His entire family was dead. Jack Brown had murdered them with a large axe. His thick neck and broad shoulders made Jack resemble a professional wrestler. He played for the NFL for six years before getting kicked out for steroid abuse. His fifteen year old daughter he killed after his wife, Martha. The blood and gore dripped from the head of the axe.
He rested his axe upon the kitchen table and took a greedy gulp of orange juice. Jack did not resist; instead, he looked at the arresting officer and said, ‘’I’m free,’’
The house remained on the market for ten years until the White family moved in. Mr. White- Greg, Mrs. White- Becky, and their daughter, Lisa, made up the family.
They moved in on a sunny day in Late August. School had already started. Mr. White kept remarking how muggy it was. Becky did not feel like cooking- so she suggested going out for pizza.
Fighting for autonomy, Lisa declined. Greg gave his daughter twenty bucks and said, ‘’order a pizza or something.’’
Her mom Google searched local pizza places and Greg and Becky settled on a place called Pizza Shack. Lisa played downstairs on the family computer. She had a laptop but she enjoyed the feeling of being in the living room with everyone gone. In a way, it made her feel like she owned the entire house- as opposed to just having her own bedroom. Free room and board was great, but at sixteen, autonomy looked and sounded pretty damn good.
After being alone in the new house for about an hour, she heard a knock on her door. Lisa opened the door and found a tan boy of seventeen standing in the frame of the door. He was tall and lean and had a Taylor Lautner tan. ‘’Hello,’’ the stranger said.
‘’How do you do,’’ asked an inquisitive Lisa.
‘’my name is Daniel,’’ the boy replied. ‘’I saw you and your family moved in next door, and thought I’d welcome you all to the neighborhood.’’
‘’Oh well, thank you, but my parents went out to eat,’’ Lisa said. ‘’I’m all alone.’’
‘’I’m sorry I missed them, my mom wanted me to give your mom this pie she baked,’’ Daniel answered, handing Lisa an apple pie. The pie was wrapped in tinfoil.
‘’My mom will love this, I’m sure,’’ Lisa remarked.
‘’If you’d like, my mom is having a cookout on Saturday; you and your parents should come by.’’
‘’We’ll be there,’’ Lisa insisted.
‘’Great,’’ Daniel said.
Lisa ordered some Chinese food and watched a movie- some sappy chick flick. The next day, was a rainy day. Lisa wore a yellow hooded sweatshirt that read Pirates. Her father was an umpire for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The high school was pretty much like any other high school in America, filled with lockers and teachers and students.
Home room started. Five minutes later, the bell rang and the kids were off to start the day. At lunchtime, Lisa met Daniel’s girlfriend, Mercedes. She was a compulsive bubble blower. Every five minutes, Mercedes would blow a grape bubble. ‘’So you’re my Daniel’s neighbor huh?’’ Mercedes asked, cracking her gum.
‘’Yes,’’ Lisa looked away, feeling ashamed, embarrassed. ‘’I see.’’
Daniel sat beside Mercedes. ‘’Would you like to join us,’’ Daniel asked.
‘’No thanks,’’ Lisa muttered.
Lisa found a distant table- near the wall and ate alone. ‘’Mercedes thinks she’s hot stuff because she’s dating Daniel,’’ Lisa thought. ‘’I’ll show her, Daniel will be mine by the end of the year.’’
Seventh period arrived. She sat near the middle. She would have sat near the front but those seats were already taken. This would not have mattered in any other class. This was creative writing and that actually excited Lisa. It was the one thing Lisa felt she could do. She could not play sports and math was an elusive beast to her as well.
The girl next to Lisa turned around and smiled at Lisa. ‘’Hi,’’ the girl said.
‘’Hello,’’ Lisa replied.
‘’My name’s Sam,’’ the other girl said.
‘’Splendid,’’ Lisa answered.
‘’How do you like Fulton Bogs High School?’’ Sam asked.
‘’It’s kind of a snore,’’ Lisa admitted.
The teacher came into the room. Her dark skin shone under the fluorescent lighting. ‘’Good afternoon, students’’ the teacher said. ‘’My name is Ms, Jackson and I am your Creative writing teacher.’’
The teacher suggested everybody go around the room and introduce themselves and tell the class a little bit about themselves. Each of the students was asked to stand up when it was their turn to talk. Lisa did this. When she told the class she had moved into the house at 123 grave street; her classmates greeted her with silence.
‘’You could certainly write a horror story about that place.’’ some kid wearing a leather jacket said.
‘’What do you mean,’’ Lisa asked.
There were whispers, a few kids snickered. The kid in the leather jacket, Mark, replied, ‘’your house is haunted.’’
‘’That’s enough,’’ Ms. Jackson snapped.
The subject was dropped and the rest of the class was uneventful. At dinner that night, Lisa asked her father about the incident. ‘’Dad,’’ she began.
‘’Yeah,’’ Greg answered.
