Aslan had been acting oddly for days, now. It wasn’t like him to jump at every sound or to run out of rooms for seemingly no reason. He was a very loving, lazy cat who enjoyed sunning himself and sleeping in warm, cozy areas. Edie would usually find him curled up on her laptop or sprawled atop the refrigerator. At eight years old he had little use for the typical kitten-like mischief, which made his behavior that much more strange. Edie doubted it was the move to the new house, as she was a military brat and he had been with her through three long distance moves with no issues.
Edie Moss had just finished her senior year of high school when she decided that she and Aslan were going to move to Oregon, where she would work to get her photography business up and running. Her father was stationed in Washington, and her family had taken many trips down to Oregon for vacations. It was on one particular trip to see Thor’s Well, that she had fallen in love with the area. Three years later saw her settling into a small one bedroom, one bathroom house with a basement that would easily convert to a darkroom. It wasn’t much, but it was hers, and she loved it. Aslan, however, had started acting skittish the moment they had walked in the door. Edie tried to console him, but nothing seemed to bring him out of his funk. Figuring that he would adjust sooner or later, Edie went about unpacking and making the space her own.
Edie jolted upright in her bed and threw her hand out towards the nightstand, searching desperately for her eyeglasses. As soon as they were placed upon the bridge of her nose she looked around her bedroom, desperately searching for what could have startled her out of her sleep. She was quite a deep sleeper and rarely had night terrors, so to wake up so abruptly, sweating and feeling jittery was a rather strange occurrence for Edie. Seeing nothing, but feeling too alert to fall back to sleep, she untangled herself from her sheets and placed her feet on the ground. Her eyes went wide and gooseflesh erupted down her arms as she felt cool air blow across her Achilles tendons. Clenching her fists, she popped off the bed and knelt down to see Aslan crouching behind the bed skirt. Edie chuckled at her apparent overreaction and pulled him towards her, cradling him to her chest. He let out a quiet mew and bumped her nose with the crown of his head. Edie smiled and turned just in time to see a dark shadow play against the bathroom door opposite her bedroom. She squeezed Aslan tighter and took a deep breath, convincing herself that her eyes deceived her. Obviously the nightmare had amped her adrenaline levels and it was slow to wear off. Kissing the armful of fluff, she turned and made her way to the kitchen for a glass of water. As she made it to the refrigerator, there was a creaking in the living room which caused Aslan to jump out of her arms and hide on top of the fridge. Edie hissed as his back claws had dug in to the tender skin above her breasts whilst making his escape. Noise forgotten due to the burning sensation, Edie flipped the light on to inspect her wounds. If she had only looked up, she would have seen the shadowlike reflection of a tall, muscular man standing directly behind her. She turned the water on and let it warm up a bit before grabbing a paper towel and getting it damp before touching it to the three bloody lacerations. It stung a bit, but she figured it would do until she got her drink of water and was able to head to the bathroom to clean them out with soap and apply some salve. Unable to get Aslan down from his hidey-hole, Edie grabbed her water and flipped the light off, still not catching the figure hovering behind her.
Edie and Aslan had been living in the home for just eight days, and it had been four days since she had been wounded. The bleeding had stopped almost immediately, but Edie kept finding drops of blood in strange places. She’d spotted them on her bathroom counter, her nightstand, the doorknob to the back yard and on top of her dining room table. Each time she discovered more, she attentively checked Aslan over making absolutely sure he wasn’t wounded in anyway. He never was, but he also had yet to relax in the home. On that note, Edie had been pulled violently from sleep every night since the first incident. The nerves were starting to take their toll on her, with her imagining more and more often she was seeing things in her peripheral vision.
It was much too late at night for her to be up and working in her darkroom, but she couldn’t help but push herself to finish this project. Edie knew when she took these photos that they would be gorgeous and that her family would love to see Aslan in all his glory in front of the beautiful view she had from the bay window situated in her living room. She set the timer on her watch to alert her when she needed to take the photos out of the developer and started to ascend the stairs to the kitchen. Her hand was shaking as she attempted to pour the coffee into her red mug. She was hearing them again. The whispers. She couldn’t make out what was being said, but it was terribly unsettling. She rubbed her eyes and sighed, then cried out as her knuckles brushed against the hot pot of coffee she was settling back over the hot plate. She glanced down and was hardly surprised to see the skin was an angry red, already preparing to blister. Another sigh left her lips as she turned to run them under cold water, hoping to lessen the swelling and soothe the burn.
After quickly applying some burn cream to her newest injuries, Edie rushed down the stairs into the basement and shut herself away in the dark room. Something felt off, but she shook the feeling off and got busy finishing up the developing process. She didn’t take more than a quick peek at the wet photographs as she clipped them up to dry, barely able to keep her eyes open. All she wanted at that moment was to crawl up the stairs and into her bed. Hopefully she would have a cuddle partner, if only she could convince Aslan to stop hiding under the bed. She hit the lights and, once again, trudged up the stairs, calling for her furry companion on her way to the bedroom.
