I’ve dreamt of this house before, and often, it’s terrifying.
It has a third floor we never go to because things follow us down from up there. It also kind of closes in on you, and the doors lock by themselves, and the sounds start coming at you from across the room…the footsteps of unseen children, shuttling past you, the blasts of cold air, and the shadows creeping toward you from corners. The air is stuffy up there.
Last night, we were upstairs, looking through piles of boxes and trying to find the light switches that operated the floor lighting and the ambient directional lights installed between the trusses. I could feel the things watching me from inside the walls. I could sense them holding their dead breaths, waiting for me to be alone up there so they could reach out with pale, limp hands that would clench like a vice around my throat and yank me to the wall, holding me there until the breath was snuffed out of my body. Then I would join them in the wall, watching the family in the house below, and thumping on the floor to make them come investigate.
But I wasn’t alone! Not this time! Neil Gaiman (my International Literary Boyfriend) was there, and he knows about things that live in walls. And then he turned into my friend Ferlak, and we found a box of D&D stuff, and a microphone, and then the floor opened up, making the third floor a kind of loft-thing, and my aunt had replaced Ferlak, and she was Looking for Something, and when she Looks for Something, she’s Very Serious about it. So she poked around in between the boxes and piles of coat-hangers and dusty trunks, and eventually she found a photo album.
“This will have photos of the people we need to find out about,” she told me.
We sat on a stair and looked through the album, and learned that the dead people living in our attic were children whose souls had been consumed by the clowns that flattened themselves into the children’s blankets and smothered them in their sleep, and that the last sound the children heard was the rasping clatter of the clowns’ teeth as they ground together in anticipation of another lovely young soul.
In the end, though, we packed everything back up and sat downstairs with some beer and some popcorn. I still don’t think I’ll go up there alone.