[personal profile] ikiteru
A few nights ago, Keri texted me with the brilliant idea that we should do an All Hollows Read story exchange. I readily agreed and then proceeded to procrastinate until Oct 31 to actually write the damn thing. Mainly because I was displaying the incredible inability to decide what to write (one day or another there shall also be a story about Zombie!Sora, I kid you not.) So I present to you: At the Door

slightly belated because it's still Holloween somewhere, damn it.

Adeline watches her home disappear from the backseat of the car. She watches as the familiar high-rises and highways fade behind them; the looming steel buildings replaced by squat homes, replaced by trees, replaced by fields and nothing. She watches as the day faded to twilight, the sky a myriad of colors she wasn’t familiar with beyond a box of crayons, and then to the dark. There is no moon tonight, the landscape nothing more than a smear of dark outside her window.

“How much longer?” Adeline yawns. She folds her stuff bunny against the door to rest her head.

In the front seat, Mother pauses. In the front seat she consults the clock, the gps suction cupped to her window. From the front seat, an answer, “a few more hours.”

Adeline huffs, shifts in her seat; the seatbelt is uncomfortable. “Why couldn’t I stay with Daddy?”

The car hums along the road, the only noise for a long minute. Adeline has nearly drifted to sleep when Mother finally replies. “Daddy doesn’t get home until late, baby.” Adeline can taste the sadness in her mother’s voice, but doesn’t know what to do about it. “And besides,” continues Mother, “you’ll love Grandma’s house!”

Somehow, Adeline deeply doubted this.

Grandma lives far, far, far outside of the city in a house that was already old when she was young. Some years ago she renovated her house and now rents out rooms as small apartments to people who enjoy the country life. “Be nice to these people, Adeline.” Mother warns, “Some of them are very broken and you must show kindness to them.”

They pull into a gravel driveway, crunching and rocking their way towards the house. There is a woman on the porch, silhouetted by warm light flooding the window behind her. “Thank you for coming,” the woman whispers when Mother and Adeline disembark. “We tried to help her but she’s…” she trails off, looking over her shoulder.

Mother smiles indulgently. “Difficult, believe me, I know.”

Grandma is situated in a room on the ground floor, her left leg bound up in an imposing cast that dwarfs the rest of her.

“Mama, how are you feeling?” Mother asks.

Grandma makes an unhappy face and spits something in a language that Adeline does not understand. Mother frowns at her, “Mama please.” But Grandma seems adamant in whatever she is saying. Mother rolls her eyes, finally caves, and it’s like Adeline doesn’t know her at all.

The room they’re given smells like old cabbage. There’s one twin size bed pressed against the wall and a pile of old couch cushions arranged on the floor. Mother tucks Adeline in, kisses her forehead softly and bids her good night.

Adeline cannot help but think it will not be a good night. The smell of the room is too strong, the place too foreign. She shifts and waits for dawn to come.


Mrs. Sophia of 2B shows them around the next day, while Grandma is still napping. There’s absolutely nothing of interest, as far as Adeline is concerned. The road is far away; she can hear the distant whisper of vehicles. Behind the house is a field, flanked in the far away by a line of trees, otherwise there is nothing.

They give Adeline a little-round-blue ball and tell her to go out and play. “But don’t go too far,” says Mother before closing the door in her face.

The little-round-blue ball quickly proves to be boring. Adeline abandons it in favor of cloud watching; something she’s often read about but never had the time, or space to experience herself. Only, today the sky is a cloudless blue and she stares at it until her eyes begin to water in waiting.

She considers going back inside for her bunny; at least he’s something to talk to.

There comes the sound of laughter, tinny and young and Adeline looks up, surprised. At the very top of the house, where the attic should be she sees an open window and the shadow of someone moving past it.

There is someone up there, she realizes. Someone of a probably appropriate playing-with age, and even a not someone of nearly appropriate playing-with age is better than a nobody at all.

She finds Mrs. Sophia of 2B in the kitchen, quietly washing dishes. From down the hall she can hear Mother and Grandma, conversing in that strange not-language that she isn’t familiar with. Adeline is forced to stop for a moment, part of her heart torn to go crawl into Mother’s lap and let the foreign words wash over her, but she remembers the someone and returns to her quest.

Mrs. Sophia of 2B insists that there is no such child around. “There is no one living in the attic room, no. There is you and me, kinderlech, here in the kitchen. There is your mama and your grandmamma there, in the bedroom. Then there is Mr. and Mrs. Macaraeg in 2A, but in attic room? There is nobody.”

Adeline frowns. “But I heard someone, there was someone there!”

Mrs. Sophia of 2B shakes her head, squatting down to Adeline’s level. “Listen to my words, that room is empty and locked. Nobody live there for a very long time, that space is very bad, you understand, yes?”

Adeline nods, slowly. She waits politely until Mrs. Sophia of 2B goes back to doing the dishes and then, very loudly, Adeline announces she was going to go outside to play some more.

The second floor is quiet, Adeline moves slowly towards the stairwell leading to the attic, afraid of what would happen if Mr. or Mrs. Macaraeg happened to come out and ask what she was doing. But she reaches the door on the other side of the hall without incident.

The way into the attic is tucked behind an unassuming door, the stairwell leading up at a steep incline and there is no light to guide her save for a small sliver at the distant top. A crack beneath the door, she assumes.

