Gregg and Tina Wright moved in, under the same guidance as Doreen Fenston, with the same aspirations
“Are you sure you want to go in there, Pastor? I mean, the man is a murderer.”
“Yes, I’m sure,” said Pastor Henry Flaker, gazing through the tiny window into the padded room where a man sat shackled in a corner. His head was lowered as if he were asleep.
“Well, it’s your time. Just yell if you need help, we’ll be right there,” said the sanitarium tech. He was a large black man, and his partner, an equally as large white man with mace strapped to his belt nodded in agreement.
“We’ll be right there,” the white tech said, as if he craved for action. Perhaps he had seen too many action movies.
The black tech, whose name tag said he was Drew Timmer, plugged a thick key into the door and pulled it open. The man in the corner still did not raise his head.
“We’ll be right here, Pastor. One wrong move, and we’ll have you outta there in no time.”
“Thank you,” Pastor Flaker said. He entered the room, and the padded door closed behind him, the lock latching into place.
“That guy is fucking crazy,” said the white tech, whose name tag called him only Manny.
Timmer just looked at him and shook his head as he stood by the door.
Flaker stood inside the white padded room, unsure if the man sitting in the corner was aware of his presence.
And then: “Pastor, you came back.” The man in shackles raised his head. “Everyone is afraid of me. Aren’t you afraid of me?”
“No, Danny, I’m not afraid of you. I’d like to help you. I want to talk to you.”
“Talk, talk, more talk…they’re dead. All dead.” He began to weep. “They’re dead, Pastor – everyone, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why!”
Timmer peeked through the tiny window, and Flaker waved him back.
“That’s why I’m here, Danny, to try to help you understand what happened. I need to know what happened that day, Danny.”
Danny looked at him through glazy eyes. “I saw him.”
“Who, Danny? Who did you see?”
Danny motioned for him to come closer, and the pastor went to one knee and leaned closer.
“Who was it, Danny? What happened that day?”
Danny’s eyes still had not blinked. “If you look at him, he’ll make you insane,” Danny said, and a sickly smile crossed his face.
“Who, Danny? Who?”
Now Danny whispered, as if revealing some dark secret the world had yet to know.
“The Devil. He was in that house, and I saw him in the mirror. He made me insane, Pastor Flaker.”
Danny lowered his face into his shackled hands and cried. He suddenly raised his bloodshot eyes and said, “Don’t ever look into the Devil’s eyes, Pastor. He will take your mind!”
He lowered his head and wept.
The house stood alone for many years, an entire decade to be exact… The only ones who thought to take care of the place where the owners – a grotesquely obese blind woman and her hapless son, whose life consisted of worthless fights against spam on the internet , – laying around the house, hair sticking up, in a tiny apartment connected to their shambled estate. The mother spent her days upstairs, taking care of her properties which she never saw (and her son had no desire to see), letting the money come in from those who hadn’t yet chosen to escape in the middle of the night to avoid her lofty rents. That she was blind and disabled did not stop her from taking advantage of people at every turn. She spent many days in courtrooms, wheeled around by her son Jim, oxygen tanks strapped to the back of her wheelchair. It still allowed her to take money from those who were truly poor.
Doreen Fenston had two sides: one was like a fisherman, reeling in the prospects with a cheerful good word and promises. The other side, well that was reserved for those who didn’t comply with her needs, and the court was her battleground. The battleground of a fat woman in a wheelchair flanked by oxygen tanks, staring blindly around with faded, white eyes, while her son Jim simply followed her every step.
Fate brought them to the curb in a small white Kia, and while they stared at the house, indecision rose to the surface, not so much in Danny, but in his girlfriend Susan.
“The place looks like a dump, Danny. I don’t know.”
“We could fix it up a little. I don’t think anyone’s been out here to fix it.”
The small, box-like house was white with brown trim, all of which was peeling, especially the white paint across the wood planking.
“Look at the sign, Danny. It looks like it was here in the last century.”
“You never know, the inside might be nicer. And the price might be right. Can we at least call the number and find out?”
She crossed her arms. “Fine. Call the number. But, if I don’t like it, we’re outta here.”
“We’re running out of choices, Sue. All the places want credit checks and your first – born. This might be different.”
“Just call, already.”
Danny picked up his cell phone and dialed.
“Hello?” In the background, Danny could hear his number repeated from some loud machine. “Oh, you’ll have to excuse that. I’m legally blind, you know, so it tells me who’s calling.” Her voice was sweet, almost enchanting, and Danny knew that the place was theirs.
“Yes ma’am, I’m calling about the house at 666 West, 7th Street. Is it still for rent?”
Susan looked at the house in shock, and then back at him.
Danny waved a reassuring hand.
“Why yes, young man, it’s still for rent. It has been empty for a long time, though, and although it’s been cleaned, you might have to put some work into it.”
“Just how much is the rent there, Miss…”
“Doreen Fenston. You can call me Doreen. My son Jim helps out, too. The rent used to be five hundred, but considering the time that’s passed, I could let it go for four. There is also a two hundred dollar cleaning deposit, but I can always work with you on that.”
“Wow, sounds great,” Danny said, holding up four fingers to Susan. Even now, she was getting excited.
“And just who would be living there?”
“Just me, and my…fiancé.”
“Going to get married, are you” she asked in that sweet voice of hers.
“Yes, very soon, in fact. This would be our first place together.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what. I’ll send Jim out there to show you around and give you keys, and if you can pay the first month’s rent, that’s fine by me. You can stop by later to sign the lease.”
“Great! Thank you, Doreen. You are a Godsend.”
“Just trying to help folks out. Talk to you soon.”
“See, it was that easy. The place is practically ours. Her son is coming over to meet us and give us keys.”
“Seems too good to be true,” Susan remarked. “And you know what they say about that.”
“It’ll be ok. We just lucked out, that’s all.”
A half hour later an old Volkswagen van with a faded orange paint job pulled up to the curb, farted once and died. On its side, in black spray paint, was the term www.Pontifier.com. Out of the van came a man of no more than twenty-three, black hair sticking up in licks. His jeans were too large, and he looked as if he had a load of shit hanging in the back. He wore a black tee shirt with the insignia Korn. Susan had to stifle a laugh.
“I’m Jim,” he said, head lowered. “Let’s go take a look.”
The smell of freshly cut grass prominent, and two houses down, Danny saw a man standing at his lawnmower, looking at them and shaking his head. He started the mower and went about his business.
“What was that about?” Susan whispered.
“Just new people in the neighborhood, I guess,” Danny said. “It is a small street, you know.”
And he was right – the street was short, lined with small, old houses that had been there for years.
Jim Fenston took out a ring of keys, and after a short search found the one that opened the front door at 666. Although the musty smell was a bit overwhelming, the place had been cleaned; the flat blue carpet in the small living room was of no concern, though as it ran into the single bedroom, there were cigarette burns on the floor.
“This has all been taken into account of course. Mother had the bathroom and kitchen tile replaced, so it’s new.”
The kitchen and bathroom did indeed have new flooring. The kitchen boasted a small gas stove and an old refrigerator. The sink was one large basin, with valves that had to have been from the forties or fifties. The bathroom had been the same, but Danny brushed it aside, while Susan had her own thoughts about the place. The kitchen had a small laundry room to the back, which actually housed a washer and dryer from better days. On the floor was a small hatch, also covered with linoleum, with a metal handle on each side, neither of which were raised enough to pull the hatch open. “What’s down there?” Danny asked.
“It’s a small crawlspace. The furnace is down there. If you want to change the filter, you’ll have to crawl down there. You’ll get pretty dirty. Might be one or two mice down there, too.” Danny and Susan exchanged glances, and Danny shrugged.
The tiny laundry room had a back door to the yard, which was quite large, supporting two metal poles with rope strung between them for laundry. On the back patio was an aged lawnmower. The paint had long since vanished, and strings of flowering ivy now made it their home. “I believe that still works,” Jim said. “It’s always been part of the house. The lawns haven’t been mown in a while, but I’m sure the mower will take care of it.”
The front lawn had not been so bad, but the back – it must have been a foot tall. Susan glanced over to Danny, who, again, merely shrugged.
They followed Jim back into the house, and he went directly to the small hall that housed the bathroom and the one large bedroom. “My mom says that if you want it, just come over and sign the lease. She’ll work with you on the deposit.” It was hard to see his face for the locks of hair that hung all the way to his chin. He handed a small piece of paper to Danny with some hand written lettering on it. “This is the address. We live by the stadium.”
