The house had brackets on the archway that led to the front door. It was clear that the last family who had owned the house that they were of Greek origin. You know the sort, those plastic brackets that spread out in various patterns. They were signature decorations of every Greek family and Melbourne had its fair share of Greek families. Apart from Greece itself, Melbourne was populated with more Greek families than anywhere else in the world. The archway led up to the front door and inside the house it was spacious. A three bedroom home with a lounge room as well as a dining room, two bathrooms that lay on a quarter acre block. So there was always plenty of room to fix up or make renovations if need be. But for one reason or another it was on the cheap. For four hundred grand it was the cheapest place in the neighbourhood. My dad said it was because of the neighbourhood. There had been a lot of commission flats built up in the area which meant that there were people surviving off welfare in the area. He explained it to me this way, ‘Some people; their parents never worked, their grandparents never worked and as can be expected, they will never work. So instead of working they commit crimes and prey off those people who are busy at their day jobs and earning themselves a living.’ He had investigated the area, that was sure enough. But he never did his research on the house itself.
It was just me and my dad. My mother had died giving birth to me and ever since then it was just me and him. I was fourteen, a boy who had hit puberty and I was in the eighth year of my education. We had just moved in from the country. I liked the country lifestyle and the solitude it brought, my father was working in the financial sector in some position that allowed him to work from home. When one of the banks offered him a better job, with a better rate of pay in the city. He took it. I had my complaints, but he managed to convince me that if I went to school in the city I would be able to make connections that would help me succeed later on in life. I put forth my own argument that most kids from the city grew up to be schizophrenics and were completely delusional. He told me to stop being ridiculous and I said that I was only pointing out facts and the fact was that people raised in large cities had a higher chance of developing mental illnesses later on in life. He countered by telling me that city life had all sorts of things to offer: live bands; good food; football; and all sorts of other entertainment. I relented, realizing that I didn’t really have much of an option anyway.
As a child, I mean as a teenager, you don’t really have much of a say in the big decisions. Maybe every so often you might be able to negotiate eating pizza instead of eating a proper meal, but the big decisions are all adult decisions. And my father was the only adult in my life and for the most part I respected that. He worked hard to make sure I was clothed and fed, that I was reasonably entertained and that I didn’t make any stupid decisions in regards to the direction my life was headed. I was good at math, average in English and did well in science and my other classes. It wasn’t like I was leaving much behind in the country, ‘sure’, living in the middle of nowhere provided you a certain amount of freedom, but it gets boring real quick.
And so when my father put an offer on the house and that offer was accepted I just took things as they were. Realising that this would now be my new home, I was quick to check out the area. There was a skate park a few blocks away and the local shops still had one of those DVD shops. My father was largely educated on the economy and so he insisted that I never illegally download movies or games, so I was grateful that the shop was there. The high school that I would be attending was a fifteen minute bicycle ride away and had a large selection of different specialized courses that I could choose to pursue my own interests. Not that I cared that much, I stuck to the basics and preferred having my own time in which to read, watch movies and play computer games. The way I figured it was, ‘Why would I take lessons from a teacher who had no experience in the world outside the education system when I could read about people who were practicing various trades and past-times in a real-world application?’ It didn’t make any sense to me. For me, high school was little more than some sort of mandatory established baby-sitting service that ensured kids were kept off the streets and didn’t develop bad habits. That made sense to me more than a lot of the academic stuff that they taught in schools. For the most part I was a compliant student. Some of the time I would act up, but in reality, all kids act up a little when they reach puberty.
The house was purchased and within a week we had all of our junk moved from the country into the new place. After that I re-commenced my studies. I was kind of shy, I preferred my own company and the company of a writer’s words rather than having to listen to other kids rattle on about football. And if they weren’t talking about football, they were talking about girls. And because I was the new kid, I was receiving all sorts of attention. I wasn’t particularly attractive, but I wasn’t ugly either. I guess it works like the latest flavour of coca cola or bubble gum, everyone wants a piece of the new thing. And because of that I attracted unwanted attention from some of the other boys. They cornered me in the high school halls one day, about three of them. They tripped me over and I fell down, then they started laying into me with kicks to the abdomen. As soon as I started to tear, they all backed away and left me alone. Leaving me there crying on the floor with the rest of the students watching. The girls left me alone after that…
I woke up one night to get myself a glass of water. It was summer and the heat had left me dehydrated while I was trying to sleep. I first went to the bathroom to wash and cool my face. From the bathroom I could hear my father talking to himself in another part of the house. After washing my face, I stood there silently in the bathroom, trying to make out what he was saying. I didn’t know if he was on the phone or what was happening, I just assumed because he was talking that he was talking to someone over the phone.
