Estimated reading time — 15 minutes
“Okay Father, we need you to cooperate with us here. If you’re honest from the beginning, things will be a lot better for you.” Officer Green sipped his coffee, a little too weak for this time of the night. Things like this didn’t happen very often in his small town so he wasn’t used to having to stay up all night. But when there’s a homicide investigation, it’s all hands on deck.
“Are you a God-fearing man, officer?” Father McKenzie held his hands together, nervously rubbing his knuckles.
“Not sure what that has to do with anything, but no, not particularly.” Officer Green leaned back in his chair, his spine aching. We’re not going to get anywhere with this guy, he thought.
“Then you’ll never believe me. But I’m not worried. God knows that I’m a good man and I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Officer Green took another sip of his coffee; longer this time. He needed some time to think about what to say next. He hadn’t done many interrogations during his time on the force and most of them ended with a confession in about 5 minutes. This one, he could tell, was going to be a bit more difficult. “Well if you’ve done nothing wrong, why don’t you just tell me what happened? What time did you arrive at Mr. Young’s house?”
“I arrived at his house around 6 pm.”
“And did he invite you over?”
“Why?” This is going to take all night if I’m only getting one word answers from this guy, he thought, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the table.
“It would probably be best if you heard it from Eric Young himself.”
“Alright smart ass, what are you talking about? That guy is dead.”
“I received a letter in the mail from him a few days ago. It’s in my car. I think it would be best if you just read that.”
Officer Green paused for a moment. He wasn’t totally thrilled with the idea of following orders from a suspected murderer. But what else was he supposed to do? This interrogation was going nowhere. Nowhere fast at least. He put his palms down on the table, hitting it with more force than he intended, obviously a little exasperated from the events of the night. He pushed his tired body up and left the room.
About an hour had passed before Officer Green returned with the letter. Four pages all sealed in individual plastic baggies. It was really the only hard evidence they had so far. He returned to his seat, across from the Father, not saying a word to him. With another sip of his now-cold coffee, he settled in for a read.
“Dear Father McKenzie,
It’s been a while since I last went to church. About 20 years or so, probably. But I need your help now. I’m not proud of what I’ve done but it really didn’t seem to hurt anyone in the beginning. I was really doing more good than harm. I should explain.
I’ve been a ghost hunter for about 10 years now. But I don’t really hunt ghosts. I just go into people’s houses, use my fancy equipment to look legitimate and tell them there’s nothing to worry about; no ghosts here. They thank me, they pay me, I leave. If they continue to insist, then I burn some stuff, put some crosses up, yell some bullshit like, ‘Whatever spirits are here, please leave.’ Then they thank me, they pay me, I leave. Simple. I know I’m a fake but at least people minds are put at ease and they just go on with their lives. I know there’s no such thing as ghosts but some people’s imaginations just run wild and they need someone to calm them down. That’s my job. For 10 years now I’ve been doing this job without incident.
I got a phone call from a woman named Penny Hutchins a few weeks ago. She told me there’s an evil spirit in her house and she hears that I’m the best ghost hunter around. She seemed very spooked – as most people are when they’re convinced they’re being haunted. I assured her that I would help her and that the ghost would be gone in no time. I told her I’d fit her in in the next week or so. Her voice trembling, she replied, “Please hurry.”
When I arrived at her house, I unloaded my equipment and headed in. This appointment started out just like any other. I discussed my rates with her and she was eager to pay any amount if I could just help her. She had $1000 cash in hand, telling me to take it all. I did my usual spiel about how it depends on the severity of the haunting and the stubbornness of the spirit, blah, blah, blah. I fully intended on taking the full $1000 at the end.
