By: Faruq Yusuff
As Theo entered the old street house with his three friends, he had this feeling in his chest – something felt off about the house. However, they had no choice but to seek refuge from their pursuers in this abandoned house.
Theo and the rest of the boys were notorious amongst the residents in their local community. The boys were infamous for painting graffiti on private buildings and infrastructure. They had been reprimanded many times but had no interest in halting their artistic pursuits anytime soon.
Now, they were being chased in the rainy dark by about three or four men who were hell-bent on making the self-proclaimed innovative artists pay for their latest work of art done on another privately-owned building. Victor, a member of the boys’ clique, had suspicions that that building belonged to some shady individuals, most likely gangsters.
Jack, the tallest of the boys, opened the abandoned house’s door, and they all took a peek into the fully opened door. It was dark as night, so they could not see a thing. Jack put on the lights and what they saw left them dumbfounded. Sofas, tables, a television, a working radio, and many other household items – still intact. But how? This building was supposed to have been abandoned for decades. Maybe it was not as empty and abandoned as the townspeople knew.
With this surprise also came a glimmer of relief, perhaps they could find help in this old, suspicious abode, and even if there was no one to help them, they could have the entire place to themselves for the night.
“What if there are other criminals who use this place as a hiding spot. We shouldn’t be here!”, Victor, commonly regarded as the weakest and meekest thought. Victor was very cautious compared to the rest and was fond of muttering to himself whenever stressed.
In a bat of an eye, Alexis jumped on one of the sofas, smiling, and then laughing, all while still hopping on the soft couch like a toddler.
“Come on, guys!” he said.
He was known to be the clown of the pack, practically unable to notice danger even if it stared at him right in the face. However, this quality of his was also notorious for bringing life to the pack in their lowest moments.
The boys all grew up together without formal parents. All they had were each other and their art.
As Alexis continued hopping, the tension in the other boys subsided, and they all joined Alexis shortly after. A minute or two passed, and they decided to settle down and rest for the night.
“Alright, boys, I need to find the restroom to take care of some very personal business”, Jack told the group as he stood up to leave.
“Make sure you take your time!”, Alexis shouted out jokingly with his hands cupped to his mouth.
Theo burst out into laughter, and Jack flipped the bird at Alexis and Theo before finally leaving the room.
The rest of the boys decided to have some rest. Alexis and Victor occupied the two sofas while Theo laid on the floor. Just as they finished their informal goodnights and were about to close their eyes, they were interrupted up by Jack’s screams coming from some rooms away.
They looked at one another simultaneously and immediately proceeded to save their tall friend from whatever dilemma he might be in. As they opened the door Jack had passed through some minutes ago, the screams stopped, and they froze.
The house began to seem more and more suspicious, with every passing second sending chills down the teenagers’ spines. In this loud silence, it seemed like the rain intensified as they could feel the beat each raindrop made in contact with the house’s roofs. Then came an instant blackout. Theo tried the light switch a thousand times, but the lights would not come on. Alexis broke the silence and muttered,
“We-we have to fi-find Jack. Maybe those criminal-looking men laid an ambush for us and are giving him a hell of beating now. We have to go!”
“We-we can’t !” Victor said and paused for a bit. His eyes were already watery.
“Who knows what is out there. It could be those thugs or-or some creepy person who lives here! But we have to save Jack. Poor Jack-”, Alexis cut Victor’s incoherent self-talk short and retorted.
“This is not the time for any of that!”, he then looked at Theo and told him he was going to go find Jack irrespective of whether they would come or not. With that, he stormed off into the dark space beyond the door frames.
After a minute or two of contemplating, Theo and Victor concluded they could not leave their brothers to face whoever was lurking around in the house. They followed the path Alexis followed but spotted no trace of him. They were disconcerted. He could not have gotten that far! They could not call out his name out of fear for their own lives. Once more, more intensely this time, they felt chills down their spines. Worry and panic graciously set in. Theo, who was known to be the most daring, began to doubt and question every single choice they made that led them to this precarious situation. He tried to come up with a reasonable explanation for what was happening, but nothing made sense. Also, everything seemed to be wrong with this house! He was terrified and lost in fearful thoughts. He then turned to see how the meek and timid Victor, who he had grown protective of over their years together, was faring.
No one was beside him. Victor, who was beside him barely minutes ago, had suddenly vanished. He was all alone. This realization sent Theo into a shock. He walked backward in fear and lost his balance. Sitting on the ground with his hands on his head, he randomly remembered the rumors that a witch lived in this house. Witches were prevalent in the town’s history, but most people just assumed they were just made up to scare children from doing bad or wandering into the woods. Witches were not real. Or were they? Absolutely not. I must have lost my mind to be thinking of some nonsense fairytale right now. However, those thoughts continued to play like an infinite loop in his head.
“Not Victor,” he lamented, very close to tears.
In this moment of fright and hopelessness, he cupped his hands together and said a prayer. He was never a staunch believer, but it was all he had at this point.
“Amen,” he said before being dragged forcefully across the room by something.
What was taking him away? He turned to look behind him, and there was nothing there. His body was moving against his own will and volition. It was as if some invisible entity was dragging him. And before being knocked out, he looked to his front, where he could feel a presence—partly camouflaged by the dark. An old, nasty-looking senile woman with a stick and a wicked smile. A witch.