's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" D.I.Y "

Submitted by The Album Atrium

“Huh, neat.”

The man paid his surroundings no second thought and went about his normal morning routine. He squeezed out a slightly over-sized glob of toothpaste onto his brush and began his work. Left, right, small circles, extra attention to the gums. After this crucial step he’d always cup his hands together and rinse his face with water. The cool sensation of the liquid would serve to fully wake him, keeping him from succumbing to the bedroom’s temptation and drifting drowsily back to sleep. It was when his eyes would open fully and his mind cleared that he’d get to fully appreciate what had been done to his bathroom…again.

The room itself was tiny, yet cozy. While yesterday its walls bore faded yellow wallpaper and held in place a painting of a sunflower, they now wore navy-blue pinstripes and had sailboat décor. The various faucets and even the tiling had all been changed as well. Fog hat grey fixtures and plain square tiling now were replaced with bright and shinier models and pale blue tiles. While the man enjoyed the naval theme the room was sporting, he had also appreciated the floral patterns it had yesterday. He took solace in the fact that it was only temporary, and would likely be changed by tomorrow or even this afternoon.

“Can’t make up their mind.” He mused.

He trudged his way through the hallway, encumbered by its thick new carpeting. It stank of old dust and attic, and the stiff materials clung to and fought with his tired feet at every step. He remembered when things weren’t so difficult, right after he got his degree. The hard part was behind him, he’d told himself. It’s only going to be up from here, he told himself. That clearly wasn’t the case.

The man grumbled to himself as he reached the end of the hall, grumbling even more as he glanced towards the stairs. They were nice and hard yesterday, a strong, solid oak finish on them yesterday. Not today, though. They were coated in a thin layer of carpeting now, smooth and soft and depressing slightly whenever he stepped onto one of them. He hated those stairs, they would be so easy to slip on with his nice shoes and tumble his way down. The first time the stairs were carpeted he’d hurt his arm, shattered his left ulna on the unforgiving cobblestone floor below. He’d cursed loudly and profusely, but it did little to numb his pan. Nowadays it was different, though. The man had become much better at steadying himself using the walls and occasional railing. There was no such railing today, of course, why should there be?

After reaching the bottom, he exhaled triumphantly. The danger had passed, after all, it was worth celebrating. Every small victory over the stairs reminded him it was still his house, no matter what it looked like or how much it changed. The downstairs was spacious but loud. Loud in an exceptionally colorful sense. No two rooms would ever be complementary in any way, shape, or form. Entire rooms themselves might not match, either. The man remembered when the kitchen was painted with twelve different colors, wantonly distributed around two different types of counter-tops and a table that didn’t match any chairs. The man would find rooms painted messily and designed poorly more often than before, but that was understandable. The rooms would never repeat any particular theme or design, across all the rooms of the house. It was a shame, really, some of the designs were very nice and well thought out.

Today, though, the kitchen was a sticky, stinking mess.

It had been painted with red splotches and decorated to look like a butcher shop. Various cuts of beef and pork hung suspended from glistening hooks along the ceiling. The floor and walls had been replaced by thin metal plates that resounded with a tinny “clang” each time the man’s shoes stamped down onto them. The stench of it was overpowering by the third step, yet grew somehow worse with every additional “clang”. It was as if a barnyard’s worth of animals had all been cut apart very quickly, with the corpses strewn about in a careless manner and left to rot and putrefy in the hot sun. By the twelfth step the man had reached its source, a large chrome fridge that could have just as easily been a doorway into a meat locker. He dared not open it, there would be no breakfast in there for him.

Food aside, he needed to hurry himself and leave for work. His occupation was irrelevant, as was the distance it was from his home. All that mattered to him was leaving while the basement was still locked. A locked basement meant there was no chance of running into the unexpected, no possibility to stumble upon that which pained him to recall, and a sense of security within his ever-changing house. He pulled a thick coat from its resting place on the pinstriped floor and headed for the front door. It was only a short distance from the kitchen to the door, a quick stroll past the stairs and into the entryway, passing the door to the basement and the front parlor along the way. It had become a habit of his to glance briefly at both on his way out, a way to make certain he was well within his time frame.

Today he was unlucky. The basement door stood slightly ajar, granting a glimpse into what could only be described as a rainbow kaleidoscope tunnel leading further down. Frantic now, the man scrambled for his keys, fumbling with his coat pocket as he stumbled his way to the door in a mad frenzy. The parlor room caught his eye, though, it was unfinished and crude. Half of yesterday’s furnishings and designs were still present. The man had just reached the exit as the freshly painted basement door eased open.  

His roommate scuttled out into the dim light. Perhaps “roommate” was too generous a title. It was more like a parasite, an entity that would move around in the dark and wee hours carrying out its one task. He was less afraid of it now than he had been at first, but that was mostly from a desensitization. He had completely abandoned the first house, grabbed whatever he could in a suitcase and drove as far as possible hoping to start anew. That was about one year and many awful apartments and two other small houses ago.  

It merely carried on with finishing the parlor room. Its needlelike extremities tore away at the decorations of old, adding scraps of wallpaper and fabric to the mass of those already enveloping its form. It shuffled down the basement stairs and back at a quick pace, carrying the new materials in its thin, bristly arms. Then it began to paint the room, bathing it in a deep crimson color. By now, the man had seen enough. He crept through the door and locked it behind him, marching towards his car in the brisk air. He didn’t wish to dwell on that thing any longer, to question once more where the furnishings come from, or where the old ones go. Questions would only lead him to more questions, or worse answers, and the man knew there could be only one place to get such a thick and dull color of red.