I was watching a film at my parents’ place (a device my subconscious particularly loves to use). In it, an almost-pubescent girl was guest at a huge old house owned by a man with something of the undead about him. To my dreaming mind, the house looked like that of my best friend from junior school, with the same split level floors (the first floor had mezzanines, and didn’t make sense as just one storey), and rooms that instead of having jusst one door – in and out – had doors in at least two of their walls, so that you could lock one door behind you and carry on through the other exit to the next chamber. But this house, of course, was much bigger than the one where I used to play.
Other guests were staying at the house, adults and children, mostly females, the girl didn’t know how many. Almost nightly, a guest or two would disappear, presumed eaten, but the girl didn’t guess that her host was the culprit. He was a kind man, her friend, if a little hard for some people to understand because he kept to himself and was ponderously intellectual. The girl liked that. She understood it.
By now, almost all the others were gone. The girl was beginning, reluctantly at first and then with terror, to face what she had suspected all along but suppressed. She had thought her gentle host wouldn’t attack her. She had turned a blind eye to what happened to the others, as lond as she believed herself exempt. But what else had she decieved herself about?
She crept down to the cellar seeking – but hoping not to find – evidence of what had happened to her fellows. Their remains, some of their possessions, even – could they be? – some people still alive. In the cellar was a sunken pool filled with a kind of stagnant green slime. (At this point, my mum came into the room, looked at the TV screen and said, “I’m not watching this, it’s too grisly for me.”)
Terrified, the girl fled back upstairs. In the dark house, she ran through room after room locking each door behind her, both looking for her delusive host and praying not to be found by him.
In one room, she could dimly make out a bed, and a man sitting on it. From the faint moonlight coming in through the heavy curtains, she did not see his full nakedness but only the strong torso lit by a cold blue glow. In the silence and darkness, she softly reached out her hand to touch this male skin. For a moment, she was rapt at the sensation of solid muscle beneath her fingers. The man did not move; had she percieved him in that moment as a man and not merely a sensual object, she would have sensed him holding his breath too. Then she remembered that her murderous host would soon find her here if she didn’t run, and so she scrambled into the next room, struggling with trembling fingers to secure the chain on the door.