Flipping

📅 Published on May 25, 2020

“Flipping”

Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 16 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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The “rustic cabin” was little more than a shack, sitting in the midst of the Louisiana bayou.  All that led to it was a dirt road, and the dirt road wound off the main road for at least five miles before arriving here.  Even calling it a dirt road at some point would be pushing it, as Kevin Loomis found out, thankful for the 4-wheel drive on his SUV during several very swampy sections.

He got out of the 2016 Patriot, slamming the door, and sighing as he looked the cabin over, the sound of hooting birds, frogs, and the occasional noise of things he didn’t recognize, and hoped he never would.  He pulled out his phone, checked for a signal (there was one), and made a call to who he hoped would be very unhappy to hear him.

“This is Pryce.”

“Pryce… it’s Kevin.  I’m standing in front of the craphole now.”

Kevin couldn’t see Pryce on the other end, but he could tell he was squirming.  “Yeah, well…”

“Yeah, well, nothing.  You honestly think anyone would be interested in us flipping this thing?”

“Look, Kev, the market for cleaning up homes that just need a little love is running dry.  The audience wants to see a real wreck turned into something better.  And this one really fit the bill.”

“Fit the bill?  The thing is condemnable.  How did you even find this thing?  I barely did, and I drove to it!”

“Been searching the obituaries, looking for places that have gone on the market because the owners died.  By my research, the gal who lived here was a hoarder, hippie type, into weird stuff.  We can have an angle showcasing that, if you want, which should draw interest.  If we make this place look good, we’re going to bring in the dough, I can assure you.”

“Pryce, you know the flipping market.  I can spin crap into gold, but this isn’t even crap.  It’s almost a pile of lumber.  You really think we could get a profit out of this?”

“You will profit.  Not even the bank wanted this thing.  The lot itself was $500.  You can’t find that in New York or Toronto.”

“Toronto’s food doesn’t give me the shits.”  Looking around at the muddy ground, Kevin suddenly felt a stirring, and got out the bottle of Maalox he was keeping in his jacket.  He’d kept a supply on himself ever since he tried crawfish gumbo at a place called “Madame Petunia’s,” and he was slugging the stuff out of the bottle regularly.  “You could have told me before I drove all the way out here by myself.  This place is giving me the creeps without anyone else here.”

“Hey, that’s on you, pal.  I said it’d be best to wait until the rest of the crew got there, but no, you just went ahead and scouted like you always do.”

Kevin had to chuckle a little.  It was his habit to go off and check out the place before everyone else arrived.  It was partly because he just wanted to examine the structure, check it out, get some ideas on the renovations before producers and crew came in and started telling him what he could do.  He wanted them to know he was in charge. His name was on the show, his reputation what sold them commercial time, and his line of home improvement stuff that was giving them the chance to pay the rent on their three-digit apartments in the city.

The other was that the owners always left something behind.  Maybe it was old earrings, or a valuable toy buried out in the sand, but there was always something he was able to pawn off and get a couple of bucks for himself.  Last time he found a Rolex… granted, it wasn’t a top of the line Rolex, he discovered after doing some research, but even a low-end Rolex was worth a few grand to the right people… and find them he did.  It was easy to let everyone on the crew think he had put a down payment on the classic Corvette instead of buying the thing outright… the show had made him rich, but not that rich, yet.  He even gave everyone a bonus that month just so they wouldn’t ask questions.

The chance of a Rolex in this dump, though, was practically out of the question.  Pryce had said the prior owner was into weird stuff, but he was more likely to find a dead body than anything valuable.  As he climbed up the wooden steps, still on the phone with Pryce, he thought that was exactly what he was going to find.

“Well, hang on a moment, I’m about to walk in the door.  I’ll let you know if it’s…”

Despite having the key, Kevin didn’t need it. Behind a screen door barely attached to the hinges, the front door pushed open easily.

“…Shit.”

At least flies weren’t buzzing around, nor was the place filled with old rotting food.  But it was filled with junk.  Lots of junk, all piled up in boxes, like the gal knew she was going to kick the bucket and wanted to get everything arranged.  She didn’t do a particularly good job, as the stuff was still falling out onto the floor, a mix of voodoo trinkets, Salvador Dali artwork, and the works of the Dave Clark Five.  Not the strangest mix of things Kevin had ever seen, but certainly the most voluminous.

