Haunted House - A Short

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Haunted House – A Short

Katie entered the old, dilapidated house at the end of her street. She was doing it on a dare, since none of her friends were brave enough to do so on their own. The home had been abandoned several decades earlier, ever since the previous landlord had been discovered to be a serial killer, and murdering people in the basement. Now, as usual, the home had been labeled a ‘haunted house’, and people were afraid to go anywhere near it.

Katie scoffed at that idea, though. Just because people were killed there didn’t make a place haunted, she told them, and now she found herself walking through the home.

“This’ll be the easiest $100 I’ve ever made,” Katie said aloud, in an almost gleeful voice.

As Katie was entering the grand entrance hall, the door suddenly creaked shut behind her, giving her a start.

After seeing no one in the area, she let out a nervous laugh and said, “Must’ve been the wind.” She continued into the house, pausing to admire her appearance in a cracked mirror with a film of dust on it.

Katie was a young woman in her early twenties. She looked exactly what you might picture a blond cheerleader to look like, because she had been one: long, blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and a busty chest.

Katie let out a gasp when she thought she saw a person standing behind her in the reflection, but, after turning around, she saw only a white sheet that had fluttered slightly due to Katie walking past, moving the air around.

“Get a grip, Katie,” Katie muttered to herself, moving on from the mirror and going deeper into the house; she did not notice the mirror’s reflection distort as she walked away.

The first room Katie entered was what appeared to be a sitting room. Although she examined everything in there, she noticed nothing out of the ordinary. The sitting room led to a library filled to the brim with old books, covered with dust and cobwebs. She grabbed one that was interesting, but recoiled with a shriek when a large, black spider emerged to voice a complaint.

The next room she entered was the kitchen. It looked just as dilapidated as the rest of the house, but she was assured ahead of time that the house was stable. By this point, Katie was a little let down. She’d been in this house for nearly ten minutes, and so far, the scariest thing had been that darn spider!

On a whim, she opened the fridge and let out a bloodcurdling scream…there was a bloody, severed head in there!

Before she could do anything else, she heard a shuffling noise, and then a headless body suddenly shambled in.

“Ah, so that’s where it is,” the head suddenly said, coming to life with a raspy voice. The headless body suddenly lunged for Katie.

Katie screamed once more, exiting back into the library. This time, books were rustling around on their shelves, and some of the chairs were levitating. She continued running out into the sitting room, and saw more things rattling around; a piano in the corner was playing a haunting tune.

Losing all composure now, she bolted for the front door, but was unable to open it. She frantically fumbled with it for several more seconds before giving up. A scream coming from the basement sent her adrenaline running, she she ran up the staircase to the second floor in the hopes of finding a window to scream for help.

She paused briefly, upon reaching the top of the stairs, to catch her breath and collect her thoughts.

“Shit! This can’t be real…it can’t be real,” Katie muttered to herself, attempting to calm herself down. “I can’t believe these stories were actually real.”

Before Katie had a chance to do anything else, the doorknobs in the hallways surrounding her suddenly started shaking, as though something on the other side were trying to get out. Soon, the doors began violently shaking in their frames as well. Shrieking, Katie bolted down the hallway until she found a door that was not shaking. She frantically opened it and slammed it shut behind her.

Once she was inside, she grabbed a nearby chair and propped it against the door handle, preventing the door from opening. Certain the door would not be easy to open, Katie turned and examined the room. The room was what looked like an ordinary bedroom, with a small desk, a bed, a dresser, and a closet. Katie headed to the only window in the room, and attempted to open it. Unfortunately, the window would not budge.

“Shit!” Katie screamed, nearly hysterical with tears streaming down her face. She even attempted to break the glass with a light fixture from the desk, but the glass appeared unbreakable. Frustrated, Katie collapsed on the bed, weeping into her hands.

Katie had perhaps several seconds to collect herself before a scratching noise at the closet startled her. Paralyzed with fear, Katie merely stared at the closet door before it suddenly burst open, and a large figure clad in a hood emerged, holding a sharp weapon.

She screamed once more, but this time attempted to fight, since fleeing didn’t seem to be working. She grabbed the sheets from the top of the bed and held them out in front of her…something she’d seen in a movie once.

The figure lunged at her with the weapon, slashing at her left arm. Katie cried out in pain as she felt it slice through her arm. For a split second, she thought she saw a spark of electricity, and then what looked like metal and wires, but after blinking her eyes, she saw blood streaming out.

Her adrenaline rushing, she yelled out and wielded the sheet in front of her once more, this time using it to successfully catch the knife and twist it loose from the figures grasp. She momentarily thought of using the knife on the figure, but part of her told her not to. Instead, she grasped onto it and rushed for the door, throwing the chair out of the way and scrambling back out into the hallway, catching a kick to the Achilles’ tendon on her right leg.

