Friday, October 10, 2014

Frightening Friday: The Medium Scary Haunting

I want to tell you a story. A story about what? You'll have to read it to find out. But first I want to reassure you that it's only medium scary. Medium scary means that you will probably not have to prepare for fear the way you would with a super scary story. A super scary story might cause you to pee your pants or lose consciousness or run in fear. But a medium scary story means you'll only do those things halfway. You might lightly tinkle your pants, swoon, or prance away in mild alarm. You might even sleep peacefully tonight, instead of lying awake staring at the dark ceiling of your bedroom, hoping you're all alone. So, rather than turning on all the lights and grabbing your teddy bear right now for comfort, as you would with a super scary story, you will only need to light a few candles and hold the hand of a distant cousin before you read…

The Medium Scary Haunting

If you walk to the end of Darkwood Lane, you'll come upon the house numbered 311. You might feel a strange heaviness in the air as you gaze upon it and wonder who might have lived there. It's abandoned now, and the trees that surround it have grown tall and old. Even on a bright summer day, they remain leafless but still manage to cover the front yard with shadows. The people in the neighborhood stay away. Not even the teenagers dare each other to go there. They've heard the stories. Everybody in town has. They warn their children, "Don't even ride your bikes down there. Don't even look at it." And for good reason. People who stare too long at the house claim to see things. A candle burning in an upstairs window? A face? A shadow where there shouldn't be one?

I guess what I'm saying is don't walk to the end of Darkwood Lane and don't gaze upon the house numbered 311. Just forget I told you about it. Get in your car and drive back to where you came from.

Still here? Okay. But I warned you.

Our story begins on an autumn day, not unlike this one. A block away from 311 Darkwood Lane, the air was brisk and smelled of burning leaves. But the air close to the house, if you dared to get close enough, felt heavy and was surrounded by a musty odor you might find in an attic or an old box of papers from a long ignored closet.

The family that arrived that fall afternoon had not heard the stories. They didn't know the house's history. They didn't feel the uneasiness in the air or see a flicker of shadow in an upstairs window. They could only see "an adorable wraparound porch," a "very becoming Mansard roof," and the low, low price on the long-forgotten and overgrown "For Sale" sign in the front yard.

It didn't even occur to them to ask questions like, "Is this a murder house? Were atrocities committed here? Was this once a funeral home? Is there an opening to another dimension in one of the upstairs closets?" Nothing. They bought it without a second thought.

As you likely expect, things got medium scary pretty fast.

In a super scary haunting, a family member might open a door to a closet and see a man hanging there, his eyes bugged out and staring. After a moment, the specter might disappear, and the person might suspect he or she had imagined things. Super scary hauntings might include doors slamming all by themselves, lights flickering, sudden chills, or a strange, overpowering smell of rot. The family might hear a piano playing in the middle of the night, only to come downstairs find the lid of the piano firmly closed and no budding pianists in sight.

But in a medium scary haunting, these things only happen halfway.

It was the family's first night in the house at 311 Darkwood Lane. The two cherubic children were tucked into bed. The parents lay in their own bed in the darkness, side by side, talking about how things were going to be different, now that they were homeowners. The kids were going to be happier. They themselves were going to be happier. Everything seemed as it should be. And then somewhere in the darkness of the house, they heard the sounds of a piano beginning to play an eerie melody.

"Do you hear that?" the dad asked.

"Yes," said the mom.

"Is it one of the kids?"

"No," the mom replied.

"Are you sure?" said the dad.

"Yes," said the mom. "We don't own a piano, Steve."

So, the parents got out of bed and crept down the stairs to investigate. They moved as quietly possible, hoping to discover whatever was making the noise in the act. But as they reached the living room doorway, the song ended abruptly.

The moonlight shone through the window, casting a silvery glow on the furniture they had moved in just that day.

"Is it one of our cell phones maybe?" the mom asked, switching on a lamp. But the dad didn't answer. He was staring at the woman standing in the middle of the room with her back turned to them.