While the items inside were piled up almost everywhere, the building’s internal structure was a lot better looking than the outside. The walls were solid wood, polished and shining, out of place compared to the piles of debris, and though he would have to scoot past boxes filled with jarred tchotchkes, vinyl records, and crumpled posters, Kevin had to admit, he might have something to work with here.

“It is?  Damn, I’ll have to see if…”

“No, no, Pryce, I think we might have a little gem, if we can haul out all the garbage.  Just have to make sure the plumbing and electrical are solid.  I’ll give you a call in a bit.”

Kevin hung up, then looked at the hallway ahead of him.  He’d dealt with hoarders before, but he’d always had the ability to drive around the corner to a local trash dump and drop stuff off if he didn’t think he could get anything for it.  Also, the nearest hospital was about fifteen miles away; without rubber gloves and an onsite ambulance, he wouldn’t dream of digging through those boxes until he had to.  He decided to just weave through as best he could.

He pushed past a couple of boxes, looking for whatever could be the kitchen.  He passed a bedroom (stacked high with boxes, some smelling with strange herbs or potpourri), a small bathroom (working toilet and sink, water only slightly tinged with brown) and a closet before he could see a room with what appeared to be a stove range.

The kitchen table was piled high with newspapers, and it was hard to see how big the room was from the hallway.  Carefully stepping over a garbage bag full of what might have been action figures from the 70s (at least, that’s what he hoped), Kevin entered the room proper and checked the sink.  The sink was dirty but uncluttered, and the same slightly brown water ran out when he turned the tap.

Well, it all seemed to work.  That was the important thing.

He went over to the stove.  It seemed to be gas-fired, and with civilization being so distant, he guessed he’d find a propane tank out back.  He went to turn the dial.

He heard a brief, harsh hiss that died down quickly.  At first, his brain tried to rationalize it as the tank being empty, but the thing was, he hadn’t touched the stove at all yet.  And the sound came from behind him.

Everything except his head froze, as he turned to look.

From his new vantage point by the sink, he could now see beyond the table and its stack of papers.  There was a back door to the kitchen that led out to a rundown porch.  The screen door had been pushed open some time ago, leaving it open to the outside air.  Inside the house, he could see a small refrigerator and freezer that looked straight out of the 1960s, a set of cabinets that had been smashed apart a long time ago…

And an alligator, mouth open, its teeth gleaming in the light of the sun.  The creature was so massive, and the kitchen so small, that its back feet and tail trailed back outside.

It stared at him, black eyes focused, frozen just as much as he was.  He almost thought it might have been stuffed, until he saw its throat rumble, and another hiss escaped.

Kevin swallowed.  He didn’t know much about alligators, but he occasionally watched other shows that came on the network his show was on, and he knew they were nothing to mess around with.  It looked slow, languid, ready to pass out for a nap, but he knew they could be fast, and charge at you without a moment’s notice.  The only advantage he had was the room was small, with lots of stuff in it, and the odds he could get out of the room before it could maneuver enough to catch him were… well, good, in some sense.  He still didn’t know if it was worth the risk.  How big was it?  He heard most were ten feet fully grown. This one looked about right.

He slowly began to slide his feet back to the other side of the table, moving almost imperceptibly from the giant, toothy mouth.  He watched as it did the same with one of its front feet, lifting it closer, like it was ready to pounce forward, but taking its time, like it knew what he was up to.

He didn’t know how much time passed.  It could have been minutes, it could have been closer to half an hour.  But he finally put the table between himself and the beast, and all it had pulled off of far was to move that one leg closer.  It no longer seemed to be staring at him, but the spot by the stove where he had been.

He began walking a little faster now.  The door to the kitchen would not be able to shut, blocked as it was by old papers, but if he toppled the other boxes, he could seal the doorway off.  Even as strong as it likely was, there was no way it could push through all that, plus fit through the inner doorways. Not without a struggle anyway.

He almost made it through when he saw the thick, green body come racing around the corner.

