Horror and Thriller Fiction posted June 22, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
Children often display curiosity about their surroundings

A Hole in the Wall

by AliMom

Horror Writing Contest Contest Winner 

I remember as children our curiosity about the hole in the wall of our grandmother's house. There was nothing particularly extraordinary about it. It was just a hole. What made it odd was its placement in the wall. It was at the bottom of the wall about an inch or so from the floor, near the kitchen door which led into the cellar. Probably a mouse hole. Nothing odd about that. It was perfectly round, about the size a small rodent could squeeze through, but we'd never seen a mouse go in or out of it. It didn't detract from the beauty of the room or anything but no one seemed to attempt to block it with furniture or wallpaper it over like people often do when something unsightly is in the room. So it was there, as obvious as obvious could be.

"But doesn't it spoil the look of the room?" we asked Granny, a meticulous housekeeper with very high standards for cleanliness. "It's just fine dear, just where it should be", she responded. We asked Granny once why she didn't plug it up. She said it wasn't bothering anybody so she didn't see the need to bother it. And that was that! But not for us kids. We couldn't seem to leave it alone. The very fact of its existence drew us to it over and over again. We got into the habit of shoving things into it just to see what would happen. Mostly tiny things like the end of a teaspoon or a straw. We weren't trying to hurt whatever might be in there. We were just curious whether whatever it was might push it out. When we were feeling very adventurous, we'd stuff food or our own candies in there hoping to entice the intruder to come out. Nothing ever did, of course. But strangely the items we stuffed in there were always missing when we checked on them the following day.

"Maybe it ate it!" my brother said.

"I doubt it". Trust Granny to clean up anything we put in. She wouldn't stand for a mess. Granny warned us often with the old adage about curiosity killing the cat. But we couldn't be satisfied. And we poked at that particular mystery all the time we were there. I was often tempted to stick my finger in the hole and poke about in it but the thought of pulling back a mangled, chewed-up stub deterred me from that particular impulse and my brother, who so often didn't listen to me spared us the horror by oddly listening to my sisterly advice.

Our parents picked us up at the end of summer break and we were no closer to solving the mystery. "Mom?", my brother Barry queried, we called him Squeaker because his voice hadn't changed yet and he had exceptionally big ears that stuck out from the sides of his head. "Why is there a hole in Grandma's front room?"

"A hole?"

"Uh-huh. A little one, about the size of a mouse".

"Well, maybe she has a mouse,"Dad offered.

"Did you ask your grandma?" Mom asked.

"Well, yeah, but she just said leave it alone".

"Then I'd suggest you do just that dear!"

The following summer, when we arrived at Granny's, we ran straight for the hole. We wanted to see if it was still there. Maybe she'd sealed it. But no, there it was. The edges around it were a little more jagged, rough as if someone had been trying to push through it, but in every other way, the hole seemed the same. Still in its same spot, uncovered, unsealed. It was tantalizing in its mystery. My brother put his face down at its entrance and peered in. "It's pink, sort of reddish-pink actually. I never noticed that before."

"Well, you never really looked in it before," I said. He sat back on his haunches and scratched behind his ear. Oddly, in all the time we had been aware of the hole, we had never been tempted to peer in. We sensed a danger in scrutinizing the mystery too closely. "I think it's pulsing" Barry whispered. Listen!" And I dropped to my knees and leaned in. "I think you're right". It's making a funny swooshing noise too!" I stared at Barry. He stared at me. "I'm goin' in" he said and reached with one skinny finger toward the entrance.

"Are you children still fussing with that hole in the wall?" Granny came in at that moment and we jumped to our feet. "Didn't I tell you to leave it be?" You won't be satisfied until you hurt something. And look at you! You didn't even stop to give Granny a hug". She smiled at us in spite of her admonitions.

We jumped up, ashamed, and rushed into Granny's out-stretched arms. "We're sorry Granny. We just wanted to see if the hole was still there. We looked in. It's like it's pulsing or something!"

"Now, now, where'd you think it was going to go? It's a hole in a wall. And it ain't bothering nobody."

"But Granny, why don't you plug it up. Or paper it over, Or something?"

"It's part of the character of the house," Granny said. "It's like me, old- but we just keep on ticking along."

Our curiosity grew as the summer passed. Unbeknownst to Granny, we had gone back to our old habit of stuffing things in the hole. And as quickly as the hole would clear, we would re-stuff it.
We just couldn't be satisfied with Granny's explanation. One evening, after Granny had put us to bed, we sneaked downstairs to the hole. We could hear her peaceful, rhythmic snoring like a bee's buzzing. Constant, sweet. It was one of the things that endeared her to us. It told us we were safe. She was nearby and would always be there to protect us. We had decided to test the hole's depth so we began pushing everything in there that would go through the small entrance. No Granny to clear it out this time. Cotton balls, soil, candy, coins, anything we could get our hands on that would squeeze into the entryway, we stuffed in that hole. It seemed bottomless. Who would have thought a hole that small could be so big on the inside?

"Squeaker, hand me some more stuff", I told him. We pounded and pushed with sticks and straws and pencils and still, the hole showed no resistance. There were no signs of fullness. We half expected the wall to pop open in our faces we had stuffed so many things in there. Barry passed me two toy cars and a pile of leaves. I think we had finally reached the end. "Quick, gimme something else. Hand me those ping-pong balls. "Wait, I've got some socks", Barry said and handed me what seemed to be the entire contents of his sock drawer. With a final flourish, I crammed whip cream that Granny had brought to top the apple pie she'd made for dessert that evening into the corners. We heard a crash from Granny's room and rushed upstairs. Granny lay face down on the floor.

We called 911 and then called our parents. They rushed to the hospital where we sat white-faced and shaking, holding each other like survivors of a terrible tragedy often do. "I'm sorry kids," my dad said, they couldn't save her. Congestive heart failure." She just couldn't get enough air into her lungs. But you two did the right thing. It's not your fault."

A new family moved into the house about a year later. They loved Grandma's old home with its gingham curtains and wooden kitchen furniture. "So quaint", they said. We walked through the house to say our final goodbyes to the place. The new owner, Mrs. Graham, immediately began telling my mother how much she loved the place. She felt connected to it - attached really. She had great decorating ideas. I guess she thought it would make Mom feel better about selling the house.

She stopped at the front room. "But this hole... such a curious spot for a hole. Maybe it was a plug or an outlet. It's too low to have had any practical use. I was wondering why nobody had ever covered it up or plastered it over. 'Keep the mice out. Now I was thinking of..."

"Leave it alone!!" my brother and I shouted simultaneously.

"Trust me", I said. It's just as it's supposed to be."

Horror Writing Contest
Contest Winner

Have you ever heard the expression curiosity killed the cat? No matter how often we tell our children, they insist on digging into matters which do not concern them. They don't mean to cause harm. They just want to see what lies beneath. Is it better to alleviate their curiosity by just telling them or do we let them discover the truth for themselves.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by avmurray at FanArtReview.com

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