They walked towards the house, as it began to rain. Behind them, the remains of their car burnt mildly, until the rain put out the fire. Cynthia looked at Sam and then at the house. They were stranded, but the house didn’t seem like an option she should take.
The house stood a few feet off the road. It stood tall, casting an imposing shadow on the trees that stood to its right.
Lightning struck and lit up the house for a second. Cynthia grabbed onto Sam’s hand. The vines that curled around the house scared her.
“I don’t like the feel of this place,” Cynthia said.
Sam looked at her and saw the fear in her eyes. He smiled.
“There’s no need to fear,” he replied. He tried to assure her that she was safe.
The last house they saw was more than four miles back and the road ahead looked deserted. Their only shelter from the rain was in the house they now stared at.
Sam dragged the bags as he continued toward the house. Cynthia tagged along unwillingly. In the house, a light appeared at the top window. It lingered for a minute, and then it disappeared.
“Someone is home,” Sam said.
Cynthia looked at Sam, then at the house and back at Sam. The light appeared by the window a second time, and Sam could see the frame of a woman. He tried to wave at her, but the light disappeared again.
The stairs creaked as Sam and Cynthia climbed to the front door. Sam knocked on the door while Cynthia looked around them.
By the northern side of the house, Cynthia saw a swing move up and down as if someone sat on it. Lightning struck and Cynthia saw a child on the swing. The child stared at her.
“Sam!” Cynthia gasped.
The door swung open, and Cynthia turned to see a woman standing by it. She stood, holding a lamp in her hand and staring at them. Her hair was gray, and her left eye was a mass ball of white tissue. Cynthia stared at the woman. The woman smiled coldly, revealing a set of brown teeth.
“Welcome to Half Souls Inn,” the woman announced.
She shifted to her side, giving Cynthia and Sam room to walk in. Cynthia looked back at the swing but couldn’t find it. The swing was gone. In its place was a pool of water. Cynthia stared at it in fear. She failed to notice the time pass.
Sam called Cynthia a second time before she realized they were waiting for her. The woman stared at her calmly. Cynthia looked at Sam, then at the road. The rain was becoming heavy. She hesitated for a moment, then sighed and stepped into the house. The woman closed the door.
Inside the house, the woman walked with them to the desk that stood by the stairs. The interior of the house looked a bit pretty. Sam looked at Cynthia and smiled. She smiled back weakly. The woman explained that their electricity supply had a little problem but would soon be fixed. Sam had no problem with that. He just needed a place to rest his head and change into some dry clothes. By the morning of the next day, they would be on their way home.
Cynthia looked around her. Lamps hung on the walls and up the stairs. Underneath each lamp, she saw the portrait of people hanging in frames. Beside her, Sam reached into his pocket and drew out his wallet. He fished inside it for the amount required and paid the woman. As the woman handed the key to Sam, Cynthia saw the people in the picture look at them.
“Oh God!” Cynthia gasped, as she turned towards Sam, grabbing his arm. The woman stared at her coldly. Cynthia wanted to get out of the house, but Sam would not move.
“Come on, it was just the light casting shadows,” Sam said as they climbed the stairs.
The woman walked before them, as she escorted them to their room. Behind her, Cynthia tried to control her fear.
At their door, the woman asked if they would need anything. Sam said they were fine. The woman nodded in understanding, and then descended the stairs.
Sam gently closed the door and turned to look at the room. The room didn’t look bad. Aside the bed, there was a table by the wall and a lamp on it. The bed was well made and the sheets were clean. Cynthia stood by the wall, with her arms wrapped around her. Sam smiled at her. With time, she would see that there is nothing to fear.
Cynthia saw that Sam’s mind was made up. She walked towards the bathroom, to take a look at it, while Sam threw the bag on the bed and opened it.
“Sweet,” Sam called from the room. “I seem to have forgotten my bath bag downstairs.”
Cynthia rushed out of the bathroom as Sam closed the door and descended the stairs. She walked to the door and pulled it open. She was not going to stay alone in the room.
Instead of the stairs, a brick wall stood before Cynthia. She stepped back into the room, looking around her. A portrait hung on the wall, by the bed. The woman in it stared directly at her. Cynthia stepped to her right and watched the woman’s stare move with her. Terrified, she walked backward, further into the room. The woman still stared at her.
Cynthia stopped. Someone stood behind her. On her shoulder, a drop of blood fell, followed by two more. She slowly turned around.
Her terrified scream never left her lips. Cynthia fell to the ground, a pile of charred flesh. On the stairs, a new painting appeared with Cynthia’s face on it.
Downstairs, Sam stood confused. The reception hall was no more. He stood in a hallway longer than the house could possibly accommodate. Down the hallway, a baby cried from one of the rooms within the house.
“Hello!” Sam called as he walked down the hallway, toward the cry.
Along the hallway, Sam found vacant rooms with open doors and blood-stained walls. The cry of the baby became louder. He got to the room and found it open too. Inside the room, a woman attended to the baby. She turned and stared at Sam coldly. Sam apologized for intruding and almost turned back into the hallway. He noticed blood drip down the woman’s neck and looked closely.
“Is everything alright,” Sam asked as he stepped into the room. A chair stood in his way. He bent down and shifted it to the side, then stood erect to look at the woman. The woman and the baby were gone.
Sam walked further into the room, confused. He turned back towards the door and gasped. The woman stood before him, with the baby in her arms. The door slammed shut. Sam looked at the door, then at her. She looked up from the baby to Sam’s face and smiled coldly.
“You belong to us, now.”
The lamp in the room went off.