She had been warned many times about coming to this place. Only now, for the first time, Heather truly wished she had heeded their words.
No 13, Hunter Lane had a sinister past. Everyone inevitably avoided the place, whether it be through choice or because the house itself seemed to repel any kind of attention. Everyone that is, except Heather.
Hunter Lane is a short story telling the tale of what happened when Heather allowed her obsession with No 13, to take her right into a situation, that no one but herself could save her from.
The night began like any other. Boredom. Failed attempts at distraction. Followed by more boredom. Her Mother used to say, that her incessant boredom would be the death of her. Little did they know how accurate this would turn out to be.
She glanced at the old carriage clock on her dresser, 10 o’clock. She knew that she should just call it a night and for once, get a decent sleep. However, she didn’t feel even close to tired and knew that she’d just toss and turn on a wave of overthinking, if she went to bed now.
Her thoughts began to turn to Hunter Lane. Or more accurately, to THAT house on Hunter Lane. She’d become obsessed thinking about it. To the point where everyone, including her work colleagues, thought she was bordering on worryingly macabre. But she couldn’t help it.
The stories had begun around 20 years ago, when a family had moved into No 13, Hunter Lane and never came out again. I know what you’re thinking, how can they not come out again? Are they still in there? If not, then surely, they must have moved away. Well, this was the thing, no one knows exactly what happened to them. One day the Calder’s were neighbours and the next, they were gone. No one had seen them leaving, their car had still been parked in the garage, the kids bikes and playthings were still in the garden. But there was no sign of the Calder’s anywhere.
Of course, over the years, the stories had got more and more elaborate. Sightings of Mrs Calder at the upstairs window and of Jenny and Alex (the children) playing in the back garden. However, most people took these stories with a very large pinch of proverbial salt. Although, the house had never been sold. Whether this was due to the fact the Calder’s could not be located to make the sale or because no one wanted to purchase an extremely creepy, run down house with a dark and sinister history. No one knew for sure. But Heather was drawn to the house. In a way that no one, including herself, could understand.
By the time 11 o’clock came around, Heather had read through numerous online speculations about what had happened to the Calder family and what may, or may not, have gone on in No 13, Hunter Lane. None of these had quashed her desire to go over there.
She knew she shouldn’t. She didn’t want people to think her any more strange than they already did but before she knew it, she was putting on her winter coat and grabbing her car keys. Somehow justifying in her own head, that she was just going for a drive as she wasn’t tired enough for bed.
Driving the short distance to Hunter Lane, she fleetingly thought she should tell someone where she was going. You know, just in case. Just in case what Heather! The sensible side of her subconscious screeched. Implying that if she thought there was any danger, then why the hell was she going over there in the first place! She quickly shut out that voice, allowing her more adventurous side to take the reins.
Who would she tell anyway? If she messaged her Mother, she would immediately think she had been drinking again and demand that she come home, right now, to be sorted out. Ugh. That woman always did have a way to make Heather feel like a complete failure and unable to survive on her own. No, she most definitely was not messaging her Mother.
She could message Clara, her best friend since Uni. But then Clara would worry too much and she really didn’t think that was fair. She’d given her plenty of genuine reasons to worry about her over the years. No, she wouldn’t bother Clara, or anyone else for that matter, as she was only going for an evening (almost midnight) drive to tire herself out, before bed. That was all.
And as she pulled up slowly, in front of No 13, she truly wished that it was all that this was. A drive. Every sensible part of her were positively screaming for her to continue driving and go back home. Oh, if only she had listened to them, instead of focussing on that one bold voice, telling her to get out of the car and go inside. And as she turned off the ignition and got out of the car. That was the only voice that she could now hear.
As she approached the doorway, a strange sense of calm came over her. No fear, no trepidation. Calm. It felt right to be here. Like this was where she should have been all along. It didn’t feel like trespassing (which it clearly was!). As her hand reached out to the door handle, she just knew, that the door would be unlocked. She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew.
