Monthly Archives: January 2014

The House At The End Of The Block

spooky house

Every neighborhood had one: a house with a pedigree like a mile of dirty sidewalk. A killer, no, several killers had lived there, cults had practiced ritual sacrifice, and at least one kiddy fiddler had squatted in the garage.  Ours was unremarkable except in one respect: it had no front door. It was hard to remember if it had always been that way, or if it had been a joke at the expense of the next renter. The house was the subject of many a childhood dare, we’d elbow each other to crawl in through the broken window screen or lift up the garage door to see if someone had left a car. No one ever went in, of course. We weren’t crazy. Just stupid. I think we all got the fundamental wrongess of a house with no entrance.

It was fitting, then that the first time someone we knew went in the house would be the first time anyone had told us to stay out. Mark Hascombe’s mom had told him to avoid the house, some bigger kids had been doing something unspeakable inside and he could catch tetanus. Mark met us after school to tell us he wouldn’t be joining us for soccer because he was going in the spook house. We knew instantly that he was full of shit, so we abandoned soccer and walked with him. We all milled out in the front yard as he poked around the back, looking for a way in. Funny, in all this time no one had passed along a secret entrance or loose board or anything like that.

We waited for what seemed like a long time, but couldn’t have been more than an hour.

Someone turned to the next kid: “do you think he’s coming out?”

“I’m back,” Mark said.

We jumped. It wasn’t just that Mark was suddenly in front of us like he’d popped out of thin air. It was the way he said it. Too calm. Too casual. No little kid start-and-stop diction. His smile was wrong too, almost sleazy.

We asked what he saw.

“Oh…” he stretched aimlessly. “lots of cool things.”

Like what?

“Old stuff. Antique guns and old keys and mining tools and stuff like that.” He then uttered the words none of us wanted to hear: “wanna see?”

No, we didn’t wanna. We wanned to get away from him as fast as we could. We left him there just standing in the front yard, on pretense of being late for dinner.

That night Mrs. Hascombe called all our mothers. Mark never came home.

I’d like to lend credence to the rumors that the house made a lot of people disappear over the years, but in truth there’s just no proving it one way or the other. What I can vouch for is Penny Everdt’s mom telling her she heard their cat, Ringo, inside that house.

Penny and her mother had been out walking to the drugstore when it happened. Penny said she couldn’t hear anything, but her mother was quite insistent that there was a cat and that it was Ringo. She shushed Penny whenever she tried to speak. Penny wanted to stop her mother as she disappeared round the back of the house, but common sense told her that there was nothing wrong with the house, her mom was an adult and knew what was real , and even though she had personally shut the cat up in the washroom when they left, there was a distinct possibility Ringo might be in that house. Penny was able to fool herself like this for half an hour. The second she turned to go get someone of authority, a hand landed on her shoulder.

She told the cops she had immediately wrenched away and ran, afraid it was a kidnapper, but she told us different. She told us that her mother’s voice had said the cat was stuck behind the refrigerator, and she needed to come help. Not asking for help, her mother needed her.

Ringo was still in the washroom when she got home.

It’s the little voice of rationality in your head, the voice that tells you it’s never really like that, you’re just being silly and if you’d only listen

That’s what their voices sound like.

I moved away around college, didn’t look back for a long time. But then my job landed me in a nearby neighborhood, and just for kicks I asked the realtor to show me the house.

He sounded on the up-and-up. He said he’d inherited the house from another realtor who hadn’t been able to move it. I could tell just by his voice that he’d never been inside it, so I trusted him. But when I and the kids pulled up, I made Billy and Josie wait in the car.

I asked the realtor to walk me through the features of the house. It was kind of funny to watch him try to pull something good from the file, which had been written by someone who had never been inside either. The roof still had most of the tiles, the screens were all intact, the house had aluminum siding, etc.

I asked who owned the house. He looked confused.

“We don’t really know,” he said.

When he went to go look it up for me, I heard the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

“Daaaaaddyyyyyyy,” my son called.

From the house.

It wasn’t urgent, it was like when he called me from another room to look at the Lego tower he’d just built, or when he needed another glass of milk. I have never run so fast in my life.

The right rear passenger door to the station wagon was open. I asked Josie where her brother was. She just shrugged and answered without looking up from braiding her pony’s hair.

“He went to find a bafroom.”

I aged a decade for every step up to that house. Josie was still unworried; I think she was too young to understand what had happened.

Daddy,” my son called again.

I stood there in the yard while he called and called.

The realtor came up beside me. He had to wave his hand before my eyes to get my attention.

