Shine On

040311

  The kids were determined the house was haunted before we’d even pulled up outside it. Baxter practically wet himself in the backseat as the old monstrosity reared up from the horizon. Yekaterin, aspiring adult that she is, told him to cool it.

  It was the strangest thing. Amanda, my agent, had inherited the house from some relative she hardly knew. Real textbook setup, right? So instead of going to check it out herself, clean it up and/or get murdered, she decided to send me and my family on a little vacation to middle-of-nowhere, Iowa. She’d been… concerned ever since I stopped sending her anything remotely publishable a year back. She reckoned a spooky mansion was as good a muse as any.

  “It worked for that guy in the shining.” she said, audibly distracted, on the phone.
“Amanda, that’s not the plot. And Nicholson kills his family in that movie anyway.” I reply, admittedly already liking the idea despite her poor comparisons.
“Look, Imma put it up for sale in a couple of weeks, might as well someone get some use out of it, just go, see if anything grabs you. Bring your laptop.”

  So a couple of white lies later and here we are, pulling up to the mansion, Baxter freaking out in the back, Rin doing her best to remain calm and my wife remaining quite still in the passenger seat.

  As the car comes to a stop the kids – despite their mounting trepidation and unbridled fear – race out of the car and begin peering in the windows, hoping to catch sight of a ghost, no doubt. I absently wish I still had that super-inquisitive nature that outshines potential threat or risk.

  “Joe…” Maria says, trailing off after a single syllable.
“It’s full of history,” I begin.
“It’s full of old,” she retorts, “It’s falling apart. Is it safe?”
“Of course it’s safe,” I insist, “Amanda’s Uncle or… great uncle or something was living here up until a little while ago.”
“He died here?”
“Old people die in their homes all the time. It’s their most popular destination spot for death.”
There’s a silence between us. I can hear the kids sqealing through the windows.
How did he die?” Maria says suddenly.
“That’s irrelevant-” I say, – fell down the stairs – “It’s perfectly safe. And the kids already love it. See,” I motion to Rin. She’s turned to us, waving her arms and shouting “haunted, definitely haunted.”
Well okay,” Maria says after another moments hesitation, “just as long as you don’t chase us through the house with an axe and say ‘here’s Johnny!’”
I nod and silently decide I’m going to take it upon myself to educate the world with all the other haunted house movies there are out there. It’s just getting old.

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~ by Joseph Blame on April 3, 2011.

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