‘’Is this place haunted?’’ Lisa asked.
Greg glanced up at his daughter and back over at his wife. Becky gave a pensive look but Greg continued.
‘’It’s allegedly haunted,’’ Greg muttered.
‘’Allegedly,’’ Lisa asked, ‘’what happened?’’
‘’Ten years ago, some guy killed his entire family in this house,’’ Greg admitted.
‘’That’s creepy. I don’t know if I’m entirely comfortable living here, if that’s true,’’ Lisa admitted.
‘’That was a long time ago, sweetheart,’’ Greg reassured his daughter.
‘’Can we change the subject, please?’’ Becky implored.
The mother shifted her gaze between her husband and daughter. ‘’Consider it dropped,’’ Greg said.
‘’It’s dropped,’’ Lisa muttered.
‘’Good,’’ Becky sighed.
The rest of the meal was silent. The house was already listening. The spirits of the home were dormant, but soon, very soon, chaos would ensue. That night, Lisa had a dream. It started off pleasant enough. Lisa walked hand in hand with Daniel. His bronzed skin shone in the Florida sun. In the waking world, Lisa lived in Pittsburgh, but in the dream, the couple resided in Florida. Foamy ocean water lapped up at the edges of the beach shore and the dream couple tumbled to the sand. Water crashed over Lisa and Daniel but they were so in love that it did not seem to matter. The couple continued pressing their bodies together and enjoying being caressed by the other one.
Their lips pressed together, joining together in the kiss of true love. Her body betrayed her and awoke. Lisa punched her pillow. She lied there for a few minutes, trying to shake the grog of sleep from her eyelids. ‘’I don’t want to move,’’ Lisa thought.
She forced herself to shower and get dressed. Today was Saturday and that meant the barbecue was today. Lisa pictured getting him alone and being able to talk privately. She imagined Daniel leaving Mercedes for her. The grass was freshly cut and the smell of burgers wafted through the yard. Lisa grumbled bitterly to herself, lamenting over Mercedes being over at Daniel’s house. Daniel’s mom, Marie, flipped burgers on the grill, while the rest of the barbecue goers sat around idly chatting, that is, except for Lisa.
Becky sat next to her husband. Mercedes and Daniel sat hand in hand. Lisa’s arms were folded across her chest and she would occasionally mutter a meaningless ‘’meaningless.’’
Mercedes noticed Lisa’s indignation and gave her a smirk. ‘’Burgers are ready,’’ Maria announced.
Lisa did not eat. She decided to take a walk. She liked to do that sometimes, whenever she needed to clear her head, Lisa liked to take walks. The muggy gave the air a sticky feeling to it. The houses in her neighborhood were still fairly foreign to her. The only neighbors she knew were Daniel and his mother, Marie. ‘’What does he see in Mercedes,’’ Lisa wondered.
When she got back home, she stood in the street between her house and Daniel’s house. Lisa happened to glance up and she thought she saw something or someone standing in the attic window. She became so entranced by the figure in the attic she did not hear the blaring horn of the driver. By the time she noticed a truck barreling toward her, she had to leap out of the way. ‘’Crazy kid,’’ the driver shouted back at the teen girl.
Lisa peered back in the attic window, by now of course, the figure, whatever it was, was gone. She went back to the barbecue. She debated whether or not to tell her parents what she saw, but she decided against it. ‘’My eyes were probably just playing tricks on me,’’ Lisa thought.
Later that night, Lisa decided to do some more exploring around her new house. She found a spare bedroom in the basement. A large black pentagram was drawn on the floor and an intricate mural of a cross legged goat faced man had been created on the wall. The goat man’s eyes were black and they seemed to stare right through Lisa. She shivered and hurried out of that room, slamming the door shut behind her. She raced up the stairs and found her parents sitting on the couch watching a documentary about cheese. ‘’Mom, dad,’’ Lisa panted.
‘’What is it, what’s wrong?’’ Becky asked.
‘’Pumpkin,’’ Greg chimed in.
‘’There’s something really weird down in the basement,’’ Lisa admitted, her eyes were as wide as UFO’s.
Becky and Greg exchanged puzzled looks and followed their daughter down into the basement. ‘’Isn’t this totally freaky?’’ Lisa asked.
‘’What is that thing?’’ Becky asked.
‘’It’s a depiction of Satan. Becky squeezed her husband’s hand. ‘’Serriously,’’ she squeaked out.
‘’Don’t worry, ladies,’’ Greg reassured his wife and daughter, who were both eyeing the intricate mural staring back at them. I’ll paint over it tomorrow. I’ll go to Walmart and get to that about noon tomorrow, okay?’’
‘’Okay,’’ Becky whimpered.
‘’Uh huh,’’ Lisa muttered.
Her eyes never left the mural. It was as if she was mesmerized, in some sort of trance. That night, Lisa lied awake in her bed, looking up at her ceiling. The branches and leaves outside cast eerie shadows on the ceiling. The door to Lisa’s bedroom was cracked. She heard the door creak open. Lisa rose up, trying to adjust her eyes to the darkness.
