Oh my! A crowd of Spooky Boo’s! LOL Check out this great band. I love punk music and I was so excited to see their masks. The idea really had nothing to do with me at all, but I still think it was a great idea. It is setup more to be a bunch of spooks (aka CIA, spies).
Go buy their album at iTunes! The link is in on the side here.
My first recollection of things being amiss was within the first week of our relocation to the house, in late March to early April 2001. My parents had left for the store to purchase cleaning products (the house was disgusting when we moved in) and I decided to stay behind and explore my new home. It was the largest house I had ever lived in at that point, and the only house I’ve ever lived in to feature a full attic and basement.
Being a meek 12 year old girl, I couldn’t reach the pull cord for the attic, so I turned my explorations to the basement. The finished portion of the basement was musty, if unremarkable. Behind a clear shower curtain lay the unfinished portion. Chiefly, it was a boiler room. However, on the eastern wall, there was a small area boarded up with plywood. I wrapped upon the wood and found that it was hollow behind it.
I didn’t know when to expect my parents home, and I figured that I’d need time and preparation to explore the area behind the wood. When I made my way back up the stairs to the door connecting my bedroom to the basement, I found that the door had been locked from the outside. Do note, the locks on the door were comprised of two deadbolts and one latch. After fidgeting with the door for a few moments, I resolved to simply exit through the basement door leading outside and wait for my parents to return home. I believed, at the time, that they had locked me in the basement as a practical joke. As time wore on, I wasn’t so sure.
The following weekend, I decided to wake up long before anyone else—at roughly 5:00 a. m. to explore the basement. I dressed in thick, warm clothing, boots, a hat, and a pair of heavy duty masonry gloves. The plywood was in an advanced state of dry rot, so I was able to pull it free of its moorings with relative ease. I carefully sat it aside, as to make as little noise as possible, and took out my headlamp.
Looking into the void, I saw that the “tunnel” extended quite a ways—in fact, it extended beyond the point of the house itself. I tied a handkerchief around my nose and mouth to prevent breathing as much dust as possible and began my journey. Most of the crawl was uneventful, and, as such, I returned to the start of the “tunnel” after a few hours. The tunnel was much longer than I had anticipated and I would need a lot more time to traverse it fully. As I had neglected to bring a time-piece of any kind, I had no indication of how much time had passed.
When summer break began, I conducted daily sojourns into the dreaded “Dirty Part”, as I had dubbed it. Over time, I found various things buried under the dirt. They would vary from clothing to children’s toys. I thought little of it—the house was old and had had many inhabitants prior to us—I figured that perhaps a previous tenet had stored boxes in there, the boxes had disintegrated, and the clothing and toys had simply become buried.
However, the more things I found, the more frequent there would be “happenings”. At first, they were minor things: my stereo turning itself off and on, my VCR recording random things while I slept, alarms going off, etc. I attributed this to interference from the nearby police-call station and left it at that. My father would soon join me in my explorations of the new house—but his attention was drawn to the attic.
In the living room, directly under the attic, there was a curious stain in the shape of a human pelvis and legs. The odd shape intrigued us both greatly, so we decided that the two of us would explore the attic in hopes of finding its source.
No sooner had we entered the attic, the kitchen stove’s timer “went off”, and the two of us gave up on our adventure in the attic. Worth noting is that the stove’s timer did not work and did not go off again. After that, my father decided that he would not be joining in any further explorations of our domicile.
When I returned to school, I was in seventh grade—a “Middle Schooler” at that point, and became more interested in hanging out with my friends instead of exploring a musty basement (though the basement—the finished potion, at least, had become the “hang out” of my friends and I–primarily because there was a refrigerator and half-bathroom down there, as well as a cable connection). Things were quiet for a time, and I thought no more of the previous goings-on.
It was not until I was 14 that I began to notice a sudden increase in odd things. My father and I started seeing small animals; solid black and the size and shape of guinea pigs, wander the hallway. Every day, at roughly the same time, my parents’ bedroom door would slowly open, then, just as slowly, close; the door knob turning each time. This piqued my interest, and I decided to resume my explorations.
Now, two years older, I once again braved the tunnel. I wore old clothing, a surgical mask, thick gloves, and a headlamp and braved the long dark. I crawled for what felt like miles on my hands and knees until I caught a strange shimmer in the dark. Curious, I made my way towards it. When I reached the object of my determination, I found that it was a bleach-white human skull. With a little digging, I was able to pull it from the dirt that surrounded it.
Examining it, I found that the mandible was missing, and most of the maxilla had been broken. The remaining teeth were clean—free of cavities, that is, and lacked the smoothness that the teeth of an older person might have. I figured that the skull belonged to someone who was rather young. Turning the skull over in my hands, I found a one-inch diameter hole in the right occiput, near to the right temporal. In my fear, I dropped the skull and fled as quickly as I could—back to the safety and light of my house proper. I never spoke a word to my parents of my macabre discovery.
Shortly after this discovery, I started noticing more bestial entities—primarily a solid black dog, roughly the size of a Doberman Pincher. At first, it was only out of the corner of my eye. When I would turn to look, it would vanish. I tried to ignore it, but eventually, it became so brazen as to stand plain before me, staring. When I would approach it, it would flee and vanish if I gave chase.
My new canine friend wasn’t the only disturbance, once again, my stereo would turn itself on and off, switch randomly between radio stations, and play random tracks from random loaded CDs (it was a 3-disk changer). My VCR would, again, record various things—some of them completely unidentifiable, and would fail to record what I had programmed it to record (much to my dismay). I stopped using my stereo, and began using my “jam box”—a small CD player, tape deck, and radio combination. All was well with it, and my VCR seemed to “calm down”, that is, until the night that I dubbed “The Night that All Hell Broke Loose”.
I had finished listening to a Dave Matthew’s Band album, and was going off to sleep, when I noticed that the “jam box” wouldn’t turn off. I thought that perhaps it was just a malfunction, and went to unplug it. Still, music played. I opened the back to check if there were batteries and found the battery compartment bereft of batteries.
Thoroughly rattled, I opened the basement door and threw the “jam box” down the stairs into the darkness, then quickly slammed the door shut, fastened all locks, and jammed a chair under the door handle. At that point, I refused to even go into the basement—even for a moment. I mistakenly believed that if I ignored the happenings and “steered clear” of the basement, that things would “quiet down”. However, I was sorely mistaken.
Summer break was drawing a close, and for the new school year, I wanted to “go back in style” so my mother bought me new clothes, took me to the salon to get my hair done, and bought me a watch I had been wanting. I was rather proud of my new watch—square face, black leather band with silver studs and a silver buckle. I rarely took it off.
One evening, as I lay on my bed, I glanced at my prize and found that the watch was running backwards. Horrified, I tore the timepiece from my wrist and threw, it too, into the accursed basement. I had had just about enough of these events. I decided that I was going to ignore it—pretend like it wasn’t there—completely fail to acknowledge its existence.
As one could imagine, this plan did not work. I started noticing that, at exactly three a.m., there would come heavy, plodding stomps up the basement stairs that would always stop just short of the adjoining door. Still, I decided to continue my campaign. Evidently, this only served to frustrate the entity.
It would continue like this for many more months: 3 o’clock a.m–STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, then silence. Since it was still summer break, my mother promised me that if I were to clean my room, then my best friend could stay the night. Excited, I complied and stayed up far past my “bed time” cleaning.
