I heard it and finally realized what I had been hearing all along – the house was speaking to me. In that moment I knew why I had been so driven to keep moving, this was what I was supposed to find; I was the 'undefeatable' that the statue spoke of. I cleared my mind, and spoke back to it in my head.
What do I have to do? No answer. I didn’t want to say it out loud, not around the others. I didn’t want them all to hear, I didn’t want them to know it was my destiny! They wouldn’t understand, they’d envy me, try to take away my glory. My head was spinning again, but I knew how to find out my plan of action. I sprinted out of the room and headed back toward that room that led to the abyss.
“Darrin! Where are you going?!” I heard Vivian yell after me. I didn’t have time to answer; I needed to find out how to stay alive forever. I reached the room, shoved open the door, and went inside, careful not to fall through the very flimsy floor beneath me. I looked around, letting my eyes adjust to the darkness, in hope that there would be a clue.
Seeing none, I called into the room, “What do I have to do?”
Kill one of them, I heard, and bring them to me!
Something strong came over me in that moment. I reached to my side and ran my finger along the blade of the bloody dagger I had picked up earlier. I knew my mission, and I would stop at nothing to accomplish it. I walked back to the other room, determined to pick off anyone who got in my way, not just the single one the house needed to open the gates.
Just as I re-entered the bedroom, I saw Heather putting the book she had dropped earlier into the statue’s arms.
“NO!” I yelled thrusting forward, but I was too late. A bright light encompassed the room, the house shook violently, and we all watched as the statue transformed before us.
“What’s happening?” Peter cried through terrified tears.
“Zee shtatue is becoming zee Wizard Paradox, as zee prophecy foretold.”
“You didn’t think that was important information until now?!” Vivian screamed. But it didn’t matter, because the statue didn’t want them, it only wanted to hurt me. But first they had to figure out how to move it.
I took my chance and lunged toward Zoe, an easy kill. She screamed at the top of her lungs and flailed her arms around while kicking me. I tried to find an opening, a perfect place to stab her with the dagger, but before I knew it, I felt a heavy pressure on my back. The statue was pressing on my back, grabbing tightly. Suddenly, it picked me up and threw me violently across the room, sending me into a pile of dust and dirt that caused a cloud of smoke to surround me. I was unharmed, but as I tried to reorient myself I heard Longfellow giving the others instructions.
“Zee shtatue vill reshpond to zee thoughts of a hero’s clear mind, but only one of us at a time. I had it do zat, now one of you must clear your mind or it von’t attack again.”
“What makes you think we’re all heroes?” asked Heather.
“Because vee aren’t zee traitors attacking zee others here.”
Vivian stepped forward and focused on the statue. I could see the struggle in her face, and I could also see the two little kids off by themselves in a corner behind the statue. I had a chance, and I wouldn’t blow it again. I sprinted across the room and grabbed Zoe by her hair.
“Help!” she squealed. Peter tried to jump up on my back and wrestle me down, but I pushed him into the wall and knocked him out. I whipped Zoe around and faced Heather and Vivian as I slit her throat and felt the life leave her tiny body. I saw Vivian’s eyes widen and knew my fear had come true, she had finally managed to clear her mind, and the statue was going to come after me.
I threw Zoe over my shoulders and started running. I felt weakened and slower by a large margin, but I was still staying ahead of the statue for the time being. I heard Vivian yell something after me, and I could feel the house shaking as the speed of the heavy statue increased. I just had to get to the room…only a little farther.
I finally reached the chasm and flung the door open, tripping over myself as I did. The statue had caught up with me. It grabbed hold of my ankle and yanked aggressively. I held onto the door frame, I just needed to push the dead body a little bit farther….
“YES! YES!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I had thrown the body into the chasm just in time. As it fell the statue’s grip loosened and I watched it turn to dusk before me. Vivian, Heather, and the Professor had made their way down the hall and were staring on in awe, unable to do anything to stop the gates from opening. “You’re too late!” I yelled and began to laugh uncontrollably. The house shook like an earthquake was beginning directly beneath it, and I continued to laugh and smile, nothing but the reward of immortality in my mind.
“Vee hafe to get out of here before vee are sucked into zee gates of hell!” the Professor told them. “Go, now!!!” He began pushing them toward the exit.
“But Peter!” yelled Heather.
“We have to go on without him, I’m sorry Heather!” Vivian responded.
I didn’t bother to follow them; they could go for all I cared. I was too busy basking in the terror and destruction surrounding me. I was immune to all of it, and it felt fantastic. The gate continued to rip its way through the ground and I could hear the shrieks of the damned blending with those yet-to-be-damned, and had never heard a sweeter sound in my entire mortal life.
* * * * * * *
I’ve been living in the house for a few years now; I’ve made friends with the souls that are looming forever in the hell gates, and they like to hear my story from time to time. I never heard from Professor Longfellow, Vivian, or Heather again, and no one ever came looking for me, neither to protect nor arrest me.
Sometimes I wonder what their lives were like after that night. I wonder how those kids’ parents took the news. I wonder if Longfellow quit studying the paranormal. I wonder if the girls went insane. Sometimes I wonder, but then I smile, I laugh, and I don’t care, because I succeeded. I won. I am forever immortal, and will forever remain in this house, free to reign over every damned soul that comes through.