- Adult Baby
- Diaper Lover
The House at the End of the Road, Part II
Chapter 9: The Dark Intruder
The attic was dark with only the light of the late October moon shining through the windows, but that wasn’t entirely true. There were two small orbs of light dancing across the floor. Running would be more accurate as they began to take shape and assume their true form.
“Run,” one of them said. The voice was distant, coming from somewhere else.
“He’s mad,” said the other. “He’ll hurt you….” And it trailed off.
“I want to be baby.” It was her husband. “Oh God, I need my diaper,” and he pulled her violently into the nursery. “Baby need changed!”
“Yes, dear. Mommy’s here,” and she pushed her husband gently down onto the changing table. “There’s my little baby,” and she pinned the diaper on her Mattie.
“Dah-dah,” she heard him say and before she could get his plastic pants on, he was beginning to wet his diaper. “Feel so good,” he said, and they would have played out their roles, Suzy the mommy and her Mattie, now a baby, but something was coming, something dark.
Suzy felt it first. She covered her mouth with her hands, trying to be quiet, but the words escaped from her. “Oh my God,” she said involuntary. She was in for a second shock. Her husband began to cry, not as an adult, but as a baby. “Shush,” she whispered, and she held him, held him tight and put her hand over his mouth. He dropped quietly to the floor and curled up into a tight ball, an all too obvious fetal position. Suzy joined him, cradled his head and waited in fear. Whatever was out there was getting closer. She could feel it, a sense of foreboding getting closer. Now she could hear the children. “No daddy, no,” was materializing, and then she heard the sound of a slap, the distinct sound of a child getting its face slapped. The screams were louder, and there was panic in the childish voices. She heard the running footsteps racing down the stairs, now right outside the nursery door. She was sick to her stomach, overcome by this new feeling, sickened by something that felt evil, something malevolent and putrid passing right outside from where she and her husband were cowering. She pulled her husband behind the changing table, Mattie quietly sobbing.
Suzy crawled toward the door, stuck her head through the doorframe so she could hear what was happening, what she thought was happening downstairs. She heard little footsteps running, followed by the larger presence, and then she was startled by the sounds of banging. Both bedroom doors slammed shut, the boy’s and the girl’s, Suzy thought. She prayed that would be the end of it, but it was just the beginning. She heard a new voice, one that she hadn’t heard before, and it was angry. It was so angry and enraged.
“Open this damn door, or I’ll kill you,” the rage filling the entire house.
“Go away,” the little voice said. “You hurt mommy. I hate you,” and then Suzy jumped. She heard the bedroom door shatter. It sounded like a million pieces of wood shattering into a million fragments, and the rage. She felt the rage.
“Oh my God,” Suzy said, and then she stopped. There were the screams she had heard once before in the house, only this time, they were coming from the little girl’s bedroom and they were more present, filling up all the nooks and crannies of Gozeberry Manor.
“Take your medicine, child,” the screams now getting weaker and weaker.
Suzy was crying. She wanted to hide, to be invisible, to be so small that nothing could see her and more importantly, find her, but she couldn’t stop crying for that little girl, and then the silence was interrupted.
“Come out and get you punishment,” she heard it say.
“No daddy no. Don’t hurt me,” and this time there was no more pleading. The door splintered, hit with an unworldly energy, and it was the boy this time, pleading for his life.
"Come and get your punishment, bed wetter. You like it, don't you, but only daddy can be the baby."
She could hear something thudding into him, again and again, the shrieks now muffled and dying, fading into the night. Again there was quiet, and that seemed far worse. She ducked back into the nursery and found her husband, her little Mattie. She could see his diaper was soaked and he was sucking his thumb. It was then that she heard the footsteps slowly getting closer, as something was walking upward. Soon it would be at the landing, and then what?
Again she crawled to the door, attempted to slowly, ever so slowly close the nursery door, but she could feel a pressure against it. Something or someone was preventing her from closing it, and then it materialized in front of her, materializing and becoming what once was a person, but it wasn't the father. There was no rage in this thing, and then she felt it: sorrow. It was more than sorrow. It was anguish, anguish that took form right in front of her as she saw it for the first time. It was the mother. It had to be the mother, and as she stared, unable to move, she saw the red bloodstained dress. No one could live through that, she thought, and then it spoke to her.
"I did what he wanted, what he always wanted, sewing his baby clothes for him, everything for him, and look what he's done...." and with a moan that filled the night, the red woman disappeared.
"Come on Mattie. We've got to get out of here." Suzy pulled her husband up, grabbing his hand and arm. "Mattie, we can't stay here," and he got up, first on his knees and then, stood completely upright, looked around the room, and followed his wife down the small set of steps that led to their bedroom. When they got there, she realized; they were all alone. There was a different feeling to the space that surrounded them. There simply was nothing, as if the house had turned cold and died.
"I'm going to get help, Mattie. I won't be gone long. You stay here and be a good boy and I'll get help."
She ran down the big stairway, through the hallway and to the front door. Opening it, she stepped outside and became aware that there was no one to run to. Like John said, they were the only house on the entire road. She didn't know anyone except John, and he lived on the other side of Gozeberry. She could drive, but Mattie always handled the cantankerous gate and it remained locked at night.
