The final bell rang. Some of the students were sprinting toward the door before the teacher had even finished speaking, eager for the weekend. I was among those antsy students, but rather than looking forward to the weekend, I was in a nervous rush to discuss the details of the night’s adventure. As soon as I exited the classroom, I scanned the crowd for Marty, who had this whole thing planned out.
Before I could even find him, I heard him shout, “Tonight’s the big night! Are you ready Adam?”
I paused for a moment to figure out where Marty’s voice came from. I spotted him in the middle of the rushing crowd, and made my way through to the center where we could talk in privacy.
“Hey! Yeah, I’m ready. We’re meeting at the front gate, right?”
“Not the front you dingus! We’ll meet along the left side where the forest gives us cover. There’s an opening in the fence there—you can’t miss it; we’ll meet there.”
Marty had such confidence about this whole thing … To be honest, I was extremely skeptical. Regardless, I tried to keep my cool.
“Oh right, yeah, I’ll see you there. Twelve AM?”
“You got it Adam. I’ll see ya.”
“See ya,” I spat out in an awkward way, realizing that I was repeating myself. It didn’t matter anyways, since Marty had already disappeared into the crowd, leaving me looking like a fool as I made my realization.
That night I lay in bed awake, staring blankly at the clock, waiting and thinking of the terror that may lie ahead. I’ve only heard stories about the old house on Burch street. They say that an entire family was murdered there by a servant who was fed up with the family’s snobby attitude. He had served them for some twenty-four years and just couldn’t take it anymore. The children insisted on calling him Jeeves and putting him up to ridiculous tasks like rearranging their bedrooms countless times, only to have them put back exactly the same way. I’ve heard the kids were so rotten that they’d play tricks on the butler, throwing eggs at him, or spilling soap on the floor so that he’d slip when summoned. Some of the tricks were so awful that the butler had ended up in the hospital as a result.
Apparently, he’d gotten so fed up with the kids, and the parents’ lack of responsibility, that he’d gone completely bonkers. Then, in the midst of the night, he entered the master bedroom while the parents slept, tied them up, and stuffed their mouths with socks. The butler took them from room to room in which each of the children slept, making them watch as he murdered them with a knife, slicing their necks and then their stomachs so that their intestines spilled onto the floor. He then brought the parents down into the cellar and held them there. A few days passed, and the butler heard a knock on the door. When the man and woman didn’t show up for work, someone had reported them as missing. A police officer had come to check on them. The butler had seen the officer and ran to the cellar where he was keeping them prisoner, told them what rotten kids they had and why he had to do what he had done, then killed them the same way as he had the kids, starting with the mother, and then the father. The butler knew there was no way out of the mess he had made. He took the easy way out and pulled the trigger, blasting his brains all over the stone walls of the cellar. Hearing the gunshot, the police officer barged in, unveiling the devastating scene the butler had constructed.
Others have lived there since, but it’s said that nobody could stand the unpleasant feelings of being in the house. New residents move out just as quickly as they arrive. The house is vacant now. Other kids at school said they’ve broken into the house and that they’ve seen the ghosts of children and even the butler. Marty himself claims to have broken in, though I don’t believe that anyone has actually been brave enough to do it for real, since there’s no real proof: only oral recollections and claims that they’ve done it.
Enough with the stories; it was time that I made my way to the house. I eased out of my bedroom and made my way downstairs. My father was asleep on the living room couch with the television still on. I sneaked past like a ghost, careful not to disturb his slumber. Finally, I was out the door and ready to begin my journey to Burch street.
The night was cool. A crisp breeze blew through my hair. As I walked, I was haunted by my imagination, thinking of the old house and the family that used to live there. Any bit of movement in the still night sent shivers down my spine.
When I arrived at the side of the old house, it appeared that I was the first one there. I started to wonder if Marty had played me, if he’d chickened out and decided not to follow up with his own plan.
I stood still, waiting in the silence of the night. I checked the time. It was twelve fifteen; Marty must have bailed. As I made my way back to the road, a rustling in the bushes caught my attention. I froze in place and turned towards it. My heart raced as I stared into the darkness ahead of me. Something grabbed my shoulder.
I spun around and tripped over my own fear, falling into a muddy spot on the ground. My heart dropped! I looked up to see what had startled me. It was Marty, with a huge grin on his face.
“I got your ass Adam!” He chuckled, reaching his hand out to help me up.
Marty lifted my trembling body from the ground. I had been somewhat relieved in thinking that Marty wasn’t going to show up, but now I had no choice but to follow through with our terrible plan.
“Jeez man, should we get this over with then?” I held back tears, trying to pull myself together.
I never understood how Marty could be so fearless and seemingly full of joy, even in the most terrifying situations. I followed him to the break in through the fence.
“After you, Adam,” Marty gestured towards the crack.
I ducked my head and slipped between the fence, dragging my hand along the ragged wood wall. The grass on the other side was wildly overgrown, and for once, I could see the true form of the worn-down house that’d been hiding behind these walls. Marty squeezed through after me, and I followed him to an old window on the back side of the house. The window was cracked open, but wouldn’t budge when we tried to raise it. Marty grabbed a fallen branch from the ground and used it to pry the window open.
Once inside, the first thing I noticed was the smell. It smelled like somebody ran over a coyote and then picked it off the road and left it in the hot trunk of their car for weeks. Not that anyone would ever do that … That’s just how it smelled.
Aside from the smell, the inside of the house was beautiful—it did belong to some reasonably wealthy families. Strangely enough, the place was still fully furnished. Everything was coated with a thick layer of dust, but you could tell that whoever last lived here most definitely had rich taste.
Lost in my interest of the house, I hadn’t noticed that Marty had wandered off. My heart sunk; I looked around, anticipating him to jump out and scare the living hell out of me again. Seriously—jump scares are the oldest trick in the book, and they’re really nothing but an annoyance. I continued through the house alone, bracing myself behind each corner that I turned. I heard the floor creak upstairs and figured that was him.
“Adam! Get up here!—You gotta check this out!” He shouted from the upper floor.
“Come quick man, I don’t want to be alone with it!”
I don’t want to be alone with it … What did he mean by this? Nervous and slightly alarmed by what Marty had said, I made my way up the old stairs. The closer I got to the top, the stronger the stench that enveloped the house became. When I reached the highest step, I saw Marty standing still in the doorway at the end of the hall. I made my way over to him quickly, eager to see what he was so focused on. When I finally reached him, the stench was at its strongest. I tapped him on the shoulder and he jumped. He spun around quickly and didn’t say a word. His face was white as stone. I looked past him to see what he’d been looking at.
Sprawled out on the floor near the foot of her bed was the corpse of a woman. Her flesh was rotting into a sludge on the ground. This had been the source of that god-awful stench.
“Marty, we shouldn’t be here.”
“You’re right Adam, let’s get out of here!”
We ran quickly down the stairs, crawled back through the window, then the crack in the fence. We made our way to a pay phone a little ways down the street and made a call to the police.
“You know that old house on Burch? There’s a dead woman in there.”
We hung up the phone and headed home. We promised not to bring it up at school or say anything to anyone. Nobody could know that we were there.
The sight of her stuck with me for weeks, keeping me awake at night and even haunting me through the day. I felt awful for breaking into her house, and had wished that Marty had never showed up that night. The one thing that comforts me is the knowledge that nobody else will end up stumbling upon the woman’s body.