________ ____ _ _____ _ _ ____ _ | | | | | | | | | | | | BLiP | | | | | | -|-- | | o | | | | |--| |--| |---| | | |--~ |--| |--| |--- ---- | #13 | | | | | | | | | | | \ | | | | | | |___ | | | | | |~~~ | | | | _ | | | | | |~~~ | | ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~ ~~~~ [The cover is of a lurking house, huddling trees around it.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOUSE V: "The House that Jack Killed." Mary took advantage of the advert break, and swung by her room to get her glass before going to the kitchen. She turned on the tap to get a glass of cold water to take to bed for the night, and rubbed her tired eyes while waiting for the glass to fill. It took her a moment, but Mary realised that the fluid coming out of the tap wasn't clear and fast moving, but a sluggish deep bright red. Lifting the glass to her nose, Mary sniffed cautiously. She frowned as the scent was familiar, but not immediately recognisable. She took a small sip, but spat it out as she realised what it was. She looked at the glass in her hand in horror as a small mouth opened on the surface of the blood and screamed in sympathy. _-~-_ Barry looked up from playing with Abby as Alice got off the phone. "Sounded interesting," he said to his wife. Alice sighed. "Not really. It's a haunted house scare my editor wants me to check out. Since you're in the Alt.Riders, he seems to think it's appropriate to give me all the wacko stories." "So you gonna take it?" "Well, I have to. It's not like your superheroing pays the bills." Barry was never sure if she was being sarcastic or not, and wisely decided to stay away from that discussion. "Where is it?" "Alt.oona." "Alt.oona, eh?" replied Barry. Alice waited a moment, then came the question "Where's Alt.oona?" "Instate, by the mountains. About two, three hour drive." "Kind of a long way to go just for a haunted house story." Alice paused awkwardly before replying. "My editor wants...it's kind of a 'too small town for the LNH to bother with' sort of thing." Barry was silent a moment. "We can only investigate what we know about." "I know, I know," Alice said placatingly. "It's just something my editor wants. The fair and open minded press, huh?" "Well, if you think I'm going to let you go alone, then..." "It's nothing. There really isn't a need for you to come. I'll pop over tomorrow, and be back for dinner." "And what if it is something the LNH should worry about? And what if it's something I should worry about?" Alice could easily hear the concern for her in his voice. "That's sweet, but what would you do while I'm there? An investigative journalist doesn't exactly need her superhero husband tagging her every step." "How about I invite Joe along? We've got some catching up to do, anyway." Alice smiled. "And he might be able to pay attention to Abby." "Huh?" Barry looked down and saw his young daughter reaching up towards him, her eyes on the block he had been holding all the time. "Sorry," he grinned, passing the block to Abby. _-~-_ As the four of them, Barry and Alice in the front, Joe and Abby in the back, neared Alt.oona, they finalised their plans. "I'll drop you guys off in town, and head over to the house," Alice said. "If I'm quick, I'll give you a call, and we can start on back, otherwise we'll meet for lunch somewhere." "Joe's got the other cellphone," Barry replied. "Not exactly pockets on this thing." Barry gave his black suit a once over. It covered up his body from the neck down, not skin tight, but not baggy either, so it did quite well in place of normal clothes. Although the black band around his eyes and back of his head caused some comments. "Anywhere in particular for lunch?" Joe, aka Retcon Lad of the LNH, asked. As he spoke, a sign came in view. 'Clay and Lar's Flesh Barn.' Smaller printing read: "Cheaper prices, because we serve it to you raw so no cooking expenses!" "Rip your meat straight off your selected animal!" "Uhh...I'm going to vote for anywhere but there," Barry said, as they passed by. _-~-_ Barry and Joe were walking down the main street of Alt.oona, Barry holding Abby, but they were concentrating more on talking than window shopping. "I'd really rather not talk about that anymore, thank you," Joe said. "I just thought you might like to talk to someone about Dinnerplate. You know, just be here for you," Barry replied. "No, okay? Y'know, I'd prefer to be in LNH Limbo, than dragged into situations like that." "Having a lazy author isn't