“Lukus, you best get up before a varmint gets you.”
Was that Lucius? Lukus rolled over and shined his flashlight in the direction of the voice. “You got me, you old hillbilly.”
“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” A machete flashed across the light beam, and Lucius’ head tumbled on to Lukus stomach. Lukus screamed.
His eyes shot open, and he was lying there on the dusty floor. His flashlight shone into his face. He was tired of tripping around in the dark. Perhaps he would just rest there until morning. He felt a tickle against his leg. It started coming up towards his waist. He could barely make out anything with the aura resulting from looking into the flashlight. Blinking quickly his vision improved. The tickling was up to his side. There beside him, a field mouse was pushing and moving its way up his shirt.
He scrambled to his feet, and the mouse quickly scurried to the baseboard and back towards the parlor. Lukus wiggled with shivers going through him. He did not like mice touching him. Reaching down to pick up his flashlight his boot caught on something. Picking up the light off the floor, he looked at his boot. A rotting piece of floorboard had caused a rut. That is what caused him to fall. It was not some ghost. He raised his flashlight to the shut bathroom door. Lukus tried the doorknob. The knob would not budge. Maybe the door slamming closed jammed the knob. He’d worry about that later.
“Ok, Lukus boy, focus. So far it’s just all mind games. You know that. Lucius probably isn’t even here. I probably scared off some vagrant.”
Lukus gathered his wits again he walked back towards the front door and turned to the room on his left. This place had been the family room at some point in its young life. An upright piano sat on the wall next to the entryway. Lukus could not help himself. He walked to the piano and tried a couple of keys. He could feel the hammers hitting wood instead of strings. Other keys had no hammers at all.
“That’s ashamed. Such a beautiful old piano.”
Shining his light around the room, he caught sight of a couple of old photos sitting in worn brass frames. He walked over and took a look. The first one was of two small children. They appear to be sitting on the front porch. The old porch looked new and freshly painted white. The second photo was of a man and a woman. Lukus guessed it must have been their parents. The picture was odd. Shining his light, and removing dust from the cracked glass, Lukus noticed the woman’s eyes appear to be nothing more than black circles. The photograph seemed to be intact, but for some reason, it did not pick up her eyes.
He carefully put the photos up on top of the old piano. “Somebody should show respect for the people that came before them.” He walked towards the back of the house into the dining room. The room was somewhat vacant. Either vagrants or vandals had long since destroyed the dining room furniture and the china cabinet. Pieces of glass and broken wood covered most floor. Lukus picked his way through the debris and went into the kitchen. As he stepped in, the old linoleum felt soft under his boots. Lukus knew he better be careful where he walked. There was a dusty old electric stove, an alcove where the refrigerator used to be, and a dry sink full of dirt and dead bugs.
Lukus’ flashlight began to flicker. “I must’ve knocked something loose when I dropped it on the floor.” Without panicking, he pulled out his cell phone and turned on the device’s flashlight feature. He smiled to himself, he had forgotten about the compass built into the smartphone. At least he wouldn’t get turned around exploring the old house. He turned off his flashlight and put it in his pocket. It wasn’t dead yet, so it was useful as a backup. The phone flashlight limited what he could see, but it was bright enough to keep him safe. He checked the compass. The front of the house was North, and the back where he was now was South.
A thunderclap rumbled in the distance. Lukus laughed at himself. That was all he needed, a thunderstorm in a haunted house. The next clap of thunder was a little closer. “Lukus oh boy, looks like you’ll get to see more this house faster than you thought.” He stepped further into the kitchen to check the windows. In the far corner was a rusted out kitchenette table. He guessed it had probably been pretty in its younger days. He confirmed all the windows were locked in place. Behind him, he heard a bang. Lukus turned and shined the light through the kitchen. He noticed all the cabinets were open. He didn’t pay any attention when he walked in. He was only concerned with the windows. Another clap of thunder broke the silence and Lukus jumped. He started laughing hard and steadied himself on the kitchenette table. Lukus looked up and began to make his way back through the kitchen, but stopped mid step. Half of the cabinet doors were closed.
He wondered if possibly the rumble of the thunder had somehow caused it, but he knew he was grasping at straws. The rain began to beat on the windows, and the wind started to howl. Lukus wondered how the old house would stand up to such a ferocious storm. Above the din of the rain hitting the windows, he thought he could hear piano music. He made his way towards the kitchen entrance. The rain beat harder, but he was sure he could hear music coming from the other room. He poked his head into the dining room where it was a little quieter. He definitely heard piano music. He stepped back into the kitchen. Perhaps he would just wait here until everything stopped. He turned to head back into the kitchen and almost tripped over his own feet. All the cabinet doors sat closed. That had not been the storm. Swallowing his urge to panic, he quickly stepped into the dining room and stopped. He was between a rock and a hard place. The Prelude on the piano was beautiful and haunting. Lukus could hear the rattling of cabinet doors in the kitchen. He was cornered with nowhere to go. All he could do was to focus and tame the panic he was feeling inside.