The air had turned sharp as a cold frost had come in with a front from the north, a rawness that returned her to her senses. Matt was alone in that house. As much as she loathed the idea, she and Matt would have to stay the night unless they were to leave and find a motel, but damn it, this was their house, and they were still much alive. Whatever was there couldn't hurt them, could it?
She found her husband in bed, sleeping. His diaper was wet and she should change it, but she was too exhausted. Besides, he was probably enjoying it. She drifted off to sleep, and it was in their dreams that they were once again, mommy and baby playing out a script written by the house.
Chapter 10: Bad News
"I need my diaper changed."
"What?" Suzy sat straight up in bed. The events of the night flooded her mind like an errant storm.
"I need my diaper changed," There was a moment of silent recognition, all those thoughts and dreams filling his head, the desire to be a baby, cared for and held, and yes, there were the diapers.
"What the hell's happening to me?
"To us both, don't you mean?" but Suzy had a pretty good idea, and today she would find out, once and for all.
"It's the house. It's got to be something that happened right here in this house and I'm going to find out. I'm going to need the car so I'll drive you to work, but there a few things I want to check out."
"But what about me," her husband said, and then he added, "Will you be alright, alone in this place?"
"I'm glad my little baby thought about my safety, but yeah, I'll be okay. Besides, I won't be home all day. I want to go to the local newspaper and see if they'll let me look at some past articles.
Matt thought about it for a moment, but something was still in his head, something that didn't belong. He had trouble remembering what had happened in the nursery, almost as if he had the mind of a two year old. His dreams were easier to recall because they were so vivid. He was a young child and he wanted diapers for some strange reason. He was exploring as a small child in their new, big house, and then he saw them: diapers and plastic pants. There were so many and they were his for the taking, but every time he took one, someone would walk into the room. Sometimes it was a child, and sometimes a man or woman. He didn't want to be found out, wanting diapers, but it was the diapers that he most definitely wanted.
Finally the room was empty and he took a diaper. He took his pants off and put the diaper against him. The feeling was beyond anything he could have imagined, and then there were the plastic pants, and as soon as he had them on, his wife walked in. "Mattie! Why are you wearing a diaper!" She was yelling at him and he felt so embarrassed. He had been caught wearing diapers and he wanted to hide or disappear, but his wife said, "its okay baby, mommy's here." It was everything he wanted, but that was only a dream, and now it was time to go to work, to be part of the real world, and he wondered, what had happened to his world?
"Okay," he said again. "Get us some breakfast. I'll be down as soon as I'm dressed." He hesitated for a minute, making sure Suzy had left for the kitchen, and then he opened the dresser drawer that held the diapers.
"Wonderful diapers," he thought as he put one on. He put another in his briefcase because he would need them today even though he was at work.
"Diapers," he said to himself, as if this was perfectly normal.
Neither he nor Suzy heard the small voice in the attic. "No daddy," something it had been saying again and again for the last 80 years.
The ride to work, getting away from the house, seemed to clear their minds. Matt could feel the bulkiness of his diaper and wondered why he had wanted to wear it. What was happening to him, and he guessed his wife must be right. Something had happened in that house and the answers were out there, somewhere.
It didn't take Suzy long to drive back and park in the Gozeberry Gazette parking lot, a small lot for a small staff that supported an even smaller weekly newspaper. She talked to the receptionist at the front desk and was taken to the file room. Fortunately, most of the past articles had been scanned and saved to their servers. She pulled an old desk chair up to a computer and clicked on "Archive". The newspaper, or rather, four page periodical, was saved by date. She discovered that the back page for each edition contained the legal information. She moved the curser to property sales. She was surprised by how many times Gozeberry Manor was sold. Just as she suspected, it remained unoccupied for years in between owners, but what stood out was the short period of time it was occupied before being put up for sale.
She made a list of owners and looked to see if she could cross reference those names to other articles. The home page had a search box, so she typed the names hoping to gain some insight as to what may have happened. She was encouraged to see that there were related articles, and they all had a common thread. Incidents were happening at the manor. Police were called on several occasions to investigate strange sounds and voices. In two cases, owners reported that baby articles would appear in drawers. There was no mention of a secret room, much less a nursery. One owner said the house was creepy and they wouldn't go into the attic, not after they discovered the nursery furniture. Several mentioned hearing children's voices.
The news articles only went back to the 1940's, right after the war. The rest of the house would remain a mystery. She would have to return home and live with whatever was unquiet, something she wasn't looking forward to, and then she had a thought. She drove back to the consignment store. The man who sold her the furniture was up in years, and he might be coaxed to confide with her the unsavory history that no one wanted to talk about.
"You're back," he said, almost before the little bell could tinkle from the closing door. "How's that house of yours working out?"
"Not so well, I'm afraid."
"Ah yah," is all he said, his New England candor taking precedence.
"You wouldn't know anything odd about that house, would you?" She saw him look away and attributed it to northern stubbornness.
"There are a lot of odd things about old houses you know. Ah yah, lots of sounds as houses settle."
"I think the house settled more than a century ago. I was thinking more like voices, children's' voices." The old man was silent. He looked about the store, as if there might be someone listening, but there were only the two of them.
"Yeah, them," is what he said, and then silence.
"I've seen them, both my husband and I."
"And how is your husband, if I might ask. How are both of you," and he paused. "How are you holding up?"
