Cleansing. Short Story.

“So this is where it happened, huh?” Debra took a deep breath, the air was clean enough, but it was still there at the edge of it, the smell of human sweat, of blood and waste. Faint enough that had you not been looking for it, you wouldn’t really notice. Ben nodded, “Yeah, few months back. It’s been released and cleaned.”
Debra smiled, “good thing for us they did a good enough job.”

The police tape had still be strung across the door when they arrived, no one had been to this place in months, no one would return for years. Thrill seekers usually can’t wait to break into places like this, but sometimes they stayed away. Not for any conscious reason, life would just seem to get in the way, too busy with school or work or a thousand other humdrum things. It was their withered sense of survival, in the back of their minds they knew that it wasn’t safe. Not even the dulling powers of liquor or drugs could defeat that small tiny voice. Oh sure they’d still go somewhere else, somewhere something awful had happened, an old house, a decrepit building that had some terrifying back-story, when in reality it was the home of Mrs. June Bronson who baked pies for the neighbour children. Those places were all up for grabs, places to explore with the idea of danger just creeping about. Of course there were still dangerous places, hospitals, asylums and the like, but for the most part the energy had drained away over the years. Sure you might catch a glimpse of a ghostly spectre, but it was unlikely to reach out and try to rip your soul from your body, or worse. Debra looked around the room, she didn’t know who exactly had cleaned up and that made her a little nervous. Normally places like this sat and rotted the stains becoming permanent until the structure was razed to the ground and another was built in its place. Even then it wasn’t enough to dispel the energy, it would still linger in the air, a thick miasma wrapping itself around the unlucky occupants.

There was something here, Debra could feel it in the air, in the way her skin tingled and the slight increase in her heartbeat. Ben was in another room, trying to get a feel for the layout. Debra spun in a slow circle, illuminating the dark room, looking into the corners, dispelling the shadows. When she completed her circle she paused and listened, the faint creak of Ben moving above her, the groan of the settling building and underneath that, a faint scream, so faint she could just barely hear it. Had she been a group of kids, or anyone else for that matter, they wouldn’t have noticed, they would have felt it though, that jolt of electricity, the warning of danger, the growing fear and uneasiness. That bastard was still here and eventually, no matter what their instincts told them, people would come, ignoring that little voice in the hopes of a cheap thrill, which is all the lucky ones would get. Those who were unlucky, those attuned to it or those alone would find themselves in much worse predicaments. The building was a good distance from anywhere, no one to hear the screams, no one to search. There would be hundreds of little cubby holes where it could shoves its victims. Some it would kill, others it would release, allowing them to go free into the world where they would slowly devolve becoming something almost as bad as their creator. This one was strong, but she had faced stronger. Twelve people had died here, thirteen if you counted the killer himself, head blown clean off. That was a small mercy, any remaining spirit would be confused, not at full strength for at least six months. Something whispered in the darkness behind her, Debra turned slowly, keeping her heart beat slow. There was nothing there. “Ben?”
No answer. She shook her head, she hated places that could dampen sound. He had been heading upstairs.

Debra climbed the stairs carefully, they were worn and she could feel them sagging under her weight. At the top of the stairs she paused, there was a long hallway and four doorways leading off it. “Ben?” Debra started walking down the hallway, at each doorway she paused and shined her light inside, searching for any sign of him. Each room was empty. At the end of the hallway she looked back, the hall had stretched, the stairs seeming to be further away than when she started. Perhaps he had gone outside.

Downstairs again Debra released the breath she had been holding on the stairs. There was still no sign of Ben. He had probably gone out to the car to grab some equipment, it wouldn’t be the first time he had done so without warning her. This time they would have a very serious discussion about it. She turned the handle on the door, it twisted uselessly in her hands. Great. She tried it once more and hoping that the door had simply stopped working due to age she made her way through the dark rooms to the kitchen. She didn’t bother trying the door here, it had been padlocked shut. Even better. They hadn’t checked the exits. Stupid, sloppy.
“Deb?”
“Ben?”
“Yeah, where are you?”
“The kitchen, were you out at the car?”
“No, I was upstairs.”
She heard him coming towards her, “The front door is broken, we’re going to have to go out through a window.”
“Ok, I need to pick up some supplies, I think this is worse than we thought.”

The sound of footsteps entered the kitchen, but nothing else.
“Ben?”
“Where are you?”
“By the backdoor.”
“No you’re not. I can’t see you.”
A thin sheen of sweat broke out across her forehead, “Ben, quickly, go try the front door.”
She heard someone jog out to the hall, “It’s fine.”
“Shit.”

Something shifted in the shadows to her left, she whirled around, shining her light on it, nothing was there.
“I’m going to call in for help.”
“Hurry, I don’t know how long I have”

There was a low chuckle, just barely audible, Debra shivered, a bead of sweat made its way down her spine. Something heavy landed on her shoulder, gripping it tightly, Debra barely managed to contain the shriek as she spun around. Nothing was there. Something stabbed into the small of her back, something hot and thin, the air was suddenly gone from the room, she couldn’t scream, couldn’t make a noise. The shadows around her grew, enveloping her.

Debra walked out of the building a moment later, Ben was in the car on his phone, he got out as soon as he saw her, “What happened?”
“I think it used up most of its energy transporting me, it couldn’t hold me for long.”
“Is it still in there?”
“Yeah, I think so. We should do a cleansing quickly, while it’s still weak.”
Ben nodded and grabbed a large bag from the car.

Debra lay on the floor of the kitchen, struggling to breathe, she felt faint, light headed. She winced as a flash of bright light filled the kitchen, somewhere she could hear chanting. She pulled herself to her feet and stumbled forward into the hall. Another flash of light, she could feel the heat of it on her skin. As she moved towards the front of the house the chanting became louder, it sounded familiar, she couldn’t quite make out the words, but she knew the voices, the cadences. It was Ben and entwined with his voice was her own. No. She reached out and opened the door, she could feel something hot and wet running down her back, soaking her clothes. She fell forward, gasping, she needed to-another white light this one blinding, burning. She screamed as her skin was incinerated, as the light burned her away. It faded a moment later leaving nothing but an empty house.

Ben turned to Debra, “That was close. I thought I saw something there, trying to get out.”
Debra smiled, “Yeah, no worries though, we got it just in time.”

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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