No, please. What’s gotten into you? Please, you’re scaring me…
Danny and Susan struggled in the Kia up the hill next to the stadium, a stadium that had games often televised for college football fans, and rounded a turn the led to one more hill before they found the property of Doreen Fenston.
As they rounded the circular drive, they saw one large house (in poor shape, one might have said), with a lower apartment connected to it. The beat-up Volkswagen was parked in front of the lower unit.
They pulled past, and on the left saw a set of stairs leading up to the main house. They parked the car next to several derelict vehicles and mounted the wooden stairs.
There was a rickety wooden screen door with a small sign attached: Ring bell. Danny pushed the bell, and a deep melody of tones arose from somewhere within.
“Who is it?” a sweet, subdued voice asked.
“We’re here about the house?”
“Oh dear, come right in, and have a candy cane if you like.”
They entered slowly, as those would entering a strange new environment, and they saw a large mug of candy canes on the counter next to the door, and then they saw the clutter, and were taken aback by the chaos of the whole thing. There were no disgusting odors, no animals running afoot, but the clutter was everywhere.
Sitting at a large kitchen table covered with papers and letters and bills, along with a dusty television, was a terribly obese woman in a huge, stained nightgown. Her graying hair was short and ragged, and when she looked up at the couple, she seemed not to be looking at them, but into empty space. She had milky eyes that shifted back and forth, and a sweet smile that seemed so accommodating, and secretly on the verge of business.
“I’m Danny Keil, and this is my fiancé, Susan Boothe,” Danny said. That they had made no immediate plans to marry would not play a part in this transaction, would only aide in acquiring the house. Business was business.
“Well, it’s very nice to meet you, and I’m glad you’re interested in the house. It’s been a long time since a nice young couple has wanted to live there.” She smiled and looked into empty space. “I’m legally blind, you know, but I’ve learned that by talking to people, you can get a pretty good feel for them.”
Danny glanced beyond the kitchen, through a doorway that led into what was once a living room. In the dim light, he saw shelves scattered with books, mismatched furniture placed wherever there was room; in fact, the articles were too numerous to focus in on one thing, to determine what was what.
“Well, if you want to move in, it’s a one year lease, and the cleaning deposit is actually negotiable. We did clean the place, but it’s been a long time since anyone’s lived there, so you probably have to do some dusting and cleaning yourselves. It’s a two hundred dollar deposit, but we can work on it later. You seem like such a nice couple, I’d be happy to have you.”
“Thank you so much,” Susan said. “You don’t know what it means to us.”
“Yes, thank you Miss Fenston, you’re very nice to help us,” Danny added.
“Please, call me Doreen. Now let me find one of those leases, and you two can move in right away.” She felt around on the table until she produced a huge magnifying glass, which she put directly to one eye, and scanned the tabletop until finally yanking a form from beneath a stack of documents. “Here we go. Like I said, this lease is for one year, and the deposit we’ll work on later.” She produced a black magic marker. “I’m afraid this is the only way I can see anything, black on white. If you’ll just sign the lease, and give me the four hundred, I’ll give you a receipt.”
Danny and Susan both signed the makeshift lease, and Doreen took a piece of plain white paper and wrote a receipt with the black marker.
With the crude receipt tucked into his back pocket, and a set of keys in a front pocket, Danny grabbed Susan’s hand as they climbed into the car and took off to move into their new abode.
Meanwhile, in the darkened Fenston living room, among the books and chairs and trinkets, sat most of the Wright’s furniture, collecting year after year of dust.
Danny and Susan drove back to the house to inspect it on their own. One inside the small house, without the presence of the strange and subdued Jim Fenston, they were able to relax and move throughout the place with scrutinizing eyes. The bathroom and living room, along with the single bedroom, were all quite small. The largest room seemed to be the kitchen.
In the bedroom, trying to ignore the cigarette burns in the carpet, they opened the closet door (it was too small for sliding doors), and discovered a tiny closet. “Our clothes will never fit in there,” Susan said.
“We’ll figure out something. We’ll make it. Hey, it beats living with your parents.”
Susan half-smiled and nodded. “You hate my parents, don’t you?”
“No, no, I don’t hate them. I just think they’re just about as irritated as we are living there. We need our own place.” He put his arms around Susan. “It’s going to be great, you’ll see.”
While they were embraced, something caught Susan’s eye. “Do you see that?” She was looking at one of the blank, white bedroom walls, the wall that would end up straight across from where they would set up their bed.
“I don’t see anything. You can tell they painted, though. That’s a good sign.”
“Look closer, Danny.”
He stared at the wall, and then it appeared to him. Under the white paint, in the center of the wall, was a large, dark splotch. If you weren’t looking for it, you might have missed it, but it was nonetheless there.
“Maybe it’s from the old paint.”
“Just that one spot?”
“Oh, someone probably spilled something on it, and they were too lazy to clean it up.”
They both moved close to the wall, and more details became evident. Not only was there the large stain, but spots and splatters surrounding.
Danny took out his car keys and scraped some of the white off to reveal a rusty stain beneath.
“It’s blood, Danny, I just know it!”
“Oh, come on, Suse, it’s not blood. It has to be soda or something. You know how that sticks.
“Blood sticks, too.”
“Ok, now your imagination is running away with yourself. Hey, I have a good idea – let’s go and borrow Casey’s truck and get our stuff over here. It won’t take long, and then we can break in the old place.” He winked, and Susan couldn’t help but smile.
Danny dialed Doreen Fenston’s number, and that sweeter than sweet voice answered.
“Hello, Doreen, this is Danny Keil. I wonder if I could ask you a favor.”
“Why, sure, Danny, is there a problem?”
“Well, it’s no big deal, and I know you guys just painted, but in the bedroom, you can still see a huge rusty spot under the paint. Do you think someone could come out and just paint over it?”
“Oh, it’s that spot again,” she said. “I still don’t know what that is. But, I’ll send Jim over right away to put another layer of paint over it.”
“Thank you so much.”
“No, thank you for renting the place. It’s been waiting for a couple like you.”
A short while later the son showed up with a pan and roller and a gallon of white paint. “We’ve put two layers of paint over that, but it still wants to stay, but this should do it.” He carried everything inside, including a plastic drop cloth, and in five minutes had a fresh thick layer of white over the spot. He left without a word in his van, and the couple went into the bedroom to inspect the work. The stain seemed to be gone.
“Let’s go get our stuff, Danny. I want to get out of my parent’s house, too, you know.”
It was still daylight when they pulled up in the borrowed truck; it would only take a few trips, as they had not much of anything, really. Before they had a chance to unload anything, a gray-haired man walked over from next door. “Hello, folks, I’m Jay Walken, live right next door. Glad to meet you.” He shook hands with both of them.
“Did Doreen tell you anything about the place?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the house has, let us say, a history.”
“What do you mean?” Susan asked.
“Well, I don’t want to get you all worried. When you are moved in, we’ll get together for a few beers, and I’ll tell you all about it. Well, anyway, glad to have you in the neighborhood. Talk to you soon.”
Needless to say, that did not leave a good impression on either of them, especially Susan. They silently unloaded their things into the house, and went back for their last load.
When they were done, it was getting dark outside, so they decided to return the truck in the morning. They set up the bed, and made love. They lie there afterward, contemplating the house.
“What do you think that guy meant, Danny?”
“I’m sure it’s nothing. Doreen would have told us.” Susan moved closer to Danny, and they fell asleep.
In the morning, Susan awoke first, and rubbing her eyes looked at disbelief at the wall.
The spot under the fresh coat of paint had reappeared.
“Danny, wake up!” She shoved him in the back, and he rolled over, bleary eyed.
“That’s what’s wrong,” she said, pointing at the spot on the wall. It seemed clearer than before, even with the fresh paint.
“I’ll be damned,” he said.
Later that day, Danny went next door and invited Jay over, and as soon as the man entered the house, he shuddered. Danny handed him a beer. “You seem a little reluctant in my house.”
“I am. But don’t let me scare you, ok? I Just think it’s about time somebody told the truth about this place, because no one else is going to tell you. All the neighbors just try to forget about it. Some have even moved. But please, I’m not here to cast shadows or put fear into you. Just the truth. The history.”
“Well, you’ve already got us scared,” Susan said. “Maybe we should show him the spot on the wall.”
