The night air was not quiet for it was full of celebration. Outside people cheered, shouted, blew horns, and made noise on noisemakers. They were making noise because it was a joyous time, the holiday that came every year for them to celebrate their accomplishments as a country, their achievements as a people. Everyone was happy, and was looking towards the bright future that was in store for them.
But it was not the case within the room. It was dark, silent. There was no furniture in the room, save for one chair that no attempts had been made to repair. The air was heavy, and still had a cupric tinge to it that didn't seem to want to leave the room. The walls and ceiling still had a slight red color to them, and the floor still had the marks left from what had happened. This room was silent, there would be nobody cheering, nobody making noise. There would be no celebration in this room, not now, not ever.
The air was thick, but not because of environment. The room felt wrong, there was a feel of evil in the room. As if something was in the room that had not passed on. The room was silent, but had a feel to it that something was echoing, like someone screaming in pain.
There was no happiness in this room. Only pain.
James walked down the street slowly, kicking a rock along as he did. His job was getting more stressful, working as a bookkeeper in a real estate firm. In particular getting all his paperwork for acquiring several new properties handed to him without them without even a second glance at them was pretty disheartening.
"Stupid," he said aloud to himself. "There was no logical reason to reject those forms. I checked them over myself and they were correct." It was really hard on him, having three whole sets of acquisition paperwork denied on him, giving him much more work to do now to have to redo all of those papers as well as do everything else he had to do. He kicked the rock hard and it spun away somewhere.
He looked around him, there was garbage everywhere in this residential street, with everything from streamers to paper shreds to dead fireworks, all remnants of last night's celebrating that everyone was too tired to clean up the night before. He picked up a dead firework and threw it in anger. He had spent most of the night working on those acquisition papers because new property line information came in from the state and they had to be redrafted, and didn't get time to celebrate. That just made him angrier, this would be the second time he had to draft those papers.
He looked up at one of the houses next to him. This was one of the three properties the company he was working for was purchasing, and he stopped his walk home to look at it. It was in disrepair, nobody had been living in it for years. It was a large, two story house, but unappealing as it looked. The front of the house was painted light green, with dark green trim around the windows. The trim was falling off in some places, making the house even uglier. Paint was peeling, the shingles looked fine though. There would have to be some work before it would be sellable, both on the house and the untidy yard, but that couldn't happen until the building was acquired.
He turned away from the house, and suddenly found an old man standing behind him. The man was looking at the house, with a bit of sadness in his eyes. "You interested in this house?" he said to James. He nodded, and the man perked up a bit. "That's nice to hear," he said cheerfully. "It's been so long since someone lived in that house. And the previous family had left so suddenly."
James looked at the man, and saw he was holding a newspaper in his hand. "Do you live around here?" he asked the man. The man turned and pointed across the street to a house there.
"I live over there," the man said. "I've lived here for many years, the last family there was really nice, especially their daughter. But they left really fast, and the house has been unoccupied for nearly ten years. And I don't know if you'll be able to buy it because I've never seen any signs that the property is for sale."
"Well," James said, taking out his wallet and showing the man his work ID, "I actually work at a real estate firm, and they are intent on buying this property to be able to sell it." The old man clapped his hands and smiled.
"That's wonderful!" he exclaimed excitedly. "It'll be great to have this street full again. You make sure your firm gets the property and sells it to a nice family." James smiled and nodded, then his face went stern.
"I'm curious," he said to the man. "You say the family left suddenly? Do you happen to know why?" The old man nodded and frowned.
"Yes." He said reflectively. "There used to be a gang in this neighborhood, up until about nine years ago when the police broke them up. This gang broke into that house one night, while the family was away, and stole some stuff and trashed the place. The family got scared and figured it was too dangerous, and so they left."
"I see," James replied, then held out his hand. "Well, it was nice meeting you sir."
"Likewise," said the man, extending his own hand for the two to shake. "And good luck at acquiring the property!"
"Thank you," James replied. The man went back to his house, and James continued his walk home. He lived about twenty minutes from this house, and he wanted to get home soon. He got to near the end of the property line for the house, when he stopped. He had a strange feeling as he passed by, one he couldn't explain. He shivered it off, and continued walking.
He got home and went into his kitchen, and noticed there was a message on his answering machine. He pushed the button to play it and then went to pour himself a glass of milk.
"Mr. Millen," played the answering machine, in the voice of his supervisor. "I thought I'd let you know of the status of the houses you were working on."
"This better be good news," James said aloud.
"The Rambler house has not passed recent inspections by the state, seems the original builder cut some corners and the overall quality of the house isn't good. I'm getting the inspectors to go check it out tomorrow to see how much work would be done on whether it would be feasible to try to repair or just knock it down and have the builders build a new house." James nodded, that was a logical reason for delay. One less he had to do papers for.
"The second house," the answering machine continued, then cut off. End of time for that message. After a moment it beeped, and the next message played, continuing his manager's words, now speaking faster as he realized the maximum length and still had a fair amount to cover. "The Cray house was rejected because of a paperwork error, some of the numbers on it were incorrect." James sighed, that would have been his fault most likely.
"The third house, the custom-built green house near where you live is another case altogether. Apparently the police has an investigation hold on the property, but they won't release the details. I'm going to go myself to try to press them tomorrow to release the information, but until we find that out we won't know exactly why we can't get that property.
"In any case that's all I had to say. Bye." The message ended, and the machine went silent, as there was no more messages to display. He finished his milk and set the glass down, then went into his living room to sit. He tried watching TV for a little bit, but he didn't find anything interesting to watch, so he turned off and turned to his college work.
He worked for about an hour, finishing all the assignments for two of his classes, before getting to his sociology work. As he was reading it, his mind wandered back to the house he passed. He couldn't ignore the strange feeling he had while walking by the house, and he thought about what his manager said.
"That doesn't make any sense," he said, thinking aloud. "If it was a simple robbery done while the homeowners were gone, why would the police put an investigation hold on the property that would prevent it from being purchased for ten years?"
He reached into his pocket, and found he had grabbed one of the sets of keys for the three houses. He decided his homework could wait, he wanted to go look around that house. He hadn't seen the inside of that house yet anyway, so he would go take a look to see what it was like. He got up out of the chair, grabbed his jacket, and headed out the
door. He walked back in the direction of the house.