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By: Wayne Brown
I suppose it’s normal that a person like me would not enjoy poking around in an old empty house out in the sticks on a dark, full-moon night. Honestly, I had never given it much thought as it was not my purpose to pursue such a pastime in my high school days. If you had asked me if I believed in ghosts prior to that fateful night I spent terrified by one, I probably would have said “no”. My friend, Banks, changed all that with another of his many excursions into the unknown that always seemed to include me. After that night, I was convinced that they were out there and at least one of them was looking for me.
Banks had a grandfather on his mother’s side of the family who had past away many years before leaving a little farm land and an old house about 20 miles north of town. Banks was anxious to explore the old place and informed me one day at school that the time had come to do so. He indicated that there were a few things that needed to be moved out of the house and we needed some muscle to load it on his pickup truck. So, he was taking me along and another friend, Morton, to help with the lifting. We would be heading up right after supper just as the sun was setting. Banks was going to use his dad’s 1966 Dodge pickup for the hauling. It was a workhorse and had a big Hemi-V8 engine in it. Right after supper, the three of us, Banks, Morton, and I piled into the cab and headed up into the country with our tummies full and the sun going out of sight in the west.
Cruising north on the two-lane highway, we finally come to a small dirt road that turned off to the left. It was a narrow little road pretty much single-lane with gravel covering the surface. You could tell by the amount of grass growing in spots along the center that the traffic count was very low out this way. We followed the narrow lane for a couple of miles heading for the farm and the old house. By now, it was quite dark and only the headlights of the pickup illuminated the area immediately around us. I did not see any lights off either side of the road so it is obvious that no one lived out here, or, if they did, they must go to bed early. We quickly come to a narrow gravel drive that loops around in front of the old house, turn in, and head to our work for the evening.
The old house was a two-story design long since devoid of any paint or whitewash. I noticed the aged wood of the outer boards as the lights of the pickup flashed across it. There were upper dormer windows built into the roofline over the top of the front porch which ran in an “L-shape” from the middle of the front face where the door was located around to the east side of the lower living area. Banks whipped the Dodge around in the front yard and backed the bed of the truck up to the front steps to accommodate the loading process. We all grabbed our flashlights, climbed out of the truck, and headed inside to locate those items that we needed to move.
Once inside the front door, Morton immediately cast off on his own looking around the downstairs area. Banks and I were delayed as we took an old washing machine off the front porch and loaded it on to the truck placing it snugly against the back of the cab so we could easily add things to the load. We then headed into the house waving our flashlights around high and low. Man, it was sure dark in this place and already I knew that I did not like it. We found the bottom of the staircase and headed up to the second story to look around. The old place, for what little I could see with my flashlight, appeared to be pretty well emptied out. Banks’ light catches the glint of something shiny on the back wall of one of the upper bedrooms so we head over to investigate. It turns out the shiny object is an old door key that someone has nailed to the wall using the hole in the key that normally accommodates the chain. Banks gives it a twist and an entire section of the wall flips down on hinges with a bang as it hits the floor. Between the dark and this unexpected surprise, I am beginning to develoop my first yearnings for wanting to get out of this place.
Banks flashes his light down into the open space thinking there might be money in there. After a bit, he turns to me and holds the light up to his face and states that the only thing in there is a dead body. My skin starts trying to crawl as the hair stands up on the back of my neck. To my surprise, I look down and the batteries in my flashlight have given up. I have no light. Trying to hang with Banks as he darts around the upstairs becomes futile so I give in to my fears and tell him that I am going to head back down to the truck and wait for them. As I head down the stairs, it dawns on me that I have not seen or heard of Morton since we first came into the old house. Now here I stand at the top of the stairs getting ready to head down with no light. I know Morton must be hiding down below just waiting for a chance to scare me witless. I have no choice as I cannot stay up here in the dark. So I announce in a loud voice, “Morton, I’m coming down these stairs and I know you are down there, and I know you plan to scare me, but I’m coming down anyway. I head down the stairs carefully feeling my way along in the dark. If Morton jumps me, I’ll no doubt feel him before I would ever see him. Carefully I move with as much speed as I dare in the dark. Amazingly, I make to the bottom of the stairs and out the front door with no intervention from Morton. I breathe a sigh of relief as I head for the driver’s seat of the truck, jump in, and lock the door. Ah yes, safe at last.
