by BJ Medina

Prompt: He locked the doors and shuttered the windows; it came in through the roof.

The following story was inspired by the events that happened to a family that relocated to a house somewhere in the province of Cavite. As of this writing, the house in Cavite is still standing.

Day 0

They packed their belongings into separate boxes which were carried over to a large truck. After a decade of staying in the busy world of the metropolis, the mother decided to move her family to a house for rent in Cavite, far from the noisy and traffic-infested streets that Metro Manila is infamous for.

The forty-year-old mother was raising her three children all by herself after she separated from her husband. A businesswoman, she managed to find the house in the province after visiting one of her clients living within the same area. Her children, a seventeen-year-old son, a sixteen-year-old daughter, and an eight-year-old son were all supportive of her. They all preferred to stay with her, instead of being with their father, who now had his own family. When financial problems hit her, she had no choice but to stop her eldest son and her daughter from enrolling in college. While it was painful for her, the children didn’t complain. They understood the situation and even decided to help their mother with her business.

It was dark by the time every furniture and appliances are were placed inside the truck. Squeezed in between were boxes that were filled with clothes, books, and other memorabilia. One of the last to be uploaded was a large jar measuring three feet high, filled to the brim with coins that made it so heavy, the people helping the family to move out had a hard time carrying it. Right above the low pile of boxes was a small box where 3 kittens, all active and playful, were placed. The family’s cat just gave birth to those kittens two months ago.

When it was time for the family’s cat to be brought inside the truck, to be reunited with her kittens, the cat exhibited a strange behavior. Gentle as she had always been, she suddenly was tensed and kept scratching off anyone who tried to pick her up. She appeared to be frightened and would not want to go.

It was as if she sensed there was a lurking danger in the place she would be taken to.

Exasperated, the family decided to leave the cat and head straight to their new home.

Day 1

The family arrived at their new residence in Cavite a few minutes after midnight. It was in a town composed of large houses with plenty of vacant lots where palm trees were rooted. There were only a few people that populated the area, which was a quarter of an hour away from the town proper. The family’s new house was a large two-story structure that had been up for rent for almost a year. The exterior of the house was painted brown, similar to the designs of large houses built during the 1950s. In the front was a small patio devoid of any chairs or tables. The children were amazed by the large sliding door that served as the main entrance. Near the back of the house, on its left side was another door. The house stood inside a compound with another house, albeit more modern in terms of design, which was occupied by the compound’s new caretaker.

 

At the right side of the house’s interior, was the stairway leading to a corridor on the second floor. Beside the corridor are three doors leading to the bedrooms, each one having a single window overlooking the back of the house. The children were mesmerized by the way the house looked. Though it had signs of being old and some wooden walls appeared to be scratched they can’t couldn’t believe they would be staying in what looked like a mansion, for very low rent.

Feeling tired and sleepy, the family just unloaded every box and furniture from the truck and placed all of them in the corner of the living room. They decided to just set up their beds so they could take their much-needed sleep, while their furniture and the rest of their items would be arranged after they woke up.

 

The first door was left vacant, while the second bedroom was where the mother and her youngest son would sleep. The last door was then occupied by the eldest son and the daughter that came after him.

 

Just before the mother was about to lie on her bed beside her son, who was already asleep, she remembered an advice given by a friend: The first thing that she sees outside her window would represent what to expect from the house during their stay. From the window slits, the mother peeked outside. Within the darkness of the night, she saw a figure of a person in the middle of the vacant lot behind their house. She tried hard to get a look at the person’s face and when she finally managed to get a good glance she became terrified. The face’s decaying skin had peeled, revealing an open rotten flesh swarmed by maggots.

 

The mother stumbled back in shock. After finally composing herself, she again tried to look outside her window. This time, however, there wasn’t anyone standing outside. Figuring that all of it was just her wild imagination after an exhausting day, she went to bed and slept beside her son.

 

Morning came and everyone was busy unpacking their things and arranging the new abode. The sofa was pushed to the left side of the living room area, facing the stairway. Below the stairway was the television set. Upon the insistence of their mother, the large jar was carried over to the balcony upstairs, just beside the stairway. Due to its weight of approximately 15 kilos, it took the whole family to carry it. After hoisting it over 15 flights of steps, they all decided to order food from a fast food chain to celebrate their success.

After a whole day devoted to household chores, they took their much-needed rest.

