Feature Short Story
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                                     The White Dream House
                                                                  By Morgan K. Tanner


      The house stood before me, alone. Its emotionless shape seemed to stare back, somehow enticing
me inside. The white ceramic tiles gleamed pristine while glass bricks formed cloudy windows that light
could not penetrate. I was overcome with desire to step inside, knowing that for the love of all that I held
dear I should not. But a voice spoke to me, familiar and reassuring, guiding my shaking hand to an
individual tile on the building's sterile wall. I pushed, only gently but enough to feel the thing depress like a
secret switch.

      A great, blinding light pierced my eyes forcing them shut with a terrible burning. Once the pain
subsided and I was brave enough to open them again, I saw that an open door had appeared in front of
me. My curiosity was heightened.

      I strained my neck forward and looked deep into the innards of the house. A strange sensation raced
through my body as I sensed that I had been here before. When that was, I was unsure. It felt like a vision
that had already tarnished my memory sometime in the past, but I could not for the life of me remember
anything about it. Maybe it was simply a feeling of deja-vu, for had I remembered this place in my waking
hours, I would surely have spent my days plagued by its incandescent viciousness. Such was the scene
before me.

      Inside, the walls seemed even whiter than the exterior, if that was at all possible, as if nothing before
had entered here. I began to walk slowly and with trepidation down a wide corridor, my fingers gently
caressing the smooth wall, feeling the light coursing through my hand and arm. The smell and the taste
from the air caused an enfeebling horror to rise from the very soles of my feet up through my legs, which
made them unsteady. I raised my other arm to my face and tried to pinch my flesh, to wake myself from this
nightmare. My skin was numb, though and I could feel no sensation apart from the cold tiles on my tingling
fingertips and the deep aching in my now cripplingly-heavy legs.

      But the house was giving me the strength to keep moving, its inner power giving me a purpose.

      And there, sitting in an antechamber on a throne of bright shadows was my friend, Guy. He smiled
warmly at me, yet I sensed a hidden menace behind it. His words I do not remember but he beckoned me
in, something about her still being here, like I should understand who or what he was referring to. As I
moved towards him, I heard more sounds from his still-smiling lips. His arm stretched out and pointed to a
blurred, shapeless white form that was slowly moving into the room on the opposite side. A feeling of
cowardice locked my muscles, preventing me from turning my head to behold what I strongly feared was
some monstrous thing indeed. The white shadowy cloud danced in the air around me before it finally
formed a dense, beaming fog next to my friend, Guy. With all of my will, I averted my eyes from staring
directly at the shape that I somehow knew was her.

      She stood next to him, faceless, soundless, and odourless. I allowed myself to stare directly at her,
blurred flashes of torment and anguish filling my watering eyes.

      I screamed as I finally realised who she was, but my cries muffled in the cold void. She had caused me
great pain here before, I remembered something now. I instinctively turned and ran from her, back towards
the door through which I had first entered the house.

      But the door was no longer there. Hundreds of the shiny, milky-white tiles had taken its place, as if it
had never been there at all. The corridor expanded before my eyes, as though my body was shrinking. My
arms dropped like unforgiving weights to the floor, and the rest of my body quickly followed. There was no
escape, the exit had disappeared and I felt a cool air pass my cheeks. I was lying in a pathetic mess on
the cold tiles, unable to move, beside two formless white shapes. From one I sensed my ever-smiling
friend, and the other was only her.

      How I knew her was still escaping my conscience, but I did know her. I had met her on my first visit
here.

      She made a sound like rotted laughter and I heard another voice speak to me. It was that same being
that had guided me to the secret door. The ethereal words instantly comforted me and gave me hope. The
voice instructed me to use the strength from the last time she terrorized me to gather myself and flee from
her again.

      The cloud now retreated further into the depths of the house and I heard Guy's voice from somewhere
in the distance, he wanted me to follow her. I screamed at him, pleaded with him to let me go far away
from this place.

      My pleas enraged her, though and she suddenly appeared from out of nowhere and launched herself
at me. I felt her presence wrapping around me like a vicious smoke machine that gripped my throat tightly.
It was as though I was being gassed.

      Suddenly my mind was awoken and from somewhere in the room, an incantation was projected into
my soul. The subconscious instructions were turned into words which then spewed from my lips like I was
speaking in tongues. The cloud withdrew in seconds and she fell violently yet silently to the crisp white floor
where I watched her writhe and retreat back into the white walls. The voice came to me once again, this
time showing me the way out of the horrific place.

      And then I awoke, or rather, I looked up from the page. Guy was nodding at me expectantly, his grin
beaming.

      “Well, what did you think, better second time around?”

      I didn't know how to respond.

      Guy had been writing short stories for a few years now and I had been fortunate enough to be one of a
select few that he shared them with before sending them out to potential publishers. As a fan of fiction, I
was a willing participant, always enjoying the experience. The fact that the author was sitting, watching my
reactions never seemed to distract from my entering of strange worlds with freakish characters that he had
managed to concoct on the relatively small number of pages.

