The room had always been dark. She noticed it the first day that they moved in. Looking back on it, John had been ill from day one. He felt heavy, as if the flu was working on him. The darkness was unsettling. The other two bedrooms faced the same direction and they were filled with sunlight. Not that room. John became sicker. The heaviness was always there and he said that it felt more and more intense. The doctor found nothing.
Ann had been working late and returned home. She shouted as she entered the house, as she always did. He wasn’t in the living room. There was no gin and tonic waiting for her. Noises from that bedroom. She swallowed and waited and listened. Ann could hear the low tone of a voice coming from upstairs. It had to be John. The fear that had been her constant companion in the house tickled her spine and dragged at her stomach.
She thought about him being in trouble, maybe he was sicker. Shouting would be the simplest thing to do. She couldn’t. Ann wondered why a tear was falling. She tried to reason, to understand a different feeling of misery that was attacking her very soul. It was now the companion of the dread. She had to go to him. His sickness worried her. Ann wiped her tears and crept upstairs.
The rumblings of a voice became clearer in volume although she still had no idea what was being said. She reached the door, grasped the handle and opened.
Ann could only breathe in. John crawled towards her, face down. He stopped. His head twisted to the side and he stared at her. She’d never seen such a look in his eyes. He was leaning on his knuckles with his forearms facing out. His elbows were locked. John’s words became more guttural. He never flexed his arms. He never stood. She never saw him move. But he was now on the bed, still on all fours, still staring and growling.
Ann ran out.
It was time to call a priest.
He recognised the shuffling after he had rung the bell. The woman who answered looked ill.
“I take it you’re Ann? I’ve been sent to see your husband.”
She nodded, there was no life in her. She struggled to speak.
“…Did Father Clark send you…Are you…A priest?”
“I was sent.”
“Upstairs, second door on the left. I don’t think that I need to tell you.”
He walked up towards the room, fear surrounded him, then retreated. He stepped in.
“I could say the same.”
She heard a scream, she thought it was from John. She heard steps on the stairs, it could have been either of them. He came into the living room.
“John needs to be moved from here.”
“I thought as much.”
“That’s not an issue. I’ve only stayed here because John wouldn’t or should I say couldn’t be moved.”
“You don’t seem to be frightened.”
She stared into him.
“I was, then I wasn’t and now, well I reckon I should be.”
He nodded. There was a hint of a smile.
“I have to make a phone-call.”
“You’ll do whatever you need to.”
He lifted out his phone and dialled.
“We need to take both.”
He touched her arm. He hid his shudder. She felt worse.
“It will be here shortly. Do you want to get some things together?”
“Do I need them?”
“…No, not really.”
“How are you going to get him out of the room?”
“He’ll not give me any bother. But what about you, are you happy to come with me?”
“Have I any choice?”
She saw the car pull up.
The man brought John downstairs. There was no reaction.
John climbed into the car, he stared at her. She grimaced as she saw only the whites of his eyes. Tears were forming and he began to sob.
She followed her husband.
The man was just about to shut the door.
She looked at her home, it didn’t seem so dark from the outside.
“Will nobody say it?”
“…It’s ironic really. The rent was cheap…”
“Oh not about the rent. The feu duty was paid to the church, it was their land”
“I don’t think you need to worry about that anymore”
“What about the house?”
“The house is never the problem.”
“What’s the problem?”
…He slammed the door.