I got out my fake EMF meter and started walking around the house with her, pressing the button under my index finger that makes the meter move. She tells me to go into her bathroom because that’s where the ghost usually is. Father, as soon as I walked into that bathroom, my blood went cold. Partially from fear, and partially due to the actual temperature of the room. I could see my breath; that’s how cold it was. At first I thought there must just be something wrong with her furnace. I should just tell her to call someone else. But then I turned around. Penny was standing behind me, staring right through me. The door slammed shut behind her. Her eyes started to roll into the back of her head and her mouth slowly fell open. Her head then tilted ever so slightly to the side. Her pupils were no longer visible but I knew that she wasn’t looking through me anymore, she was looking in me.
I carry a cross necklace around with me, just for added effect, but at that moment, I felt like that cross was the only thing that could save me. I dropped my EMF meter, grabbed the chain out of my pocket and swung it around at her as I slowly backed away, further into the room. I started screaming at her, telling whatever evil spirit that was there to leave Penny alone. My heels hit the bathtub. I had nowhere else to go. She lunged towards me, arms outstretched. Her skin was turning grey; her body looked lifeless the way her limbs flailed. I ducked down and dove for the door, escaping her grasp. The handle was frozen; the skin on my hand stuck to it instantly. I thrust my shoulder into the door as hard as I could but it wouldn’t budge. Penny, or whatever Penny had turned into, starting come towards me. I started banging on the door, yelling for help. She reached for me. I tried to slap her hand away from me but she grabbed my wrist. The cold went straight up my arm; I could feel it in my neck. I screamed like a little girl, pulling and tugging, but her grip was too strong. Finally, I kicked her right in the gut and she flew back into the bathtub, taking the shower curtain down with her. I looked at my hand. My skin was completely white from the tips of my fingers to about my elbow. I started to feel dizzy and that’s the point where I blacked out.
When I came to, Penny was sitting beside me, her face right over top of mine. “Eric?” she said. “Eric, talk to me! Are you alright?”
Everything came back in a flash and I jolted up to my feet and backed up to the door. Penny looked like Penny again. My arm was back to its normal colour.
“What happened?” I asked.
“What happened is that you’ve cured me!” She exclaimed, slowly moving towards me. Her eyes were glossy as she held back tears of joy. Tears of relief.
I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t fully wrap my brain around what had happened. “I… I don’t understand,” I sputtered.
“Come. Come to the kitchen, I’ll fix you up a cup of tea. Do you like tea?” She opened the bathroom door with ease. This seemed to be an entirely different woman than the one I had met minutes ago. Or was it hours? I had no idea how long I had been out for. I followed her down the hallway and sat at the kitchen table. I started putting my equipment back in their individual cases. I had to compose myself. I couldn’t let her know that this wasn’t just another day in the life of a ghost hunter. I didn’t want to lose out on that $1000 if she found me out.
“So this ghost…” I began, selecting my words carefully. “What has it been doing to you?”
Penny filled up the kettle, not looking at me as she spoke. “Oh, it was terrible. That room has been getting colder and colder by the minute. I haven’t really slept at all in days. This spirit, she haunts my mind, mostly. Just yesterday, I blacked out for what seemed like hours. She’s been showing me horrifying images. Thank God you showed up today or I might not have been able to bear it any longer. She is a very restless, malevolent soul. I did a lot of research on spirits when this whole thing first started. I’m sure you know all about it though. You’ve dealt with this kind of thing before, I’m sure.”
“Oh yeah, all the time. I had a very similar case just last month.” It was a good thing I’m a good liar. But lying is why I’m in this mess now.
Penny fixed my cup of tea and she made pleasant small talk with me. I tried to respond as normally as possible but my mind was elsewhere. I tried to bring the topic back to her haunting. “So, what kind of things would this spirit show you?” I asked.
Penny sipped her tea, looking deep into her cup. “I really… I don’t want to relive that horribleness. I’m sorry. It was just too much for me.”
“I understand.” I looked at my teacup. Still half full. We continued the small talk as I tried to drink my tea faster. Turns out Penny had three kids, all of whom are grown up and moved away now. She downsized by moving into this house and started having issues with this ghost a few days in. Her kids all thought she was going mad and started making comments about nursing homes. Penny couldn’t have been older than sixty.
