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Location: Double Wide Mobile Home
Item: black and white television
Uncle Neal’s House
by Rick Kitagawa
The house that had previously belonged to Jason’s late uncle was a double-wide mobile home – a surprisingly well-kept number painted a cobalt blue with a bright white trim. A thick ridge of cardboard-colored pine needles formed a perimeter on the edge of the gently sloping shingled roof.
When Jason walked out of the small uptown law office two weeks earlier, he was more confused than anything else. He had barely known his Uncle Neal, yet apparently Jason was the only family member who was both invited to the reading of the will or mentioned in it.
All Jason knew about his Uncle Neal was that his uncle had always been a bit of a black sheep of the family, living off the grid in the Sierra Nevada foothills and never really bothering to keep in contact with anyone. Now Jason was the new owner of his uncles house and Jason had taken a long weekend to go check it out.
Jason crouched on one knee and peered under the house and laughed. While the house looked to be in fair condition, his uncle had neglected to remove the axles and wheels from the foundation. Large wooden wedges had been shoved under the wheels to prevent the entire thing from rolling down the gently sloping cliff it was perched on and off into the gorge that only lay about twenty feet south of the house.
Jason walked to the edge of the cliff and looked down. The gorge dropped a few hundred yards, sharp rocks protruding from the steep cliff face the entire way to the bottom. He kicked a few rocks off the edge and listened as they ricocheted their way down. As he watched the pebble careen further and further away, he realized that there was something shiny and black at the bottom of the gorge.
“Well, I guess that’s where the trash bags go.” Jason chuckled and snatched the keys from his jeans pocket. “Now, let’s see what’s behind door number one.”
The first key turned easily, the deadbolt snapping back into the door. The second key took a bit of jiggling, but soon Jason stepped inside. He flipped the light switch and was greeted with your typical back-country decor. Fish mounted on plaques. Boots lining the hallways. Beige carpeting and worn crocheted rugs over the parts of the hallways that were linoleum.
Jason went back out to his car to get his backpack and duffel bag. As he reached into the trunk, he suddenly felt like he was being watched. He looked up quickly. No one. The only thing moving was the curtains gently swaying to and fro. Jason shrugged it off as the wind and gathered his things.
Feeling grimy from the long drive, Jason pulled his ziplock of toiletries from his bag and grabbed a towel from the hall closet and headed to the shower.
As he stepped into the narrow bathroom, Jason noticed a bunch of paint flakes on the bathtub floor. As he bent to scoop up the paint, he hit his head on the shower wall, making a voluminous “donk.”
Jason bunched up his face and raised an eyebrow. He looked at the bathroom again – it was indeed very narrow. Unnaturally narrow. He knocked on the shower wall, and the sound reminded him of knocking on a ripe watermelon. Jason set the towel on the sink and walked out of the bathroom. On the other side of that shower wall was his uncle’s bedroom closet. Upon inspection, this closet was very narrow as well.
Jason walked back and forth between the two rooms, counting his steps. They didn’t add up.
Confused and slightly suspicious, Jason went back into the bathroom and stared at the wall. The shower wall did look like it was a slightly different shade of white than the rest of the room, and the paint was cracking and peeling at the edges.
“Well, it is my house now, I guess,” Jason muttered and gave the shower wall a good kick. The drywall gave easily, and as Jason looked into the deep blackness, a strange odor seeped out. It was alien, yet familiar, ancient and salty, but not altogether unpleasant.
Jason began to rip off pieces of the drywall, kicking at it when necessary. After a few minutes of struggling, a small crevice of a room lay before him.
The room was only about two feet deep – a closet really, but the interior was painted entirely black. There was nothing extraordinary about this tiny space, save for the pile of strange gold sculptures on the floor. Jason bent over and gingerly scooped up a handful. His heart began to race. The sculptures were often intricately carved in the shapes of things that seemed aquatic but yet bore the full resemblance to nothing on this earth.
Jason felt a hand on his shoulder. He suddenly spun around, but there was nothing there. Jason’s eyes darted around the bathroom. No one. Rising quickly, Jason rushed into the living room. Still no one.
“Hello?” Jason called out. The front door was still closed, and the windows were still shut from before he had arrived. Jason’s face went white. If the windows were closed this entire time, what made the curtains move earlier?
Jason moved quickly to the kitchen, only now realizing that he held one of the grotesque gold statuettes in each hand. He set one down, and drew a large kitchen knife, then hesitated. He set the knife on the counter, stuffed the golden figurine into his pocket, then picked the knife back up.