I opened the bathroom door a smidgen to try and make out what he was saying. From all I could make out, he kept on repeating to himself, “I see.” Over and over again. I didn’t know what it was all about or who he was talking to.
I waited until he had stopped talking before going out to the kitchen to have a glass of water. I passed the lounge room on my way to the kitchen and I could see him staring at the wall. I couldn’t quite make out what he was staring at or what he was focusing his attention on. It appeared as if he was sleepwalking and sleep talking. There weren’t any lights on in the lounge room, but it didn’t look like he was talking on a phone or anything. I once read somewhere that it was bad to wake up sleepwalkers in the middle of an episode, so I ignored him and continued on to the kitchen to get my glass of water.
I turned the taps on the kitchen sink and poured myself a glass of water. I didn’t want to make any noise in case I woke him up, but it couldn’t be helped. The plumbing and the pipes were old. They must have grown rusty over time and so there was this large and repetitive series of clunks as I poured myself a glass of water.
The sound of the pipes must have woken my father for the next thing I knew, I heard him screaming at a high pitch from the lounge room. In fright, I dropped the glass of water that shattered on the vinyl floor and I ran to the lounge room to try and comfort my father. When I reached the lounge room, I witnessed my father on his knees, holding his hands over his eyes. He had ceased his screams which was a good sign. I flicked the switch that allowed light to flood into the room so that I could try and figure out what was going on.
“Dad, dad, are you okay?” I approached my father with caution, not knowing how he would act.
His hands were still covering his eyes, but he had regained some of his senses, “Eric? Is that you? Where am I?”
Knowing that it was safe, I walked up to comfort him, “You must have been sleepwalking or something. Are you okay?”
My father pulled away his hands that were covering his eyes to reveal that both of his eyes were swollen red and at the corner of each eye, a trickle of blood was running down his cheeks. “I’m fine, I think.”
“Bloody hell dad! Your eyes, they’re bleeding.”
My father wiped away at the blood and looked at his hands. He looked back at me. His eyes were still red, but there was no more blood apart from that initial trickle. “I’m fine son. Now, go back to bed.”
“But dad, your eyes…”
“I said ‘I’m fine.’ Go back to bed!” There was something serious in the way he spoke, as if there were a hidden threat of violence. Now, my father had never been a violent man. But something about the way he said it scared me.
I went back to the kitchen and quickly cleaned up the broken glass on the vinyl floor. Then went back to my bedroom without bothering to help myself to another glass of water.
I lay in bed that night with thoughts concerning my father. Maybe it was just dust that had been kicked up in the house and that’s why his eyes were red. Or maybe there was some sort of remnant bacteria that lay within the recesses of the building that would spread out and then would slowly eat away at my father’s eyes. Maybe I would wake up in the morning to find that my dad had no eyes, I continued staring up at the ceiling and the thoughts became even more ridiculous and bizarre until a fog overtook my vision and I drifted off to sleep.
It was a dreamless sleep and I was awoken by the buzzing of my alarm clock. It was another school day and I got up out of bed and headed to the shower. The warm water soaked through my hair as I applied soap and lathered it in my palm, applying it to the follicles of my hair and rinsing it through. The sun was shining in through the window and it was going to be another scorcher. On the television the previous night, the news reported that it would reach the high thirties. After washing myself thoroughly, I turned the knob of the hot water tap, so that only cold water was running through. The rush of cold water sent my body into minor shock and I was now fully awake.
My father was in the kitchen and I decided to approach the subject of the previous night, “Dad, about last night…” I looked at him to see if his eyes were still red, they weren’t.
“What about last night?”
“Well… You were talking in your sleep. You were in the lounge room and kept on repeating yourself, saying, ‘I see.’”
“I can’t remember doing that…”
“Do you remember waking up and telling me to go back to bed?”
“Not really…” He was drinking coffee from a mug with the inscription on the side that read, ‘World’s #1 Dad’.
