I remember the day, not too long ago, that I stood in front of my brand new home. After the year-long headache of the over-budget and over-delayed build process, I finally held the keys to the castle of my 11.4-acre Kingdom.
The exhaust note from the contractor’s truck finally faded, leaving only the shrill woosh of the wind blowing against the structure.
The rambler stood broad and strong under the increasingly low and dark clouds that promised a chilly fall storm. The exterior was fashioned of white brick and white wood paneling, designed to appear in a sort of rustic-barn styling. Front and center was a light brown double door made from pine with three matching pillars on each side to support the covered front porch. The garage was facing the side.
I had seen the house several times during the build process, but now that it was complete, it felt different. The house appeared ominous against the daunting clouds of the incoming storm. The yellowing grass from the sod that was planted too late in the season to properly root, along with the various shades of brown of the fields behind the house, added to the effect. Lightning struck in the distance behind the house as if the scene was posing for a perfect photoshoot.
Although it was brand new, the house had a noticeable essence, in the sort of way that a historical relic older than any person alive makes you wonder about the events said relic has seen. If a house could have an “old soul”, this house had one. It was designed to appear rustic, of course, but there was something special that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on.
A gust of cold wind reminded me that I had little time before the storm would unleash pounding rain and violent wind.
I took a deep breath as I walked in, inhaling the smell of fresh paint and carpet. My paint and my carpet. With each step, my boots echoed through the open living area’s bare walls, hardwood floors, and vaulted ceiling. When I had previously been inside the home, it was busy with workers and conversation. Now that it was empty, though, my 3,250 square feet felt oddly large to the point of being nearly lonely.
For the past year, I’d been living in a cozy 5th wheel camper while waiting for the construction to finish. As I wandered through my new home, it crossed my mind that maybe it was a bit excessive for a single 29-year-old after all. Still, I had no regrets about it.
I walked through the master bedroom first, admiring the luxury of space I’d have. The California King bed I ordered would easily fit, with plenty of room to spare. Hell, the closet was roughly the size of my bedroom growing up.
I strolled through the rest of the house, realizing that I had underestimated just how much furniture I would need to fill the large open spaces of the house. It was overwhelming to think of all the furniture it would take, so I decided an interior designer would be the best option.
After locking the door behind me, I took one last look at the house. My house. I finally allowed myself to smile at my new symbol of success. That’s what the house truly was, whether I wanted to admit it to myself or not. I didn’t need all that space, I wanted to stick it to those who doubted me, underestimated me, and looked down upon me. I wanted a place to set down roots, maybe a place for a family one day, but my middle finger played a big part in my decisions.
My furniture was set to arrive in 10 days. Until then, it was back to the camper before the storm hit. If only I knew the real storm that was on its way, I’d have turned away and never gone back.
************* one week later *************
Moving in honestly wasn’t much of a move. The furniture company delivered everything and arranged the house to the orders of my attractive interior designer, Rachel. Everything else that I owned, I simply carried out of my camper and into the house. Rachel was unpacking all of the kitchenware she purchased on my behalf and rolled her eyes at me when I set my coffee maker on the counter.
“Nope, hide that away. You can’t have a RED coffee maker when all of the appliances are stainless steel.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because it’s hideous!” She said, throwing her arms above her head with a laugh. “This, this is why you’re single.” She said in a way that wasn’t insulting, but perhaps slightly flirtatious.
“Or maybe it’s because I like choosing my coffee maker.” I fired back, sharing her playful tone.
“Yet, here you are, hiring a woman to pick out everything in your entire house.” She said with a cute wink.
“Can’t argue that,” I chuckled, “First time I’ve ever paid someone to spend my money for me. How much do I owe you anyway?
“Oh, we can discuss it over dinner.” She said casually as if we had planned such an event.
“Well yeah,” she said, taking a step closer, “You have me working on a Friday evening. That’s serious overtime right there.”
“Alright, let’s go. Steak?” I asked, testing to see how serious she was.
“I was thinking Italian,” she said with a smile, “I know an adorable place out by the lake.”
“Overtime ain’t cheap, cutie, you’re driving.” She said, already walking toward the front door.
“Well, I’ll be damned.” I thought. “Got a date with a beautiful woman and didn’t even have to come up with a shitty pickup line.” Life was turning out alright after all.
