The past lays heavily on this house. A rambling, Victorian style manor in an area that used to be well outside of any city, but has recently been surrounded by suburban homes. The grounds are still untouched, as the current owner of the place refuses to even consider the increasingly generous offers of various bidders. They are just looking to claim that wild forty acres, bulldoze it, and build something sensible and ordinary in the spot.
Which would be a shame, since there is something uncanny there. A mystery aching to be solved, a story to be set free. Who will venture in?
Walking into the old, unloved, house was like stepping into a dream. The gray of dust and cobwebs evenly coated every surface, and muffled the steps of the intruder. A bowl of fruit had been spilled off the hall table, and while the soft skinned grapes had left behind only a stem, the oranges and apples still seemed intact until nudged by a careless foot. Then they popped like soap bubbles, collapsing into more dust after breathing the smell of summers past into the mote strewn air.
Gray and more gray greeted the eye, the further the house was penetrated. Teasing snippets of distant conversation could be heard, never near at hand, but always in a room within reach of running steps. Bedrooms with rumpled sheets, a study that vibrated in the bones, a bathroom with facilities dry and empty, then a library with unreadable books and an ominous feeling around a tangle of climbing roses that had overtaken all the windows.
Retreating from the thirsting plants meant stepping back into the dust choked air of the hallway, with the unmarked carpet of shed particles stretching in both directions. But how was it unmarred? Had the dust covered the footprints already? Impossible!
Panicked now. Scuffed the dust up deliberately to mark the library doors, then turned back to see it flat once more. Breathing was more difficult, with the dust in the air, even though it never left the carpet. A turn, the stairs, and perhaps the way out?
No, they lead to a huge room, a ballroom? The windows were cloudy with moisture, and little light streamed through. The floor was not exactly empty, though the space echoed with whispers of parties long past. In the middle, a bier with an open casket, flanked with bat-winged statues cloaked in shadow and holey cloth.
The voices were stronger there. One asked the other, understandable for the first time, "Is this the one?"
"Just a foolish intruder."
"If I could move, I'd--"
"We can't, so we wait. Wait for the day she wakes."
"Depart, little soul. Hurry, before the ants finish you too."
"Brother, we can't be heard..."
"Yet the rushing feeling! Perhaps we were heard this time."
The doors burst open with yet more dust, showing a dining room with food rotten on the plates and mold in the glasses. Beyond, the entrance hallway and a form laying stretched out in the disturbed, desiccated fruit.
At last! Here the dust was kicked up, scattered, flung by... the convulsing figure, with a face usually only seen in a mirror?
How then? How to wander like a ghost, haunting heartless halls, and return before death is certain? How to gather up the flesh and walk as a human again? Instinct was best, and tragedy averted, though memory was necessarily muddled by the act.
The house waits still. Waits for the one that will wake her, and release the brothers that stand vigil. Waits for more lives to be sacrificed, more pain, but most of all, to be loved again.
Time and space are tricky within those walls. Entering together is no guarantee of company throughout. Someone might believe they have been in the house for hours, or even days, but encounter a person that saw them enter mere minutes ago, and loose track of them in the blink of an eye. There are guides to be had, if one can trust them. Visions of the distant past, of demons and deities, monsters and martyrs, whispers and whimpers, and some things that are not just tantalizing illusions.