Day 2

The family finally had a whole day to enjoy their new home. They ordered roasted chicken for their lunch along with bottles of cola. After finishing a hearty meal, they decided to watch television, starting with a noontime variety show. Later on, the siblings played board games on the center table while their mom prepared their snacks. During the evening, they brought out the movie player and binge-watched on various movies.

An hour before midnight, the whole family decided to go to bed. Just as they were about to fall asleep, the mother and her daughter in the other room got up from their beds after hearing a noise. It sounded like the large jar on the corridor, as heavy as it was, was being dragged to the other side. They went out of their respective bedrooms to check what happened. After turning the lights on, both of them were puzzled. Everything was normal. The jar hadn’t moved at all.

Day 3

Early in the morning, the mother asked her daughter to take their younger brother back to Manila to attend school. Due to the distance between Cavite and Manila, it was agreed that the youngest child would stay at their uncle’s house in Manila during weekdays to attend school, and will come home with to the family every Friday night until the school year was over. As the siblings opened the sliding door, the youngest son was troubled. He noticed one of their kittens had become very weak.

Day 4

The condition of one of the kittens became worse. The mother thought it was because the kitten was missing their mom, who refused to join them before leaving their old residence.

An hour before midnight struck, another noise was heard, waking everyone. It sounded as if was the large jar was being pushed again. But just like the previous night, once the lights were turned on, everything was normal and the large jar still stood on its place.

The family decided to leave the lights turned on throughout the night.

Day 5

The eldest son woke up late and, when he was about to take a bath, found the weakened kitten dead.

Later that day, he became easily irritated with their mother and decided to spend most of the time inside his bedroom just listening to rock songs. Likewise, the mother spent most of her time inside her own bedroom. For the first time in nearly three years, she began to smoke cigarettes again.

She started smoking at a young age. The first stick was out of curiosity. Given by a classmate at school, she began to depend on smoking whenever she had problems in her family. She always believed that she has no one to depend on. Her mom was busy entertaining their new stepdad, while her sisters wouldn’t pay attention to her, perhaps out of jealousy. She has always been the favorite daughter of their late father.

Her smoking habits persisted even after having a family of her own. Things got worse when she sensed her husband was seeing someone else. She began to consume two packs a day, which led her to develop hypertension.

Upon the persuasion of her eldest son, she quit smoking and bought a large jar. For every day that passed without her smoking a single stick, she would drop a coin inside.

Day 6

The conflict between the mother and her eldest son had increased. They argued twice during the afternoon over insignificant things and continued to spend most of their time inside their respective rooms.

Gone were the days when they were known as the dynamic duo. It was the eldest son that comforted their mother when it was found out that their father had another woman. Every time that the family has encountered a roadblock, it was the eldest son who always provided inspiration. It was he who urged his mom to stand up and find a way to get out of their mess because he idolized her so much and believed in her.

That night, the mother dreamed about herself, staying inside a two story Nipa Hut.

She is somewhere in a faraway province where the hut is surrounded by rice fields. She hears a voice singing beautiful songs about love. She looks outside the window and partially sees a man on the ground, serenading her. The man with a charming face smiles as he croons, making her blush. The hue of the sunny farm landscape matches the long-sleeved shirt of the man. He strums the strings of his acoustic guitar, beaming with confidence like a seasoned player. She tries to extend her head outside the window, so she could can see the man in full but suddenly wakes up from the dream.

Day 7

The family no longer took their meals together. The mother preferred to eat her food inside her bedroom and even the siblings preferred to take their meals separately.

The youngest son arrived home at night, accompanied by his sister. He noticed the tension between his mom and his elder brother, who was spending most of his time inside his bedroom, listening to the radio.

As they slept, the mother once again dreamed of being inside a Nipa Hut.

There, she hears again the voice of the guy who serenaded her in her previous dream. Right around the same age as her, the man has perfectly combed hair that waves under the gentle breeze of the old province. Dressed in an orange long-sleeved shirt, the guy lets out a perfect smile that showcases his pearly white teeth, enough to disarm a woman’s heart. He belts out a beautiful melody which impresses the mother. With her view partially obstructed by the window frame, she tries to go downstairs to open the door and finally sees the guy in whole but is blocked by two young ladies that she hasn’t met before.

“Not yet the time,” the ladies told tell her.

And then she wakes up.