      But for the first time ever after reading one of his stories, my throat was too frozen with fear for me to
tell him what I made of it.

      “Well, how was the witch that time, did you see it coming? I tried to add a little subtlety in there right at
the beginning, did you spot it?” Even if I somehow remembered how to move my mouth and use my vocal
chords to communicate with him, I wouldn't have known what to say. As Guy continued on excitedly about
his inspirations, I tried to collect my own thoughts and rationalize what the hell was happening.

      Flashes of memories returned.

      It was the story he had showed me only last week. That story about a witch in an old hut in the woods.
A witch that hid in the shadows of her dank and decrepit abode, and who used the darkness to prey upon
innocent lost travellers. I had told him, after my first read that for one of his, the story was a bit predictable
and not up to his usual high and creepy standards. He had not taken my criticism at all well, what writer
does? I think he had actually started to shout at me to leave and told me that my opinion didn't really
matter, or something along those lines.

      But earlier today, yes I remembered now. He had called me to apologize for his behaviour, citing the
stresses of writing while trying to juggle a job and a family, and invited me round to his place to see the
changes he had made to the story. He'd said that after thinking about my comments a little further. he
agreed with what I was getting at. I had been glad to hear from him after the acrimonious way we had left
things.

      And so there I was. Guy was still talking. His eyes darted around the room as he spoke deliberately
with his hands. As my attention slowly returned to him, I sat rigidly in the now very uncomfortable chair and
felt my heart racing and my forehand sweating. His voice, Guy's voice; it was the voice of my guide in that
dreaded house.

      I glanced down at the pristine manuscript in my hand and read the title- THE DARK HOUSE. I flicked
through the pages. From snippets that I caught, I sensed the mood of the piece was dark and desolate.
Everything described; the house, the witch, the surroundings; all was dirty and unkempt, like any decent
horror story backdrop. Nothing in there seemed to describe the house I had moments before witnessed in
my mind whilst reading.

      What had just happened? My breathing quickened as I tried to comprehend how some simple words
on a page could bring me so much anguish. Was this some sort of sick joke, had I upset Guy so much that
he would do this to me? Perhaps this was his revenge for my previous critique? Or maybe he just damn
good at what he did.

      The sweat started to pour as I remembered my recent journey into that house, and how I was certain
that the bright cloud that embraced me was actually death coming. That was exactly how it felt. I'd often
wondered of the kind of fear I would experience when I knew the end was near. And in that house, with its
pallid walls and bright nothingness that consumed me as I walked, I somehow just knew that it was
approaching.

      For a moment I was relieved, annoyed and amazed at the skill he had displayed in creating such a
scene in my imagination. The witch, if that was who she was, was as real as any villain I could possibly
imagine. In that moment I was in awe of his talent, but I never wanted to re-live that experience ever again.

      “I know that old cabins in the woods can be a bit cliché, well a lot cliché actually, but I'm pretty sure that
the re-write has addressed all of that, don't you think? I mean the way they get trapped inside, the door
disappearing, but if they only used their rational minds to look closely, they'd see that it was there all along.
I'm trying to make the reader scream at them 'No, you idiots, what are you playing at? Not in there', but
hopefully the world immerses you enough that you can understand their plight and would probably act
exactly the same as they did. You think?”

      The truth was, I wasn't listening to him. I turned back to the first page and read the title once more.
Then the first sentence grabbed my gaze and wouldn't let it go. I felt myself drifting away, back into the
story, the world that Guy had created on the paper. The pages were as crisp and white as the walls in that
building of nightmares.

      The only image in my mind was of that house, not the one technically described in the story, but a
perfect bright building standing alone in the darkness, with gleaming white walls and an acrid air of hostility
surrounding it. I heard her screams from within as I began to stumble forward towards its entrance. I
entered once more and was drawn towards the pulsating white cloud I now had no doubt would lead to my
death at the hands of the witch. The guiding voice rang bitterly in my ears, telling me how it could no longer
help me. I'd chosen to go back inside for a third time, and there would be no escape possible for me now.

      I allowed her to embrace me once again, my lungs expelling all air until they crunched in my chest like
a pair of empty paper bags. I offered no resistance as I felt my heart halting. She had me now and would
never let me go. There was no guide to offer me salvation, that offer had expired. Somehow I accepted my
fate as the whiteness before my eyes engulfed me forever.

      Well done, Guy, you've written one great horror story. I'm just sorry I'll never get to read the next one.
About Morgan K. Tanner

Morgan K. Tanner is a
writer, drummer and
golfist currently residing
in the English country-
side. The quiet surround-
ings make it an ideal
place to write, drum and
hide the bodies. The
sound of the typewriter
is perfect to drown out
the hum of the torture
equipment. His works of
fiction and threats have
appeared in the
mailboxes of many a
celebrity, who then sells
their story to the
tabloids, claiming that
they are being
‘terrorized’. You can
praise or abuse him by
visiting morganktanner.
com.