Boxes and furniture sat on the yard. Old and abandoned things of melted cardboard and ruined wood.
Melvin and Clint stood next to each other, one holding a camera, the other wanting nothing more than to run. But Clint knew Melvin was not going to be denied. Dating him had taught Clint that lesson again and again.
“It’s…quieter than I thought it would be,” Clint said.
“No one’s been here in a long time. Duh, it’s quiet,” Melvin said and took a step onto the grass.
Clint flinched. “Don’t—ugh…”
Melvin laughed. “Oh, come on, it’s not that bad. I only want to get a few pictures.”
“I really don’t like this hobby of yours,” Clint said but followed. He peered around as he walked. “Huh. There are no birds.”
Melvin paused. Sure enough: no birds. Not a tweet or a chirp from anywhere.
“Huh, you’re right. Well, that only shows that it is legit.”
Clint shuddered. “That does not make it better.”
Melvin waved his hand dismissively over his shoulder, and walked right up to the door, pulling on the old, rusted handle. The house—all the house—groaned and moaned from his tiny action.
“Oh, nice,” Melvin said, smiling. He pulled harder. The door did not so much open as pop with a clattering of wood and metal.
“Wait for me…” Clint said. “Fucking… why are you doing this?”
Melvin stuck out his tongue and then slipped inside. Clint’s stomach dropped out, but he still followed.
And then they were both within.
The first thing to notice was the dust. So much of it. No one ever lived in this house, but it still had all the dust you’d expect from human flesh dying and flaking away.
The second thing to notice was the smell: as it did not have one. Nothing to it. Only the faint odor of Clint’s natural deodorant doing its best filled the space.
“Come on, they did it in the upstairs bedroom,” Melvin said, having already gone up and was leaning over the top of the banister.
Clint jolted, looking upward. “Shit…you scared me…that was not okay.”
“Forgive me,” Melvin said, pouting a little. “Now, come on: we have something to find here. I bet there will even be a bit of blood.”
“And that would make it all worth it,” Clint muttered but ascended. His boyfriend’s excited bouncing made the area creak.
Melvin stood over a bed. It had a faint red outline on it. The shape of a person. He kept taking pictures. One after another. Rising and falling, and kneeling, and turning his head at angles: anyway that he could move to get a new photograph.
“Look at this, can’t you feel the payload here? The woman screaming and dying? I bet the kids were off in the corner watching.”
Clint nodded, shivering. “Why did they not even get the stuff inside before—before that happened?”
“I have no idea. I guess they were checking out the house before they moved all the way in, you know how people can be sometimes.”
“Yeah…I do,” Clint said, and got a good look at the bed, at the outline, and frowned. “This looks a little like…”
He moved closer to it and noted the smell of gore or blood was not there. A clicking sounded in his head and he reached out his fingers and nearly touched the spot. He drew back, a disgusted look on his face.
“I don’t want to be here.”
Melvin looked back at him, then frowned.
“Hey…are you okay?’
“No. I’m not. I don’t want to be here. Why was there dust? Why did no one ever come and pick up the stuff? Why is there a fucking ring on the bed like someone summoned a demon? Where did you find this house? The internet, right?”
Melvin paused for just long enough for Clint to pick up on it.
“You didn’t search.”
“It was just on my mental radar…I mean…I mean… I knew to come here. It was a…”
Something grumbled downstairs.
“You just knew?” Clint yelled. His eyes widened. “Oh god…it knows we’re here.”
He looked up at the ceiling, feeling the ambient hum—the presence that had been there the entire time. Clint’s heart hammered.
“What does?” Melvin whispered.
“The house. It knows we are here.”
And the house grumbled again. Outside, the stuff on the lawn melted into the grass. The windows, all of them, from the outside, snapped shut at the same time—along with all the doors, and every entrance on top of it.
The building seemed to bend inward, caving, then stopped and reset.
And there was not a sound.
Special thanks to: Bob Gerkin, Collin Pearman, Dylan Alexander, Jerry Banfield, and Michael The Comic Nerd.
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“Just Another Chosen One is a blisteringly paced, action-soaked debut from author Brandon Scott, sure to appeal to those who’ve gotten tired of reading the same old stories about the child of prophecy destined to save the world.”