So engrossed in my endeavor was I, that I hadn’t noticed the time. As I was cleaning the “Vanity” (which was connected to the adjoining door), the stomps started. I sat, stock still, my back braced against the door. The room fell silent, then, just as I was beginning to feel safe, there came a hard bashing against the door—hard enough to break one of the two dead-bolts, one hinge, and the latch.
It would continue on like that for the months until the disturbances reached their zenith. As I lay one night, staring at the ceiling, I noticed a strange pressure on my bed. I figured that perhaps a cat had found its way into my room, and shrugged it off. Then, before I could react, I was restrained. My entire body was paralyzed, I could not see, hear, speak, or breathe. Panic took over me, and, with no small effort on my part, I managed to gurgle out: “Jesus, please help me…” and the darkness released me. Fortunately, we moved shortly after that.
For my dream show I am starting a secondary podcast that is directly related to true paranormal experiences so you can call in for future shows. We’ll see how this works. It might need a different website. 🙂
Back in 1903, deep in Clifton, there used to be an asylum buried deep within the wilderness of Clifton. Pretty soon after the civil war people started inhabiting the area, population-wise around three hundred or so. It was a very small town. Nonetheless people didn’t like the idea of having an asylum miles down the road, so they all got together and signed a petition for the asylum to relocate elsewhere. The petition passed and a new asylum was built, which is now known as “Lorton Prison”, a temporary facility for convicts to stay in until they are appropriately sentenced.
In the autumn of 1904, the convicts were gathered and piled into the bus, used to transport them to Lorton. Somewhere during the drive not too far from where they left, the driver had swerved to avoid something and the bus had started to tip, and soon was rolling in a terrible collision course.
Most of the convicts were injured, but managed to escape the bus and had fled into the night towards the woods. The next morning, a local police investigation had begun, and they begun rounding up the escaped convicts. Hours turned into days, days into weeks, weeks into months. Everyone was recovered after four months- except for two people, named Marcus A. Wallster and Douglas J. Grifon. During the search for both men, the police found dead rabbits, all of them half-eaten and dismembered, every now and then along their search.
Finally, they were to find Marcus dead by the Fairfax station Bridge (now known as Bunny Man’s Bridge). In his hand, he held a man-made hammer/knife like tool, made with a sharp rock and a sturdy branch as a handle. They thought nothing of it, and didn’t care how he died, only that he was apprehended and they no longer had to worry about him. They had a name for Marcus, but later on they would realize they had named the wrong person the Bunny Man.
Still searching for Douglas, they kept on finding dead half-eaten rabbits every so often while the search went on. Eventually, they were to name Douglas the “Bunny Man” from then on.
Months passed by and the police gave up their search. Everybody assumed the Bunny Man was dead by now, if not gone, so they went on with their small town lives. Come October, people started seeing dead bunnies reappearing out of the blue, and starting to fear the unseen.
Halloween Night came around, and as usual, a bunch of kids had gone over to the Bridge that night to drink and do whatever kids their age in the early twentieth century did. Midnight came around within minutes, and most of the kids had left. Only three of them remained at the bridge.
Exactly at midnight, a bright light came from the bridge, right where the kids were. A few seconds later, they were all dead. Throats slashed with that same type of tool that was found next to the other escapee, Marcus. Not only were their throats slashed, but they were cut up and down their chests, gutted like fish. The Bunny Man then hung both of the boys from one end of a bridge with rope around their necks, hanging from the overpass with their legs dangling in view of any passing cars.
The girl was hung the same way, on the other side of the bridge. This happened on Halloween in 1905. After that, they didn’t see or hear anything from him for another year.
Halloween 1906 was approaching, and parents as well as the teens in Clifton still remember the incident that had occurred one year ago at the bridge- his bridge, the Bunny Man’s Bridge.
That night, seven teens were left remaining right before midnight at the bridge. Thinking little of it, six remained inside the bridge while one, Adrian Hatala had remained a good distance from the bridge hoping to have enough time to escape if the same thing happened again. She was the only one to witness this, a dim light walking the railroad track just before midnight, stopping right above the bridge at midnight, then disappearing at the same time that a bright flash was inside the bridge. She heard the deafening sounds of terrified screaming coming from inside the bridge that lasted only seconds. Moments later, they were all hung from the edge of the bridge, in the same way as the corpses a year earlier.
Horrified, she ran home, and refused to tell all of what she saw, just spattered words mixed with incoherent mumblings that the people of her town had to put together to come up with her story. No one understood it or believed her. They charged her with the teen’s murders, and locked her up in the Asylum of Lorton. In 1913, the same thing happened- with nine teenagers this time, on a Halloween night once again.
Adrian was still locked up. They dropped her sentence, but it was too late. The insanity had finally conquered her. Even if she was released, she was too far gone to have a life, so she spent her remaining years in the asylum until she finally died in 1953 of reported shock.
No one knows what exactly she died of shock from, but supposedly she had died in her sleep, dreaming of that one dreaded night. Perhaps the Bunny Man had finally gotten to her.
More murders were to take place however, although after the murders in 1913, most people stayed clear of the bridge on Halloween.
1943 rolls around and six teenagers go strolling out on Halloween night. A couple hours later, all of them dead, same way as all the others. Investigations took place, but as usual nothing was discovered.
1976, the same situation occurs, this time with only three people.
The only other incident that occurred since then was in 1987, twelve years ago. Janet Charletier was enjoying the night with her four friends. Halloween night had finally come, and they had gone driving out to enjoy the night after invading the children’s candy bags. They had settled around eleven PM at the bridge, waiting for midnight to come. They didn’t believe in the myth so they decided to see it for themselves, and were to be the only ones who actually withstood the Bunny Man. They had waited around an hour or so, so it was nearly midnight, when Janet started getting a little scared. They all had been pulling pranks on each other, (jumping out the bushes and screaming), so she was already a little worked up. Midnight hits, and by this stage she is in a total panic.
She’s almost out of the bridge when the lights get really bright inside. When that happens, her body is halfway outside of the bridge. She sees her skin start tearing at her chest but nothing is piercing her skin. She manages finally to leave the bridge. Completely horrified, she hits a hanging body and knocks herself out.
When she awakens, she discovers that she has been bleeding. She was lucky that the cut had just started, and wasn’t very bad at all. She left and never returned to the bridge again.
She has been seen sitting on a swinging bench on her balcony every morning just staring in the direction towards the bridge a couple of miles down. From then on, the story remains untouched and unmoved.
The dusk air was clogged with the scents of deep fried food, the air clouded with the exclamations of hundreds of happy carnival goers as they sped through rides with reckless abandon. It was the perfect evening, The joyous atmosphere filling the hearts and minds of everyone there with enough fun to last until their next adventure. I couldn’t help but smile my brightest, widest grin.
It was the season of carnivals, fairs and outdoor festivals. The sweet smell of cotton candy washed over the land like a flash flood. The bright emerald of my eyes swept over the masses, spying large over stuffed animals bobbing through the crowd as children and adults alike totted their prizes through the fair grounds. Everyone here, tonight, was a child at heart. Including myself.
