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The Returning

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 As she neared the front door, prickles of awareness raced up her spine.  She could sense the ancient evil lurking behind the shuttered windows, oozing through the cracks and holes, tainting the air with its putrid emanations.

The edifice was old, three hundred years or more, and decayed beyond repair. The new owners of the property wanted to rebuild—something modern and fun, and the old building was scheduled for demolition.  But whatever was in this place kept the workers from beginning.

Why did I agree to this! It was said that the house had once been the residence of a malevolent witch or hoodoo woman who’d practiced her trade with vengeance on the surrounding population. The history of the house seethed with tales of murder and mayhem and few were brave enough to venture too near.

She drew a deep breath, steeling herself for the next step. Her lips twisted in a wry smile. I’m here to force the entity to leave! A medium with some following, she’d agreed and took the new owner’s money before she’d researched the place. I needed the money, she mentally defended herself. And now it was gone and her only recourse was to do the job she’d been paid to do.

Sweat ran in rivulets from her forehead, palms grew slick with moisture. Heart pounding in her breast, she reached for the door handle, twisting it before she had a chance to change her mind.

The door grated open with a rusty moan. Stepping into the shadowy interior, she waited as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. Huge spider webs hung from the ceiling fluttering in the slight breeze generated by the open entryway. Dust covered the rotted furnishings spiraling in small whirlwinds as the dust motes caught in the puff of circulating air.  But it was the knowledge the entity was very near that caused her heart to freeze.  Foul secretions permeated everything.  Her tongue swiped lips suddenly dry. Already afraid, sheer terror surged in a blinding rush.

She felt rather than heard the entity’s wicked laughter, thrilled by her rush of emotion. It lives for terror!  She opened her senses, seeking the source of the being. Not upstairs. Not in the rooms leading off from the foyer. Below…in the basement.

I can’t do this! Bitter bile rose in her throat causing her to gag. Again, the entity drew from her fear! Hideous howls of pure glee raged through her mind.

It’s just stupid stuff made up by lazy workers, the new owners said. Just a bunch of old wives’ tales stirring the pot!

She knew better.  She’d been in the presence of evil before, but nothing had prepared her for that which lurked in this dreadful place. Compelled by a force not her own, she stumbled down the long hallway, drawn to a small door at the far end.

This is the entrance to hell! For long moments she stared at the door, every fiber of her being quaking with fright. I wish Maman were here! Maman was so much stronger that she would ever be. Maman would not have been so foolish.

With shaking hands, she gripped the handle, gasping as the door banged open. Broken and rotted stairs led down into the darkness below.  She stepped on the first step. It groaned beneath her weight. Then another step.

Don’t go down there or you’ll never return, the voice of her long dead Maman hissed.

Blood pounded in her veins loud enough to hear. I have no other choice, Maman!

You do! Run before you are lost!

She reached the bottom of the stairs. The darkness seethed with the entity’s evil presence. Rage, hate, murder, corruption hit her with full force, destroying the last reserves of strength and will.

Too long have you been away, the words slithered through her brain.

She bowed low. “I am here, Master.”

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