The Haunted House

A derelict house casts a long shadow over Lilli’s childhood

Svetlana Smith
The Crystal Palace

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Image by Peter H from Pixabay

There was a haunted house at the end of the road where I grew up. It towered enormous and black in our childhood imaginations, offering a world of wonder and terror. My friends and I would creep past it on the way to school and play in the overgrown gardens during weekends and holidays, as the trees which crowded it creaked above us in the summer breeze. Its ivy smothered walls, cracked windows and tumbling guttering filled our thoughts until it became almost an obsession.

‘I saw a face!’ Molly would sometimes say, gazing up at the old nursery windows. ‘There’s someone in there!’ And we’d pause, staring upwards with mixed feelings. Ellen dreading that she’d see it, Jake hoping he would, and Harry and me, torn between curiosity and fear, not knowing what felt the worse — being left out of the mystery, or having to face the horrors that it might hold. It took us years to work up the courage to finally step inside.

Afterwards, when it was all over, I was plagued by nightmares. I’d see the figure looming over me again and again. People who I knew in real life — my parents, my teachers, the bloke from number 1 — would turn into demons and chase me with knives and guns. I’d run, but doors would slam in my face, keys would turn in locks and disappear, walls would grow…

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Svetlana Smith
The Crystal Palace

Editor of The Crystal Palace. Writes short stories, mostly about relationships — between friends, siblings, lovers — but with the odd folk horror for fun.