Marc stepped onto the porch of his new home. The two-story home’s yellow siding had faded to a dull beige, and the porch’s chipped and peeling white paint revealed the grey wood underneath. The house’s second story covered the porch, and River lightly touched Marc’s arm to say, “We could get some planters to hang from here next spring.”
With the keys to the house in his hand, Marc looked at River. A cool, fall breeze blew River’s brown, wavy hair away from his jawline. He kept his hair pulled away from his face with a thick, fabric headband, but Marc knew him well enough to know that this headband also covered the premature grey that was spreading through his hair. River’s cupid’s bow lips held a hopeful smile in the corners of them. His warm, light brown eyes darted between the two places he imagined planters. Marc hadn’t said it aloud, but he was in love with this lanky man. River was handsome and kind, and Marc felt one of River’s hugs whenever River smiled at him.
River turned abruptly and gasped. “And we could hang some wind chimes here.”
“Fuck no,” Marc said. “I’m not listening to that all day.”
River laughed and nudged Marc again. “Are you going to put it in the rental agreement?”
Marc exhaled and finally unlocked the door. “I hope I don’t have to,” he said.
Even though River tended to self-consciously slouch, Marc still stood slightly shorter than him. He was heavyset and muscular, and he was used to River casually touching and squeezing his arms. His black hair was cropped close to his head and he had a layer of stubble just long enough to be soft. Freckles spread across his round face, and a pair of dark brown eyes sat behind bushy black eyebrows that easily revealed when he was worried, which was often. Marc continued, “Are you sure you’re okay with this arrangement?”
“We’ve already been living together for a couple of years now,” River said. “So you’re letting me pay a third of the old rent to live in a house? Yeah, I don’t see the problem.”
The front entryway had stairs leading up to the second floor, an archway opening into the living room, and three glass doors that revealed a dining room. Light from the kitchen entryway already illuminated the end of the dark hallway that held two doors - one to the bathroom and one with stairs to the basement. Marc started, “It still feels weird having you pay-”
“Why is all the furniture here?” River asked.
Marc took a closer look around. Most of the furniture hadn’t been moved out, and there were some new half-packed boxes that he thought shouldn’t be there. Marc said, “I better call the agent and see what’s up. We can’t move in our stuff with the house like this.”
“Is anyone still here?” River yelled up the stairs.
Marc dialed the agent’s number and paced in the hallway. River asked, “Can I wander around?”
“Go ahead,” Marc said.
The kitchen looked emptied out with the cupboards open and bare. The agent, Shirley, picked up the line, and after the pleasantries, Marc said, “So it looks like the previous owners left behind a lot of stuff. I know sometimes people leave trash after they move to make the other person deal with it, but this is like, well, their full dining room set is still here. Are they still moving out or am I just dealing with all of it?”
“I’ll make some calls and find out,” she replied. “Talk soon.”
Shirley hung up on him, and Marc thinned his lips as he looked at his phone. When he looked up from his phone, he saw a shadowy humanoid in the glass reflection of the dining room doors. The figure darted out of view, and when Marc turned around to see where it ran, he didn’t see anything at all. “Fuck, River, I saw something already,” Marc said, rubbing his eyes. “Did you see it? I think it had a tail.”
“I didn’t see anything,” River said. He came out of the living room. “Where was it?”
“I saw something in the reflection of the glass doors,” Marc said, sighing. “Are we really going to have to get your buddies here immediately?”
“We should have done it before we even moved in,” River said. “We’re knowingly moving into a haunted house. We should have shelled out an extra month’s rent to get it properly treated.”
“I said it was a bad omen to buy a haunted house in October,” Marc said.
“Time is fake,” River said. “This house would have been just as haunted – and just as cheap – at any other time of year. We just should have cleansed the house before we moved in.”
Marc said, “I just bought a house - I don’t have a month’s rent laying around.”
River sighed. “I offered to cover it for you.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Marc said, “Listen, I didn’t - I didn’t expect things to happen immediately.”
River’s eyes widened and he stood in front of Marc. He touched Marc’s forearms, and heat rushed to Marc’s cheeks. River said, “Don’t tell me you don’t believe in the supernatural.”