Now with a slight limp, Katie rushed back to the top of the stairs, intending on using the knife to force open the front door somehow. Just as she reached the top of the stairs, however, she felt the ground give way…the figure behind her had grabbed the other end of the rug running down the hall towards the stairs and tugged it.

Katie lost her footing on the top of the stairs, tumbling headfirst, and full speed, down the stairs. On the way down, she felt and heard multiples cracks, most likely her bones. By the time she landed at the bottom, and came to a stop, she knew she was dying. Her head seemed to be partially loose from her neck, and her arms and legs were splayed in the wrong directions. Just before she blacked out, she saw the hooded figure approach from the stairs, bringing his arm to his face.

“Alright guys, it’s over,” the figure said, in a surprisingly normal sounding voice. He stood over Katie’s body and shook his head sadly.

An artificial sounding feminine voice sounded from a PA system. “Simulation complete.”

Suddenly, lights illuminated the exterior of the house, and more lights turned on inside the house, revealing that the house was actually inside a sound stage. In addition, the house no longer appeared as decrepit as it had appeared before, now appearing more ordinary. The man reached down and grabbed Katie’s head, gently tugging it free from the rest of her body. But, instead of blood and guts, there were wires and cables dangling from the neck. Katie was an android.

Multiple people emerged from various locations in the house, including a headless android walking from the kitchen, carrying his own head, which no longer appeared to be bloody or dismembered. As he lifted his head to his neck and clicked it back in place, he asked the hooded figure, “Well, how’d we do?”

“Well, we’ll have to get her down to the basement first to determine that,” he said, staring quizzically into Katie’s face before placing it down on a stretcher that two technicians had carried out from the basement, “But, I saw, I know we made a few mistakes.”

The man followed the stretcher down to the basement, which was actually a repair bay. Once Katie’s body was placed on an examination table, the technicians began undressing her body and opening various access ports on her torso and head, plugging multiple cables in to their computer terminal.

While the technicians reviewed the logs from Katie’s body, the man was reviewing a video log of everything Katie had seen, revealing that much of what she was seeing was fabricated through a highly sophisticated perceptual filter.

After he watched a few times with the filters on, he switched the filters off, amused at what was actually happening. Most of the large objects she had observed moving around were being manipulated by human techs garbed in black clothes, like Kabuki theater. He could clearly see the mechanical portions of the ‘headless’ ghost, and the mirror was actually a two-way that had briefly malfunctioned…one of the Kabuki techs actually had to rustle the sheet behind her to distract her, and her sleeper filters took over from there.

“It sure was a good idea to test these new filters on a sleeper model,” the male android from the kitchen said, coming down into the basement, “once finished, these new perceptual filters should be useful not just for the next generation of sleepers, but even for normal androids like myself,” he said excitedly.

“Yeah,” the hooded man agreed, “however, the filters still need some work,” he noted, pointing out the segments of the feed that showed aberrations: the mirror malfunction, and the damage to her arm.

“Damn!” The male android swore, “well, at least its better than the last test.”

The hooded man agreed, “Yeah, that one she malfunctioned after seeing your head in the fridge,” he laughed, “Your idea to use a haunted house theme was brilliant!”

Before the could say anything else, the technicians finished analyzing the code in Katie’s systems and handed the results to the hooded man on a tablet.

“Well, looks like they may have found the issue that caused the deviations from her filters,” he reported, “a fix should be available in a few hours.”

“Are they actually gonna be able to fix her body in that time?” The male android asked skeptically.

“Oh, no, of course not…that body’s totaled.” the hooded man laughed, “but, we’ve got backups,” he grinned, walking with the guy over to a door. He opened it up and smiled knowingly, “we have plenty of extras though.”

The male android looked in the small room with an impressed look. Roughly a dozen exact duplicates of Katie stood motionless inside, all wearing the same clothes, though with small numbers on the front, as the one now disrobed and dismantled on the examination table. They each stood at attention with an entrancing blank stare on their faces; The busted one had a #1 on her shirt.

A few hours later, a fresh Katie now stood motionless outside the front door of the staged house; a #2 on her shirt. The same team of technicians was applying finishing touches to her: adding a bit of makeup here, and artistically mussing up her clothes and hair.

“Alright everyone, places!” the lead technician called out, once Katie was ready, “Prepare simulation #3, with Unit #2!”

The same female voice PA sounded once more, “Simulation commencing.”

Once everyone was in place once more, the lights in the room shut off, and the new Katie activated, reaching for the door and opening it, with a skeptical look on her face.

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