It Came From The Kitchen
I knew this was a bad idea right from the moment I stepped into the house. All of my muscles, especially the ones in my jaw, tightened, and every impulse in my body screamed at me to run in the opposite direction. Despite what instinct told me, my mind overrode it, allowing me to walk into the house with confidence I did not feel.
The front door opened right into the living room, which seemed to have also served as a dining room area. Straight ahead of that was the kitchen. But before you reached the kitchen, another archway was to the right, leading to what I presumed were the bedrooms and possibly bathroom. Right where you would enter the kitchen another door was to the left, leading to the basement.
At this point I heard someone use a curse word, and judging from the manner it was said it could only have been Duo. Glancing at him, I could see that he was leaning against the door looking slightly flustered, although I couldn’t see why. Quatre had his hand pressed over his heart, and Trowa had a deep frown on his face. He and I locked eyes for a second, and in them I could make out exactly what he was thinking.
/I don’t like this. /
Our stares lasted only another second before Heero started to take charge. He was the only one that seemed to be acting normal.
“Wufei and Trowa, search the basement...”
The rest of what he said was lost to me as I started on my given ‘mission,’ knowing that Trowa would be right behind me. We were to meet the others back where we started in an hour. And judging from how dark the basement was when I opened the door, I hoped we would be done in time.
My suspicions were confirmed when I looked Wufei in the eye. I could practically see the storm going on in his eyes, and I knew he understood what I was thinking. Duo swore audibly under his breath, and Quatre stood silently next to me with this confused look on his face. During the ride here, we were at peace with ourselves, relaxing and looking forward to some downtime together. Only when we approached the house did everyone seem to fall into a... disquiet state of mind.
Outside, I caught Quatre easily as he tripped, but I was concerned for his health. He seemed to be staggering when he walked, and I didn’t remember him being injured in that last fight. I wanted to question him on it, but a tense expression crossed his face before I could open my mouth, so I decided to leave it alone for now.
Wufei was the first to enter, and I noticed that he hesitated in his stride going over the threshold. That caught my attention very quickly. Wufei wouldn’t hesitate to die. What would cause that reaction?
I heard my name, and focused on Heero as he told Wufei and I to check out the basement. Wufei started on without me as I dropped my backpack to the floor to get out a flashlight, which was right underneath one of my guns. I figured I didn’t need anything else. We weren’t in any kind of danger.
I didn’t know about the others, but as I approached the porch of the house, something started to stir violently within me, almost tripping me up the steps. It was only Trowa’s quick hands that kept me from falling. But it didn’t stop there.
The feeling only intensified when we entered. I had to place my hand over my chest because it felt as if my heart was going to beat its way out. Resisting the urge to run, I followed behind Heero and Wufei, glancing around as Trowa came beside me on my right. Duo, bringing up the rear, closed the door but didn’t lock it, which was extremely out of character for him. He placed so many bolts and chains on our dorm room door I was sure it had put OZ to shame. As I glanced back at him, surprised, he only scoffed at me and leaned against the door, crossing his arms across his chest and lowering his chin. I watched him as he sniffed a few times, before he looked at me with a wide-eyed expression. I tilted my head in confusion, not understanding what he was trying to tell me, before he rolled his eyes and spat out, “This is bullshit.”
‘Huh?’ I thought to myself before I sniffed, and sort of understood what Duo was implying. It wasn’t what he said, but the opposite. The air didn’t smell at all. Glancing around again, I saw that there were two large pane windows taking up most of the wall, but they were closed. There weren’t any more windows in the front room, yet it didn’t smell. Actually, it smelled kind of... nice. In the air was a light hint of peppermint, and the couches and loveseat were very inviting. If the house had been abandoned as long as Heero told us it was, the air should have been stale and the furniture covered with dust.
“Quatre and Duo, take the attic. I’ll check this floor, and everyone meet back here in an hour.”
I stood still as Duo opened my backpack, taking out my flashlight and handing it to me. He then took out one of my guns and stuck it in the band of his pants. Trowa raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything, before he stood and walked off after Wufei. Heero snorted and went about his way, climbing on the furniture to check the ceiling for whatever.
Another wave of... something ran itself up my spine and I shivered in the warm room. “Duo, can you hand me one as well?”