Day 8

The family received a visit from some of their relatives. The house came alive, laughter from rekindled sweet and sometimes embarrassing memories among the siblings and their cousins filling the empty corners and spaces. Sounds of plates and shrieking aluminum foils of chips permeated throughout the living room as the family members ate food in between stories about their current lives. All of a sudden, one of their cousins had a severe headache that cut short their visit. Before leaving, their aunt commented that their house, while looking grandiose, also looked “scary”, but never bothered to explain it.

The moment their cousins exited the main door, the youngest son saw a shadow-like figure. It was standing right beside their cousin, whose headache had worsened, before it moved. In the blink of an eye, the shadow-like figure had moved to the stairs.

He tried following the shadow but his attention was diverted to one of the remaining two kittens. The kitten, a calico, seemed to have become lethargic, and approached its food at a slower pace than usual.

Day 9

Three hours after everyone had already slept, a very loud noise woke them up. It sounded like the large jar fell down the stairs. Everyone feared that a burglar had slipped inside their house and pushed the jar to fall. Looking for an object that she could use to defend herself, the mother picked up a wooden back scratcher, to defend herself from anyone who might attack. In the other room, the eldest son held a screwdriver while his sister held a baseball bat. The siblings slowly opened their door around the same time that their mother was also opening her door. Rushing outside to the corridor, everyone was shocked and confused.

There was no one inside their house, and their jar was intact… and unmoved.

Day 10

It was Monday morning. The youngest child would again head back to Manila. As he was tying his shoelaces on the patio, he saw his mom arguing with his eldest brother in a very loud voice. Tears silently flowed on his right cheek. This wasn’t the family that he grew up with.

As he passed through the gate, he glanced back at their house and noticed that all their plants were drying up, despite being watered by his sister on a daily basis.

Day 11

As the daughter was about to prepare her breakfast, she found the calico kitten lying lifeless just beside the refrigerator. Only one kitten, a tabby, was left alive.

The large house seemed to become bigger. The eldest son continued to stay inside their bedroom playing songs on the radio, while the mother mostly spent her day smoking inside her own room which infuriated her daughter. The mother would only come out of their room if she was to visit a client, while the siblings would come out just to pick up the food that they ordered over the phone, only to return to their respective rooms immediately.

Day 12

The daughter complained to her mom about how their plants were easily drying up despite getting more water lately. The mother gave no answer which frustrated the daughter further, resulting in a quarrel between them.

The mother again dreamed about the man who was courting her.

As it was before, he is dressed in an orange-colored long sleeve shirt with a guitar strapped on his shoulder. This time, she finds herself in the living room, staring at the window pane. Outside the window is the guy, crooning and asking her to come and live with him. “Come with me. We will stay in my paradise.” The mother replies, “How about my children?” The mother then suddenly wakes up.

Day 13

The eldest son decided to unwind and went out to meet some of his friends in Manila without asking permission from his mom. The mother, infuriated with what her son did, vented her frustrations at her daughter, which resulted in another altercation between the two.

Gripping on her anger, the daughter went to the patio to cool down. There, she saw that all of their plants were dead.

She remembered how her mom taught her how to take care of the house. While his older brother hung out with his friends during the weekend, she was busy enjoying the company of her mom, who was teaching her various household chores. She recalled how her mom was at her side when she prepared tinola, her first ever dish.

She recounted how proud her mother was when a flower bloomed on their orchid. She tried to downplay it, but her mom insisted that it was all because of how perfect she handles things.

Later on, the last kitten alive started to show symptoms of being sick.

Day 14

The youngest son arrived again from Manila. His mom was sleeping upstairs by the time that he arrived. He sat on the sofa and watched the television as he waited for his mom to wake up. After an hour or two, he heard noises of feet that were shuffling on the floor, trying to wear some slippers. He looked to his left, facing the balcony upstairs and knew from the sound of it that his mom was finally awake. He stood up from the sofa and quickly ran upstairs to meet her.

As he was about to go near the bedroom’s door, a shadow-like figure came out. Passing through the bedroom door it went straight to pass through the other door on the left, the unoccupied bedroom.

His mom then got out of the bedroom and greeted him with a smile. “How are you, my baby?”

Petrified, the child was speechless and just cried, which the mother mistook it as a sign that he missed her a lot.