Spying one of my favorite carnival treats, the fun house, I giddily trotted over towards the old converted trailer in search of those infamous mirrors and cheap pranks. My friends had all gone in search of their favorite greasy fair delicacies, leaving me to my own devices. While I disliked going on most of the rides by my lonesome, I could more then handle the various mysteries inside the funhouse. After all, they were mostly geared to scare children. Most of them I had seen a million times, and at most, provided me a chuckle or two. Once in a while something would jump out and startle me, but even then the prank was met with laughter. It was a fun house after all!
I dug a few tickets from my pocket, taking inventory as I read the sign outside the old trailer. A young Hispanic man stood by the door, his smile only broke by a sip from his fresh ice cold lemonade he held in his right hand. As people entered, he would smile and nod, placing their tickets in his pocket. It was five tickets to enter, I had exactly seven. What a fine way to end my magical night at the fair!
Passing the little light blue squares of paper off to the vendor, I merrily stepped up the stairs and into the dark interior of the large refurbished trailer. I had to blink a few times to adjust my eyes to the light. Pausing for just a moment, I pulled the length of my long red hair back over my shoulders and secured it with the purple hair tie from my left wrist. I was ready to have some fun, all by my lonesome.
As I began down the tiny dark corridor, I could hear the echos of the people who entered before me chuckling and squealing. I heard a couple up ahead, the woman giggling like a school girl after her boyfriend (Or male counterpart I should say instead of making assumptions) let out a frightened cry. I quietly uttered a chuckle. Men usually seemed to be the biggest chickens when it comes to these types of thrills!
As I rounded the first dark corner, I was met with my first scare. An old prop of a hanging man flew out from the way, it’s limbs flailing about limply from the sudden jolt that had forced it from its place in the wall. I jumped, my body flooded with an anxious tingling that seemed to dissipate out through my fingers and toes. I chuckled, pushing the dummy aside as I headed further into the fun house. There was something odd, as my fingers had pushed against the prop, it had felt slightly warm and gooey. Great effects! Perhaps they had actually put some effort into things this year!
After another couple feet, a ghastly glowing sheet came flying across the ceiling accompanied by the familiar ghostly sounds Halloween had made famous. My green sights followed the sheet until it disappeared into a back wall. Without a second thought I made my way further down the hall. Before long I came to another corridor, my face almost meeting the black wall rather abruptly if not for my toes hitting the painted card board. I blinked, squinting for a moment to gather my bearings again. It was easy to get lost in places like this, the black interior and lack of lighting leaving you disorientated and easier to spook.
Before I had time to recover from my encounter with the wall, there was a horrifying shriek, followed by another cheap prop dislodging from the wall. I let out a squeal of surprise, falling back onto the floor as the dummy swung back and forth in front of me. It had several flashing green LED lights scatted around it in odd places. I chuckled as I plucked myself back up off the floor. I gave my butt a rub or two, my cheek’s a little sore from the tumble. It was nothing big, especially not compared to the thrills I was getting this time around!
I started off again, the dummy having the same warm gooey texture as the last. This time, however, my fingers came away wet. I frowned a bit as I wiped them off on my jeans. Probably glue from those little dollar store LED lights. Perhaps the vendor could offer me some wet wipes after wards. It would only be right, since it was their sloppiness that had caused it.
There were several more props that dislodged from the dark walls, their little trap doors squeaking as they popped open to spit out some thrills. Various pained cries, shrieks and halloween sound effects echoed through the halls. I couldn’t hear any more people in the trailer, they must of all made it out already. I was having a blast, my voice bouncing through the darkness with chuckles and squeals. I hadn’t thought twice about the grotesque creativity used in the props, most of the dummies appearing rather lifelike in the dark. To me, they were simply an improvement to the same old funhouse sh-peal. It was nice to see (and feel) some effort being put into this carnival classic.
After about five minutes I came to a door, my hands finding the knob before I even realized what was in front of me. I attempted to turn it, but it wouldn’t budge. Frowning, I furrowed my brow in frustration. Removing my attention from the door, I felt my way around the hallway around me, running my fingers along the black walls. There didn’t seem to be another way through. Maybe it was just jammed!
I leaned my body into the door, my hands furled as tightly as they could around the little handle. I noticed something strange when I pressed up against the door. There was a low mechanical hum coming from behind the door. I paused, pressing my ear to the black entryway as I listened intently for any other sounds. Perhaps it was the generator outside that powered the entire fun house. Shrugging it off, I lofted a little sigh of disappointment as I realized the door was going to budge. I’d take a wrong turn, obviously. Prepared to turn around and shuffle my way back to find the correct path, I slipped in something wet on the floor. Immediately my stomach churned as my mind raced to assumptions. Urgh. Someone had probably thrown up in here, either from fear or intoxication and I’d just stepped in it! Disgust rushed through me, quickly dispelling the happy vibe that had followed me around all evening. What a great way to end the night.
Now focusing more on my surroundings I began to notice a smell. It didn’t reek of vomit, but rather it was a bitter, metallic smell. Oil from the generator? No, it was a little different. More bittersweet. I scrunched my nose before heading back down the corridor. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter I had to be close to the end by now. I had a sudden desire to go find my friends and head back home for the night. My fun had been ruined by someone else’s bad luck. At least I wasn’t the only one who had wandered down the wrong tunnel.
Dragging my fingers along the walls, I searched for another passage. It only took a moment or two before my fingers slid around a corner to my right. I don’t know how I managed to miss it before, but I hurried turned the corner. My face smacked right into another prop as I rounded the corner. I shrieked with the sudden shock, my body instinctively falling back away from whatever it was I had just ran into. As I glanced up towards the source of the thrill, several LED lights flickered on and off behind it, one of those cheap Halloween sound effects blaring in the back ground. What I saw in those few short lived green flashes horrified me. This time I got a good look at the dummy, almost every last inch of its frame covered in what looked like blood. From the chest down into the stomach cavity was torn open, fresh sausage looking guts poured out onto the floor. It hung suspended by its neck from the ceiling. As I sat there on the floor, another bright green flash erupted behind it. It was then that true terror struck me. Terrified eyes rolled down towards me, peering down directly into my own. That was no dummy!
Completely encompassed by the sudden onset of fear, my body went into over drive. As my limbs began to flail beneath me in an attempt to get up, I began to slip on blood that had pooled on the floor. My heart beat feverishly against the walls of my chest, my breathing flying out of control as I began to drown in my own panic. All those dummies… Those props! They were real! I began to whimper as it all began to sink in. Digging my heals down into the floor the best I could, I pushed myself back, crab walking back down the corridor in search of an exit. Loosing track of time, I crawled back frantically through the dark hallway for what seemed like forever until I felt it was safe to turn around. I wanted out of that freakish house of horrors immediately. That was no fun house!
Rolling around onto all fours, I became horribly aware of the racket I was making. How long had I been whimpering? Had someone heard me? Paralyzing fear threatened to break down the door to my subconscious as I crawled on all fours back the way I had come. I needed to get out of here, immediately. Whoever was killing people might still be in there and I didn’t want to meet them!
At long last I saw a brightening of the black heavy duty cardboard walls of the “fun house”. I gasped a sigh of relief, hot tears beginning to pour down my face as I hurried towards the exit. Sunlight became more apparent as I crawled, its weak last rays fighting for its life against the twilight. There was shuffling behind me now in the corridor, and a low scraping sound. I whimpered loudly, my voice jagged with pure horror. I was almost out of this place!
