Welcome

By John-Paul Marciano

     “Enter,” said a baritone voice as the front door swung open.

    Peter and Maria stood at the threshold and peered down the dimly lit hallway directly in front of them.  To the left of the hall, a staircase led to the second floor.  Every other stair had a lit candle next to the stringer on either side.  Unseen from the threshold, an organ was playing softly inside the house.  A skeletal hand floating above the right banister beckoned.

    “Enter,” the voice repeated.

    “You first,” Maria told her older brother nervously.

    Peter took a couple steps into the house and turned as Maria followed inside.  As soon as Maria was alongside Peter, the door slammed shut.  Maria twisted the door knob and gave a tug, but the door wouldn’t open.

    “Welcome,” said the voice.

    Maria turned to Peter and admitted, “I’m scared.”

    “Don’t be such a baby,” Peter replied with false bravado.  He turned to his right and started down a long hallway in the direction of the music.  “Let’s take a look around.”

    Maria scurried after him and latched onto his arm when she caught up.  “I don’t like this,” she declared.

    Peter checked the three doors they passed on the right but all were sealed shut.  The hallway was dimly lit by flickering candles in the windows on the right.  The hallway opened into a large room with an oversized fireplace in the center of the far wall.  Flickering candles on the mantle revealed a pair of crossed halberds mounted above the mantle.  Portraits of unknown individuals adorned the walls.

    Maria gasped and squeezed Peter’s arm.  Peter looked to his right to see the source of the music.  A skeleton with a raven perched on its right shoulder was jauntily playing the organ at the far end of the room.  A candelabra on the organ cast an eerie glow on the skeleton.

    As if sensing their presence, the skeleton rotated its head 180 degrees to stare at them with its permanent smile.  A few seconds later the head completed a full 360 rotation.  The skeleton continued playing the organ with its right hand while pointing with its left.

    Peter and Maria looked to where the index finger was pointing and saw a door swing open. An orange glow revealed a table next to the door.  In the center of the table was a bowl filled with what appeared to be white marbles.  They scampered across the room hoping the open door was their way out.  Maria screamed when she realized the marbles were actually eyeballs; some brown, some blue.

    Peter tugged at Maria to hasten her out of the room.  They stopped just beyond the doorway.  Before them, embers cast an eerie glow upon a field of impaled bodies stretching as far as the two could see.  They stared aghast as the Angel of Death harvested eyeballs and vultures picked at entrails.  The skeleton let out a blood curdling ghoulish laugh as the door slammed shut behind them.

    Maria shot up in bed gasping with eyes wide open and screamed, “Momma.”

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