's 2017 Horror Write-off:

Who Built the House?

Submitted by Brendan Cleary (email)

"So that was God?" The woman who hadn't given her name asked.

"Yes." Said Tyler. "That was God."

"That was God creating humanity?" Asked Nikolai, a question he knew the answer to.

"Yes." Tyler rewound and took out the vhs. "That was God creating humanity. I guess he lived in that house."

The woman who had not said her name sat, her countless questions weighing her down. "I was never religious. But if I was..."

"It doesn't matter. We all saw it. That matters. Our past lives and past experiences are no longer applicable." Nikolai took off his jacket. "Nikolai used to like this jacket, I am no longer Nikolai. None of us are who we once were."

Carol, who had been lying dormant before, suddenly propped herself up from the ratty couch she was sitting in. "I don't believe that. If we want it to affect us, we have to let it. And I for one will not allow it. I'll continue to live my life as before, as if none of this had ever happen."

Nikolai laughed. A large sound in a small room. "No. It's there now, in your head, and it's not coming out. We just saw the origin of humanity. Even if you don't, your brain realizes just how important this is and won't let you forget. It's like learning how to walk or ride a bike. Once you know how, you can't lose it."

Carol glared. "How the hell would you know? Besides what we've seen, you know nothing about this, just like me. Trying to compare this to riding a bike is ridiculous. Maybe it will stick, maybe it won't, but Im going to try like hell to forget."

The women who never said her name raised her hand, even though there was no need for it. "Excuse me, Mrs. ... Uhm, I'm sorry, I don't think we ever got your name? Everything happened so fast."

"It's Carol."

"Carol! Nice to meet you Carol." She turned to the others. "Nice to meet all of you. Anyway, I'm a little confused about... why you would want to forget something like this."

"I don't like worrying. This gives me a lot to worry about. Therefore, I'd rather not think about it."

Tyler shifted uncomfortably, he was the one who had put in the tape, he felt a sense of responsibility. "It's... it's important through. I know it's a lot to take in, but you can't just decide to forget because it's inconvenient. We all watched it, the least we could do is remember."

"Remember what?" Carol said. "That god was a man who used a rusty razor to create humanity? Remember that god was a being with arms too long for his body and feet too small for his legs. If I remember it, what do I do with it? What do any of us fucking do with it? Why do any of us... why do any of us have to know this?"

Nikolai ignoring all but one of her questions, spoke. "I'm going to tell the world, let them know what I now know, let them see what I've seen. Maybe not all of them will believe, but those who deserve to will believe. We need to share this information, make it public knowledge. There's no reason to keep it to ourselves"

"Let's not be so eager." The woman who never said her name was quick to state. "The four of us have to make an important decision, one with major consequences. It doesn't do any of us any good for you" she pointed at Nikolai. "Or you" she turned to Carol "to declare what we're going to do if no one else agrees."

"You can argue all you want, I know what I must do." Nikolai said, his tone that of a prisoner moments from execution.

"Don't you get it, there's no "I" anymore" Thomas got up and went in between Nikolai and the woman who never said her name, reinserting himself into the conversation quite literally. "The four of us saw this together, so we're going to be making this decision together. I don't know what our decision is going to be, none of us know at this point. But we all need to come to the same conclusion. Nod our heads, shake each others hands, and be able to say "this is a good plan" without having to lie through our teeth."

Nikolai, his eyes narrowed, lowered himself slightly so he could face Thomas. "Who even are you?"

Thomas began to say something, but the words got caught in his throat. He took a second, composed himself, and said words that were calmer and softer than what he had in mind. "My name is Thomas, I work for Marmon Industries as a tech consultant. I don't want to be the one to say what we can and can't do, but someone needs to take that role. If we each leave this room, each with our own plans, do you know what will happen?"

Thomas waited for someone to answer him, no one did. He waited long after it became obvious no one would, and answered his own question. "It would mean four different answers to the most important question in existence. Other people would take sides, skirmishes would turn into battles which would turn into wars. We could kill the entire world over the question of what to do with proof of our conception. So many people have been killed over meaningless shit. Imagine what would happen if we gave the world reason to fight over something that did matter?"

Bored, Carol looked around the room. She didn't want to play a part in this. The room they were in looked like the break room of a office building, or perhaps a private room for a library. Besides the old television on the cart and her chair, there was nothing else of note in the room. There were no windows.

She couldn't see the door, but there was a corner that lead to the right at the end of the room. She assumed there was a door around the corner, because they had to have gotten in somehow.

"All I'm saying" Continued Thomas. "Is that we should all have the same idea of what we're going to do with this when we leave."

"Can that even be done?" Asked Nikolai.

"I don't know, let's find out." Thomas countered.

There was a moment of calm. Something was starting to stick and get lost in ways it shouldn't. Someone was growing very, very impatient.

"Did it scare anyone else?" The voice came from the woman whose name will never be spoken. "Was I the only one or was it..." She trailed off, hoping the others would save her the burden of finishing the sentence.

Thomas coughed. "It was odd, certainly. I mean, that part where he started to laugh and dance while he was... I guess you could call it giving birth." He paused. "I don't know if it scared me, exactly, but I didn't expect it. That's for sure."

Carol was already deep into the painless process of forgetting. God who? Video what? She couldn't have offered an insight even if she wanted to.

Nikolai joined in "Or what about the way in which he cut himself. It was so methodical, machine like. The whole thing seemed so practiced, each cut so precise. But his face... he looked surprised. But he couldn't have been. It was like... he was performing."

"It wasn't any of that. What really got me was that he was living in a house." the woman whose name will never be spoken looked unwell. "A normal looking, two story house. An old house... but, if that was God creating life, who built the house?"

No one had an answer. Because just as they inherently knew that this video was authentic, they knew that god couldn't have built the house.

No one could speak for a very long time.

"Perhaps" Said the woman whose name will never be spoken, "we should watch the tape again?" The words were pleasingly familiar on her tongue.

And with that, something clicked, something changed and became unstuck. Something was yet again proven flawless, the ouroborus continued its meal, and someone was very, very happy.

"Yes." Said the man whose name was not Nikolai but had always told the others it was. "I think it's best if we watch it again, we may have missed something in there... the last time."

The man who thought his name was Thomas was already on his way to put the tape back in the vcr. The movement seemed strangely practiced. "Who built the house?" softly mumbled the woman who never says her name.

A part of Carol wanted to say something, point out the eerie familiarity of these proceedings. Before she could act, she realized with disturbing clarity that it didn't matter, and that she, truly, didn't care.

It didn't even bother her that this revelation itself felt old. And so she slid deeper and deeper into her old ratty chair as the tape was inserted.