Edie woke up feeling exhausted, but excited for her day. It was lovely out and it would be perfect to drive down and get some shots of Thor’s Well. She was hoping she might get the perfect shot to turn into a postcard or something that she could sell to eager tourists. As she prepared for the day she noticed that Aslan was looking disheveled. Her tiny lion was just not himself. She resolved to make an appointment for him to be seen just as soon as she got home from her outing. With a behind-the-ears scratch and a kiss to the head, Edie was out the door and driving down the coast. She didn’t notice the blood spatter on the floor beside the couch before she left.
Arriving home Edie was practically vibrating with excitement at the day she had just had. She had been able to capture some absolutely incredible photos and even handed out her business card to a few people who had stopped to chat with her. She walked into her home and locked the door while calling out for Aslan, hoping to see him back to himself but was once again disappointed and concerned. He didn’t look any better than he had that morning, and in fact seemed worse. She scooped him up and gave him a cuddle, then went to contact the local veterinarian to schedule an appointment for the next day. Once that was complete, she noted the time and figured she would eat and feed Aslan before heading down to the dark room to start developing the pictures from today and look over the ones she had developed the day before.
She cleaned up after herself and rinsed Aslan’s dishes out, ignoring the now familiar sensation of gooseflesh as it seemed to be a constant when in her new home. Once she made it into the darkroom, she set her camera down and went over to the photo line. She pulled the pictures down, one by one, until she had them stacked neatly in her arms and took them over to her little table to give them a proper look over. Edie’s wide smile dimmed as she caught a strange figure and face in the photos that most certainly shouldn’t have been there. The more she looked through, the more she started to hear the whispers; to understand what was being said. She looked up from the now disorganized pile of photographs and stared at the corner of the room where a tall, muscular man was standing. Their eyes locked as he continued to whisper things to her and tears of blood ran down her face. She could faintly hear Aslan scratching at the basement door.
Whispers: Dorothy’s Story
Dorothy had lived in Yachats, Oregon for most of her life. At 68 years of age, that was saying quite a bit. She’d seen things change and people come and go often. The small house at the end of her road was one that had seen quite a bit of traffic. As a young girl, she remembered the house as being warm and inviting. The elderly couple that lived there were always kind and she often went there after school for piano lessons and warm oatmeal cookies. Mr. and Mrs. Walker had two children that had moved out long ago, and had their own families. Dorothy remembered the day she met their eldest son, Geoffrey. She had never seen the man before, but he looked quite a bit like his father. Tall and muscular, he was a handsome man, if a bit stern looking. She approached the house for her lessons, but was told that the elder Walkers had passed away in their sleep over the weekend. Dorothy was distraught. They had seemed so lively just the week before when she had seen them last. She was slightly consoled by the knowledge that they went together and peacefully, though.
It wasn’t long after his parents had passed that Geoffrey and his wife, Margaret, moved into the home. Dorothy hadn’t been back inside the Walker’s home since the wake. She noted how cold and uninviting it felt, but had attributed that to the death of people she had considered friends. Walking to her home from school, she could sometimes see Margaret standing and gazing out the window. For some reason, this made Dorothy very uncomfortable. Something seemed off about the couple, but she could never place what it was. Maybe it was due to her age, or the fact that she grew up in a loving household, but others in the neighborhood knew what was going on. She heard snippets of her parents talking quietly or the whispers of her mother’s friends when they came over for their book club meetings. She didn’t fully understand, though, until she woke up to her mother sobbing, crying about how awful it was. Apparently Geoffrey wasn’t quite right in the head and had killed his wife in a brutal fashion, bleeding her through cuts all over body before finally slitting her throat with a hunting knife. He wrote notes about the voices he heard in his head all along the walls and floor in her blood, before embedding the same hunting knife into his brain.
It took years, a dirt cheap price and a young couple from out of state for that house to eventually sell. The couple didn’t move in straight away, but took the money they had saved in the sale price and used it to completely remodel the home. Dorothy still didn’t want to get near the house, but was happy to see the change in it, as the reminders of the horror the house had seen seemed to fade a bit. The couple had only been living in the newly updated home for a few weeks when they suddenly packed their things and posted the house for sale. None of the townspeople knew for certain why the young couple did this, but there were plenty of rumors going around.
For thirty years, this house was bought and subsequently put back on the market. Dorothy had lost count of the times the property changed hands, but remembered it was the early nineties when someone bought the place and turned it into a rental home. After the first five tenants moved in and out within the first year, Dorothy could remember thinking that the owner was raking in fees from broken leases.