We hopped in my truck and started driving off, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw something out of place. A child, staring out from a window on the main floor. I hit the brakes and turned my full attention to the window, where there was no longer a child but the drapes were swaying slightly as they had just been moved.
“Are you okay?” Rachel asked, staring at me intently.
“Yeah, I just thought I saw a Coyote is all.” I lied, not wanting to look like an idiot on our date.
“Yeah, you’ll be seeing a few of those in this neck of the woods.” She said with another soft laugh. With that, I put the child out of my thoughts, my foot on the gas, and started driving.
************* Later that evening *************
The evening was wonderful, one of the best nights I’d had in a long time. The last decade of my life had been consumed by working and saving. Long grueling days in remote locations left little time for romance, but that’s where the money was and money was the goal. I hadn’t spent much time worrying about finding a partner, but after that date, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I’d found her anyway. I hoped she felt the same.
We’d just met, of course, and had only one date, but I was smitten. I reasoned with myself that I was setting down roots anyhow. I had my welding business which was going great, a reasonable work/life schedule, and finally my house. Maybe having someone to share it all with wouldn’t be so bad.
I was just drifting off to sleep, thoughts of Rachel on my mind when the pitter-patter of bare feet hitting the hardwood floors resonated throughout the house. I sat up in bed quickly putting my feet on the carpeted floor and froze, listening intently and wondering if I’d really heard that. Nothing but the silence was audible. I took a deep breath to calm my heart rate, told myself I must have dreamed it, and started to lay back down.
The pitter-patter came again, unmistakably the sound of quick footsteps running through my hallway, right past my bedroom door. My heart rate skyrocketed as I lurched out of bed, grabbed the pistol from my nightstand drawer, and rushed out the door ready to confront an intruder. I turned the flashlight attachment on which illuminated the hallway in the direction the footsteps ran toward, but there was nothing but a wall in that direction.
I turned the light in the other direction toward the living area, walking down the hallway with the pistol held in front of me. “WHO’S THERE?” I yelled, unsure of what to do. I flipped the lights on as I entered the open living area, revealing that like the hallway, it remained empty. I continued through the main level of the house, flipping on every light as I went through. Then I did the same with the basement, which was also empty.
The last room in the basement was the laundry room. It was large for a laundry room, but designed to double as a storage area. For now, the mounted shelves stood empty leaving the stainless steel washer and dryer as the only things in the room. I had cheaped out on this room, and instead of tile, I had ordered Pergo flooring to be installed. Still, the soft grey flooring matched the rest of the house. The room was empty, but as I turned to walk out, the light flickered, then went out entirely.
“Nope.” I thought to myself. The thing with the lights was too weird. I turned to walk out, but as I did so I felt a tingle on the back of my neck as if someone was right behind me, breathing on my neck and waiting to lurch. I felt goosebumps grow on the back of my neck from a cold puff of air that touched my neck as if someone’s icy breath had just touched me. I gathered my guts and span around half expecting to be greeted by somebody, or something, despite knowing that the room was empty. The room was indeed still empty, but that did little to qualm the feeling of being stalked. I turned and sprinted back up the stairs, two at a time.
I locked my bedroom door and sat propped up on my bed, leaving my bedroom lights on. My breathing was heavy and chest tight as I tried desperately to make sense of it all, telling myself that I had imagined it, I dreamed it. I definitely heard something but it definitely wasn’t real. Did it sound, childlike? Raccoons, it had to be raccoons. They must have nested somewhere before all the doors and windows were in place, right? I pulled the covers over my head, like a child afraid of the boogeyman.
************* The Following Day *************
I woke up Saturday morning with the sun already blasting the large, eastward-facing bedroom windows. The bedroom lights were still on, and I was shocked to feel the weight of my pistol still in my hand.
I cursed myself, for having been so scared, so damn stupid, as to drift off to sleep with a loaded weapon in my hand. People have shot themselves in their sleep before, their fingers snagging on the trigger while they rolled over, unconsciously searching for a more comfortable position. I cursed myself for risking my life over a raccoon, a goddamned raccoon, as I gently placed the weapon back in the quick access gun safe I kept in my nightstand drawer.
I didn’t have too much time to quibble with myself over the previous night’s events, though, I had to get ready for the housewarming party I planned for my family, and I needed to show off.
Before hopping in the shower, I checked my cell to see a text from Rachel.
“Good morning, Nick!” It read, “I had a great time last night. Good luck with your housewarming party!”
