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by Laura Nettles

Mr. and Mrs. Maud were even madder than one who had read the Necronomicon cover to cover, twice. Teacups sang through steam patterns to them, clouds told of ancient cataclysms. Their brains were scrambled in the best of ways, like an omelet sprinkled with the finest of cheeses. But that’s not what their neighbors thought.

Mr. and Mrs. Evangeline were as sane as one who had never heard of the name Cthulhu. Their lawns were perfectly edged, their flowers pristine and worthy of every gardening award in Wiltshire, Massachusetts. Upstanding citizens.

The day the Maud’s rolled into town riding backwards on a horse and pulled up to number 6, removing the for-sale sign, the picture-perfect neighborhood took a collective breath. Unfortunately for them, they could not hold if for long. Immediately strange sounds, smells and vapors rose from lot number 6, driving away the perfectly normal, thank you very much, neighbors and driving down the value of the estates. The new folk were not much better than the Maud’s. One had even built a barn in their backyard! Something had to be done.

On October the 24th, Mrs. Evangeline had had enough. She hiked up her skirts and sallied forth past the other houses going to rot, and up the weed infested walk way to the first and worst offender. The front door somehow loomed, even though it used to be like every other cookie cutter house on the street. The vapors had warped it, paint was peeling and a giant hole with a spy glass was cut into the center at child’s height.

‘Why on earth is it so close to the ground?’ thought Mrs. Evangeline.

Before she could even knock, the door creaked open giving her the fright of her 45-year life. Mrs. Maud was on all fours, her knees bent backwards. She was scuttling forward, spider-like, a basket in hand.

With a shriek Mrs. Evangeline ran from the premises. ‘Something has to be done!’ she thought. ‘But what?’ An idea struck her. ‘What about the HOA? Shirly they are breaking every rule.’ Mind made up she made her way over to the new president of the Home Owners Association’s house to complain.

Nose in the air, the faint whispers of damp and salt reached her nostrils as she rang the bell to Mr. Olmstead’s house. He was a younger man who had come from a sea-side village a month ago with his cousin. The election for HOA president had been held by mail ballots for some reason, so she had never met him in person; but social pleasantries be damned, she had a complaint to make.

Slowly the water warped door creaked open. In the depths of the shadows a man stood, face swathed in the darkness, yet his bulging yellow eyes could be seen piercing through to her soul. His pale green lips opened and produced an inhuman sound, like something a kraken would make.

In terror she fled and her eyes were opened, finally noticing the new sign at the opening of the road. “Welcome to Lovecraft Lane.”

The End

My second story to be hosted on the podcast Project: Shadow by writer CE Dorsett. The episode is called Two Novellas Finished, an Anthology Announcement, and a Lovecraftian HOA. The part where I read the story starts at 15:36. Thank you Charlie for accepting my humble offering of a flash fiction yet again...

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