Marc shifted his weight from one foot to another. “I mean,” he let his voice trail off.
“I’ve talked to you about ghosts for, like, over a decade. I worked part-time as a ghost hunter for a year,” River said. “What did you think I did?”
Marc shrugged. “I don’t know. Helped people process trauma. Twice you found black mould.”
River said, “So you thought this house was suspiciously on the market every few years because - what? People were just superstitious?”
“Old homes creak,” Marc said. “I figured I was gutting the place anyway so I’d fix all of that, and if ghosts were actually real, I’d have you and your buddies to help out.”
River was still holding onto Marc’s arms and staring into his eyes. Marc couldn’t quite meet them. He’d never been so embarrassed not to believe in the paranormal. River smiled and said, “Well, at least you still kept us in mind.”
Marc’s cheeks grew hotter as he said, “Well, I always keep you in mind.”
River smiled wider and revealed his slightly crooked, left front tooth that Marc loved seeing. Marc’s phone rang, and River released his arms as he answered it. River examined the glass windows as Shirley spoke without waiting for Marc to go through the pleasantries. “The last owners left in a hurry,” she said. “I guess the ghost stuff was ramping up and they just wanted out. They said you can keep the stuff or sell it or whatever.”
“What if we find something sentimental they overlooked?” Marc asked. “I can see there are still some pictures hanging in the stairwell.”
“Uh, yeah I’d pack that up and I’ll talk to them. I’ll make sure you’re compensated though-”
“It’s really no problem,” Marc said.
“Well, sell their other shit for sure then,” she replied. “I’ll get back to you again in a few days. What a nightmare. You stay safe in that place, all right?”
“Absolutely,” Marc said. “I’m living with a bonafide ghost hunter.”
River turned to Marc and beamed. Marc considered how much he loved River as Shirley sighed and said, “Well, whatever. Talk soon.”
She hung up. He didn’t tell River how unimpressed she was, but he relayed the information. “Let’s go upstairs and see what else they left behind,” Marc said.
While they walked up the stairs, River said, “The living room is fully furnished, but all the furniture has green fabric so I was kind of thinking maybe we keep it. It’s nicer than the futon we were using anyway.”
“I’m fine if we keep it,” Marc said. “Didn’t we get the futon from your ex anyway?”
“Yeah,” River said. “Which room is mine?”
“Left side is yours,” Marc said. “I figure we’ll rip out the kid’s bedroom and turn it into a bathroom and closet for you.”
There was a small sitting area on the other side of the stairs, and it was furnished with more green furniture and a bookcase with books stacked vertically. Doors sat on either side of the hallway leading to two small balconies above the porch. River opened a door near the sitting area that led into what would be his bedroom. The room was empty aside from a single large houseplant near the window. River gasped. “Poor baby,” he said, lifting the houseplant into his arms. He looked around the room and added, “I’m kind of disappointed I don’t have the excuse to ditch my shitty furniture, but, hey, free plant.”
River checked the soil of the plant and followed Marc as he checked the kid’s room. Relief hit Marc when he saw it was completely empty. “At least we won’t have to deal with any haunted toys,” he said. “That’d be pretty miserable.”
“True,” River said. “What about your room?”
Marc opened the door to another empty room. There wasn’t even a plant in his. His closet was also empty, and the bathroom had a few products leftover that he’d throw out. “I think we’ll be able to store the rest of the furniture in the basement,” Marc said. “It’s what, just the futon, the TV stand, and a couple bookcases?”
“We might be able to fit the bookcases downstairs instead of in the basement,” River said.
They watched the moving truck pull up outside the house from the upstairs window, and the pair quickly hurried downstairs to meet them. River set down the plant on the porch and they went to help the two movers place and store their belongings.
Marc forgot about the figure in the mirror as he, River, and the movers started to get everything settled into the house. Music happily pumped through the house, and Marc found himself humming along as he helped move everything. When all that was left in the truck was boxes and furniture for the basement, Marc directed the movers down the hallway and held the basement door open for them. River shouted, “Hey, Marc,” from the porch. “You should take a look at this.”