Jay said, “You mean in the bedroom?”
“How did you know,” Danny asked.
“Everyone knows about that – it was in all the papers. But many of what people don’t know, except for a few around here, and myself most of all, is that it may not end there. Let me tell you right now, this house should never have been built.” He took a long drink from his beer. “I hope you don’t think I’m crazy, but I have to tell you, because that Doreen Fenston doesn’t give a shit what happens to people as long as she gets her money, and it’s wrong. This thing goes back a long way, and I was around, so I’ll tell what I know. And, let me say again, I just think you need to know.”
A couple named Lee and Dusty Anderson moved in about thirteen years ago, and they seemed to be happy in every respect, but Lee used to tell Jay things that the house seemed to be doing on its own. Scared the crap out of Dusty. It was almost as if the house had a life of its own.
They invited Jay to spend the night on their couch, so he agreed, and afterwards he had wished he never had.
The living room was dark, except for moonlight that seemed to lighten the room a bit. Jay was still awake when he saw the first on of the figures. A tiny figure in a black cloak with a hood and no face. It roamed around the living room living, and soon there were about five of them, coming close to him and then retreating into anther rooms, only to return to where he lay, whispering incoherencies to him. He covered his face with blanket, and when he peeked, there were still there, milling around the living room, coming close to him and moving away, until they finally vanished into nowhere. But, Jay was still shaking from the experience.
Jay took Lee aside and told him of the little creatures creeping around the living room – he did not mention it to Dusty, because he didn’t want to frighten her more than she had already been frightened. But Lee believed him. And then Lee began to tell Jay about what was going on inside the house. Back then, there was no spot on the bedroom wall, but it would soon be there.
Later, Jay sat down at the kitchen table with Lee and Dusty and listened intently as they relayed some of the strange things happening in the house. Frightening things. It turned out that the Anderson’s stayed a little more than a week, gathered their belongings and left.
Doreen Penston, in her usual form, tried to sue the young couple for breaking their lease. After the judge heard of the unusual goings-on, and how Doreen and Jim Pension must have known something about the house, but said nothing; were more at fault than anyone was, and the case was closed. With a fair share of compensation returned to the Anderson’s.
The house remained unoccupied for three years.
But, somehow, even with Jay’s quiet demeanor, the rest of the street found out just about everything that went on during the Anderson’s short stay, and no one would recommend the house to anyone. The children in the neighborhood referred to it as the haunted house, and a few brave souls ventured inside, but nothing significant ever came of the little adventures. But, the kids never knew what really happened there, only speculation. But, it was enough to spark daring, unknown curiosities among the kids.
Some of the things that happened were like childhood nightmares or fears. But, they were just as fearful in adulthood.
After the Andersons moved out, all seemed to quiet down a bit, perhaps because the house was empty, except for the visitations by odd Jim Penston, who did minor repairs on the house and tried to keep it up to rental level.
But, it took three years before the Wrights decided move in, and it only one week before they were gone. And after they left, all the memories of those who were around during the earlier years, like Jay Walken, remembered the horrible things the house had to offer.
All that seemed to fade away as the years passed by, except for a few neighbors Ike Jay and a few others who would not forget the horrible plague the house seemed to offer.
Just talking to Danny and Susan brought it back afresh for Jay, and he was fearful that something terrible was going to happen in that little house.
“What happened to the Anderson’s?” Susan asked. “Are you sure you want to know?” asked Jay. “Yes, we want to know. We live there now, you know.”
Danny looked at Jay questionably, as if he were almost afraid the hear the rest of the story.
“Ok, I’ll tell what I know, but you’re not going to like it.”
The Andersons told Jay that they had heard strange voices in the house the night before the met the Devil. Lee had gone into the living room and found nothing, but it made for a sleepless night for the both of them. The next night was the night that made them leave the house.
Dusty had heard more noises, but they were indescribable. Lee went to investigate, telling Dusty to stay in the bedroom, but she soon followed anyway, concerned about Lee. Therefore, she witnessed the horror that her husband witnessed..
Lee went into the living room in the dark, but it was no longer dark. The room was filled with a red glow from a single source, which was a man standing in the center in the room as if he had been waiting for Lee to show up.
The man was naked, with crimson red skin, and a red aura that surrounded him. His skin was covered with moist blood, which flowed not only down, but upwards and circular as if it had no gravity at all. He was bald, except for two tiny, pointed horns on his forehead, perhaps the concept of what humans considered the Devil to look like. Dusty hurried to Lee’s side and clung to him; and then the Devil began to change shape.
Still remaining in human form, he changed into a man with no horns, but long black hair, and a muscular body. And then he changed into another man, also unrecognizable, but through these changes, he still remained naked with the moist blood flowing over his entire body. He suddenly changed into a frightening figure of half man-half beast, with a worm-like body and horns like a ram, teeth like razors.
Then he changed back into his original form, naked with the blood flowing over his entire body. “Do you know who I am? “
Lee said, “You are the Devil. And you are not welcome here.”
“It is you who are not welcome here. You must leave this house, or I cannot guarantee what will happen. “The blood flowed around his form like a liquid pool, and the sound was sickening. “You will leave this house, or 1 promise I shall return to take you both with me to a place where eternity is hell. Do you understand? “
Lee and Dusty were both shaking. ” We ‘II leave, but why? What has happened here. ? “
“It is better that you don’t now. And you should take it seriously, for it is not often that I show my faces to humans. “
The bloody form began to fade, and the room grew dark ” Heed my words.”
And then, in a flash of burning red light that left burning traces in their eyes, he was gone. The blood covered man that was really the devil. He was gone. Lee turned on all the living room lights, and found not one spot of blood on the floor or anywhere else.
“We are leaving, ” Dusty said.
“Yes, I couldn’t agree more,” Lee said, and he led his shaking wife upstairs to pack.
“So what happened?” Danny asked.
“Well, after the Andersons left, I decided to do some research on my own. So I searched on my computer until I came up with very interesting facts about this area. It seems that in the early 1800 hundreds, this whole area was a prison work farm. There a many bodies buried around this area. But, they had a special place for the hardened criminals, a special graveyard, you could say, for the worst of the worst. Serial killers, stranglers, random murderers, ones who killed in prison, the worst of the worst. And they had a special little graveyard for them. And that was here, on this property. Some bodies were exhumed, but most were already buried so deep that they remain there to this day. They built homes, built foundations, and the horrible ones are buried so deep now that no one knows they are there. Except you and me. I believe this the cause of the problem.”
“So what do we do know?” Susan asked.
“I’m not sure. Let me tell you about the Wrights, first.”
“There’s more?” Danny asked.
“Yes, one more family moved in ten years ago, and they stayed less tune than the Andersons. I didn’t get to know the Wrights very well, but I imagine much of the same happened to them, because after only three days.. .well, something very horrible happened.”
as Danny and Susan; they were happy, lucky to have found such a nice little house for so cheap. Jay waited a day to give them a chance to be settled in, and then went next door to introduce him.
The Wrights were nice enough folks, a little withdrawn, and they were apprehensive at the way Jay kept looking around the house as if he were searching for something in particular.
Gregg and Tina Wright moved in, under the same guidance as Doreen Fenston, with the same aspirations as Danny and Susan; they were happy, lucky to have found such a nice little house for so cheap. Jay waited a day to give them a chance to be settled in, and then went next door to introduce him.
The Wrights were nice enough folks, a little withdrawn, and they were apprehensive at the way Jay kept looking around the house as if he were searching for something in particular.
Shortly thereafter, they announced that they had more unpacking to do, which, of course, was Jay’s cue to leave. He never saw them again, only the spot on the bedroom wall that marked what had happened that terrible night.
“I didn’t want to just go over there and tell them all these horrible things about the house when they had just moved in – they would have thought I was a nut case. Maybe you think I’m a nut case, but I will leave that up to you. But, this time I thought that whoever moved in should know the truth. plain and simple. All I want to do is help, so if you run into any problems, I’ll back you all the way.”
“The spot on the wall. You know about the spot on the wall. What is it?” Susan asked.
“Perhaps we’ll talk about it another time, Susan. Don’t concern yourself too much with it.”
“It’s blood, isn’t it?” Susan asked, confronting Jay with her eyes.
Jay met her gaze, and simply said, “Please, another time might be better, ok? I better head home and let you folks get on with things.”