A smile grew on my face. I immediately forgot about the raccoon fiasco, my thoughts changing course to the date with Rachel. After dinner, we had taken a long stroll down by the lake and talked well into the dark hours. I don’t normally open up about my disparate family dynamic to people, but holding her soft hand in mine gave me a giddiness enough to open my mental flood gates and spill my personal details. Somehow, we had explained much about our life stories to each other with ease, finding many similarities between our upbringings.
I’d thought about asking her to come but felt that it might be too much after only one date. I had done so little dating in my adult life that I wasn’t quite sure what a normal flow should be in a romantic relationship, but I did think that we were starting one. Besides, subjugating her to deal with my step-family seemed cruel. So instead, I resent a text message returning her thoughts about having a great time with the date, and added that I hoped we could do it again soon.
************* Later that afternoon *************
I had just finished setting up the large Charcuterie board, arranged based on a picture Rachel had sent me when the doorbell rang. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and opened the door with a fake smile.
“Good to see you, Nicholas.” My step-sister said with an equally fake smile, holding some sort of casserole over her pregnant belly.
“Thanks for coming, Abeline.” I returned as I held the door open for the parade of her 3 kids aged 6, 4, and 2. Her tired-looking husband, Brad, held up the rear of the formation holding a stained diaper bag. Seeing that My stepbrother, Joshua, was rolling down the street in his silver minivan, I kept the door open.
“It’s a little big for someone without any kids, don’t you think?” Abeline said In the voice one makes when they are trying to mask their condescending judgment with a compliment. The blows were being thrown early, but it was my day to show off. I refused to let Abeline take that from me.
“Nope,” I said, not having to fake my grin this time. “I enjoy the space, and if I do decide to have kids, this way they won’t be stuck sharing rooms.” Her fake smile dropped at this low blow, taking the subtle hit about how she would soon have a family of 6 living in a 3 bedroom suburban townhouse.
“Tennessee vs Georgia is on.” I said, tossing Brad the remote, “I have all the games though, feel free to pick whatever.
“Sup man,” said Josh as he walked in with his wife and two kids in Tow.
“Hey Man, Brad’s getting the game on, food is on the counter, and there are some new toys in the basement for the kids.” Josh and I didn’t bother trying to fake kind formalities the way Abeline does. At the mention of toys, the herd of kids rushed to the basement to see what wonders I had purchased to keep them entertained. All of the kids enjoyed Uncle Nick, much to their parent’s dismay.
It’s stupid and weird, the way we all act like a happy normal family, despite the obvious disdain we feel for each other. But, we did it for the sake of our parents. After my mom died from cancer in 2002, my dad had become a “born again Christian,” and married Joann, a prudent widow from his congregation. Within 18 months of my mother’s death, I was forced into a step-family with a prude woman and her two prude children.
Joann and her children always looked down on me. She treated me as a second-class citizen compared to her two children whom she regarded as Angels. They had good grades and stood out as faithful members of the congregation at their private religious school. Meanwhile, I was lucky enough to have been kicked out of the school after slipping a Korn album into the CD player before the Easter choir program the poor children were forced to sing in.
Joann had found my CD stash after Josh snitched and told her where I hid them. She made me watch as she broke them all, but being expelled meant I was gloriously reunited with my friends at the public school.
While my step-siblings made honors and memorized their bible verses, I kept my grades just good enough to stay on the wrestling team and spent my offseason skateboarding. Joann and her church taught me that to be happy and successful I had to go straight to college, go to church, get married, and have babies. Metal and skateboarding taught me to stick a finger to those assholes and do it my own way. Wrestling taught me that hard work is the avenue to success.
Instead of going to college at the sacrifice of student loans and my dad’s retirement like Abeline and Joshua, I worked roofing during the day to pay for Welding technical school at night. After getting my certifications debt-free, I took welding work on the pipelines for a couple of years before taking Department of Defense contracts overseas. While my step-siblings were graduating college with student debt, getting married, and barely making ends meet after the cost of children, I was stacking my bank account.
Sure the work was grueling, and the quality of life welding in the Middle East was less than substandard, but I worked hard and was good at my job. Josh used his degree in business to become the manager of a tire store, and Abeline put her $25,000 piece of paper degree on the wall and became a stay-at-home mom. Meanwhile, I made a triple-digit salary with my cost of living being almost nil. I put almost every dollar away in savings and investments that stacked up quickly.
