From the outside, the house was silhouetted by eerie, yellow moonlight. The gold-plated letter “A” was burnished on the crown of the arched entryway. A row of ornately sculpted columns adorned the veranda. The dormer windows on the second floor reminded me of eyes, evil intent, beckoning me to dare cross the threshold. The rose window caught my attention momentarily, its beauty in contrast to the general atmosphere surrounding the structure. Lightning blazed across the sky sending a spectral glow over the entire home, particularly the widow’s walk at the top of the building.
I could hardly believe it. I had found it! This ancestral home, which I thought only existed in my head, had haunted my worst nightmares for years, and I had never stepped foot inside it. But tonight… tonight, I would. I would dare this house to repeat my dreams to me.
I approached cautiously and tried the knob. The door was unlocked as if the house had actually invited me to enter. The corridors trembled as if heaving a heavy sigh as I entered. I kept reminding myself, “It’s only a house. It’s only a dream.” That was my mantra. My boots echoed dreadfully through the vast hallway as I headed for the stairs. “It’s only a house. It’s only a dream.”
Suddenly, I was jerked backward by an unseen force. Back, back, and back down the hallway I took from the entry. I turned to run, but the door was sealed with a deadbolt locked from within. There was no key in the door. I ran forward down the hall again trying to reach the staircase, but I froze in fear. The walls in the hallway were closing in on me. “I am going to suffocate!” I thought aloud. I pushed on a wall with all my strength trying to keep it from crushing me, as I continued to scoot my way forward. At length, I was free. I was at the stairway, the hallway left behind. I climbed the stairs hurriedly looking for the source of my nightmare. It was something on the second floor, that I was sure of, but I didn’t know what I was looking for. I believed I would know it when I saw it.
When I reached the landing, there was water leaking from the sides of the walls gushing to the floor pooling around my ankles. There were too many leaks to attempt plugging them, so I continued forward to the room straight ahead. There was the soft glow of lamp light emanating from the room, and it drew me near. In my dream, this was the end. I would wake up in a cold sweat having endured the suffocating hallway and the water creating a small river at my feet.
I couldn’t let it end here now. “It’s only a house. It’s only a dream,” I repeated. The door was ajar on the lamp-lit room, and I slowly pushed it further open. It creaked in resistance. There was an oil lamp radiating on a circular table set next to a chair covered in gold brocade. On the right side of the room was an ancient bureau adorned with cologne bottles, a silver brush, and a silver mirror. “Those aren’t what I’m looking for,” I told myself, though how I knew that is a mystery. To the left was an armoire. I would have to open that to see what was inside. Then I realized that the oil lamp was my beacon. Next to it, sitting lonely on the table, I see it! An amulet. This was what would set me free from my nightmares. I grabbed it from the table and jammed it in the pocket of my jeans. My heart sank when I realized I had to find a way out of there.
The hall from which I came was completely flooded with foul-smelling water. Besides, it would lead to the hallway that I care not to enter ever again. There must be another way. I searched the room I was in for clues. There HAD to be some other passage. All of a sudden, the thunder cracked outside the room. A gust of wind blew out the flame of the oil lamp. My heart thudded in my chest, and my palms grew sweatier. Beads of perspiration were forming on my lip. Lightning lit the room every minute or so, and I was able to find my way to a wall and search for some sort of door or entryway to lead me to safety. After about five minutes, I felt a change in the pattern of the wallpaper. It seemed more like paneling, cold and smooth. I groped in darkness waiting for lightning so I could catch a glimpse of what the change meant. Crack! A knob! I turned the knob, and it felt as if someone pushed me through the opening, and I freefell into a dark tunnel of nothingness. My head hit something hard, and I was knocked unconscious.
Two days later, I awoke in my own bedroom just as my friend was walking into the room with a tray. On the tray were tea, biscuits, strawberry jam, and… the amulet! “Where did you get this?” I managed to squeak.
She responded, “We found it in your jeans pocket when we found you lying on the side of the road out near the Interstate. How in the world did you get there? Do you remember anything?”
Oh, I remembered being in the house and finding the amulet, but I didn’t remember a thing after hitting my head. The doctor said I was a lucky lady with only a mild concussion and a few scrapes and scratches. I believe I am a lot more than that.
I believe with all my heart that the amulet saved my life that night. I believe with all my heart that the amulet prevents my nightmare from reoccurring. And I know I shall never part with it, nor will I ever return to that wicked, wicked house.