‘Now you wont find the attached picture of the property very promising but…’ the memory of J Henna voice whispered to me and it wasn’t. But the estate agent’s photographer had only taken a thumbnail picture of it. None the less it did look creepy and in the flesh, stuck on the hill, it reminded me too much of the Marsten House in Salem’s Lot. But once you drove up the hill around the road that snaked around to the front-side of the building, the house did look dilapidated but not as bad as the back. The building that the company I worked for was acquiring it as part of a redevelopment project that the company had just won the contract to. Certainly from the outside it seemed run down but it still looked solid enough, there was the formality of checking the premises to assess damage, really just for insurance, not that it mattered it was all to be leveled anyway, a five minute in and out job simply as a matter of paper work, and as I was the only one who was trained to some degree as a surveyor the job fell to me.
Now with keys in hand I was to inspect the property I suddenly became hesitant. I’m not a superstitious but at the moment I felt my spine tingle as if the old term someone had walked over my grave applied. Quickly I forced the feeling down; dread was infectious if it found the fertile soil of the imagination. What monsters the two could make?
The keys in the lock the door opened easy enough the feeling of dread was stronger as the gloom of the interior passage and the rank odor of decay met me. But still I walked entering the passage into the house. The place was truly a derelict, but despite that, and its Edwardian heritage, it was still possible to renovate the property; and maybe a couple of years ago that would be the case, but the market was now on the slide. The passage I ventured through was shabby I have no doubt so was the rest of the house, no one had lived here for a long time or so it appeared.
The house was unfurnished this added to its desolation and poverty. There was banging noise that made me jump. I could feel a breeze a window was must be open or smashed at the back of the house. Again I had to force my fear down as the bleakness of the interior of the house added to the sense of dread but the thought of money to be acquired overcame my sense of fear. Greed was always a great motivator. Mentally I gripped myself. I pushed open the door to the front-room, the fire had been removed its gas fixture and piping looking like a vein exposed. I could hear the scuttling of things, rats or cockroaches more than likely both. In the corner there was a mattress, I walked over to it. ‘Damned’, I thought ‘squatters‘. I wish I had paid for security. I had used rent-a-thug in the past; and that way I would have had someone with me, to check out the building – but I thought I’d cut a few costs here and there -in the name of the company, and my wallet of course.
I went over to the mattress there was a few things, burnt silver foil which suggested crack. Well at least I think it did, my knowledge of drugs went as far as alcohol and dope no further, I only knew what I saw on T.V… Luckily there was nothing else, no bottles or syringes. There was a plastic carrier bag, beside the mattress, that caught my interest, I bent down opening it, the whiteness of the bag seem to give birth rather than I take out the teddy bear. It was a grey old teddy-bear slightly battered and out of place here. Then I noticed there was something wrong with its interior there was a squishiness that I didn’t associate with stuffing. I turned it over in my hands, noticing that they were staining brown and crimson, from the insides of the teddy. Over on its back I realized the stitching had been unstitched and the stuffing removed, and the insides replaced with what looked like some kind of offal that you could get from the butchers. In revulsion I dropped the toy and saw what I had not observed before, that there were mice or rats mutilated bodies discarded in several piles on the floor. Their insides scooped out and used as stuffing for the teddy-bear. I fought the urge to vomit reaching in my pocket I wiped my hands with a handkerchief trying to remove the drying blood. I had had enough! I was out of here. I did not want to meet the cracked-out fuck who vivisected rats to put into children’s toys.
As I was about to go through the door my attention was caught by movement and noise of a footstep from the stairway. In my haste I had inadvertently left the door on jar now the wind had blown it fully open. I’m not a brave man and today was no exception. I was absolutely horrified and was now rooted to the spot when the figure bundled half fell down the stairs, towards me. I wanted to run but I couldn’t my legs felt weak, now I was about to meet the sadistic responsible for the atrocity in the living-room. I was so close to freedom that I could feel the wind and see the world outside it was a cruel joke that it was less than a few paces away. The creature coming toward me looked wrecked. She, for I could determine her sex by the swell of her breasts and the movement of her thighs made her unmistakably female. Her hair was short and dark ruffled brown it looked as if she had not washed for some time. Her clothes were disheveled and stained and she looked as though an idiot child had dressed her. Suddenly, despite her thin ragged appearance, she ushered enough strength to pin me against the wall. The reek of sweat and stale alcohol, bad breath made me wince, and again I had to fight the urge to vomit. Her wild dark eyes were staring into mine as she ranted.
‘It took Annabelle.’ She rasped.
‘It took her and ate her and now is her.’
‘What?’ My voice sounded weak the question ridiculous.
‘My daughter is no longer; she’s been eaten by the darkness that is hunger’.
Suddenly she released me and bolted out through the door. Shaken I was about to do the same when I heard a more subtle noise, like a whimper coming from where the mad woman had appeared, at the top of the stairs. As I have said I’m not a brave man, and in most respects I am a bastard but this was a child, I could hear in the tone of the whimper. Then a small figure emerged from the upper gloom. She was dressed in what looked like a school uniform, her frailty and thin build put her at about six. Though her long hair blonde hair was pulled back it was still untidy. Her appearance was unkempt but not as bad as the mad woman’s, she had a silence and purpose to her movements which suggested sanity.
‘Mummy’s gone mad’. She simply said.
‘Oh Christ’ I thought I reached for in my pocket to retrieve my mobile, shutting the door in case, the mad woman should return.
‘Everything’s going to be alright.’ I heard myself saying, finding my mobile and walking to meet her at the bottom of the stair. I was about to dial 999 for the police, ambulance, any fucking one, God knows what abuse she had suffered. When I noticed she carried a large knife in her left hand and a dead rat cut in half in the other.