At last I reached the door way from which I had entered. Throwing my hands out the door, I curled my fingers over the door jam to thrust myself forward and on down the stairs. As my body rolled out onto the grass, a loud cry of frustration echoed from inside the trailer. I didn’t waste any time, rolling onto my stomach and pushing myself up onto my feet. Again my emerald eyes rolled along the crowd, their terrified faces gawking at me as I rose to my full height. I didn’t wait, I didn’t stop. Breaking out into tears, I pushed through the crowd, leaving bloody hand prints on t-shirts and bare shoulders. I wanted to get out of there right now.
When I finally found my friends, they all gathered around me in an effort to comfort my trembling frame. By then I was uncontrollably crying, my salty tears leaving streaks in the bright red blood from the fun house. Security had already been called, and it took them very little time to find me. They had stormed the fun house, quickly discovering the grisly remains of eleven people. The culprit had yet to be found, but they were scouring the grounds as they questioned me. I only half listened, the crowd of hundreds of people and their over sized stuffed animals suddenly terrified me. One of them, any one of them, could have been the culprit.
On Halloween of 1988, six teenage boys ventured into a tunnel on a local railroad. Only one escaped with his life and a photo. What resulted from that innocent venture was a two-year period of unexplained murders which killed off a good ten percent of my small town’s population. To this day, no one knows the true fate of the five boys and the reason behind the murders that lasted until the fall of 1990, except for me. I’m the lone survivor of the six who encountered The Wanderer on the Tracks on that dark Halloween of 1988. It was supposed to be a simple dare, nothing to it.
Everyone had heard of how, every Halloween, people head into the tunnel and never come out. We all thought it was bullshit. Then again, we were only fourteen, and not very well learned in the way of the paranormal. All we expected was just some crazy dude in a bed sheet. However, what we found was much worse. And what we did made the outcome ten times worse than it could’ve been. I guess that “curiosity killed the cat” really fits when remembering this story. It was me (Steve), John, Andy, George, Bill, and Fred. Explaining our choice of costume is irrelevant. However, let us note that we all brought flashlights and Andy had brought a bucket to collect candy in. Foolish Andy. I remember your death so vividly it haunts my dreams to this very day – and she does, too.
But not for long.
We all had dinner at John’s house, as it was closest to the tunnel. After that, we played some Super Mario Bros. on his NES to pass time until it was dark. When it was, we all departed to complete the dare we so foolishly accepted. I carried a Polaroid to show everyone what was really in the tunnel. We left when it was considerably dark outside. Most of the dads were parading their seven year olds up and down the street getting candy before it got really dark. There had recently been some kidnappings in the area, but we didn’t expect to meet the suspect, so we thought we would be safe.
With each step towards the tunnel it seemed as if it got darker, and when we arrived there, it was pitch black, and it was pretty much only us and the older trick-or-treaters outside. We all stopped at the entrance of the tunnel for a moment, realizing that we may not make it out alive. After waiting one more moment, we hesitantly stepped inside, turning on all of our flashlights. No one really wanted to do this. We felt this more and more as we went deeper into the tunnel. It was weird though; usually a tunnel ended around 500 feet, but it seemed like this one went on for miles.
We went on for what I want to say was another three-thousand feet. That’s when we saw it. At the time, we had no idea what it was. If I had a choice, I would wish that I never found out what it was and what it did.
“The fuck is that?” Bill asked, half-whispering to the rest of us. What we saw looked like a girl that had covered herself in dark paint or make up and had on a plain old nightgown. She was holding what looked like a rod, or staff. Her back was facing us.
“Beats me,” Andy shrugged. “Hey!” he yelled at the thing before throwing the bucket at it. It clanged off of the creature and rolled to the right of the track. Suddenly, it made the most gruesome noise in the world as its head rotated 180 degrees to stare back at us. I hastily took out my Polaroid and shot a picture of it. I put away the camera and shook the developing picture before putting it inside my pocket.
Everyone was frozen in place looking at the creature, seemingly paralyzed. Soon, the creature lifted the rod and threw it at Andy. It was horrifying and amazing, seeing it throw what we now KNEW was a spear with such dexterity, as well as doing it backwards. The spear struck Andy in the chest, dead center in the sternum. His ribcage collapsed and blood sprayed from the entry and the exit. His spine snapped, and he crumpled to the ground. The blood splattered spear was stuck in the ground a good forty feet behind us. It was only a moment before we actually thought to run. We didn’t even try to save Andy. I turned my head and saw the creature ripping open his chest, tearing muscle and organs apart as our dying counterpart screamed in his death throes. It seemed like the creature wanted to separate flesh from bone, as that is exactly what it had done. Andy’s flesh and innards were scattered around his skeleton in a pool of his blood. It was coming for the rest of us now.
Bill was the next one it caught, eviscerating him in the same manner as it did to Andy. Then she got George, and then Fred. It was me and John left. The creature was so close we could feel its putrid breath on our necks. We both heard its demonic growls and screeches as we just barely escaped its furious grabs for our costumes. We kept on running even though the lactic acid had built up so much in our arms and legs, and our breath was ragged, and we were so damn tired.
Soon, we saw the end of the tunnel. Somehow, it was morning, which was so illogical, but John and I were both happy to see the light of day. Suddenly, I heard a trip and stumble. John had fucking tripped. We were outside of the tunnel, and he tripped. I didn’t even need to turn my head to know he would be gored and gutted. I ran a safe distance away behind some trees near my house. His screams echoed through the neighborhood and awoke several families, wandering outside to see what was happening. Everyone who went outside all saw the creature as it tore apart John. When it was done, it swept its eyes across the shocked citizens of my small town and let out a deafening roar that no man or animal could create. It then dashed back inside the tunnel, and everyone ran inside their homes, including me.
For two years after that, the people who saw the creature were found disemboweled and skinned in their homes. Some people tried to move, but I heard them say it was like they were chained here. The creature was holding everyone here, keeping everyone who had seen it captive in this town. I’m the last surviving person who saw the Wanderer on the Tracks, and my time is coming soon. How did I last this long? I don’t know. I bet its teasing me, torturing me, making me shit my pants every time I turn a corner. It’s taken a hold of my life and I can no longer function like other people.
I can no longer go out in the dark. My windows are always closed, the blinds always down, the doors always locked. I’ve tried to kill myself multiple times, but I can’t. It won’t let me. Recently, I’ve been hearing the dying screams of my dying friends. I’ve heard a bucket clanging from outside my window. Tapping on my front door at night. It’s a sign.
My great-aunt had died the year before. Her house was locked up in probate until issues of inheritance were settled. My father was acting as caretaker of the property, which meant I took care of the place while my old man bought booze with my great-aunt’s money. I didn’t mind; it got me out of my place, away from my old man, and it made a nice place to have parties and hang out with my friends. My friend Chris loved the place. I think he also needed a place to hide, somewhere away from his own house with all of his dead mother’s things lying around, right where she left them, before a sleep-deprived truck driver snuffed out her life like a candle on a store-bought birthday cake.
