The Old Hill House

Old Silas Hill’s house had been standing alone at the end of the cul-de-sac for as long as anyone could remember. It hadn’t always been Old Silas Hill’s house, and at one point the terrifying old man had been a nasty young boy living in the home of his terrifying grandfather. The parents in the houses neighboring the Hill House didn’t like Hill’s grandfather, who had been a nasty young boy when they were children, and now they had warned their children away from the house and young Silas Hill. Their children in turned warned away their children, who warned away their children. Eventually, there had been enough warning away that it seemed that even the neighborhood itself decided that it was quite done with Silas Hill and his decrepit, aging home.

The rumors started when the house to the right of the Hill House burned down under mysterious circumstances. The family, thankfully, had been spending time with a distant relative in the midwest at the time of the blaze; much to the chagrin of their relative, the vacation became permanent. Shortly thereafter, during a particularly lovely summer afternoon, a tornado developed spontaneously and swept away the house to the left of the Hill House. The two remaining houses on the cul-de-sac were foreclosed upon by the bank, and then mistakenly demolished. As such, if one were to come down the road, they would see house after house with carefully manicured lawns and perfectly aligned shutters right up until the cul-de-sac came into view.

The difference between the bulb of the cul-de-sac and the road leading up to it was night and day. Vacant lots overrun with thistle and tall, parched weeds flanked both sides of Hill House. And standing there at the very end was Hill House itself. The lawn a barren, cracked wasteland sparsely punctuated by tufts of yellowed grass and wilted dandelions. The wood siding of the house was battered by constant exposure to the elements, the paint having been eroded away by winds and rain so long ago that now only the bleached planks remained. Shutters hung lopsided from windows and in the occasional gale strength storms would creak and slam against the house as if a demon were trying to wake the neighborhood. Moldy, moth-eaten curtains hung behind the windows, but where never drawn. Although some said that if you watched closely you could see cranky, old Silas staring out from a crack in those curtains sometimes.

So, with the strange misfortune that afflicted the other houses and Silas Hill’s reclusive nature in mind, it’s no surprise that after time, the neighborhood children would come to both fear the old Hill House and have a sort of reverent awe for it and anyone who could get close to it and stay close without being completely afraid. It became a sort of rite of passage for the kids of the street to perform a sort of oneupsmanship each outdoing the previous record holder in some small measure. The most recent record holder being Tommy, who had run all the way up to the porch of the house and stood their for thirty whole seconds before scampering back to the safety of the edge of the cul-de-sac.

Of course, Tommy had a younger brother, Bobby, who looked up to Tommy and wanted to earn the respect of him and his friends. But Bobby was always rebuffed, sometimes gently by Tommy, but other times by a litany of “Bobby’s a ‘fraidy cat” from Tommy’s friends. Of course, it was hard to refute. Despite being ten years old,Bobby had never stepped a foot nearer to the Hill House than he needed to. He was outdone even by Mr. and Mrs. Lantern’s daughter, Sally, who was only six and had gone all the way up to Mr. Hill’s mailbox. Bobby, on the other handed, hadn’t even walked up to the houses just before the cul-de-sac.

And so it was, that on this particular day, Bobby had decided to go around to the back porch of the Hill House. He had closed his eyes and just started walking down toward the end of the cul-de-sac. When he opened his eyes he was well past the house and about a hundred feet to the right of it and he had to loop back to get closer to the back porch. In Bobby’s opinion, the view from the rear of the house was not a sight better than the view from the front of the house. The beaten doors of the storm cellar did nothing to add to the appeal or lessen the disconcerting feeling that one got while viewing it.

Normally, this would be the point where Bobby would run straight back to the safety of the street. However, he thought he saw something in the crack between the panels of the storm cellar. It looked almost like a small face. As he started to move closer to it however, he heard banging of pots and pans echoing out from the kitchen window. A raspy, hoarse voice also carried itself out, and with Bobby scampered back around to the front of the house and all the way to the safety of the main street.


Very Loosely Apropos of: This Prompt

-Crouse

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