February 12th 2022
Prompted by the word ‘Danger’.
Trigger Warning: Child Abuse is alluded to (no details).
The danger sign had been there forever as far as we were concerned. At twelve years old, forever was not a very long time. It marked the entrance to the haunted house, or at least that what the younger children called the place. Now we were grown up, and we knew it was just an old house falling into ruin.
The summer holidays were approaching their end, and on this day, we (Jennifer, Nina, Sam and I) were going to explore that house. We stocked up on essential supplies (drinks and crisps) in the morning and charged up our phones. Not that we planned to call anyone, but we would need photos or videos to prove we had been in the house.
We cycled over to the house and chained our bikes up outside. We pulled a couple of the panels off, where the back door used to be and slipped in. We decided to go in the early evening to see the place in the dark before we had to get home. For now, sunlight still filtered through cracks and lit the dust floating in the air. We were in the kitchen. Cupboards and draws were still there, but everything was empty. The floor was dirty, and there were signs that animals had been here, rats maybe. I hoped they were not still here.
Nina and Sam pushed the door open to the hallway. We crept through and went into the living room. There was a skittering sound from an old rotted sofa, and a rat did run out. We all jumped, but there was no danger, and it was more scared of us than we were of it. The place was full of smashed up or mouldy furniture. As I expected, there was nothing scary here at all.
Jennifer wanted to go upstairs despite the sun setting and darkness creeping into the house. She led the way, and this was when we faced our first actual danger. One of the steps creaked loudly, causing a cacophony of flapping wings above us. Jennifer stumbled, and her foot went through the stair grazing her leg. She gasped but waved away any concern, whispering that it didn’t hurt. We continued cautiously, not knowing the source of the flapping wings ahead.
Even my heart was beating faster now. It was darker, and our phone screens cast shadows that kept us on edge. There was a bathroom and two bedrooms. One of the bedroom doors was still in place. We looked in the bathroom and the open bedroom and found them empty. Whatever made the noise must be in the final room. Sam and Jennifer readied their phones and, as soon as I opened the door, they would take photos. Nina had picked up a piece of wood to use as a club if something came at us.
I threw the door open, and the camera flashes went off. We were momentarily blinded. The noise of flapping wings echoed around the house. As our eyesight returned, we saw the last of the bats fly up through a hole in the roof. Bats, that was all, still no ghosts. We carefully climbed down the stairs, back out to our bikes, and set off home.
I checked the time on my phone. Damn, it was past the time I was due to be home. I didn’t want to go home now, and I knew what would be waiting for me. My father would be angry. You see, for me, the real scary things are not bats or ghosts, and the real danger for me is in my own home.
Copyright: Andrew Miles February 2022