Our big plan was to host a Halloween party, just for our small group of friends. Chris quickly latched onto the idea of having a seance, and spent a lot of his time at the library, or at some of the local used book stores, researching. I told him it was no big deal, that it was just a stupid party trick, but he insisted on getting it ‘right’. I guess Chris was messed up about his mother’s death. I should have thought about that, about why he was so concerned with contacting the dead, but he didn’t talk about her very much, and as I’ve said before, I was stupid. There are things that happen when you are nineteen that stay with you. You don’t think they will, but they do. If that’s not the definition of haunted, I don’t know what is.
I met Chris as he was walking back from the dollar store that evening. He was carrying several bags of Halloween candy, some chips and a few bottles of soda. He climbed into my car, and I drove us on to the house. He dumped the candy into a large plastic bowl, and smacked my hand when I tried to filch some. “That’s for the trick-or-treaters, jerk,” he said. As the afternoon faded into evening, the trick-or-treaters did show up, giggling in their Spiderman and Incredible Hulk masks. I doled out candy, while Chris ordered pizza and set up the food on the kitchen table.
Pete, Liz, and Sophia arrived by eight. I was excited that Sophia had shown up; I had been crushing on her for months, but at six four, one forty, and bright red, curly hair, I looked like a scarecrow that tried to dress up like Ronald McDonald. Sophia was tiny, cool, beautiful, with jet black hair and skin that may have never seen sunlight. She was my secret reason for having the party. I didn’t stand a chance, but a guy could hope. Liz was Pete’s longtime girlfriend. She was almost as tall as me, with a shaved head, several piercings, and full sleeve tattoos on both arms. I’m pretty smart, but Liz was a genius. She aced every exam without trying, and was taking college level classes in ninth grade. We had been friends for several years, and had shared several classes at high school until she dropped out halfway through twelfth grade. The vice principal told her in no uncertain terms that she would not allow a “tattooed freak” like Liz to represent the school as the Valedictorian. Liz broke the woman’s jaw in two places, and that was pretty much it for Liz’s public education.
Pete was wrecked when he walked through the door. I had been friends with Pete since we were toddlers; his mother had worked with mine at the same hospital, before my mother left town. I loved Pete like he was a brother, but he had several bad habits, self-destruction being high on the list. He nodded his hello, then staggered to the cabinet where my great-aunt kept her liquor, and liberated a bottle of peach schnapps. By nine, Pete had retired to the monstrous old red couch in the living room, cold cloth over his eyes and a bucket by his side.
“Why’s he over-indulging?” I asked Liz, as we shoved the furniture out of the way. Chris and Sophia rolled up the large area rug, exposing the hardwood floor beneath.
“Failed his driver’s license exam,” Liz said, rolling her eyes.
“Again?” Chris said, brushing his thick brown hair out of his eyes. “This is what, his fifth time to take it? I thought they just gave it to you out of pity after five tries.”
“At least he didn’t vomit blueberry pancakes on the instructor’s shoes, like he did last time,” Sophia said.
The heavy old grandfather clock in the living room bonged ten times. Chris stood up. “OK everybody, let’s get started.” Liz tried to get Pete to join us, but he was fast asleep. Chris returned to the room carrying a large wooden box. He opened the box, and removed a small jar of salt, and several candles. He motioned for us to sit in a circle, and he poured the salt in a double ring around us. He poured another, smaller double ring a few feet away, in front of the fireplace. He then carefully taped down several pieces of paper, onto which he had previously drawn strange geometric symbols. I took the candles and positioned them at points around the circles, then lit them with my Zippo.
Chris motioned for us all to sit within the larger circle. He dimmed the lights and joined us. We took our positions around a small wooden tool box. The circle was small. When Sophia sat next to me, her knee touched mine. I tried to concentrate on something other than her perfume. Chris folded open the top, and removed a metal bowl, which he placed onto a metal stand. He pulled some pieces of wood from the box, put them in the bowl, and lit them. He pulled a fabric-shrouded object from the box, and placed it in front of him. The dark cloth revealed a book bound in black leather, and when Chris opened the yellowed pages, instead of being brittle, they turned with an odd ease. Chris flipped through the pages, and when he stopped, the sallow pages lay slackly open, without a hint of curling. He began a low chant, in a singsong rhythm. While chanting, Chris dropped wads of dried herbs into the metal bowl. Heavy, acrid yellow smoke billowed up, stinging our eyes.
“Ancient spirits,” Chris said, as we stared at him with rapt attention, “Ancient spirits, hear us. We beseech you. Ancient spirits, hear our call. Ancient spirits, answer us. Ancient spirits, come to us. Ancient spirits, the way is open. Ancient spirits, take this offering, and come to us.” Chris ran a scalpel, a scalpel that none of us had seen, across the palm of his hand. Liza recoiled in shock. The blood sizzled as it met the flames in the bowl.
“Jesus, Chris!” Sophia said. He shushed her with a glare.
“Ancient spirits!” Chris called. “Hear us! The way is open! Answer our—”
The doorbell chimed.
We all jumped, including Chris. The doorbell chimed again. Through the door, we heard muffled voices. “Trick or treat!”
Sophia huffed and rolled her eyes. “The ancient spirits are here, and they want candy. I thought you turned off the porch light?” She stood up, and walked to the door. She flipped on the porch light, and opened the door. Two little kids were standing there, both dressed like witches, with pointy hats and green masks. They giggled, shoved their widespread pillowcase sacks towards Sophia, and yelled “Trick or treat!” at the tops of their lungs. Sophia looked around for the candy dish, then saw it on the kitchen table. It was empty, save for some wrappers.
“Sorry kids. We’re all out. That’s what it means when the porch light’s off.”
The kids looked at each other for a moment. “Can we come inside for a minute, ma’am? My sister really has to go to the bathroom.” Sophia nodded, and stood aside as two little pointy witch hats bobbed past. As the shorter of the pair went to the bathroom, the taller stood near the couch, next to Pete. She said nothing, and was very still. I found myself sneaking glances at her mask. It seemed far too elaborate for a child’s mask, and the black pits that hid her eyes seemed to drink in the light.
There was a crash from the hallway leading to the bathroom. Chris and I jumped to our feet, and ran to see what had happened. The smaller of the two children kneeling at the entrance to the hallway. “I’m really sorry. I broke the mirror on the wall. My hat is too big and it must have caught the frame. I tripped. I can’t see where I’m going.” She tilted her head down, and began to cry, softly.
“It’s just a cheap old mirror,” Chris said. He extended a hand — his cut hand, I thought to myself, without knowing why — and pulled her up. “It’s getting late. Your parents must be worried.”
“Yes, it’s almost midnight. Sister, we should be going.” We turned to see the sister leaning over Pete’s sleeping form, green mask pressed close to his ear.
“Hey, what are you doing to Pete?” Liza said. She stood and walked towards the taller child.
“He was sleeping,” the taller witch said, shrugging. Her rubbery, pointed green nose bobbled. “I was telling him to have sweet dreams.”
The two children left, clutching their pillowcase sacks and jostling each other as they walked down the sidewalk. I watched them go, and as I saw them turn the corner, I think that I may have seen them both take turns licking at the smaller one’s hand.
We shut off the lights, bolted the front door, and re-lit a few candles that had gone out. Chris picked up his book again as we rejoined him inside the salt circle. “Ancient spirits, hear us!” he cried. “Ancient spirits, we call you. Ancient spirits, hear our call. Ancient spirits, answer us!” The old grandfather clock began to toll, the first of twelve. Chris sprinkled more sage into the redly-glowing metal bowl. “Ancient spirits, we beseech you!”
