Estimated reading time — 15 minutes
As they walked up the front steps of the house, Tommy could feel his fear set in. The view of the old farm house in the fading sunlight was enough to send chills into your bones, and for some reason, they were going into it. He could feel his arms and legs grow weak as he stepped onto the rickety porch, standing in front of the door, he could see the paint chipping and rotted areas that expose large gaps between the boards. He pushed open the front door and entered the house with a loud creak and gust of dust being blown about. His throat was tight, even if he tried offering the others words of comfort, he would have failed. Tommy lit the lantern and proceeded into the entrance way.
The inside was more intimidating than the outside. A long hallway with an open living room on the immediate left, a door at the end on the right side, and a staircase at the end. It seemed very simple on the inside compared to the size of the house from the outside. The air became thicker and made it hard to breathe. It must be my nerves. Tommy steeled himself and moved into the living room dropping his overnight pack and sleeping bag around some dusty run-down furniture. The others followed his lead.
Charles voiced his thoughts aloud, “Why the hell did we agree to this!”
“This place really is a slum,” stated Cindy. They moved further into the living room and cleared off the debris from the run down and rotted furniture.
Tommy immediately took a defensive position, “Look guys, don’t be a bunch of bitches, we said we’d stay the night in this stupid house, so let’s get this over with.”
Mark chimed in, “Haven’t you ever seen any horror movies Tommy? This is exactly how they start, bunch of stupid kids going into a haunted house to stay the night.”
Tommy laughed, “Come on man, this isn’t some bull story, and this house isn’t actually haunted, it’s supposed to be the Boogie Man’s house, right?”
Cindy continued, “The Boogie Man? I haven’t believed in the Boogie Man since I was three, Tommy. I’d be quicker to believe this place was just haunted by some creepy spirits or something.”
“Exactly!” Tommy said, in a matter-of-fact manner.
Tommy felt a bit better now that they had opened up conversation, he wasn’t sure he would make it all night in silence. He had been second guessing their adventure at every step of the way, but it was too late now. Darkness had settled around the farm and the dim and cold house grew dimmer and colder. The chill in the night air had begun to penetrate the walls, and the kids set up their sleeping bags in a small circle around the living room. They were too proud to admit to each other that they were all scared senseless, no one would venture away from the lantern, not even to use the restroom. He was sure they all had their own flashlights, but the lantern seemed to offer some comfort to them, and just like the others, Tommy had no desire to leave that bit of comfort.
They passed small talk for a while, trying to avoid silence as much as possible. When it was quiet for too long, he could feel insecurity creeping into his mind, like every bit of his instinct was screaming danger. Tommy had to keep reminding himself, “It was all nonsense; it has to be. That was the whole point for tonight anyhow, they were there to challenge their fear and come out tomorrow laughing about the whole bogus idea.” They pulled out some overnight snacks and began eating. Once everyone had finished the snacks they were working on, Mark pulled a bottle of 151 from his pack. “I brought refreshments.” Mark said with a mischievous look.
Cindy responded, “Yeah, that’s what we need right now. Let’s pour some stupid on top of stupid.”
Tommy laughed, and said, “Hell, a little liquid courage isn’t stupid, we’ll all feel a little better after a few swigs.”
The bottle was passed around and everyone took a few shallow drinks at first. He had been right. Tommy could feel the chills ease off as the liquor ran down deep into his core, feeling hot in his chest as he took it in. They continued passing the bottle and finally succeeded in fended off the atmosphere. Tommy felt alive again as the buzz kicked in.
With his fear under control Tommy decided to take the next step in his plan for the night. He had prepared a story to really rile up the group. So, without any more hesitation, he began with a hushed voice,” Quiet down guys, and listen up.” He dimmed the lantern a bit for atmosphere.
Tommy continued, “The story of the Boogie Man starts right here in this house, but about 100 years ago. They say he was an outcast, always driven away by the other kids of the town. You see, he was born with a strange skin disease that corrupted his body and face. The other kids called him a Monster, and a Ghoul, often running away as if it were a permanent game of tag. As the years of loneliness went by, the Boogie Man grew strange and demented. The people of the village would find shrines on the edge of the farm, made of animal parts and sticks. Whether the Boogie Man had grown fond of evil spirit rituals, or was simply trying to keep people away from his home, no one knew for sure.
