Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dark House, Part 3

Read the second draft of this story here.

Molly was uncomfortable, to say the least, with the idea of Martin staying with her for a few days. If her embarrassingly out-dated décor weren’t enough, there was the whole problem of the house being haunted. Unfortunately, the bat expert had insisted Martin’s house was uninhabitable until all the bats were gone. The risk of catching rabies was too high. Molly didn’t think rabies sounded all that bad. Rabies was curable, assuming you got your shots right away. Her house was fatal.

The first day, they met up for dinner after work at the Chinese place down the block. Her kitchen was just too dangerous. Even in her current state of détente with the house, she didn’t like to go in there. She figured Martin wouldn’t last 5 minutes. Martin had suggested getting take-away, but where would they have eaten? The dining room was seriously off limits at the moment. She had no TV in the living room, and she flat out would not allow any food in her bedroom after a traumatic incident in her last apartment involving mice.

So they ate at U-Lee. Molly encouraged Martin to drink several beers hoping if she got him drunk enough all he’d want to do was go to sleep when they got back. Unfortunately, going out to dinner meant arriving back at the house after dark, but that might keep him from seeing more of the house. Once they’d safely traversed the front yard and gone inside, Martin certainly wanted to go straight to bed, but not to sleep.

What followed was only slightly less chaotic than releasing a pack of hyenas into a slaughterhouse. Molly initially resisted but got swept up in the moment, a victim of a few drinks at dinner herself and her complete inability to resist any man with that exact shade of sandy brown hair and encyclopedic knowledge of Philip K. Dick novels. The two lost themselves in a flurry of pillows, sheets, creaking bedsprings, moaning floorboards, howling winds, and banging shutters that built until all three of them shook with violent ecstasy.

But the house was less in ecstasy and more enraged.

Martin awoke sometime in the night both parched with thirst and desperate to pee. He slipped out of bed carefully and pulled on a pair of frigid boxers off the floor. He hunted around in the darkness for his slippers, but soon the need to relief his straining bladder outweighed the need for warm toes. Outside in the hallway, he closed the door to the bedroom and pawed the wall for a light switch. He found an old push button one and hoped for the best.

A series of dimpled glass orbs hanging from the ceiling glowed to life. As Martin’s eyes adjusted to the warm tan glow, he could just make out the bathroom down the hall and he made for it.

Martin sat down to pee at night, so he could close his eyes if he wanted to without having to worry about his aim. But as he emptied what felt like a 5 gallon water cooler into the bowl, he got bored and looked around the room. Molly had an old claw-foot tub. That could be fun. He made a mental note to suggest a bath. The tub looked strange somehow, and in the dim light from the hallway (as in his haste he hadn’t bothered to hunt for a switch in the bathroom) he could just make out that the feet weren’t claws at all, but looked more like regular feet. He’d never seen a regular-foot tube before.

He stood up and pulled the cord on the toilet, the reservoir being up near the ceiling. Turning the knob on the sink unleashed a tiny rivulet of water and a horrible chunk-chunk of a sound that seemed to lurch the entire vanity. He shut it off quickly, scrambling for enough water to at least rinse his hands. He wouldn’t be able to drink from that faucet though without waking his neighbors several blocks away.

Back down the hallway quietly, he looked down from the top of the stairs into the void. Maybe it wasn’t worth it, trying to find the kitchen, but the back of his throat burned and screamed for some water. He couldn’t fall asleep this thirsty. It’d just take a minute to get a glass of water and then he could crawl back in bed beside Molly’s warm body and fall asleep. He’d just be a minute.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.