We looked at one another, the sentence about to leave Peter’s lips stuck inside, as if he knew that it would be useless to try and persuade us. “Okay, you win” he finally said. “But you guys will go first.”
I don’t know what drove me to enter the building first, but that’s what I did, carefully and all the time looking over my shoulder to see Kyle and Peter. There was both excitement and a great level of angst involved in the task; and yet, I could not stop myself. My feet were driven by a curiosity coming from some place outside the conscious me.
“Hey, take your time” said Peter, talking to my back. “No hurry”, and he meant it: the longer I took, the longer he also could take. Maybe it was his apprehension getting to me, but as soon as I reached the semi-demolished porch and opened the door and the grey daylight touched the house’s darkness, I felt like turning back and going back to the streets. Not that the streets were safe or nice or a giant playground or so beautiful to look at: but they definitely didn’t creep one out as much as just the pitch-black inside of the house. I wasn’t expecting that: how could the house not be damaged enough to let in at least a little light? It was just weird. Kyle thought it too, that was for sure: he was always the one to check every crevice, always the one to leave no stone unturned, but he was now hesitant to follow my lead.
“Come on, we have to be quick. We can’t leave the street unattended for too long” I said, convincing myself and also the others that whatever we had to do there, we had to do it quickly. We walked further into the blackness of the house. Among the three of us, we had just one torch, and I didn’t know who had it. I also didn’t want to be the one to ask for it, as if the darkness were so unnerving that I couldn’t take it any longer. One of them would break before I did, that was for sure. And after all we didn’t have enough batteries laying around so that we could turn on the torch every time we felt like it. We had to save it for when it was absolutely needed. And Peter would soon turn it on or ask Kyle to do it, anyway: he disliked darkness more than any other person I know.
I tripped on something that felt like a wooden leg, and heard a clinking sound coming from above it. It sounded like porcelain, the ones I could find at my grandma’s house when I was a child. That, in itself, was more bizarre than the darkness. Most of the other houses were almost entirely on the ground, reduced to a pile of dirt. And now this one, not a hole on its roof or walls, and seemingly intact porcelain just three metres in from the door.