The group was sucked right into Tommy’s story, he had them right where he wanted them. Tommy continued further, “After the Boogies Man’s parents passed away, he was no longer seen at all, not even on the grounds of the farm. The town had grown curious as to whether or not he was still alive, or if he had starved to death long ago. The only remnants of his existence were the shrines positioned around the farm, which were quickly replaced anytime they were vandalized or broken. The younger children, hearing stories from the townsfolk began to grow bold and venture onto the farm to get a look of the Ghoul. With no luck, finally the children even venture into the house, searching for the Boogie Man. A pair of brothers who were brave of enough, decided they would see the Ghoul no matter what, and the entered the house without so much as a knock. The brothers never returned, not even a sound was heard, the door had snapped shut quickly after the boys had entered, and no one was brave enough to follow. After the children told the townsfolk of what had they had witnessed, there was an uproar, a mob assembled in the town that night and marched on the farm house. The Boogie Man opened his door to the entire town, enraged, with torches and farm tools, outside his front porch. Jeering and shouting about justice and vengeance. The Boogie Man had no words for them, so he was branded a murderer and the mob grabbed him from the porch, tied him to the stake and then proceeded burned him alive.”
The relief the alcohol had offered had vanished entirely. The lanterns light somehow seemed dimmer, and windows were black. Cindy shifted uncomfortably, and the other two looked around nervously. Even Tommy felt the atmosphere shift drastically, he could feel the fear creeping back into his chest. His chest was getting tight and hard to breathe again. The darkness had grown so dense they could feel it pressing in on them. They pulled up their sleeping bags a bit, as the chill began to pierce their thick clothes. He had become lost in his own story, there was no stopping without finishing what he started.
Tommy took on a darker tone as he persisted, “The town was restless after they had sentenced the Boogie Man to his fate. Following his death, children of the town would go missing without a trace never to be found, and it was always believed that the children were taken by the spirit of the Boogie Man. This was, in part, because of the many shrines that were still present on the borders of the farm, and also because of the events that had proceeded the Boogie Man’s death. The townsfolk avoided the farm as much as possible and taught their children that it was cursed land. For forty years after the last of the disappearances, the farm was left alone. Until one summer, a group of four kids, much like our group, decided to adventure into this house, to prove the legends were fake, and face the supposed curse that their elders had been so convinced of. They had entered the house as the sun was setting, they were so convinced that the legends were false, that they were willing to stay the night. As night overcame the house, they began to search the house. When the night had finally settled, and the house had grown as dark as it could, they were shocked by the sound of a sudden voice, echoing through the whole house! I’ve got you where I want you, and now I’m going to eat you!
“Tommy, I really don’t want to hear this, can you stop?” begged Cindy. He could tell fear had regained its grip on his friends, but still was unable to stop his story. He couldn’t understand why, but he had to finish.
Again, Tommy persisted, “Stop being a wuss, Cindy! The kids were terrified by the voice and cried out; Who’s there? There was no response, only the dark house. They began to move further into the house looking left, right, and all over for anyone who could be responsible for the words they had heard. They had come to the top of the stairs when they heard it again but this time it was clearly from the bottom of the stairs. I got you where I want you and now, I’m going to eat you! They were shaking in fear, terrorized by the voice that was taunting them. They mustered up their courage, thinking it had to be someone pulling a prank on them. Plenty of their friends knew they were going to brave the house. They went to the door at the bottom of the stairs where they thought the voice had come from. I got you where I want you and now, I’m going to eat you! The voice had been just behind the door, and somehow seemed even more sinister than it had ever been before.”
Mark had a look of vague disbelief, while Charles had settled deep into his sleeping bag. Cindy had all but disappeared into her sleeping bag and scooted herself as close to Mark as she could without actually crawling into his lap. Tommy felt some satisfaction but was also struggling with his storytelling, he was reeling them in deep and he knew it, it was like he had lost all control and someone was telling the story through him. The wind pressed against the house and whistled gently through gaps in the windows and front door. Leaves were gently pushed across the floor making soft scraping sounds.
He allowed a brief moment for suspense and then continued his story, “The kids pushed the door open slowly, with shaking hands. The room was empty except for a dining table and a chair. A single candle ignited on the table revealing a grotesque figure sitting in the chair. His face was rotted skin, but taut and bruised. His eye sockets deep and dark with pure white eyes staring into the void. He raised his hand to his face and brought his long skinny skeletal finger to his face. On the very tip of his finger, a HORRID, LARGE and very green BOOGER! I got you where I want you, and now I’m going to eat you! With that the Boogie Man gobbled up his booger with excitement. The kids ran in terror, the sight of the Boogie Man eating his booger terrified them so much that every time they saw a booger, they were scared speechless!”
“You stupid SON OF A …,” squealed Cindy!
“YOOO, you had me going so good there,” Mark retorted, smiling but slightly dumbfounded.
Charles said nothing, but began a silent giggle fit as he buried his face into his sleeping bag.