“Whoever’s in here – I’m armed! Just show yourself and I won’t press charges.” Jason was breathing heavy now, and his nerves were charged. He strained to listen for any signs of movement. Just the sound of his heart racing and his rapid breathing filled the air.
Jason slowly creeped over to the door of the guest bedroom. He quickly pushed the door open.
All Jason found was a bed stripped of its linens. No place to hide in here. Jason pulled the door shut.
Out of paranoia, Jason rechecked the bathroom again, then closed the door. Although he had just recently gotten a towel from the hall closet, he checked that as well. Still nothing. Soon, Jason was standing in the hallway, gold idol in one hand, eight-inch kitchen knife in the other.
Jason stuffed the small octopoid figure into his pocket and opened the door to what used to be his Uncle’s bedroom. There was yet again, nothing there.
“Give us our lives back.”
Jason spun around. He had clearly heard a woman’s voice behind him, but there was just the empty living room.
“Repent.” The voice said. “Repent.”
“Where are you? Jason took the knife is both shaky hands. “What do you want?”
The old black and white television that sat in the living room suddenly clicked on. Jason stared at the unplugged machine as the static snow’s buzz filled the air. Jason felt a hand on his waist and he spun again, slashing blindly behind him. The knife silently cut through air as the hiss of the television grew louder.
“Give us our lives back.” This time the voice was clear, and as Jason slowly faced the living room, the digital noise of the static began to coalesce into a woman’s face.
“You have what belongs to us” The face was angry now.
Jason’s eyes grew wide. He ran back towards the bathroom and dropped his knife on the floor. He began to shovel the gold trinkets into his pockets, and when they were full, he began to stuff the bottom of his shirt with them. Sweat began to run in rivulets down his face, and his hands began to shake.
“They’re mine. They’re mine, and you can’t have them.” Jason feverishly began to waddle towards the front door when he stumbled and some of the blasphemous figurines fell to the floor.
As he knelt to pick them up, Jason spilled even more of them. Jason spied his duffel bag and while he clutched his shirt tightly with one hand, he fumbled with the zipper to the bag. As he began to empty his shirt’s contents into the bag, he could feel scaly hands pulling at his hair and trying to work their way into his pockets.
“No!” Jason trashed about, but the hands persisted. He took up his bag and ran for the door, but something grabbed his leg and he tumbled headfirst into the adjacent wall and crumbled to the floor.
Jason was outside suddenly, the sky bright with stars. He saw his Uncle Neal carrying something large wrapped in black plastic trash bags slung over his shoulder. Jason watched as Uncle Neal, with bloodstained hands, tossed the long package over the edge of the cliff. Jason seemed to then float above it all as he watched his uncle make four more trips, with four more black lumps.
Jason was then deep in the woods. His uncle was standing in the center of a large circle of blood, placing a plate covered in hearts in the center of the circle. Uncle Neal stepped out of the circle and lit seven black candles. Soon, the beating of leathery wings could be heard, and from the cloudless sky descended a faceless, horned monstrosity. This hideous thing landed soundlessly, then released a deafening, otherworldly shriek. It snatched up the hearts, and as it lifted off into the air, it dropped a small satchel that landed heavy in the dirt with a clink.
Jason managed to open one eye. Something was sticky on the side of his face, and there was a throbbing pain that clouded his already limited view. Jason immediately reached down to confirm that his golden statues were still safely tucked into his pockets.
He gingerly touched his head, and as he pulled his hand back he found his fingers coated with blood. It was then he felt the trailer move. There was a low groaning, and then a high pitched whine. He could hear something heavy being dragged through leaves, and as he looked out the window, he saw the wheel blocks sitting next to his car.
Suddenly, Jason was flung back to the floor, as the entire house jerked and began to pick up speed as it rolled over the gravel and onto solid dirt. Jason tried to stand, but his vision was blurry and the room started to spin. He continued to fumble for his bag and tried to stumble to the front door.
Jason pulled himself up to one knee and watched at the deadbolt on the door slid into place on its own.
Jason began to crawl to the door, then used the doorknob to steady himself as he stood. He struggled with the deadbolt, but it wouldn’t move. He began to throw his shoulder into the door, pain arcing through his head with every impact, but the door was surprisingly solid. As he tried to back up to gain more momentum, he was thrown to the ground as the first pair of wheels went over the edge of the cliff.
Jason slid towards the side of the house tipping over and as he looked through the nearest window, he could see five women standing at the bottom of the gorge who appeared to be looking up at him.
It was then the house tipped over completely, and as he began to go into freefall, Jason did all he could do – he clutched the bag of golden idols to his chest and closed his eyes.
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