Craig Whitt had lived across the street—Holly Circle, to be precise—from the house of severed hands since as far back as he could remember.
The house was not much different from his own. Both were modest ranch styles where, in one, a boy slept by Bullwinkle moose nightlight, while in the other…things stayed awake. Three lots over and down, it nestled at the dead end of the cul-de-sac between two vacant overgrown lots to each side.
Lime green peeling paint. Lawn brown. Two windows in the front were badly cracked yet still intact. Craig suspected smashed-in windows or even a knocked-in door could be found someplace in the rear, but other than in his imagination, he had never strayed onto the property to confirm that suspicion.
Spider hands. Arachnid-things made of splotchy pink flesh, oddly structured monstrosities of articulating hominid metatarsals. Disembodied scramblers. Nails tamping and thumping. These were the things that crept and crawled and hunkered within those walls of the house at the end of the circle—the house of severed hands. They waited there for him. He was sure of it. They knew he would be foolish enough to investigate and face his fears one day. They waited, spider patient.
The history of the house was not rich in details. Being passed along by children, it was a tale told and re-told rather matter-of-factly. A mother had killed her family. The woman had murdered them all—hammer-bludgeoning her husband, two young sons, and a daughter all as they slept—and when she had finished taking their lives, she took their hands. But that was not the end of gruesome deeds that night. Before the dawn, the severed hands would have their revenge. Neighbors had heard her screams. The authorities arrived in short order and discovered everything. Everything, that is, save for the hands. The hands of the family, to include the mother’s, they were never found.
Craig had heard the story “a gazillion times,” he would say whenever it was brought up. And it was brought up often due to his home’s proximity to the house. The story still never failed to make him shiver. After all, he was only eight years old.
In the summer of his ninth year, when Craig’s parents sat him down to announce their divorce, the boy found some relief in knowing he would go with his mother. He would get to move away and leave the house at the end of the street far behind. And so she did. His mother took him far from Holly Circle. Far from his father but also far from the house of severed hands.
Twenty years passed and so finally did Craig’s mother and father as well.
That was how Craig Whitt, twenty-nine, unemployed, and divorced himself, ended up standing once more on the front lawn of his once upon a time and now recently-inherited childhood home, staring off down the street to consider a sight that had never really left his mind’s eye—the house that waited for him at the end of the cul-de-sac between two still vacant lots.
It was far worse for the wear of time, but otherwise just as he recollected it. “The house of severed hands,” he whispered to elicit a chill.
MORE TO COME