A candle went out.
Sophia snorted, and put her hand on mine. My heart slammed to a stop — then I realized that she was only trying to pull the Zippo I had been fidgeting with out of my hand. She winked, then reached over to light the candle. Another candle went out. And another. The room was plunged into a murky darkness, only lit from the flickers of the coals in the metal bowl. “O-ok,” said Chris, with only a slight tremor to his voice. “The ancient spirits have heard our call and have responded.” He shifted slightly, and closed the box. On the top of the box was an ornate inlay of letters and numbers, in the style of an Ouija board. Chris drew a small white planchette from his shirt pocket, and beckoned for us to place our hands upon it. We moved the planchette on the board in small, slow circles. “Ancient spirits, are you here with us?”
Something crashed in the kitchen.
I made as if to get up, and Chris motioned for me to stop. “Don’t leave the circle,” he said. “Stay inside the circle. Never break it. Nothing can harm you if you don’t cross the boundary.” We placed our hands back on the planchette.
“Ancient spirits, are you here with us?” Chris asked again. The planchette slowly moved to a corner. YES. Boards creaked in the darkened room around us.
“This is too spooky, Chris,” Sophia said. “It feels like something’s watching us. It — oh.” Sophia looked down. In the twitching, red glow of the flames, a shadow seemed to spread across Sophia’s chest. She looked up at us and opened her mouth to speak. A flood of blackness flowed out of her mouth and down her chin. She slumped forward, knocking over the metal bowl. The burning coals scattered.
“Sophia!” I lunged toward her. A smoldering coal burned my hand, but I didn’t feel it. I could only think about Sophia’s beautiful hair. It was on fire. “Get the lights!” Chris yelled, standing. He shoved me off Sophia, out of the circle. I scrambled to my feet. I could see nothing in the inky blackness. Liz was screaming, over and over. A wall should have been inches away, but I felt nothing. I reached out frantically. My fingertips caught something, the sleeve of a shirt? It jerked away. There was a blinding, burning pain on my arm. I fell flat and away, clutching the wound. Blood soaked through the sleeve of my shirt. I crouched low, trying to see something, anything. I turned back to the circle. Liz’s face, mouth an O of surprise, jerked backward. Her slashed throat sprayed blood across the room. It smelled like copper.
I turned to the right, arm out. I ran. My hand slammed into a doorway with force. A fingernail peeled back. I dropped to my knees, then crawled forward. My fingers met the cold steel of the refrigerator. I flung the door open. Light flooded the kitchen. I huddled in the corner, shaking. I heard a racking scream from the other room. Chris! I snatched a heavy, cast iron frying pan from the stove. Heavy pan raised high, I stood to the side of the doorway. Blood trickled into a pool in the elbow of my shirt. I heard the slow slide of footsteps. There was a low whispering breath. I was paralyzed. What if it was Chris? Or Sophia? Light glinted off of the butcher knife.
I swung as hard as I could. My lips peeled back in a rictus grin, I grunted an involuntary “HAA!” The edge of the cast iron pan caved in Pete’s face as if it were a Sunday morning egg. He went down in an untidy heap. I swung and swung, bashing his head until it was a lumpy mess. Until his body stopped twitching. Still clutching the pan, I ran for the front door.
It took me an hour to reach the front door. The front door could not have been farther than fifteen feet away. It felt like miles. As I stumbled and crawled to the door, terrible things whispered to me, laughed at me, mocked me. I saw the dim shapes scuttle away as I looked, eyes straining to see my attackers. They darted in and gouged my flesh with claws and hot, grasping hands. I flailed blindly in the dark with the frying pan, but they only laughed. When I did reach the door, it was locked. I smashed the antique stained glass with a blow, then climbed through it, lacerating my hands and arms more in the process.
The official police report states that Peter McCaulty, nineteen-year-old Caucasian Male, several priors including vandalism and possession, was under the influence of a large amount of controlled substances (traces of Adderal, Effexor, PCP, psilocybin, and certain other unidentified), experienced a psychotic break, and killed several people. Initially I was suspect number one. A police officer found me walking down the middle of the street, covered in blood and bleeding from dozens of cuts, fist clenched tightly around a cast iron pan. The police took a dim view of my story, and once it was determined that drugs had been involved, they ignored it completely. As far as the cops were concerned, a bunch of kids took some acid on Halloween. They played at a ‘Satanic’ ritual, then one went off his rocker and killed a few of the others. It happens every Halloween.
I was remanded into psychiatric custody for two weeks. It was only after I was released that I found out that the police had only recovered three bodies, not four. They never found Chris, or any trace of him.
I have never gone back to that house. I think about going back, every night. I take my meds, meds that make me forget, mostly, and suppress the whispers that I hear in those long black hours before dawn. But sometimes, I still hear them. Every year, as Halloween approaches, the voices get louder, even if I up my dose. They tell me terrible things. They tell me it was my fault. They tell me I was the one with the knife.
I was thirteen years old when I stopped trick-or-treating. The other kids weren’t so eager to give up free candy, but something happened that year… something awful.
My friends, Owen, Drew and I were out trekking for candy when we came to a house that had a big bowl of it sitting on the porch. A sign above it read: Please take just one.
We joked about swiping it all, but Owen and Drew only took a few each; enough to make them feel like badass kids. I’d always been afraid to take more than one because I was intimidated by authority. Sure, it was just a sign, and it usually meant that the owner wasn’t home, but I was a timid kid who always did what he was told. Owen and Drew explained how that house did the same thing every year and that people rarely saw the guy who lived there. They dared me to do what they were too chicken to, so I decided to see what it felt like to do something naughty.
We looked around to make sure no one was watching, and I poured the contents of the bowl into my bag. The three of us ran down the street laughing and shoving each other. Part of me expected someone to chase after us. In hindsight, I was right to be concerned.
At Owen’s house, we dumped out and sorted all of our yummy treasures. I tried to offer him and Drew some of the contraband candy, but they refused. I remember Owen saying, “That’s all you, dude,” and Drew shouting, “I don’t want your tainted treats!” Granted, they weren’t entirely serious, but I was annoyed that they weren’t sharing in the responsibility; enough to go home instead of sleeping over.
That night, I was torn from a sugar fueled dream by a hand over my mouth and a knife to my neck. The skin was rough and the blade was ice cold. It was just slightly pressing into my skin, ready to slit my throat at a moment’s notice. My body went stiff. I wanted to scream, but then a gruff voice whispered, “Don’t make a fucking sound.” At first, I didn’t realize what was happening. Were we being burglarized? Then I got my answer.
“Can’t you read, you little shit? The sign said ‘just one’. Just… fucking… one!” I’ll never forget those words, and the sickening smell of his breath. He went on to explain how every year he would catch kids taking two or three pieces of candy, which always infuriated him. It wasn’t until I took the entire bowl that he finally snapped. Why did I do something so stupid? I was terrified and humiliated at the same time.
“You like candy, you little shit?” he asked me, so I shook my head as much as I could despite his hand pressing against my face. He then removed it, still holding the knife to my neck, and proceeded to shove unwrapped candy into my mouth. I tried not to inhale but I couldn’t help it. I could feel things pushing against the back of my throat as I whimpered and drooled. I started to gag, but he put his hand back over my mouth so I wouldn’t cough anything up. I truly believed I was going to die, and I feared for my friends as well.
