The House with the Portrait

📅 Published on May 23, 2021

“The House with the Portrait”

Written by Micah Edwards
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 — 8 minutes

Rating: 8.33/10. From 3 votes.
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I recently bought a house in the country.  I wouldn’t quite call it a country estate, but if someone else did, I wouldn’t disagree with them, either.  The house covers a few thousand square feet, and it’s on 25 acres of land.  Honestly, it’s a much bigger house than I’d ever expected to be able to buy, but the sellers had it on the market for dirt cheap.

I almost didn’t go to look at it.  Similar houses were selling for 20-30% more, so I figured that there had to be something majorly wrong with this.  Like, tear-up-the-foundation level wrong. But my wife Carmen loved the photos, so off we went with the realtor to check out this house.  I was convinced we were going to waste our time, but I know when to pick my battles.

Obviously, I was wrong.  I scrutinized that house, too, looking for any signs of rot, any sagging floors or cracks in the walls, any hint of leaning or off-kilter settling.  Finally, I gave up and asked the realtor point-blank: “What’s wrong with this place?”

Carmen smacked me in the arm, but the realtor just shrugged.  “Honestly, you’ve got me.  I suggested a much higher price, but the seller was insistent that it be sold for the same price he’d bought it for.  He said he was taking no piece of it with him.”

There was a brief silence as we all considered this slightly ominous statement, and then the realtor continued brightly, “Which also means that this house comes furnished!  All of the fixtures and furniture you see here convey.  It’s ready to move into today!”

I wanted to go home and think about it, maybe do some more research, see what I could find out.  But Carmen made it clear that she was not leaving that house until we put an offer down on it, and I was pretty sure that she meant that literally.  So I sighed, read the paperwork thoroughly to make sure that we could back out without penalty if the inspection turned up anything wrong, and signed my name at the end.

Carmen was giddy.  The kids were thrilled when they got home and found out.  And while they made plans about who got what room and what would go where, I resigned myself to being the bad guy when we inevitably found whatever the major problem was, and I had to tell them that we weren’t getting the house after all.

But the inspector gave it a clean bill of health, the mortgage paperwork all sailed through smoothly, and in only a few weeks, the realtor was handing us the keys and telling us to enjoy our new house.  The kids ran screaming through the hallways, shouting joyful challenges to each other, while Carmen and I stood in the foyer and gazed around at our magnificent new house.

“It’s everything I ever wanted,” Carmen told me.  “It’s perfect.”

“I hope so,” I responded.  “We just signed on to thirty years of debt for this.”

“Curmudgeon,” she said, but kissed me anyway.

The place really was amazing.  It was almost three times the amount of space we’d had before. The furnishings were an immense upgrade over our previous Ikea furniture.  It had rooms that I’d never had to have names for before: a great room.  A cloakroom.  A Florida room.  Our apartment had had three bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen and a family room.  This was like entering an entirely new life.

The great room had a huge fireplace, almost as tall as the kids.  A thick oak mantel overtopped it, and above that hung a large oil painting of the house.  It was beautifully done, with surprising depth and a sense of realism despite the somewhat impressionistic nature of the painting. Ordinarily, I would say that having someone paint a house’s portrait was odd, but this picture truly was amazing, and it fit the room perfectly.  Besides, what were we going to put up there? The biggest of our pictures was an 8”x10”.

So we moved in, settled down and adjusted to our new lives.  The house was wonderful, the land was fantastic, and basically, everything was perfect.

Until one night a few weeks ago, when I came downstairs in the middle of the night to raid the fridge.  The stairs led into the great room, so I passed through there on my way to the kitchen.  I glanced up at the portrait as I walked by, and stopped dead in my tracks.

The picture of the house was gone.

Not the painting itself, mind you.  That was still hanging where it always had, surrounded by its heavy gilded frame.  But instead of showing a picture of the outside of the house, it depicted a darkened interior room which I recognized as my kitchen.  Although the room was mostly in shadow, deep crimson splashes made it clear that something horrific had happened in there. And most of the right side of the picture was taken up by a man in a pinstripe suit, a hat shadowing his face so that the only visible feature was his menacing leer, his teeth a blinding white in counterpoint to the shadow.  The little I could see of his face was spattered in blood, and he held a gory cleaver up to his chin as if he was thinking about licking it.

I immediately turned on the lights, half-expecting the picture to revert back to its standard image of the house, but it remained exactly as I’d seen it.  I crept closer, the man’s grin becoming even more unsettling as I closed the distance.  Finally, I stood at the edge of the fireplace and reached up to hesitantly place my hand on the painting’s surface.

It felt almost like you’d expect a paint-covered canvas to feel, except for one thing: it was warm to the touch.  Body-heat warm.

I pulled my hand away slowly and looked at the picture again, at the blood-like smears desecrating the room, at the sinister figure that seemed to be posing for the portrait.  I pulled the bottom of the painting away from the wall, and it swung free as easily as a heavy painting can.  There was nothing strange on the back, no circuitry or weird eldritch diagrams.

“Honey?” came Carmen’s voice from the top of the stairs.  “What are you doing?”