And unlocked it was. She turned the handle and the door creaked, in typical horror movie fashion, as she pushed it slowly open. The door gave some resistance. Not because it didn’t want to open (because clearly it did. Again she didn’t know how she knew this.) but because months and months of junk mail and letters blocked the back of the door. I guess they stopped sending them at some point as the door was still able to be opened, but there was enough to mean it couldn’t open completely.
As Heather sidled in through the doorway, she noticed a shoe cabinet, just inside the lobby. It was filled with every kind of footwear, from shoes, trainers and wellington boots to walking boots and slippers. A complete family collection of footwear and all, presumably, how the Calder’s had left it.
She also noticed a pretty green glass bowl on top, where the Calder’s must have placed their keys when they entered the home. She knew this because right in the middle of the bowl, were two sets of keys. Wherever the Calder’s had went. They went in a hurry.
Now, standing in the hallway, Heather suddenly realised she had no clue what to do now that she was inside. It felt intrusive to just go walking around, looking into someone else’s rooms, especially without their permission. Her upbringing had taught her better than that and she imagined her Mothers exasperation. That brought a smile to her face as she envisioned her tutting and asking her where her manners were.
Suddenly, she thought she saw a movement, just through the doorway to her right. She stood completely still, hardly daring to breathe. Was someone else in here? What if she had disturbed some drug addled squatter, who was willing to do anything to protect his hideout and stash? Nervously and using all the courage she had, she spoke. “Is someone there?” “Hello?”. Silence. The lack of response seemed to fuel the little bit of courage she had, so she took a small step forward.
There! Again. A shadow moved across the doorway of the room to the right. It was unmistakable this time, now that she was looking straight at it. She felt all of the air leave her lungs. If she had disturbed someone, the sensible thing would be to bolt back through the still ajar front door and get back into her car and leave. However, the sensible side of Heather didn’t seem to be winning much tonight, so instead she took small, silent steps closer to the doorway where she had seen the movement.
Bang! The room door slammed shut. Heather got such a fright she stumbled backwards and tripped over one of the kids trainers that was lying messily beside the shoe cabinet. She hit her elbow off the side of the cabinet on the way down and couldn’t stop the yelp that escaped her lips as she did so.
Lying, in a heap on the floor, surrounded by shoes, she was breathing so heavily that she could barely hear the footsteps. But she could hear them. Enough to eventually feel fear. One thing was for certain. She was most definitely not alone.
Heather was unsure just how long she had been sitting there, on the floor, like a frozen waxwork of herself. It felt like hours but had probably only been minutes. The footsteps had stopped just ahead, at the bottom of the dusty wooden staircase. She felt like she should be seeing something. Someone. As she could feel with ever fibre of her body, that someone was looking straight at her. Yet there was clearly nothing there.
Ring Ring! Ring Ring! She practically jumped the height of herself and ended up in a standing position when the ring from her mobile nearly gave her a cardiac arrest. Fumbling with extremely shaky hands into her coat pocket, she retrieved the phone and saw her Mothers number flashing on the screen. Oh great! She felt more inclined to face whatever was in this house, rather than speak to her Mother but accepted the fact that she had better answer it, otherwise she would do her usual pattern, of calling every minute, until Heather eventually picked up.
“Hi Mum, why are you calling so late?” she said, in the best level voice she could muster. She had saw the time on her mobile was now 12.11 and wondered why on earth her Mother was calling this late. “Where are you, Heather! We were worried!” the shrill sound of her Mothers voice came back at her. Fantastic, not just a late call from her but a neurotic, loud, late call. Excellent. “Why are you worried, Mum? Where else would I be after midnight on a Thursday night?” she had decided that she would try to be as evasive as possible, as she really didn’t fancy admitted exactly where she was at this precise moment.
“Well that is the question, Heather! Where are you at this time on a Thursday evening? We know you’re not at home because Sarah called round to your flat at half eleven and called us concerned because you weren’t there! And your car was gone! All the lights were on!” Oh great. Of all the nights for Sarah to appear, it would have to be tonight. Sarah was Heather’s younger sister, who lived in the City whilst studying at the local University. She must have been out locally and decided to crash at Heather’s place.