“Well, thanks Jay,” Danny said, “at least someone is willing to help. We thank you.”
“Yes, thank you,” Susan said. She was still wearing a mask of concern, spawned by the mysterious spot on the wall. A spot that Jay Walken had refused to talk about. And that refusal made it even more worrisome for Susan.
“Call me day or night,” Jay said, and left. Outside, he shivered, feeling as if a burden had been lifted from his shoulders; but not the burden of telling the couple the truth about the house, but the burden that the house itself had seemed to prey on him from the moment he had entered.
Danny and Susan sat silent for a long time thinking about what Jay had told them. But, they both agreed that they weren’t ready to leave. It would take more than a spot on the wall and Jay’s stories to get them out. But, they has yet to experience the worst the house had to offer.
Danny awoke in the middle of the night to liquid sounds somewhere in the room; his first thought was the spot on the wall, and when he studied it in the dark, he found it was glistening like fresh paint. He turned on the bedside lamp, and found his fear to be true. The spot was no longer covered with white paint, but was now a red, wet spot on the wall of not only red, but other sickening colors as well. Above the spot were words written as only a crude hand could write: Death.
He did not want to awake Susan, but the light had already done that for him. They lie awake for a while, staring at the spot on the wall. To their surprise, the spot faded under the paint, and became the spot that had once been covered. Susan clung close to Danny, and they both fell asleep with the light still on.
Danny awoke early, got dressed, and went next door to bang on Jay’s door. Jay was already awake, and as they both sat at the kitchen table sipping hot coffee, Danny told him of the bizarre event of the night before.
“Did Susan see this, too,” he asked.
“We both did. And then it went back to normal, or whatever you would call it.”
“I’m glad you came to see me. I’m not so nuts after all, am I?”
“I never thought that, Jay. You came to us, remember?”
“Yes, I do, but sometimes I think people think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I know more about that house than anybody. And I think the owner does, too, but she’s not going to tell people about anything, if she can make money.”
“I see what you mean. Too many people in the world like that.”
“Look, if you don’t mind, Danny, I’d like to spend the night in your house.”
Danny took a sip of his coffee, stared at the dark liquid as a seer might study tea leaves in the bottom of a cup. “You had a very bad experience when you did that before. You told me. Why would you want to risk it again?”
“I believe in helping people, my friend. My presence might make it easier for you to sleep tonight. Who knows, maybe nothing will happen at all, or if it does, you have a witness.
Danny couldn’t help but smile, and he reached across the table and shook Jay’s hand. “I don’t think I’ve ever known a person quite like you, but I think you’re a wonderful human being.”
Now Jay was smiling ear to ear. They both sat and sipped coffee and contemplated what was yet to come.
That evening, after the sun had dipped low in a fiery orange sky, Jay Walken showed up at Danny and Susan’s front door, bearing a bottle of expensive wine in one hand, and a pillow and blanket in the other. Susan opened the door, and couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of a gray-haired man holding wine and sleeping implements.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But you reminded me of when I was little and used to spend the night at my friend’s house. I didn’t have a bottle of wine, though. I guess that’s why it seemed a little silly. Come in, please.”
Jay couldn’t help but laugh himself- it did seem rather silly to have an overnighter show up with blanket and pillow, and, God forbid, a bottle of wine.
“Please, sit down,” Susan said, and Jay sat on the very couch which would be his bed for the night. The couch had a nice floral pattern with new stiff cushions that would probably be good for his back. He wasn’t too concerned with that, however, he was more concerned with what the house might have to offer to anyone living there. There were horrid thoughts drifting around his mind, thoughts that he did not care to offer to his neighbors. He had instantly become aware of the wrongness the house emanated, as if an old enemy had returned to haunt him.
The house knew him, was in touch with his thoughts, and despised him. This, he knew.
Danny entered the room, and was pleased to see Jay sitting on the couch. Again, he shook hands with the older man; somehow, their friendship had deepened, perhaps because of Jay’s initial openness to the couple. There was nothing awkward about the situation. “Pour us some wine, dear, would you?” Danny asked. Susan took the bottle from Jay and disappeared into the kitchen.
Danny sat on a matching love seat opposite the couch. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you offered to spend the night.”
“It’s my pleasure. After all, this stuff is my passion – it might sound a little weird, but my whole life has been surrounded by the stuff of dreams.”
“What do you mean?” Danny asked, but before Jay could answer, Susan arrived with three wine glasses of the fine white wine. She sat down next to Danny, and all three drank from their glasses and regarded each other as old friends would. The connection was uncanny, considering they had all just met in a time measured in mere hours, and yet, it was there, just the same.
“You said this stuff was your passion,” Danny said. “What did you mean?”
Jay took another drink of the wine, and his face seemed to become a mask of serious composure.
“I used to write books. Horror novels. I’ve always been fascinated by the scare factor, although in real life, it is quite frightening. I’m retired now, but I make a pretty good living from royalties.” A proud smile.
“Oh my God,” Susan said. “Jay Walken. I’m not much of a reader, but I’ve seen your books. Wow! The Mirror, the Mirror…”
“The Mirror of Madness,” Jay said. For a moment, the two could only gaze upon the author in awe.
Danny said, “I’ve even seen movies with your name, but I never realized… I mean, my God, you are Jay Walken.”
“The one and only.”
“You retired? You quit writing? May I ask why? I mean, just like Susan, I’ve never been much of a reader, but everybody knows who Jay Walken is. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize your name from the start.”
“Well, I’ll tell you right up front, writing a book is no easy task. Granted, it is a great love, and a satisfying job, if there ever was one, but I felt it was time to take a rest, I suppose.”
“Will you write again?” Danny asked.
“I still write, but mainly for myself. I’m not sure if I’m ready to jump into the game again. It is certainly wonderful, and the attention is unbelievable, but so are the expectations. Like I said, writing is not always fun and games. There is work, physical and mental; not like folks who say, ‘I’m somewhat of a writer myself. These are people with no stick-to-itness. That’s what I like to call it. Stick-to-itness. Write a book, no matter how good or bad, consisting of thousands of words and ideas and thoughts, and you are no longer ‘somewhat of a writer’. In my mind, you’ve done it. You stuck to it, wrote 120,000 words of your own making. Good or bad, you’ve done it. You’ve written a story, and by God, it’s the greatest accomplishment in the world.”
He stopped speaking, reflecting on years of accomplishments that would stay with him to the end of his days. He was looking beside himself, his lips a straight line of someone who had just spoken a simple truth.
Danny and Susan could only watch and listen – their mouths might as well have been hanging open, although they were not. But, then- minds were. When they finally became aware that they were acting like fools, it was Susan who spoke first: “Mr. Walken, I don’t know what to say.”
“You can begin by calling me Jay. I’m just a normal person like everyone else, and we’re friends, so please don’t call me mister.”
The couple looked at each other, speaking with no words, for no words were needed about the person sitting across from them on their couch. It was a simple, but amazing truth for them, as well. A reaction that cannot be denied when someone famous is in one’s presence.
“But why do you live here?” Danny asked. “Shouldn’t you be living in a huge house on the upside of town?”
“No, it would be too pretentious. I like to live a nice, quiet life. Modest. I don’t need that stuff. But, putting all that aside, why don’t you show me your bedroom wall?”
Danny and Susan seemed to shake off their awe and come down to earth. The house was sedating, not merely from the mention of the infamous spot on the wall. A spot that was never really cleaned properly, as the Fenstons wanted the easiest way to get rid of it, which was to just cover it up), but the information Jay provided so far made it all the more real, as if the house had a will of its own. And Jay could tell that the couple was feeling it, and he was glad that this time he had acted quickly to help his new neighbors, for he knew deep down that they would need his help.
All three stood near the end of the bed, staring at the empty wall. No dressers or any other furniture had been place there yet, because of the new coat of paint, and, of course, the sudden new development of the previous night. Two dressers were pressed together at the side of the bed, and the nightstand with the lamp next to Danny’s side of the bed.
Jay could not believe what he was seeing; even under another coat of paint, the round, irregular spot was so evident, almost as evident as the first time he had seen it, right after the incident. He could even still see the specks that surrounded the edges of the spot. He did not know the actual dimensions of the spot, only the police had measured that, but he would have guessed it to be around two and a half feet wide in all directions, not counting the peripheral spots and specks.
“You know, it’s idiotic that those Fenstons didn’t entirely remove this, or replace the drywall, or something. But, from all my time living here, I think it’s pretty typical of them.”
