Laura James’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Behind Closed Doors
Ashley couldn’t remember ever being told the history of the house over the street but it had been empty for as long as she had lived. As a child she had been fascinated by the red shutters that enclosed the front, not a single door like the rest on the street. She had no memory of a warning but when playing the children never went near the empty house.
No one talked about it unlike the other abandoned house in the village that they lived. Each of them had stories attached, like number 45 - that was the house where a fire had gutted the inside preserving the exterior as an empty shell, or the house on the hill where the old lord of the village had killed his wife then hung himself from the rafters. These houses and others were always full of children searching for ghosts or just playing in the ruins.
The house across the street from Ashley was never talked about or even referenced. Any questions she had about it were deflected and left unanswered. It became her secret house, the place where she spent her sleeping hours dancing at balls, entertaining guests or sitting by roaring fires while those around her told tales of mystery.
As she got older the house became an obsession and she had to find out why it was abandoned. A close nit community, the villagers wouldn’t talk of it and she took to visiting the library to see if its history was recorded. No amount of searching of old files and planning requests revealed where the house came from.
Newspaper articles made no mention of it, estate agents had no record of ever selling the house, no bank held the deeds for the house, no will had bequeathed the house to a living soul. Rather that put her off it made Ashley more determined to find out the history of the house one way or another. She would travel to near by villages to see if anyone there would share insights but she was out of luck, the same wall of silence met her questions and searches.
She had no other choice but to enter the house, see if she could find out the secrets that kept a whole community in denial of its existence. With only curiosity in her heart she set off up the drive to the house, approaching the marvellous doors that had peaked her interest as a small child. As always they were closed and the once vivid red was faded and patchy.
Ashely ran her hands over the shutters, something she had imagined doing more than once but unlike in her imagination the act of touching the doors didn’t cause them to open. She would have to find another way to enter. Walking round the side of the building she discovered no other entrance way, the windows were to high in the walls to be forced open and no back door was evident.
Making her way back to the front she wondered if she could force the lock and see if that would allow her to push her way in. The lock didn’t look very sturdy but held the shutters in place, no amount of kicking, pushing or pounding made any difference. Sliding to the ground Ashley lent back eyes closed. It was becoming clear that she would never gain entry, the secrets of the house would remain hidden forever.
With her eyes closed she didn’t see a shutter move. Didn’t see the way it opened. Didn’t see the hands that reached out. Ashley screamed as the house welcomed her and revealed the secret of why no one dared ask question of the house with red shutters.
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Based in Dunfermline, Scotland, Laura is obsessed with all things horror and spends her time writing flash fiction which she hopes, on occasion, really scares her readers. Feel free to stalk her on twitter, @lejamez