5 THE ATTIC DOOR  

jasonabadboy4u 30M
48 posts
6/11/2006 3:53 am
5 THE ATTIC DOOR

5 THE ATTIC DOOR
She pushed open the creaking, cast-iron gate in the fence that surrounded the house. It banged shut behind her as she walked up to the front door. Thick clumps of lilacs hung over the doorway; the air was laden with their suffocating sweet odor. Heather lifted the heavy brass knocker and then let it fall. A hollow thump echoed inside the house. A few seconds later, the door opened. "Heather, it is you, isn't it? You're so grown up, I hardly recognize you." Then she was smothered in the lilac-perfumed embrace of her aunt. "Hello, Aunt Harriet." "Come inside, dear, out of this humidity. The house always stays cool inside." Heather followed her aunt into a large, dark hallway that was as cool as an underground cave. "Here you are, finally visiting me after sixteen years. How was your train ride?" But Aunt Harriet didn't wait for an answer; she chattered on. "I've been after your father to let you come for years. Well, it isn't any secret that your father didn't like my husband, is it? But now that dear Arthur has been dead for four years . . ." Aunt Harriet paused and then sighed. "It has been four long since Arthur killed himself." Heather stared down at her feet. She didn't know what to say. Her mother had warned her that Aunt Harriet might be a little strange. She was right. "This is an enormous house, Aunt Harriet," Heather finally said. "I'll take you on a tour once you've had time to unpack. Now you must want to see your bedroom." "see your bedroom," a strange voice croaked out. "Who was that?" Heather asked uneasily. Aunt Harriet laughed her high, tittering laugh and walked over to the end of the hallway. She pulled off a green, velvet cover, revealing a large parrot in a cage. "That was Polly, wasn't it, Polly?" Aunt Harriet made bird noises to the parrot. Heather didn't go over to the bird cage. She hated parrots. "Aunt Harriet, I think I'll go to my room now. If you could show me where it is. . . ." "Of course, Heather. . . . I'll be right back, Polly." Aunt Harriet led the way up a curved flight of stairs leading to the second floor. She walked down to the room at the end of the hall. "Here is your room, Heather. I hope you like it. It used to be my sitting room for my baby when I was first married." Heather peeked inside. The entire room was done in lilac. The bedspread was bright lilac; the wallpaper was a design of pale lilac flowers on white. Even the furniture had been painted lilac. "Oh, Aunt Harriet." That was all Heather could think of to say. "You get yourself settled in, Heather dear. Then come down and we'll have tea together." Twenty minutes later, Heather came down the curving staircase to join her aunt for tea. Aunt Harriet was waiting in a sun-lit room off the main hallway. Tea and cheese cake were already sitting on a small table by the sofa. "Have some of my delicious cheese cake, Heather. It's so nice for me to have company. Polly and I have to eat alone, usually, don't we, Polly?" "Alone," croaked Polly. Heather saw that the parrot's cage had been set by the window. Heather ate some of the cheese cake and sipped her tea. Her eyes slowly surveyed the room. The furnishings were very old-fashioned. The lamps had crystal beads hanging from the shades. Old velvet cloths edged with fringe were thrown over the chairs. Little statues and nicknacks and pictures were everywhere. One picture, in particular, caught Heather's eyes. "Is that my cousin Herman?" she asked. Aunt Harriet made a choking sound in her throat. "I'm sorry, Aunt Harriet; that was rude of me." Heather blushed. She knew that Aunt Harriet must feel awful about losing her only son Herman when he was so young. And Uncle Arthur had killed himself just a month later. Heather tried to make up for upsetting her aunt. "You know, Aunt Harriet, I always wished I had known Herman. We were born in the same year. I cried when I heard that he had died -- even though I had never met him." Aunt Harriet had regained her composure. "Yes dear, that is a picture of Herman. Now, let's not talk about the past. I want to show you the house." Heather followed her aunt out of the room and into the dark hallway again. "First, I want to show you your Uncle Arthur's study and laboratory. Arthur was a great scientist, you know. He was just ahead of his time. The people at the university were jealous of his superiority. That was the only reason he had to leave and carry on his experiments at home." They had walked into a huge book-lined room. Heather looked around it in awe. So this was where Uncle Arthur worked. She had always known he was a scientist. But her father refused to talk about his work. She knew there had been some sort of scandal and Uncle Arthur had been dismissed from his university post. "And through this door," Aunt Harriet said as she walked on, "Is his laboratory." The next room was even more awesome. It was filled with labeled jars of chemicals, test tubes, and other scientific equipment. "Just what did Uncle Arthur study?' Heather asked. "He was a biologist, a great biologist," Aunt Harriet said in a reverent tone. "He studied human mutations." "Oh," Heather said. She looked around the walls. There were pictures of apes and monkeys hanging beside photographs of naked human bodies. "You understand, don't you, Heather, that you mustn't touch anything in these two rooms. They are a monument to my husband's greatness. Some day science will come to understand his genius. These rooms must be preserved exactly as they are." "Yes, Aunt Harriet," Heather said as she followed her aunt back through the study and into the hallway again. "The rest of the house you can explore on your own, Heather," Aunt Harriet said. "But I want to make one thing very clear to you," Aunt Harriet's voice hardened, "I never want you to go up into the attic. Do you understand that?" "Do you understand that?" the parrot mimicked from the next room. "I'm very serious, Heather. Never open the door that leads to the attic. Or you'll be sorry." "You'll be sorry," Polly croaked out. Heather felt a strange sensation come over her. "I understand, Aunt Harriet," she promised. Later that night, Heather was in her room. The room didn't offer much in accommodations, but at least it did have it's own private bathroom. So Heather decided to take a shower before going to bed. While in the shower, Heather was thinking about how much she might enjoy her visit with Aunt Harriet