House & Helvete

The neon division that cuts through House & Helvete throbs, the colorful wall of Mel’s music slips into nowhere, and Lark can see into what should be the building next door. But it’s not next door. It’s the black interior of Helvete, the monochrome slice of Nathaniel’s half of the store repeated and repeated again. 

And Lark is there too, doubled, his ragged hair hanging down his back. He raises a hand, expecting his image in the mirrored room to lift his as well, like a reflection, but it does not.

Instead, the him that is not him turns and looks back. He smiles. Lark thinks: I would not smile like that. 

He thinks: How long since I smiled like that?

A record store closed by the influence of a cursed cassette tape. A cruel doppelgänger disappointed in his floundering counterpart. An endless loop of self-hatred and regret.

“House & Helvete” is a horror short story that first appeared in Issue 3.3 of The Dread Machine.

category: fiction
year: 2023
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