Finally, 15 months ago I came back home and started my own business, which was taking off. Now, I had my 3 employees work the shitty hours on the pipelines while I handled the work that could be done in-shop. I did this all without wasting money on college or time at church. That’s why I built such a nice house I didn’t need, to say fuck you to everybody who doubted me. To let them know I did it my way and did it better.
“Nick! The house looks amazing, congratulations!” This time I didn’t have to fake the smile on my face. I turned and gave my dad a big hug, happy to finally hear someone be genuinely happy for me. In my late teen years and early 20s, we hadn’t talked much, but in the past 4 years, we managed to put the past behind us and forgive each other. Now, we spend every other weekend fishing.
“Thanks, Dad,” I said, before seeing Joann’s fake smile behind him.
“It’s a little big for someone without kids, don’t you think?” Joann asked. Like mother, like daughter.
Before I could come up with anything to fire back with, Abigail (Abeline’s oldest child) tapped me on the elbow.
“Uncle Nick, I thought you didn’t have any kids.” She phrased the statement as if it was a question.
“I don’t,” I told her, crouching down to make better eye contact with her.
“Then who’s the little girl downstairs?”
“What little girl?” I asked, “The only kids here are your cousins and siblings”
“No, there’s a little girl in the laundry room. She keeps crying.”
I shuddered at the mention of the laundry room. Under normal circumstances, it would have been much easier to chalk this up to the imagination, but I was still haunted by a bad feeling deep in my chest about what happened the night before.
“I promise you, there’s nobody in there,” I told her, pushing any doubts to the corner of my mind.
“But there is, I saw her!” Abby insisted, getting frustrated that I didn’t believe her.
“Okay,” I said before her mother could intervene, “let’s go take a look.”
She grabbed my hand and led me downstairs, her parents following behind.
“See, no one here!” I told her, secretly relieved.
“But she was right there! Abby insisted, pointing to the corner furthest from the door, “right there!”
I was at a loss for words, not sure how to explain this away. The chance to attempt an explanation was taken away from me anyhow, as Abeline started scolding her daughter. She went off on something about making up stories, but I wasn’t listening because, for a split second, I thought I heard the faint crying of a little girl.
************* Later that night *************
The one nice thing about my step-family is that nobody overstays their welcome. By 3:30 in the afternoon, everybody had left and I collapsed on my couch with a beer in my left hand and a phone in my right. I’d asked Rachel to stop by and finish off the charcuterie that had been barely touched by my family, but unfortunately, she was obligated to family dinner. Although I wanted to see her, I couldn’t complain about an evening spent watching football and drinking a few beers.
But before I got too comfortable, I went downstairs and tucked away all of the toys the children had enjoyed. Cars and barbies were strewn all over the basement, but I was happy to see that the kids had dived into the books I had purchased as well. Their books at home were largely religious-based, I figured they’d enjoy a couple of books about farts and such.
I shoved everything into storage underneath the stairs. The rocking horse barely fit through the door because it was so large. It hadn’t been cheap, but the kids had absolutely loved it, making it worth every penny.
Before I headed up the stairs, I stopped and stared at that laundry room. I didn’t want to admit it, but the room exuded a sort of feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It just felt wrong. Even looking at the room from a distance left me feeling uneasy and creeped out. It was more than just the weird experiences that both Abigail and I had, it was a feeling of hellish dread that seemed to emanate from the room. I hurried over and closed the door before quickly moving up the stairs.
I had a dream that night, at least I thought it was a dream, where I found myself in the basement washroom. It was crying that had drawn me to the room, the crying of a child. She was in the corner, wearing white pajamas with pink unicorns. She was sitting down, her legs crossed in front of her. Her head was buried in her hands, with her long brown hair draped over her in a tangled mess. She was sobbing uncontrollably.
I’m no expert in kids, but I guessed her to be 6 or 7 years old. I knelt behind her and put a soft hand on her shoulder. At my touch, she flinched and stiffened up, as if bracing for a hit.
“Heyyy, it’s okay, I’m not here to hurt you. Maybe I can help you. What’s the matter? I told her in the most soothing, non-threatening manner that I could.
She loosened some at the sound of my voice but continued to cry with soft sobs.
“I’m stuck here.” She said between sobs.
“What do you mean you’re stuck here? How’d you get here anyway?” I asked.
“The bad man brought me here, and we can’t leave. We’re stuck here with the scary thing.” She burst into another round of sobs.
