The following is a condensed chapter from my serial novel but it is enjoyable as a stand alone piece.
The House On Kissimmee Avenue
(an excerpt from Chad’s Oracles)
Al Bruno III
The first carload of parents pulled up to the main entrance, three of Thelma’s classmates crowded into the back seat.
“What time are your parents picking you up?” Chad asked.
You are not telling him you rode your bicycle here. Thelma thought, Don’t you dare!
“I don’t really have a curfew.” She said, and that was technically true. She didn’t have a curfew because she had never pushed her luck by staying out past midnight. “Do you want to go back to the dance?”
“Not really. You want to go for a walk?”
“I’m not… I don’t…”
He had already started moving, “Just a little ways.”
“Where?” She found herself running to catch up with him, they walked quickly until they were clear of the school. Once they were on the county highway they slowed their pace, “Where are we going?”
“Just up to Spook Hill. My place.”
“That’s not too far,” she thought aloud, talking herself into it, “barely even a mile. Do you live with your parents?”
“No. I have a place with my friends.”
“You’re not in high school are you?”
“Nope.” He gave her a sly look, “It’s not too late to turn back if that worries you. See? We’re almost there?”
He pointed to a house on the corner of North Wales Drive and Kissimmee Avenue; a rare two floor building. The lower level was dark but the upstairs was brightly lit. The house was what Thelma’s Mom would have called ‘a fixer-upper’. The front porch was a maze of cracked and broken boards, the gabled windows sagged ominously and the roof was a checkerboard of tiles and exposed wood.
It was hard to turn away from that smile but Thelma remembered another scrap of local legend. “Wasn’t that place condemned because some crazy old lady was living in filth there?”
“That was my great aunt.”
“Oh God! I’m so sorry,” the gravel driveway crunched underfoot. “Look…” Thelma was torn, she wanted to follow him in there but she’d already traveled farther than she should have at this hour of the night with a stranger.
He opened the door, “Come on in for a bit and I’ll drive you back home as soon as you ask. I promise.”
What am I doing here? She wondered. What am I trying to prove?
“Come on.” He said.
“Ok” She said, “But no funny business.”
He caught her in the doorway and leaned in for a kiss, it was brief and chaste but it left Thelma trembling. “Nothing will happen here that you don’t want to happen.”
The lower floor of the house was stripped bare; every click and shuffle of their footsteps echoed. The air was tinged with the aroma of mildew and something else- a thick, cloying odor that Thelma couldn’t quite place.
“Come on,” He closed the door behind them, and latched it, “I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
“Everyone?” Thelma asked.
Kerosene lanterns filled the second floor with white glaring light; two of them were at the top of the stairwell, and more were placed in each one of the upper floor's four doorways. The lanterns were all at their maximum settings, Thelma could hear them hiss and feel their heat as she walked past them. At the end of the hallway five girls sat huddled around a radio, playing cards with a handmade deck. Each girl was barefoot and dressed in faded, oversized clothes. When they saw Chad approaching they all started talking at once.
“Your harem?” Thelma surveyed them with a worried scowl. None of the girls looked much older than her but they all seemed haggard and sleepless.
“They had no where else to g,.” Chad said, “ladies this is Thelma. Thelma this is Annie, Sara, Maureen, Jackie, Laurie and Bonita.”
“Nice to meet you all,” Thelma waved, “I should be going.”
“What?” Chad spread his arms, “What's the matter?”
“This is just getting too weird.”
All the girls shared a conspiratorial giggle at that. Thelma shoved past Chad and headed back for the stairs. She no longer cared who these freaks were or what they were all about. This is what I get for listening to something other than your brain. Let’s hope I make it out of here alive…
Then something in the last room on the left caught her eye, the light from another lantern lit the room but the radiance was pale and quavering, it reminded Thelma of a dying campfire. There was a mattress shoved up against the far wall, and three corpulent figures crouched around it. There was someone stretched out on the mattress, pale and pink. Thelma couldn’t make out the body on the mattress but the gasping cries and choking grunts she heard were distinctly female.
…alive and unmolested.
Chad’s hand settled onto her shoulder, his breath was quickening. There was something guileless in his voice “What is she doing without me?”
“It started an hour ago.” One of the other girls said, “Maybe it’s a flashback or something?”
Another girl said, “We tried to make her comfortable but I think she’s waiting for you.”
Slipping out of his jacket Chad walked into the room; he murmured an apology to Thelma and begged her to stay. At the sound of his approach the three hulking figures straightened and turned.
They were taller than Thelma had thought, at least as tall as her father but their hunched postures made it hard to be sure. The sight of their faces set her running.
She blundered down the steps, falling and catching herself. No one called after her or gave chase but Thelma didn’t dare a look back until she was almost to the school...