The House in the Woods (First Runner Up)

So here’s my latest from the Cracked Flash Fiction Competition, for which I won first runner up. The prompt was the following dialogue:

“Well, this just got awkward.”
“There’s a corpse on the floor. Of course it got awkward.”

“Well, this just got awkward.”

“There’s a corpse on the floor—Princess! Come next to mommy. Of course it got awkward. Princess! Princess!”

Princess didn’t listen. She ran, rather, giggling, to the old dust-crusted bed at the far end of the room and grabbed the doll, its dress, pink like hers, threadbare. It was one of those real old dolls—the kind that, when you tilt it, opens and closes its eyes. “Look what I found Mommy!”

“Princess! I said get over here!”

“But Mommy—”

“I said—”

Princess’s eyes fell upon the corpse and lingered there just a moment before lifting the doll on high, twirling and cheering “Weeeeee!”

She ran out the side door to another room in the old abandoned house in the middle of the deep woods—a treasure her parents, those self-professed explorers, forced themselves into.

Her parents hurried after her, skipping through the large house, past none one, but two more corpses. Each time they came across one, they paused but for a moment, only to give Princess that much more time and space. Her mother called for her, and called for her again.

Princess didn’t answer.

“Maybe we should split up,” said Daddy.

And they did. Ghost houses, they say, appear deceptively small and this monstrosity fit the bill, for what resembled a two bedroom home from the outside was more, much much more.

The deeper they ran, the further back they travelled in time, the more the body count piled up, dressed in generations.

They screamed her name; it fled through the house in a panic.

Mommy and Daddy converged at a long hallway—a single door, ajar, at its end.

They heard a giggle, and a second, then a voice, not Princess’s.

“Want to play?”

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