after all. Suddenly, she had the creepy sensation that someone was watching her. She covered her bare chest with one arm and pulled the curtain shower back with the other. And to her horror saw a figure in the fogged up cabinet mirror. She shrieked. Heather quickly got out of the shower an ran into the bedroom, just in time to see the door creaking ajar. Just then, her Aunt Harriet came budging in. Heather could only gasp in embarrassment. For she was standing there still completely nude. "Are you all right dear? I heard you scream and came as fast as I could," Aunt Harriet asked her. "Oh, Yes," Heather replied slowly. "I saw a spider in the shower sink." She quickly fibbed, not wanting to upset her Aunt Harriet. Aunt Harriet surveyed her up and down with her eyes. "Don't be ashamed dear." Aunt Harriet told her." "Your body is nothing to be ashamed of. The human body is the most beautiful creation." Then with that said, Aunt Harriet left the room, shutting the door behind her. But Heather didn't feel ashamed, she felt violated. She felt like her privacy had just shattered into a billion pieces. Heather spent the next days wandering about the house, leafing through the old books she found, and sitting out in the garden at night with her aunt. Aunt Harriet asked a lot of questions about Heather's father and mother. But she changed the subject whenever Heather asked more about her cousin Herman. The time passed pleasantly enough for Heather, but after a few days she became restless. There was no one else to talk to but Aunt Harriet. Heather was ready for something to break the tedium. The fourth day she was there, Aunt Harriet announced that she was going to a friend's house for afternoon tea. Heather could come along if she wanted. Heather thought it over and decided she would probably be bored. She told her aunt she would stay home by herself, perhaps go out into the garden and read a book from the Zodiac Chillers series. When her aunt left, Heather went up to her room and tried to read the novel she had brought along. But the novel didn't interest her. After a few minutes, she slammed the book shut. She got up and went out into the hallway. There was nothing she could think of to do. Her vacation had turned out to be a disappointment. As she walked down the hallway, she passed the door that she knew led up to the attic. She paused in front of it. Aunt Harriet had acted very strangely about her going into the attic. Heather wondered what could be up there . . . Probably a lot of old clothes that Aunt Harriet didn't want her to get into. Or maybe there were other family photographs that her aunt didn't want to have to talk about. Heather put her hand on the doorknob. To her surprise, it turned. But then she took her hand away. Aunt Harriet had warned her, almost threatened her, not to go up there. She started to walk away. But her curiosity about the attic made her stop. Aunt Harriet was a little crazy. There was probably no reason in the world why she shouldn't go up into the attic. Making up her mind, Heather put her hand on the doorknob again and turned it. As she pushed the door open, it stuck for a moment, but then swung open. A short flight of stairs led up to the attic. Heather walked up them slowly. As her eyes reached the level of the attic floor, she saw something that brought her to a dead halt. She stared at the thing -- the half human, half animal thing staring back at her. Then she let out an awful scream and scrambled back down the attic stairs. Heather felt sick. She couldn't believe what she had just seen. It didn't make any sense -- it was some monstrous, living thing such as she had never before seen. She pushed open the attic door an ran to the stairway. Then she heard what she had feared. Steps were coming down the attic stairs behind her -- the pounding steps of that thing. For a moment, Heather's knees gave out. She tried to run away as she saw the thing come onto the hall landing, but she couldn't. The awful creature came nearer her. It reached out a fur-covered arm. Heather ran. She ran down the steps, nearly falling. The thing came after her. She could hear it making short, snorting sounds as it breathed. Heather ran into the living room. Then she realized in a second that there was no way out of the room. She dashed for the door again, just barely missing the thing's outstretched arm. She ran down the hallway to the kitchen. The thing lumbered after her. She tried to get its face out of her mind. It was the face--the strangely human face--that bothered her most. She ran through the kitchen to the back door to the garden. Too late, she realized that the garden, also, was a dead end. Heather pressed her back up against the stone garden wall. The thing came out of the back door and shuffled toward her. She saw its horrid face spread wide in a smile. She screamed and darted to one side. Again, she just escaped its outstretched arm. But now it was close behind her. Heather ran through the kitchen and into the hallway. But she didn't make it to the front door. She stumbled and fell. The thing came up and stood over Heather. It reached its furry arm down to her and tapped her on the head. "Tag, you're it," it said in a human voice. "Tag, you're it," the parrot croaked from its cage. Heather fainted. When she came to, the thing's face was still hovering over her. But beside it was Aunt Harriet's face. "Heather, you naughty girl. What did I tell you about going into the attic? I said you would be sorry." Aunt Harriet was shaking her finger at heather. "You've got poor Herman all nervous now." "Poor Herman," the parrot repeated. "Yes, poor Herman," Aunt Harriet said, stroking her son's fur covered head. "He has never been the same since Arthur's last experiment." Then Aunt Harriet looked down at Heather again. "You do realize Heather, that we can't let you go now. Not now that you know our secret. I'll call your parents and tell them that you never arrived here. And we can arrange a nice room for her in the attic, right next to Herman's, Can't we Herman?" Heather looked up into her mad Aunt's face. Then she looked at her cousin. An eager grin was spread across Herman's ghastly face. "You'll be very happy here with us, Heather," Aunt Harriet said. "Very happy," the parrot croaked. Heather screamed. And then she fainted away into darkness again. Herman picked up her limp body and started carrying it up the staircase to the Attic Door.


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