all bad," smirked Barry. A beeping caught them off guard, but Joe realised it was the cellphone in his keeping. He fished it out and passed it to Barry. Barry pushed a button. "Hello?" "Barry!" shrieked Alice's voice over the phone. "It's the house! It's-" The phone went dead. "Alice? ALICE!?" shouted Barry into the phone. "What's going on?" asked Joe. "It's the house," Barry replied, anguish sounding his voice. "Take Abby, I've got to go! Call in the LNH or something!" As Joe hurried took Abby in his arms, he asked "Where is this house?" Barry was already moving away, his suit flaming into red. "1013 Carter Way!" he shouted over his shoulder before taking off into the air on a column of flame. "That can't be good," said Joe quietly, watching Barry disappear. _-~-_ _Shouldn't have let her go alone. Shouldn't have let her go alone._ was running through Barry's head as he passed over the town, tracking down Carter Way. He spotted their car first, and dived for it, nearly incinerating it in his haste as he landed. Glancing around, he saw 1013, and took a step towards it, then jerked back in surprise. The house was rippling slightly, as if it was an image on a sheet of metal that was shaking. As he watched, parts of it seem to distort, enlargen then shrink. He took a few steps forward, but the effect worsened, the rippling becoming more pronounced, the distortion on the house increasing in proportion. Worry eating at his heart, Barry stood back to survey his surroundings before he made his move. The house itself was a two storey affair, which, in normal circumstances, probably would have loomed anyway. The house was symmetrical as he faced it, two wings of a few rooms each storey on either side of a main section which ran towards the back of the house and was projected slightly forwards, forming inside what would be the main entrance way and a lookout above it. The top window and angled roof above it instead gave it a cycloptic appearance. The house was situationed in the middle of fairly overgrown gardens. The front of the house was clear, though, with a short path leading to the door. Barry tried to see down one side of the house, to see how far back it went, but after three windows deep, it was swallowed up by the gloom of the plants. After this inspection, Barry didn't see any really better way inside, and so struck out again for the front door. Again the house appeared to wobble, made from a fluid reality, but Barry just pressed on harder. With a final step, feeling more like a leap through insanity, Barry came to stop on the front stoop. He banged on the door and called out Alice's name, but there was no response. Carefully, he put his head, next to the door, and listened. Something punched him in the head, and he knew no more. _-~-_ The next thing Barry was aware of was Joe gently shaking him awake and calling his name. "Barry...Barry...speak to me..." Barry raised a hand to wave Joe off. "I'm all right. Er...what happened?" "I don't know. I got here to see you lying on the lawn." Barry remembered the house and Alice, and jumped to his feet. And regretted it as the world swam around him alarmingly. Joe helped him to steady himself, and the world slowly came back into focus. "How long have I been out?" "I don't know when you started being out, but it's been an hour since you took off." "An hour! I've got to get in there. Alice!" Joe put a hand on Barry's arm to restrain him. "Just before you do, I've been finding out a bit about the place. You might want to hear it." Barry paused, and nodded. Looking around, he saw Abby sitting in the car, playing with a Hackemon toy, then turned back to Joe. "What is it?" "The house was built and lived in by its architect, a Jack Carpenter. No one was quite sure what happened, but his mangled body was found about a year ago, on the lawn there. The house was unoccupied for the past year, and someone brought it up, sight unseen. The person living in there right now is just a housesitter until they get here." "Let me guess. It was exactly one year ago today Jack's body was found? And this is his ghost, or something?" Joe shrugged. "Probably. But that's not all. This guy has designed a few houses before, all of which have been severely wacko in some way. Not the least of which being a tendency to attract guys who look like William Katt." Barry gave Joe a puzzled expression, and Joe just shrugged. "I don't know. This is just what I've found from local gossip and a quick peek in