I immediately felt better when the familiar texture of cold metal was placed in my hand.
Hell no I didn’t lock the door, and I was a nut when it came to things like that. If you can’t lock it up or tie it down, it will get taken away from you. That was how things were on L2. But I wasn’t trying to believe that here. I did not want anything to hamper me if I wanted to get the hell out of here fast.
I knew Quatre was shocked about the door thing, but I really didn’t give a damn. Something was dead wrong here, and I knew that no matter what it was, Heero and Wufei were going to fart it off. Speaking of farts... taking a quick sniff or five, I noticed that the air and everything else was pretty clean. And Dr. J told Heero that the house had been empty for nearly a year?
“This is bullshit.”
Just as I thought, I was ignored. At least Quatre started to think about what I was trying to imply, and I saw his eyes light up when he appeared to have understood. I can tell right now who’s going to be on my side in this. I knew he felt something about this place; he’s been clutching at his chest since we’ve arrived. So if I felt something was wrong, Quatre probably knew something was wrong.
“Wufei and Trowa, search the basement. Quatre and Duo, take the attic. I’ll check this floor, and everyone meet back here in an hour.”
Yeah yeah yeah. Mr. Commando as usual. Reaching into Quatre’s pack, I got out his flashlight and handed it to him, before borrowing one of his guns for myself. I felt Trowa’s eyes on me, but I mentally gave him the finger as I clicked the safety off. I saw Quatre shiver, and was going to ask if he was sick. It was nearly hot enough to heat hell in this house. What’s to shiver about?
“Duo, can you hand me one as well?”
I easily pulled out another one of his guns and handed it to him. As we made our way to the attic, he thumbed the safety off, but held his gun in his right hand as he turned on the flashlight with his left. I left the gun I took in my waistband, even though I was surprised that Quatre had his out as if he was expecting to shoot something. He also took point, which was something I liked to do when we were teamed up.
Yep. Something was definitely wrong.
There wasn’t any type of tracking equipment to be found. There wasn’t any sign of listening devices. The worst the wiring I found could do was hook up illegal cable. The strange thing about this was that nothing appeared to be out of place. In fact, this was one of the best safehouses, minus Quatre’s, that we had ever been in. The walls were an awful shade of baby blue, but they weren’t peeling. The carpet was surprisingly soft for its age, matching the wall, and the furniture was damn near new. There was a large TV and a DVD player that even had discs for us to watch. There was also a working refrigerator, a kitchen table with five chairs, heat, air conditioning, drapes on the windows, a huge bathtub, and the toilet was even supplied with toilet paper. As far as I knew, no one had laid eyes on this house until we did.
So why did I feel like we were being watched?
Dr. J emailed me, telling me that after a joint mission the five of us would partake in, we were to hide out in a forgotten house in the Midwestern part of America for two weeks for recuperation. I didn’t know how that would be possible if I couldn’t get myself to calm down. Trowa and Wufei weren’t as obvious, but I could tell they had their guards up. Duo tended to be obnoxious when he was upset about something, and it seemed he was already on his way. But Quatre’s offensive has made it clear to me that I wasn’t the only one who felt something was not as it should have been. Still, that didn’t matter. We already buried the car and walked seven miles here.
Unless something happened, we weren’t going anywhere.
I fought down the bile that was trying to rise in my throat. How Trowa was able to look at this crap without gagging was beyond me. I was thankful we could only use a flashlight. I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) imagine how bad the walls really were with electrical light. The smell of mildew was probably stunting my growth, and judging by the lack of crevices, I assumed that there were many layers of it on the wall.
I followed behind Trowa as he wandered around, shining the light on every surface to make sure nothing was harmful. So far we found plenty of mildew, a few two by four planks with mildew growing on it, washer and drawer connections harvesting a mildew farm, and a lightbulb that hung from the ceiling. That didn’t have mildew on it, but it was caked with dust. I just wish the stairs didn’t look like something that came out of one of Maxwell’s horror movies. It just screamed Frankenstein.
But everything appeared to be normal, except...
“Hey Trowa. Go back again?”
It was obvious that there had been a flood here a while ago. The floor had a lot of dried mud on the surface, and the amount of mildew in here was unbelievable. I’m surprised it didn’t have the power to push itself off the wall and walk around. It was thick enough.