Anyway, I’m rambling now. I’m writing to you, Father, because this ghost is now with me. Something happened when Penny grabbed my arm. I can feel this spirit’s presence all the time. I black out frequently throughout the day and she shows me horrible things. I’ve done research but I can’t figure out who she is. But she’s shown me what happened to her.
I see these images as if I’m floating above her, watching the scenes unfold. Based on her attire, she must have lived in the late 1800s. She is in her house with her father. He begins to yell at her. He yells at her for not coming home before dark. She looked to be about 16 years old. She yells back at him. He grabs her and throws her against the wall. She cries. She sobs uncontrollably. He picks her up off the floor by the arm and throws her into a bathroom, shutting the door with immense force.
Another scene. Days later, her father opens the door. The girl looks sickly, slouched against the wall. Painted in blood around her are little pictures. Pictures of the girl, eating her father. Her father is terrified. He backs out of the room as she laughs. Her eyes pierce through him – into him. He slams the door as he leaves.
Every time I black out, I wake up in another part of the house. Things around me will be broken. My house is a disaster now but I can’t will myself to do much about it. This spirit has consumed my life. The scenes get worse from here.
The father has a doctor come in to try to find out what is wrong with his daughter. The doctor opens the door. The girl’s hair is matted. She’s removed almost all of her clothes and is crouching in an animalistic manner. The walls are covered with more and more drawings of the girl killing the father and eating him. The girl looks up at the doctor and screeches. She lunges for him. The doctor retreats and slams the door. The doctor and the father stand there, awestruck. They hear the faucet turn on. The water is the only thing keeping her alive.
After she showed me that vision, my faucet began to turn on and off intermittently. I thought about calling a plumber at first. But no plumber can help me now.
The next time the father opens the door, the girl is completely naked. Her foot has been severed at the ankle but her foot is nowhere in the room. She looks up at her father. Her eyes look dead – completely devoid of life. “Daddy,” she says, her voice toneless. “Help me.” She reaches her hand out to him for a moment then puts it down on the bloody floor. She begins to pull herself across the tiles towards him, her head held tilted up the whole time. The father stands his ground for a moment but can’t take it. He slams the door again. The girl screams in agony.
When I came to after that vision, I found myself with bite marks around my ankle. Some points were deep enough to break the skin. All I do now is sit in my room, waiting for the faucet to turn on. Waiting to black out again. I can hear her voice in my head sometimes. “Help me,” she says. I’m worried I’m starting to go mad. I’m worried she’s going to bite my foot off. Or that I’ll bite my own foot off. I need your help, Father. I don’t want to get anyone else involved. I know Penny passed the spirit on to me when she touched me and I don’t want anyone else to suffer the same fate. I would have called but during one of my black outs, I broke the phone. I can’t go out because I’m afraid that I’ll touch somebody and pass her spirit on to them.
I know I’m a bad person, I know I’ve done wrong but I don’t think I deserve this torment. If this is God’s way of punishing me for stealing people’s money, then I want to apologize. I need you to come to my house so that I can confess my sins. Before it is too late. Please hurry.
Officer Green placed the last page back in its bag. Father McKenzie had been staring at him the entire time as he read. Officer Green met his gaze. “You expect me to believe… that this guy was being haunted? By a ghost?”
“No. I never expected you to believe it. But that is the true story.”
Officer Green shook his head. “This is ridiculous,” he proclaimed. He gathered up the papers in the bags and left the room.
“Are you hearing this bullshit?” Officer Green asked his partner, Warren, who had been behind the two way mirror.
“Just got a call from Tony. He says we should come down to the crime scene.” Warren, Officer Perry, had been on the force for about 20 years – 10 or so years longer than Officer Green – but even he had never had a case like this.