“Carmen, look at—” My voice stuttered to a stop as I pointed to the painting.  It now showed a portrait of the house, just as it always had.

“Look at what?”

“This…just…I…” My thoughts swirled, tripping over each other as I tried to make sense of the impossible.  I touched the painting again, convincing myself that it was really there, and noticed that it was now cool to the touch.

“Come to bed, honey.  And turn the lights off,” said Carmen, retreating to the master bedroom.  I stared at the painting for a minute longer before switching off the lights and returning upstairs myself, my midnight snack forgotten.  If I’m being honest, I had no real desire to go into the kitchen just then, anyway.

If this had been an isolated incident, I would have written it off as some sort of strange hallucination or dream.  But I began to see other images in the painting with frightening regularity.  Always bloody, always horrible, and never when anybody else was around.

I saw the staircase awash in blood, limbs piled at the bottom.  I saw flames from the fireplace licking across the wooden floor, the thick black smoke pouring from it nearly obscuring the bodies jammed within. I saw my children’s bedrooms cut apart, the beds piled so high with slashed stuffing that only the deep, sticky redness suggested that they had not been empty when the work began.  I saw my family murdered over and over again, slaughtered in countless horrifyingly inventive ways.  And always, in every picture, stood the man in the pinstripe suit, his face deeply shadowed, his teeth gleaming white in a mocking leer.

Any time I tried to draw anyone else’s attention to it, the painting snapped back to a portrait of the house.  Photographs I took showed only the original oil painting, the house standing proud against a blue sky.  In fact, I found that if I looked at the painting through the viewfinder of a camera, it would display the portrait of the house even if I could see the canvas showing a blood-soaked interior with my own eyes.  Somehow, this portrait had chosen to reveal itself only to me.

I tried to convince my family to leave, of course.  But with no evidence, what could I say?  To everyone else, the house was idyllic.  And there was no sign that anything the painting showed was in any danger of coming true.  I’d installed locks, alarm systems, security cameras, and nothing showed anything out of the ordinary.  I wasn’t willing to tell them that I was scared because I constantly saw our brutal deaths in an oil painting.  That sort of sentence is how you get locked up.

I took the painting down, thinking that if I didn’t have to see it, that would solve the problem.  I stashed it in the cloakroom, closed the door, and walked back into the great room—only to see it hanging on the wall above the fireplace, just like always.  I ran back to the cloakroom, but it was empty.  No one besides me was in the house.

I removed the painting twice more, once even going so far as to drive a nail through its frame to pin it to the wall in the cloakroom.  I backed out, keeping it in my line of sight as long as I could before I spun around and sprinted for the great room.  There the painting hung, just as always, its frame pristine and undamaged.

I set up a camera after that and tried once more.  I took the painting from the wall and flung it over my head, hearing it clatter on the floor.  I kept my eyes fixed on the bare spot on the wall and even reached out to touch it, feeling the rough bricks beneath my fingers.  But when I turned to look, no painting lay on the floor.  And as soon as I turned my head back, I found myself with my nose nearly against the painting, hanging in its standard place, with the pinstriped man’s bone-white smile leering down at me.

The camera showed everything happening just as it had occurred—except that the painting never left the wall, and never changed.  I walked to it, placed my hands on the frame, then released it and threw my empty hands over my head.  I touched the wall next to it, turned away, then stumbled back in fright as I turned back.  Through it all, the portrait of the house hung there, unmoving.

I told myself that I could just live with it, that I could learn to ignore it.  But day by day, the images grew more violent, more grotesque.  The man in the pinstripe suit seemed almost to be putting on a show for me, finding out what would most shock and disgust me.  The harder I tried to ignore it, the worse the pictures got, taunting me, challenging me to pretend everything was normal.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  Yesterday, the picture showed my own face flayed open, the eyelids cut away, every muscle displayed.  The look on my face made it clear that I was screaming, and the knife in the pinstriped man’s hand made it clear that he was far from done. Carmen knew I wasn’t happy here, even if she didn’t understand why.  If I presented her with a new location already picked out, with a family ready to make an offer on this house, she would go along with it.  And if not, I would talk her into it.

I contacted a realtor today, emailed him pictures of the house.  He wrote back gushing about the vaulted ceilings, the hardwood floors, the expansive views.  He also wrote, “Is that an oil portrait of your house?  I just can’t get past that!  It’s so wonderful!  Does that convey?  It would be a great selling point.”

“You can have it, for all I care,” I sent.

“It’s a gift, freely given?” he asked.

“Sure.  Enjoy.”

His response email was reasonable enough.  “Thanks,” it said.  “I’ll be over later.  I can’t wait to see the house in person.”

There was a file attached, but I figured it was paperwork or something, and I didn’t open it immediately.  When I finally did, a freezing shock ripped through my body, a ripple of pure terror.

The picture is taken from a phone’s camera in selfie mode.  The man holding it is wearing a pinstripe suit, with a hat casting his face into shadow.  And although he’s restraining his grin in the photo, I know exactly how white his teeth will be when he stretches that small smile into a leer.

Rating: 8.33/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards


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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