"Not so well. What happened there?" Her eyes flared when she got angry, something Matt liked in her, but it could put others on the defensive.
"I just know that house has an unsavory history. As kids, we wouldn't go near it, because of the nursery rhyme."
"You called it a nursery rhyme, the song that the kids from Gozeberry all sing. Why a nursery rhyme?"
The old man sighed. "No one knows for sure, so the children tell tales, but there is one that's very old and seems to stick with the house. During the late '20s, there was a family that bought the manor. They didn't put much down in those days, but they had to pay off most of the mortgage at the end of the loan. Unfortunately for them, that payment came after the Great Depression when the husband was out of work. I guess the pressure was too much for him. The police had been sent out there several times because the children kept showing up at school with bruises and such. One day they didn't see the children, and then another day and after a week passed, the truant officer went out there, and what he found was too horrible to speak off.
"Well, what did happen?"
"No one would tell, not the police or reporters. They said it was to vile and odious to even talk about. What they did say was that the mother and both children had been stabbed repeatedly. At first they didn't find the husband until they want back the second day. For some reason, no one wanted to go up to the attic. They made a rookie cop go, and it was there he found him hanging from the wooden rafter, a rope around his neck and a step ladder overturned.
"What were their names?"
"Their names, yes, their names. Funny how you remember something like that. Me and my friends, we were just kids, and we'd sing the song, you know. Let me see, yes. The mother's name was Serendipity, Serendipity Daniels. The boy was Micah and the girl, Sarah. He, the father, was Mathias. They were related to the original owners."
"Back in the 1800s?"
"Ah yep, all of them from that religious sect, Shakers, only these people had been kicked out, as the story goes. Story has it that there were missing babies, that sort of thing and all the baby's belongings like clothes, bottles. The original Daniels came to Gozeberry. They were rich; no one knows why or how they got their money. I remember my grandmother telling me these stories, and if the wind was right, people could hear the sound of babies crying, but of course that was all bull shit, pardon my language. It's the same nonsense as don't eat the gozeberries or don't drink gozeberry wine.
"Do you eat gozeberries?"
"Hell no. Superstition I guess, but they taste like shit, pardon my language. But them Daniels, you know, the original Daniels. The story goes that they made wine from the berries and sold it. Maybe that's where their money come from, but the wine...."
"What about the wine?"
"It has a hell of a punch, and more than that."
"They say it makes you see the dead. It's bull shit, I know...ah, pardon, but still, I wouldn't touch it. No one will unless they're up to no good. Shouldn't be playing around with something like that. Leave the dead be, I say."
"Well, thanks for your time. I think you've given me more things to think about."
"I'm surprised you're still in that house."
"What do you mean?"
Well you know. It's remote. There are no neighbors and no one has ever stayed there for very long. If you called out for help, no one would hear you. No one would come."
"Did some of the owners ever ask you the same questions?"
"Ah yah, mostly, though a couple of them asked about diapers, the wives, not the husbands. They seemed embarrassed to ask, but they also seemed worried. I told them what I'm telling you. Get out. Get out of there today. Nothing good has ever come from that place. Even talking about that place can be bad luck. If you'll excuse me, I've got some bookkeeping to do."
Suzan wasn't anxious to drive home, and pulling into the driveway didn't make her feel any better. In fact, she had to force herself to go into the house. It seemed to be waiting for her.
Chapter 11: Forever a Baby
She thought about what the old man said. Something terrible had happened in the house. Imagine. Someone murdered his family and then hanged himself, its past playing out, and there's the hidden nursery. He didn't mention the nursery. No one knew about the nursery. It must be the house's greatest secret, up in the attic, with all the baby furniture and the trunk. She thought: the trunk. What was in the trunk? Why didn't the owners just get rid of the furniture, yet she went out and brought it back, back to the house where it seemed to belong.
She found herself leaving the comfort of the kitchen. She was climbing up the big stairway. She wasn't stopping at her bedroom. She was walking to the end of the hall out of some forgotten obligation. There were the voices again, the running of feet. It was the laughter of children.
"Come and look. Come and see. And in the night all safe in bed, but come the morning, a baby's dead."
Dead she thought. Shouldn't that be dread? Dead and dread, how close they were. She was standing in front of the hall doorway that led to the attic, and it was standing wide open. She had to go and see, climb up the stairs that led to the stillness of the attic. She flipped the light switch. She would be alright. Nothing dead could possibly hurt her, she told herself, and then, two little round orbs of light flew past her. She felt cold, so terribly cold, and again there was the laughter.
The top. She had made it to the attic and if she had thought about it, the top of the house. She walked carefully to the center, passing by the discarded boxes that had perhaps, always been there. Why? Who left them? She was standing in the center of the house where the support struts and beams crossed, creating the support for the entire roof and the walls and everything that was Gozeberry Manor. Now the step ladder had meaning: some prominence that commanded attention. It was then that she saw it, the rope swinging back and forth, back and forth. No, not the rope, but its shadow, a dark silhouette mimicking its physical counterpart. It caught her unaware, and she would have screamed, but she had no breath. She couldn't breathe and by the time she could, it was gone. Outside the wind was blowing and the branches with them, casting odd shadows against the walls. Could that be all it was, she wondered?