Susan finally spoke up. “Are you going to tell us now about it? Please, Mr. Walken, we need to know. It is blood, isn’t it. Danny didn’t think so at first, but I think he knows better now, right hon?”
“Yes, I sorry Suze, but after last night, I realized you were right. What about it, Jay?”
“Ok, I guess the time is right.” But under the circumstances, he still managed a smile. “Please, Susan, call me Jay.”
“Ok.. .Jay, I’m still a little amazed that we not only know you, but you are in our home. But, ok, back to the matter at hand.”
Danny realized that Susan was handling the whole thing now with more strength, more self-assurance, and he was relieved.
“Alright, you guys, I told you a little about the Wrights, but again, I didn’t get to know them too well. And like I said, after three days, they were gone. And by gone, I mean dead.”
Danny nodded his head as if it had confirmed what he already knew. Susan listened intently, knowing fully well that her fears would be also confirmed.
“Not much was known about the Wrights – the police handled it as murder and suicide, nothing supernatural. My personal belief is that many of the same things happened to the Wrights as did the Andersons, but something went wrong, something that somehow caused Gregg Wright to murder his wife right here. He used a shotgun and blew her brains out right against the wall. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but it’s the only real way to get the truth across. That’s what the spot on the wall is. The remains of Tina Wright’s head.”
Susan couldn’t speak. Danny, however, mentioned something that coincided with what Jay had just told them. “When I saw the spot, or we saw the spot, as if it was fresh, it had other stuff mixed in with it. Now I know. Tina Wright’s head and brains. But, there is the one thing that doesn’t quite mix with it.”
Jay nodded. “The writing on the wall. What did you say it was, Death?”
“Death. And it was obviously smeared with a hand. Not even a paintbrush could be so sloppy.”
“And that was not there after the tragedy. And, you didn’t see it either, right?”
Susan shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself. Danny put an arm around her shoulder and clutched her close. “It’s going to be alright, hon.” She nodded, but still could not shake the feeling of helplessness.
“So, you don’t know much about the Wrights?” Danny asked.
“One can only speculate,” Jay said.
“What happened to Gregg Wright?”
“Well, after he blew her brains out, he went outside on the front lawn and gave himself the same treatment.
“What did the police say about the whole thing?” Danny asked.
“Oh, the usual shit – did we hear the actual shots, and yes, some did, myself included. Why would they do this? Were they getting divorced?”
“I’ll tell you, no one had an answer to anything , I mean, they had only been there three days, and no one knew anything about them.”
“Of course, I had to be the one to find the bodies, and that started a whole new flurry of questions. But I had nothing to say to them. I heard the noise and ran outside just like everyone else did.”
“But, you ran inside the house, Mr. Walken, a potential crime scene.”
“I’ve told you this before -1 thought that maybe there might another inside alive. I was trying was to help.”
“When it was all over, the cops claimed it was a simple murder-suicide. There was just no evidence to point otherwise.”
“But, being a writer and all, and seeing the inside and outside of the house right after the fact, I sat down, and based on the experiences The Andersons had suffered, I put together my own little synopsis of what had perhaps been going on that day, leading up their deaths. Before you read it, let me warm you: This is a complete fabrication from my own mind, except what I witnessed myself, and what happened to the Andersons. Though some may be false, I truly believe that it went something like this”:
…he had been hearing voices, horrible, gravelly voices, on the second day they were there; and he knew that Tina could not hear them, for she was present oftentimes when they spoke to him.
He debated as to whether the voices were real, or something was going on in his mind. A voice told him that they were, indeed, very real, and he had a purpose in life that had to be carried out soon.
His didn’t speak back with his mind, but he somehow knew that he didn’t have to. They knew what he was thinking – they were digging into his brain like worms in a corpse that was buried with no coffin. And the voices seemed endless. They spoke of death and insanity, they spoke in tongues that he could not understand. It was already driving him mad, but he did not tell Tina – she would not understand. The voices told him that she would have him commited if he admitted anything.
One voice in particular stood out above the rest. It was strong and deep and monstrous, and told him unimaginable things that his mind could not bear. The images that began to fill his mind were equally as maddening: shadowy faces with lidless eyes that came and went as other images appeared. Black and white images of people who were dead and mutated, with open and staring eyes, some naked with their bodies turned almost inside out.
And the perpetrators of these hideous acts came forth, creatures that no man could see with any true perception at all. Abominations from another, darker realm that revealed to him images of the humans being slaughtered.
They dug deeper into his mind with no end. That night, he slept, and yet the images played on, and it was during that sleep, that time of vulnerability that his mind finally slipped, and he became a part of the unimaginable.
On the third day, he moped around the house, not bothering to watch TV, or speak to his wife. Tina kept asking him what was wrong, and he kept saying, “Nothing, Tina. I just don ‘feel like talking. “
He went out for several walks that day – Jay Walken had been at his computer in his spare bedroom turned office, and had spied him lingering by through the window above his desk. He considered that something might have been amiss, but recalling their urgency to have him leave their little home, for they had wanted to be alone, he let it go, although the possibility that the house was at work again never left his mind.
That night, the Wrights ate dinner quietly at the kitchen table, Tina confused, bordering on anger at her husband’s behavior.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Gregg? Are you pissed at me for something? What is it?”
“It’s nothing, Tina. Just a bad day. Let it go.”
‘Well, it’s a little hard to let go, Gregg, since you are acting like a total ass!” She pushed her plate aside and went into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
The powerful voice finally told Gregg what his true purpose in life was, and Gregg’s sickened mind readily accepted. He stood and went in the spare bedroom and into the tiny closet where he kept a shotgun and a box of shells. He used to go shooting for duck quite often, but now he had a new purpose.
He loaded the twelve gauge and went into the bedroom, where Tina was rooting through the top drawer of a dresser for clean panties. She had designs on taking a hot bath and going to bed early.
When she heard Gregg enter the room, she turned to face him, the man who had treated her like shit the entire day, and when she saw the shotgun her eyes widened, her jaw dropped. “Gregg, what are you-“
He leveled the shotgun and blew her head apart. It was as if a watermelon had been smashed against the wall behind her. Her nearly headless body crumpled to the carpet.
The bastardly, yet commanding voices continued in his head – there was one more purpose to his life, and it was to be carried out now. His mind agreed.
He calmly walked out the front door of the house, and into the center of the small yard. Standing on the grass, he put the shotgun under his chin, and a second later most of his head was gone.
Jay Walken was the first to run to the front yard of the house next door, and see the corpse of Gregg Wright lying flat on its back on the grass, most of its head gone. A twelve gauge shotgun lie on the grass next to the body.
Other neighbors appeared outside in the deepening darkness, and Jay yelled, “Somebody call 911! Now!”
Resisting the urge to vomit, he ran inside the house and discovered Tina’s corpse. This would be the first time he saw the splattered wall. He ran back outside and threw up onto the grass, while sirens grew louder in the distance, like dogs baying at a storm.
“So, as far can consider, this is as close a scenario as one would be able to come up with,” Jay said. “And I can guarantee this time that things will be different. If not, you’ll at least have witness to the whole thing.”
“But how can you guarantee that?” Susan asked, rubbing her palms together.
“Because he or it has too much working against it now. Keep your thought focused. Don’t let it get inside. That’s what happened to the Wrights.”
“What do you think will happen?” Danny asked.
“I think it’ll try to scare you out, get you out of the scene altogether.” Jay smiled. A little more of that wine would be nice.”
After more menial talk, the trio decided to call it a night. Jay tucked into the couch, and Susan came in after a moment. “Are you going to be alright there, Jay?”
“Oh, I’ll be fine. I’m just worried about you two. But, I’m here.”
She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek. “Thank you, Jay. For helping us.”
“My pleasure, dear. I’ll be here if you need me.”
She left the night light on in the hall, went down the hall and closed the master bedroom door behind her. All was dark except for the dim light emanating from under the door.
Jay lay his head on the pillow and relaxed. He heard the muffled voices of Danny and Susan, most likely discussing the house, and what to do about it. Susan was obviously frightened. Danny must have been, too, but for a man to admit it would take much more.
The house grew very quiet; and Jay wondered if they were making love. Such new love was hard to resist. It had been a long time for this old guy, something he tried to forget about. He sank his head farther into the pillow, and then heard something he could not ignore.
