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The Room Within
By D. L. Tillery
I guess the previous owner must have forgotten to lock the door. I enter even though a chill runs down my spine upon crossing the sill.
Wow! I can’t help but be impressed. Solid oak floors are what I find under my booted feet…hmm, the pictures had marble tiles throughout. I guess they were replaced for some reason. Everything is covered with dust, yet shockingly not much, considering it’s been empty for years.
“Beautiful. I can’t believe he let this go for only ninety grand.”
As I walk into the foyer, two carved pillars, framing the archway into the next area of the house, grace my sight. How romantic.
The curtain-less windows give me a little light to see, but not enough, I grab my flashlight from my left coat pocket. Damn it’s dark. I should have had the power turned on before this little visit. Walking under the archway the flashlight helps me see better, so I continue on.
Ahead I make out a large spiral staircase that goes up three flights with a landing on the second floor. Shining my light upward, I make the first step when that chill down my spine returns.
I quickly look toward the sound of the voice, to find no one. I know I heard…someone.
“Hello?!” I yell. Waiting, I receive no answer. It was a soft and feminine voice, I’m sure of it. I shine my light every which way yet I find no one. Must be my mind playing tricks on me.
Making my way up the long, spiral stairs, flashing my light all around, I find even in the dark this house is breathtaking. Amazing designs of angelic carvings and antique paintings hang from every wall on my way up. Soon I find myself on the first landing; the long hall that’s lined with floor-to-ceiling sized windows feels both ominous and inviting.
On this level I find silk, cream-colored drapes that hang to the floor. I could tell they have been hanging for many years as they are dusty and yellowing. I continue down the long hall until I come to a green door; turning the knob, I enter. I’m immediately met by a hail of dust. Coughing and waving my hand helps to avoid inhaling the rest.
“Thank God there’s a window here.” I try to open the window but it won’t budge. “Damn.”
Giving up, I walk toward the old hearth and a single chair that sits near it. I guess I know why the door was green. Taking note that the entire room is the same color as the door I entered. Part of the room is illuminated by the daylight streaming in from the window, but the rest is dark. Aiming my light around the walls, I spot another door on the other side of the hearth. I approach and attempt to turn the knob.
“Welcome… who might you be?” Says the same soft, feminine voice I heard earlier. Jumping away in surprise, I drop my flashlight, which I quickly retrieve. The voice is coming from the other side of the door. I wait … and wait, but I don’t hear anything. I press my ear to the door … still I hear nothing. Stepping back, I chuckle.
“Did I say something funny?” she asks in shock.
“Who are you?” I ask the disembodied voice.
“I asked you first, if you recall,” she replies in an annoyed tone.
“I’m Daniel Elliot and I own this house. Excuse me, why are you here? Who are you and where are you?”
“Ah, yes, a very likable name … Daniel. I’m locked in and can’t leave.”
The doorknob starts to jingle. Eyeing it, I step back. “I’m sorry but this is nuts, and clearly I’m nuts for talking to myself. I need to get out of here … like now.”
“Please … don’t leave me. I have to get out before he comes back! I’m being held against my will … please,” she begs. The pleading in her voice stops me.
“How’s it I can hear you as if you are right next to me?” I ask, stepping closer to the door again.
“I’m speaking to your mind … it’s odd, I know, but it’s something I could always do,” she says calmer.
“Odd? Yeah, ’cause that’s the word I’d use. Listen, I’m not doing anything until you tell me who you are? And who is ‘he’?”
“I’m called Dalidah,” she replies.
“Okay, and how’d you get here, telepathic Dalidah?”
“I was put here against my will … only you can free me, Daniel,” she says.
I feel hazy and out of sorts … something’s wrong, I want to open the door … to free her with no more questions asked. My hands move of their own accord, turning the knob. “What the Hell?!” Pulling away, I land flat on my backside.
I feel overheated, my mind still hazy. I pull off my coat and sweater, only my long sleeved black shirt remains, but I feel relief by lightening my burden.
“What did you do to me?!” I yell at the door.
“I don’t know what you mean … I have done nothing. How could I? I’m trapped,” she says, emotions choking her.
Shaking the odd feeling off, I come to my feet. “How would I get you out even if I wanted to? There’s no keyhole … not that I have a key. And what of the past owner … Is it the ‘he’ who put you here?”
I know I should run … everything in me says to run … but what kind of person would I be?
“Please Daniel …”
Grabbing the knob, I turn and pull. Nothing happens. Not that I’m shocked. I try again and again.
“I can’t get it open!”
“It’s held by a stronger force than either of us … believe me, you will never get me out by physical means.”
“What does that mean?” I ask in frustration.
“Simply that you must find another way to release me.”
“Let me think a minute.” I sit in the only chair available. I try to think of what to do. So many thoughts run through my mind. Why would the previous owner sell to me but leave her here to be found? Maybe I’m imagining it all. It’s all so bizarre … Dalidah, this house, the old owner. I really do want to save her; if I had my cell I could call for help. The only other option is to leave and come back with help.
As I am about to do just that, everything is darker … I can no longer see anything. Then, as if they have always been there, I’m surrounded by lit candles, the room all ablaze in firelight.
Jumping out of the chair, I look around. The room looks the same except for all the candles. No, no, no. The window’s gone. I run over to feel the cold wall where it once was. My mind screams to find a way out. The door! It’s also gone!
“What the hell is happening?!” I scream, banging both fists where the door should be. Heart racing, I turn all about the room … and there I see a woman’s figure standing in the far corner. The only part of the room shrouded in shadow.
I walk toward her. “Dalidah?”
Her head is down, but as I get closer, I can see she is watching me. From beneath her waist-length, cold black hair that looks like silky ink, a pale small hand reaches out to me. I don’t take her hand. Something feels wrong. I step back instead.
Her head comes straight up and she steps into the firelight. I can see her eyes now, they are as black as her hair and as cold. Her cream-colored dress hugging her frame, yellowing … much like the curtains from the hall.
“Where are we,” I ask, stepping farther away. “This isn’t the same room … it can’t be.” I look around for a second, my eyes coming to land back on her face.
She smiles, yet it’s sinister, and I know I’ve made a grave mistake in not running fast and far.
“He makes me feed …” she says, stepping closer still.
“No … stay back!” I yell, yet she continues her advance.
“Though I do love the taste of your fear …” Her tongue darts out, licking her lips very slowly as if she can taste my fear on them.
“My father … you met him. He sold you this house, or at least that’s what he made you see. He’s much like me you know … making people see things … so I can … eat.”
She’s so close now and I can no longer move. I can see the hunger in her eyes.
I attempt to run but can’t move. It’s as if my feet are encased in stone. She lays both hands on either side of my face looking into my eyes. I can’t look away no matter how hard I try.
“Please. I was trying to help you.”
She laughs. “You are helping …” Leaning in until I can no longer see her face.
I feel something like hot iron cut through my left shoulder. I grab for her hair, to stop what she’s doing, but to no avail. She grabs my wrist — fire and pain, I can hear the sickening sound … of my severed hand hitting the floor. Ripping, tearing, now my screams only bounce off the walls. The realization that I am dying hits me as she slides me to the floor.
Above I see my own blood dripping from what looks like fangs protruding from her mouth. She slides down my body, continuing the feast. The pain is too much to bear, yet I find the strength to scream one last time. I only wanted a place to call home, to build a family. Now I will never have it.
After you get your breath back, please visit D. L’s website and check out her other work…. https://authordltillery.wixsite.com