God, she was tired.
She hid her yawning mouth behind her hand and turned her head to look outside the window. She hadn’t been able to sleep the night prior due to stress and adrenaline, and the coffee she’d practically injected into her bloodstream this morning hadn’t helped any. Her heart was pounding while her eyes stung, and every time she thought about it she wanted to cry.
The feeling of weight shifting next to her made her look over to see her sister, Violet, getting more comfortable by leaning her shins against the back of the passenger’s seat. She was scrolling through her iPod, presumably looking for a new song to play. Ah, iPods. Apart from the whole holy-crap-I’m-in-a-TV-show thing, the older technology was definitely the most difficult thing for Catherine Harmon to get used to. That and the lack of music. There were a good couple songs she regularly wished she could listen to.
“How much longer?” her sister asked.
Here we go. She rolled her eyes fondly. Violet was not a fan of long road trips.
“We’re almost there, Vi,” Ben, her father, said and she could hear the amusement in his voice.
Violet groaned and settled back into her seat. Catherine took a sip of her second iced coffee of the day, and comfortable silence filled the car once more.
The silence didn’t last long, however, as fifteen minutes later her sister spoke back up. “How much longer?”
“We’re almost there,” her father patiently responded.
“Would you shut up? Asking every five minutes won’t change anything.” Catherine’s tone was humorous, yet she still received a death glare. She tried not to laugh.
“Hey, calm down back there,” her mother, Vivien, spoke from the front. “Focus on the scenery instead. Look, the light’s different out here. Softer somehow.”
“Yeah, it’s called smog,” said Violet.
She heard her father’s brief snicker. “You should be excited, Vi. You can stop sneaking cigarettes and just start taking deep breaths.”
The comment startled a laugh out of Cat, and she could see her sister’s lips twitching.
“I need to go to the bathroom,” Violet tried to change the subject.
“Ten minutes, Vi, can you handle that?” Ben was tapping his fingers on the steering wheel.
Violet groaned and went back to fiddling with her iPod.
“You know,” he said cheekily, “I’m glad we named you Violet… Instead of our second choice.”
Vi looked curious. “Which was..?”
“Sunshine,” Vivien responded, and the sound of chuckles filled the car.
True to her father’s words, ten minutes later they’d arrived at the house.
This is bizarre.
Although she knew that the inexplicable (she refused to use the word “supernatural” since in her eyes, they were just as natural as humans) existed ever since she realized which family she’d been re-born into, she’d never actually had any kind of experience post-reincarnation. Being in front of the Murder House of all places, she suddenly felt the gravity of the situation.
She and her family made their way over to the front door, and she couldn’t keep her eyes off of the windows. I wonder if we’re being watched. What am I saying? We’re fresh meat. Of course we’re being watched.
Her dad rung the doorbell and wrapped an arm around her mom. “I love it. Don’t you love it, hon? I mean, look at it, it looks even better than it did online.”
Her mom hummed. “Yeah, it… it’s interesting.”
Violet crossed her arms, looking unimpressed. “Great, so we’re the Addams Family now.”
Catherine couldn’t help herself, as she quietly whistled part of the jingle and grinned at Violet when she heard her snap her fingers twice.
“Oh come on, you two, isn’t this place amazing?”
Violet opened her mouth to say something, but the door swung open and her sister shut her mouth.
The woman behind it looked exactly how Catherine remembered her: pasty, middle-aged, with a hairdo that screamed “conservative suburban mom,” and an outfit that she couldn’t picture being flattering on anybody. Her over-the-top practiced smile made Cat want to sneer, and judging by the look on her sister’s face, she wasn’t the only one.
“Welcome! Please, come in,” the woman that had previously introduced herself as Marcy said, and politely ushered them in through the door. “I trust your drive here was pleasant?”
“It was certainly… eventful. So many new things to look at,” Vivien responded with a slightly forced laugh.
“Oh, I imagine things are a bit different over on the East Coast. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never left the state, you see!”
Her mom was clearly unsure as to how to respond, so her dad decided to intervene with a smile. “So, what can you tell us about the house?”
