July 23 at 4:00 PM
Photo by Elisa Xyz
A little bummed right now that my entry for Writer's Digest Your Story #27 wasn't one of the finalists.
Here's the original prompt:
Start your story with: "I never would have purchased this house if I'd known that..." End it with: "That's why tomorrow I'm setting it on fire."
And here's my entry:
By S.E. Gordon
I never would have purchased this house if I'd known that a goblin lived in it. The agent promised that the plush pad on the outskirts of Westchester was devoid of crime and vermin. In a sense he was right, but nothing could have prepared me for the creature that skulked these hollow walls.
One morning while I showered the water turned piping hot. Hopelessly I fumbled with the knobs as the inferno scalded me. The downpour abruptly turned ice cold before dwindling to a trickle. With a head full of suds I proceeded to the cellar, cursing all the way. At first I thought the broken pipe was a byproduct of the ancient plumbing, but when the second and third replacements also snapped in two, I realized I was up against something else entirely.
Shortly thereafter everything went downhill. The pantry was frequently ransacked and droppings left on its bare shelves. Half eaten carcasses littered the carpets and walls were frequently chewed open and stripped of insulation. At night while I listened to the creaking of the house, I could hear the miscreant cackle. Even my dreams were not an equitable refuge.
So I decided to introduce my guest to a friend I made at the local pound. Although I am a smallish man, I do not feel the need for a smallish dog, so I enlisted a beast of military might, an Irish wolfhound that no creature dare cross. As soon as I introduced him to the house, the beast bounded down the stairs and uncovered the creature's lair hidden cleverly among a pair of broken shelves. After sniffing the fowl opening, my companion bared his teeth and bravely held his ground. Hour after hour he presided over the passage, refusing to budge. I could barely contain my excitement. There would be no more volcanic showers or roadkill rugs. That night I slept like a baby, but once dawn broke my new pal was nowhere to be found. Sadly I would not see him again.
Angered by the turn of events I grabbed a shovel and crawled into the hole, following the stench until the passage opened to a large dim room. I could feel the parasite's eyes on me as I eased inside. Something snickered nearby. With the shovel I smashed everything within an arm's reach. The racket stirred considerable interest from above and a moment later the light snapped on. When a voice barreled down and a shotgun blast followed, I realized where I was--my neighbor's cellar.
"Don't shoot! It's me, Benjamin Buddle," I cried. I tried to explain everything--that I'd lost my dog and a creature was harassing our domiciles--but the geezer only saw one pest, and unloaded his shotgun once more. I dove behind a stack of boxes and remained there until the police arrived.
Even in my lonely cell the creature's presence lingered. No doubt it would uncover my ornate Faberge eggs and African beetle collection--how they love a tasty treat. News of my incarceration quickly spread to my employer and when I collected my things, a message was waiting on my cell phone. I stepped out of the station, without dignity or a job.
When I finally hoofed it home, there was little to come back to. The door was ajar, dangling on one hinge. My clothes were a pile of torn rags, the furniture broken and gutted. As I turned the corner, I caught a glimpse of the withered menace fumbling with my IPod. Unsure what to make of it, he swallowed it whole. My black heart boiling over, I sprinted down the hall and jumped. Glass exploded all around as I bounced off the frame and onto the floor. Somehow I had missed the full-length mirror. Then I began to take notice of them, in every corner of every room. All this time I had been living in a house of mirrors.
Then something wicked came over me. I doused the walls with gasoline until the sweet aroma consumed the entire house. I dug a new hole for myself and cobbled together a makeshift throne. "Home sweet home," I marveled.
The creature whispered in my ear but I paid no heed. There was still plenty of fun to be had. I lit a cigarette and dialed the agent who sold me the bill of goods. "Actually, I'm enjoying the house quite a bit," I cackled. "That's why tomorrow I'm setting it on fire."