CHAPTER SIX— House of Horrors — A Dawn & Rosie short story

Titania Tempest
7 min readDec 29, 2023


The cover for “House of Horrors, A Dawn & Rosie short story”: yellow-orange sunset scene with black silhouettes of a witch on a broomstick, an owl, and the roofs of gothic town buildings.

Dawn swallowed audibly and edged forward. “Gracious, aren’t their props impressive?”

“A little too realistic for my tastes,” Rosie said acidly. But she followed her towards what appeared to be a hospital bed in the centre of the room, complete with a comatose patient hooked up to all manner of tubes and wires.

Rosie leaned over to get a better look and quickly pressed her fist to her lips as she gagged. “Oh, God,” she groaned, swallowing hard.

“Squeamish, are we?” Dawn giggled, patting her on the back. “It’s not real, remember.”

Rosie risked another peek. “Perhaps not — but they’ve done a stuffing excellent job.”

The patient’s ribcage, held open with a series of hooks, presented a clear view of a beating heart, nestled in with lungs that appeared, for all intents and purposes, to be breathing.

“Gosh, just look at the attention to detail!” Dawn exclaimed, fascinated.

“That’s disgusting,” Rosie replied flatly. “Bloody morbid, you are — can we go, now, please?”

Dawn turned to tease her, but the patient suddenly bolted upright between them, and they shrieked. Rosie zoomed to the other side of the room, practically plastering herself against the wall in her bid to escape. Dawn, who’d only gone a couple of steps, grinned at her from across the way, and the patient slowly reclined again.

“Wow,” she chortled, lifting an eyebrow at Rosie. “We’re certainly getting our money’s worth!”

“I can’t believe you paid for this!” Rosie shot back, unpeeling herself from alongside a cupboard. “They should bloody pay us to be here, I feel.”

She skirted the hospital bed, glaring at its occupant, and Dawn jovially looped an arm through hers when she was close enough.

“Onwards, shall we?”

“Absolutely — one bloody inch closer to the exit, at least.”

They stepped towards the next door — but the lights went out. Strangled gasps escaped them, and they froze, clinging to each other. Around them, the dark pressed in, heavy, and eerily quiet.

After a moment, Rosie said hoarsely, “Where are the bloody markers? Aren’t they supposed to glow?”

Dawn scanned the floor and finally picked out a faint luminescence several feet away. “There! There’s one by the door.”

Cautiously, they picked their way towards salvation. When they reached it, Dawn felt about for a handle and pulled it open, and above them, the fluorescent light flickered back on. It blinked off again, and on, on and off, illuminating in flashes a long, clinical corridor beyond the red-rust doorframe. Further down, another light also flickered periodically, so that the stretch was more shadow than light — and the clicking sound of its futile efforts to properly ignite echoed into the quiet.

“Great,” Rosie snarked, staring down the creepy passage. “All we need now is the bloody serial killer.”

Dawn gave a delicious shiver. “Let’s hope not!”

She tugged Rosie forward, and they proceeded in fits and starts down the stark hallway, only moving when the light briefly flashed, and they could see. Hospital doors lined either side, and Rosie averted her eyes as shadowy hands pressed against the inside of each glass port they passed. Far-off moans, punctuated by the odd chilling scream, penetrated the quiet, and Dawn covered her nose against the acrid smell of disinfectant. Always, the lights flickered on and off. On, and off.

As they passed the last door, a soft sobbing caught Dawn’s attention, and she stopped.

“Heavens,” she murmured. “Will you listen to that?”

Rosie frowned, eyeing the small window. “That’s unnervingly realistic.”

As they discussed it, the sobbing quietened, and then a papery voice whispered, “H-hello…?”

A pale face pressed against the glass, and both Dawn and Rosie jumped violently. They stared; though the window was frosted, the face appeared to belong to a young woman, and her timid voice came again.

“Is… s-someone there?”

Lips pressed tight, Rosie and Dawn eyed each other.

“P-please… there’s been a terrible mistake… I shouldn’t be in here. Please… help me…”

The voice trailed off in despair, and Dawn narrowed her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she reached for the door handle, and Rosie slapped at her hand.

“Are you mad?” she hissed.

“I think there’s really someone in there, Rose,” Dawn whispered back.

“Of course there is! They employ actors at these sorts of things, you know. Leave well enough alone, I say.”