She took a step forward toward the nursery and caught her foot on the discarded ladder, not wanting to look down on it, and in her haste, fell forward, her hands splaying out in front of her to lessen her fall, only to embrace something large and dusty: the steamer trunk. Immediately she stood up, repulsed. Just touching it made her feel dirty. She looked at her hands, her arms, and they were filthy, stained by a foul darkish substance that coated the locker.
"Shit," she muttered, but now here it was, something that felt depraved and disturbed, perhaps the heart of the house. She should open it. She knew she should open it, but shouldn't Matt be here. But there was a problem with that plan because Matt had changed. There had been too many nights where they found themselves in the attic and worse, in the nursery, Matt wanting to be a baby, and she obliging his fantasy, putting diapers on him and feeding him just like a baby, using a baby's bottle and wiping his mouth with one of those square cloth baby diapers. Where did they come from? What was happening to them? The answer, she thought, might be in the trunk.
She was going to do it, open it once and for all, find out what was affecting them, or worse, controlling them. It had to be done and she couldn't have Matt with her because he would turn, just like a werewolf, only he'd turn into a baby. Good God, she thought. A werewolf would be easier to deal with. Either it would be like one of those romance novels where the heroine falls madly in love with the beast, and he'd never hurt her, or the one where she just shoots him with a silver bullet, deed done and over, simpler than a divorce and a lot less messy.
So how does it open and that's when she discovered that it doesn't open unless you have the key. "Damn it!" she said, breaking the stillness only to have her oath answered by the children's laughter.
"And in the night the sleepers rise, to something that will tantalize." They sang it over and over again until she screamed. The silence that followed was deafening.
Matt was thinking of his wife; what was she doing? Concentrating on his work was becoming more difficult as his mind wondered from work, to Gozeberry Manor. What could she be doing, taking an entire day off, to find what? Answers? He wasn't even sure what the questions were, just that he knew something was happening to him, to both of them. But he was the bigger concern, at least in his mind, because he was the one wearing a diaper, and at the moment, he wanted to do something, something that went against all his sensibilities, something that felt naughty. He realized he wasn't going to fight it. He had no desire to stop what was about to happen, and he just let himself go. He felt so at peace, and so little. In the big picture, it was only twenty years or so when he would have done this as a toddler, and here he was now, wetting his diaper and becoming that little child again. "Dah-dah," he heard himself say and he was maybe two years old. He let the wetness come, feeling such pleasure as it soaked first the front of his diaper and moved downward, the wetness making his bottom warm.
"I baby, mommy. I baby..."
"What the hell are you talking about." It was David from accounting. "Did you get those invoices to me yet?" And then, the last thing Matt wanted to hear,
"Is the front of your pants wet? Did you just do what I think you did?"
It leaked. Matt's diaper had leaked and worse, he was now little Mattie and he was having trouble focusing. Something had reached out to him, something from the house. It was that same feeling he had at night, that same feeling that led him up to the attic and into the nursery.
"Uh, I don't know..." was all he could get out. He knew his voice was high pitched, but he couldn't bring it down. He couldn't do much of anything, so he sat there, not daring to speak.
"Go home, man, until you're feeling better. My wife had the same thing last week. She was losing it at both ends, running a fever. It's a hell'uva flu."
That was his out, go home, but no car. He nodded yes. That much he could do but thinking beyond that seemed impossible. He touched the front of his pants and said, "Baby. I baby," and he knew he had to get it together, though right now, his wet diaper felt so good against his skin. His mind wondered back to the house and the nursery and he wanted to be in his crib. He wanted his mommy, Suzy, and then he thought, "What is she doing back home? She isn't ruining it, is she?" He became distraught, and then angry. "She'll ruin it for everyone if she finds the secret. You mustn't let her Mattie. Women need to be taught a lesson. They all do...."
He tried hard to think. What was happening to him. He wasn't like that at all. He tried to get his bearings, get out of this fog. He felt something in his pocket. That's right, pocket, suit. That thing in his pocket. That's what he needed: that thing. "Rattle," he said. "Baby want waddle," and then, "Shit! Cell phone. Fucking cell phone," and he was back. He fumbled with the phone, punched a few wrong numbers and then went to favorites. His home number was on it, and he pushed the bigger target. Thank God, it was ringing.
She had to get a hold of herself, but she was disoriented, like she was being held captive by something that was directing her toward the nursery, it's door slowly opening. She was holding something in her hand, something soft and white and she realized she was standing in the nursery. She had taken one of little Mattie's diapers from the changing table drawer, and she was holding it; time to change her Mattie, she thought, when the phone rang. For a moment she just stood there, trying to fathom what the ringing could possibly mean, and then it hit her: the phone.
She ran downstairs to their bedroom. "Hello? Mattie, is that you?" She was out of breath.
"Yes. Are you alright?" He could tell something had happened. He could feel it, something not right both with his wife and with the house, something definitely not right, repeating in his head, "not right, not right, not right."
"I'm okay, I think?"
"Can you get me? I'm..." and he paused. How could he tell her what he had done, especially since it was deliberate. "I think I'm sick. I'm not feeling well. Can you pick me up," and she had no problem at all telling him she would be right there. What a relief, to get out of the house.
As soon as she saw him she knew what happened. She had seen him wet before and with what she had discovered, she thought she knew why and more disturbing, they were returning to the source. They talked in the car, she telling him that she was as much a part of what was happening as he. They were a part of the house and its history, and where would that lead them, she asked?
