With a frown etched deep into her features, the female officer studied the dark purple welts on Dani’s face. She sighed. “You walked into the door, really?”
Dani nodded. “Well, yeah, um…” She paused.
The officer’s eyes shot over to Dani’s husband, Mick, who stood a few feet away at the patrol car where a second officer was questioning him.
Dani looked along. She trembled.
“So, you bumped into the door and that caused you to scream to the point that your neighbors woke up at three fifteen a.m. to report a domestic disturbance?” The cop said, her words cold and jaded.
“I, um…I hit it really hard,” Dani stuttered. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks. She fought to hold them back.
Softening, the female officer said, “Hey, it’s alright. My name’s Becca. What’s yours?”
“It’s…um…I’m Dani,” the terrified wife answered.
“Okay, Dani, listen. I’m a domestic abuse survivor. I had a wife, used to knock me around, with her words and her fists. I know what it’s like, so you can tell me. I’m here to help.”
The air and tension and fear flooded out of Dani and tears cascaded from her eyes. She exhaled with relief.
“That’s good, let it out, let it all out.” Becca patted Dani’s shoulder. “Now, tell me what really happened.”
Dani nodded. She sniffled and choked out, “It’s the house.”
“No, Dani, not the house. What rea–?”
Dani cut in, continuing. “It’s the house that’s doing this to me. Ever since we moved in three months ago, it’s been hurting me. It’s tripped me down the stairs, floor boards have come up and hit me, doors have slammed on me; it even tried to crush me in the foldout ladder that leads up to the attic. Mick doesn’t believe me but… I think it’s trying to kill me.”
Dani gave the house a quick look and, as if on some sort of cosmic cue, the front door creaked open. She stopped breathing. The door waved back and forth and then slammed shut, rattling the windows in their frames, the reverberations echoing like ghosts howling through the quiet darkness.
A scream tore out of Dani. The house grumbled and shook on its foundation. Dani shrieked louder. Becca grabbed her and pulled her to the patrol car. She opened the back door and pushed Dani in.
“Alright, stay put and you’ll be safe. I’m going to go check the house and, I hate to say it, but, if this is some kind of elaborate prank, you and your husband will both be arrested and taken into custody.”
“Please, don’t go in there! It’ll hurt you! It wants blood! Look!” Dani cried, raising her shirt.
A superficial gash ran the length of Dani’s midsection. She hiked up the right leg of her sweat pants to reveal a deep stab wound with wooden splinters around its edges. Rivulets of red ran down her leg. Blood bloomed in the contusions on her face.
“Please, don’t go!” Dani begged.
Trying her best to be reassuring, Becca said, “Don’t worry; I’ll be right back.”
She shut the door, locking Dani in, then drew her gun and walked toward the house. Becca said something to her partner that Dani couldn’t hear.
Becca’s partner stayed with Mick and radioed in for back-up.
All three of them watched Becca enter the dark house.
Even through the thick, specially designed police car doors and windows, Dani heard everything. She bristled at Becca’s shrill cries. Tears streamed down Dani’s cheeks. “No!” She screamed, slamming her fists against the glass in useless protest.
The dead body of officer Becca Lintz flew out the front door, landed, and rolled to a stop; a hacked, bloody mess lying still on the front lawn, the legs of the kitchen table protruding from her chest, back, and head.
Laughter, sick and depraved, echoed from deep within the bowels of the house, filling Dani’s mind.
The second officer drew his weapon and ran into the house.
Mick Frantically rushed to let Dani out of the car. He pulled on the door handle but it wouldn’t budge. As he struggled with the door, a pane from a first floor window of the house smashed itself to pieces. The thick shards of glass flew to Mick and stabbed him in the throat. He fell against the car, blood spurting from his neck and coating the back window in front of Dani. As Mick dropped to the ground, his life fleeing his body, the door of the patrol car opened itself.
Dani stumbled out, tripping over her dead husband, weeping.
“Why are you doing this?” She screamed at the house.
The house rumbled and laughed. Dani got to her feet. She ran to Becca and took her gun, which was still in its holster. Dani raised the gun and pointed at the house.
Tremors rocked the house. A torrential flood of blood and guts and entrails spewed out the front door. The force of the crimson wave knocked Dani down. She struggled to her feet and weaved through the yard, blinded by the ichor in her eyes.
She heard the screeching of tires and the shouting of voices. She waved the gun and shouted, “It’s the house! It’s the house!”
Shots rang out. Dani crashed to the ground beside her husband. Staring into Mick’s dead eyes, she grabbed his hand and waited. And as she slipped into oblivion, the laughter of the house rang out in her mind.