Marc walked back onto the porch. River was straightening his new plant back up after it had been knocked over with the foot traffic. A small splash of soil had spilled out of the pot, and River pointed to a bare footprint in the soil. “We were all wearing shoes,” River said. “I wanted to do this barefoot, but you insisted on shoes and I listened to you.”
“So we have a barefoot ghost,” Marc said.
“With pretty big feet,” River said. “Looks bigger than your feet.”
Marc laughed. “What are you trying to say?”
“It tells us we’re probably not dealing with a child ghost,” River said. “Did you think I was trying to imply something else about the ghost?”
“Yeah, absolutely,” Marc said.
“Look,” River said.
Marc noticed a faint hand print on the window. “You’re fucking with me,” Marc said.
“No, I wouldn’t,” River said. “You know I take this seriously.”
River breathed on the hand print to define it better, but he noticed the beginning of a word. When he breathed on the window he saw the word “COCK,” but the “O” was a heart.
“If you’re not fucking with me, someone else absolutely is,” Marc said.
River breathed on the rest of the window to reveal the words, “I LOVE COCK” with the hand print next to it.
River rubbed his chin and said, “Okay, maybe someone is fucking with us.” He hesitated and said, “Could be the ghost is fucking with us though.”
Marc started, “River-”
But the two movers came out of the house looking a little pale. “Listen,” one said. “We’d heard about this place when we took the job and we didn’t think much of the rumours, but we’re not going back into the basement. We can move the rest into the living room for you, but we’re done downstairs.”
“What did you see?” Marc asked.
The other mover said, “We didn’t see the same thing, but either way, we’re-”
“We’re done,” the first one interrupted. “Do you want the rest in your living room?”
“That’d be great,” Marc said. “Thanks for still being open to coming inside the house.”
“We locked the basement door,” the mover said, “and there’s not much left to move.”
Marc and River turned as the two movers hurriedly moved the last two bookcases into the living room. They shooed Marc and River away to keep them from helping, and a sense of dread grew inside Marc. A haunted house was easily the only one he could afford, but he hadn’t expected to actually have to deal with hauntings. He knew River thought he worked as a ghost hunter, and as much as he loved him, he couldn’t be certain River and his team actually accomplished anything.
Marc paid the movers, and he and River stood outside at the footprint for a moment. They watched it as if it would give them a hint about the current situation. “You know,” River said. “I don’t remember seeing a hatch to the attic when we were upstairs, but when you were paying the movers I looked up and I could see windows that are clearly above the second floor.”
“There was no attic when I did the walkthrough or the inspection,” Marc said as they walked onto the front lawn.
Sure enough, above the double balconies was a wide bay window for someone to sit in. Marc could see faded lace curtains in the window, but they didn’t stir. His house overall looked like it needed work. The wood needed fresh paint and repairs in a few different areas. He’d already scheduled someone to replace the roofing before winter, and he hoped he and River would be able to repair most of the exterior themselves in the new year. He followed River to the side of the house, and there was another small window that looked into the attic around the side of the house. He and River did a full circle of the house, and while there wasn’t a window at the back, the other side did have another small window. “There’s definitely a room up there,” River said.
“So do we check out the basement that scared the movers or look for a missing attic first?” Marc asked.
River laughed. “Tough question. Honestly, I was hoping to start cleaning up the backyard while I’m still all sweaty from moving,” he said. “Do I still get free reign of the backyard?”
“Yeah, do whatever you want,” Marc said. “The stones are pretty overgrown so maybe we’ll replace the walkways next year, but just leave room for me to put in a barbeque.” When River didn’t immediately reply, Marc added, “I’m only going to grill your vegan stuff, don’t worry.”
River said, “Oh no, sorry I wasn’t - there’s an old tire over there I could use as a planter.”
“So you weren’t listening to me.”
“Not at all,” River said. “Sorry. Miles away.”
River gave him a sheepish smile, but Marc got a glimpse of his favourite, crooked tooth and couldn’t help but smile in return. “It’s all right. How about I’ll mark off the area to keep clear later so you know what not to turn into plants?”