"We can't let that happen, Mattie." She called him Mattie all the time now. "One more night and then we're leaving. We can use the weekend to find some place to stay.
"We'll see," is all he said, as now they were driving through the iron gate, Gozeberry Manor looming large in front of them. "Besides, do you know what day it is?" her husband asked.
"Damn. It's Halloween and I didn't buy any candy," but she knew she didn't need candy. There would be no children walking the mile down their lonely, dark road. "Oh the blood of Gozeberry runs red, and those who drink it wind up dead," ran through her head, but wasn't that supposed to be "juice?" Everything was becoming twisted.
Inside the manor, things were different. Walking into it was a lot like entering a museum. With so much of the original furniture in place, it seemed like entering a famous mansion, a place that would charge for the tour, but it was their home, and tonight, it loomed large, the space of the rooms almost overwhelming, the ceilings unreachable, the ornate molding, darker. The urge to fight whatever was in the house was being drained from both of them and being replaced by something else, by someone else. The others.
"Let's get my little boy into a clean diaper," she heard herself say, and it seemed so acceptable, the two of them becoming one with the house, now, their house.
They walked up the formal stairway, she holding his hand. She led him into their bedroom but he said, "No. Other room. My room," and she knew he meant the boy's bedroom. He lay down on the bare mattress, the old stains somehow suiting him. Instinctively, Suzy opened the dresser door, and in the drawer was a diaper which she pinned on him followed by plastic pants.
"My baby want his supper?" and she led him down to the kitchen. He had taken a metal toy truck from the boy's bedroom and he was happily playing on the kitchen floor as his mommy prepared dinner. She had made beef Stroganoff and used what was left of the Gozeberry wine from the night before. She was careful to cut little Mattie's beef into very small pieces. She had found a bib in the kitchen just like it was always supposed to be there, and she tied it around his neck. "There's my good baby," she said as she spooned some Stroganoff into his mouth.
The play between the two adults and these new identities should have been at odds with each other, but they were settling into balance. There was just one more thing that had to happen and then the house could have its new owners.
Matt and Suzy had always enjoyed Halloween, both as kids and as adults. They shared a common interest in watching scary movies, and Suzy asked her husband, now her little one if he wanted to celebrate Halloween with a DVD. He seemed pretty excited with that, and they had saved "The Haunting of Hill House", the remake. The great room was the perfect setting with its massive stone fireplace. Matt had regained enough of himself to light a fire, and Suzy thought how cute he looked with his bare feet, light blue t-shirt and diaper. There were a number of candles and kerosene lamps which she lighted, and together they cuddled on the couch, the movie playing on their wide screen, a strange marriage of the old and new.
"Bottle," Mattie said and Suzy got him one from the kitchen. She had a desire for a drink, so she hurried down to the basement, and found the wine rack. There it was, and as she took a bottle, she could almost feel the house sigh. There was a foulness that was hard to identify, and it made her feel uneasy. She hurried upstairs and made Mattie's bottle, half cranberry juice and half wine. She poured some of the remainder into a wine glass and headed back to the great room. The shrieks from the ghost children in the movie echoed through the house as it continued to play.
Mattie laid his head on her lap while she fed him. He enjoyed being a baby and she took pleasure in being his mommy. She drank her wine slowly and let it hit her, allowing both its pain and pleasure consume her. She felt slightly guilty giving such a thing to her baby, but she knew it was what she was supposed to do. After the movie, they went upstairs to their bedroom. Neither of them remembered what had taken place the many nights before, nor what Suzy had discovered. They were completely absorbed into their roles now. Suzy thought about changing Mattie's diaper, but he enjoyed being wet. It no longer mattered, and together, they drifted off to sleep.
"Wake up, oh please wake up." It was the boy. "You've got to save us," and his voice was trailing off, dissipating like the evening fog.
"Micah? It's Micah isn't it?" Suzy listened. Maybe he'd recognize his name. She wondered if he even remembered who he was, but that answer was coming.
"I'm here. You've got to help me and my sister."
"What about your mother?" The old man had given her enough of the story, three victims who died at the hands of their deranged father.
"It's too late for her," came the answer. "She sides with him."
"What do you mean, she sides with him?"
"She started it, wanting another baby. She only likes babies and she wanted another one."
"Did she make your daddy into a baby?" Suzy hesitated to ask because she feared she might be doing the same thing.
"Hide. It's coming!"
Is it your father? I won't let him hurt you," she said out of some maternal instinct, but this was different. She could feel the rage, and there was something else, something foul. She knew what it was. Years ago, she had found her grandmother dead. She and her mom went to check on her grandma when she didn't answer the phone. When they entered her house, the smell was overwhelming. Now she felt the same as she had on that day. It wasn't just the smell, but the presence of death.
"Get up Mattie. It's time to go," and in her mind she saw the two of them running to the car, starting the ignition and leaving, never to return. The vision of the movie "Poltergeist" was clear in her head, renting a motel room for the night where it was safe and the dead couldn't hurt you even though you pushed the TV up against the solitary door, but there was a problem. Mattie wasn't in bed with her. Mattie wasn't in bed. In bed! Then who the hell was she sleeping with?
