by Deren Hansen
Some screamed and ran as it shambled up the street, leaving a wake of bits of itself in the gouged asphalt.
I fished the business card out of my wallet as the house shoved one parked car into the back end of another. “Dr. Closer, Paranormal Real Estate Agent.” It still smelled like a bad joke—just what everyone else would say if I told them a house in my neighborhood decided to go for a stroll.
“Somebody do something!” Mrs. Garcia wailed. “It’s heading for my house.”
One after another, the front windows shattered.
The teenagers who had been daring each other to stand in front of the moving mass of masonry ran shrieking up the street.
“Idiots!” old Mr. Polypapanos yelled. “Whose bright idea was that?”
The house, lurching slowly from side to side, pushed the parked cars through the prize rosebushes and onto the Kravitt’s lawn.
“Ay, Dios mio,” Mrs. Garcia cried, “can no one stop it?”
There was nothing else to do. I flipped the card over, swallowed my pride, and made the call.
“Stop playing with your phone,” Mr. Polypapanos said. He rapped his cane on my head before I could leave a message. “Get in there and … and turn it off.”
“No one else is spry enough.” He jabbed his cane at my chest. “Now, quit wasting time.”
I wasn’t sure what was left of the front porch would support my weight, but, frankly the animated house was less frightening than Mr. Polypapanos, so I jumped.
The screen door unlatched and slammed into me when I landed. I managed to grab it before the porch crumbled beneath me. The house shuddered as it ground over the chunks of concrete.
Mr. Polypapanos shouted something that, between the rumble of the house and Mrs. Garcia’s crying, I couldn’t hear. But I didn’t need his advice: knowing that I would be hamburger if I lost my grip and followed the porch under the house was more than sufficiently motivating.
Not that I could ever do it again—because I’m not quite sure how I did it—but in a fit of coordination that would have shut old Coach Henderson up, I pushed off the brick wall and swung myself around in time to kick the front door open.
I had a hard time picking myself up: a house isn’t supposed to move like a boat in a force-five wind.
Looking around, I felt sick—and not from the motion: the house had been stripped. Everything was gone: the carpets; the curtains; even the cupboard doors. The green light that pulsed from the equipment closet made what was left of the kitchen cabinets look like so many eyeless skulls.
The floor bucked, I lost my footing, rolled though the suddenly open back door, and landed in the middle of the scarred asphalt.
A gloved hand at the end of a trench coat sleeve pulled me to my feet and I found myself face to face with a man who looked like a cross between a shaman and gum-shoe detective.
“I am Dr. Fagergren Closer, IV.” He smiled grimly. “I knew you would call.”
“Can you stop it,” I asked, trying to catch my breath.
“You will stop it.”
He dropped a four-foot-long copper spike onto my bruised arms. “That house,” he pointed with his chin, “it has been possessed by a zombie bank. We must repossess it by staking a claim.” He handed me a small sledge hammer. “Drive this through the floor where the green light is strongest.”
I think Dr. Closer must have thrown me through the back door because I was suddenly on the heaving floor again.
With the spike to steady me, I stumbled into the kitchen and opened the equipment closet. The furnace pulsed like a tin heart in the sick, green light shining from the bottom of the closet.
The house shuddered with each blow as I drove the copper spike through the floor. Plaster rained around me as I pounded. Then I felt the spike dig into the ground.
The green light winked out.
The house collapsed with a final groan.
Mrs. Garcia nearly knocked me over trying to kiss my cheek when I came out. And Mr. Polypapanos was actually smiling.
“You did well, my boy,” Dr. Closer said as he shook my hand. “It is, however, only the beginning. The financial apocalypse has spawned a host of zombie banks. There are many more possessed houses.” He put an arm around my shoulder. “Have you ever considered getting into a new line of work?”
I looked at the wreck of the house in the middle of the road and then at the sledge hammer in my hand. And I knew that nothing would ever be the same.
Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.