He had misjudged.  The room hadn’t been small enough for it to have trouble.  The speed at which it moved was astonishing. It had been all of a matter of seconds for it to turn that corner and approach.

Kevin ran, hurdling the garbage bag.  While running, he felt pressure on his shoe, and in a moment his foot came free.  He landed on the bag, hard, and he heard something crunch underneath, making a glass-like tinkle.  Scrabbling to stand, he ended up pushing himself away with his now uncovered foot, and something painful jabbed the bottom of his foot.

Kevin stood, hobbling a little, and saw the animal, still in the kitchen, his $300 sneaker in its mouth.  It chewed, gnawing away the rubber until nothing was left.  It rolled on the floor, taking its ‘prey’ in violent fashion.

That could’ve been his foot, he thought.

As it remained enamored with his shoe, Kevin started toppling boxes, blocking the doorway, putting as much between him and the gator as possible.  He reached a point where he thought he would be safe… or safe enough.

He needed to call animal control.  They’d have to have a crew come out and haul this sucker away before anything…

He reached into his pocket.  He reached again.

No.

All he felt were keys.

He looked back into the kitchen, through the small hole he left near eye level.  There, on the sink he had just been testing.  That’s right… He’d kept it in his hand because of calling Pryce.  At the time, he had no thought that anything like this would happen.  Who the hell assumes there would be an alligator in the kitchen of the house they’re inspecting?  He wasn’t used to this crap. The worst he’d ever run into was some rats in the walls in a place in New York, or that nest of squirrels that died in the garage in Cleveland.

Cleveland.  That had been the first house.  That was even before he was on TV.  It would be three more houses before TLC had started taking notice.  He’d bought the house right out from under the old lady who lived there, told her that with the stench from all the dead animals, she wouldn’t get much more for the house than he’d be willing to pay her for it.

It was half what the house was worth, easy.  But hey, he needed to make a profit, right?  All the resellers undersold the value of the houses they were flipping. There was no way to make money otherwise.  Hell, even for the show, he still did a lot of corner-cutting. They’d show the high-quality drywall they would buy from Home Depot or Lowe’s, and then once the cameras were off, they’d buy mostly cheap stuff.  It made the brands look good, made his show look good, and the cheap stuff was still good for making homes.  Anybody who bought in thinking they didn’t make adjustments was fooling themselves.  It was all about making the house look good, not be 100% perfect.

The second house went a little easier, but his third house… that had been a bit of a problem.  The land it was on was fantastic, and he tried to make the guy an offer, but the guy refused.  The old fart claimed the house had been in the family for generations, yet he didn’t lift one finger to make it livable, and it was all going to waste with him taking up space.  His home was an eyesore, and the sooner it was dealt with, the better.

It was easy enough to wrangle up the rats. He had plenty of friends in crummy neighborhoods willing to collect them for the price he offered, but it was just a stroke of luck that they chewed through the electrical and started the fire.  The guy survived, but lost everything.  He was able to make a big show of helping the guy find a new home, and that’s when the offers started rolling in, as well as his new nickname:  “King Loomis – The Friendly Flipper!”

Families loved him.  His name and logo sold merchandise by the truckload.  And his persona made everyone feel better about themselves.  And the network loved the deals he got for them; so many crummy houses, so many people too eager to sell below market value just to get their former homes on TV. It was an absolute killing.

All the fame, fortune, and money in the world, and he couldn’t make a goddamn phone call because of the local wildlife.

His thoughts back to his career were interrupted by a cold, wet, stinging sensation under his foot.  He lifted it, and saw blood tracking on the floor.  A piece of glass was jutting out from his sock, probably from that bag he had jumped over to escape the kitchen.  He pulled on it, and it slid out easier than he expected, pulling a quick squirt of blood with it.  He hoped the sock would help cover the wound until he could find a bandage.

He did glanced through the kitchen door again.  The animal hadn’t moved, but he realized now that, by the sink, there was a window, partially opened.  If he went back through the front, and around the backyard, he’d be able to reach through the window and get the phone, no problem.  It probably wouldn’t even see him do it.  He would just have to take care of his wounded foot.