My short life flashed quickly before my eyes. All I could think in that moment was, “How could an adult hate children this much?” Everything I presumed about them was suddenly a lie. They weren’t infallible and their authority wasn’t always law. Fine, so I took all this guy’s candy. Did I really deserve to die? As I contemplated this for the first time, expecting to suffocate to death, my father rushed into the room, grabbed my metal desk chair and beat the living daylights out of the guy. I never loved my dad so much as I did that night.
I’m an adult now, and I live alone in a nice house on a quiet street with lots of kids. Every Halloween, I leave a basket on my front stoop full of candy with a sign that reads: Take as many as you want.
My friends and I decided to go trick or treating this year. We were teenagers that wanted some candy and to TP houses. We lived in a massive neighborhood, so there was a lot to go around. After two hours of going around the streets, egging and TP-ing houses and a very lucky escape from the police, we were ready to end the night.
We all stopped at a dark street.
“Should we go?” one of my friends asked.
“Ok, one more street,” another friend replied.
I stared down the dark street, unable to see the end. There was something odd about this street, like it didn’t belong. The houses were completely different from the ones in the neighborhood. The houses looked abandoned and there were no lights either in the street or the houses.
“I got a bad feeling about this, guys…” I said.
“Don’t be a pussy, David; we’re just gonna egg some houses and leave. If they do call the cops again, we’ll sneak out of here. This place is freaking pitch black,” my friend replied.
We walked down the coal black street, joking around and telling ghost stories, as I just couldn’t help feeling watched. Houses looked very different, and didn’t look stable. I knew something was up, I just knew it. The light from the other street began to become dimmer and dimmer.
“OK, here.” We took a bag full of eggs and toilet paper. We were cursing and having fun, I almost forgot to be worried. CRACK! A loud noise echoed in the street.
“What was that?” I asked.
“Everybody, hide NOW!” my friend yelled.
I saw all my friends scramble around the block. I hid behind a rusty trash can, looking over the edge. I couldn’t see anything because it was so dark. I only could see a blue outline of the houses. I took out my phone for some light. No signal at all on my cell phone. Didn’t they build over a dozen cell phone towers all over the area?
I shined my light towards the street. CRACK!!! This time it was even louder. I pulled back and look over again. All of my friends were there, standing in the middle of the street.
“So what do you think that was?” I questioned, walking towards them.
They didn’t respond.
“There something about your soul I cannot take, but I’ll find a way.” They all said at the same time.
“What the fuc…” They all charged towards me.
I ran and ran the darkness seemed to continue on forever. I didn’t hear them chasing after me, but I didn’t stop. I kept looking for a source of light, or just anybody. I slammed my face into a wall. I got up to see a giant skyscraper outlined in blue and a plenty fill of them. It was a city without light. I stood there, completely shocked. A lot of questions flew into my mind: What just happened? Where am I? Can I get back? These questions flooded my mind. A loud growl roared behind me. I turned around to see wolf-like creatures blended in the darkness.
“Shit!” I whispered to myself.
I stood there, looking straight at the creature. I regret my decision after that. I ran as fast as I could. Hearing the creature’s paws hitting the concrete.
I stopped at an alley. “I think I’m OK,” I said to myself.
“You’re far from OK,” a similar voice responded.
I turned around to see an army of people standing. I tried to run, but another group blocked the other side if the alley. A tall man stood in front. He was dressed in black and was wearing a hoodie that block his face.
“What do you want from me?!” I yelled.
“I want your soul, like I did with all your little friends here. I use this realm to capture as many souls as I want.”
“You bastard!” I yelled back.
“You’re different, your soul is special and very hard to get, and what makes it harder that you’re protected, but no soul is strong enough to keep me out. Get ready to become my puppet.”
Then, they closed in on me. I felt like this was the end, and that I was going to be made his puppet and I couldn’t do anything about it. A stereotypical light shone down on me.
“Not him again!” the tall man said.
I woke up in my bed with my bag of candy and leftover eggs from last night. I looked at my digital clock, and it read:
“7:00 AM 11/1/11”
I laid there for a while, and wondered if it was all a dream. Whatever happened, I’m safe now. I got up to get ready for school, and saw a sticky note on my door, saying:
Ever wondered if things can just be born evil? In this enlightened age of ours, concepts like good and evil are often painted as outmoded, archaic even. According to modern thought, people (animals too, obviously) are simply products of their environment and no more responsible for their actions than a twig in a stream. But I know better. Some things are just born bad.
About ten years ago, we had a German shepherd named Duchess that had a litter of puppies – seven in all. Six looked like any other shepherd you’ve ever seen, the seventh was a snowy white. Not a true albino, just white-furred with a black nose and blue eyes.
There was never any doubt about which one we were keeping out of that litter. We named her Princess.
Before the end of six months, any plans we had about giving away or selling the others became a moot point, as all of the others were dead. We’d just find them at a rate of about one a month, not mangled or anything, just dead as if they’d died in their sleep. At first, we thought maybe their mother, it being her first litter and all, was accidentally crushing or smothering them.
Later, we had no doubt as to what had killed them.
Within a year, she came to dominate her mother, her father (tough old alpha that he was), and to a degree, us too. Her parents shied away from her. When we put out their food, she ate till her heart’s content, unchallenged by the other two. Once I tried to shoo her away and let the other two eat. She snarled at me, baring those perfect white fangs to her incongruously black gums and loosing a growl so deep that I felt it in my guts more than heard it.
After that, I left her alone too.
I’ve often wondered if the parents of serial killers know they have a monster in the making. I mean, sure, some of them are to blame for how their kids turn out, products of fucked up households with systematic abuse of all possible flavors, but then there are the ones that seem to be true aberrations. It’s those families I’m curious about. Do they smile and laugh and pretend that everything’s fine?
I know that we sure did. We downplayed the weirdness around Princess, tried to rationalize her behavior, the bizarre things she’d do, like killing rabbits and leaving them hung up in the bushes behind our house.
“Some dogs do that to show they love you, cats too,” my father would say. “To them, it’s just bringing you food.”
To me, it looked like she was taunting us. Just like the puppies years earlier, not one of those rabbits ever had a mark on it.
Princess, just like her mom and dad, was well looked after and never hurt for a meal, so it wasn’t as if she were hunting for food. Her innumerable kills were always untouched. No, the only thing I ever saw her eat was a kitten.
We had some feral cats in the woods around our house and one momma cat had a litter in our tool shed. “Feral” really is stretching it; most of them were tame enough to be petted, this momma being among them. I returned home from school one day and headed around back to look in on them.
The door to the shed was open and inside I found Princess, her jaws pink from her feast. As she devoured that last kitten, her beautiful blue eyes never left mine.
The momma we found displayed on what I’d come to think of as the “rabbit bush.”
The tipping point came that same year when we found her sire dead. He was the best dog we’d ever had, that we ever will have. We woke one Saturday morning to find him in the backyard lying dead without a mark like so many rabbits before him. I can count the number of times I ever saw my father cry on one hand. That was one of them.
That was also when we found out how she killed so cleanly: she strangled her prey. Like a jaguar. The fur at her father’s neck was still wet with her saliva.
