The sticky message oozed down my freshly painted kitchen wall, blood contrasting nicely with the daffodil yellow I’d chosen at Bunnings. I placed the paint roller into the tray and stepped back, frustrated and shocked. The reason for my frustration? The wall was still wet. The reason for my shock? This entity can spell. More words appeared as I stared, a suitable look of horror planted firmly on my features.
The house is mime.
Obviously I’d given the spirit too much credit. My look of horror stayed in place as I battled an urge to giggle, my vivid imagination conjuring up imagery of my new house sprouting hands and pretending to be stuck in a box, windows on either side of the front entrance rounding off in surprise, the large front doors pursed in a parody of duck lips. Inspired, I decided to paint the exterior of the house in black and white horizontal stripes, a la Marcel Marceau.
Then more words bled into existence, scrawled by barely literate, unseen hands.
I threw my hands up in despair and stormed from the kitchen, blocking my nose and mouth with my hand as I passed through a cloud of bees which chose that moment to erupt from the air-conditioning duct. I rolled my eyes – the cliché is strong with this one.
“You could at least make an effort!” I called out. “Some originality is always appreciated.”
As I reached the foyer, I paused. What would a terrified person do? Several scenarios ran through my head as I suppressed a yawn: dye my hair blonde and run upstairs, a guarantee of death; pop some valium, convince myself I was imagining things, and continue painting; find some hunky, dumb university student and have sex in the hot tub, another guarantee of dying; or get in the car and leave. I grabbed my keys and headed to the garage.
Wait! I needed to pee. Veering to the left, I made a beeline for the toilet. I worked my way along the hallway slowly, on high alert for any new phenomena. With each step, one of the usual, boring suspects made an appearance: a cold patch which made my breath fog; a noxious odour which I hoped desperately was entity related, and not due to a fault with the plumbing of my new home; and a shadow vortex which sucked all light from the surroundings. I rolled my eyes and suppressed another yawn as I reached the toilet and lifted the lid.
“That’s new,” I said aloud. My interest had finally piqued. Inside my toilet was hell. Roiling, teeming pits of lava and fire, bubbling and erupting clouds of sulphur into the air, emanating hatred and the desire to kill all mankind. No amount of bleach was going to fix this.
As I stared in surprise, a hand rose from the seething pit inside my toilet and reached for me. I finally lost my shit. Not literally, although this would have been the right room to do that in. I fled from the toilet and ran to the garage, desperately pressing buttons on my key fobs to unlock my car and open the garage door. As I climbed into the car, I noticed my other purchases from Bunnings on the back seat and a new plan formed in my mind.
“When will I fucking learn?” I asked myself, shaking kerosene onto the bloody message in the kitchen.
“You pay for what you get,” I continued, pouring more of the flammable liquid into the bee hive which resembled an air-conditioning duct.
“In future, avoid real estate ads which say ‘some slight paranormal activity’,” I told myself, then paused and pondered this edict. I do love a good renovation project, and haunted houses are cheap. Maximum profit on the flip side. No, I shook my head. The unexpected things can turn a bargain into a money pit; things such as a dodgy roof, or a portal to hell in the downstairs toilet.
“I’m going to paint my next kitchen blood red,” I muttered as I poured kerosene throughout the hallway and toilet.
“Note to self… buy more kero for Mum’s heater.” I pooled the last of the accelerant into a puddle in the foyer.
“You’re lucky I’m not allergic to bees, you fucker!” My anger kicked in as I finished the prep work. I patted my pockets, looking for matches. It’s a stupid instinct – I don’t even smoke. So I rummaged through the kitchen drawers, with no luck. I’d left my bbq lighter gun at Mum’s place last week.
Eventually I grabbed a pair of tongs and headed to the toilet, then made my way back to the foyer.
“If I can’t have this house, neither can you,” I told the entity.
The word appeared, noisily scratched into my beautiful wood panelling.
Let’s bee reasonable.
“Bee?” I almost screeched the word. “Bee, with two e’s?” I was so angry, the cold spot dissipated. “Is that supposed to be a joke? Or are you just an illiterate fucker?”
A blood-chilling laugh echoed through the house as I dropped the tongs – and the brimstone they held – into the puddle of kerosene near my feet. The laugh was mine.
Microfiction for Scifantor, May 2016.