She wore a pink gingham dress, like she was all dressed up for a summer picnic. But something about the way she was standing seemed odd, slumped somehow, like she could barely hold herself up. As the parents in our story looked on in horror, the woman slowly turned to face them.

If this were a super scary story, she wouldn't have a face, just two maggot-infested eye sockets. But because this story is only medium scary, she only had one maggot infested eye socket and her face was only half gone. It was still pretty disgusting, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The two parents screamed and screamed and raced back up the stairs to the comfort of their bedroom and each other's loving arms.

The next morning, they sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and wondering what to do.

"We can't sell the house. We just moved in," the dad said.

"Who would buy it?" said the mom. "No wonder it sat here empty all those years."

They talked about it and decided they had no choice but to stay right where they were. Perhaps the odd experience they both had was just a one-time incident.

But they were wrong.

That weekend, one of the children woke them in the middle of the night to tell them that a woman was standing by her bed and wouldn't let her sleep.

"She keeps saying 'Help me. He's coming,'" the girl said, rubbing her eyes.

If this were a super scary story, the parents would carry the girl back to her bedroom. And as they went to tuck her back into bed, the music box on the dresser would begin to play. And then a spectral face would appear in the mirror with an obscene amount of blood spurting from its mouth.

But as this is only a medium scary story, the music box stayed quiet and the horrifying face in the mirror only had a small trickle of blood running from the corner of each eyeball.

"I'm beginning to think we should just move," said the mom, back in her own bedroom.

"It'll be all right in the morning. You'll see," replied the dad. And they both finally fell asleep, holding hands in the darkness.

If this were a super scary story, there would be one last unforgettable incident that would finally drive the family from the house. They would venture into the basement and find the dusty lab of a madman, the hastily buried corpses of his victims moldering in shallow graves nearby. Or the attic might yield a faceless monstrosity screaming, "GET OUT. GET OUT FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CHILDREN." But this is only a medium scary story, so the final incident, while quite unforgettable, was really only half as scary as it could have been. But I'm warning you, it is still pretty medium scary.

It was evening, not quite dark outside. The mom was home alone, enjoying a few quiet moments before her children arrived home from their after school activities. She was sitting at the living room window with a book in her hand, and she heard a male voice outside and looked up, expecting to see her husband waving at her from the driveway. Instead she saw what appeared to be an elderly man standing in the street in front of the house. She couldn't see his face, but he was definitely watching her. In his hand he held, not an ax as it would have been in a super scary story, but a shovel that shone coppery in the evening light.

As she watched, he began to stride toward the house. The mom quickly ran to the front door to make sure it was locked. As she held the doorknob in her hand, it began to rattle, like someone was trying to open it from the other side. She backed away from the door and began looking around for a place to hide. She finally crouched down behind a side table. The rattling at the doorknob finally stopped, but the sound that took its place was almost more disturbing. It was the sound of a shovel being dragged across the porch...and slowly making its way around the wraparound porch the family had so recently admired to the back door.

Had she locked it? The mom couldn't remember. And she couldn't move. Her body seemed paralyzed by fear, frozen to the floor beside the couch.

"GET UP! MOVE!" she screamed in her mind. "Run out the front door. Run to safety."

It was the sound of the back door creaking open that finally released her body from its paralysis and allowed her to take action. The mom raced to the front door, not even daring to look back toward the kitchen and the horrors that likely lay there.

In a super scary story, she would struggle with the lock as the sound of footsteps approached her from behind. But this is only a medium scary story. She did struggle with the lock and she did hear footsteps.   But rather than the rough hand she expected to grab her, it was only a light touch that came with an overwhelming fragrance of perfume.

The mom looked behind her in alarm to see the face of the woman she and her husband had happened upon in their living room that first night in the house.

"He's here," the woman said in a raspy voice. The knob turned in the mom's hand, and she ran from the house.

In a super scary story, I might tell you that the family fled that night and never returned. But as this is only a medium scary story, it took them until at least 10:30 the next morning.

I told you it was only medium scary.