the local library." "You didn't call the LNH?" "I tried. However, when I left Procrastination Boy was on duty." "Well, that doesn't change matters. I've still got to get in there and get my wife." "And if the same thing happens to you again?" "I wont give it a chance to. You stay here with Abby." "No, I want to come in with you." "Look after Abby. I'm not risking her as well." Before Joe could say anything else, Barry called out "NET!" and his suit turned white. Joe and the rest of the world slowed down as Barry created lag. He moved to the house, which, as he had hoped, didn't distort as drastically as it had before. He reached the door easily, and kicked at it, and watched it slowly swing open. The passageway beyond looked normal enough. It was long, with doors leading off on each side, and a stair case along one side of it going upwards. Barry entered cautiously, but still jumped when the door suddenly swung shut behind him. Letting the lag go, Barry called out for Alice. There was only silence in reply. Not even an echo of his own voice. Barry shivered, and thought that maybe having Joe in here wasn't such a bad idea after all. His eyes were drawn to a patch of wall, and as he watched a stain appeared on it. He reached out and touched it, and draw back his hands with blood on his fingertips of his costume. The stain grew, and other stains developed, until the words "GO AWAY" were crudely written. Barry looked at the message coldly, then turned and shouted into the empty house, "Give me back my wife!!" As before, there was no response. Turning away from the message, Barry continued down the hallway. He pushed open the door to a room, but it was completely empty. Just a bare room with a window and a curtain that fluttered in the breeze. In the breeze from a window that was closed. Shrugging, Barry tried another room. This was like the other, except for a chair facing him. He turned away, but snapped his head back when he heard a squeak. There was no-one moving about...but the chair was now facing away. Barry took a deep breath and let it go. It was going to take more than parlour tricks to get to him. As he pushed open the door of a third room, he heard a noise behind him, but didn't look back as the inside of the room caught his attention. The walls were lined with bookcases, top to bottom, wall to wall. And the shelves were crammed tight with an assortment of books, old and new, mint and tattered. But in the middle of the room floated what was obviously a ghost on an old woman, complete with shawl. Although the apparition had no legs, it did have arms and torso and was reading a book, very serene-looking. Feeling a sense of deja vu, Barry took a step forwards. "Hello?" At once the creature turned and changed. Leaping towards Barry, it grew in size and its head grew monstrous teeth in an oversized mouth. Roaring, it dived onto Barry. "Down!" A voice shouted, and Barry dropped. There was an explosion, and the ghost thing was catapulted backwards across the room. It got up, but another explosion knocked it through one of the walls. Barry shook his head to clear it, and looked up to see Joe standing behind him, with a smoking shotgun. "Just as well I put some weapons in the car before we left, eh?" Joe said, winking conspiratorially at Barry. He chambered the gun. "For close encounters. And it seemed appropriate." Joe helped Barry to stand. Barry looked back towards the door, and saw it swinging open, the lock shot off. "Nice work." "Where to now?" Joe asked. "We just keep looking," Barry sighed, leading the way. _-~-_ The sliding door into the kitchen opened slowly as Barry pulled on it. From the kitchen, the view revealed Joe standing there, shotgun pointed straight ahead. "Clear," Joe reported. "It's the kitchen." Joe entered first, Barry following. They gazed around for a moment, but there wasn't anything to see. "Nothing here. Let's move on." Barry turned to go, but a sound reached his ears. A slow, steady drip, drip, drip. Barry eyed the kitchen sink, and saw that the tap was dripping. But not water. Blood. "Very atmospheric," he said, coldly. Joe crossed the floor and reached for the tap to cut the small leak off. But as he touched the tap, blood gushed in a torrent out from the plug hole, drenching the sink, the counter, and Joe. Joe turned to Barry, blinking his eyes. "You owe me for that. Get me a towel." Before Barry could move, Joe stiffened. The blood on his body suddenly moved, like a hoard of