Epilogue: The House in the Woods

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Christina was the last to enter. She didn't touch the door, but something invisible slammed it shut once the five were contained inside. The others turned around quickly and hushed impatiently at her. She just looked at them, frightened, and then shifted her eyes across the house's entrance hall. It looked like any other house; an arch to the left that led into the living room, an arch to the right that led into the dining room, a closed door straight ahead that led somewhere, most likely the basement, and a staircase that went straight up for a few steps before changing direction to head to the left. The upstairs hallway was visible with more doors in view.

It looked like any other house, except this one was falling apart. The wood decor was decaying by the minute. Dust was collecting in all corners of the house, along with cobwebs homing terrifying long-legged spiders. A rug lay cautiously in the middle of the foyer, tattered and ruined, shaded a deep colour of red. Tiffany turned to Christina after she noticed something on the rug.

"Is that a bone?" Tiffany whispered. Christina shrugged. She didn't want to know.

Several photo frames hung on the wall by the staircase. Eric walked up a couple of the stairs to gain a closer look at the pictures. They looked like they were taken years back. One was a picture of a small group of people, standing in front of a freshly-built house. The exact same house he was standing in, but it looked so much healthier back then. Time had taken its toll on the building. They obviously hadn't been looking after the place.

Carmen walked up behind him and gazed at the photograph. In the middle stood a tall woman, hair perfectly tied up, her face sporting a wondrous smile. The mother of the family had her hand on the father, his charming eyes gleaming in the sun that was allowed to shine upon the house. The mother's other hand lay upon the shoulder of a young boy. He was slightly chubby with messy hair, but his eyes were full of life. Standing next to him, a radiant girl beamed the most beautiful smile of them all. She looked only a little older than the boy, maybe five years old, and carried a baby in her arms.

They looked like such a happy family.

"I wonder if they still live here," Carmen whispered, looking up at the balcony of the landing above her, staring as hard as she could down the darkened corridor to the bedrooms. She prayed, with all her heart, that all the doors would stay shut.

"Could they really be the same family that live here, though?" Eric was confused with the recent development. Maybe the photograph of the family didn't lead them to the same stalkers Eric saw at the house the previous night, but maybe to a more complicated part of the mystery. Carmen stared at the photograph for some time. Her eyes were fixated on the matriarch.

"It's definitely the same woman," Carmen confirmed after straining her eyes. The flashlight didn't help much, now the light was dimming, and the house was too dark to navigate. "Her eyes... it's the same woman who saved me from Roberto, but she kept mentioning something about me knowing her children."

"Do they look familiar?" Eric asked, moving his flashlight onto the picture to give Carmen better light to see.

Carmen shook her head. "Not at all."

Tiffany and Justin stayed together, stepping into the dining room. Christina was a bit more curious and tip-toed over the creaking floorboards to reach the closed door beneath the stairs. She opened it easily and found stairs leading to the basement. It was too dark to make out what the basement looked like, and she didn't want to find out. A cold draft blew upwards and Christina couldn't bear the thought that someone was blowing on her. Her paranoid mind forced her body to close the door as carefully as she could, but like everything else in the house, it made a noise.

The dining room wasn't clean at all. Dirty plates remained on the table, freshly used by the smell of something cooked. Something over-cooked. Drinks weren't completely finished, with red liquid remaining at the bottom.

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