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Fiction Horror Suspense

The lanky palms swept the top of the cracked tiled roof. A frond whispered its way to the parched grass.

“Oh, be careful that just missed you,” Justin said, pulling Mondtree back. The pull became a hug. She shrugged him away, tutting.

“Not here, not now,” she said.

He led her to the wooden steps to the porch.

Nung, song,” she counted. “Nung, song, sam, si,” two steps, and four paces to the door, she said. “I don’t like even numbers.”

Justin flicked through the brass ring of twenty-six keys, he knew how many, Mondtree had told him.

“It must be this one, look at the size of it.” He held the old key on display.

It wouldn’t fit, he jiggled and joggled, stooping to look through the keyhole. Finally, after blowing away the clogged dust, the key turned. The door swung back smoothly.

“Come on then, let me carry you over the threshold to a new life.”

“Don’t be so daft,” she said, giggling. He grabbed at her. She fought herself free. “Someone may be watching.”

“So what?” He said as he entered the dark teak gloom. “Come on, we must open the window shutters, let some light and air in.”

Mondtree looked around, she heard palm leaves rustle, something else stirred her senses, what was it? Dry bamboo leaves sounded like rain, didn’t they? What else? She ran back to the steps, then stepped to one side, pulling and lifting branches, something scuttled, unseen beyond the vegetation. Slowly she walked back to the door.

“Come on,” called Justin, “what are you doing out there?”

“There was something out there.”

“Just a cat, I expect.”

Justin continued fighting the shutters back, hooking them secure. 

“That’s better, homely, don’t you think?”

“It’s not like the picture you showed me,” said Mondtree.

“That was an old one, it has been left empty for a while.”

She grunted and wiped her finger through the dust on the window sill.

“Come on, let’s look around,” Justin said.

The main living room was spacious, stairs grew from the centre, leaning back from the front door directly in front.

"Bad start,” she said.

“What are you on about,” Justin said as his grin got wider.

“Two steps up, then dead ahead is a staircase. And I bet there is an even number of stairs?”

“So?”

“No house should have a ‘ghost entrance’ like this,” Mondtree, shook her head in disbelief, “Who would build like this?”

They took the stairs carefully, highly polished wood covered with dust felt like an ice rink. She counted to twenty-six. The handrail was sturdy and swept left and right at the top. Five doors greeted them. Mondtree ran from each.

“Oh, no,” she said, “as I dreaded, four bedrooms!”

“So?”

“It is unlucky, don’t you know anything?”

“What if we made two rooms into one? The bridal suite?” He scratched his chin.

She snorted louder this time.

“We’ll need another bathroom, one is not enough, we could make the fourth bedroom into a bathroom?” he said.

“Why did you buy this place? Without even asking me, and without even seeing it?”

A year earlier, Justin had fallen in love with a chef in his favourite Thai restaurant in Knightsbridge. After a whirlwind romance, Mondtree’s father, the restaurant owner, had allowed her to marry the shy Englishman. Her father expected them to take over the business and allow him to retire. The day after the wedding, Justin stated his plan to move to Thailand and sell products online. Photographs of an aged property on the outskirts of Bangkok did nothing to cheer his in-laws.

The aged two-storey house, built with Thailand’s long-lasting teak wood, was tucked at the far end of a Soi away from the screaming, tooting jammed traffic. More modern homes had been built, nearby, but not within 100 metres, weeds and trees surrounded the previous occupant, they are still there, growing unhindered.

“Good job we didn’t decide to open a restaurant. There's not too much in the way of passing trade,” she snorted.

“All I need is my laptop and a decent Wi-Fi connection,” said Justin.

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Don’t worry, we’ll both be flat out renovating.”

“I don’t want to live in a place with two steps leading up to the front door, or with four bedrooms.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’ve already told me. Don’t you think there are more important tasks, like sweeping up before we move our furniture in?” 

“That’s another thing, why order all the stuff without letting me pick some bits?”

“I only ordered the basics, you can choose the rest. I wanted to get started, that’s all.”

“The furniture shop is calling me, hold on,” said Mondtree, with her hand up in a quiet gesture.

She stared at her husband, hands-on-hips, mouth open.

“What?” asked Justin.

“They will deliver, today, but will they will not set foot in this house. All our new stuff will be left outside.”

“I suppose that’s because of the two steps?” he sniggered.

She playfully slapped him across the shoulders. 

“Now we will have to lug everything upstairs?”

“You wanted something to do.” Another slap accompanied a half-hearted smile.

A pickup truck pulled up, the men started placing boxes outside the gate and tried to sneak off and disappear.

“Why won’t you shift it all inside?” asked Mondtree.

She was answered with head shakes. 

"Please sign this, out here," the driver asked.

Most of the furniture was flat-pack, far too modern to suit the house, but easy to shift. The plastic-wrapped mattress was not so easy. Sweat dripped. Before they started furniture construction, Mondtree swept while Justin mopped. 

“Look after my fags, I’m sweating all over them.”

They smiled at each other.

“Let’s try the bed?” suggested Justin.

“I’m not sleeping here tonight, and not until you sort out that step.”

 “Who said anything about sleeping?” His grin switched to a slow-motion sneer.

She took a half step back and looked deep into his eyes. His lips started twitching. His eyelids twitched his eyes glowed a steamy pink. Anger throbbed.

She pushed him away, turned, and ran.

He bounded after her, room to room, slamming doors in the chase. 

“Where are you?” he bellowed.

Panting, Mondtree skipped across the upstairs hallway and took three steps at a leap, panting for breath on reaching the bottom. Catching a glimpse across her shoulder, she opened the door and froze.

“Come in, come in, my pretty,” he stood at the top and pointed at the bed.

His back had hunched, his hair jutted at all angles, his fingers were gnarled like broken cutlery.

“Come on my darling, I won’t hurt you.” He beckoned with bent fingers.

Mondtree looked around, the hated two steps were bobbing up and down, like a dinghy on the sea. Hands to mouth, eyes popping, she measured her chances. Slim to none. She couldn’t stay, she dare not attempt the steps.

Taking a long step back, as his outstretched claws scratched at her, she sprang forward. Rolling in the weeds, gasping for air. Peering for a chance to run.

Her sprint took her as far as the gateway, stopping she gathered the furniture’s wrapping paper, nylon rope, together with dried broken branches she formed a loose ball. 

Using Justin’s lighter, she torched the ball and flung it at her deformed husband in the doorway. Dust, rubbish and his clothes caught alight. He laughed at the fire; he danced jumping up and down.

Not stopping to watch, she formed another ball, turning back, she threw it at the window, smash it shattered as teak burst alight. Flames licked everything it touched, catching the antique wood afire. And all inside creaked and groaned as it burnt. Spitting blackened splinters.

Smoke billowed as she wailed.

"What have I done?”

The two steps stopped wobbling. Still two steps, steps she would never step on.

The END

August 25, 2021 08:48

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2 comments

Keya Jadav
13:38 Aug 25, 2021

First of all, the descriptions stood strong and so did the way of narration. Great Work Colin! There were no grammar mistakes or punctuation errors as such. The plot was beautifully carved. Nice.

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Colin Devonshire
02:23 Aug 26, 2021

Wow, thank you for your comments.

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