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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1951016
Flint tries to disprove the curse of Friday the 13th.

Flint woke early Friday the 13th, prepared to subvert the cavalcade of doomsday legends by proving everyone wrong. He slipped out before his family woke, hopped on subway thirteen, sat in row thirteen, and rode it to Thirteenth Avenue, where a house erected by Gustov Matheson in the 1800's stood. A museum of sorts. Every room a recreation of horrific disasters, all purported to have occurred on Friday the thirteenth. Now, his great-grand daughter ran the sideshow. 

"You're a brave man, coming here on Friday the 13th," said Kathleen. 

Flint rolled his eyes. "Never did believe that balderdash. I'm proving my friends wrong."

"Their names, sir?" Kathleen tapped her pencil and stared at him.

His stomach soured. "Why do you want their names?"

"Standard procedure."

"Why don't you need my name?"

Kathleen tipped her head and offered a wry grin. "We know your name, Flint Trent."

"How? I never told you."

"You signed the guest book. Your friends' names, please."

Flint shivered, hot, then cold. He didn't remember signing anything and didn't want to give her the names, but as the words slipped from his tongue, Kathleen recorded them. 

"Which room would you like to visit?"

"Thirteen," he said, wondering why the number came so abruptly.

Beads of sweat dotted Kathleen's brow. "The physicality of that room fluctuates on the 13th." She shuddered. "Choose another."

"Utter nonsense. I demand the room requested." A vein in his temple throbbed.

Kathleen paled. "Take the stairs to the thirteenth floor. Look for room thirteen."

Flint hesitated. The fear in Kathleen's eyes was stark. Not theatrics to garner customers. He pushed away the implication, strode to the staircase and began his climb. Thirteenth room not always there. My mother's bones. He set off down the hall, counting doors. Seventeen of them, but no room thirteen. This is preposterous. Rooms can't vanish and reappear. He returned to the staircase and counted again. Eighteen rooms. One extra. Thirteen is here.

He repeated the drill, this time, the hall curved right. When it straightened, he was standing in front of the 'missing' door. A fine sheen of perspiration slicked his tall frame, but chills were crawling up his arms. Standard scary stuff, but he entered the room on tiptoes. Blinking in the gloom, he fumbled for a light switch, found a gas lamp and a match to strike. It emitted an eerie glow. He fisted his hands to stop the shakes.

"Welcome home," whispered the walls.

"Welcome back," scratched the tree branch against the window.

"We've been waiting," sighed the wind.

Flint stumbled back against the door, fumbled for the knob, felt a solid wall. He raised his voice to disguise the tremor. "What's going on here? Probably a lame recording played back when some sucker enters," he said, while scrutinizing the walls and looking behind furniture, determined to discover the device. He was no longer the disdainful, cocky man who woke early this morning. Had it been merely a few hours ago?

"You've been away longer, this time, Flint. Did you enjoy your time on the outside?"

Flint's breath came in huffy spurts, and he bent over, hands braced on knees to steady his heart until the pounding slowed to a normal rhythm. "Not funny, whoever's pulling this prank. Never been here before."

Laughter. "That's what you always say, Flint. In a few minutes, you won't remember leaving, because you never really do."

"Balderdash. I have a family. Glenda, my wife—"

"Yes, we know. Expecting again. This time, a boy."

Flint whirled around. "Let me outta here. Where's the door?"

"We're disappointed in you. The same worn out story every year, on Friday the 13th. For the last two-hundred years." Apparitions stepped from the walls and others skulked from behind furniture.

"No, it's not true." Flint rubbed his eyes, stopped breathing for a few seconds.

"Accept the truth. You reduced us to ashes. The continued existence is boring. But we do enjoy the Fridays you so desperately spend disproving the curse. And, it's fun to make the room vanish. We're so pleased you kept looking. We've never done that before, and you trying to pinpoint it was a breath of fresh air."

"Why are we trapped here?"

"Don't you remember?"

"No." But Flint sensed a horror building in his mind. Something he longed to forget.

"You brought us here to party on Friday the 13th. You were smoking. Drinking. Laughing."

A whiff of burned wood caught Flint's attention. And something much worse. Charred flesh. His charred flesh. "I came to see the attraction. The mansion. The museum of horrors. Kathleen is the greeter." 

"All figments of your imagination. Trying to right a wrong that can never be fixed. You experience it as reality. You created Kathleen, hoping one day you'd take her advice and change history."

"Gustov Matheson. He built this place."

"Another fabrication."

"Look, I have the brochure filched from the lobby." Flint shook empty hands at his accusers. "I'm telling you, I had a brochure."

The sigh of wind, like someone exhaling. "It's tedious reliving the incident. Pointless."

Flint was tiring. Weakening. "What happened here?" he asked, his voice light as the voices from whispering walls.

"You fell into a drunken stupor and dropped your pipe, still lit, setting the room ablaze, while we slept. We died in here. We're mere wisps of shadows, our bodies burned to a crisp. Brittle ghosts, if you will."

Flint drifted toward the desiccated remains. Trailed his fingers over remnants of wallpaper. Watched his arm being swallowed.

"Welcome home," whispered the walls.

"Welcome back," scratched the tree branch against the window.

"We've been waiting," sighed the wind.

Scorched phantoms retreated to behind the furniture.

"We resent your ability to escape by using your brain, which should be bloodless. Incinerated and non-functional. Next year, we'll find a way to stop you. Friday the 13th is a cursed day because of your actions. You don't deserve the ability to forget every year, because you're the curse, Flint."

w/c 998

Prompt: Horror/Scary  - Friday the 13th: "Bah! I don't believe in that whole Friday the 13th scary stuff. It's just a bunch a nonsense," he always argued until the day...
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