Deep in the woods, they said, there’s a living house. A house that looks pristine and inviting, but everything within is alive. The furniture dances, the fires of the candle seem to scream, the faces on the paintings grimace and twitch.
How could I resist?
I left at night, because as we all know, that’s when the ghosties and ghoulies come out. I brought along my water bottle in case I got thirsty, as well as my phone, which provided a torch, a camera and horror movie soundtracks to help me get in the mood for an adventure like this. I was almost certain the house wasn’t real and that I was doing this to prove it, yet what I assumed to be my inner child begged me to believe.
Deeper and deeper I went, trying to ignore the thorns sticking to my jeans, the shit I constantly stepped in, the owls seemingly glaring at me as if they knew what I was trying to do. When I found a clearing, I lay down on the wet grass and took a rest, looking up at the sky. It wasn’t often I did something like this, I thought, I stay indoors too much. After taking a swig of my water, I took off my coat and let the nighttime breeze soothe me. I stay indoors too much, I repeated to myself, too long in a hot room with the windows closed. I forgot about the living house completely…
…until I found myself standing right in front of it. A house among trees and twigs that looked more well-kept than most of the houses in my neighbourhood. A two-storey building painted sky-blue with a crimson roof, with the windowsills on the ground floor sporting flowers.
It was like I had entered a fairytale, as if I had been teleported into the story of Hansel and Gretel and was standing before the witch’s abode. A voice within me demanded I run, but all I could do was stare at it. Stare at the bright walls which seemed to be breathing. Stare at the flowers which bobbed back and forth. Stare at the door which opened on its own accord.
As soon as the door opened, I was sucked inside, and in seconds, there I was, in the hall of the living house. Under the shifting eyes of the paintings, before candles that twisted around, in front of curtains that slowly opened and closed. Though the door was still open and I no longer wore my coat, sweat dripped all over my body, and my stomach felt as if it had been set ablaze.
Again, all I could do was stare.
Even when a painting looked down at me and smiled, I did nothing but stare.
Another door opened, revealing another room, where I swore I saw the shadow of a man against the floral wallpaper. That’s what finally restored my mobility, that’s what made me move into another room in the house.
There stood a man, in front of a squirming sofa, under more twitching paintings, twirling his arms around as if he were conducting a band.
I couldn’t help but ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’
He didn’t answer. He continued to stand there, making strange gestures with his arms.
I asked again.
He cried, ‘Stop moving!’
I told him I wasn’t moving.
He said, ‘You want to be a house? Houses don’t move.’
I asked again, louder.
He lowered his arms.
All I could do was stare.
All I could do was stare as the wallpaper melted away to reveal slimy blue flesh.
As the paintings became actual faces that were part of the walls, and the candles became yellow eyeballs on stalks.
As the sofa transformed into what looked like a squirming tumour fused into the floor.
When the man raised his arms again, restoring the wallpaper and the furniture, I finally found the strength to run, only for the door to slam right in my face.
‘He wants to be a house,’ said the man, ‘and houses need residents.’