“What do you mean you’re stuck?” I asked, ignoring all of the other nagging questions. “Maybe I can help you,” I added reassuringly.
At that, she stopped crying and turned her head to face me. “You can help me?” She asked, now facing me with her hair obscuring most of her face.
“Of course,” I said warmly. I reached up and brushed the hair away from her face, but immediately pulled back when I saw it. I tried not to show the horror and disgust I felt, but that was nearly impossible. Her face was battered, bruised, swollen, and misshapen so horribly that I couldn’t get a single idea of what she actually looked like. She looked as if she had been ruthlessly beaten. Her swollen neck displayed deep bruising in rings completely circling her neck.
“Please,” she said again, grabbing my hand as she started to cry again, “Please you have to help me. You have to help PLEASE?!”
Before I could get a grip on myself and think of something to say, the lights in the room went out. With the darkness, a cold fell on the room, the kind of cold you’d expect to feel outside on a cold winter night.
I heard something walk-up behind me and felt it too. It was a presence, a cold, dark, evil presence.
The girl screamed so loud it hurt my ears. Behind me, I heard laughter, a deep maniacal laughter
“NO!” She screamed as the laughing intensified.
“NO, NO NO NO! HELP! HEEEEELLLLPPP!”
That’s when I woke up. I rubbed my eyes, scared, but relieved that it was only a dream. My relief didn’t last long, however, as I realized that I was not in my bed nor was I on my couch. I was on the floor of the laundry room.
At the realization, I jumped to my feet and hurried to the light switch nearly slamming into the wall. I felt along the wall frantically searching for the light switch that seemed to no longer be there. At last, I found the light switch and flipped the lights on immediately pushing out the darkness.
There was no little girl, no terrifying laughter. But there was the rocking horse, the one I had put under the stairs only hours ago.
************* The Following Day *************
I hadn’t slept at all after waking up on the laundry room floor. After that dream, which I was not sure was an actual dream) I felt genuinely shaken up. To be completely honest, I was scared and more than just a little bit. Too many strange things had happened in my home in such little time. I tried to reason with myself, that everything had a logical explanation. This house was brand spanking new, it couldn’t be haunted, could it? But In my heart I knew something unexplainable was taking place, I could feel it.
Rachel was on her way, though, which granted me a welcome distraction. We had plans to make and eat breakfast together. The text she sent telling me that she was on her way brought a smile to my face, and I immediately pushed aside my fear because I needed to freshen up. I had a lady to impress.
“So, Nick, how are you settling in with this handsome house?” Rachel asked as we sipped our second or third serving of mimosas. The golden morning sun shone through the large windows that faced the rear of the home, warmly illuminating the home in such a way that made it hard to believe the unsettling experiences I’d had.
“Ya know, it – it’s great,” I said, my mind involuntarily moved to the incident with the little girl, but I didn’t want to sound like an idiot. “Really I’m surprised every time I see it, it seems too beautiful to be mine.”
“Why’d you hesitate?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“You hesitated. Is there something that you don’t like about the house?”
“No no, it’s just that..” I trailed off, not sure if I wanted to finish the sentence.
“Tell me!” Rachel insisted, slamming the table in a pretend show of aggressive frustration.
“I think this house is haunted,” I blurted out.
“But it’s brand new,” Rachel returned looking more serious this time.
“I know how that sounds,” I said, putting my hands up as if surrendering, “but hear me out.
I proceeded to tell Rachel everything, starting at the beginning with the time I saw a child peering out the window as we left for our date. I told her about the footsteps I sometimes heard at night, about the crying girl my niece insisted she had seen, and finally about the weird “dream” I had before waking up in the laundry room.
I finished the story while Rachel listened intently. I paused, worried that she’d think me crazy and make an excuse to leave, but her response was nothing of the sort.
“I believe you.” She said, putting down her glass.
I let out the breath that I hadn’t realized that I was holding in, relieved to find a serious but reassuring look on her face.
“I saw a girl too, on the day you moved in. I blew it off and kept telling myself that it was some sort of illusion, but I haven’t been able to let it go.” She put her hand to her head as if experiencing a serious headache. “It just felt so, well, creepy. I don’t know how else to put it.”
A small smile crept on my face. I was aware that the smile was out of place, but I found it strangely touching to know that I wasn’t alone in these strange, even dark, experiences. Rachel looked at me confused for a moment before she also smiled and we both broke into a weird fit of anxious laughter.
