Blake Writes A Story #6

“That House” (horror, experimental)

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Testicles! After two or three months, I only just realized that all the links for my files are messed up… Sorry about that, folks! I’ll pop back around and fix all those tonight when I get home from work if I have time. In related news, I am proud to announce my first, functional short story upload! (Sorry, sorry, sorry…)

I suppose the inspiration for this story comes from Tom Waits’ “What’s He Building In There?”, though I wasn’t really thinking about it at the time. What I really had in mind was Hitchcock, who famously believed that an unopened door was scariest, that the reader’s imagination puts far more life into horror than simply showing something horrific does. So, I would come to experiment with telling a story entirely through milieu, in the aftermath of the actual horror, letting the reader piece the events together leading up to their grizzly conclusion.

The first draft was a mess of omniscient and limited narrative information. In the second draft, I tried to pare that info down to the physical data and the news stories and rumors that surrounded the house: only the things that an outsider who never witnessed the events personally would know. It worked a lot better that way, leaner, and so I put it out for submission.

A lot of magazines were interested in the story (the shorter length, I’m sure, was a good selling point as well). Some held onto it for quite a while, but the refrain I kept hearing was that the unusual narrative device (and subsequent lack of characters) made it a bad fit for most horror mags, and of course they were right. This might almost need to be an even sparer story to make it really shine, as character is the driving force of interest for most readers. Either way, there’s no real reason to dwell on the past, unless you’re thinking about “That House

by Blake Vaughn

The yard is unmowed. The gutters sag beneath the leaves. Someone has bashed in the mailbox’s side with a bat or a stone: three heavy blows. The front door and its frame are still dented and scratched from when the police dragged the thing out. There’s a lock over the locked door knob.

A breeze in the living room whistles between particle-board and broken glass panes. The wallpaper peeling by the windows has lived a life full well of the seasons, and now droops and bulges. It’s a calmer, more rational death compared to the solitary linoleum’s sun-bleached peel drawn out over years. And then there’s the stain in the center of the living room’s carpet.

©2013 by Blake Vaughn. The text of this story may be redistributed freely in its original form with attribution to the author, Blake Vaughn, and his website,, as under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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