She ran screaming, and in the dark of the night she became disoriented. She ran through the only open door and immediately fell forward, skinning her shins. "Damn it!," she yelled and in her terror, she kept running. It was the only thing to do. Run. Run from whatever was coming; disoriented, she didn't realize that she was running upward, up the ancient hidden stairway that would lead her to her destiny.
It took her a moment to realize where she was, in the dark. The single light of the nursery began to glow, first barely perceptible, and then brighter until she was only too aware, that she wasn't alone. There was someone in the room with her. She struggled to see as the light flickered, on and off, on and off until it settled into an orange glow. It was a baby, a big baby, dressed in a diaper and a little ducky print nightshirt, and then she realized, it was Mattie. It was her husband and she would be alright. She would be safe in his arms.
"What have you done," is all he said.
"You've ruined everything. You. The children. You had to tell and now you've ruined everything, but you'll pay. Oh by God, you'll all pay," and she saw that he was holding something.
"You make me baby but then you don't play and the brats tell on me at their school and they think I did this to them and so what if I did, the little bed soakers and so now......" and everything seemed to stop. The light flickered again, and she saw it clearly now, the large kitchen knife in his hand, and it was red with blood.
"They had it coming, telling on me like that. Now they all know, but they won't be telling anything again, I saw to that, and now it's your turn," and before he could finish, she ran out the door, but where could she go? Where could she hide? She heard his footsteps on the wooden floor and then she heard the most ungodly moan. It seemed to fill the night and she did the only thing she could do. She ran from the nursery, straight through the door and into the center of the attic. She heard her husband again, but she couldn't see him, not in the dark. The scant orange glow from the nursery cast shadows all around her, and then what she saw was the worst thing of all, her worst nightmare and something she never could have imagined, because swinging in front of her was the rope. She first heard it from the rafter above, the creak, creak, creaking as the rope, and whatever was attached to it, made the old oak rafter cry out and moan, and then what she saw, what she couldn't believe she was seeing, was her husband, her little Mattie, her baby in his diaper and baby clothes, swinging back and forth, a grin on his face and his eyes rolled back so that she saw only the whites, and she was about to faint when the eyes came full circle back into place, and the mouth spoke.
"I hope you're satisfied. You finally have your baby and like all the others, your baby is dead," He began to laugh and as he did, something was coming out of his mouth ever so slowly, a small black thing, and then a little more, and finally, out it came and fell to the floor, first striking her head, and there was the small tinkle as it hit the wood floor followed by a much larger sound as she passed out.
"Wake up Suzy, wake up. You can still save us." She felt tiny hands on her, gently nudging her, imploring her to come back to her senses.
"Mattie? Where's Mattie?" and she was ready to run back downstairs and then she saw it, saw it and knew immediately what it was. She picked it up and ran through the small doorway and down the hidden stairway that led to their bedroom closet. There was Mattie asleep in their bed, but where had he been, or had he been there the whole time? Something was playing with her and she was going to strike back. The fire was in her eyes.
"Mattie! Baby, get up," and her husband opened his eyes.
"I'm a baby, aren't I," he asked, and she answered. "You can be if you want, but right now, we have to go in the attic. There's something we must do," and she took him by the hand. Together they passed through their closet and entered into another world, one where the living and dead changed places.
"What are we doing up here," her husband asked, but she shushed him. She pulled him over to the trunk and together they stared at it, looking at it as if it were an adversary.
"I found the key. Maybe it was the children?"
"What, gave it, what?" and before he could ask the right questions, Suzy was putting the key into the lock. She tried not to touch the trunk any more than she had to. It felt foul and it seemed to be giving off an odor. What was that smell and then she remembered, just like the last time she was up here: the remnant of death. With the turn of the key she heard it click, a sound loud enough to wake the dead, she thought, and now there was only one thing left to do. She would have to touch the odious thing. With all her strength, she lifted the curved lid, opened the trunk, and then it occurred to her to turn on the attic light.
"Mattie baby? Could you go and turn on the light? That's a good little boy," she said, and somewhere in the back of her mind, she wanted to see what was in there first. It was her discovery and whoever arranged this had chosen her, though she couldn't imagine why.
Out from the trunk came a rush of air and it reminded her from when they first came to Gozeberry Manor and opened the front door, that same rush of musty air and she thought, old air, something that shared its space and time with the past. She was shocked to see a large coil of rope. She looked up at the central rafter, and it was bare, no rope hanging and yet here it was, she guessed, the rope that Mathias must have used to hang himself after he had stabbed his family. There was a weathered book on the care of an infant, its quaint, faded pictures and text not only made it seem horribly out of date, but repulsive. But hidden under that was another book, leather bound and looking even older.
"Here are my answers," she said, just as her husband joined her. She looked up at him and almost laughed, her big strong husband wearing just a diaper and the cute baby printed shirt they had found in a drawer.
"Look honey. Look how old this book is," and as she turned the pages, she was astonished to see that it was written by hand, all in some sort of ornate, cursive penmanship. "Look at these pictures. I think these are block prints."
