I was going to use this for chapter 6 of Emperor of the Dark, but I hate chapter 6 now and must destroy it.
The Growling Room
The growling room has stopped growling, and she doesn’t like that.
Not because she was overly fond of the constant, threatening rumble that menaced her every time she entered the hallway, but because it had been safe in it’s own terrible way.
Whatever was in there, whatever it was, she knew where it was.
Contained. Locked away.
But now it was quiet. It unnerved her to think… she tried not to think.
Maybe it was just resting.
Maybe it was just waiting.
Maybe it was just
Had the maid been in there, earlier? The maid wasn’t allowed in there. She didn’t have a key, did she? Mary-Sue would never be so careless. The locked room was the secrets room was the room where nobody was allowed without a key. Had her mother gone inside, looking for something in the wake of her father’s death, something for the funeral, something for the life insurance company, something for his twice grieving sister to blot at the greasy stain of tragedy that she will never fully get out, something for her to press her own face against and inhale the faded scent of his cologne before burying it in the trash?
Had the door been unlocked? Was it still?
She thought about reaching for it, the knob. It would be cold in her hand
(not monster mouth wet hot it wouldn’t twitch against her fingertips) (again)
surely it wouldn’t budge
(not turn in her sweaty palm and)
it was locked after all
(always locked, always, it was the only door in the house with a functioning lock, just the way her father liked it),
but suppose, if you will, that it wasn’t?
(because imagine, if you will, the knob hot and wet and twisting and the door swinging open all the way and suddenly she’s standing there in the hallway slowly realizing that the room that wasn’t locked isn’t empty)
She shifted in place, bare feet scraping soundless across the heavy carpet. Looked back over her shoulder to see if she was still alone. Swallowed hard and gathered up every ounce of courage a coward like her could make -believe, and knocked lightly on the wall just left of the door frame. Wakey wakey eggs and bac-ey.
At first, nothing.
She knocked again, a little louder, a little harder, a little closer to the door, her skin beginning to shiver-crawl as she imagined the growling booting back up, low and hungry and right behind her.
She stopped knocking, let her hand drop, listened to the silence stretch taut until she thought it might snap, let her heart drop, because this was a bad sign, a bad idea to be out here at all, and then
A heavy thump caused her heart to skip. Another one caused it to stop altogether. A third one, and a fourth, and then nothing.
Paralysis, silence. Her father’s voice, full of gravel and confusion, saying her name like a question. Inside the growling room that had stopped growling and started calling her name.
“Angela?” Another voice, sad and small behind the door, and her own voice was sad and small on her side of the door, and the doorknob was hot wet in her hand, refusing to turn no matter how she fought it.
After a brief while, she gave up.
The doorknob rattled in the sudden silence, twitching and pulsing like a blunted glassmeat organ, moaning against her palm, sighing when she pulled away.
She wiped furiously at her jeans and forced herself not to cry.
The door is still locked, she reassured herself, but she didn’t want to stay inside.
I don’t want to go outside, either, but what choice did she have?