ants, upwards, until it covered his face. The red mass took on the shapes of eyes and a mouth. "Leave...This...Place...," the mouth commanded. Barry took a step forwards, threateningly. "Where is my wife?!" "She...Is...No...Longer...Yours...She...Is...Ours...." Barry took another step forwards, now in arms reach. "Where is my wife!!!" "She...Is...Ours...." Reaching up, Barry took hold of the mass, and squeezed. "GIVE ME BACK MY WIFE!!!" "You...Shall...Not...Have...Her...." The blood lost cohesion, and fell to the floor, splattering. Barry was left holding onto Joe's head. "Ow!" yelled Joe, knocking Barry's hand away. "What are you doing?" Barry didn't respond, his eyes on the blood on the floor. "I was in there, you know?" Again, no response. "Hello, Barry?" Barry turned away. "Let's find Alice." Joe grabbed onto his arm. "You could have killed me then. What is it with you?" Shaking the arm off, Barry said "I have to find Alice. If you're not going to help, just leave." "Hey, I'm on your side," said Joe, grabbing Barry's arm again. Barry's head snapped around, and he stared Joe in the eyes, although all Joe saw was the black band around his head. "Everyone needs someone in their life, someone to love and someone to love them. I have been given a *family*. I have been given what everyone *needs*, and I will *not* let anyone get in the way of that." Barry shook Joe's arm off again, and strode out of the kitchen, leaving Joe to look worriedly after him. _-~-_ Joe caught up with Barry as they climbed the stairs, but he didn't say anything, but waited for Barry's reaction. Barry continued to climb and didn't look back. They both looked up as something creaked above them. The top stair visibly bent, then snapped with a loud report. The pieces disintegrated, leaving nothingness behind. "No!" Barry shouted, and leapt up the stairway. The second step snapped and disappeared. As Barry raced, the stairway stretched out before him, the number of steps increasing into infinity. And the top stairs continued to shatter. "Net!" Barry yelled, and then flew into the air, and slowing time around him to give him an extra advantage. "Barry!" Joe shouted as he watched Barry shoot up to the second storey. As Barry touched down, the entire staircase shuddered. Joe barely had time to leap back onto the first floor before it disappeared from existence. "Look after Abby," Barry called down. "I'll be back." Joe watched helplessly as Barry moved away, out of sight, alone. _-~-_ Barry walked along the top floor of the house, not really concentrating on searching. Whatever was in control was either going to try to expel him again or go for a more direct confrontation. Barry hoped the latter. A shiver ran down his spine, and Barry froze. The prickling of the hairs on the back of his head made his instincts override his reason, and he spun around to face blackness. Not just the dark from the absence of light, but deep malevolent black, the kind that eats dark and light. Barry backed away, and watched with a slowly increasing sense of horror as the blackness came after him. Not in a rolling, oncoming gradual movement, but by sections. Up to the small side table, gone. Up to the door frame, gone. Chunks of the house, suddenly swallowed up, leaving no trace. Barry turned to run, and, far off down the corridor, saw another blackness coming closer. Looking from side to side, he saw several escape possibilities in door, and threw one open. For just a moment, he glimpsed the room beyond, then it was snuffed out, leaving only deep black to face him. Barry tried more doors, but they too were eaten. In desperation, he banged one door open with his shoulder, and his momentum carried him inside. He slammed the door shut, and lent his back against it, panting, more from fright then exertion. When his heart stopped beating so fast, he took stock of the room he was in. It was a bathroom. Bath, vanity with mirror over it. Towels on a rail. The normalcy of it was the most strange thing. Barry crossed over to the sink, and ran the water. Seeing that it was water, he splashed his face to cool off. Raising his eyes to his reflection, he observed the water drip off, and ran his eyes over his features until he reached his hazel eyes. Wait a minute. Something was wrong there... Barry jerked away, his hand finding his face, and, more importantly, the ever present black band over his eyes. The reflection didn't move in the same way. It did throw back its head and laugh