Mystery House (Flash Fiction)

After taking yet another turn, Brian was led down a long and narrow hallway. The walls seemed to press down upon him, growing higher and squeezing in against him. Exhausted nubs of dying candle hung from their places on the wall like deranged icicles. Brian’s footsteps were silent beneath him as if the rug itself were consuming the very sound of his movement. Elongated paintings, strange things that seemed to stretch to the ceiling and touch the floor, yet thin in width, showed ghastly displays of tortures and hangings and sacrifices by fire.

Brian came to the final door. It was made of an old wood and had weathered cracks that ran along its grain. Thick iron hinges held it in place, and an imp’s head made of dull brass served as the knob. Brian laid a palm over the smiling creature and its small horns poked at his flesh. He twisted its neck and a heavy thunk pulsed through the door, the devilish head staying sideways. Small drops of blood leaked from the fresh holes in his hand. Brian pushed, laying his shoulder against the heavy door, and felt the thick wood shudder against the floor. It opened slowly, and fire light poured out from inside the next room. Once a wedge wide enough was created, Brian slipped through.

The room was circular and floored with a shimmy marble. The patterns in the stone seemed to swirl and move in the dancing firelight. The walls spiraled up with books that ascended into a darkness that seemed further than the depths of the night sky. In the center of the room was a chair shrouded by its own shadow. The chair faced Brian, and whoever was sitting in that chair was watching Brian with a disturbing calm.

“Welcome,” said a low voice.

“Hi,” said Brian.

A hand of long fingers drummed on the cushioned arm, and Brian could see glints of light coming from a very large ring that rested on one of those fingers. For a moment, Brian thought he could hear a soft giggling.

“What the hell is the deal with your house, bro?” asked Brian.

The drumming fingers stopped.

Brian chuckled. “I mean fuck, man. I’ve been wandering around these long ass hallways for almost twenty minutes. There’s dust everywhere. Do you even have electricity? Or running water?”

“Excuse me?” said the voice. The tone was thick with agitation.

“Where do you shit, man? I haven’t seen a bathroom this entire time!” Brian began to walk the circle of the room. As he moved, he gazed upwards at the endless collection of tomes.

“Stay where you are,” said the man.

“Why would you build a house like this?” asked Brian, ignoring the command. “It doesn’t make any sense. Shit, no wonder you never answer your door, it probably takes your old ass four minutes to get to it!”

“Stop talking!” commanded the man.

“And dude, seriously?” Brian asked in a laugh. “Your library is the one room with a giant fucking fire place in it? You must secretly hate all your books, bro.”

“Please stop,” said the man. The pitch of his voice was higher now, not as heavy. There was concern. “Just stay where you are.”

“Can you even read in this light?” Brian rounded the room and stood between the fire and the chair. He could see now that the fabric was a predictable red. “It doesn’t matter I guess. You can’t even reach most of these books anyway. Do you just sit here all night?”

“Ugh, shut up you nitwit!” the man snarled.

Brian just laughed. “Where the hell do you even get wood to keep your fire going? Do you lug it all the way down that long ass corridor like a moron?”

The man began to rub at his head while the assault of questions continued. He wondered where it all went wrong. Was it true? Had he really lost touch like the other villains said? Was he living in the stone age, just another relic of a time long forgotten since the advent of CG movie effects and shortened attention spans? He didn’t know. He didn’t want to know. The annoying jock of a man-child continued to circle his chair, spouting his questions and calling him ‘bro.’ When the trap door sprang and young Brian fell through, it brought the man no pleasure. Even the suffering screams of Brian’s agonizing death didn’t bring the man relief. The illusion of power had been forever destroyed by arrogant mockery.

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