Challenge #01022-B290: The Thirteenth House

Haunted House? So what. -- RecklessPrudence

It was, of course, a fixer-upper. With their credit rating, the Smiths could afford little else. Callie looked up at the looming heap of crumbling Victorian glory and sighed. "It's another haunted one," she monotoned.

"Come on, Callie... The odds have to be in our favour, one time."

Callie just sighed. This was the twelfth such house they'd lived in. She was beginning to see the pattern. "There's history, isn't there," she said. It was a prediction.

"Eh. You get history with old places." Mom unbuckled Tammy from her kiddie seat and lifted her out of the car. "What matters is the history we make. This is a good area. We. Are. Staying."

Dwayne let their dog out of his carry cage. "New home, boy! Check it out, Peedee! Find the badguys!"

Peedee was mostly chihuahua, the rest of his ancestry was up to debate, but he had Doberman eyebrows and the goofiest run. He literally bounced all over the overgrown yard, making Tammy laugh. Peedee couldn't menace a moth, but he was really great at making a big noise and causing trouble for strangers.

"Ah, we got a chestnut tree..." cooed Dad. He found his new keys and opened the door. "We could have ourselves an edible garden."

Of course the door creaked. Of course the house groaned. Of course the chimneys whistled. Of freaking course there was an entire fuckton of dead insects on the windowsills.

"Cool! Dead rats!" Dwayne cheered. "Can I put 'em on an ants nest and make things outta the bones?" He was exactly that kind of kid.

"Only if you boil them when the ants are done," said Mom. "I'm not having you stinking up another house."

Callie started whistling the Addams Family theme. There was bound to be something really disgusting, somewhere. Hints of murder in the basement. Echoes of an isolated child in the attic. Some door with hideous scratches on the inside and a lock that only worked on the outside.

It was the way things were with houses like that. The Smiths were used to it. They knew how to protect themselves.

"I'll get the playpen and the smudging kit," said Dad.

"I got the Good Book," volunteered Dwayne.

"I'm fetching the incense," said Callie.

Yes, this would piss something off. But the absolute worst thing you could do with these entities was pretend they weren't there. Purging an old house like this of lingering malevolence was always a good idea.

So was warding it against incursions once a full moon.


Things tended to stay, no matter what you did. Things that became themselves in the house could not be shifted. You could ward against the things that followed you, but the native Things? You just had to roll with it.

The house was home to the spirit of a little rascal of a kid who had died in mysterious circumstances. Mom had given him his own room and Dad had refurbished an old rocking horse to put in there, along with the requisite cuddly toys and building blocks. It kept the kid happy for the most part, but there were still some bad things that happened when he was feeling tetchy.

And some days, leaving the kid a Werther's Original just didn't cut it.

His name was Will, they knew because when he drew on the walls, he signed his work. And this morning, he was having a tantrum.

Books, CDs, and DVDs had all been knocked off their shelves. Toys were scattered up and down the hall. And he'd locked Peedee in an old wardrobe that came with the house.

"Damnit, Will," Dwayne yelled. "This is not the day for this stuff."

The house shifted and sang. It sang, "Go awaaaaaayyy... go aaaawwwwaaaaayyyy..."

"No, Will. We're staying because we love this place," said Dwayne. He finally shifted the wardrobe away from the wall and attacked the old plywood at the back until there was a hole enough for Peedee to wriggle out.

Will started crying.

"Well, you locked Peedee in there," said Dwayne. "I'll fix it later when you calm down, okay?"

Will kept on wailing. A shadow oozed out after Peedee and slunk into the hallway. The next thing anyone knew, there were some damn vicious snarls from Peedee.

The dog chased the shadow out of the house. Out of the yard. Kept barking at the fence line for half an hour. Then allowed the local butterflies to distract him. Peedee had to be the best dog ever.

Will sniffled to a halt.

"It's okay, Will," soothed Callie, toothpaste foam still bordering her mouth. "The nightmares have gone away, now. How about you help pick up?"

"No," pouted Will.

Bloody ghost kid. He was about two. You couldn't expect anything from a spirit like that.

...though he did like to pile the fireplaces full of kindling. Whether they needed it or not.

And if Tammy's room and crib weren't the most warded places in the house? He'd have probably done something to her. But that couldn't happen. The Smiths were smarter than that.

They had relatively few problems with their house. Despite Will's tantrums, and the shadowy Thing in one corner of the basement, their home was a refuge and sanctuary against the world.

And it still beat the hell out of being "randomly" stopped and frisked because they were walking while black.

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