Thinking that it was a one off incident and that it wouldn’t happen again, I dismissed last night’s events, “Look, don’t worry about it.” I went to the cupboards in the kitchen and pulled out a loaf of bread and began making my lunch to take to school. My dad told me that he better head to work and went out to the car. I made and packed my lunch, then got on my bicycle and rode to school.
The school day was average. I paid attention to the teachers and did the coursework, ever since I had been beaten and made a spectacle of crying in the hallways in front of the student body. I kept to myself, I was a complete and utter loner. I spent recess and the lunch period inside of the school library. Looking through books of an esoteric nature. Under the reference of one hundred and thirty-three under the Dewey decimal system. Looking up books on the occult and parapsychology. There were all sorts of wonderful books under that specific code. Books on vampirism, the supernatural and occult mysteries.
I picked up a book on psychic phenomenon and begun reading about Dion Fortune and the Fraternity of Inner Light. I looked over the book that was filled with various symbols and diagrams. I don’t know what it was with this sort of stuff? I was just naturally attracted to this sort of thing. I knew that the occult was generally a charlatan’s business, but never-the-less, it still fascinated me. The alarm sounded that the lunch period was over and I returned the book to its shelf where it would lay in amongst other books containing occult mysteries and the like.
The rest of the classes passed by easily enough and before I knew the school day was drawing to a close. When I went to collect my bicycle from the bike cage, I found that one of the tires was flat. So I ended up having to walk the bike back home.
Because I was walking and not riding, one of the other kids caught up to me. “Hey, Eric isn’t it?”
It was a kid, another boy, from my English class. I couldn’t remember his name, “Ah, hi…”
“Phil, my name’s Phil. I saw you reading those books in the library earlier today.”
“Yeah, what about it?” I spat out onto the pavement, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible.
“Well, you shouldn’t mess with that sort of stuff. Some of it’s real. Especially living where you live.”
“What do you mean, where I live?”
“The house that you and your dad live in. That house is infamous. It has new owners every couple of years. I’ve heard some weird shit about that house.”
I was intrigued, “Like what?”
“Nothing good.” Phil said.
“Well, the last people that owned that house were your all-round wholesome family. Mother, father, daughter and son. Everything was fine until one day the girl started going a little bit weird.”
“What do you mean weird?”
“She went to our school and started smoking cigarettes. She started telling everybody about her farked up family. All of these crazy things that they were doing. How her mum and dad started keeping these irregular hours and her little brother started talking in his sleep.”
“That’s normal,” I said, trying to dispel what had happened the previous night, “Families are farked up anyway and teenage girls do that sort of thing.”
“Yeah. That’s what everyone thought. Nobody knew what was going on, but everyone in that family committed themselves into a psychiatric ward. They all said the same thing to the doctors. They kept on saying that they couldn’t shake this feeling that they were all being watched. And they couldn’t escape from it. I mean, the whole family in a psych ward at the same time. That’s kind of creepy, don’t you think?”
“I suppose so… What happened after that?”
“Well, they moved out of the house and then sold it to you.” We were coming up to a crossroads and Phil told me that he lived around the corner, down one of the side streets. He went his way and I went mine. I kept on walking, wheeling the bicycle in the direction of home.
When I got home, I stopped in front of the house and looked at it for a while. There was nothing weird or abnormal about the house. It was just another kid, trying to freak me out. I took the bike out to the backyard where I could replace the tire tubing and tried to shake off whatever it was that was happening inside the house.
Two months passed without further incident. The school term was coming to an end and lacking any friends, I found myself wondering what I was going to do with my holiday break. I supposed I would just rent a bunch of DVDs and binge watch them all.
Those plans changed one day when I came home on the last day of the term to find that my dad had gotten rid of the television and DVD player, my computer as well. The television had been in the lounge room, opposite the wall that I had found my dad staring at that night. Instead of the television, my dad had hung a painting on the wall. I argued with him about it.
“Dad, what the hell are you doing getting rid of the television like that?”
“We’re going to start doing things differently around here son. I don’t want to see you growing up being a couch potato. No, you and I are going to appreciate the fine arts.” He pointed to the painting that hung on the wall where the television used to be, “Do you know who painted that son?”
“No and I don’t care! Bring back the TV and give me back my computer!”
