The history books call me things like ‘brave’ and ‘hero.’ The history books are wrong. I was only the owner of a home with large trees in a quiet neighborhood. A home that became the nexus of an interplanetary war.
On a busy street in a quiet neighborhood there stood an unquiet house. Not in the same category as those unquiet houses called haunts. No, this house was restless for other reasons. It was old enough that it should have been considered charming but it wasn’t. And although modern in style, it lacked it. It was simply a house made bitter with age and neglect. As the owner, I was starting to feel the same.
Like two roommates, we tolerated each other, but there was no love lost between us. The house was determined to drive out its unwelcome tenant and I was just as determined to stay put. I was the ‘queen’ of this castle ‘thank you very much’.
And so, much like roommates everywhere, we refused to budge and made each other miserable. Each of us successfully managing to be as intolerable as possible in order to force the other to give in.
It may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with the idea, but inanimate objects are actually alive. Simple things such as sewing needles have spirits of their own, and if you aren’t respectful? Well, let’s just say that at least pricks of conscience won’t leave you bleeding from your thumbs.
Most object spirits are benign, friendly even, as long as you treat them with kindness and keep them in good repair. Some object spirits are different, though, and that’s where I come in. They call me a rehabilitator. A fixer, if you will. When an object has been abused or neglected and becomes vengeful, they bring in someone like me to make peace. Once the spirit has been appeased, I can move on to the next job and the spirit can return to its natural benevolent state. My latest project was proving difficult, however.
Burst pipes going to the water heater, rotting timbers in the patio, leaking lateral water line, the furnace not igniting, the stove, the dishwasher, the lawn catching on fire (don’t play with matches kids), the tornado that just missed it by a block, the shower valve, the venomous spiders, and the branch the size of a tree through the roof were seriously causing me to contemplate a change of occupation.
Yes, folks, the Sentient House of Doom was especially nasty, but I refused to quit. Still, the house was old and it could afford to wait out its occupant. It’s not like it was going anywhere. I never considered that it might be a cry for help. I blame myself. Mutant tree roots growing through an interstellar portal in my sewer lines should have been my first thought.
Instead, the plumbing backed up for a week and I had to call in the experts. The logo on their van said, Mutant Tree Specialists since 2017: We’ll get to the root of your problem or die trying. Needless to say, I was concerned. Turns out I was right to be. An hour later, only one of them stumbled out of my front door with a look of horror on his face.
“What happened?” I asked, shocked.
“Home maintenance. It’s a killer,” he choked out before he left his co-worker behind and sped away, leaving his equipment behind. By this time, there was a horrifying miasma threatening to engulf my home and I could hear the cries of terror coming from the remaining plumber.
I could walk away right now, I thought. No one would blame me. My house had never liked me, despite my best efforts to soothe the savage beast. Still, I had a mortgage and the crotchety thing had started to grow on me, and I didn’t spring for life insurance for the plumber. Damn. So, I suited up and went in.
I won’t traumatize you with the details, but when we emerged (victorious, I might add), I would never be the same. I had managed to rescue the plumber and the free world with the help of my Sentient House of Doom. It look a while to disinfect the walls, though.
It’s been thirty years since the day my home and I joined forces. When the government determined that the vortex was the largest ever seen and that we had closed it before the root infestation managed to spread into world domination, I became famous overnight. I never planned on being part of the historical record. All that mattered to me was that my house had somehow become a home. I started calling it S.H.O.D. for short. I wouldn’t say we’re friends exactly, but the malevolence has receded. I think we have an understanding now. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.
But I wasn’t brave and I’m no hero. The history books are wrong.
(Inspired by my own Sentient House of Doom (Why are you so mean to me? Why?), a Goodreads prompt for Science Fiction and Fantasy week, and my own twisted imagination. It’s weird but I hope you enjoyed it.)