Day 15

The siblings were having lunch on the dining table when their mother went downstairs from her bedroom. She and her eldest son had another misunderstanding about how their resources were running out due to overspending on food that resulted in the two of them shouting at each other. The daughter stood up and went straight to their bedroom upstairs, annoyed by the constant quarrels that suddenly began to occur quite often.

In a fit of rage, the mother cursed at her eldest son, who answered back and cursed her in return. The mother froze for a minute as she did not expect that her son would curse her back. She hurriedly went towards the kitchen out of disbelief. The eldest son stood up from his seat and walked towards the front door.

A few seconds after, one of the chairs beside the dining table fell to the floor. The chair fell so hard that the loud sound it made reverberated throughout the house. The mother, thinking that it was her eldest son who pulled the chair down, didn’t turn her back. Similarly, the eldest son thought it was his mom that did it, in retaliation for him cursing her back. He simply walked away and went outside the house.

The youngest son, still sitting on his chair, saw everything. His breath became unstable over what just happened. He knew that neither his mom nor his older brother did it. It was someone else…or “something” else.

Day 16

The youngest child saw their orange kitten was visibly weaker than the previous day. He picked up the tabby kitten and went farther away from their house. A few blocks away from their residence was a small cafeteria beside an open lot. There, the youngest child left his tabby. He said to himself that there was a chance for the kitten to live, as long as it was far away from their house.

As the youngest son went back home, he saw his brother and sister carrying bags with their clothes inside. His older siblings decided to pack their things and leave their mom. They both opted to stay with their relatives on their father’s side.

With all of her older children gone, the mother had no one to instruct to go to the town proper to buy some food. She then decided to go to the public market to buy the things that she would need for the whole week. She left her kid alone at home, but not before telling him not to go outside as she will be back an hour later.

Hours had passed and it was already evening but the mother hadn’t come back yet. The youngest son entertained himself by watching the television all day long. While he was glued to the horror program, the television’s signal became staticky. He stood up from the couch and went to approach the television and was about to fix its antenna when he spotted in his peripheral vision a shadow-like figure running around their house from the outside.

He quickly pushed the sliding door to close it but saw the same eerie figure trying to fit inside the window grills. He then ran upstairs to their bedroom. As he came close to the bedroom, he could hear someone walking on top of the roof. As soon as he stepped inside the bedroom, he made a quick glance outside to see if the shadow-like figure was still there before closing the doors. He locked the doors and shuttered the windows; it came in through the roof.

The shadowy figure slowly passed through the ceiling. The strange apparition appeared like a very thick black smoke and as dark as burned rubber. Slowly, it crawled down the wall, looking at the child like a predator hunting for its prey. The child crouched in the corner of the bed with his back on the headboard. His heart beat rapidly. Inch by inch, the bizarre figure began to transform as it crept on the floor towards the child. The thick black smoke started to solidify, the limbs started to grow thick fur and its eyes glowed orange. The child tried to scream, but he couldn’t let out not a single word.

As the terrifying creature lurked closer to within striking distance, a knock was heard on the bedroom door.

“Are you there?” The mother asked.

Day 17

The mother brought her youngest son to Manila. Throughout the trip, she told her son to stop watching horror films as she believed it caused him to imagine a lot of scary things. Once she arrived back home, she was greeted by her neighbor. The compound’s new caretaker came out of their door and walked towards the patio. The caretaker confessed that she heard every quarrel that the mother had with her children. She asked the mother what was going on. The mother let her neighbor come inside the house and began to share everything. She broke down and burst into tears. She had no idea why her family suddenly fell apart. She couldn’t understand why she became so reclusive. She did not know what triggered her to constantly nag at her children.

The caretaker consoled the mother and gave some advice. “It’s ok. Everything will be all—”

The caretaker paused as she stared into the mirror hanging at the wall above the side table. “Everything’s gonna be alright,” she quickly followed it up. As the caretaker went past the door, she again peeked at the mirror, looking baffled at what she just saw in the reflection.

Day 18

All alone, the mother decided to clean the house to keep busy and stay preoccupied, rather than sulking in the corner after her children abandoned her. As she was about to start cleaning her bedroom, she smelled something bad coming from inside the first bedroom.

