The In Betweeners

30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 15

Photo by Sven Mieke on UNSPLASH.

The problem with disguising interdimensional portals as a door or window is eventually some busybody will try to pass through it. Then the gig is, as they theatrically say, up.

T. S. Livingstone, Memoirs of a Traveller

Margaux and Philippe were thrilled with their new house. She was his mother; the father had run away years ago, typical male bullshit. He had said all the right things until the pregnancy test came back positive. Even then, he talked the talk while he was already moving sideways out of the picture.

Margaux didn’t mind. Philippe was her adorable son. And this is what she wanted; just the two of them, starting a new life in their new tiny bungalow. They were a team; he was her reason for being; she was his doting mother. It was perfect in its simplicity.

Some people will describe a house as surprisingly big on the inside. From the outside, it might appear small, but then, inside, an unexpected spaciousness, pregnant with possibility, will greet them. In the Reynolds’s bungalow, it was the opposite. What had looked like a medium-sized dwelling from the outside, when entered, felt subtly wrong. But it wasn’t something that broke into conscious awareness. It was a subtle feeling of something being slightly off with the place.

It had plenty of closet space, a must for Margaux. And lots of windows and skylights. The entire backside of the house was three bedrooms, each with a sliding glass door onto the sturdy, wooden deck. The place overflowed with natural light, and this pleased Philippe. Their last place had been a gloomy dungeon by comparison. His face lit up as soon as he entered the house. Any doubts or reservations Margaux had, melted in the sun of her son’s smile. In that instant she decided, she would buy this place.

The previous potential buyers had noticed the spatial wrongness. After studying the floor plans, the couple decided to survey the house. The agent, preoccupied with a phone call, took no notice of them as they meticulously measured each room.

What they found in their measurements intrigued and startled them.

The advertised external length of the bungalow was 54 feet. They confirmed this first. Then, they proceeded to measure the length of each room. The back of the house was three bedrooms and two bathrooms – four internal walls total. The totaled measurement of these rooms was ten feet less than the outside length of the structure.

“Well, what about the walls?” she had said. “We must factor in their thickness also, right?”

She was right, but the man knew the width of internal walls was typically between 5 and 6 inches. He thinks that the outside walls are less than a foot thick. As there were four inside walls along the length of the house and allowing a few extra inches for each external wall, this still left six feet unaccounted.

The man grew up on an endless diet of mysteries, science fiction, and horror. He was intrigued and wanted to explore the mystery further. The woman thought exploration was fine and good, but she didn’t want to live in a science experiment. Plus, she was scared by the dimensional discrepancy. She was adamant about NOT buying the house. Secretly, the man was relieved.

“Look, mommy, look what I found under my bed,” Philippe happily shouted as she finished unpacking the last box of her belongings in the master bedroom.

She had just finished unpacking the last of her belongings in the cozy master bedroom.

“Hmm,” she said.

“Look, mommy,” he said again.

She turned and saw her smiling son holding a child’s picture up for her inspection.

She took the picture from him, sat on her bed.

Did he say ‘under his bed?’ she thought.

In the picture, rendered in the ever-faithful stick figures children throughout time have used, was a family of four. Two parents, two children, Margaux assumes. The artist had darkened each limb with multiple strokes.

Something makes her study the drawing more carefully. Each depicted family member was a stick figure. But what she had initially assumed about the repeated strokes forming each limb was incorrect. The artist hadn’t doubled the lines to make each appendage darker; every figure in the drawing had four legs and four arms.

Then she saw the note at the bottom, scrawled with a child’s hand, it read,

We live in your walls.

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