"What," was all her husband could say. "Can we go back to bed? Could you read me a story," and she realized her husband was still under the spell of the house. She ignored him and read on. There was a family tree, and that should help, she thought. She expected to see a lot of Daniels, if her theory was correct. She had surmised from what the man at the consignment store had said, that there was a family connection between the original owners and the family that was murdered, both being Daniels, but the first family was Hollowell, which gave her a shock. Hollowell, she thought. She looked at the ancient graph more closely and then she gasped. Serendipity's maiden name was Hollowell, and yes, that might explain some things because, and she had to stop and catch her breath. Her Mattie had married a Hollowell. For most of her life, she had been Suzan Hollowell. The lineage was through the women, not the men. My God, she thought.
She quickly flipped to the back of the book and there was another wood block print, a picture of a woman being drowned, and written beneath the picture, "So doth the witch die, butcher of babies."
"Oh my God, Mattie," but she saw her husband playing on the floor, having found a box. "Shit," she said under her breath. She thumbed backwards, being careful with the brittle pages.
"We find these proceedings to insult our judgment, but having found Sibyl Hollowell to have gone against both God and nature, there is no recourse but to counter evil by that which is Holy, to put an end to such blasphemy, an act so heinous that once recorded, it shall never be spoken of again. Then may the souls of thy little ones find eternal peace."
She would have read more, but the voices were returning. Whatever had happened did not put an end to those spirits which haunted Gozeberry Manor, and she once again heard the sound of little feet running across the pine floorboards of the attic. Mattie also looked up, stopped playing with the box which he had opened, its contents on the floor, adult sized baby clothes, faded and dirty, looking a lot like the new ones Suzy had found in the drawers of their bedroom dresser, but old and used.
"I think we better leave Mattie," but she was interrupted by a wail so deafening, that it seemed to come from the entire house, every room and every space, both seen and hidden.
"You can't leave," and it was the children, now taking form and standing before both Mattie and herself. She could see them clearly, and there was something behind them, something larger and that was coming into focus as well, two adults, one male and one female. It was the entire family, the mother looking lost, pleading for something, the father, Mathias, complete with rope burns around his neck, and the children with their blood stained bed clothes, the boy like his father, diapered. But what did they want?
Micah spoke first. "She's coming and you can free us."
"It's false," said Sarah, "and only you can put an end to her and free us, because you're a Hollowell and she'll know you. She'll talk to you and that's when you can send her to hell and free us once and for all."
"What do you mean," but before Suzan could understand what was happening, Sarah took full human form. She walked to Suzan and put her hand on her. She was cold, oh so very cold.
"Look at the trunk, from its top to the bottom, the truth that you seek has long since turned rotten. A mother was once what she wanted to be, but when they got older, she killed all three."
"Face her with the truth and then banish her. You can do that, and set us free."
It was coming, just like before and Suzy could feel it, something from way down below, coming from the basement to the main part of the house, then, floating up the stairs, getting closer and closer. She looked at her Mattie, and he was once again lying on the floor, curled up and sucking his thumb. He was whimpering, but that pathetic sound was suddenly shattered by the shriek of what some have called a banshee. It knocked Suzan backwards, causing her to stumble. The four spirits that had appeared to her were fading. She could feel their terror. She knew what horror was, genuine horror because she was in its grip, unable to move.
The door that had hidden the bedroom stairway slowly opened. There was an opaque substance slowly materializing, slowly taking shape and form and Suzy instinctively knew what it was: who it was. It was being born. No, not born but reborn. First there was the skeleton, the once human skeletal form that had supported all the tissue and organs, muscle and sinew, and those were becoming apparent as it continued to metamorphose. Last came the outline of clothes, clothes that belonged in a movie, Suzy thought, but what movie, and then it hit her, “The Scarlet Letter” from the Puritanical movement. She knew this had to be Sibyl Hollowell, but what could she do. Banish the dead, was what the little girl had said, but how does one do that?
"Look at the trunk from its top to the bottom," she remembered, and then she remembered something else, something Matt had said about the attic. It was out of proportion, and so was the trunk, she realized. There was a false bottom.
The specter was gliding forward, slowly coming toward her, its arm stretched out, and in its hand was a kitchen knife, something old and something red, right out of her perverted marriage to a man who would let her do anything she wanted, steal the neighbor's babies, and even make him be the baby, make him wear diapers, because saying no to her would have been worse, so much worse.
"I have been bound to a curse," said the thing coming toward her. "My secret is my curse and my being. Stand away from that trunk and take your medicine grandchild..." but Suzy opened the trunk, threw back its sickening top. There had to be something that lifted up. She didn't wait. With one great effort, she punched the bottom of the trunk and saw it rock on one side, a box within a box. There were two ornate roses carved at the ends and she grabbed them a pulled upward, the inside coming out revealing the true bottom, and there lying like death itself were the dusty remains of bones, small enough to have been infants.
"Oh my God," was all Suzan could say, and then she noticed laying next to the remains was a small black book, a book whose cover read, "Right of Demonic Banishment".
She opened it and was appalled to see it was written in Latin. "Maybe I don't know Latin but I can sound this out," she said and began reading.
The thing was coming closer, hissing, knife and hand stretched out, stabbing at the air.
"Regua terrae,cantata Deo, psallite Cernunnos, Regna terrae, cantata Dea psallite Aradia," and with this, the creature shrieked, a shriek so powerful that the rafters and the roof itself rumbled causing the dust of two centuries to drift downward like a dirty winter snowfall.
Suzan was knocked over backwards by a force that was death itself, putrid and vile. She continued reading and with each word, the creature once known as Sibyl began to fade.