“This is all very odd,” he said, “I’m sorry, I could’ve sworn—”

He was holding the title. It had my name on it.

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Excerpt from a Romance novel that would never be published in a million years

Redmond knelt by Eutricia, burying his face in the mohair shawl she had draped over her knees against the oncoming twilight chill. Trisha had dressed for the warm of the day; a violet silk dress with an empire waist, the bustle removed for convenience. Her cane wheelchair had been parked in the middle of the parapet, silk cushions arranged decorously around her fine waist. He stared off to the nuclear orange of the setting sun, manly parti pris preventing him from shedding tears, yet he was weeping inside.

“But why,” he whispered, “why, Trisha? Why will you not assent to our engagement?”

His warm Memphis drawl trickled through his schooled diction like butter over a piece of fine sourdough toast.

Trisha sighed, tears prickling the corners of her almond-shaped eyes like fine diamonds. The lady opened her eyes to regard him, auburn eyelashes fanning out over her fine creamy skin. Her eyes were fine amethyst marbles, protruding and glistening with sorrow. Her fine fiery mane had been arranged in a waterfall over her left shoulder, it too gleamed in the light. Suddenly Redmond was in awe of how beautiful she was, how fine and delicate, her hands perched upon her knee like two fine porcelain squids.

“Redmond,” she sighed, “I am not disinclined to you, in any way, but…” she worried one ruby lip between pearly white teeth.

Redmond felt his southern blood boil and seethe.

“But what? What is left that could keep us apart?”

He stuck one calloused cowherd’s hand beneath her chin, but she turned her head and kept her violet gaze averted.

“You may be a yank,” he said, “and a Marsh at that, but you’re a woman first and foremost, and blood as red as mine could use a few drops of blue.”

Trisha snuffled into her fine linen handkerchief. Her bosom rose and fell like the eternal sea which lay below their feet, a scant thirty feet beneath the parapet. If Trisha so wished, he would hurl himself into the raging surf, let his bones co-mingle with the cry of the seabirds and the sand of the deep.

“Redmond!” she cried, “oh Redmond, I do love you! I can say that now without any reservation of my heart. But you and I…are a different kind.” Fine teardrops like purified seawater caressed their way down her cheeks.

Redmond felt the bristling that arose whenever a man caused grief to a woman, the heat that meant he was wiling to fight any man for a lady’s honor, even himself.

Redmond clenched his muscular neck and stood. He ran his hands through his raven hair, tossing it wilder than even the sea beneath them.

“My gawd,” he bellowed, “what could it be? Your family? That withered old crone of a matriarch? Passion such as ours cannot be contained by rules Trisha!”

Trisha gave a small cry. Color rose in her cheeks. The sight of her man in such a state often inflamed her into a passion, Redmond imagine he could already smell the gentle musk of her femininity.

He knelt again, bringing himself eye to eye with her. He covered her fine porcelain hand with his own.

“Trisha,” he drawled, “say the word and we shall flee this estate, right now. Let nothing restrain our love! We shall roam through the wildernesses, making passionate love like doe and buck.”

Trisha sought refuge behind her hands. “But…what about my chair? I could burden upon you to bundle it up and down stairs!”

“I’ll carry you!” he bellowed. Trisha let out a little gasp. Warmth flushed her neck, fine rose dusting her porcelain skin. “I’ll carry you slung upon my back like a bow, over endless terrain without tire. I shall worship your body every night, making you a bed of soft beaver pelts and rubbing tallow into your feet to keep them supple! I’ll make obsidian knives and hunt elk with my bare hands, all to bring you sustenance! We’ll live off the land, rutting like beasts with only the wind for company and the sky for shelter.”

“O, Redmond,” Trisha swooned.

Redmond could no longer deny the effect the lady was having on him, even in his riding breeches. His ladyfriends back in Memphis had reassured him that he was quite impressive, now he allowed his full girth to expand within the confines of his stiff cotton breeches. The lady gasped demurely, shading her blush with one hand. Redmond took her hand in his and held it emphatically.

“There must be no more secrets between our bodies,” he told her, before capturing her rosebud mouth beneath his own.

Trisha swelled and heaved beneath him like a tiny sea. Her breasts were confined within her silk corset, his calloused hands made quick work of the lacing. Redmond’s injury from riding earlier in the day wasn’t the only thing that was throbbing. He scooped Trisha up with a squeal of protest or delight, he cared not which, and brought her to the carved stone bench that anointed the parapet. He strew Trisha out like straw, delighting in her windswept beauty.