I was just glad Wufei was behind me. Despite the fact I couldn’t see his face, I had an idea of what his expression was, and that thought was enough to force me to roll around on the floor in laughter if it was in me. And if the floor wasn’t so dirty. So we continued to walk around in small circles, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. I guess we won’t need an entire hour.
“Hey Trowa. Go back again?”
Shining the light straight ahead of me I saw that there was a door leading out of the basement, about ten feet in front of us. Upon examination, the rust on the lock seemed to have rendered it useless, so a good tug had it opened in no time. That revealed another staircase, this one to the right of us that lead up to another door. At this point I turned off the flashlight. Even though there was a lot of dirt on the door’s windows, enough sunlight had escaped through to illuminate the five or so steps. Thanks to a well placed kick from Wufei, that door opened and we stepped outside into the house’s back yard.
It was the first time in a while that both Wufei and I smiled.
The yard was a large field, stretching out for miles around. The golden brown grass was about waist high, and bowed in whatever direction the wind decided to blow. The sun was high and bright in the cloudless sky, with a perfect breeze to match.
For the rest of our hour, we stood there in the sun.
I finally got my coughing under control when I made it up the stairs into the attic. Duo was afraid that I would start coughing again, so he asked (A.K.A. threatened) me to sit down in a corner while he checked things out. I agreed, only because I felt that something was out of place, yet whatever it could be was too broad for me to pinpoint. It was grating on my nerves.
The worst I could tell came from the kitchen. To get to the attic you had to go into the kitchen, and on the wall in the far left corner was the attic door. Right when we entered I started coughing so bad I couldn’t stand up straight. Duo had to take my gun away and help me walk until I made it up the stairs. In this dust and mote-covered room I wasn’t sneezing, yet downstairs everything was clear and I was on the verge of a seizure.
I wanted to tell the others what I felt, but I knew that they felt the same way. I supposed it was pointless. I guess what bothered me the most was that I couldn’t tell if this feeling we all were having was anything to worry about. I couldn’t tell if it was good, menacing, or anything. It was just... there, hanging about.
Like a puppet master holding its puppet’s strings before manipulating them.
Quatre sure as hell knew how to scare a guy to death. The way he was coughing, I had my hand over his mouth, waiting for a lung to come shooting out. Jeez.
I glanced at Quatre just to make sure he was okay before making my small trek around the attic. The sole window was small and round, about the size of a basketball, with a crucifix built in the middle, splaying the light unevenly across the walls. Other than that there was nothing to be found: no furniture, no boxes with useless shit in them, nothing. No spiders, no mice, not even the remains of dead insects. I couldn’t believe how this house, in a field in the middle of nowhere, could NOT have some furry critters running around. That’s cool though. It meant we wouldn’t have to worry about live things crawling into our sleeping bags.
Releasing a slow breath, I decided it didn’t matter. Whatever feeling I had earlier had died in its intensity to a dull ache. I wasn’t hostile anymore, but I was feeling really annoyed, like having a strand of hair that kept falling into my face no matter how many times I tucked it behind my ear. At least this way I would be able to relax. Glancing at Quatre again, I saw that he had fallen asleep against the wall. Smiling to myself, I walked over to him to wake him up but changed my mind. He had the right idea. Instead, I sat down right beside him, and rested my head against the wall as I let my eyes close.
Hell, Heero knew where to find us.
An hour was too much time. Everyone was pretty much done in less than ten minutes. I took the most time, which was about eighteen minutes. Then for the rest of the hour, I stood on the back porch, which was behind the kitchen, looking outside. Trowa and Wufei did nothing but stare at the sun. I got tired of watching them and went to the attic in search of Duo and Quatre. I found them asleep near the stairs. I brought up their sleeping bags and pillows, where Duo promptly woke to crawl inside of his. Quatre didn’t budge. I ended up just draping it around him like a blanket.
Now it was night, and I was outside with Trowa and Wufei as we laid on the grass on our own sleeping bags, watching the birds and clouds flow across the moon. We didn’t speak and hadn’t done so since we arrived. But none of us were in the mood to talk. We were content to just enjoy the silence.
Silence. Too much of it.
Where were the insects?