Marcy’s eyebrows twitched, and she began her real-estate agent spiel. “Well, this house is a beautiful classic L.A. Victorian. Built around 1920 by the doctor to the stars of the time! Oh, it’s just fabulous. These here are real Tiffany fixtures. As you can see, the previous owners really loved this place like a child. They restored everything.”
Her mother hummed in interest.
Ben looked over at Cat with an impressed smile and drawled out, “Tiffany. Wow.”
She rolled her eyes and smiled when he playfully jabbed her arm with his elbow.
Marcy was going on about the kitchen now, and Catherine tuned her out. She found Violet in the library and asked, “Wanna come check the upstairs out?”
Violet’s face brightened and she nodded.
She walked back to the kitchen and grabbed her dad’s attention. “Me and Vi are gonna go upstairs and explore.”
“What, getting bored?”
“Yes,” Violet responded.
He chuckled and nodded his head. “Go on, then. We’ll call you down if you’re not back by the time we come to a decision.”
Cat perked up and turned to Violet. “Come on. There has to be a bathroom somewhere around here, right?”
They found the first story half-bathroom, and after Violet went, they walked up the stairs. A door caught Catherine’s attention, and she began walking towards it. She turned to her sister. “Do you wanna split up, or explore things together?”
Violet looked down the length of the hallway. “Uhhh, let’s split up. I wanna see what’s back there.”
Catherine nodded with a smile. “Alright, well, guess that just means I get to jump out and scare you.”
“Not if I get you first,” Violet grinned and started walking away. Catherine turned the doorknob and entered what looked to be a bedroom.
It was definitely larger than her room in their apartment, but it wasn’t large enough to be the master bedroom. The double bed looked comfortable, and she could help but lay down on it. Damn, that’s comfy. She giggled and stood up. The room looked cozy, and if they got the house she was definitely claiming it as her own. She noticed an en-suite bathroom and opened the door to come face to face with a beautiful floor-length mirror. Dang, that shower looks amazing. Yes, she was definitely calling dibs on this room.
She exited the bedroom and saw another door at the end of the hallway, before it turned right. Another bedroom, maybe? She paused in her step when she realized that the door was closed. Violet had to have gone in there, right? She could be hiding to try and scare me; she did say she’d try to get me first. Narrowing her eyes, she slowly made her way over to the room. The sound of her heels clacking on the wooden floor was nearly as deafening as the sound of her heart rate picking up.
She noticed a broom closet to her left, and her breath hitched. That’s a much better place to hide. She could be in there. Bracing herself, she quickly slid the door open and thought she saw Violet, though it was only a trick of her mind. She sighed in relief.
Later, Catherine would vehemently deny that she jumped and shrieked like a little girl when her sister popped out from behind her, but at that moment she did just that. She spun around, nearly losing her balance in the process, and placed her hand over her racing heart only to see Violet double over while laughing.
“You bitch!” she exclaimed, breathless.
“I- hahaha. I did say I’d get you first,” Vi managed to get out, before leaning against the wall and calming herself down.
“Where were you even hiding?” she asked incredulously.
She pointed behind her, amusement still in her eyes. “Behind that archway. I finished snooping around and was gonna check out the room you were in, you slowpoke.”
Cat rolled her eyes at the name. “Ugh, alright. Though if we do end up getting this house, I’m calling dibs on that room.”
Violet huffed. “No fair. Whatever, I liked the room in the back anyway.” She walked off towards the stairs.
Taking one more breath to help calm her heart, Catherine opened the door that was her original goal, and saw that it was indeed a bedroom. A master bedroom, too, by the looks of it. If the huge bed in the middle is any indication, anyway. Though she wasn’t a huge fan of modern furniture like this, the bed at least looked comfortable. Her nose wrinkled at the thought of what her parents might do on that bed.
“Oookay, time to move on.” She closed the door and walked into the only other room she could see. This must be the one Violet was talking about.
