• Madeline Walz

Day 5: The last thing you touched is trying to kill your protagonist. Explain why.

The full prompt said to not count things like the computer, mouse, screen, etc. That meant the last object I'd touched that would count was the stair railing. How does a railing attack someone? The only way, I decided, was if the house was haunted. While I do like ghost stories, I don't normally write them. I tend to stick with science fiction and fantasy. This is my first attempt at writing something in this genre.

Susan was starting to regret breaking into the old house. It had been her friend’s idea – go inside the old Rawlins house and see if it really was haunted.

“Why not?” Susan had said. “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

Now that the house was trying to kill them, she knew it wasn’t true.

It hadn’t started out that bad. Lights flickered on and off, things moved when they weren’t looking, and their flashlights were erratic at best. Nothing unusual for a haunted place, according to Susan’s friend.

Then, around midnight, it got worse. Doors slammed open and shut on their own, often coming close to hitting the two girls as they passed by. While exploring the kitchen, Susan’s friend was shoved towards the stove, which had turned itself on. In the living room, the chandelier fell from the ceiling while Susan was passing under it. If not for the sound of creaking screws and her friend’s quick reflexes, she would have been crushed.

Despite these and other incidents, Susan’s friend insisted they finish exploring the house.

“We haven’t gotten upstairs yet,” she said.

Susan protested but soon found herself at the base of the stairs to the second floor. She was starting to feel sick. She felt like someone was watching her, with the kind of glare that you felt in your soul. When she told her friend, she just laughed.

“Stop thinking so much,” she said. “You’ll freak yourself out.”

Too late for that, Susan thought, but she followed her friend upstairs, both of them trailing one hand along the iron railing.

They were about halfway up when it happened. The railing, which a moment before had been smooth, bristled under her hand. She whipped her fingers away from the spikes, but it was too late. She had already been cut. On the stair above Susan, her friend was clutching her own injured hand and staring at the railing.

For the first time since arriving at the house, she looked afraid.

Before they could do anything else, the lights went out. The feeling of being watched grew stronger. Susan was sure now that something was there, and it was not happy.

“Time to go,” her friend said.

Sighing with relief, Susan turned and went down the stairs, her friend right behind her.

“I hope the door is still unlocked,” her friend said.

Susan froze. “What do you mean, you hope the door is unlocked?”

“In TV shows, sometimes the front door locks.”

“Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

“I didn’t –”

There was a crash upstairs, as if something big had fallen. More crashes echoed through the house, getting closer to the stairs.

“Run!” Susan’s friend hissed.

They took off as fast as they could for the front door, as the crashing sounds started down the stairs.

Please let the door be unlocked.

Cover image by Ján Jakub Naništa on Unsplash.

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