“That right there son is a painting by Peter Booth.”
I stopped and looked at the painting. It was oil on canvas and featured an old man with grey hair at its center, draped in a trench coat, with a white dog to the right of him and a city in flames to the left. It was kind of creepy. “I don’t care who the painting’s by! I want my TV back!”
“No, son. Instead of watching television all the time. You can sit and marvel at the wonders and mysteries of Peter Booth. I’ll get a new painting in a couple of days and we’ll put the collection on a rotating roster. Every couple of days there will be a new painting for you to marvel at.” As my father spoke, he wasn’t really directing his words to me. He was directing his words to some unknown figure behind me.
I looked behind me to see who he was speaking to, and nobody was there, behind me was just the couch and that wall that he had been staring at that night. “Well, at least give me my computer back.”
“No son, all you do is sit there and jack off to porn all day. I’m going to culture you.”
And so that’s what I ended up doing with my holiday break. I sat on the couch in the lounge room and looked at the painting. First it was that painting by Peter Booth. Two days later, my dad came along with another painting. This time it was a painting by John Brack. My dad informed that it was called, ‘Portrait of Fred Williams’. I sat there and looked at the painting. It was of a man dressed in a brown, tan suit; with a newspaper on a side table and below him lay a patterned rug. I sat there for the next two days musing over the painting. Different things would pop into my mind, like, ‘Where the hell did my dad find these paintings?’, and, ‘What the hell was he trying to achieve?’ But lacking any real friends, there was nothing better to do with my time, so I just sort of lounged there. Looking at the man in the painting and the man in the painting looking back at me. I would wake up early every day and my dad would cook me breakfast before heading off to work. And I would go to bed early too, my dad ordered me to. I kind of enjoyed the whole thing in its own way, I don’t think any of the other kids at school could say that this was how they were spending their holidays.
Two days after that came another painting. My dad informed that I was now looking at, ‘Judges’, by David Boyd. “Who the hell is David Boyd anyway, dad?” I had asked.
To which my father replied that I shouldn’t ask questions and that I should just sit there and drink it in. After staring at the painting that was done in oil, completely made up of a blue hue, featuring what appeared to be various judge’s heads all wearing their ceremonial wigs, for two further days it had me questioning my father’s sanity. Thinking about Phil and if there wasn’t some truth to the story that he had told me.
That night I defied my father’s orders to go to bed that night. Well, that’s the half truth, I went to bed, but I didn’t immediately fall asleep like I had previously done. I had to get down to the bottom of what was going on. I lay in my bed awake, attempting to piece together what was going on. I was also thinking about the paintings that my father had brought in and displayed on the wall in the lounge room. They were original paintings, you could tell from the oil and how it appeared on the canvas. He had given me the genuine article. ‘But the genuine article of whom?’, I wondered. I lay in my bed and thought about it. Painters and paintings were a dime a dozen, but these paintings were different. They captured something. As to what exactly it was that they captured, I didn’t quite understand. They made me feel funny about it all. They gave me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
It came to the stroke of midnight and I could hear my dad moving around the house. I was careful to make as little noise as possible, getting out of my bed and making like I was walking on egg shells. As I made my way down the hallways, I was sure to make sure that the floorboards didn’t creak. I could hear my dad talking to someone in the lounge room, it was hard to make out at first. As I drew closer I could make out the words, “It’s what you wanted isn’t it? You can do it, right? Bring her back? Make my family whole again? Heal this broken heart?” I didn’t know who my father was speaking to, but whoever it was, the tone that my father used was ever pleading.
I edged the door to the lounge room slightly. Opening it just enough so that I could look at what was happening through the gap between the doorway and door. I peaked through the darkness and could make out the back of my father, who was looking up to the empty space that lay above the couch. I looked to what I thought would be an empty space. But there, above the couch was an eye that was at least thirty centimetres in diameter. It was three dimensional and bulbous in nature. The eye was staring at my father, as my father stood there, pleading with the eye. “This is what you wanted! You promised me! You promised me!” I shifted my weight on the door to try and get a better look, the door started to creak open and the eye immediately shifted its attention towards me. As soon as I noticed this, I jumped back away from the door and retreated back to my bedroom, careful not to make any noise. I jumped back into bed and turned off the light.