A door creaked open in the kitchen, and then slammed shut. Perhaps a food storage closet. Again, it opened, and this time closed with less ferocity.
It was beginning, then.
Voices from the kitchen. Not the subdued, muffled voices from down the hall, but, quiet, voices that were immediately in the living room. They became somewhat harsh, speaking in tones that Jay could not understand. One voice, obviously male became quite brusque, and the other, female voice fell silent.
The front door, although it had been locked up tight, opened and closed as if someone had merely waked in and closed it behind him. And then all fell silent.
Jay was frightened, but tried to maintain some sort of personal energy against what was happening. He would have a lot to tell Danny and Susan tomorrow, and they were not going to like it.
But the fun wasn’t over yet As Jay-stared into the darkness; two shapes appeared in the air, a swirling mist at first that soon took on the forms of a man and woman’s faces. They walked about the room as if they had bodies, but they had none as far as Jay could tell. He pulled the blanket up to his chin, and lies as still as possible.
Nonetheless, they discovered Jay and came close to him leaning down, still speaking that strange language that was not even familiar to him. Their ghastly faces were right next to his own, speaking urgently and yet with not even a whisper. They kept nodding their heads toward the front door.
Jay gathered enough courage to sit up. “What do you want me to do, leave? Am I supposed to leave?”
Nods from both heads.
“I am not leaving! I am here to help my friends, and I promise you, I will go and get a priest!”
Scowls from both heads as they turned and made for the hallway and the master bedroom. Jay sat straight up and waited. Time seemed to have gone still. He waited.
Susan cried out from behind the closed bedroom door, and it was all it took for Jay to throw back his blanket and jump up, rushing straight to the master bedroom door. He did not knock or wait for an answer, but burst right into the room.
At first, he saw the distraught couple sitting up in bed, Susan drowning in tears, and Danny with an arm around her trying to comfort her. Danny had switched on the reading lamp on the nightstand on his side of the bed. And then Jay saw what was causing all this, and his own fear seemed to bump up a notch.
Standing at the foot of their bed were two figures; and one was wearing a man’s suit, while the other a pretty dress that Susan obviously wore to special occasions.
And here were the two same heads he had seen earlier, apparently with bodies after all, wearing clothes appropriated from their own closet.
Jay stepped farther into the room. “In the name of our Father in Heaven, leave this house! You are not welcome here!” Jay exclaimed. “God denies you, you must leave!”
The figures stood there in their stolen clothing, regarding Jay as if were speaking a foreign language.
Susan had tears running down her face, and Jay realized that Danny was frightened speechless.
“In the name if God, leave!”
Something deep beneath the house grumbled.
The ghostly couple scowled as their faces began to change. The skin turned a moist brown and sloughed off in large patches, sliding down their clothes and hitting the carpet with chunks of wet sewage. The side of the woman’s face slid off, revealing a set of grinning, crooked choppers.
Their hair turned white, and then became mere white wisps on their bald heads.
Whatever forms they had were losing solidity, for the clothes fell to the floor in a rustle of clothing, and for a second they could see the skeletal shapes of their bodies before they disappeared altogether.
Now, only the heads remained, this time in their true forms, forms of the long dead. As they floated toward the door, one of the man’s eyes burst forth onto his cheek.
Jay slammed shut the door.
When the heads realized they were trapped, they went straight down to the floor, and like their bodies, lost their solidity, and sank through the floor.
Susan was still crying, clutching onto Danny with an iron grip.
“So,” Danny said, “is it over”?
Jay wanted so much to tell the couple that it was, indeed over, but he knew better. “It’s not over, Danny and Susan. The evil entities are still here, and will do everything they can to get you out.”
“What about the couple?” Susan asked.
“They’re dead, probably buried somewhere beneath the house. The evil here brought them back. But, I think Iney’re gone for now.
Jay just smiled. “I’m here to help you until this is over. I need to go to bed now. Tired. You two do the same. By the way, I’d like to have the pastor from my church come and bless the house, if it’s alright with you?”
“We would love that,” Danny said.
“Goodnight, then,” he said shambling down the hall to the couch.
“Leave the bedroom door open,” Susan said.
It took hours for the two to sleep, and it was only when the room began to brighten that sleep finally overtook them. When Danny and Susan woke later in the morning, they found Jay had already gone. It was only a short time later that he showed up with Pastor Henry Flaker, from the Christ Evangelical Church. The Pastor was dressed in street clothes, but yielded a bible and a small bottle of water. Holy water.
“Sorry to get you up so early, folks, but it was the only time I could get him out here.”
“Did I just get you up?” The pastor with the deep, rich voice asked.
“Oh, we were already up. Truth is, we didn’t sleep much last night. Come in, come in, please.” Susan said.
They followed Susan into the kitchen, where an obviously worn out version of Danny was attempting to brew coffee.
“Susan, Danny, please meet Pastor Henry Flaker.”
“Very nice to meet you sir, and thank you for coming out on such short notice,” Danny said. Jay could already sense the relief from the couple at merely having someone a little more knowledgeable in the house.
Susan returned with a cup of coffee, and set it down on the table before the pastor. “Thank you, dear.” he said, lifting it and sipping.
He looked around the house, taking in its architecture, its very shape and feel, and Pastor Flaker’s face became very serious. “You say you’ve been having problems with the house?”
“Yes,” Danny said. “Major problems. But this you’re not going to believe. We had some ghosts in our bedroom last night, and we believe Jay sent them away.”
“So, what do you mean, sent them away?” Pastor Flaker asked, sipping his coffee.
Susan said, “They were wearing our clothes, Pastor, standing right by our bed. Jay came in and told them to leave, in the name of God. They went horribly ugly.”
He looked at Jay and smiled. “Were they dead?”
Jay nodded and looked into his coffee.
The pastor said, “Sometimes the dead search for things that remind them of their lives, hence, your clothing. But more often than not, they like to hang around children. They seem to represent life to them more than anything.”
“Can you bless our house, sir?” Danny asked.
“Oh yes, I will bless this house, and we’ll see what happens. I feel that there still remain some bad entities that would rather not leave. In fact, I get the feeling that they would rather die.”
“That’s horrible,” Susan said.
“It’s the sad truth. Some would rather move on to their suffering than leave what they have, which is making mortal men suffer. Of course, from what I’ve studied, there is always a primary source of the evil, one that controls everything. One that is powerful. I have to tell you up front, a blessing will have little affect if this is the case. But it will help to bring God into your home, and that can always help.”
“Pastor, can I ask you something?” Danny asked.
“Sure, go right ahead.”
“I get the feeling that there is more to you than meets the eye. Are you a psychic, or something like that, because it seems you know more than most people do. Are you in tune with this stuff?”
Jay and Pastor Flaker exchanged glances.
Little Henry and his mother stood at the bus stop, waiting for the Saturday 8:45 to take them into town. They both stood on the curb in the brisk December wind, but it was ok because Christmas shopping was on both their minds, especially young Henry’s.
Henry stiffened up, not from the cold, but from something he was seeing in his mind.
A car, out of control.
“Mommy, get off the curb, go to the sidewalk. “
“More of your silliness, huh? “
“Mommy, get off the curb!” Henry grabbed her arm and tried to force her back, but she would not budge.
“Henry, you’ve got to stop this silliness, now!”
Henry wasn’t listening – he took a few steps back, and then ran at his mother, forcing her away from the curb and finally knocking her down on the crisp grass beyond the sidewalk.
“Henry, what in God’s name!”
Then the car came. A dark Buick swerving down the other side of the road. It suddenly swerved over to their side of the road, jumping up on the curb and shooting sparks out from its underside. 11 smashed several mailboxes along the way, and then crashed through the bus top sign where they had been standing. It swerved left, and ran across the street into a bank of shrubbery, where it finally stopped.
Mrs. Flaker looked at her son incredulously. “You saved my life, Henry. How did you know? “
Henry said nothing, just hugged his mother, glad that she was alive.
“You have a special gift, then,” Susan said.
“That’s what they say,” Flaker said. “If it weren’t for Jay, I would have lost my mind long ago.” He laid a hand on Jay’s shoulder and smiled.
“What are friends for?” Jay asked.
“Let’s get on with it, shall we?” The Pastor said. “Why don’t the rest of you sit in the living room while I go about my business, ok?”
Danny and Susan moped into the living room like zombies.