“That sounds good,” River said. He looked around at the overgrown backyard and said, “Let’s look for the attic first and then the basement, and then we can sit outside to try to forget about whatever we see.”
Marc laughed. “You’re so smart.”
River lightly held Marc’s arm as they went into the house. The music from when they moved everything in was still playing. River asked, “Did the movers forget their speakers?”
“I’ll text them,” Marc said.
River’s hand stayed firm on his arm as they walked through the kitchen and started up the stairs. The music stopped playing abruptly when they reached the top step. Marc didn’t look away from his phone. “They thought we were the ones playing the music,” Marc said.
River nodded. “Great. Great great great.”
“I mean, this ghost loves cock and has good taste in music. Maybe we’ll be pals,” Marc said.
The two meticulously walked through every room upstairs to check for a hatch into the attic. Floorboards creaked around them as if something was following their progress. River was tense against Marc with his fingers digging into his bicep. Marc tried not to let River’s anxiety spill into him, but he could catch a glimpse of a figure behind them when he looked in the reflective door handles. “You didn’t experience anything like this when you were ghost hunting?” Marc asked.
“Sure,” River said, “but I was scared then too.”
Marc laughed a little sharply, and River gripped him tighter. “Should we check the balconies?” River asked. “I can’t imagine a hatch being out there, but-”
Marc and River checked both balconies, and of course there wasn’t a hatch on either of them. Still, they lingered outside for a few moments. Some of the tension left them in the fall air. Marc explained that they’d have to fix the railings for the balconies to be safe. “Can I put plants on your balcony too?” River asked.
“Sure,” Marc said. “Load it up.”
“You’re the best,” River said.
Marc’s chest felt lighter. River took his arm again as they went back inside. “I guess it’s the basement next,” River said. “It’ll probably just be like this, right? Tense and quiet?”
“Hopefully,” Marc said.
Marc didn’t hear another set of footsteps following them downstairs, and he didn’t catch a reflection in the glass doors of the dining room. The basement door was under the stairs, and there were two different bolt locks on the outside of the door. The movers had slid them across. “Did you see the basement before you moved?” River asked.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Marc said. “I saw it when I first looked at the house and again during the inspection. They had a really nice laundry room. It looked like they were in the process of finishing it.”
“So these locks are new,” River said.
“Or they took them off when they were showing the house,” Marc said. “I don’t know.”
The two stared at the door for a moment. River said, “We’re stalling.”
Marc exhaled. “We’re stalling.”
“I mean if it had been anything too bad, the movers would have called the cops,” River said. “So we know it’s just creepy.”
The two continued looking at the door. River’s head turned. Marc heard the top two stairs creak, but it didn’t follow them down the stairs. “I think the ghost is sitting on the stairs,” River said.
Marc said, “Maybe the basement will be fine since it’s up here.”
“Or maybe whatever is in the basement scares it too,” River said.
Marc swallowed and tried not to think about it. River said, “We could ask it.”
“Yeah,” River said.
“Should we be making contact without your team?” Marc asked.
“I don’t know, but it’s following us around,” River said. “I think contact has been made.”
Marc’s entire body tensed as a new voice joined the conversation: “Nothing down there can hurt you, but it’s going to show you some kind of passageway. Don’t go through.”
River held Marc’s arm so tightly that it hurt. The voice sounded completely normal, like a voice from a conversation you’d hear in passing. It was deep and smooth. Marc couldn’t decide if he would have preferred something more raspy or haunting. River’s voice cracked as he replied, “Okay, thank you.”
River quickly unlocked the basement door and pulled Marc with him as he walked down the steps. Marc flicked on the light at the top of the stairs, and it was comforting to walk down into a light. The stairs down faced the laundry area. The previous owners put down a big, cushy rug over the concrete flooring. The walls had been finished, and there were cupboards and cabinets around the washer and dryer. The laundry basket was toppled over with clothes falling out of it. There was a door that Marc knew led into a furnace room, and he and River turned around to look at the open space behind the stairs.