I made as if I were sleeping as my father came into the room. I pretended as if I didn’t notice and was sleeping through the event. My father flicked on the light switch, seeing that I was asleep, or at least pretending to be, he switched the light back off and closed the door.
I lay in bed that night, for the better half of it awake and terrified. What the hell was that thing? How was it communicating with my dad? What did it want? What did it want… what did it want… It wanted to look at the paintings obviously. The paintings weren’t for me, the paintings were some sort of arrangement between my father and that thing. I couldn’t look for any outside help about this thing, people would think I’m crazy. My dad was under some sort of spell that this thing had cast. Whatever had to be done, I would have to figure out what to do on my own. I fell asleep in a muddle of confusion and fear.
Not wanting to alert my father, I made out as if that night had never happened. I continued to view the paintings that would be interchanged every couple of days, careful to keep my mind and thoughts concentrated on the paintings themselves. The Eye didn’t have a mouth or any other way of communicating, so I figured that it was working on some sort of psychic level. As I sat down on the couch, viewing the paintings, I could never be sure whether the Eye was open or not. I decided I better not risk it and concentrated solely on the details of the paintings. Paying close attention and ensuring that my thoughts did not wander.
After two weeks, my school holidays had come to an end and I was back at school. On the first day back, at the end of the day, I ended up in the library. Looking through books attempting to find out what sort of creature I was dealing with. I found a book that listed out all of the mythical and supernatural beasts and monsters known in culture and folklore. I spent the better half of an hour, looking through the book, trying to find out what I was dealing with and what it was called. And I could find squat all. It was a frustrating process. I was about to give up, when Phil, the kid who had originally warned me about the house, came up and asked me what I was doing.
“What are you doing there Eric? Y’know the library’s closing pretty soon.”
I looked up at him, looking up from the book I was reading for what seemed to be the first time in an hour, “Nuthin’.”
“No, what is it? You’re searching for something. What are you looking for? Maybe I can help.”
So then I told him about everything that had happened. How my dad had forced me to sit and stare at paintings all day, every day, over the holiday break. How I had snuck out of my room that night to find out what was going on. And how I had witnessed the eye in the wall.
“Do you know how crazy that sounds?” Phil asked me.
“If you’re not going to help, you can get lost.” I told him.
“Oh, I’ll help. But it still sounds crazy.” Phil pulled out one of the books of the library shelves and started looking through the book in search of the creature that was just an eye in the wall.
After thirty more minutes, I gave up, “It’s useless!” I called out to Phil.
“What about this thing?” Phil was pointing at a picture in a book on Egyptian mythology. He was pointing at the Eye of Horus, or Eye of Ra. “It says it’s called an Uadjit.”
I looked at the book, “That’s not a monster, that’s just a symbol of an Egyptian God.”
“Damn. Okay, what exactly are you planning on doing to this thing anyway Eric?” Phil asked me.
“I’m going to kill it.” I replied. “It has some sort of weird control over my dad and I need to know how to avoid that.”
“Well, if it’s Egyptian, maybe if you write on your body in hieroglyphs a protection charm, then maybe you’ll be able to avoid any sort of power it has over you.”
The library was closing in five minutes and it was the best idea that either of us had. So I decided to go with it. I found a book on Egyptian spells and wrote down the hieroglyphs that were detailed to work as a protection charm against any outside elements. I thanked Phil for his help and rode my bicycle back home in haste, ready to confront this thing and be rid of the whole ordeal.
When I got home, I found that there was a police vehicle parked in the driveway. My father was being escorted into the police car by two uniformed police officers. I dropped my bicycle and ran over to him quickly. Trying to find out what was going on. As my father was being shown into the backseat of the vehicle handcuffed, with one of the officers placing a hand on his head so that he didn’t bump his head, my father made an apology, “I’m sorry son.” And then the door was closed and locked on him, nothing more could be done. The vehicle was already filled with the nameless paintings.
“What the hell is going on here?!” I called out in complaint to the police officers.
“This must be his son,” the police officers were talking to each other, “I’ll go inside and talk to him. You watch the suspect.” The other officer nodded his head in agreement and then the police officer turned to me. “Can we go inside and have a chat son?”
“I suppose we better,” I complied and showed the police officer into the house.