Ever since they moved into their house, no one stayed in the first bedroom. The mother thought that rats resided in that bedroom since there were no cats left to chase them down. Once inside, she tried opening the closet, which she thought was where the stench was coming from. Inside, she found nothing but a large brown manila envelope with drawings all over. As she picked up the large brown envelope, she got a closer look at it and saw what the illustrations were all about. They were several drawings, each one uniquely describing how to kill a person.

She ran downstairs and went outside to tap at her neighbor’s window. The caretaker went out and looked at the brown envelope that the mother was holding.

There were drawings of men being hanged; people stabbed on their waist; human beings being tied up and burned above a bonfire. There were illustrations of a man with his head cracked open after being smashed by a sledgehammer; a girl with a slit throat.

They both decided to burn the papers on the porch at that very moment. As the fire slowly consumed the paper, they continuously chanted prayers. After a few moments, the whole envelope turned into a pile of ash, except for a small portion where there was a drawing of a woman having her neck punctured. The caretaker swept all of them and instructed the mother to take a rest inside her house instead.

Day 19

The youngest son went straight to church after school. Inside the confession box, he asked the priest if haunted houses truly existed, or if they just happen in the movies.

All along, he tried to keep mum about the things that he had seen. The first time he tried to open up, his mother dismissed it as a figment of his imagination.

Back at home, the mother was bothered by the sudden presence of houseflies inside the house.

Day 20

The mother came home from a business transaction while carrying a cake that her client offered to her. She went to pick up a small plate and a fork in the kitchen and ate a slice of cake while sitting on the sofa. The heavenly taste of the cake failed to rejuvenate her energy after an excruciating trip to Manila. Too tired to bring the dining utensils to the kitchen sink, she laid on the sofa while she placed the small plate on top of the side table just beside her head and took a nap.

Once again, she dreamed of being inside the nipa hut.

There, she is sitting on a chair flanked by the two ladies who appeared in her previous dream. All of them are staring at the window where the man wearing the orange long-sleeved shirt is standing outside, picking at the strings of his guitar to create a mesmerizing tune. After captivating them with enchanting music, the man asks her if she could join him and be together forever.

“I ask you again, come with me, and we will be in my paradise,” the man proposes to the mother. The mother is initially hesitant to accept the offer but is constantly being nudged by the two ladies on her both of her sides.

“Don’t waste your time and just accept his proposal. The two of you were meant to be together,” says the lady on her right.

The side table trembled, shaking everything on top of it.

“Isn’t he irresistible?” adds the lady on her left.

The fork slightly fell from the small plate onto her the sofa.

“I implore you, come with me, and things will never be the same. It would be a brand new day,” assures the man wearing the orange long-sleeve shirt.

The fork slowly slides towards her neck.

The mother pauses for a minute. Every event in her life flashes back to her. The hardships in life that she experienced since she was young. Her relationship with her own mother and her sisters. She remembers her estranged spouse and their unsuccessful marriage, as well as the constant struggles of being a single parent. She remembers the time when she was overfatigued after approaching a lot of people, just so she could enroll her kids to school, the same kids that cursed her back these past few days.

The two wooden feet on the front of her sofa began to crack, little by little.

After thinking it over, the mother makes a decision.

“My children need me. I won’t go with you,” she cries.

As she finished uttering those words, she suddenly opened her eyes from her nap. She saw the prongs of her fork pointed towards her neck, and the sofa tilted forward. She quickly grabbed the fork away from her neck, before the sofa’s feet gave way and she eventually fell to the ground.

Day 21

The mother picked up her kid from her brother’s house in Manila. They decided to have their dinner outside, so they won’t have to prepare anything at home and can simply rest. Besides, it was just the two of them from now on. Preparing for a meal just for the two of them seemed unnecessary and maybe a little bit costly.

After arriving home, the mother lay on the sofa before taking a nap. Meanwhile, her youngest son turned on the television and channel surfed. Finally, he arrived at a channel that was about to telecast an old professional wrestling event. He picked up some chips from his bag and sat on the floor, patiently waiting for the program to start.

An hour and a half of watching the event, the child heard some noise coming from their bedroom. He heard feet shuffling on the floor, like someone trying to put on slippers. He looked up and heard the voice of his mom upstairs calling him, “Come here, my baby!” The boy stood up from the floor and ran towards the stairway. Halfway through the stairs, he glanced upon his left side and saw his mom, sleeping on the couch downstairs.

It was then that he remembered upon arriving at home, his mom went straight to the sofa and took a nap immediately, which was why he was sitting on the floor all along.