He went back to the front door, and went to take a step onto the steps leading down.

“What in the hell…”

He backed away.

He didn’t know where they came from or how they all got there, but the front yard, far from being open and welcoming, was now covered with alligators.  There had to be at least twenty or thirty, all sunning themselves on the dirt yard, blocking both the route to the backyard as well as the way back to his car.  One or two went over to the open water nearby, diving in for a swim.

Had they all been here when he got here, he just hadn’t seen them?  That made him most scared of all, to think that maybe he’d been talking on the phone and they’d been watching him from the swamp.  All he wished was that he had a gun. He’d considered getting one in New York, but he had plenty of bodyguards when he was there, and he could easily do a tough guy act with stalkers and idiots if he had needed to.  Now, he didn’t care what the laws on the books of hunting gators were. If he needed to shoot some and run some over with his car to get out, so be it.  But, no. With no weapons, no phone, and a bleeding foot, it would be suicide to go out there.

He pushed the door shut as quietly as he could, turning the lock, even though the reason it hadn’t been locked when he first arrived was because it didn’t work properly.  The whole thing just loosely twisted, neither the deadbolt nor the main lock turning.

He grabbed another box and jammed it against the door.  With no windows there, he couldn’t see out and keep an eye on things, but he could still hear all the faint hissing outside, the louder hissing in the kitchen.

Kevin went to the bedroom, the bathroom, and the closet. The bedroom and bathroom had windows, but they were small, too small for him to fit through.  They were built long before there was a need for safety escapes, just to let in a little bit of light.

Rubber gloves be damned.  He started rifling through the boxes, thinking maybe there was a gun, something he could use as a weapon.  He started filling the hallway, starting to slip on and crack objects underfoot, ripping things out of the boxes, until realizing that for all the junk in the place, something that protected against alligators was not among them.

He did learn a thing or two about the woman who had died here, though. Besides a great love of sixties culture, she had a lot of items that dealt with alligators. She loved the things, from store-bought glasses, blankets, necklaces, and even a framed picture of one with text underneath it…

King Gator.  No Pretenders.

Digging deeper, he started finding weirder items, and it got clearer she thought of the gator as her ‘totem animal’, or some crap like that.  Gee, he thought, wonder where she got that idea?

Kevin couldn’t fight them.  He’d have to outsmart them.  He racked his brains, trying to remember anything he could about gators, but he drew a blank.  Of course, his phone had internet access; he could look up anything about them… if he wanted to risk losing his feet.  He realized then that he relied too much on his phone, that he spent so much time with it, using it to look up anything he needed, and that he didn’t have the knowledge himself.  What was the current market trend?  Look it up.  What was the number of his mother?  Look it up.

In that moment, surrounded by nature, he realized he didn’t know much of anything, really.

Kevin realized how sweaty he was getting, both from the heat and from fright.  He took his jacket and shirt off, the bottles of Maalox bouncing around.  He suddenly realized how hungry he was, and even though it wasn’t food, it was something.  He drank the Maalox, and immediately felt cooler.

Cooler.  That was it.  Gators were cold-blooded, right?  They were out there, right now, sunning themselves.  Even at night, at this time of year, Louisiana still had to cool down somewhat.  They had to go to sleep, or drift off to whatever home they stayed in.  Either way, he would either be able to sneak out past them and get to the car, or just wait them out until they went back to the cozy swamp.

Kevin laughed.  Of course.  It was all so simple, after all.  He would just wait it out, and depending on the road conditions, he would either wait things out in the car, or just drive back to the hotel.  Even if he didn’t get his phone back, he’d just be back tomorrow to get it, with his crew, animal control, and maybe even a dozen National Guard officers, just to be safe.

He went into the bedroom, cleared off the old, tattered bed, and lay down on i.  He nearly gagged, the mattress of its former occupant still carrying the smell of herbs, patchouli, and unwashed hair.  He grabbed a dog-eared magazine from a box and flipped through it to pass the time.  He just had to deal with it for a little bit longer, just wait it out until he could leave…

Kevin awoke in darkness.  Pitch darkness.  He could hear the hooting of animals, insects buzzing, and still smell the mattress below him.  He reached out for his jacket and shirt, putting them on.  He didn’t know when he fell asleep, but it was probably a combination of the heat and the stress that did it.