The door is locked, just like Mrs. Sophia of 2B had said. Adeline can see into the room through the keyhole, just a peep of an empty space. “Hello,” she calls. “I know you’re in there. I saw you from the yard but Mrs. Sophia in 2B says nobody is supposed to be here, so I think it’s best that you leave.”

The space fills up with the blue of an eye.“But I can’t leave,” says the owner of the blue eye. “My mum left and locked the door and took the key.”

“Well, when is she supposed to come back?”

The eye looks worried. “I’m not sure; it seems that she left a very long time ago.”

“But you can’t have, nobody knows you’re here!”

The eye disappears, Adeline can see that empty space again, and the voice becomes very quiet. “Well no, we’re hiding you see. Something is after us, something very bad and nobody can know where we are or the thing will find us.”

Adeline presses herself closes to the door, as if that will make a difference and she’ll be able to reach the person the voice belongs to. “But you can’t stay in there, aren’t you hungry?”

There is a long stretch of silence from the room. Adeline can hear the wind whistling around the house, can hear things happening on the lower floors from so far away, and then an answer. “A little,” says the voice, quietly.

Adeline brightens, already imagining what kind of adventures she can have with another child around. “Then I’ll see if I can’t find a spare, there must be a spare right? First, what’s your name? Mother says I shouldn’t play with strangers. My name is Adeline.”

“I can’t say it out loud,” says the voice, “or the thing will hear and it’ll find me.”

“Come whisper it to me then, that way you’re not saying it loud, see?”

There is now a set of lips, peeling back in a slow smile, there is the flash of white teeth that Adeline finds to be rather peculiar. Too white, like storybook teeth she thinks, even as she presses her ear against the keyhole to receive the name.

She feels a shiver, naively mistakes it for the excitement of having a new friend, and she bounds back down the stairs with a hasty promise to return with the key.

Adeline has no idea where to begin searching for a spare key. She thinks of all the places they’ve kept the spare at their home: beneath the garden gnome, beneath the potted plant, in a small hidden chamber of a fake rock, but there’s nothing like that out here so she settles for doing the next sensible thing: asking an adult.

The only adult she can find is Mrs. Sophia of 2B, still in the kitchen scrubbing pots. She knows she promised her new friend that she wouldn’t say anything, but Mrs. Sophia of 2B is sensible and if she knows there’s a child up there Adeline is sure she’d be more than happy to help.

Only, Mrs. Sophia of 2B doesn’t let her explain, immediately rolls her eyes when Adeline asks where a spare key might be and says “Did Mrs. Macaraeg lock the mister out of the bedroom and fall asleep again? That woman, she forgets he keeps his medicine in there all the time.” She pulls out a key from her pocket; a large, black, iron thing, and hands it to Adeline without a second glance. “Here, kinderlech, but you bring it right back.”

Adeline remembers her manners enough to say thank you and then she all but runs up the stairs.


“Are you there?” calls her new friend. “Only, I’ve realized that you were right. I’m absolutely starving. Please, can you let me out now?”

Adeline fumbles the key into the lock, the door opens with a soft schnick.

She does not even earn the thought to scream before the creature draws her in, the door closing softly behind them and the rest of the house continues on, unaware.

Later, Adeline will go down as another missing child, lost to the woods.

Later, much later, in a different place with a different house and a different sealed off room, there will be the sound of laughter.


Date: 2012-11-01 06:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xelioth.livejournal.com
It definitely feels like you did this very last minute. You had me there for a minute in the middle, you nailed the child listening through the doorway and the creepy voice, and by the end of the first sentence, I was reading the accent in Sophia's voice. However, the ending falls pretty flat in comparison, and there were notable points of awkward phrasing. "And even not a someone of appropriate playing-with age" is very difficult to read, and while I get that's how you (we) talk, it's an awkward phrase to process while you're reading. There are a couple other similar such phrasing issues sprinkled in the earlier half of the piece, but the latter half works just fine. You seemed to get into a groove half-way through.

There is, however, one cardinal sin you've committed. You told and didn't show when you flatly stated that the name of the friend was fuzzy in her head. The parenthetical insert raped and murdered the flow of that segment, and it really just beat us over the head with the statement rather than allowing us to feel it. I haven't a clue how to fix the phrasing there, but it would even be better if you just completely left out that part if you had to. You're usually really good at showing rather than telling, so I'll chalk this down to it being a quickie, but just be sure you make note of those sorts of things. It KILLS the story to see that kind of stuff.

Overall, decent job of writing, I enjoyed the story, but it wasn't up to your usual high bar.

Re: Critique

Date: 2012-11-01 06:44 am (UTC)
ext_218012: (Default)
From: [identity profile] iki-teru.livejournal.com
parenthetic phrase removed. the awkward phrasing bits have been tweaked where applicable because I think I just self-edit badly and transposed an "a" in between two words that it did not belong between.

Re: Critique

Date: 2012-11-01 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xelioth.livejournal.com
I hope I wasn't too harsh.... It really isn't bad at all!

Date: 2012-11-01 10:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eternal-moonie.livejournal.com
Absolutely AWESOME!!!

Date: 2012-11-18 11:23 pm (UTC)
ext_218012: (Default)
From: [identity profile] iki-teru.livejournal.com
belated reply is belated.....


Date: 2012-11-02 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lettersandliars.livejournal.com






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