(For previous parts see here)
The last thing I remember was kick boxing the fire. When I woke up the townspeople were staring down at me in disgust, arguing over what punishment to mete out to me. When I heard (Insert Name Here) and Spot–see, I knew Spot was no good!–arguing over the logistics of keelhauling their failed Fire Chief in a landlocked city, I knew it was time to leave Anytown. I pointed and yelled, “Oh no, another fire!” They all looked away in terror, and before they turned back I was on the other side of town. Phew. That was close. Whoops. Better watch out for roaming knife salesmen while I’m fleeing from the mob just to be safe.
Eventually the noise of the angry mob grew faint and I figured I was in the clear. Thank God. I’d been running for what seemed like an hour straight through the charred remnants of Not Anytown (another name chosen via popular vote) and was completely winded. I ran past the burnt remains of the Hall of Records, what remained of the Hall of Government, and even past the soothing sounds of a wayward Hall and Oates. Finally, I arrived at Not Anytown’s edge and saw a surprisingly not incinerated house atop a hill.
I was surprised to see a house like this in the first place, but doubly surprised to see a “For Sale” sign on the front lawn. The sign was old and quite weather worn. It was covered in cobwebs and dust, its colors were faded, and you could barely make out realtor’s number except for a “666” area code. No wonder, I thought. That’s not a local call.
Suddenly a tall, gaunt man appeared from behind the sign with a wry smile on his face.
“Are you interested in buying, Sir,” he asked.
“Not really. I don’t have any money,” I responded.
“That’s quite all right” he replied. “You look like a man of your word. Why don’t you try it out for a week, and if you like it, I’ll give it to you for free.”
“Really?! For free?” I gasped. This was too good to be true. Wait a second. Maybe it was too good to be true.
“Why would you give this away for free?” I asked. “Is there anything wrong with this house?”
“Well…” he began, “Not wrong, per se. Just a bit different.”
“Different how? Like the chairs are on the ceiling and you have to ring to doorbell to get out of the house?” If that was his definition of different, then I was interested. Very interested.
“Not exactly,” he said sheepishly. “It’s buried on an ancient Indian burial ground.”
“Is that it?” I sensed he was hiding something from me.
“And it’s previous owners were murdered…..” he continued.
“And….” I knew there was more.
“And the owners before those were murdered. And before those were murdered. Come to think of it, anyone who has ever owned the house has been murdered” he confessed.
I thought it over for a while. I was not in the mood to get murdered that day, by either an angry mob or a house. But never look a gift horse in the mouth, they say. Or in this house’s case, never look a menacing gargoyle statue in the mouth.
“I’ll take it!” I exclaimed. “But how about this. Why don’t I sublet the house, maybe that way I won’t get murdered. No subletters have been murdered here, right?”
“Not that I can think of,” the realtor replied. “Just a few squatters and a co-op board.”
“Well then you’ve got yourself a deal!” We shook on it and he disappeared almost as quickly as he appeared just minutes ago.
The first thing I did when I got inside my new, sublet was to find my way to the master bedroom and take a nap. I was exhausted from all the running, and the smoke inhalation didn’t help much either. I was out cold the minute I hit the pillow, but while I was asleep, strange things started to happen.
It began quietly. There were eerie sounds emanating from all corners of the house. The stairs creaked like someone was tip-toeing up them to my bedroom, and the faint sounds of rustling in the attic hinted at a creature not of this world. Still, I was really tired, so I slept right through it.
Then a bit louder. There was the distinct sound of children whispering in the hallway, the clinking of a chain being tossed around from the basement. Still, nothing. I was a heavy sleeper. And that wasn’t a comment about my weight.
Then the house took it up a notch. Deep-voiced, bellowing cries of “Get out!” reverberated throughout the house. Blood dripped down the walls. Creepy twins rode their bikes around the house without helmets.
That was it. The house had enough. The house jabbed me in the spine with a bedpost so hard I fell out of the bed.
“Ouch!” I screamed. “What the hell!”
“Get ouuuuuttttttt!” the house bellowed.
“Yeah, yeah, I heard you the first time” I said yawning. “Can you try to keep it down. I am dead tired. And before you say that, yes I realize the irony of that expression.”
“Wait, what?” the house said with confusion. “Didn’t you hear me say ‘Get ouuuuuuttt’? Didn’t you see the blood on the walls. And the twins? The creepy twins? Nothing?!”
“Listen,” I responded calmly. “The realtor gave me the whole spiel. The Indian burial ground thing. The murders. The low water pressure. I get it. But look at this” I said showing him my lease. “I’m subletting so you can’t kill me.”
“Dammit!” the house said. “Let me see that thing.”
I showed it to him and he read it over three times in disbelief.
“Ok fine” the house resigned. “You don’t technically own the place so I can’t kill you. But that doesn’t mean I can’t annoy you. I’ll annoy you so that your life here is a living hell. I’ll annoy you until you get ouuuuuuutttttttt.”
“Oh will you stop it already!” I interrupted. “What is your deal anyway? Why do you have to keep murdering people. I’m a nice guy. I’ll take care of you. I’ll clean up and keep overnight guests to a minimum.”
“No!” the house retorted. “Get ouuuuuuttttttttt!”
“Ok seriously. What’s wrong. You can tell me.” I figured some honesty was in order if we were going to live together. “You’ve got to be acting out for a reason. What gives?”
“Nothing gives!” the house pleaded. “It’s just that, well…”
“What?” I asked. “It’s OK. You can tell me. I used to be a Fire Chief.”
“I guess I just act out because,…” the house slowly admitted. “I act out because I’m lonely.”
“Well of course you’re lonely, you keep killing everyone!” I responded.
“No no, not that lonely. I mean like lonely lonely. Single lonely. Ever since the Great Fire of Some Year there’s been no one” the house said sheepishly.
“Single lonely,” I said surprised. “But wait, you’re a house.”
“And just what is that supposed to mean?” the house demanded.
“It’s just that I thought” I said searching for the right words. “I thought houses were, you know, asexual.”
“Asexual?!” the house replied in disbelief. “What the hell do you think my sump pump is for?!”
“Sorry, sorry. I don’t have that much experiences with houses. How about I find you a nice female house and you can let me live here in peace. Ok?” I said.
“Fine,” the house agreed. “Just one thing though.”
“What” I asked.
“I really prefer split levels if you can hook that up.”
“Ugh, too much information, House. I’ll see what I can do, OK. Deal?” I said.
“Deal” the house responded. We shook on it to make it official. The house had a pretty limp handshake but I wouldn’t tell his potential girlfriend houses that.