“I can’t thank you enough for coming, Henry,” Jay said. “I know how this stuff affects you.”
“These people need help, Jay, that’s why I’m here. If I can find anything out, I will. Go into the living room. It’s safer there.”
Jay went and sat down on the couch with the other two, while Flaker passed through the room, unscrewing the lid from the holy water.
They heard him in the bathroom and bedroom: “Blessed be this house, oh Lord and those who pass through its doors. Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from wicked and deceitful men. “
Pastor Flaker entered the living room and waved his hand down as if to keep everyone waiting seated and calm: “Blessed be this house, oh Lord and all who pass within.” He sprinkled the water everywhere, even onto the laps of those sitting in the room. He ignored them as if they were not there: “You are God my stronghold, why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Send forth your light and truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell.”
In the kitchen: “Blessed be this house and all who walk…why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
And in the small laundry room: “Why do you deny me? Why deny God? Let him deliver you and bless this home!”
The three looked at each other in worried contemplation. Jay could finally stand it no more; he stood and went to the kitchen doorway, heard only quiet exasperations from somewhere within.
Danny and Susan could only sit and watch with wide, doubtful eyes from their perches on the couch.
Jay entered the kitchen, and saw the Pastor in the little laundry room, leaning over the hatch to the crawlspace. He held up a hand. Stop. Stay there. Jay stood right where he was at for several moments, and then the Pastor waved him over.
That the hatch was still closed raised no alarms in Jay, but then Flaker sprinkled some of the holy water onto the hatch. The beads of water spread out as if a wind were blowing them away, until they had rolled over the edge of the hatch and onto the laundry room floor, where they remained docile.
Pastor Flaker put a finger to his lips, and stood. Jay followed him back into the living room.
“Have any of you opened that hatch in there?” The Pastor asked.
“The owner’s son said we’d have to go down there to change the filters on the furnace, but no, no one has touched it.”
“That hatch seems to signify the doorway between worlds, but they don’t have to use it. I need to do a little research on this, and in the meantime, I suggest you call the owner to see what she has to say. But, I’ll tell you right now, you should leave this house – not only will they try to scare you away, some can get into you mind. I can feel it right now, and since I am more susceptible I will go now and return later. I don’t want to jeopardize the situation.”
“How come no one questioned this before?” Danny asked.
“Because people get so frightened, they just run away. Of course, with the Wrights, it was too late. They took him.. .1 must go,” the pastor said, and walked out the front door without another word.
They sat around the kitchen table drinking their coffees, each taking a turn at chancing a glance at the hatch. All remained quiet.
“I’m going to call the landlady now,” Danny said, with his prickly hair and five-o-clock shadow, and picked up the phone.
“Is this Cora Fenston?” (He already knew it was her from the soft and gentle, yet sympathetic voice).
“Yes, this is Cora, how can I help you? “
“Cora, this is Danny Keil. I just rented the house on 666 west 7th street?”
“Oh yes, Danny and Susan.” Again in that soft yet somehow deceitful voice. “What can I help you with, Danny? “
“Well, first, you can tell me just what the hell is going on with this house?”
“/ don’t know what you mean, Danny. Is there a problem with the plumbing or something? “
“Oh, you know what I mean, Cora. ” He couldn’t help but accentuate the name Cora, the seed of accusation.
“/ certainly don’t know what you’re talking about, Danny, but you don’t have to get hostile about it.”
“You knew about this house all along, didn’t you? And still, you let people move in. Why didn’t you tell us?”
“/ don’t know what you mean? “
“Oh, you know what I mean, there is something seriously wrong with this house, and you know it. People have died here!”
“That has nothing to do with the house, I can’t help what happens.”
Danny glared at Susan and Jay, who sat quietly at the table, not wanting to add to the fire.
“This house is haunted, or something, but whatever it is, I think you knew about it, and let us move in anyway.”
Silence on the other end. “There is nothing wrong with that house.”
“Oh yes, there is, something horribly wrong, and we are leaving!”
“But you signed a one year lease, you can ‘trust move out.” Cora said.
“But, that’s exactly what we are going to do. We will not stay another night in this God forsaken house of yours!”
The sweet voice changed into bitterness that no one could have foreseen: “If you leave now, you ‘II be breaking the terms of your lease. You ‘II have to pay all moneys owed.”
“I will do no such thing, you lying bitch!”
Susan tried to stand, but Jay put a hand on her shoulder and settled her down.
“Well then, I’ll have to take you to small claims court to get the money. You owe it to me!”
“We’ll just see about that, you cheating bitch!” Danny slammed the receiver into the cradle. “She says we’ll owe her all the money for the lease, and she take us to small claims court to get it. And she knows nothing about the house! Bullshit!”
“Calm down, hon, we’ll figure it out,” Susan said.
“Susan, do you even know what the fuck you’re talking about?”
Jay stood up and put two strong hands on Danny’s shoulders. “It’s not her fault, Danny, she’s just trying to help.”
Danny paused for a minute, gathering his breath. He went over to Susan and said, “I’m sorry, Susan, I shouldn’t have said that.” He put his arms around her from behind, and she kissed his cheek.
“It’s ok, Danny, you were pissed.”
“I’m really sorry, babe, she just pissed me off, badly!”
“I know, I know,” Susan said, standing up and hugging him. “We’ll take care of it.”
“Yes, Danny, we will,” Jay said.
“Thanks, you guys. I think I need to go shave. I feel like crap.”
Susan sat back down across from Jay, a little shaken from the recent events.
“With the Pastor’s help, we can beat this thing against Cora Penston,” Jay said. “I promise you. There may even be a book that could come from this – you never know. We could be partners.”
In the bathroom, Danny stood in front of the small mirrored medicine cabinet, reflecting his own tired countenance back at him like a sad portrait created by some unknown artist. He turned on the cold water and splashed it onto his face; and as he reached for a towel and dabbed his face, he became instantly aware that the face gazing back at him from the mirror was not his own. He locked eyes with the being, and his sanity crumbled.
But, even in his trepidation, he was suddenly aware of who he was looking at. And he fell victim at once.
The Red Man.
He stood in the mirror speaking to Danny in tongues long vanished, and yet Danny nodded his head. Because to gaze upon the figure in the mirror meant instant insanity, and understanding of everything the complete opposite of good.
He could not look away.
The thing in the mirror was not human, and yet was, (it was , not doubt, a man, and a thing at the same time), for every few seconds the face changed, human and abomination. Wearing no skin, he was covered with blood that did not drip, did not smear – it circulated around his head and body as if carried by veins and arteries, though there were none present. Only rivers of unnatural blood that flowed around him, into him, out again, a never ceasing action that mimicked human life.
And he wore many faces, all staring back at Danny as if they were old friends.
hi his insanity, Danny understood now this creature’s purpose. He had to exist to balance things, to bring order and chaos, good and bad, left and right: He was The Father of all Things Evil, and Danny knew why he had to exist.
With that understanding in mind, the figure changed into that of a man with glassy, glaring eyes. Behind those eyes remained no conscious, no remorse, only a lust for death. He held up an axe for Danny’s inspection. The connection between them said everything.
There was to be balance.
As the Pastor perused over old volumes from the public library shelves, it hit him, clean and clear, an unexpected and unwelcome pause that interrupted the norm of his life, as it had for many years, and for a moment he was no longer at the public library, just another citizen trying to catch up on some reading, but witness to something so bizarre that all he could do was hang onto the shelf to steady himself, for he could no longer see the reality in front of him.
He saw Danny, unshaven, hair sticking up from no sleep, and realized just how vulnerable the man must have been. Danny had beads of water running down his face as he looked into the mirror at another face. Flaker ‘s heart skipped a beat. In the mirror •was not a reflection of Danny but that of a another, one who had eyes that shone and reflected death. Pastor Flaker understood that it had been this man’s purpose in life, and in death had been to despise all living things, especially people – he held the axe up in the mirror for Danny’s inspection. And Danny’s expression, his eyes, seemed transfixed on that very sight. It was all Flaker could do to stop from screaming. He closed his eyes and shook his head back and forth, something he learned as a child, until the vision left him.
“Sir, are you alright?” a man standing a short ways down the row asked.
“Yes, y-yes, I’m fine, thank you,” Pastor Henry Flaker said, and rushed off toward the check-out desk.
A young college student was running the desk that day, and she was quite taken aback at the look in Flaker’s eyes as he approached. “Please, I need a phone.”