mockingly. In an instant of rage, Barry lunged forwards, and smashed his fist against the glass. Time seemed to freeze for a moment...then the glass shattered, flying inwards, revealing a gaping void beyond. Before Barry could react, the void sucked at him, pulling in the air like a vacuum. Although Barry was far larger than the size of the hole of the mirror, he was picked up and pulled through in under a moment. _-~-_ Floating... Falling... Sinking... Drowning... Barry gasped and jerked as he felt himself swept over by tidal waves, not just of water, but blood...disease...hate.... He thrashed his limbs, flailing about, trying to find something to hold onto. And then he was on dry ground, baked hard by the blazing sun so hot above. He croaked, desperate to draw a breath down his parched throat, but finding no relief. And then hammer blows falling on his body, an unrelenting pounding of constant withering force, hitting and hitting and not stopping and now he's in a vacuum, pressure bursting him from inside being punctured by nails on every inch of his skin his arms stretched out with no-stop force, wrenching them from his sockets hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate beaten by hate... ...eaten by hate... "And...Now...You...Are...Ours...." _-~-_ Joe's eyes continually strayed up from playing with Abby to the house. He wore a smile for her sake, but it was the only part of him smiling. He had rung the LNH again, trying to get Occultism Kid, but he was out, something about 'guarding the weak areas while the Net.ronomicon was vulnerable'. The Legion of Occult Heroes was also absent, as were the rest of the Alt.Riders. There had been an offer from the Teen Trenchcoaters, but Joe thought they weren't quite ready for this. In the end there was nothing to do but wait...and worry. _-~-_ "Are...You...Happy...Now...." "Wh...what?" Barry felt a flash of pain go through his head as he tried to move. "You...Are...Here...With...Us...." Barry managed to get the flares of light in his eyes and the flares of pain in his head to fade away, and looked around. He was in the blackness. At least, there was blackness all around him, although he could still see himself. And he could see the other thing as well. It was humanoid, but unfinished, bits of it still moving and reforming, parts of its arms sticking to its side, and being absorbed, only to bulge out of its arms again. It was made entirely of blood. But that wasn't the worst part. It was shaped in the form of Alice. "What have you done with Alice!?" Barry yelled, lunging off the floor to attack the creature, but fell down under his own sudden overwhelming sense of disorientation. "Whatever...We...Wish...." Barry sat up, more slowly this time. "What are you?" "This...Place...And...Others...Like...It...Were...Made...As... A...Door...A...Welcoming...Place...We...Did...Not...Accept...And... Took...It...For...Our...Own...." "And threw the owner out," completed Barry. "What do you want?" "We...Want...You...To...Pain...." Barry arched as pain arced through him, sending his nerve ends into spasms. He screamed, until to stop, the sound ripped straight from his body. Then, like a puppet with its strings cut, he flopped back onto the floor. "Then take me," he gasped out. "Let Alice go. Just leave her alone!" "We...Already...Have...You...All...." Pain jerked Barry around again, making him flop about uncontrollably like a fish out of water. Again it ceased. Barry pushed himself up onto his arms. "My turn. FLAME!" Red jets of fire burst from his body, arcing out in all directions. The body of blood was caught directly in one blast, and was vapourised instantly. But apart from that, the fire just continued to stream away, touching nothing, and causing no reaction. "Did...You...Think...You...Could...Hurt...Us...." Barry spun around and around, still firing off flame, but there was nothing to see, nothing to hit, nothing to save him. He let his fire die down, until there was only blackness again. "You...Can...Only...Submit...To...Us...." "I don't think so," Barry whispered, and shut his eyes. Calming his mind, he tried to think rationally. All that was happening was an attack on his mind. The physical side was irrelevant, only the mental mattered. After all, he logically had to be somewhere, but he could not see. So his eyes were wrong. He couldn't hear, smell, taste or touch anything either, so they were wrong too. Calling up his power, he sent one more burst. Fire in