“My brand new house is Haunted,” I said after getting a hold of myself and finding a more serious tone. “I’ll be honest, I’m scared of my house.”
“Well,” Rachel started, with her flirtatious glint reappearing In her eye, “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t sleeping alone.”
“I think you might be right,” I laughed, “But I’m not sure my bed is big enough, maybe we should go make sure my bed will fit us both.”
The bed, as it turns out, was plenty big (and sturdy) enough for the both of us.
*************Two Weeks Later *************
I had woken up around 1:00 AM to the pitter-patter of feet running throughout the house, an occurrence that had happened often to both myself and Rachel over the previous 2 weeks. We’d both heard crying a time or two, and had just ignored it. The toys that I had kept stored underneath the stairs were often found scattered around the basement. Although somewhat creepy, I had decided to just let it happen.
Rachel had stayed over most nights, which was great for many reasons. I’d sometimes wondered if things were moving too fast, but it was working great and I’m not one to argue with a good thing. Besides, I felt much more at ease not being alone at night, and I began to think that maybe I could get used to living in a haunted house. I reasoned with myself that it was just a child ghost after all, and what harm could a child be?
Despite that, I couldn’t escape the disconcerting question as to why a child would be haunting my house? The house was brand new, there were no previous occupants to have died in the home. Rachel and I theorized that perhaps there had been a car accident on the road resulting in the death of a child, but had not been able to find any corroborating evidence while searching the news archives.
That particular night, however, it felt different. Usually, it was just a sound that I could blow off and go back to sleep, allowing the sound to be filtered out with the background noise. Instead, I felt an intrusive sense of fear, dread, and sorrow that held me tight to the bed and threatened tears as I suddenly wanted to cry. I wanted to move, but the weight of fear pinned me to the mattress.
I heard a whisper, in the voice of a scared child, say, “Please, please help me.”
The whisper in my ear was enough to overcome my paralyzing fear and jolt me to my feet. I had to get away from, whatever was going on, the way you feel the need to get away from a bee buzzing in your ear.
I walked quickly, but quietly, to the master bedroom where I splashed water on my face. The soothing touch of the cold water shocked my senses but helped bring me back to reality. It was probably just a dream, another creepy dream brought to me courtesy of my creepy house. My chest expanded as I inhaled a deep comforting breath, then relaxed as my chest pushed the breath out allowing me to open my eyes.
My heart plunged into my kidney the second I opened my eyes. There was someone (or maybe I should say something) standing directly behind me. The monstrous thing was humanoid in form, but there is no way it could be called Human. It towered above me, standing so tall that its head was nearly touching the ceiling. Although it was dark, I could see that its skin was composed of a blotchy black and red, yet slightly translucent plastic-like substance that reminded me of dirty Saran Wrap.
I desperately wanted to run, or scream or anything besides just standing there, but I once again found myself held tight with paralyzing fear. Although it had no iris nor pupils to be seen, I felt its empty white eyes staring madly into mine. The thing leaned forward until its head was just above mine in the reflection and placed a hand on my shoulder. The hand was so cold that it burned as if my skin had encountered dry ice. My reaction was to pull away from the pain, but I couldn’t, I was paralyzed and not just by fear. Some force had stolen my ability to move, I found myself unable to so much as grimace at the pain in my shoulder.
The hideous beast smiled at me in a threatening fashion, exposing black gums with only a handful of long grey teeth. It winked at me, as if to say, “There’s nothing you can do to stop me,” and then it was gone.
The weight was lifted from my shoulder and the burning stopped. I dared an attempt to wiggle my fingers and found that I had regained the freedom to move of my own free will. I had just enough time to turn on the light before the screaming started.
Piercing screams of intense fear and agony exploded through the house, dicing the eerie silence of the night. My first thought was of Rachel, so I burst back into the room to find her still asleep, unphased by the horrific screams as if she could not hear them at all. The screaming continued and my heart fell as I realized the agonizing sound was coming from the basement.
I didn’t want to go, I was terrified and considered waking Rachel and vacating the damned house, but my inner conscience told me I needed to try and help the poor hurting souls, despite the fact that I hadn’t the slightest idea how to do so. I made my decision, and without further hesitation, I hurried to the basement.
