I always knew when someone came. They never stayed for long and I liked it that way. I didn’t want company.
On the other side of the door had been a room and I’d stayed firmly on this side of door ever since I arrived. This was so much nicer than the nothing or the blackness. There were things to do and toys to play with here. And as long as no one stayed, no one bothered me. When I’d first opened the door it had been all wrong. The room was filled with stuff I didn’t understand, but I knew I didn’t like it.
I’d thrown a fit. The computer had practically exploded when I looked at it. It didn’t take long for them to leave and take their wrongness with them. There were a lot of different people after that, but I’d learned how to get rid of them. There hadn’t been anyone for a long time. I thought perhaps there wouldn’t ever be anyone again.
But judging by the sounds, footsteps, low voices, and that subtle vibration in the air, I had been wrong. When I stopped hearing things, I stood up.
Whoever it was hadn’t messed anything up yet. But I knew it was only a matter of time. It always was. They always wanted to change things. I needed to see who this new intruder was.
I didn’t want to be seen, but there was no question as to which room the intruder was in, I could hear his snores from my room.
I peered through the window And felt my spirits sink. It was an old man. They were always the worse for changing things. And often the hardest to get rid of. He was also alone and that worried me. Sometimes it took a while to get people to leave. But usually if there were two or three of them, one of them would get spooked and insist they all leave.
I had my work cut out for me, so I got busy right away. Plumbing is always good to start with, if you jiggle the pipes just right, you get a whole fountain of water. And I’m very good with water. The bathroom was right next to where he was sleeping. If he thought it would be too hard to fix, maybe he’d go away. It took a while, but eventually I’d found the sweet spot and washer gushed. Sure enough, the man leapt out of bed the moment the water started hitting the floor. I heard him curse as he hit something hard in the dark, struggling to find the door.
I laughed as I watched him struggle to fix the toilet. But, it was getting early and I could feel the darkness pulling me back so there wasn’t much more I could do. But it was a start. I hoped he wouldn’t stay too long.
Hank had quite a bit of trouble staying asleep. First there had been the traffic sounds from the street. The sounds weren’t unfamiliar per se, but the last house he’d lived in had been well off the street and only birds, owls, and the wind were to be heard. Here, every time a car drove by the headlamps lit up the wall behind him and then the woosh of the car would sound and fade away with the light. And then, just as one car left, another would appear. The flickering light made for uneasy sleep. He added curtains to his list of things to buy.
There was also the creaking of the old house, keeping him up. Shifting as the wind stole through cracks in the windows and walls. It made it sound like someone was out there walking, but Hank knew that was just nonsense. Old houses creaked. It was the sound of splashing water though, that drove him out of his uneasy sleep and had him fumbling for the lamp by the bed with only the streetlamp outside to guide him.
He hit his shin on the bedstand. “Plum!” He grabbed the lamp before it toppled onto the floor and broke. He switched on the light and headed for the bathroom next door. He swore again. The toilet was leaking. Grabbing a wrench from his toolkit he knelt down looking for the ‘off’ valve. Eventually he found the knob and twisted the rusty bolt with all his might.
The water stopped. He looked around the mess in the bathroom. On the plus side, the water damage couldn’t really hurt the floors more, but he grabbed a towel and mopped it up. He added plumber to the list of people he would need to contact in the morning. As he finished up and tossed the wet towel into the tub, a door slammed in the hallway. Hank jumped.
Drafts. He’d left his bedroom door open. He needed new windows before winter otherwise the heating bill was going to be murder. Throwing the wrench back in with the rest of his tools, Hank returned to his air mattress. But he could hear the birds already beginning to chirp, there was no way he was going to fall back asleep now. He headed down to the kitchen for some cereal and milk. Time to create a plan of attack, there was no way this house was going to defeat him.
List in hand, he headed outside. The library was the best spot to do research since he didn’t trust the wiring in the house not to fry a computer. The mail person was standing outside, a pile of letters in hand, looking concerned.
“Hello?” he asked.
“That’s me,” he confirmed.
“You’re living here now?”
“Just fixing the place up,” he said. He didn’t think the postal service worried if he was squatting in the house he was rennovating, but no reason to let the city kick him out if they thought he was living here before it was licensed.
“So my realtor said, but I haven’t noticed anything.” He held his hand out for his mail. He could tell from here most of it was junk mail, but there was always a chance that the pile of ‘welcome to your new home’ flyers would have something of value. Maybe the name of a good electrician or plumber.
She didn’t immediately hand his mail over however. Instead she continued to stare at him like he’d lost his mind.
“But, it’s haunted,” she repeated.
“Yes, I know,” he snatched the mail from her hand and headed back inside ignoring her spluttering. As he suspected most could immediately go in the recycling. Flyers for local restaurants and shops – as if he hadn’t lived just few blocks away – but there were coupons for paint and pizza. Both of which he was certain he’d need a lot of in the coming days. He checked out the window. The mail lady was gone. Good. Time to head to the library for some research.
* Distressed furniture, floors, walls, and windows from Daer0n, mainly from the haunted house set
* Library Exterior is by pronterus: Wooden Hovel (and is anything but hovel-like on the interior before I gutted it to become a library)
* Challenge details: CitizenErased14’s Ambrosia Challenge.