Who’s Playing Who?

Man, it’s dark in here, he thought to himself. How am I supposed to see anything?

The candle flickered weakly in his left hand. Shadows moved on either side of him, causing his heart to thud loudly in his chest. He reached a pale right hand out to grasp the door handle in front of him.

The scarred wooden door swung silently inward, revealing the disaster area that used to be a bedroom. Drawers hung precariously from the tall chest along the wall beside the door. A stirring from across the room told him the window was either broken or pushed open. The feeble light he had available made it impossible to tell which.

Clothing, broken furniture, and other debris littered the floor. He carefully picked his way forward, inspecting any- and everything that looked like it might give a clue about what happened here.

The dust stirred up by his movement was thick, almost suffocatingly so. The vanity table was beside the empty highboy. The ancient mirror was broken, only a few blackened, jagged pieces still in place in the frame.

He reached for the single remaining drawer in the table, sliding it out to reveal a few crumpled tissues and a cracked leather-bound book.

Closer inspection revealed the book was a diary. It had once belonged to a woman, he thought, basing his assumption on the faded spidery handwriting covering the brittle pages. He tucked the volume into his jacket pocket, intending to delve deeper into it at a later time.

Not closing the drawer, he continued his perusal of the disheveled room. Pushing debris aside with his black-booted feet, he moved to the window, where he noticed it was pushed open, letting the night breeze move the tattered curtains in unsettled circles. He didn’t bother closing it. The damp night air probably kept the churned up dust from settling in his lungs.

An ornate brass lamp stood solidly on a carved bedside table not far from the window.

Nothing happened when he tried the switch on the base. He wasn’t surprised. Even though the building still had power, not much of the electricity had worked so far in his investigation of the house.

The decaying four-poster was falling apart. The feather bed had been ripped at some point in the past, and feathers were still spilling out of the hole. Dust and wood splinters mingled with the mangled feathers below the bed.

He was just about to pull back the faded flowered comforter when his candle was blown out by the cyclone of wind generated by the suddenly thrown open door. A scream clawed its way up his throat, forcing his mouth to gape open.

The hand from behind caught him off guard. His scream met and mingled with the man on the screen’s scream. An unexpected visitor was expected in a video game. Not in the house in the real world, though, not when he was home alone with his console.


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