Sunday, November 11, 2012
The Mermaid House: Part Ten
LEANDER RETURNED TO the mermaid house in the day and once again found it an abandoned, boarded-up mess. He walked to the door, pushed at the bell. When no one answered, he stepped back and raised his video recorder.
He filmed the house while walking around it. When he came to the back door, he discovered a broken window. He unlocked it, shoved it open, climbed over the sill. The house smelled like mold and the trash glittering over the floor. He approached the graffitied wall, read the words splashed in red: Beware the dark daughters of La Mer.
His stomach convulsed. He began walking through the dreary rooms, saw no clues as to anyone having lived there.
When something hit the floor upstairs, he almost bolted out the door.
He trudged up the stairs, keeping to the wall in an effort to reduce the wood creaking. When he reached the landing, he found a tunnel of ivy with doors in it. He raised his video recorder as he moved forward. He opened the first door.
Shadows flocked over a window scrawled with graffiti. Leaves rustled across the floor, past a graceful angel statue missing its head. He backed out of the room.
He pushed open the next door with his foot. This room was empty of anything but a few dirty wine glasses flung about -- glasses, not bottles.
One of the glasses rolled across the floor, popped upright --
He stumbled back -- and realized he had gone deaf. He couldn't hear anything -- not his own steps, his panicked breathing, or his heartbeat. He felt as if he'd been submerged in water. He shouted, heard only a muffled sound.
In a corner piled with dead leaves, something moved...a person-shaped shadow, spiky and whispering. An eye glinted.
A tiny, bone-white crab fell from the shadow, hit the floor, scuttled away.
Leander ran, tearing through the ivy, toward the stairs.
He pitched forward, saw the stairs gaping before him. Terror slammed him against the banister and he clutched at the rotting wood as his camera clattered down the stairs.
Something grabbed the collar of his shirt and prevented him from tumbling forward. He fell back onto the landing, his hearing returning with a roar as a female voice whispered his name.
Sitting on the top stair, shaking until his bones rattled, he tasted blood. He raised a hand to his bleeding nose.
He rose. He moved carefully down the treachorous stairs. He grabbed his camera and limped to the front door. Before he stepped out, he said, "I'll get you out of here, Violet."
(Illustration: Gustav Moreau)