We spent that morning burying that good old faithful dog, and then he sent me and my mom away on some pretense. No words were spoken, but there was no doubt about what he intended to do.
I’m sure that there are some of you reading this that will find the notion of putting an animal down to be abominable, but what other options did he have, really? Take her to an animal shelter? Give her to some other family? Who could do that and go to sleep with a clear conscience?
As it turned out, we weren’t getting any sleep that night regardless of our decision.
We spent that afternoon at my uncle’s house. Once when I came in from playing to get a glass of water, I overheard my mom telling my uncle that she sometimes wondered if the dog was possessed or something. I’d sometimes wondered the same thing. Later that evening not long before sunset, we got a call from dad. Apparently, the deed was done.
By the time we arrived home, he’d already washed up and changed clothes, but there was little he could have done to hide his wounds, even less to hide the haunted look in his eyes. Both his arms and one leg were bandaged and that was bad enough, but what’s stuck with me all these years later was just how terrified he looked. It wasn’t until I’d actually been through combat that I recognized that expression – it’s how men look after they’ve stared death straight in the face.
My father never talked about it, but he’d drafted a friend from up the street to come help, and it’s from him that I get this part of the story.
Princess was many things – bloodthirsty and evil chief among them – but stupid wasn’t among them. In that, if nothing else, she took after her father. Her dad, Rocky, was famous for letting himself into the house if it was storming out. He’d figured out how to paw open the sliding glass door out to the patio. What was really astounding is that he also had the presence of mind to close it behind him.
Not being stupid, she knew something was up and made herself scarce, disappearing into the woods. Dad, not wanting to put this off and being in full-on revenge mode, called his friend from down the road and filled him in, so off on the hunt the two of them went.
In his own words, “She was laying for us.”
If it sounds absurd to say that Princess lay in ambush, then I’ve failed at conveying just how wrong everything about her truly was. She led them on a chase through those woods, barking whenever it seemed the stupid humans had lost her again. Then she laid up beneath an overhang on the creek bank just where the path crossed it and waited.
She was on my father the instant he stepped down into the creek, grabbing his leg and making him fall headfirst into the water. Then she went straight for his throat. My dad had already lost his rifle at that point and he grabbed her with both hands to try to fend her off, wrestling with 115 pounds of teeth, claws, and muscle in a foot and a half of water, Princess savaging his arms all the while.
At some point, he managed to work his legs up between him and the dog and kick her away from him, providing his friend with a clean shot, which he took, catching Princess through the chest. He put a second round through her head point blank. He then helped my dad back home and to the emergency room, telling him he’d go back to see after Princess once they got home.
“She can rot where she is,” was all my dad had to say on that subject.
After they got back from the hospital, our neighbor went back on his ATV to pick up Princess for burial. He was a dog lover like us and it just didn’t seem right to him to leave her. If he’d spent as much time tiptoeing around as we had, he might have felt differently.
“She flat wasn’t there,” he said. “No blood trail. Nothin.” He also said that after he’d been there poking around for a few minutes, he noticed something else strange – no birds. It was dead quiet the way the woods sometimes get right before a bad storm blows in. Wisely, he got right the hell out of there.
There was a storm coming, all right.
That night, Duchess came pawing at the back door wanting in, something she’d never once done in all the time she’d been with us, and I had a dream.
In it, I was playing football in the backyard with some buddies and ran over to where a bad throw had landed near Rocky’s grave. As I reached for it, Princess’s head shoved up out of the ground to grab my hand. I woke up with a jolt and was promptly scared out of roughly ten more years of life by the silhouette of a German shepherd in the hallway.
It was Duchess, of course. She was sitting in the hallway whining and wagging her tail nervously. She was looking back toward the front of the house. I walked over to her and placed my hand on her big doggy head and said, “What is it, girl?”
That’s when I heard the distinctive sound of claws on glass. Something was pawing at the patio door.
Thoroughly terrified, I grabbed Duchess by the collar and dragged her along with me to my parents’ room, shutting the door behind me. I was 14, I was terrified, but even in that terror retreating to my parents’ room wasn’t just for the security of mommy and daddy. That’s where the guns were.
I woke them up and told them what I’d heard.
“Oh sweet Jesus,” my mother said. Dad got up and locked the bedroom door and said, “Y’all lock yourselves in the bathroom.”
I heard the patio door slide open. If any of the rest of us had any doubts about what had just come into the house, Duchess sure didn’t. The only thing she’d ever feared in this world was her own pup. A deep rumble of a growl vibrated in the floor beneath our bare feet and Duchess’s bladder let go as if on cue. Mine wasn’t far from doing the same.
What followed was a six hour exercise in pure terror, punctuated by snarling attacks on the bedroom door, crashes through the rest of the house as Princess found more things to break, whispered prayers from my mother, and litanies of curses from my father as another of his attempted forays out of the bedroom were thwarted.
We were without a phone. The one on my parents’ nightstand was dead. We’d later find the phone line to have been ripped out at the main box. My mom suggested that we try to make it to the car and above and beyond everything else, it was my father’s response to that idea that really scared me. Of the three of us, he was supposed to be the rational thinker, but what we got instead was:
“Honey, I think that’s what it wants us to do.”
As the world through the windows turned from black to grey, a quiet fell over the house. Mom and I watched through the windows, craning our heads in an attempt to get an eye on the patio door, but try as we might, the best we could manage was a view of most of the patio – more than enough concealment for a dog to slink in or out, even a big one like Princess.
After an hour of silence, my dad quietly opened the bedroom door. I remember thinking what a useless gesture any attempt at stealth was. Dog senses are so much more acute than ours that he might as well have fired a twenty-one gun salute. Dad stopped in the hallway and shooed me back to the bedroom. “Don’t come out until I say, OK?” Carefully, he made his way through the house to the patio door. We heard him shut it before he shouted back to us to stay in the bedroom till he told us to come out.
Through the door, I could hear him moving around and what seemed to be him dropping things into a garbage bag. After about thirty minutes, he gave us the all clear.
What greeted us was a disaster – ripped up cushions and pillows, destroyed furniture, shredded papers and books all over the floor, but most terrible were the smears of gore all over everything. My mother wondered aloud at what she’d drug into the house. Grim-faced, my father did not answer. He simply turned and headed out the back to bury Rocky for a second time.
We cleaned up as best we could while dad drove down to our neighbor’s house to make all the appropriate calls. After all these years. I still wonder what portion of home owner’s insurance covers “attack by undead demon ghost dog”.
Unspoken, we all wondered what the night would bring.
As it turned out, we never got a repeat, but Duchess never left the house again.
Time rolled on.
Occasionally, we’d find a new “present” on the rabbit bush. Just a friendly reminder, another token of Princess’s abiding “love.”
About two years into college, my dad called to tell me that our neighbor had passed. “Heart attack in his sleep, the coroner says,” said my dad, but what we were both thinking was “Not a mark.”
There are plenty of nights where I wonder what the last thing was to pass before that old bachelor’s eyes. I can guarantee you it stared right back. I’ve seen firsthand how it feeds.
Not long after that, my folks put the house up for sale. I sort of acted as go-between on that deal. About a week after the new owners moved in, I received a call from the man of the house. He wanted to know if we’d left any pets behind when we moved. Already fearing the answer, I asked him why he asked.
“Oh, me and the kids keep seeing this white shepherd in the woods. Pretty!”