“O, Redmond!” she gasped again. Her cheeks flushed and her eyes sparkled like fine violet wine, even her flawless mane had been knocked askance. Redmond was wearing a simple white pullover shirt whose collar was bound by three shell buttons, he unbuttoned them and then ripped the rest of it open, eliciting a gasp of delight from his lady. His physique would put some of the Greek statuary in her father’ study to shame, he mused for a moment on whether she had educated herself on the finer mysteries of malehood by their marble gaze.

He took her in, ruffled and lovely, a sculpture of creamy porcelain and auburn silk, of amethyst and sparkling white pearls. The smell of her femininity was overwhelming, for a moment he mistook it for a seaborne breeze.

“What?” she gasped, “oh, what is it Redmond? Why do you stare so?”

“I’m looking at the purdiest sight a man ever did see.” Redmond told her.

“Oh Redmond,” she gasped, “you’ve made me so happy!”

Something slippery twined around one leg. He looked down.

Her bottom limbs, once concealed by the skirt, now writhed free in her passion. The lady had sixteen tentacles of finest jade green, they pulsed with rugose passion as she bit her full lips.

“Oh Redmond!” she cried, “Redmond, you make me feel like a woman!”

 

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Heavenly Bodies

It was my fervent belief as a child that the moon was alive. A reoccurring nightmare of mine involved Luna rolling down from her perch in the sky to chase me, flashing different colors in her rage. The dreams always ended with me cowering in a ditch, belly to earth, covering my face with my hands for what ineffectual protection that afforded.

My mother would lecture me, as if logic had any place in fear, that the dream was counter to any knowledge of physic s and science. It was an optical illusion that the moon hung in the sky, she said, it’s really almost as big as the earth, and besides, it floats in space, it’s not in a nest of any kind. However romantic the image of the moon rolling out of the night sky, I was simply wrong.

My hindbrain refused to cooperate and showered me with terror nightly.

Just around adolescence I fell subject to an illness that ate up my days. The doctors thought it some kind of pernicious anemia and gave me pills and infusions and poultices until I was quite sore inside and out. My body, always stubborn, refused to cooperate with their handling. They would stand in the doorway and converse in hushed tones with my mother. One would recommend cutting out this, more of that. The next would absolutely forbid that, and condone only these. Sometimes I wanted to ask them if they couldn’t agree, what hope could I possibly have?

I suppose I knew, of course. So did my parents. With a desperation borne of futility, they devoted themselves to my care, fussing over even the sheets of my bed. It was quite tiresome.

Then came Mr. Harold Mauser, MD, finest traveling doctor of the tri-state area. I saw his wagon roll up the little path to our house and thought it was a tinker, or some kind of patent man. My mother burst into my room in tearful joy. The miracle we had waited for was here.

I had already become accustomed to inevitability, so this news did not stir me. Nor did the man himself; slightly stooped, hair shellacked to his head with some evil-smelling compound, nervous tic that made the corner of his mouth pucker back into a grimace. He shook my hand (the first man to do so) and proclaimed me fit as anything, indulging in a little eye-winking banter with my parents about how I was simply playing hooky from school.

The man had already doffed his cap, now he used it to conduction my gaze to the miracle he had brought with him, a sad little machine on caster wheels that squeaked like glass mice. Inside it, he said, he had the wonder of the 20th century, the wisdom of the Curies. A few simple treatments of this, he said, and I would be better than new.

The placard on the side read Brother Joseph’s Portable Sun. I remember I asked how one could fit a sun in a container, seeing it wasn’t really sitting in the sky but out in space. The man gave a Gatling-shot of laughter and complimented my intellect to my parents.

I was made to sit up in bed while he raised the lead shielding in the core of the machine. I may not see this little sun’s light, he said, but I could be assured that it did glow in the dark like nature’s other health miracle, phosphorous. It didn’t smell like phosphorous, thankfully, but did give off a strange heat. I sat limp while he ran a bell-shaped device over my chest, keeping up his salesman’s patter the whole time. I would be up and running in no time, roses would bloom in my cheeks and I would gain weight long thought lost. I endured it, as I have always endured. My parents were the only painful part of the procedure, standing with clasped hands, looking so hopeful it hurt. In fifteen minutes it was over. Mauser rolled his sleeves down and asked if he could intrude upon us for supper.

Three days he stayed with us, promising my miraculous recovery. Three days after he had arrived he hitched up his mule and rode away, taking my parent’s hope with him.

In a week I was so sick I vomited blood. I recovered after a time, but I lacked even the strength I’d had before. My parents believed they had been rooked and contacted the police. I never heard if anything came of it.

