Every town has THAT house. Old. Decrepit. Creepy. It sits amongst trees that are dead, standing over a yard overgrown with weeds. Shutters swing in the breeze, hanging on by rusted hinges. The paint has chipped away. More shingles lie amongst the weeds than on the roof. At least one window is broken. Dark clouds always seem to hover over the house, situated on a dead end street.
And then there are the stories. A man went mad and murdered his whole family in the house. There’s an old woman who died there and she didn’t want anyone else to live there. One night, the house suffered a fire and a baby died in it. On and on, with a tragic death at the center.
Because then come the other stories. Go there at night and you can hear screams coming from the house! Don’t go inside because if you do, the old woman will chase you down! People who stay in the house hear the cries of an infant and smell smoke at night.
The house fascinates me. It always has, ever since I was a child and I first heard the stories. It is another October. Time to collect the odd stories about the house, my favorite part of the year. I swear there are more each year. And all are different. They fascinate me. Yet, they sadden me at the same time.
Because I don’t have a story of my own. I have never experienced anything paranormal with the house. And it’s not for lack of trying. I ride by the house every day and look for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing. I’d use an Ouija board but they are banned by the Catholic Church. And I don’t trust them.
This year is different though. I am an adult this year. No curfews. And a camera. I am going to conduct my own little investigation. Perhaps I’ll have my own story this year to tell.
And that’s why I’m standing in the front yard, shaking in my sneakers. I am trying to gather the courage. The courage to enter the house. All I have to do is reach out for the doorknob. My hand encircles the cold brass knob and I turn. The door creaks open and I tiptoe inside.
Inside, it smells musty. Everything creaks. And shadows dance along the walls. My breathing quickens as I continue inside. I want to get upstairs as the stories all center on the second floor. Should there be anything in this house, I know I’ll find it there.
The stairs squeak underneath my sneakers. I hold my breath with each step. Mostly in fear, but also due to the dust flying about me. Once I reach the landing, I walk down the hallway. A dirty and tattered rug covers the wooden boards, muffling my footsteps. There is nothing, though, to muffle my beating heart. If something is in this house, it no doubt can hear it.
I stop before a door; if I remember correctly, this is the most haunted room. Why depends on which legend you believe: the man killed his children in this room or where the old woman died or where the baby died in the fire. So I am guaranteed to see something in here if the house is haunted.
The door opens easily. I shine my flashlight in, checking for anything that may jump out at me. Nothing. With tentative steps, I enter the room. Disappointment floods me as I realize it is a normal room. Sure, it needs a good cleaning, but it still just a room. A rusted bed frame sat in a corner, mattress and blankets long gone. Part of the window is broken, letting in a breeze that rocks a rocking chair. No other furniture is in the room.
I step in and double check the room. The only other thing in the room is a closet. One door is missing and the other hanging off. If I blow hard enough, I can knock it off.
Once I am sure there is nothing else in the room, I place the camera on the windowsill. I sit in the chair with a recorder. Time to begin.
“If anyone is here, I mean you no harm. Please give me a sign you are here. I just want to tell your story.”
And so I wait. Tensing at every sound. Relaxing when I identify the source as something outside or the house settling. Three hours later and nothing has come out. I need to go home.
I pause by my car, looking at the house. Its secrets remain just that for now. Secrets.