his mind. He sensed more than saw the blackness around him burst into redness. Somewhere, everywhere, there was screaming. With an almost deafening rush of silence the sound stopped. Barry turned his head, this way an that, but there was nothing else. Even the air around him seemed different to what he had just felt. Risking opening his eyes, what he saw caused him to jump to his feet. Just a few feet away, in just another large empty room, lay Alice and some other woman. "Alice!" he yelled, leaping to her side. Alice stirred, but didn't have much of a chance to come to her senses before Barry grabbed her and held her tight. "Barry?" she asked weakly. "Is that you? There was..." "Shush. It's all over now. Let's just get out of here while we can." Barry helped Alice to stand, then both of them helped the other woman up. "What's going on?" she asked. "We're getting out of here, Mary," Alice replied. With Mary between them, Alice and Barry exited the room. Amazingly, right in front of them, was the main door, the way out. As Alice reached for the doorknob, it melted, the metal running in long streaks down the wood of the door. "No!" Barry shouted, and he sent a blast of fire, busting the door asunder. Beyond lay sweet freedom, and the three of them hurried out while they could. Outside they barely took the chance for a breath of fresh air, then they were racing away, unsure if the house could still do anything to them, but none of them wanting to take the risk. Joe met them before they reached the sidewalk, and he helped Mary to sit down while Alice and Barry fell into each others arms. "Not again. Never again," they whispered to each other. Joe looked back at the house, and gaped at it. Every window, and the space where the door was, was blackness. Impenetrable blackness. "What's that?" Barry barely gave a glance backwards. "Forget about it. We're all getting out of here." He helped Alice to the car. "Joe, can you drive?" Joe turned away from the house. "Sure." "Remind me to burn this place down." "It's the only way to be sure," Joe returned, but there was no answering humour in Barry's expression, just one more chilling reminder of what the house did. _-~-_ Only later could they come to grips with it. "It was a doorway for hell," said Barry. "That architect was...insane." Alice shivered, and glanced around the lounge room, momentarily feeling claustrophobic from the closed curtains and dim lighting of evening. Thankfully, Abby hadn't had any trouble falling off to sleep. But it didn't look like they would be as fortunate. Joe had gone back to the LNH, promising to get them to close the house off, destroy it if possible. Which just left the two of them. "It's all over. It can't get at us anymore." "I hope you're right," Alice replied quietly. "I'll protect you." Barry moved over to hug Alice, but was interrupted by the phone ringing. He jumped slightly as the sudden intrusion of noise, and took a breath to calm himself before answering the phone. "Hello?...Oh, hi...no, it's...it can wait...what?...what?! Are you serious? What is he...yes...all right, I'll call in the morning...see you." Alice looked inquiringly at Barry as he replaced the receiver. "It was Dva," he said, slowly. "The Alt.Riders are...moving headquarters. Not that we really had one, but...we're moving to Sin.ci.net.ty." -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Credits: All mine except Joe. He's Saxon's. Notes: Issues 10-12 were about the other Alt.Riders, so Barry was owed an issue. (Actually, I was hoping for a few issues to this story, but that didn't work out.) I always wanted to do a haunted house type story, but couldn't think what. Then I thought of the _House_ series, and boom! I've seen _House_ and _House II: The Second Storey_, although the only thing they have in common is they feature a house. I haven't seen _House III_, but I doubt many people have as it was only called that in Spain, it was _The Horror Show_, aka _The Horror House_ everywhere else. _House IV: Home Deadly Home_ does feature William Katt, but I haven't seen that either. Didn't stop me though from doing _House V_...with just a dash of _Hellraiser_. :) I am aware that _The Haunting_ came out recently, and also features a haunted house, but that movie was so crap I refuse to acknowledge it further. Just so I don't get hate mail, 'Clay and Lar's Flesh Barn' is property of Deep 13, Gizmo Institute. (It's a _Mystery Science Theater 3000_ thing.)Back to the Index.