“If my mom was sleeping on the sofa all along, who was it inside the bedroom?” the child asked himself. Every strand of hair on his nape raised up.

Day 22

While her son was taking a shower, the mother was sitting on the sofa, and was blankly staring at the stairway. She then remembered the old saying about ladders. The first step is called “Oro,” or gold. The second step is called “Plata,” for silver. The third step is called “Mata,” meaning death. The next step would again start off with “Oro” followed by “Plata” and “Mata” until every step of the ladder had been taken. Ideally, the last step should correspond with either “Oro” or “Plata,” implying that the house is lucky. Otherwise, a step ending with Mata meant bad luck.

The mother went towards the stairs. “Oro,” she said, as she took the first step. “Plata,” she uttered, as she proceeded on the next step. “Mata,” she carefully mentioned as she took the third step. As she continued and reached the fourteenth and second to the last step, she says said “Plata”.

As she reluctantly took the last step, she heard a faint gruff voice whisper in her left ear.

“Mata!”

The mother looked around her and found no one. Her legs started to shake.

Day 23

The mother called her brother to come and visit her house. He arrived along with his driver and was joined by the compound’s caretaker. They talked about everything that had happened inside the house, from the strange things, the death of her pets and plants, down to the numerous altercations that she had with her children.

All of them tried to come up with a logical explanation for everything that had happened. Eventually, the caretaker suggested having the house blessed by a priest. The mother rejected the suggestion and instead asked the caretaker if she could get back the deposit that she gave before transferring to the house. The mother added that she would find a new house to stay at starting tomorrow, so she wouldn’t have to spend a month inside the house.

The moment the mother shared her decision, the mirror hanging on the wall fell to the ground and was shattered to pieces.

Given the strange occurrences that transpired on the house, the caretaker fully understood where the mother was coming from and relented to the request.

Day 24

The mother unknowingly dozed off on the sofa after spending most of the morning doing the laundry.

Next thing she knows, she’s was back inside the nipa hut while facing the window. Outside the window is her suitor, once again wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt, flanked by the two ladies that previously appeared on some of her dreams. All three are agitated towards her.

“How could you do this to us?” the lady on the left tells her.

“Why don’t you want to be with us? Why do you want to move elsewhere?” asks the lady on the right.

The man on in an orange long-sleeved shirt takes a long deep breath before he speaks. ” I asked you numerous times and yet you declined me.”

The man approaches the window and passes through, making his way inside the nipa hut. For the first time ever, the mother finally sees the lower half of the man’s body. He isn’t wearing anything below the waist, his limbs covered in fur. His body begins to transform. His skin darkens to that of burned rubber and his eyes glows the same color as his long sleeve shirt.

“I’ll make sure you won’t leave this house!” The man threatens as his body turns to thick black smoke that suffocates her.

The mother woke up coughing. She got up and packed some of their things. Bringing along her son and a small bag of clothes, she tried knocking on her neighbor’s door but nobody was inside. They went straight to the gate and hurriedly went out.

Day 25

While her youngest son was at school, the mother spent most of the day looking for a new house to rent. Her brother’s driver went back to the house along with four people to assist him. Together, they tried carrying downstairs all the pieces of furniture that were on in the three bedrooms. They packed all the belongings of the family into the boxes that they brought along. All five of them finished their tasks before the dusk arrived and went home, leaving every item arranged for the pick up the next day.

Day 26

In the afternoon, the mother went back to the house along with her youngest son, who skipped school that day. They were accompanied by her brother and his driver, and the four people that helped pack up their things the previous day. They were surprised to see the eldest son and daughter inside the caretaker’s house. Apparently, the caretaker left the house two days ago to find the two and talk to them about what’s what was going on in the house.

Inside the caretaker’s house, the daughter talked to her mom and asked for forgiveness for running away. The mother forgave her and asked for forgiveness as well, for the times that she became irresponsible. She then approached her eldest son who was sitting on the farthest end of the sofa. She noticed how her son was afraid to look at her. The mother held her son’s chin and gently tried to raise it. “You don’t have to be afraid. We all said and did things we wish we didn’t. We can’t change the past. We can just create a new wonderful beginning.”