“Mum, Sarah can’t keep just assuming I’m always going to be there, I have a life too you know!” Again she avoided specifically admitting where she was in the hope that her Mother would accept she was safe and not pry any further. She should have known better though. “So! Where exactly are you Heather? You’re not out drinking are you?” Oh, here we go. She really was not in the mood for an argument right now. “Mum, I am 24 years of age and I don’t have to tell my Mum when I’m going out anymore! I’m with a friend right now and really have to go. Look, I appreciate your concern and thanks for checking I’m okay but there’s really nothing to worry about. Let Sarah know I’m okay and ask her to please text me in future when she’s coming round, to make sure I’m there. I’ll speak to her tomorrow. I need to go Mum. Love you and love to Dad” and on that note she pressed end call.
As she looked up in the process of rolling her eyes, something moved. Fast. She felt the draught of it go past her towards the door. Enough to move her hair and make every single hair on her body stand on end. Whatever was in here, was now over by the only escape route she had. For once in her life, she wished she hadn’t been so quick to end the call to her Mother. She could really do with someone knowing where she was right now. She didn’t have the chance to think of that for much longer though, as the front door slammed shut in such a way that Heather just knew, if she went over there and tried the handle the door would be locked. It was yet another thing she didn’t know how the hell she knew that. But she knew. She was locked in.
She had to try it. Even although she knew it was locked, she had to try. For her own sanity. As she willed her legs to move, she could feel the sweat trickling down her back, in contest with the fear that seemed to be prickling over every inch of her skin. The calm feeling that had taken over her as she had approached the front door, was now a distant memory.
Now, as she stood directly in front of the door, a cold feel of dread seemed to wash over her and somehow passed straight through her. She shivered, adding to the shaking sensation vibrating through her body, as she reached out for the door handle. Turn. Locked. Just as she had known it would be. How had she known all these things? Open door, locked door? And why did she now feel like somehow, she was part of this house, whether she wanted to be or not.
Don’t be silly Heather, get your shit together. There must be another way out. There’s a simple explanation for this. Draughty old house. Seriously in need of repair doors. All of the events have perfectly rational explanations. However, she couldn’t help the feeling that something, was attempting to keep her here.
She decided that the sensible thing would be to go and look for another way out. Surely the back entrance, or perhaps even a window that she could climb out of. She was determined to explore all the options she had before reluctantly calling someone for help. She couldn’t bear the look on people’s faces when they knew that she had somehow got herself locked inside this house, whilst trespassing, none the less. Ugh. Why had she come here! What was wrong with her?
The first place to try, she had decided, was the kitchen. Now, which of the doors would take her there? She carefully walked over to the far side of the hallway. All of the doors were now closed, thanks to the first door slamming incident, which she was now trying to convince herself, was definitely due to a draught from somewhere. Heather. She jerked around. What the hell! She had just heard, yes, she was sure of it, someone had just whispered her name, right beside her ear! She looked around her, frantically, seeing nothing. She decided to try one of the light switches. She knew that it wouldn’t work (this time not through any strange intuition, but because no one had lived here in years, so the chances of the electricity still being on would be slim to none!). Flick. Yup, just as suspected. Nothing. Then, for the first time since she’d got here, she had a sensible idea and reached into her pocket for her phone. The handy torch app would be just the ticket right now.
And there was light. Not great light, but light none the less. She could see enough to know that there was no one else in the hallway with her but that didn’t change the feeling that there was. She decided to try each door and see if she could find the one that would lead her to the kitchen. She tried the first handle. Locked. Well, that was annoying. So, she moved around the hallway to the next door. Locked. Okay. Starting to panic a little now, she moved towards the third door, which then only left the front door. And as she turned the handle of the third door, Heather. She almost dropped the phone and spun around, positively panting with fear now.
That was when she saw the face. A grotesque, sunken cheeked, hollow eyed, face. Just before it moved quickly out of the beam of light.
The scream that Heather then let escape from her lips, would surely be heard by other houses further along the lane. Only from outside the house, no one heard her scream.
That was the thing with No 13, Hunter Lane. No one could ever hear the screams.
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