortunately, tight, closed in places are my favorite. Another plain white door waits silently at the top of the stairs. A gentle chill brushed my skin as I pulled open the door to the master bedroom. The room took up the entire story. I walked around taking in every detail. I noticed our furniture set had been placed neatly around the room.

“I don’t know how the movers got our stuff through that passage, but they deserve a hefty tip! Nothing has even the slightest scratch.” The memory of fluttering curtains flashed and I tried headed over to the windows. My left hand grazed the rough fabric, but I felt nothing. I’d read that the receptors in your left hand are more sensitive to spiritual energies. I’ve always found it to be true, especially when something about a room just didn’t seem right. I checked for any imperfections, but they were solid. There isn’t any way for a draft to escape the tight seals. What made the curtains flutter? Where did the chill that I felt on the stairwell come from? I definitely will have to do a little investigating when things settle down.

The view was incredible. Except for the road that brought us in, nothing but green trees enclosed us for miles. I could see the steeple tops of many, but there were just as many that shot up past the top of the house. Kayla slipped her arms around me and peeked over my shoulder.

“Isn’t it lovely?” She whispered.

“It’s fantastic. Oh! Look over there!” Not far from the edge of the deck, two eagles slid gracefully through the air. I’ve never seen anything so grand before. This spectacle of nature helped take the edge off my frayed nerves.

She snuggled closer to me. “C’mon.” She patted my shoulder. “There’s still much more to see.” Grabbing my hand, she guided me around the rest of the room. On the left side of the room was a massive walk in closet that could easily be turned into another small bedroom. Opposite the closet was the master bathroom. It was equipped with not only a three-headed shower stall, but a Jacuzzi tub complete with massaging jets. Without a doubt, this house is special. A lot of money had been poured in to make it marketable. I still couldn’t help feeling suspicious. There had to be something seriously wrong that kept it from selling.

“What about the bottom story? I didn’t see any way to get there.”

“I was saving that for last.”

We returned to the kitchen and Kayla led me to the opposite side of the room. The sink was placed in the center of a marvelous black and white swirled marble counter top. Stretching almost all the way across one wall, the plain, white door rested beside the end of the counter, tucked away in the opposite corner of the path leading upstairs.

“Another secret passage?” I asked. Kayla casually stepped beside me and pulled open the door. Without saying a word, we descended into the mysterious first story. As nice as the rest of the house had been, for some reason, the bottom level hadn’t really been touched. The stairs marked the end of the fine cherry wood, and the floor was a dingy imitation oak laminate. The walls maintained the original wood paneling that would have been appropriate for when the house was originally built. A few beams had been put in the corners of the room. I’m no carpenter, but I figured they helped support the extra weight. A modern washer and dryer set was placed beside the stairway. Across from the bottom stair was the third bathroom. It was smaller than the rest, but still had all the necessities. The last bedroom took up a good section of the corner farthest from where I stood.

“This story is a far cry from the rest of the building.” I noted.

“You’re right. This section of the house is what stopped other buyers from making a purchase. This is what makes the whole thing interesting. When Gray Stone finally inherited the house, Mary had a clause in her will that said the original home was not to be altered in any outlandish way. Mary didn’t have any other family, and that’s why she wanted the real estate company to take it. She was fond of her home, and Gray Stone respected her wishes. They fixed it up just enough to bring it to code, ripped out the kitchen, put in the laundry room, turned the smaller bedroom into the extra bathroom and her bedroom was turned into another walk in closet. This entire floor could be considered another bedroom, or even a loft if you wanted to do so. I thought you would enjoy the closed in place since no one could look in on you, I know that you hate windows and I figured it would be perfect for an office. A roomy, quiet space where you could edit articles in peace.”

“Or a place where you could grade papers.” I added. I couldn’t help but smile at her. As usual, Kayla had thought of everything. I still don’t know how I was lucky enough to have been selected by her, but this is perfect. Heaven. Everything I could have asked for.

“This is perfect. You couldn’t have picked a better place.”

“So, you really like it?”

I looked deeply into her eyes. “We’re going to be happy here for a long time, I think. The possibilities are endless. We have plenty of space for when your parents come to visit. When we decide to have children, we can give them their own rooms and look at all the open space they’ll have to run in.” With a little time, I could really turn this place into a home with Kayla. I can feel some residual energy, but nothing some sage can’t clear up. Surely it would remove any negativity that might still be lingering.

“Let’s not jump too quickly into things!” Kayla smirked. “We should focus on getting some boxes unpacked to start with. Let’s go grab a pizza and then start in on some of the boxes.”

“Are you sure you’re up for that long drive back to town? We’ve already spent all day in the car.”

“Relax David. It’s only a six-mile drive to the main road and then another twelve into town. It’s only a thirty-minute trip, tops. The realtor said that Paula’s Pizza is fantastic and I’m in the mood for something greasy.” I took in a deep breath and exhaled all that worry and apprehension that I had trapped inside my chest. I can make this work. I really can. I haven’t found a place this quiet and seemingly spirit free in a long, long time.

As we climbed the stairs and closed the door something caught my attention.

“Something wrong?” Kayla asked sensing my hesitation.

“You go on ahead. I’m going to visit the john first and I’ll be right out.” Kayla gave me a peck on the cheek and strolled out of the room. I waited until I heard the front door click shut before opening up the basement door and peering down. Checking the immediate area without going down, everything seemed calm and undisturbed. Must just be my imagination, I reasoned. Sweeping the area once more, I noticed a white sheet of paper resting in the middle of the floor. Was that there before? How did we both miss this? Descending the stairs, I walked over to the paper and picked it up. Flipping it over, a grainy black and white photo of a young woman stared back at me. She was tall, slender and draped in what looked like a simple white wedding dress. No veil or train, but what I could make out of the dress has some very intricate stitching. Her grey colored hair was pulled back into a simple yet elegant French twist. However, most of her facial features were so distorted that they were indistinguishable. Could this be Mary’s mother? I shoved the picture into my pocket and ran back up the stairs. I closed the door and started for the den when I heard the noise again. This time I was sure I heard it, the unmistakable sound of a child laughing.

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