Generations of superstition have bred the thought that there exists a house inhabited by more than mere mortal flesh – one that possesses spirits of sorts, an unseen force capable of imposing independent will upon human dwellers. Such spirits, as they tend to develop over years, are sagging faces of previous tenants, whose dolourific lives are absorbed into the heart of the very home that bore them. The ghastly umbrae emerge with the sole desire to establish reigning presence over the psyche of the living. They are but a malicious stagecoach driver who holds both bullwhip and blunderbuss to unwittingly subservient horses, horses that know no other treatment. It follows, therefore, that an atmosphere depends on the collective mind of living residents, who are affected by and in turn contribute to this harrowingly irrevocable cycle. But ho! Maintain sanity, for such a place exists only as the setting in a mystic’s tale. Such a setting is imagined, such a place I have known.
From a distance a weary traveler reveled in its magnificence. So prudently was this house perched atop a lonely hill. It seemed awkwardly massive, an oversized chapeau atop a wispy haired nobleman. In the hour ‘twixt dusk and twilight, the sun’s sheltered rays gleamed against delirious windowpanes. Heavenly colors reflected off this make shift prism smelled of watermelon seeds and bumblebee trees. Again a wisp of air warned him, yet childlike hunger defied his intellect and drew him nearer – primordial needs before the safety of his soul. How cynical of this house, to be so perniciously inviting to the ignorant traveler.
He continued on, answering the silent beckon with uncertain footing. A single ring from a distant campanile tore through placid air as a jagged edge does water. His initial step ascending the forbidden knoll was met with another toll of the bell. Trees that lined his path turned away, pitying this unknown traveler, doubtful of his return. He drew closer with each chilling chime, salt on broken skin. A murder of crows sped from the treetops and squawked at the man. With the seventh consternating reverberation, the glowing orb and dismal sky disappeared into the shadow of night.
The man wearily approached the morose structure, as its sagging frame conformed to trails of calming air. Raspy winds were of eerie comfort to his skin, like a fine silk garment on a cold day. From somewhere in the darkness, a nightingale sang her tune directly to, and only for the man. There was something so sweet in her eye, and it did him so much good. His boots left no mark on the wooden porch already trodden black as he swept toward the door. Whitewashed wooden siding emanated bright resounding hope if only for a moment, as an ember plumes, struggling to survive before extinguishing completely.
He trod on, up bending steps to the chipped oaken door. He grasped the brass knocker with his whole palm and swung it in one great motion, slamming it against its brass-plated counterpart. With that came such a reverberation as to shake the foundation on which he stood. He dared to knock at the door of Avernus, and would so face the riddle of judgment. The ominous silence whispered to him, then could be heard no more.
The earth violently quaked, parting the warped flats of the porch. Effusing sulfurous vapors patiently considered mercy, yet the fates had conspired against his plea. On the rupturing boards he remained, mortified, as molten hell-rock spewed from the depths of his new Tartarean home. Horror that could sear marble inspired him to flee fast from that detestable place, but stone replaced flesh – Mercury would have no power or means but to guide him forward. As he began to accept this fate, fear was slowly iced away. Spirit had been held and weighed in the hands of destiny and mercilessly taken from him. Bitter flame ensued as he took his place among the shadows of what was once his home.