It was an attractive room, she supposed. Definitely big enough for her sister to be satisfied. I wonder if we’ll get to have sleepovers again. She and her sister used to sleep over at each other’s bedroom all the time. The nights spent watching bad horror movies, listening to music, reading, and eating food that made them break out the next day were some of her favorites. For about the last year or so, however, Violet seemed to prefer her own company and always gave vague answers to any slumber party requests Catherine would bring up.
She spotted the door to the en-suite bathroom and her breath got caught in her throat. For how foggy her memory of the show could be nowadays, she still remembered one part well. She turned the doorknob and pushed it open. The first thing she saw was the bathtub. She swallowed the lump in her throat.
I’m an idiot.
As if on autopilot, she shut the door and exited the bedroom. She saw her sister exiting the room by the stairs, and felt an urge to pull her into a hug. She knew it’d be odd, however, so she settled for a smile. Please don’t suspect anything.
“Hey! You finished?”
Violet hummed affirmatively. “You?”
“Yup! It’s a really pretty house.”
“I guess… Outside’s definitely cool, though.”
“Maybe we should head downstairs,” she said. “Mom and Dad might want our opinion on it.”
Violet snorted. “When have they ever wanted our opinion on anything?”
She frowned. “They ask for my opinion all the time, what are you talking about?”
Her sister looked indignant. “What? Really?” She huffed and crossed her arms. “Of course they do. You’re the golden child.”
Cat picked up a strand of her dark, curly hair and tried to diffuse the situation. “Looks pretty brown to me.”
Violet rolled her eyes with a smile. “Well, at least your humor still sucks.”
She grinned a bit more genuinely. There we go. Fake it ‘til you make it. “We really should be getting back, though.”
At Violet’s nod of assent, they descended the stairs and immediately saw Hallie, their mother’s dog, running past them.
“Shoot,” she heard Vivien’s distant voice say, “I should go get her before she pees on the floor or something.”
“It’s fine, Viv,” Ben responded, “You trained her yourself. She’s well-behaved.”
“We’ll go get her, Mom, it’s fine!” Catherine called out.
“Oh… Thanks, honey.” If she wasn’t mistaken, her mother sounded disappointed. Maybe she was trying to escape Marcy. Oops.
Sharing a glance with her sister, she realized that they’d come to the same conclusion.
“Vámonos, I guess,” said Violet, and gestured towards the sound of Hallie’s yips.
Catherine heard the sound of a floorboard creaking, and spun her head to look in its direction. She didn’t know what she was expecting, but what she got was empty air. That’s not unsettling or anything… She looked back in front of her and saw Hallie barking at a closed door.
“What are you yapping at?” Violet asked as Catherine picked the dog up and tried to calm her down.
“Looks spooky,” she tried to keep her tone light-hearted, but she could hear a hint of fear creep in.
Of course, her comment only spurred Violet on as she got that challenging gleam in her eyes. She tried to open the door to no avail.
“It’s probably locked, Vi.” She had a pretty good idea as to what was behind the door, and felt a sense of dread.
Her sister wasn’t listening, however, and with a particularly rough shove, she finally got the door to open. She turned to her with a raised eyebrow (that she totally learned from her, by the way) and a smug expression on her face.
Catherine rolled her eyes. “Oh, shut up.”
Violet snickered and started walking down the stairs, leaving her no choice but to follow.
The moment she stepped foot beyond the door, she knew that something was wrong. The hairs on her body stood up, and her chest felt heavy. She was finding it hard to breathe, and kept petting Hallie to try and calm down. Jesus, I feel like I’m having a panic attack just being here. She had to tough it out for Violet, though, so she followed her further into the basement.
Her sister started scanning the area with her eyes, but soon turned back to her with a “come on.” The touch of her hand on her arm was odd, and felt like it snapped her out of a trance of sorts. Without glancing back even once, she dutifully followed her sister out of the belly of the beast.
She could finally breathe again. Although the oppressive feeling wasn’t nearly as strong as before, it hadn’t gone away completely. She felt her skin crawl at what that might mean.
“…you quit?” She could make out the end of Marcy’s sentence as she and Violet walked over to their parents.
Vivien barely let her finish. “This wallpaper is peeling over here. Looks like maybe there’s a mural underneath.”