As I descended the stairs the screaming grew louder. I reached the basement where I found the light in the Laundry room flickering so fast it created a strobe-like effect, casting flickering shadows across the entire basement as if a concert was playing. I ran into the room where the toy horse was rocking violently in the middle. Laundry detergent fell off a shelf and burst onto the floor as the screams reached an unbearable and inhuman volume, so loud it pain erupted deep inside my ears.
I pressed my hands to my ears squeezing so hard that it hurt my head, but it did little to vanquish the intensity of my pain. My knees were suddenly weak as I became physically and emotionally overwhelmed and I collapsed to my knees as if the weight of my body had become too much for my shaky legs to carry. The sound was all-encompassing, not coming from any specific part of the room but existing in all parts of the room.
I squeezed my eyes shut in a feeble attempt to concentrate and find some sort of solution when it hit me. The walls. The screams were coming from the walls!
Before I understood what I was doing, I stood and slammed my fist into the wall closest to me. My hand went straight through the drywall hitting the concrete behind it. A pain shot through my knuckles and up through my elbow, but in the adrenaline-fueled moment I paid the pain little mind and ripped as much of the drywall out as I could. I used the opening to grab more drywall and rip off piece after piece until finally, an entire board of drywall was loose.
I grabbed one more time and pulled, forcing the entire 8-foot by 4-foot section to fall. The screaming stopped immediately, as did the strobing of the light. For a brief moment, all was still. The room was quiet.
After the drywall fell, a plastic bundle fell from between the exposed framing and hit the floor with a dull thud, landing partially on my bare foot. I was breathing heavily but managed to take a couple of deep breaths and regain some composure at the eerie but welcome silence. I took a knee beside the bundle and rolled it over.
What I found caused my heart to beat with the ferocity of a death metal drum solo that blurred my vision with every beat. Tightly squeezed inside the layers of thick plastic was that little girl, the one I had seen crying in the basement. Or, her body I should say. I could see her misshapen and rotting face still frozen with the fear of her final moments of life. Her brown hair, coated In decaying blood, was plastered against her face by the tightly wrapped plastic.
It took me a few moments to notice that now I was the one screaming. I backed away, shocked by the body that had been rotting within the walls of the home I had been so proud of. Then, the lights went out, submerging me into a pit of darkness. The only thing I could see was the demonic beast that I had encountered earlier, somehow visible in the eternal darkness. “The Scary Thing.”
I backed away as it moved toward me, a menacing combination of amusement and hatred staining its almost-human face. I felt my heel slip out from under me on the spilled laundry detergent. I fell, hitting the back of my head on the washer.
************* 20 Minutes Later *************
I regained consciousness outside the house, where I found myself on a stretcher being pushed down the driveway. Flashing red and blue lights reflected off the white exterior of the home, illuminating it in a daunting fashion. It reminded me of the day I was given the keys, and I once again found the house to appear daunting and secretive. I knew that what I had just uncovered was only a scratch on the surface of the hellish secrets contained in that home.
A sobbing and exasperated Rachel was explaining what had happened to a shocked-looking officer as more patrol cars raced down the street. He looked to be about my age, old enough to have some solid experience under his belt. But the look on his face showed that no amount of training and experience could have prepared him for this.
Despite the chaos, I felt at ease. Somehow I knew that it was over, for that little girl at least. She’d asked for help, begged for it, and I thought that maybe I had given her the help she needed. The help she deserved.
The next few nights were a nightmare of a different sort. I repeatedly gave careful statements to the police, trying to describe how I came to find a body in the walls of my house In the middle of the night without raising suspicion or sounding crazy.
They had searched my house for more bodies, thankfully there were none. What they did find, though, was a large pentagram along with other demonic symbols painted underneath the flooring.
The General Contractor of the house had been brought in for questioning, who quickly admitted that because I had picked cheaper finishing for the room, he had hired some guy off the classifieds and paid him under the table. DNA evidence found on the body matched multiple crimes across the country, and the Contractor was able to successfully ID the same man in a photo lineup.
The going theory is that this man performed some sort of satanic sacrifice in the night when nobody else was around. He then covered it up with the flooring and by hiding the body in the wall. The little girl had been kidnapped from her home in a different state 6 months prior, which meant he kept her for several months before killing her.
The worst part is, they have only a photo of this man, no name or solid information to be found. Nobody knows exactly who he is, why he did what he did, or where he is now.
He’s still out there, and I know without a doubt, that he’ll kill again.
Credit: R. M. Staniforth
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