The Shutter House
Every picture fell off the walls. The entire house came to life from the shaking. All of the earthquakes Tony had felt since moving to Southern California didn’t prepare him for this level of force and destruction.
He ran to the girls’ room, holding his hands in front of his face while dodging knick-knack projectiles. Lights sparked from above and rained down in showers of fireflies as he charged down the hall. The doorway to his daughters’ room loomed ahead. The sound of their desperate cries reached his ears, cutting through the roar of the house shuttering in its foundation.
Tony found his two young girls huddled together on the floor beside their bed. Their toys and books fell from shelves, posters peeled off the walls, and the bed rumbled like an object possessed.
“Daddy, what’s happening!” his youngest cried, her head on the shoulder of her older sister.
“You’re okay, I’m here.” Tony skidded to a stop and dropped to his daughters’ side, wrapping his lanky arms around them both.
“I want Mommy!”
Tony’s heart sank, though he understood his petrified daughter’s response. The world was collapsing around her and she didn’t understand why. His thoughts went to his wife who had recently left for the store and prayed she was safe.
The quake’s fury was unrelenting. Tony collected his daughters, his youngest in his arms, and his first born at his side. They ran down the crumbling hallway. The only things left on the walls were cracks streaking from ceiling to floor like gaping wounds.
They rounded the corner into the entryway and crashed through the front door. Tony led them to a safe distance, dropping to the grass in the middle of the front lawn. Nothing would hurt them out in the open air as the buildings collapsed around them as the shaking—
There was no more shaking, the earthquake over. Tony looked around and saw no one else exiting their houses. No fallen trees. No damage of any kind for as far as he could see. He looked back at the house, with a daughter clinging to each arm, just in time to see the front door snap from its hinges and fall forward like the house was inviting them back inside.