Years passed. My face did not seem to age in the glass, but my parents’ did, as if I drew on them for sustenance to keep my body going. If I could have figured out how to die, I would have. One day, in the middle of my sponge bath, my mother felt a strange lump near my spine. This time I was taken to see a real doctor, propped up in the wagon with pillows to keep me upright.

I was scanned by the little eye they called x-ray. More rays to make me healthy. The doctor took a picture of my bones and became very drawn and grim. I had a shadow on my spine, a little pocket of dark that would spread to my body. He asked my parents if I had ever played with one of the old radium water dispensers or anything like that.

That night the moon came back and sang to me with a voice like fine glass. I had gone so long without the dream it felt almost like an old friend. In the end, it hadn’t been the moon to defeat me, but her counterpart. Luna showered me with angry trills that turned into sharp rays that drilled into my back, but I had to laugh. The laughter and the pain remained when I woke. My mother thought I was having a nervous breakdown and applied a cold compress that only served to sharpen the pain. I did not sleep again that night.

When televisions became commonplace, one was brought to me on caster wheels so that I wouldn’t feel left out. My parents now worried for my mental as well as physical health. They decided I was to watch only the news, no fanciful program that would fill my head with ideas.

I agreed. The news was grim enough as it was.

There were reports of some kind of missile crisis, some kind of payload that had gotten lost en-route to its destination. My head ached with their words. I had been out of the world so long I only understood half of what was said. The newscaster’s tone rang out to me, a high, clear tone of panic that pierced through any reassurance. They were afraid, though of what I didn’t know.

My parents took refuge in prayer. I could no longer read because it blurred my vision, so the television was my constant companion. The missiles were found, but empty. Someone had gutted their insides, taken the tiny suns within. I wondered what ailment they had that they thought it would cure. I could have told them, if anyone had asked.

One day the television descended into static. My mother came in, red-faced from crying, with a pill and a small glass of water on a tray. She told me it was a special vitamin and left the room sobbing. It smelled of bitter almonds.

I watched the static fuzz and drifted away. The dream I had was the sequel to the one I’d always had: I was in my ditch but it was suddenly day. The moon had fled before the anger of her paramour. The sun had come and come too soon, the daylight seemed unnatural, washed-out like milk paint. The sun was made up of ripples of fire and had a voice like dust roaring over the land. I felt the shadow on my back spread to encompass me whole and laughed. You cannot get me, Mr. Sun! I am sun-proofed.

I woke to a grey twilight. The house was silent. The television was still static, so I turned it off.

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Apologies for the lack of an update Friday. In lieu of a single story, here are links to my five entries to Bogleech’s Creepypasta Cook-off:

Aw, heck. Have a link to the whole durn thing:

Creepypasta Cook-off 2014

 

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Neighbors

Oh my GOD I hated living above Mrs. Ralston. You know the Family Guy apartment sketch where the guy coughs and she threatens to call the cops? You’d think that’s funny, but that’s not even an exaggeration. She was really that terrible, and the worst part is she was a shut-in, so there was no break from her nagging. All day long she’d pound on our floor, threatening to call the landlord over a beer can opened too loudly, a TV on anything higher than ‘mute,’ she even threatened to kill our cat for the crime of scratching in the litter box. I think we only had sex, like, four times the whole time we lived there. When a rat moved into our walls it was almost a break from dealing with her, even though the landlord did fuck-all about that too.

I don’t know what kind of crazy grandfather clause she lived with, because whenever we complained to the landlord he’d just throw up his hands. Since the apartments lined up exactly, we couldn’t even commiserate with our neighbors. She was our own personal hell.

It got worse a year after we moved in. It got weird. She started yelling at us for really specific shit, like slurping soup or dumping dirty dishes in the washer without rinsing them off. She even yelled at my boyfriend for peeing with the toilet seat up. The old bitch must’ve had one hell of a hearing aid. The funny thing is she never complained about the rat, which made this godawful scraping noise all hours of the day. We could hear it shift in the walls; it must’ve been the size of a Doberman.

Well, unbelievably, we finally had enough one June when the AC went and new space opened up across town. It would be sweet to say goodbye to Mrs. Busybody, but another thing I wouldn’t miss was the godawful stench in our apartment. Apparently the rat died at some point and when our AC broke down it brewed a nasty funk that finally affected more than just us. By the time we took the last boxes to the U-haul, the super had cut a huge hole in the wall to pull it out. We didn’t stick around to see it, though. Sadly, I didn’t get one last confrontation with Mrs. Ralston either. I guess her joy in seeing us go outweighed the noise of packing, not a single peep from downstairs.

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