I made it to out house with no trouble after the stranger danger incident. Our ‘new’ house stood on the corner of 5th and Fleet St in a quiet suburb. Unlike most houses, which faced one way or another, the person who had built our house had made it so the porch steps faced both of the streets at the same time. Oh, but the oddness didn’t end there! The house was built in a quasi Victorian style that the realtor claimed had been extremely controversial in the 1800s, due to the mayor at the time wanting to portray a certain image of Bedford.
At first, I’d wondered why anyone would get up in arms about a boring old Victorian, I mean they’re as traditional as they come, right? Of course, that all changed after we saw the house up close and personal. Mom had been so eager to find a house for us that she’d jumped on the first cheap thing she found. Of course she’d ignored the small notes about the place’s history, of course she didn’t find anything odd with the realtors lack of pictures. She was a writer, so stuff just sometimes didn’t worry her. Fortunately, my brother Nick and I were prepared for anything weird, and weird is what we got.
‘The Caraway House’ had the shape of a normal Victorian, but it had… Add-ons. A large metal doodad that resembled a birdcage sat squarely in the middle of the roof as if it were standing guard. On the upstairs windows there were small patterns of what looked suspiciously like Nordic runes inlaid in the window panes; Further back on the roof, was a weathervane that must have been rusted in place or something, because it only pointed north in the direction of the forest. Of course, the weathervane was of some weird half-goat man thing that was smoking a gigantic pipe. Mom had excitedly identified the thing as a Phooka (The goat man, not the pipe). On top of that, there was a small building that was a few feet away from the kitchen door. The building would have been pretty uninteresting if not for the fact that phrases were written over the door and under each window in what I could only assume was Latin. It looked as if it had been a stable at some point then had been converted into a guesthouse. It was now my Mom’ office.
The inside of the house was in fairly good condition, but there was something subtly off about the interior. Sure, the house wasn’t small, but the inside gave the impression that it was far bigger than it should have been. My brother Nick, who sees everything but says nothing, commented on it. He had noticed another odd thing about the house that I hadn’t even thought to look for. All of the bedroom’s corners made a hexagram. Who the heck had owned this place before us? Some sort of cult?
I dropped my bag off in my room and went to check on my mom who was engrossed in her work, as usual. She was a tall, solidly built African-American woman who loved to wear long dresses. She was a child of the 80s but somewhere along the line, she’d taken a stop in international fashion and the rest was history. Her skin was a dark mocha unlike mine. As she put it, I was more of a dark caramel. Which made no sense whatsoever, because dad had been just as dark as she was. Even Nick had dark skin. I shoved aside the irony of being a genetic throwback and tapped mom on the shoulder.
“Did you eat anything today?”
Mom jumped in surprise, she had just noticed that she wasn’t alone. Even though I’d slammed the door repeatedly and clomped loudly to her side. She was wearing her plain blue Yukata and nothing else, by the look of it, judging by how dirty her feet were, she hadn’t bothered with shoes either.
“Oh, what?” she tugged on one of her many braids, which she had decided to wear in a high ponytail.
“Mom, have you eaten today?”
“Yeah, two granola bars, “ she said as she yawned and leaned backwards, kneading her temples. Oh well, she’d eaten today and that was something.
“Ok, when are you starting dinner? It’s 8:30 already.”
“Oh crap,” she groaned as she looked at the clock on her computer, which made you wonder how she didn’t notice the time earlier, and grouched, “Why didn’t you come and tell me earlier, Ad? You know how I get when I start writing,”
“Sorry, guess time got away from me.” Mystery guy’s smirking face came to mind and I couldn’t stop another blush from spreading across my cheeks. Not that his kiss had meant anything. He was just some freak, a freak that knew where I lived, even though we’d only been in town for a week or so…
Mom made a quick dinner of leftover turkey, vegetables, and curry powder. Not that it matters really, the really interesting part of our dinner was the stuff mom had to tell us about the house.
Back in 1860, there had been a huge fire that had almost destroyed more than half of Bedford. Whole neighborhoods had burned to almost nothing, but guess which house hadn’t been touched? That’s right, The Caraway House. A priest who had witnessed it back in the day had even said that during the fires, the house had seemed to ‘glow with an unholy light that looked almost as if it were cast by the Devil himself’ creepy, right? Well after she had read the stuff about the fire, she had dug a little deeper for information about the original owner.
Alexander Caraway had been accused of being a Satanist by the town. He had conducted ‘unholy perversions of science’ in his study, which as we had figured out, is where my bedroom is now. None of the records she’d found had detailed exactly what these perversions were but simply went on to give accounts of the weird things people had heard coming from the house at all hours. Heavy pounding, shrieks, ringing bells, and once, someone had heard a maniacal laugh that had echoed through the whole neighborhood. But, we were fully prepared to deal with whatever it was. We had seen the Haunting in Connecticut, after all.
We called it a night and went our separate ways. I wasn’t religious, but I sure wished I had a crucifix or something on me right then. I quickly changed into my pajamas and jumped into my bed. I took a cautious look around the room, and then reached for the lamp.
The room went pitch black.
It must have been around midnight when I woke up again. I lay there for a moment, still a bit fuzzy from sleep, when I heard it.
The slow exhale and inhale of something breathing.
I froze, and listened to it for a moment. It wasn’t very far from me, in fact, it sounded like it was coming from the end of the bed. Gathering my courage and hoping it wasn’t some burned kid or desecrated dead guy, I lifted the cover from over my head and looked. Something was perched there; I swallowed hard and was on the verge of panicking but a weird thought occurred to me. If the thing hadn’t done anything while I was sleeping, then it probably wasn’t going to do anything now. The thing and I stared at each other for a moment. I was tempted to reach for the lamp, but for all I knew, it might have driven the thing into a blind rage.
“Hello, you’re not here to maul me, are you?”
Whatever it was, it wasn’t very big. It looked almost human, but its fingers were impossibly long. It scratched its head with a long finger and just stared at me some more. I looked right back at it, about ready to scream bloody murder.
“Are you the new master?” It’s voice was like dried leaves crunching under foot. The sound barely rose above a whisper.
“What do you mean?”
“The master, are you the new master of the house?”
“No, that would be mom, if anyone…” Well, this proves it; Caraway was definitely off into something involving the supernatural. Oddly enough, whatever this thing was it didn’t give off any bad vibes, so I relaxed. Just watch. It was probably waiting for me to do that so it could rip off my face.
“She can’t hear me, nor can the boy. Are you the new master?” The thing, out of all the possible things it could have done, wringed its’ hands like a worrying housewife, as if this answer were a life or death thing.
“Well, I guess I am. Answer me this though.”
“Anything, miss,” said the black thing on the end of my bed. It sounded eager. Was it eager for blood or to help, though?
“Was Caraway a bad guy? Was he into evil things?” The thing shook it’s head so hard that it almost fell off the bed.
“No, Miss! Caraway was a good man, a kind man, he took good care of Nanig and his poor old mam, and lords bless her!” The thing, whose name I was guessing was Nanig, jumped up and down excitedly and waved its’ hands in the air.
“He did wonderful things! Right here in this room, he did! He was a good man, a great man!”
“Ok, thanks...Nanig, right? “ I got another earnest nod spasm in response. “ What was he? What are you, for that matter?” Don’t ask me why I was being so calm about this. I really have no idea. Maybe I would go into shock from all of the weirdness soon.
“ I am a Brownie, miss. Mr. Caraway was a caster just like you.”