House of the Missing
Author: Martin Llewellyn
Genre: Fiction
Published: November 2014
ISBN Paperback:
978-0-9573912-7-7

House of the Missing

A girl wakes in a forest—her clothes are scorched, her mind blank. Who is she, how did she get there, and who are the monsters lurking among the trees?

Finding a house buried in the woods, the girl is taken in by the family who reside there, and slowly begins to heal. But, as she returns to life, it becomes clear that to find the answers she seeks, the mysteries of the forest must be unlocked.

A macabre and breathtaking feat of the imagination, House of the Missing will transport you into a surreal, nightmarish world where nothing is certain and violence is never far away…

Excerpt

The noise of the planes comes back. An explosion obliterates all sight and sound and she’s awake in a bed. She jumps up and out, the room small and dark, and sees her shoes and clothes in a pile by the foot of the bed on a wooden trunk. Her breathing short and sharp, she bundles the clothes over herself, making her shiver slightly. She looks towards the window and realises there are shutters blocking out the light, and she opens the window, pulling the handle with a formless word of effort and pushes the shutter. She’s blinded by the brilliant light from the sun. Scrambling to pull the shutter closed again, she feels the sun-roasted air, alive and thick, unlike the cold atmosphere in this room – whose room is it? She sinks back onto the bed, the weight of seeing too much. Why could she not remember what had happened last night, where did she fall asleep? She thinks it was a tree – a bird, fallen from its branch, bough broken – but she is certain she did not fall asleep here, here in this room. She feels the tears come from nowhere and her face, nose, eyes – her skin – becoming fluid, dripping; was this to be the rest of her life, this pattern of waking up somewhere different every morning with no memory of how she got there, how her life is being lived, in tears. At least, she thinks, she can remember yesterday, although it is hazy through her fatigue. She feels embarrassed, rubbing her face dry again – need to see clearly in this new room – dampening the sleeves of her cardigan. She looks around, realising now how quiet it is; she stands up and sees that it’s quite plain, dark; it feels a bit damp, though this could just be the effect from the inferno outside. She looks at the wall behind her, the bed by the window, a little space, and sees someone looking at her. What feels like acid flashes up her veins and nervous system into her brain and bursts into her heart, before she sees it is herself. In a mirror. She assumes it is herself, who is she? That’s her, standing there; foolishly a quick turnaround to check it is her and no other. It’s as if she is meeting her brother or sister for the first time; there is a definite likeness but a strange unfamiliarity.

The other girl is thin, dirty but not short. How old is she? Fourteen? Fifteen? Sixteen? She can see the full extent to which her clothes have accumulated dirt and grass, a twig still hanging from the hem of her filthy white skirt. As if she is the Princess of the Forest. Instantly, in the mirror, they seem to have a different aspect; does she like these clothes? She certainly wishes she could be cleaner. And the dirt on her face – her face – is hers. She finds she cannot look at her face for long; those eyes are lost and empty, desperate; does she have to be so obvious in everything? A chorus of voices fall on her and they are whispering they’re embarrassed and frustrated by this new girl, slightly contemptuous. The girl knows that she feels ashamed, yet refrains from forming the word in her mind in the presence of this other girl – this girl who has come from nowhere to suddenly impose her face, her body, her filthy clothes on her.

I was here first.

Once all the hard work has been done, here she is, wanting food, wanting a warm bath, wanting attention. And what is most infuriating is that the other girl simply stands there, looking through her, as if looking back in time. She doesn’t have any answers. If anything, she has made her feel more alone, more helpless and more lost. She tears herself away from the girl’s frame, too clear and too close to the other objects behind her: some books on shelves, a jug resting on a small white flower of lace. The low dark beams cut into the space of the room like low-hanging branches. Is she a prisoner here, like her mute twin in the glass, or can she leave any time she wants? She moves over to the door and sees there’s no key in the lock and she opens the door which makes such a creaking noise that she realises there was no real need for a key given this door is as effective as any sentry. The floor creaks whenever she moves and she cannot mute her presence; on this side of the mirror every movement is accompanied by a noise. Even her own breathing seems to have the force of a hurricane. Her own heart thumps with such vigour and force she thinks it is a wonder the whole house does not reverberate to its rhythm.

The door opens smoothly and her breath whirls tightly trapped in her lungs as she’s too something – anything, everything – to breathe, expecting... pilots? There is nothing but a dark corridor, doors either side. Light towards the end where the wall gives way to stairs, stairs down. She rushes down to avoid any grasping strangers from the doors, where she exhales, too noisily. There are voices downstairs: a woman’s voice, talking fluidly, talking a lot, but about what she doesn’t know, can’t understand. Even the words in this place are strange to her. She hovers at the top of the stairs, uncertain whether to descend or not, waiting until she’s spotted, but there is no end it seems to the woman’s chatter, and then… she’s spotted. The talking stops.