Tommy felt the air lighten a bit, completely satisfied with the results of his story he thoroughly enjoyed himself while his friends laughed it off. The lack of control he felt had disappeared, and he felt his buzz more prominently than before. They were back to a group of friends camping out, enjoying the company of each other. Then he heard something he did not expect, mixed within the laughter of his friend’s, there was a harsh rasp of the leaves, that almost matched the laughter of the others, like something else was laughing along with them. Tommy’s heart jolted, as a chill shot straight through to his bones. His could feel goosebumps rise across his arms, legs and neck all at once.
“Did you guys hear that?” Tommy asked as the groups laughter subsided.
“Bro, you already got us, we’re not going to feed right back into it.” Mark responded with a big smile.
Tommy stared at Mark for a moment, unsure of this feeling of dread, but decided that it must have been his imagination, he responded, “Haha, your right man, let me get some more of that 151.”
Mark passed the bottle and Tommy took a drink, gulp after gulp, until he felt his uneasiness fade a bit more. His mind quieted a bit, but was still on edge. He was no longer imagining what could go wrong, but instead felt as if they were on the edge of a cliff, about to plunge to their doom. Mark, who had drunk quite a bit more than the others, out of nowhere, announced his amazing idea to the group, “Okay, okay let’s do something cool. I’m actually starting to enjoy this a bit.”
“Whatcha thinking?” asked Cindy
“We should play Hide and Seek.” Mark said with a maniacal expression.
Cindy nervously laughed while saying, “You would come up with something worse, while we’re already in the middle of this bull.”
The group’s vibe had smoldered quickly, as everyone realized this meant they would all have to go off by themselves, alone, in this creepy house. Charlie and Cindy contested heavily, until Tommy spoke up, “Good idea, Mark. I’ll even go first.” Tommy’s half-hearted smile must have worked. They stopped complaining and begrudgingly, Charles and Cindy wandered into the darkness, each with their own flashlight, quickly followed by Mark, while Tommy stayed alone in the living room.
Tommy watched as they walked around the corner and out of sight. He began by closing his eyes to the world and methodically counting out loud.
The wind rustled the leaves a bit more as the sounds of footsteps disappeared.
A steady slow creak reverberated through the house.
Complete silence engulfed Tommy, only his own breathing could be heard.
The air grew dense and his heart began racing.
He began to realize he was entirely alone.
Unable to withstand it anymore, he opened his eyes to the dimly lit room.
Panic began to set in, Tommy gently turned up the lantern to brighten its flame.
He stood, in his place, staring desperately into the hallway, dread flooding his mind, and chills through his body.
He braced himself internally, “damn it!”
“HERE I COME!”
Tommy carefully stepped into the hallway, flashlight in hand. He bounced it from the left wall to the right wall and back, while he wandered deeper down the corridor opposite the front door. All the liquid courage had drained from his veins, only to be replaced with an icy chill. It reminded him of a time he’d gotten a saline drip during his last hospital visit, the little warmth he had washed away from his limbs and stomach with every step he took. He felt sickly, and cold sweats had come over him by the time he reached the bottom of the stairs. The hallway corridor was small and made Tommy feel claustrophobic. The candle holders on the wall were extremely rusted, and thick with grime. There was fresh wax melted onto the sides which Tommy thought was odd, but couldn’t focus on what that could mean.
The only other thing in the hall was a door at the bottom of the stairs on Tommy’s right, opposite the living room they had been nesting in. There was no handle, just a brass ring, so Tommy pushed on the door. The wood groaned with the stress of being pushed, but didn’t budge a bit. Must be locked somehow. Tommy wasn’t inclined to pursue, anything locked up in this house needed to stay that way. He slowly began climbing the stairs.
With every step there was a jarring creak in the boards. How did I not hear this when I was counting? The silence was suffocating, so every little sound that he made was surprisingly loud. This only added to his anxiety, he felt like he needed to be quiet, to not be heard. Tommy reached the top of the stairs to see another small hallway running the same direction that the hall below had run. It was almost identical, except there was no front door at the end, instead there was large window, and there were three doors in this hallway: two on his right side, and one on the side with the staircase entrance.
There was a muffled thump from the bedroom at the end of the hall on the right. Bet they’re freaking out just as much as I am. Tommy felt a small bit of relief, he knew being with at least one person would make this more bearable. He walked quicker as he went to the room’s door. Another brass ring, but when he pushed on this one it swung open. There was a small bed with bed side tables on either end, all covered in a thick layer of dust. The dust on the floor had been stirred a bit as if someone had walked through it, but Tommy could not make out any foot prints.
The trail of disrupted dust led to a large wardrobe at the back of the room. Tommy crept up to the wardrobe, but did not wait long before throwing it wide open. To his surprise there was nothing inside, just more thick dust and an old farmers shirt hanging up, well-worn and rotted. A very soft noise came from behind him, like someone moving on the bed. Tommy’s heart jumped into his throat as dread over took him. His mind was racing. He spun on the spot expecting one of his friends to be sitting there, holding back a laugh at their little trick on him.