He stood and looked out the window.  A nice, welcome cool breeze blew in, confirming it did cool down a bit.  Out here in the hinterlands, the starlight was supposed to be strong, but because of all the trees, he could see nothing except a few branches.

He reached for a light switch, but even though the place had well water, it probably needed a generator for lighting.  Of course, it would.

Kevin felt around with his hands, trying to get back to the hallway.  He thought he would try the kitchen first, just to see if maybe the alligator had given up and left.  Then, at least, he could make a call, or use the flashlight on it, anything.

He moved some of the boxes away.  They shuffled, much more noisily than he cared to hear, but there was no accompanying hiss.  Either the alligator was asleep, gone, or was tricking him, and Kevin didn’t think gators were known for being that clever.

As he moved to push away another box, there was suddenly a small amount of light in the room.  His phone, set on vibrate, was still lighting up with a call coming in, and by that tepid amount he was able to see the large, reptilian form was still on the floor.  He couldn’t make out much, but it was breathing slowly, based on the way its sides kept inflating, and too wide to step around.  The vibration and the light made it stir.

So much for that plan.  He went back to the front door.

It was hard to tell, but it looked like the sunning crew was all still there.  From his newfound vantage point, the starlight was a little better, and he could see their forms, barely, between him and the safety of the car, but none of them moved.

He thought that maybe he ought to just wait it out inside the house until morning at this rate, he’d be able to see, and if he was early enough he might be able to run while they were still groggy.

He stepped awkwardly back into the bedroom, and hissed deeply as horrible pain shot through his foot.  He sat on the bed and touched his sock, and felt the caked, dirty fabric stuck to his wound.  He pulled the sock away, and besides ripping the injury open again, it felt crusty and flaky when he touched it.

It could have been a bad infection, especially in a place like this.  If he waited until morning, it might have to be amputated.  He’d have to go to the hospital, as soon as possible.

His options were getting low.  He weighed the risks.

As dirty as it was, he slid his sock back on and hobbled to the front door.

Kevin gauged the distance to the car, and how many he’d have to sneak by, assuming there was space.  He guessed maybe he’d have to pass about ten or so, if he went in almost a straight line.

He swallowed.  There was nothing for it but to try.

He stepped down the steps, onto the soft dirt.  He moved forward, trying to keep his steps light, but it was hard to tell in the dark exactly what he was stepping on, and what.

At one point, he did feel something underfoot that did not feel like ground.  He lifted his foot, sucking in breath, only to touch it again with his sock and feel that it was a tree root.

He moved between them, slowly, cautiously, weaving his way blindly through the night.  He didn’t know how much further he had to go, or how long it had taken to get to where he was, when he finally felt the metal of the car in front of him.

Kevin had made it.  He was free.

He got out his keys, clicking the button to unlock it, the headlights showing for a moment the minefield he had traversed.  So many of them, breathing quietly, thankfully asleep.  He went to open the door.

His keys fell from his hand.  He tried to grab them before they landed, but instead, all that happened was a bottle of Maalox came out of his shirt and hit the ground, hard.

He heard the splurt of the bottle as it popped open.  He reached down, feeling for the keys.

His hand touched something.

The metal of the keys.

The pool of Maalox, still burbling out of the bottle, collecting under his fingertips.

The rough scales of nostrils, breathing hot air on his knuckles, of a gator that had clambered under his car for shelter.

It sniffed.  It hissed.  And even with no light to guide him, he knew it was staring right at him.

He barely felt the jaws on his wrist, just the pain following.  It rolled away, leaving him kneeling there, his wrist firing blood from the ragged stump.

Then, the other hissing from behind him.  Jaws clamped on his shoulder, his other arm, and as they pulled in opposite directions, one took his leg.

He screamed, knowing no one but his attackers would hear him.

In his last moments, Kevin thought darkly, in the recesses in his mind, under all the pain, that he hoped he gave them all the same discomfort that Louisiana had brought him.  But he knew better.

This was no longer his world.  They were the kings here.  And they hated pretenders.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Seth Paul


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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