“Sir, there are payphones out in the hall,” the girl said, reluctantly.
“You don’t understand! This is an emergency! Give me a phone, now!” Even Flaker himself could not believe the way he was behaving, but desperate problems called for desperate measures.
The girl handed him a phone and said, “Dial nine first, sir. And I’m sorry if-”
He brushed his hand in the air: / don’t give a rat’s ass right now.
He dialed Danny and Susan’s number, and listened to it ring twice before the line went dead. He tried one more time, but with the same result.
And without even thinking, he found himself dialing 911.
“This is 911 emergency dispatch; please state the nature of your emergency.”
“You need to get the police over to 666 west 7th street. Something bad is going to happen!”
“Sir, I need your name and location. “
“We don’t have time for that! Someone is going to be killed if the police don’t get there immediately!”
The young clerk took a step back after hearing those words, thinking that perhaps this man on the phone was a crazy, a lunatic, and capable of anything.
“Sir, will you please tell me the nature of- “
“Just get the nicking police over there now, before someone dies!” He hanged up the receiver, instantly regretful of his foul language. “I’m sorry, miss. Didn’t mean to offend you.” Flaker said, and then he was flying outside to his car.
Danny walked back into the kitchen, looking no better than when he had left. It didn’t matter, however, because the two sitting at the kitchen table looked worse than a nightmare too horrible to be subdued by the mind, lock away in some mental gray area that blocked memories.
Susan looked up from her coffee. “Hi, Honey. Want some more coffee?” Her head was split open straight down the middle, eyes widened apart, her mouth now a part of the huge gouge in her head. “Are you alright, Danny?”
Danny found that he could look right at her. “I’m fine. No coffee for me, thanks.”
Another voice caught his attention, and it was no wonder he hadn’t noticed at first, for most of Jay Walken’s face was hanging from his skull like a huge piece of flesh, facing downward at the table. But, the face spoke. “We were just discussing your options here, Danny, and I don’t think you have a thing to worry about as far as that landlady is concerned.”
Jay’s head had been split open from the side, his face only hanging on by the skin of his chin, and the inside workings of his head were revealed through the large opening. He stood and went to the coffee pot. “You sure you don’t want some coffee Danny, you look like you need it.” Large amounts of blood oozed from a large, straight wound hi his back.
“I’m sure,” Danny said to the two mutilated figures. “I’m going into the living room.”
Susan and Jay exchanged glances as Danny left the room, glances that came from perfectly normal countenances. “Maybe we had better go see what’s wrong,” Jay said.
Susan nodded, and they rose, walking into the living room.
Danny stood in the middle of the room with his back to them, in between the couch and love seat, next to the coffee table. He seemed to be talking to someone who wasn’t there. Jay and Susan again exchanged looks, not quite sure how to proceed.
“Danny?” Susan said, very softly as if to speak louder might break some kind of barrier. “Danny?”
Susan approached him until she stood nearly next to him; but his face was still turned away, and hi her worry, she hadn’t even noticed that he was holding something hi his hands.
“Danny! Talk to me!”
Danny suddenly turned toward her, and she screamed. Behind them, somewhere, Jay gasped as if it was his last breath.
It was not Danny who turned around, it was not Danny who wielded the axe, but someone else who was quite at home with that particular tool, and knew how to use it well.
The vision hit him again, and he had to pull his car to the roadside. Flaker’s eyes were wide open, yet they revealed a different reality: Susan was screaming as she tripped over
the coffee table and sprawled onto the couch. The man that was not Danny, the one with the axe, wasted no time in splitting her head open like a clam. But, this man was no idiot. After years of killing, years of pursuit, he was instantly aware of Jay Walken’s flight down the hall toward the bedroom.
He leaped over the clamshell head of Susan Boothe, hot on the heels of the writer.
In the master bedroom, the writer was trying to crawl out of the window, and would have made it, had it not been for the heavy force of the axe driven into his back like a huge hook drawing a fish from the sea. He screamed (which was heard by several neighbors) and turned his head back toward his killer. That was when his head was split open sideways, separating his face from his skull, leaving the rest to start oozing out.
And then, when the long dead serial killer showed his face, it was Danny. Danny.
Flaker’s hands were trembling on the steering wheel as he squeezed his eyes shut. He opened the door and vomited onto the roadside, and then closed the door as not to draw any attention. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt, but the acid aftertaste would have to stay hi his mouth for the time being.
He started the car and sped off to not a mystery, but a reality that he alone already knew, as well as others who would soon find out.
When he arrived, the place was already crawling with cops. Jay Walken’s screams had prompted neighbors to call the police, and Pastor Flaker did not need to go inside to know what the house revealed. He goes out of his car and approached the curb, as two husky officers were leading Danny out to a car.
“Hello, Pastor,” Danny said, before they tucked him into the back seat of a cruiser.
“Do you know him?” a policeman asked.
“Yes, I knew him briefly. I blessed their house.”
“Are you the one that made that crazy call to 911?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Flaker said. “I just came back for a visit.”
The cop nodded and walked off.
Pastor Flaker stayed long enough to watch as they carried two black body bags out to an ambulance, and situated them inside. The ambulance left, no need for lights this time, thank you, and Flaker left while those in authority spilled in and out of the house like ants.
A lone figure creeps behind the old houses along 7th street, and only one or two have low chain link fences, which makes it easier for him. His heart is unsure of his actions, as it is not his nature to do such things, but he believes God is behind him, strengthens him, and he continues on. It doesn’t ‘t take long for him to reach the house in question; and although there is no police tape at the back of the place, the entire front yard is taped as a crime scene. No entry.
No matter. The figure squats down with his gas can, and considers things. It is a hard decision, perhaps dangerous, but he cannot hold back any longer. He splashes gasoline all over the back side of the house, which is all wood planking, and when the can is empty, he runs it over to the fence he will have to jump to escape, and then returns with a simple book of matches.
One match and the house decides to consume itself.
The figure runs to the fence and, grabbing the gas can, disappears as if he had never been there.
In later days, considering all the men who were imprisoned, he wonders if it had been just luck, or something that was meant to be.
He chooses the latter.
Pastor Flaker sat quietly while Danny wept.
“What made you do it, Danny?”
Danny came back with a much-unexpected response: “You burned down my house, didn’t you?” He was staring straight into the Pastor’s eyes now.
Flaker said nothing.
Danny spoke again, but this time the voice was deep and cracked, unlike anything he had ever heard.
“You burned down the house, Pastor, but you can’t burn down me. I am everywhere and nowhere at once. I am the balance in the world. I am the Father of All Things Evil. You want to know what happens in my world? Be prepared.”
Even with shackled hands, Danny was able to reach out and grab Flaker’s wrist. “You have the vision, Pastor. Welcome to my world.”
Flaker had no time to decide if the Danny was making the voice, or if it came from somewhere else.
As soon as Danny’s hands clasped onto his wrist, the world changed. It became insanity. The visions of atrocities, of blood, poured into his mind like water into a glass. Everything that was the complete opposite of good invaded his mind, trying to take it along for the ride. He snarled and moaned, and finally managed to call out for the guards.
Timmer and Manny rushed in and broke the link between them, dragging the Pastor out into the hall, where he lie shaking and wide-eyed until a nurse sedated him, after which they took him to an empty room to rest. Flaker held his arms above his chest, quaking with a knowledge that he would never forget. But, he did not lose his sanity, even with the flashes of the Red Man intermingled with everything else, his faith held him together.
Article from the Daily Press, March, 2005:
City Approves Plans for Local Makeover
In an effort to improve the beauty of our city, and help those in need as well, Mayor Ballard has announced that the purchase of all the derelict homes along 7th Street has been finalized. The residents will be relocated, and the block torn down to make room for low housing units for the growing population of applicants. This decision comes not too long after the tragic events that took place at 666 west 7th Street. The house mysteriously burned to the ground, but instead of remodeling, the owner was more than happy to join in with the move to beautify our neighborhoods.
Mayor Ballard announced today that in an effort to save money for the venture, the new low housing homes would be built directly over the original sights.
“Most of the foundations in these homes could last another hundred years. We can simply reinforce them, and use them for the new homes.”
According to sources, as soon as the homes are demolished and removed, city crews can come in to patch and repair or reinforce the remaining foundations.
The homes are scheduled to be built in summer of 2005, and will become just another one of the Mayor’s plans to beautify the city.