Eric Young’s house was a disaster zone. Picture frames shattered, the couch was overturned, and the smell of rotting food was almost unbearable. The smell of rotting flesh had not yet kicked in but it wouldn’t be long.
Eric was still fairly young. No older than 35 years. He had no wife and no children. His mother had died when he was young and his father lived across the country. No siblings, nor did he make many friends in the ghost hunting profession.
Officer Green and Officer Perry entered the crime scene for the second time that night. They had been the first ones to respond to Father McKenzie’s 911 call. The body had not been moved yet. The poor guy still lay there on the floor of his bathroom, mouth wide open, surrounded by blood. The most disturbing part of the scene was his eyes – or lack thereof. His eyeballs had been ripped from their sockets and were just hanging off his face, resting on his cheek bones.
“Over here guys, come take a look.” Tony Walker, the medical examiner, sat in the pool of blood, dressed in a plastic suit.
“We can’t just look from here?” Office Green asked. He wasn’t overly squeamish but he also had never seen anything this gruesome before.
“Green, come on, man up.” Warren bumped his shoulder against Officer Green’s as he strode past. Green soon followed.
Tony lifted Eric’s pant leg, nice and gently. “Oh my God,” Warren breathed, bringing his hand to his mouth.
“Both feet, completely frost bitten. But this one…” Tony rolled up the other pant leg. “This one has almost been severed off.”
“W… With what?” Green stuttered. He was fairly certain he knew the answer but felt the need to ask anyway. He still held on to a shred of hope that Tony would say a knife or even a spoon.
“Teeth. The guy was gnawing his leg off with his own teeth. Weird, eh? “
The three men shared some awkward glances amongst themselves, no one certain what the next move should be. The half severed ankle was surely odd and the frost bite would have been much less odd had it not been August.
“Maybe we should call someone in about this. Someone from the state?” Green suggested.
“No, it’s fine. He obviously just went crazy and died from blood loss. End of story. No murder,” Warren concluded.
Green had to look away. He turned and started walking through the house, carefully stepping over the broken glass. He stood in the middle of the living room. A small desk sat in the corner. It was the only thing in the house that seemed to be in order. Upon further inspection, Green found some papers on the desk. Whoever was supposed to be searching for evidence here was not doing a great job. Green sat down at the desk and started reading.
“Dear Father McKenzie,
It’s been a few days since I sent my letter and I haven’t heard from you yet. Things are getting worse. I need you to help me as soon as possible. I have less and less time that I’m in control of my body.
The visions are getting worse. I’m beginning to have trouble separating the visions from reality and now, rather than a bystander viewing the scene, I’m beginning to view the scenes as if I am the girl. That poor girl. I don’t understand why she is doing this to me. I don’t understand what she wants. But she needs help. I need help. I’ve had two more visions since I wrote you last. Two more that I remember vividly, that is.
The father has given up on saving his daughter. But he can’t have anyone know about her. It would ruin him. He opens the bathroom door. The girl hasn’t gotten much worse. Her bones are protruding through her skin. She’s obviously starving. She reaches for him, mouth wide open. “Daddy,” she whispers, her voice raspy and tired from screaming. He takes a deep breath and reaches out for her. She bites his hand, drawing blood; he lets out a shriek. He grabs a fistful of her hair with his free hand and pulls her off of him. He drags her through the house, kicking and screaming, scratching and fighting to hold onto something. He takes her out the back door, continuing to drag her on the ground, a trail of blood seeping into the fresh white blanket of snow. They come to an outhouse at the very back of the property. He opens the door and throws her in. The girl looks up at him.
It is at this point that my view of the scene begins to shift and I am now seeing it through her eyes.
“Daddy?” Her voice has a tone of panic, much different from the way she sounded before. “Daddy, what’s happening? What’s going on?” She begins to yell, tears beginning to stream down her bloody face.