The eldest son hugged his mom so tight, like a little boy that missed his mom so much. The mother pulled a coin from her pocket and gave it to her son. “Drop it inside the jar. It was your idea to stack it with coins because you encouraged me to become a better person. It was the reason we made it a point that the jar should be one of the things that I would see when I come out of my room.”

The family patched things up with each other and reconciled while waiting for the large truck that they contacted to pick up their appliances and furniture. After hours of delay, the truck arrived in the evening. Everyone started picking up boxes and other items and transported them inside the truck. For some strange reason, each item that they picked up seemed to be heavier than they ought to be. Still, they proceeded with carrying the items, no matter how heavy they were.

With every item already inside the truck, the caretaker was about to close the sliding door when they all heard a thundering sound from the second floor. The caretaker asked everyone if they managed to carry every item from the bedrooms downstairs, as it sounded like a wardrobe that fell down. The four people who helped carry the items the day before swore that not a single item was left upstairs. The mother went inside the house again to check if there were any items left, despite protests from her children. Two steps after her feet entered the house, the sliding door swiftly closed, trapping the mother inside.

Everyone outside tried pulling the door to open when they saw the mother being pulled by the hair towards the stairway by an invisible entity. The eldest son ran to the other door on the left side of the house and slammed the door to open. Immediately, he went inside with his sister. Two other guys followed them and another one tried to ensure that the door remained open.

The siblings followed their mom to the stairs, hugging her and refusing to allow their mom to be pulled any further. They begged to whatever it was that was pulling their mom not to take her anymore. The two other guys arrived shortly and a struggle among the unseen entity and the four people ensued. They tried to take the mother’s hand but it kept slipping off. One of them held the mother by her waist but the screeching noise of the wooden walls being scratched caused him to let go. Eventually, the two guys managed to pull out the mother by holding her thighs, with the siblings holding each of her arms. Shaken by what just occurred to her, the mother was carried outside the house through the door on the left side of the house.

Everyone hopped on the truck and bid their farewell to the caretaker, thanking her for every form of assistance that she had extended to the family, especially with bringing back her family. Before parting ways, the caretaker promised that she would warn anyone who would try to occupy the apartment about everything that had happened inside during the 26 days that the family stayed there. In turn, everyone prayed for the safety of the caretaker. The family hurriedly left the compound for fear of any retaliation. As the truck started the engine, there were noises that came out from the inside of the house. There were sounds of rats crying while some seemed to be shrieking in pain.

The truck had passed a few blocks away from the house when the youngest son asked the driver to stop. The truck stopped at a vacant lot right beside a cafeteria. The child looked out and waved goodbye at a familiar orange figure, a tabby kitten. The truck moved and the orange kitten, visibly gaining weight, purred goodbye as it sat on the lap of the cafeteria’s owner.

Two months later, the caretaker was at the airport waiting to board her flight. Her daughter, based overseas, was about to get married. She asked one of her nieces to stay at the compound while she was on vacation. She instructed her niece to show a diary that she created to anyone who would want to rent the house. The diary narrated everything that happened in the house, since the last occupants stayed there.

Back at the compound, a newly-wed couple arrived and asked if they could see the house for rent. The niece opened the sliding door and left the couple to explore the house. A few minutes later, the couple stepped outside the door. The husband approached the caretaker’s niece.

“I think we like it here. Can we move in later this evening? Last night, someone broke into our neighbor’s house. It wasn’t the first time such an incident happened in our village. Two weeks from now, I’ll be on duty again to board a ship. I can’t leave my wife alone in that situation. I want her to be in a place where there is no danger.”

The niece gave the caretaker’s diary for the wife to read. “My auntie asks everyone to read her diary first, before fully deciding on staying in that house. Strange things have happened there, sir,” the niece answered.

The wife began reading the caretaker’s diary, starting with an entry dubbed “Day 0.”

“That won’t be necessary. We don’t believe in ghosts. Besides, what type of danger could possibly happen inside an old house like that?” the husband replied.

Meanwhile, the wife felt someone staring at her while she was reading. She stopped reading and slowly moved her head towards the side when she heard a voice whisper in her ear.

“Do you know who’s behind you?” ☁️

This is an entry to Fictory, Bookbed‘s Fic Fest, in which participants write a fic based on a prompt.  This year, the prompts are all horror themed. One winner and one Crowd Favorite (by hits and shares) will receive prizes. If you enjoyed this story, share it or leave a comment below. Remember to add #BookbedFictory!
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