It wasn’t until about fifteen years later, when a young woman and her cat moved into the home that things seemed to change. Edie seemed like such a sweet girl, coming over to introduce herself to Dorothy, telling her about herself and her photography. Dorothy had even met Aslan, when Edie had seen her out in her front lawn tending her small garden. Edie was a strong young woman, stubborn even, Dorothy could tell. She wondered how long she would stay in the home before packing her things and her cat and leaving like all of the tenants before her had.
Dorothy was out in her garden when she saw Edie packing her camera gear into her car. She waved as Edie drove off, and wondered what she would be photographing this time. Dorothy took her time tending to her flowers and sweeping off her porch before she went inside to eat lunch and rest. Just before closing her front door, her eyes went to Aslan in the bay window of the house down the street, and a chill went down her spine. That had happened before, always right before the other tenants had moved out and she assumed she’d see Edie packing her things into her car for good tomorrow morning.
She had just finished washing her dishes from dinner when she saw Edie’s car pulling in to the driveway. Dorothy had the thought to step outside and say something to Edie; say anything to her. She stopped, however, as she realized that any warning she may have would probably just be taken as the crazy ramblings of an old woman. No, Dorothy thought, better to just experience the strangeness and move on with life. She spared one last look at the house at the end of the road and turned towards her bedroom to retire for the evening.
Dorothy’s eyes fluttered as the sun peeked between her blinds. She had the oddest sense of foreboding, but shook it off to start her day. She carried on with her typical tasks in typical fashion, but there was something not quite right about the day. Dusk came and she realized that she hadn’t seen Edie leave the house all day. While that wasn’t completely abnormal, she couldn’t help but be concerned about the sweet girl that lived in that strange house. She glanced down the street, but didn’t see anything amiss. Dorothy shook her head and closed the blinds. If she didn’t hear anything from Edie before supper tomorrow, she promised herself that she would head over and take a look for herself.
Swatting at the covers and sitting upright, Dorothy awoke with her heart pounding and sweat running down the back of her neck. Although she was unsure what had caused her night terror, or even what it was about, she vowed to head over to see Edie directly after breakfast. Dorothy hopped into a cool shower and swiftly fixed a bowl of oatmeal. She ate and washed up quickly, before heading out the door. She hadn’t made it halfway to Edie’s house when she caught sight of a rather disheveled looking Aslan pawing madly at the bay window. As disconcerting as that was, the red streaks left behind on the glass were more so. Dorothy rushed to Edie’s front door and began to knock. Receiving no response did nothing to settle Dorothy’s panic, and she began to beat heavily on the door while calling to the younger woman. When she heard nothing but Aslan’s frantic mewling, she used the spare key that Edie had given her shortly after moving in.
The door creaked as it opened and Aslan rushed between Dorothy’s legs. Bending down to try and soothe the agitated cat, Dorothy was alerted to the red stains covering his tawny coat. She gasped and stood upright, once again calling out to Edie. She heard nothing and started to become even more concerned. Dorothy checked room to room and came up empty. Aslan ran between her legs for the second time and then ran to the door leading down to Edie’s darkroom. Realizing what the feline was trying to tell her, she slowly opened the basement door.
The stairway light wouldn’t come on, and it wasn’t until she stepped on broken glass halfway down the stairs did Dorothy realize why. Somehow the bulb had exploded, leaving the staircase shrouded in an eerie darkness. Once she finally reached the basement floor, Dorothy saw the red light flickering under the crack of the darkroom door. She took a deep breath and approached the door, calling out to Edie. When no response was heard, she twisted the handle and pushed the door inwards. The sight that greeted her was one she would never forget.
There, sat at her reviewing table, was Edie. The girl’s eyes were blown wide open and blood covered almost every pale inch of her face. Dorothy couldn’t believe what she was seeing. It was terrifying and her body was frozen with shock. Blood was pooled around the chair Edie was sitting in, her clothing drenched in it. There was so much blood, Dorothy thought, there was no way she was still alive. She tremulously made her way towards the younger woman and gently laid her fingers on Edie’s neck to check for a pulse. Although Edie was cool to the touch, Dorothy could detect a faint pulse and she immediately pulled her hand away. As quickly as she could, Dorothy took off up the stairs and called 911.
Not more than fifteen minutes had passed between trying to describe the scene to the emergency operator and paramedics rushing into the house. Dorothy couldn’t even bring herself to go back down to where she had found Edie. She had scooped Aslan into her arms and sat, rocking herself back and forth on the couch. When the paramedics and police had entered the house, she just lifted a shaking hand and pointed towards the basement door. She tried her best to answer the questions the police asked her, but she really didn’t know much. The only things she knew for certain was that there was no way in hell she was ever stepping foot in this house again and that she would never be able to erase what she had seen, no matter how desperately she would try.