Marc saw the dropped futon, and there was a door at the end of the room that shouldn’t have been there. Light spread out from behind the door, and the bottom was shadowed as if someone waited on the other side. River’s grip loosened on him, and Marc heard muffled voices as if people talked on the other side of the door. River let go of him and took a step closer, and Marc grabbed him and pulled him back. The voices behind the door started laughing. Marc didn’t know why, but he thought they were laughing at him. River said, “It’s fine, Marc. I just want to see.”
The door creaked open and the laughter grew louder. Marc lifted River up into his arms and charged back upstairs. Marc slammed the door closed behind him and locked it. He still held River in his arms, and River just watched him, wide-eyed. “What?” Marc asked.
“You’re just - you’re so hot,” River said, laughing.
Marc set him down with his cheeks burning, and River smiled at him. “What did you see?” River asked.
“A door,” Marc said. “I heard voices on the other side of it, and a light as if it was another room. What did you see? The same thing?”
“No,” River said. “You were scared?”
“I wasn’t,” River said. “I think mine was a temptation.” He hesitated and added, “I’m glad you grabbed me.”
Marc smiled weakly, and River took his hand. River said, “You’re shaking.”
“Don’t apologize,” River said. River hugged him, and Marc exhaled as he wrapped his arms around him. River rubbed his back and said, “You’re okay. It’s okay.”
Marc tucked his head against River’s neck. He loved feeling him in his arms. “I’m so glad you’re here,” Marc said.
“There’s nowhere else I’d wanna be,” River said.
River held Marc’s hands as he drew away from him, and Marc stared at their hands together as he thought about how much he wanted to kiss him. River said, “You’ll feel better once we’re outside.” He yelled to the presence in the house, “Hey, we’re going to go outside and not think about the fucked up basement! See you later!”
The voice replied, “Cool.”
River’s eyes widened and his voice was a pitch higher as he replied, “Okay.”
River pulled Marc out of the house through the back door. Marc sat down on the back porch and River paced in the backyard for a moment. “Okay, I know I encouraged you to go for the extremely cheap haunted house,” River said, “but we might have fucked up.”
Marc said, “Do ghosts not usually communicate this much?”
“Not usually, no,” River said. “Marcy has this method where like, they talk through her. When I said we should ask the ghost I thought maybe we’d get some tapping to interpret, not a whole ass conversation.” River sighed and added, “The ghost sounds cool too.”
“Big feet. Loves cock,” Marc said.
River and Marc laughed and relieved some of the tension. Marc asked, “Do you think you and your team can handle it?”
“We’ll try,” River said. “Maybe we should sleep together tonight. You know, so the ghost isn’t with either of us alone.”
Marc wasn’t sure if he was more scared of interacting with the ghost or getting an erection while sharing a bed with River. “Maybe,” Marc said. “I mean, yeah, probably. I can sleep on the floor of your room.”
River laughed. “My bed’s big. We can share it.”
Marc nodded. He didn’t exactly want to say no. He had a fantasy of pulling River against him and kissing the back of his neck. He said, “Okay.”
River smiled, and heat sat in Marc’s cheeks. He stared at his hands. “I’m going to start clearing out some areas and seeing what plants we can save,” River said. “That’ll calm me down. You okay there?”
“Yeah, I think I just need a minute,” he said.
He thought about the laughter in the basement again. He could almost hear the door creaking open. River started checking branches and soil, and then he kicked off his shoes. He gave Marc a wide smile, and Marc smiled back.
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Series: The Gay Demon in the Attic
Length: ~62,000 words
Estimated Reading Time: 214 Minutes
Marc buys a house that is supposedly haunted for extremely cheap with encouragement from his roommate/longtime crush, River. The pair notice unusual occurrences extremely quickly, including a mysterious voice that honestly seems pretty cool. The basement, however, is not cool and scares off the movers. The voice reveals itself to be a hot demon who just wants to hook up a lot after hiding for years, and both men come to terms with their relationship to each other while they include the demon Ziral in their romance. As the supernatural events increase and Halloween draws near, all three men soon realize that the gateway to hell in the basement cannot be ignored for much longer. This series is written in the third person and contains explicit sex between consenting adults.
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