The House, Part 31/31

It is done. 8,287 words, if you’re curious.

If you think you understand power, you do not. If you know that you understand power, then you still do not, but at least you have the self-confidence needed to push your way through when your understanding fails. In the end, it is about somehow surviving when forces beyond your comprehension manifest.  If doing that require a lie, well, that is much more commendable than using blood.

Poor Wayne and his people would have used an imaginatively cobbled-together ‘ritual’ to free the Owl from the house.  Which is what I had done, of course; in fact, I had a copy of one written up, on the off chance that the cultists had been truly foolish and simply murdered me on the spot .  The difference between me and them was that I was self-aware enough to know that all rituals are meaningless, and that what really mattered was intent.  My intent was to free the Owl, without wrecking the neighborhood.

Continue reading The House, Part 31/31

The House, Part 30/x.

Wayne frowned. “That was easy,” he said.

One of his cultists stirred. “Too easy,” she said. “There’s some kind of trick going on.”

This time I did laugh, if only to see them wince. “Very well.  I will not do the ritual, then.  I assume someone will take these handcuffs off before you all leave?  It is not like I invited any of you here.”

Continue reading The House, Part 30/x.

The House, Part 29/X.

Forgive me, for I have never written much about the basement before now.  There was always something about it that made me wary. I was never frightened of the basement, even after the dreams started. I could go down there and do laundry and change the filter on the furnace and the rest of it.  But I always felt like a not unwelcome guest in that space, and I instinctively comported myself accordingly. So naturally, Wayne and his fellow cultists (I assume) simply clumped down the stairs with me in tow, and with all the solemnity and dignity of a flock of pigeons.  

Continue reading The House, Part 29/X.

The House, Part 28/x

I had not invited Wayne to the house on Halloween night, but I was unsurprised when he arrived anyway.  Neither was I surprised to discover that he had brought friends with him; a half-dozen in all, with the air of men and women who wished that they were wearing hooded cloaks. But I admit to a certain amount of outraged startlement when they seized me.

Continue reading The House, Part 28/x

The House, Part 27/x.

That was two weeks before Halloween; and, true to his word, Wayne put together a seasonal mailer for the neighborhood that made sure that every house got its candy, no more than three days before the holiday.  As it would have been a week before the candy had lost its alarming virtues, I had plenty of time — oh, I suppose that I should note here that as I dreamed, I learned things. Things that I will not write down, now or ever.  Most people are not worthy of learning them. So the whispers in my dreams told me, and my waking mind sees no reason to disagree.

To continue, then: most people in the neighborhood consumed the candy as a matter of course.  Indeed, one might say that they felt almost compelled to, although more accurately they were enticed to.  But there was always going to be a few people who had not taken the bait, for one reason or another, which meant that a more personal approach would be needed.

I debated whether or not to bother, honestly. A gap here and there probably would not matter.  But in the end I decided to be as thorough as possible, and it is a point of pride for me that I managed to ensure that every adult for three blocks around had eaten one of my candies by the day of Halloween.

The children, of course, would be well fed that night.  And later? I suspected that the house would be, too.

The House, Part 26/x.

But Wayne proved useful. It turns out that I found it helpful, when doing the sort of thing that I was doing, to have someone who studiously avoids asking too many questions.  In fact, when I came to him with an odd request, he asked only two.

“This candy that you would like the agency to mail out as a promotion,” he said, fiddling with the sample that I had brought to him to look at. “I assume that there is nothing wrong with it?”

Continue reading The House, Part 26/x.

The House, Part 25/x.

While this was going on, it seemed that I was always now running into Wayne, for one reason or another.  This saddened me: first, because it confirmed my suspicion that the man had been feigning friendship all along.  But second and much worse, he began to let slip hints about rituals and hidden lore and secret orders. Ritual magic, in other words.

Even before I took up residence in the house I was skeptical about magicians and rituals and the rest of that claptrap.  The field of occultism is full of outright frauds, hyper-credulous babblers, and the occasional half-demented scholar who could not explain a truly uncanny event even when it was veritably manifesting in front of their nose.  And I have met them all, usually just before they asked me for fifty dollars. Of the lot, I liked the frauds best: they knew when to cut their losses early, and never presumed on their welcome.

I normally found true believers in ritual magic annoying, in other words.  But now that I had actually found something definitely supernatural? My reaction to true believers was, if anything, worse. There are some things that simply cannot be read in a grimoire; and if you have not directly experienced those things, then you cannot understand them, and it will be obvious that you do not understand.  At least, it will be obvious to those of us who have directly experienced those things. Which I now have; and it was increasingly obvious to me that Wayne had not.

The House, Part 24/x

Throughout this time, the dreams continued.  Those nights, I started out already gnawing the ropes, with a peculiar combination of intensity and care.  It was vital that I gnaw through the cords, of course. But my mouse brain somehow knew that the cords must look unweakened for as long as possible.  It made sense during the dream; during the day, all I could remember was the intensity of my certainty. That memory was enough.

Did the dreams fuel my preparations, or were my preparations reflected in my dreams?  Even now, I am not sure. It seemed that the gnawing went easier on nights where the plan was going well; as the children grew accustomed to me, and my tolerance of their presence, our interactions increased.  Again, nothing insinuating, or untoward. But they soon learned that I would not yell at them from the house, or object if they walked across my lawn, and that I had no flower beds or prize bushes to be wary of.  When I began preparing my house for Halloween, I knew that the children were taking note. I imagined them whispering to each other, That one will have candy.  Do not torment him yet.

Yes, I imagine that I do not have a good idea of how children really talk when there are no adults around.  I never have, even when I was a child.