‘’Hello,’’ Lisa called out or mumbled out.
The door continued to slowly open, creaking. A figure entered the room. Lisa tried to make out the figure, but it was still too dark to see who the figure was. ‘’Honey,’’ the figure called out.
It was Becky. Lisa recognized her mother’s voice. Becky sat down on the bed next to her daughter. ‘’Were you just in my bedroom?’’ Becky asked.
‘’No, why,’’ Lisa replied.
‘’Well,’’ Becky answered, ‘’I saw you.’’
Lisa’s mouth hung open. Becky nodded. ‘’I was reading in bed and I saw you standing at the edge of my bed, staring at me.’’ Becky admitted.
‘’Mom, I’ve been here the whole time,’’ Lisa insisted.
‘’That’s weird,’’ Becky mumbled.
Lisa looked at her mother, her eyes darting back and forth in their sockets. ‘’I saw something in the attic,’’ Lisa spoke gently.
‘’You what,’’ Becky whispered.
‘’I saw something in the attic,’’ Lisa admitted.
‘’What did you see,’’ Becky asked.
‘’I don’t know,’’ Lisa began. ‘’It looked like a person but I don’t think it was.’’
‘’What was it,’’ Becky asked.
‘’I’m unsure.’’ Lisa admitted.
‘’Let’s try not to tell your dad,’’ Becky suggested. ‘’He really seems to like the house, ok?’’
Lisa let out a sigh and uttered a quick, ‘’okay.’’
The next day, Greg was painting over the mural, when he heard a voice whisper his name. ‘’Greg,’’ the voice whispered.
He looked around and of course, he was alone. Greg wore old overalls and paint splattered shoes, the last time he wore this outfit he was in college, painting houses. Greg just shrugged it off. He had no choice but to do so. He knew his daughter was already feeling sensitive about the house. He did not want to upset her.
Greg heard the voice again, only this time, he felt someone tug on his shirt collar. He wore a plaid shirt under his overalls. He spun around, he made a fist. Someone had to be messing with him and he was getting a little sick of it. He grumbled under his breath. The door was open but he heard it slam shut behind him. Greg finished painting and walked over to the door. He tried to open it but the door would not budge. He jostled the door handle.
Nothing, he continued jostling the door handle. He banged his fists on it. ‘’Open the door,’’ he screamed.
He continued pounding on it. He threw his shoulder into and it still did not open. He grew more and more desperate. ‘’Open the door,’’ Greg shouted.
His face reddened. He continued beating on the door, before it eventually opened. Greg took the stairs, two at a time and stomped angrily up them. He swung open the basement door. His wife was baking a cherry pie. ‘’Did you lock the basement door,’’ Greg asked.
‘’Of course not,’’ Becky chuckled.
She glanced at her husband and noticed his jaw looked tense. His eyes were narrowed.
Did you hear me hollering,’’ Greg asked.
‘’No, I didn’t hear you,’’ Becky admitted.
Greg grunted and stomped off, muttering to himself. Lisa sat in her bedroom, listening to music. She lied in her bed, the ear buds to her I pod were in her ears. Her eyes closed. She was still awake but she was meditating. A poster of Pearl Jam hung on her wall. The faces of the band started to change. Their eyes became sunken in and their skin became a sickly green.
The room filled with an odious stench. It smelled of corpses. The walls dripped blood. Lisa felt hands grip her throat. Her eyes popped open and she saw nothing. She writhed around and tried to fight her invisible attacker. Lisa’s eyes bulged, as she struggled to breathe. She felt a heavy weight bare down on her chest. Her breathing became shallow, more desperate, she was convinced her throat would collapse from the pressure being applied to it. The pressure left and the stench left too. The Pearl Jam poster returned to normal as well. Lisa flung herself out of bed, panting and gasping. This house was pure evil. ‘’We have to move,’’ Lisa thought.
She told her parents but neither parent believed her. Becky’s aunt Evelyn, age sixty five, and a medium. Evelyn sat at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee resting near her left hand. ‘’How did Lisa get those marks around her neck,’’ Aunt Evelyn asked.
‘’She says she was attacked,’’ Becky admitted.
‘’By whom,’’ wondered Evelyn.
‘’A spirit,’’ Becky mumbled, looking away.
‘’Spirits can’t attack the living, child,’’ Evelyn scolded.
Becky let out a sigh, ‘’I know.’’
‘’But demons can,’’ Evelyn said.
‘’What,’’ Becky asked, her blood filling with ice.
‘’Has Lisa complained about a foul stench?’’ Evelyn wondered.
‘’Yes,’’ Becky admitted.
‘’Later that night, Lisa crept into her parents bedroom and murdered them with a handgun. In the institution she was locked away in, she was reported to spend out her remaining days muttering the phrase, ‘’I’m free,’’ over and over again.