Ghosts of the Past (excerpt from The Skin Collection)

Had Ethan believed in ghosts, he would have few doubts the house looming before him was infested. There’s a trail of paperwork stating that the house had on multiple occasions been bought and sold and that it was currently occupied, but there was no evidence anyone’s stepped foot on this property, or neighboring homes, since Howard Russo abandoned ship years ago. The weeds had overtaken the lower floor of the estate, choking what life remained from the rotting edifice; the trees wrapped themselves around the second and third floors and forced their bony fingers through several windows, exposing the interior to the elements with no apparent intervention to seal with glass or wood. No, if the house was unoccupied by ghosts it wasn’t occupied at all.

Had Ethan believed in Hell, he would have sworn this Victorian house clawed its way up from its fiery depths and planted itself in the unholy foundation on which it now stands. It was more a feeling than anything, as if something were staring back at him through those exposed eye sockets, daring him to cross the threshold and step inside its salivating mouth. The stone perimeter wall and wrought iron gate were crumbling and overtaken with ivy while the stone path leading to the entrance had long since been obscured from view.  Everywhere Ethan looked were signs of human neglect, which were accented with unbridled effort by the Earth to swallow this wretched place, as if nature knew the dangers the house possessed and were attempting to keep it hidden away from curious eyes.

But hadn’t he glimpsed Hell? Hadn’t Tisa validated the unnamable horrors he’d witnessed with his own eyes? Perhaps it wasn’t so far from the truth that this house was born from flames, or perhaps the flames were born inside the belly of this house.

And had Ethan believed in Heaven he knew he’d never find those assholes within an arks length of the place.

The house was damned.

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