Instead, there was a black figure on all fours. Two eyes were barely visible on a disfigured, blackened face. It was too dark to make out anything clearly. As soon as Tommy saw it, before he could shine the flashlight, the creature flung backwards off the bed and scurried out of the bedroom with terrifying speed and an unnatural way of crawling on all fours, like it had a twisted spine that forced it to crawl. At that same moment wind blew in from the only window in the room and the bedroom door slammed shut. Tommy sat down right where his was clutching his chest.
“What, in the hell was that!”, he said to himself out loud.
It didn’t look like any animal he had ever seen, and it definitely was not human. Tommy had experienced a new feeling, absolute terror. He registered that he was in shock, but he couldn’t fight it. He didn’t know how he could. Then he thought of his friends hiding somewhere in the house still, and got a bit of his strength back. We need to get the fuck out of here, now! Jumping to his feet, he was no longer worried about being quiet, he knew there was something there now. Running to the door, he grabbed the brass ring and pulled. The door wouldn’t open, the wind behind him continued blowing and there was scraping sound that began to get loud behind him, like something being dragged across wood.
Tommy felt his heart jump again but wouldn’t look back, he pulled and pulled, until finally the door swung open. He ran into the hallway and spun around shining his flashlight toward the sound that was behind him. There was nothing, just the same bed and tables. He had been sure though; there was definitely something behind him. He couldn’t remember a time in his life when he had felt this helpless. Tommy looked around the hallway again, wondering where the creature had gone.
“GUY’S, LETS GO, SCREW THIS, WE NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE!”, Tommy yelled!
A few moments went by, and the house was just as sickeningly quiet as it had been since his friends went to hide. He took a step towards the door across from the room he had come out of. Then he heard a voice call out, “I got you where I want you, and now, I’m going to eat you!”
He couldn’t believe it, here he was wondering if he’d actually crap his pants in terror. While some freaky, unknown creature running around in this horrid house, his friends were messing with him. It had sounded like Mark but he wasn’t sure exactly where he heard it from, either the door near the stairway or back downstairs.
“MARK, LET’S GO MAN, THIS ISN’T FUNNY. NO MORE GAMES, COME ON GUYS!”, he cried out.
Tommy could hear his voice shake with every word. They must be having a blast with this. He came to the door by the stairway. They had to be here, Tommy was convinced of it, there was nowhere else that voice could have come from. He placed his hand on the door, ready to face whatever could be on the other side. Taking a deep breathe he began to push. Again, the voice called out to him, “I got you where I want you, and now, I’m going to eat you!”
Tommy had frozen in his spot; the voice was coming from the stairway but it seemed like it was also coming from everywhere in the house. Ignoring the heavy pressure on his chest he turned back towards to the stairway and approached the stairs. “I got you where I want you, and now, I’m going to eat you!”, the voice rang out again, crisper, definitely from the bottom of the stairs. The room at the bottom, it had to be. “They must have put something in front of the door to keep me out.”, Tommy thought.
He descended the stairs carefully, with every step creaking again as he climbed down. As he reached the door, he looked down the hall and saw the front door. The light from the lantern in the living room had all but burnt out. Suddenly, he had this strong urge to run, the door was right there. He didn’t know where the creature had gone, but he was sure he could get away.
His thoughts seemed to run ramped, “You can’t leave your friends.. you can’t… you have to get them out.. you have to..”.
Mark’s voice sounded as clear as being in the living room earlier, “I got you where I want you, and now I’m going to eat you!” Tommy looked at the door by the stairs. Thinking about wringing Mark’s neck gave him just enough courage to push on the door again. It gave away easily this time, and soundlessly swung open to an almost pitch-black room. The moonlight shown through the window opposite of Tommy; just enough to cast silhouettes of his friends sitting at a dining table. One on each side of the table and one in the middle.
A candle ignited in the middle of the table, casting just enough light on the room for Tommy to see everything. The table was covered with body parts and organs, all on display on serving dishes. There was blood on everything, the dishes, the table, the floor, the walls and it was even spattered across the ceiling. His friend’s heads had been attached to scarecrow bodies in each of the seats at the dining table, leaving only one seat with a headless scarecrow. Tommy couldn’t comprehend what he was looking at.
“How… how is this… what..”, Tommy’s thoughts trampled over each other.
The urge to run came back even fiercer than before. He had to run. He needed to get away as soon as he possibly could. Tommy was still frozen where he stood, unable to run, unable to do anything. He just kept looking at the scene of his friends posed around a dinner table of their own body parts. Then he heard it from right behind him. A soft voice, mixed with a scratching sound, like the leaves on the floor being blown about. It whispered into his ear.
“I got you where I want you, and now, I’m going to eat you.”
Credit : Ryan Criss
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