The Family House that was not a Home

Submitted into Contest #108 in response to: Start or end your story with a house going up in flames.... view prompt


Drama Fantasy Horror

           “Does your vision slow down when you get older?”  George wondered with spoken words on that fateful day. Objects in his old house were appearing to move when he looked at them in passing. They would stop that seeming motion when he put his full focus on that apparent movement. It was happening more and more often these days. George asked himself whether his aging brain was processing images more slowly than his eyes were passing messages to it.  He first put serious thought to this matter one morning when a knife on the kitchen counter appeared to move slightly towards him, turning itself blade first when he glanced at it in passing.

           “Maybe it’s just because I live by myself, without humans, chickens, pets or even friendly plants to keep me company.” Maybe my mind is craving company and has found a weird way to create it with objects that appear to move like they are alive. I don’t like it at all. I don’t want to end up like my mother.

           George was planning to move out of the place, even though it had been in his family for three generations. His grandfather and grandmother had built the house when they were a young couple and operated a farm on the land surrounding it, most of which had since been sold. After living there for years, and shortly after the old man decided to give up active farming, and for them to sell the house, both he and his wife died there too, mysteriously, and on the same day. Heart attack and shock at loss of partner was the pat diagnosis, without any real effort to check them out seriously.  They were old, and a long time together after all.  

Their son, George’s father, Frank had lived all his life there. He had died falling off of the roof, while trying to replace the tiles. He had just cursed the place for its bad construction,  saying to no apparent audience that he would like to tear it down He had been up on that roof many times before with no problems. But not this time.

           George’s only son, Henry, at age seven, was playing in the front yard when he witnessed the death of his grandfather. After seeing that shocking incident, he did not speak again. Fortunately, he showed considerable intelligence in a number of other meaningful ways. Henry worked as a designer for a company that manufactured drones.  He didn’t have to speak at his workplace. His drawings and rapidly keyboarded suggestions spoke loudly for him.

           George’s mother, who never liked the place, fled the house within a week after her husband’s death. She was committed to ‘the Home’ shortly thereafter, never to be taken seriously again because of her tales of ‘visions’ of a host of sinister presences in the house she had lived in with her husband and her solitary son. 

           The ‘bad luck’ of the place did not end there. George’s wife Betty had fallen down the stairs, tripping over an old Persian rug one day after she had insisted to her husband that they should sell the place and move into a condo. To her knowing, the rug had not been there previously . She told him that she “could not live in this dangerous house any longer.”   She proceeded then to leave both George and his house to their own devices. George and Betty no longer spoke to each other after that day, except through their lawyers.

           It had been George’s place alone for years after that, but he could not say that he felt particularly attached to the house.  If anything, he felt a kind of formless hostility seeping out from its floors, walls, and ceilings. He was intending to sell it to a developer, whose immediate plans were to tear the house down, and quickly have built a new ‘faux chateaux’ for some rich and foolish family to snap up like the latest model cell phone. George would get a pile of money for the lot alone. He didn’t care what happened to the house. His plans were to move into an apartment in a senior’s complex that his mother–in-law had once called an “old people’s commune.” No trouble, no fuss, and lots of peace of mind. And maybe, hopefully, no more movable objects. 

           . He revelled in this thought as he walked into the shed extension of the house where he kept his tools. He had to chop wood for the fireplace that provided most of the heat for the old place. “Just think,” he spoke to the trees. “I will never have to chop wood again.” With a smile on his face, he stepped forward onto the shed’s earthen floor, and turned on the light.

           “Now where did I put that old axe?” he wondered out loud. Like many people who live alone, he spoke to himself quite often, asking questions with only a few verbal responses. The answer came swiftly to him, blade flashing in reflection of the dull shine of the single bulb light that only partially illuminated the shed. He could wonder no more.

The police were called to the place a few weeks later. For the neighbours hadn’t seen him for a while, and he was usually out and about eager to talk to people that he encountered. They found his body, axe blade still sticking out of his forehead.. Foul play was not suspected, as only his footprints were found on the dirt floor of the shed.  He must have tripped and fallen onto the axe they reckoned. He was old and probably unsteady on his feet. It was well known in town that he talked to himself a lot. And local gossip was that insanity ran rampant in his family

           A week later a strange sound pierced the eerie silence of the house and its surroundings. A flying object circled the house and then hovered over its centre. It dropped a load of cigar-shaped objects to which were attached long lit strings or wicks. KABOOM. The house burst into flames

           The house crumbled like cake left on the counter for days because it couldn’t fit in the refrigerator. A young man, Henry, the drone designer, soon walked up to the ruins and spoke for the first time in years, in a raspy but powerful tone. “Take that, bloody house. I cannot forgive what you did to me and my family. You deserve to burn.” He sat and watched until the cursed house was little more than a pile of ashes.

August 24, 2021 22:46

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