A Classic Tale of Horror
The creeks in the floor boards whispered secrets not heard for a century. Bits of tales known only by the wood on which they happened. Stories never said out loud for fear they might resurrect. If the walls could speak, they wouldn’t.
Far down the road, miles from any town, and twisted up on a hill sat The Manor. An estate of rust and rot, stained still from the events of August, 1938. To reclaim the land would be to set foot in the house, and that was beyond the promise of money for most. Steven and James Wilks knew the account of the Montgomery Massacre and the investigation that followed it. The investigation that left four officers dead and one in an asylum mumbling in terror. They studied it into the late hours of the night until their dreams kept them from sleep, so they studied more. More importantly, they knew of the safe filled with gold that Mr. Montgomery hid in the upstairs office. They were determined. For them, it was personal.
After an anxious car ride and a shared shot of courage from a flask, the boys pulled up the driveway in a borrowed car. At midday, the sun was a spotlight to ward off evil.
“It’s just a house.” Steven pulled a sack of supplies from the back seat. The older of the two, and newly an adult at eighteen years old, he made a personal pact to keep his cool.
“Yeah.” James rested his hands on his hips, taking in the facade. A victorian masterpiece placed here in 1820 with expectations that the nearby town would soon connect to the train line. It never did, and the town disintegrated into the earth. Marble columns twisted up from the front porch to hold a balcony fit for kings to look upon who dare enter below. Along the trim ran a curled wooden cornice carved out by expert hands. And though now the columns and balcony and trim were cracked and weathered, they still stood, determined to inspire and intimidate.
“I want to be out before the sun starts coming down so let’s get to it.”
James nodded slowly, hesitantly.
The boys faltered to the front steps—a tall stairway up to a ten foot double door that might take the both of them to open. With each stride, their hearts rose a little more. James showed it on his face, Steven did not.
A padlock hung on a series of chains wrapped around the brass handles, designed for the hands of giants. The boys looked at the chain, hoping it was placed to keep out and not keep in. From the bag, Steven pulled out a pair of bolt cutters which made quick work of the links. The metal fell to the floor and echoed against the wood of the porch. Their bodies shuttered. Whatever was in the house, was awake. Steven tightened his lips and pulled a revolver from his waistband. With a quick turn of the latch, the door creaked open, the hinges breaking from their rust. Instantly, the smell took them over. Though neither were familiar with the scent, an instinct deep in their brain sent out an alert. This was the smell of decay. Of decomposed flesh and iron. A smell that stays in the nose long after the source is gone.
James took a step back, pulling his shirt over his nose. “No, no. Ain’t no thing gettin’ me in there.”
“Wait, wait.” Steven oped his bag and pulled out two bandanas and handed one to James. “I brought these incase the sheriff came.”
“That’s not enough, man. I can smell it though the shirt.” James gagged slightly as a breeze carried out from the house.
“Here.” Steven pulled out the flask and poured a few drops on the center of the cloth. “Alcohol will cover it.”
James weighed it in his mind, swaying his head back and forth. “Alright.” He grabbed the flask and soaked the front of the bandana.
With their new whiskey scented respirators, they pushed on. The alcohol did take the edge off but as the flashlights came out, their eyes stopped them again. The source of the decay was not tucked up in a bedroom in a far off wing like the newspapers said, it was right there, splattered and stained. From wall to wall, a crusted pool of blood replaced the floor.
“Oh my god, oh god, oh my god.” James pushed back out the front door. “No. Nope. We’re done. We tried.”
Steven followed him. “Aw, come on, man. That was ten years ago. It’s ancient history.”
James walked down the stairs towards the car and ripped off his bandana.
He continued on.
Steven uncovered his mouth. “Don’t you want to know what happened to dad?”
James stopped and spun around. “We know what happened to dad. He went to investigate The Massacre, obviously watched his partners get murdered,” he gestured to the house, “lost his marbles, and wound up in the asylum.”
“There’s more to it. You know there is. Besides,” he held up the gun, “we’re prepared.”
“Dad was prepared, too.” James turned back toward the car but didn’t move.
Steven dropped his head. “I’m going in.” A long pause hung between them. “I need to know.” He turned to face the door and took a few deep breaths. His heart was beating through his shirt.
“Don’t…” He let out a sigh. “Wait.” James ran his hands through his hair and rubbed at his face. “Fuck!” He walked slowly back to the house. “Okay, but just the foyer. Forget the gold. I’m not going anywhere that I can’t see the door.”
Steven nodded. “We can do that.”
The boys pushed through the door again, this time unlatching the second door as well and swinging them all the way open. The daylight flooded the entryway and a gust of wind filled the air with dust. The scene was worse than the flashlights spotted out. Blood was splashed against the walls and the carpet in the center of the room had become a sponge. Dark brown mottled the fibers and leaked out onto the once-white-wood floor around it. Steven relit his flashlight to check the shadows left from the hard contrast of the sun. On the left wall was the mouth of a fireplace that would require the slightest duck to walk into. Its black depth swallowed the light and reflected nothing. A grand stairwell rose from the back of the room off into the house of horrors. On closer inspection, the stairs were coated with an array of bullet holes tracking up the front of each step. The sweeping beam froze on the wall to the right. Nailed to a painting, was the remnants of a police uniform. Everything stopped. Steven’s confidence drained from his face. He looked to James who appeared fixed in time, staring off into the distance. Steven matched his line of sight and dropped his flashlight.
At the top of the stairs, a figure stood, silhouetted by the partially boarded window. Daylight leaked in outlining the shape of an axe resting on his shoulder. His hand reached out and pulled a lever on the wall behind him. A series of clunks and whirrs cascaded through the house, each one closer to the boys, and before a thought could find its way into either of their legs, the doors closed behind them. Steven rose his revolver and shot into the dark, the flash of the muzzle catching the shine of the blade.