And so I found myself sitting down with the police officer as he explained to me what had happened, “There’s no easy way to put this son, so I’m just going to give it to you straight. Your father has been using his position at the bank that he works at to embezzle millions of dollars. He has then been using that money to appropriate masterpiece paintings at auction and the black market. Do you have any idea about what sort of madness would possess him to do that?”
“No,” I lied. Not that he’d believe me even if I did tell him the truth.
The police officer looked at me for a moment. Weighing up my answer and attempting to ascertain whether I was telling the truth or not. “Do you have anybody who can look after you? Anybody that you can call that can come and take care of you while your father deals with all this mess?”
“I have an aunt who lives in the city on my mother’s side.” I lied, not about my aunt, but about my intention of calling her to come and take care of me.
“I’m going to trust you to give her a call, tell her about what happened and get her to come and watch over you. Can I trust you to do that?”
I was staring at the floor, but looked up to meet the police officer’s eyes, “Yes.”
“Good.” The police officer left me there to do as he had instructed.
After that I was left alone to my own devices. I went to the lounge room to confront the Eye. It was not open and I stood there staring up at the blank wall. “It happens tonight. We settle this tonight. Tonight, you die.” After I said that, the wall became a brief blur and like popping a pimple, the Eye emerged from the wall.
I tried to run out of the room. But my mind was overtaken by this all-pervading voice, coming from no clear direction, ‘You don’t want to do that Eric. You and I can become good friends if you just let us. I can give you whatever you want if you work with me.’ Before me a vision appeared, it was of my deceased mother. A living, breathing image of her. She was reaching out to embrace me.
I shook my head, shaking away the hallucination. “No!” I called out, “You’re a liar! You fooled my dad, you won’t fool me!”
‘Very well Eric.’ The voice once again penetrated my mind, coming from nowhere, ‘If that’s the way you want it.’ Then this sound began, like nails against a blackboard, it was this high-pitched screeching sound. And it just kept on getting louder and louder. I tried to escape it, tried to get out of the room. But the sound overpowered me. It felt like a great weight was pressing down upon my shoulders and was slowly squashing me, down into the floor. Grinding me down into the dirt. It was like a powerful migraine, but a hundred times worse. I felt for my face that had become numb. I moved my hand up to and away from my face, staring at my hand. There was blood on it. My nose was bleeding. After that, I passed out.
I woke up sometime after midnight, with the blood dried on my hands and my nose no longer bleeding. I was attempting to figure out what had happened and then it came back to me in an instant. I snuck out of the lounge room and went into the kitchen. Luckily, the Eye didn’t seem to notice my movements. I went into the kitchen and found a black permanent marker. I pulled the piece of paper out of my pocket that had the hieroglyphs written on them. I copied the caricatures from the piece of paper to my chest. Then I went to the kitchen drawers and pulled out a butcher knife. I tested the point with my finger, and drew a drop of blood. Yes, it was sharp, or sharp enough.
I ran back into the lounge room, bare chested, with hieroglyphs inscribed on my skin. “Show yourself arsehole!”
The eye once again opened. It searched the room, looking for me, but I was standing directly in front of the thing. The hieroglyphs seemed to do the trick. I ran up to the eye with the butcher knife blade pointing down. I jumped up and with all my force, stabbed into the center of the eye. It pierced the gelatinous matter of the eye and I drove it all the way in. The whole house began to shake. It felt like a miniature earthquake was coming through the area. Black blood began to spurt out of the eye in a torrent. I looked around. It wasn’t only the Eye gushing out blood. All of the walls were bleeding, black blood was oozing out of and dripping down the walls. It looked like the house was bleeding crude oil. I left the butcher knife lodged in the eye and began to twist the blade. The miniature earthquake around me grew more intense, as did the substance that was oozing from the walls. And then the walls started to combust into flames. I knew I had to get out of that house.
I ran out of the lounge room and towards the front door of the house. The house shook once more in a major quake. It knocked me off my feet and I fell to the floor. It took the wind out of me, but I got back up and ran out and through the front door, out onto the streets. I ran out of the yard and out onto the street. Covered in black blood, that crude oil substance, I looked on as the house slowly went up in flames.
Someone must have called the fire department, because soon the street was filled with officials to take care of the fire. I was taken into custody after that. Instituted into a mental health facility for youths. I don’t know what to tell them, they think I burnt the place down because of what happened with my father.
The world will never know the truth.