“Rose?” He says. “Sweetheart, are you alright?” He begins to cry as well. He kneels down towards her, reluctantly pressing his palm to her cheek.
Her eyes roll into the back of her head. Before the father has time to react, she… I… bite his thumb clean off. He screams. He slams the door shut. I’m in darkness, laughing. Just laughing.
I’ve tried to do more research and find out who Rose was but nothing has come up. My computer is now shattered so I guess I’ll never know. I thought that maybe if I knew more about her, I would be able to help her but that hope is lost.
It is getting more and more difficult to write. I can feel Rose in my mind, beginning to take over my thoughts. She is taking over my actions. She has shown me another vision – I hope this is the last one. I can’t bear to explain it. I have more bite marks all around my fingers and more around my ankle. My bones are cold. I haven’t eaten in days. Please Father. Please help me. I don’t know if I can bear to see any more of what she is showing me. I need you to get her out of me. Please hurry.”
This letter wasn’t signed at the bottom. He never really got a chance to finish it. Green took a deep breath.
“What is that?” Warren peered over his shoulder.
“It’s another letter, more gibberish about a ghost. I guess you’re right, he did go crazy.”
Officer Green and Officer Perry returned to the station. Officer Perry immediately went to the coffee pot to get another one started. Officer Green went to his desk first. He searched for all open cases between 1850 and 1920. There were two about a girl named Rose but he knew exactly which case he was looking for. It was difficult to read as the document he found was a police report that had been scanned into the computer. The writing was messy and the ink was uneven. From what he could decipher, a girl named Rose Walker disappeared December 17th, 1897, never to be seen again. What struck him as odd was that she was reported missing by her teacher, not her father.
Green grabbed another coffee before returning to the interrogation room with Father McKenzie. Neither of them said a word for about a minute. Officer Green just stared at him and he stared right back.
“Tell me what happened when you got to Eric Young’s house.” Officer Green said, trying to keep his tone even and not stutter.
“I’ve already told you, you won’t believe me.”
“I believe you. I believe you now.” He looked Father McKenzie dead in the eyes in an attempt to convey how serious he was.
“Alright… Here’s the truth. When I arrived at Eric’s house, he never came to the door. It was unlocked so I went inside. Everything was a mess, as you’ve seen. I could hear groaning and mumbling mixed in with occasional screaming coming from the bathroom. I knew I didn’t have much time so I rushed over there and flung open the door. Eric was lying on the ground, gnawing on his own ankle. I could tell that the spirit had taken full control of him now and I had to act quickly. I got out my bible, my cross and my holy water. I had to hold him down with one arm while I held my bible with the other hand. Eric started to come back but he was utterly petrified. I tried to calm him down but he just kept screaming. ‘What have you done to me?’ He kept saying. That’s when he began to scratch at his eyes. I had to look away. I immediately called 911. I didn’t think there was anything else I could do for him.”
Officer Green leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. “You’re free to go,” He stated blankly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re no longer a suspect. It’s been concluded that Eric Young went mad and killed himself.”
“But you know that’s not entirely what happened.”
“I know. And you know. But as far as anyone else is concerned, he went mad and killed himself. I don’t think anyone else will believe the story even if they read the letters. Even if someone does, no one in their right mind would blame a death on ghosts in a police report.”
“That is true.” Both men began to stand up and head for the door, Officer Green leading the way. “Officer?”
Officer Green turned around to face him, turning the knob and pulling the door open a few inches. “Yes, Father?”
Father McKenzie extended his hand to Officer Green. Officer Green smiled slightly, pressing his lips together. He reached out to shake his hand.
“I’m sorry, Officer.”
Green’s eyes widened as Father McKenzie quickly grabbed onto his hand. He tried to pry his hand off of him, finger by finger, but his grip was too tight. Father McKenzie stared right into Green’s eyes, tears beginning to well up. Green’s hand began to get cold, his fingers started to turn white, numbness began to creep up to his wrist.
“I’m so sorry.”