"Bind her Suzan. Bind her so she can't come back and we can find peace." It was Micah. He had returned along with his sister.
Suzy turned the page and there was one more thing, one last page and one more thing to do.
"Terribilis Deus Sanctuario suo, Cernunnos ipse truderit virtutem plebi Suae, Benedictus Deus, Gloria Patri, Benedictus Dea, Matri gloria!"
And then for good measure, she shouted, "I know what you did to those babies. Everyone knows what you did. You're secret is out and I'm telling everyone. Go to Hell and stay there!"
There was silence, an eerie silence that was accompanied by a yawning chasm or void, and then she saw it, just a small black round circle, the feeling of nothingness focused on that one black spot, and it was growing, growing and gaining strength, and Sibyl, what was left of her, shrieked for the last time. Whatever held her together was dissipating and falling apart, the remnants sucked into the black hole, the spot growing smaller, and smaller, and suddenly.....gone.
"Thank you Suzan," and when she turned her head, she saw not the children, but a young man and woman, both beautiful, and glowing. "Thank you for making it right," and they faded into the night.
"I guess I wanted to be diapered again?"
She had to laugh, both at her husband and at the house. It felt right. It felt like a house should, like it was full of life, their lives, living and being normal. Well, almost normal.
"You still like wearing a diaper, Mattie?" She wondered what he would say, especially since things had been, and she thought, settled. The house and all that dwelled therein, was settled.
"I think I want to be little, and yeah...." and he trailed off.
"It's okay, Mattie. I'm used to it. Hell, considering what I went through while you were being no help at all," and then she saw the look on his face. She shouldn't have said that.
"Let's get you changed, baby. We're going to have some interesting reading to do," and she took the two books with her. She knew that she was going to have all her questions answered tonight, and then she thought, "Damn Halloween anyway!"
Chapter 11: House Warming
They had settled in nicely, now being able to enjoy the comforts of Gozeberry Manor. Suzan was still a bit overwhelmed by the size and scope of the manor, its stone arches separating the rooms. There were plenty of dark corners and ornate carvings to cast an array of spooky shadows, but those no longer bothered her. She looked at her husband and realized how much she loved him. He looked so cute playing on the floor with some Legos, the television tuned to the Nickelodeon channel. Her job was still demanding and time consuming, but it didn't take much effort to order things online. All the diapers and baby clothes disappeared after the banishment. What remained were the original, old baby articles that her Mattie had found in the attic. What surprised her however, was her ordering history. Apparently, she had been ordering diapers and baby clothes since the first day they had arrived. She had no memory of that.
Mattie was able to be Matt at the office and he could once again focus on his work, but underneath his professionally attired suit was a diaper. That much he still needed even though he was away from the house. But once home he was Mattie, and at the moment, dressed in his bib overalls along with a cute animal printed t-shirt. Suzy had even found some Velcro sneakers which he loved even though they didn't light up.
Both he and Suzy had found balance with the house. Suzy surmised that they were the only ones in all of Gozeberry who lived this strange lifestyle, but then, they were the only ones to have survived Gozeberry Manor, staying and making it their home, and why not. It was her birthright, something she would have never guessed.
She was about to start dinner when the doorbell rang. "I'll see who it is," she told her husband though she knew he wouldn't tear himself from the cartoon he was watching.
"Well John. This is a surprise. Come in. Look Mattie," and then she realized her mistake. "Matt. It's John, your realtor friend come to pay us a visit."
"I wanted to see how the newlyweds were making out in their new home. Isn't this place awesome!" and he walked into the parlor through the stone arched hallway and into the great room almost like he had lived here himself.
"Hey buddy. How 'ya doin'," and he didn't blink an eye or show any surprise when he saw his childhood friend, the one he had spent so much time with when they were growing up, playing sports, swapping school homework, and the one who was now sprawled on the floor wearing bib overalls and playing with Legos, watching Nick Jr. John didn't react at all, as if this was all quite normal, and it didn't escape him that there was quite a bulge both in the front and the seat of Mattie's overalls, the telltale sign of a very thick diaper.
"I just wanted to bring you a housewarming gift and wish you well," and he pulled a bottle of dark red wine from out of a paper bag. "I think you'll enjoy this but I have to warn you. It has quite a kick. In case you haven't discovered it, this house has a nice wine cellar. You'll have to try it out."
They talked for awhile and then John let himself out. He felt really good with himself. Things had turned out well, he thought. He loved the late fall because the Gozeberries were ripe and ready to be harvested. It was the perfect time to make wine, something that was a little more than just a hobby. He enjoyed selling property in Gozeberry. The houses were old and unique, each having their own story to tell, and when he got the listings, which he always did, he made sure that each basement had its own wine cellar, and that each wine rack was filled with Gozeberry wine.
He pulled into his driveway and entered his house, yet another product of Gozeberry's past, an old Victorian with its own collection of hidden rooms and secret passageways. He went upstairs and into the smallest of the three bedrooms. There he pushed an ornate carved flower on the fireplace and watched the stone structure rotate revealing another room behind it, a room with a large crib, vanity and changing table. He would be enjoying his diaper and onsie tonight, and he thought he'd be drinking his wine from a bottle, just not the one it poured from but rather, the one he'd pour it into, nipple and all.