But Dawn shook her head as the soft sobbing resumed behind the door, punctuated by tiny, breathless pleas. “I have to check.”

“Your chivalry will be the death of us both, one of these days…” Rosie said darkly, but she only watched as Dawn reached for the handle again.

Gingerly, Dawn pressed the lever down and then, steeling herself, pulled.

The door didn’t budge.

“Huh. It’s locked.”

“Can’t say I’m devastated by that.”

Dawn frowned but abruptly reeled backwards as a loud bang struck the other side of the door, followed by an ungodly cackling.

The face leered at the window again, making obscene expressions. “Come in, sweetie, come in… come in — come in and see…”

Glaring at the figure now running its tongue along the other side of the glass between mad fits of laughter, Rosie righted Dawn.

“You see?” she snipped. “Actor. Insane one, at that.”

Dawn straightened her hat with a grimace. “This place really is over the top.”

“You’re the one who made us come,” Rosie said, but then she offered a small smile. “It’s sort of fun, though.”

“Isn’t it?” Dawn replied, ginning. “Definitely a night we’ll remember.”

“One I’d probably prefer to forget,” Rosie huffed.

She looped her arm through Dawn’s again, and they left the cackling fiend behind. A few steps away, the end of the corridor loomed, demarcated by a large round hatch, and Dawn paused to take in the flickering hall once more.

Her grip tightened on Rosie’s arm. “Rose…”

“What?” Rosie said, turning to look.

At the other end, a silhouette flashed in the doorway, backlit by the fluorescent tube in the patient’s room. Though it was hard to tell between the distance and the erratic illumination, it appeared to be a man, standing absolutely still, staring in their direction.

“Who is that?” Dawn hissed, crushing Rosie’s fingers.

“I told you something was behind us!” Rosie said grimly.

“Another actor?”

Another flash, and though they hadn’t seen him move, the Man was a few feet closer. He was directly beneath the next tube this time, and the flicker of light outlined a well-cut grey waistcoat, dark trousers, and a baker boy cap that threw his face into shadow.

“He’s dressed awfully normally,” Rosie disagreed, squinting. “Another patron, maybe?”

Dawn glanced at her watch and shook her head dubiously. “They don’t open to the general public for another half an hour…”

“Perhaps he also has an early booking? We have been dawdling a bit…”

“I don’t know…” Dawn backed up a little as the Man took another step. “Let’s go, shall we?”

“Oi!” Rosie shouted suddenly — making Dawn jump. “What the hell are you doing, creeping around like that?”

The Man didn’t answer, and the corridor plunged into darkness once more.

“Rose…” Dawn whispered, almost a plea. She tugged at Rosie’s gauzy sleeve. “C’mon…”

The light flashed, and the Man had moved another couple of steps towards them in perfect silence. He stood with his hands thrust deeply into his pockets, watching them.

“Sod it,” Rosie snapped, turning for the heavy door behind them. She wrenched it open, hauled Dawn through, and heaved it shut. “Let’s shake a leg, Dawn — I wouldn’t mind putting some distance between us and that weirdo.”

“No arguments here,” Dawn agreed.

Rosie eyed the empty room ahead suspiciously, noted that these lights, at least, appeared to be in good working order, and judged it safe enough to proceed. They picked up their pace, keeping an ear on the door behind them, and made it halfway across before the floor dropped out from under them with a violent cracking. Dawn screamed, and Rosie lunged for her as the tiles fell away, dropping hundreds of feet towards a nighttime cityscape below. Suddenly, they were standing in midair, gaping down a gut-wrenching plunge.


Thank you for reading! 🥰 This short story is a just-for-fun Halloween romp featuring the main characters from the novel PAPER DAFFODILS. If you enjoy hanging out with Dawn & Rosie, please check out their book on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!

The cover of the novel PAPER DAFFODILS. Purple background remniscent of crumpled paper, overlain with a large yellow daffodil, the title of the book, and the author’s name (Titania Tempest)


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match for the spirited widow Dawn; dragged through a whirlwind of adventures and betrayed by her own sense of humour, Rosie soon realises she hasn’t got a hope of staying sullen.

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Get it here!



Titania Tempest

Author of Paper Daffodils, a sweet and sassy late-life lesbian romcom. Also currently working on a High Fantasy trilogy featuring sapphic sorceresses.