“The last owners probably covered it up,” Marcy said. “They were modernists.” Ugh. “Speaking of the last owners… Full disclosure requires that I tell you about what happened to them.”
“Oh, god,” her mother mumbled. “They didn’t die in here or anything, did they?”
“Yes, actually, both of them.” Marcy clasped her hands together. “Murder-suicide. I sold them the house, too. Oh, they were just the sweetest couple. Well, you never know, I suppose.”
“I guess that explains why it’s half the price of every other house in the neighborhood,” their father drawled out.
“I do have a very nice mid-century ranch, but it’s in the Valley and you’re going to get a third of the house for twice the price.”
Her father sighed. “Right…”
“Where did it happen?” Violet questioned.
Say something, dammit.
“The basement,” Marcy responded.
She could see her sister’s posture become more excited a second before she said “We’ll take it.”
Why can’t I say anything?
Her parents looked at each other.
Marcy turned to them, hopeful. “Will we?”
Her mother shifted her focus onto the real-estate agent. She smiled. “We will.”
I’m so stupid.
“Excellent!” Marcy chirped. “If you’ll come this way, I have a few papers you two need to sign before I can hand you the keys.”
As her parents followed Marcy into the kitchen, Catherine looked at Violet.
“I’m gonna go grab my stuff!”
She did her best to smile as genuinely as she could. “Alright.”
As her sister disappeared through the front door, Cat sighed raggedly and let Hallie down onto the floor.
The living room, as with the rest of the house, was fully furnished. For the first time since being there, she thought it odd. Wasn’t it empty in the show? She shook her head. No point in questioning it now. She scanned the room for some sort of liquor cabinet, and finally found a forgotten bottle of Tennessee Whiskey. Pouring some into a glass that she found much quicker, she sat down on the sofa.
She quickly drank some and felt it burn her throat on its way down. What the hell is wrong with me? She hung her head down, and brought her hand up to rub her temple. Her eyes shut closed, and the sound of a bird singing outside helped calm her down some. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
I know, I know
Her head shot up. The television had turned on.
Her eyes widened. What the hell? A commercial was playing.
…to somebody new
A girl was playing with a bright blue dollhouse.
She transformed into a doll and appeared in the house. What the hell? The shock was wearing off and her heart was beginning to race.
…you belong to me
With a childish, awe-struck expression on her face, the doll started wandering around the house. Much like I was doing. Her body was rigid, save for her shaking hands.
Way down, way down…
The doll got to the kitchen, and a brand-name pancake mix was sitting on the counter. This has to be a coincidence. Right? I must have sat down on the remote. She saw it still resting on the coffee table.
…along the stream
The doll began preparing the pancakes.
How very, very sweet…
She found it hard to swallow.
…it will seem
A man was speaking over the commercial, promoting the pancake mix, but she blocked out his words.
But tonight, you belong…
The doll sat down to eat the meal.
The doll looked into the camera and smiled, taking a bite.
Though the music had stopped, the image didn’t go away. The longer their staring contest went on, the surer Catherine was that the doll’s eyes were becoming more lifelike.
It blinked. She jumped.
She’s looking at me, she realized.
The doll’s mouth moved. No, it didn’t just move. It smiled.
I know she’s looking at me.
The television shut off.
She couldn’t bring herself to move an inch. Her chest felt tight, goosebumps coming to life again. She tried to breathe, but her throat felt narrow, and her breath sounded weird. She brought a shaking hand up to her mouth, forcing the rest of the whiskey down her throat. It burned like milk.
She knew now. That oppressive feeling. It felt like eyes. And they didn’t belong to Tate, or Nora, or Charles, or any of the other spirits that frequented the basement. They belonged to something far more sinister. Something that could alter reality as it just had. They belonged to Evil.
She needed a plan, and she needed one now. Perhaps she could travel to Louisiana; visit Robichaux’s. Fiona and Cordelia might be able to help her. Or never let me leave since I know too much. She let out a shaky sigh and decided to put off that train of thought until her mind could handle it.
For now, though, only one thing was for certain: she was never going back to that basement.