Once upon a time there was a house—no, darling, not a haunted house, at least it didn’t have any ghosts in it. But it was a horrid house. It actually ate people! Just imagine that! A house where you walk in the front door and the entrance hall—much bigger than ours—is the mouth, and the house just swallows you up. I know, right? That must have been awful. Walking in the entrance and being gulped down, and never coming out because you’re in the house’s tummy and it’s digesting you, just like you digested that doughnut this afternoon. All white and doughy, and when you bite on it—SQUELCH! A load of red … jam squirts out. Eurgh indeed! No, I wouldn’t want to be a human doughnut either!
I’m sure it did hurt. But I’m not sure you’d know much about it once you went past the mouth, the throat, the oesophagus … yes, that is a funny word, isn’t it? It’s here, you see, just after your throat, which is … here, as you know. I suppose it was one of the corridors in the house, or a staircase—a long one. Anyway …
This house had an enormous eye—gigantic it was! Why did it need an eye? Well, guess what its favourite food was. Go on. That’s right! Children! It would spot children passing of a cold night (you’re right—they shouldn’t have been out so late!), then the inside of the house would get all glowy, and the light would shine through the eye and kind of hypnotize the children. Do you know that word? That’s it, like that man on the telly. So they’d get attracted into the house … into the mouth.
Oh, you’re very clever, you are. Of course, it wasn’t like a real eye. It was a … guess what? Yes! A window! A giant window that could see for miles and miles.
So for centuries (that’s a lot of years), this house would eat up the local children. No, not all of them; most of them were too clever to go anywhere near that strange house on their own, let alone go inside it … just like you would be, I hope! That’s a good girl. And no, it didn’t eat adults because, frankly, they were a bit tough and it preferred tender meat.
As I was saying, this went on for centuries. The adults in the local villages knew all about this evil house but either they were too scared (I would have been, to tell you the truth) or they didn’t know what to do to stop it.
Then one night, one of the villagers—Sid, his name was—got very drunk. Yes, a bit like me last Christmas, but I wasn’t as drunk as Sid. He was sooo drunk that he lost all his fear and resolved to put an end to this wicked house’s alimentary proclivities. Sorry … that was a bit difficult, wasn’t it? I meant he decided to put an end to this house eating the local kids. He staggered from the inn to his cottage, got his shotgun and stumbled up the hill to the house. (Didn’t I tell you that? Sorry—yes, the house sat atop a big hill, and there were little villages all around the hill at the bottom.)
Sid was sad and also very angry, you see. He’d had a son and a daughter, and they’d gone out to play one afternoon, it had got dark and …well you can guess what happened, I expect. Yes, unfortunately.
But what was he going to do with that shotgun, do you think? It was a big house—a shotgun wouldn’t be much use, surely. Unless … now, do you know the story of the Cyclops? You did? In school? Ok, what happened to him? Exactly! So …?
Yep. Sid got near the house, raised his shotgun … and gave that great big eye—window—both barrels! You could hear the house groaning way across the valleys—it must have been in a lot of pain. But it served it right for eating all those children, that’s what I say.
No, I’m afraid that’s not the end of the story at all. You see, before Sid broke the window with his shotgun, the house could tell when it was children that were passing—and as you know, they were its favourite. But now, everyone was blurry, and it couldn’t tell who were children and who were adults. So it hypnotized everyone! And ate everyone who came in the entrance, even though sometimes it got some very tough folk—I mean ‘tough’ as in ‘hard to chew’. Like Sid, for example. Yes, he fell into the trap and got gobbled up too.
Sorry, it’s not a very happy ending, is it? But you know what? It just goes to show that big houses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I mean, mummy wants you to go and live with her and … Alan … in that big mansion of his. But just think: what if it’s related to the house in the story—like a cousin or something? And what if it has the same appetite? You’d get swallowed up and I’d never see you again. That would be horrible, wouldn’t it? No, I think we’re safe and happy in this little apartment, if you ask me.
But that’s enough for tonight. Get to sleep now like a good girl—mummy and Alan are coming early to take you out remember, so you need to get your rest. Come here. There, that’s a nice hug.
Okay. And I’ll leave the light on in the hall.
Night night, darling. Sweet dreams.