I sit in the Dodge occasionally looking out the back window noticing both Morton and Banks’ flashlight beams dancing around in the upstairs windows. Occasionally, they toss an old nail out onto the tin roof of the porch to get my attention and keep me on edge. By the sound of their laughter, I can tell they are amused at my edgy disposition. I begin to scan the area. This is one scary place with the old house at my back. I gaze in the opposite direction of the house out through the windshield at an old scraggily oak tree sitting in the grassy area formed by the looping driveway. I notice that the light of the full moon rising is illuminating clumps of moss hanging from the limbs, the only vegetation on the tree, if one can refer to moss as such. I am fixated on the old tree when I suddenly remember that I have not checked behind me in a while. I quickly look around straining my eyes to see any movement on the dark porch or at the edges of the house. This checking in all directions is wearing me out and I know that I have to position myself in a more strategic location in order to feel safe. I roll down the window and yell to Banks that I am going to move the truck and start up the engine to gain my new position.
The Hemi leaps to life and I turn on the lights, depress the clutch and slip the transmission into low gear. I then move away from the porch turn left onto the driveway gravel surface, stop, and shutoff the engine once again. Now, I can look out the right side of the truck and see the old tree and the road. Looking out the left side, I can see the old house. I can see it better too as the moon light is beginning to bathe the old porch area. The occasional nail tumbles out the window and on to the tin porch roof. I notice that the activity upstairs has quieted a bit. Something must be up. I glance back at the road to make sure no one is coming from that direction to surprise me. The sound of another nail rolling down the tin quickly catches my ear and I instinctively turn back toward the porch to avoid any surprise from that direction. I yell out the window toward the house letting Banks know that I thought it was high time that we moved on. There was no answer and I did not see any sign of the flashlight beams in the windows. This is not good!
As I stared back toward the house, something appeared to be standing in the front door area behind the screen door. I thought my eyes might be playing tricks on me but just in case I yelled up again to Banks that we needed to go home. Suddenly the “something” began to move out from the screen door onto the porch turning to walk slowly along the length of the L-shaped porch. It had legs and arms but it was all white and glowing in the moonlight against the shadows of the porch. It seemed to turn and look into each window along the porch then turned and worked its way back through the screen door and into the house. I’m yelling loudly now letting Banks know that something is definitely down here and we really, really need to get gone! Now I think about the road, the tree, the moss, and how this “thing” could have escaped out the back of the house and was working its way around to the road to surprise me from behind. I quickly twisted around to look out at the tree straining to see any movement and relaxing a bit when I did not. My mind was running wild, it was definitely past time to leave this place.
I turned back to look at the house just in time to see the “thing” in a full-out sprint running toward the door of the Dodge. At this point things got a little hurried but those witnessing the event later remarked that they had never seen a Dodge pickup started up and moving so fast in their life. By the time I came to my senses I had the Dodge out of the drive and on the little country lane headed back in the direction of the highway. I touched the brakes and glanced at the rear view mirror. The red illumination of the glowing brake lights shined eerily upon the “thing” now holding on to the tailgate and attempting to mount the truck bed. I released the clutch again engaging low gear and floored the accelerator. Gravel was flying all around as the rear wheels grabbed and spun only momentarily gaining traction only to break loose again as the brutal power of the Hemi applied its force to the rear axle. I wound the engine up in low and needed to shift to second gear. I could not make the gear change no matter how I tried. My foot was on the clutch but my whole leg was trembling so badly I could not get it to depress the clutch long enough to shift. I kept flooring the truck, spinning the wheels, stopping, flooring it again, until I had journeyed about a mile from the old house. Finally, praying that I had outrun this “thing” that was chasing me, I stopped in the middle of the lane. I sit listening for any sound, watching for any movement to indicate the “thing” is still with me. If it is, it cannot possibly be human. Suddenly, the old washing machine that has been rolling around in the bed shifts noisily and off I go again at full-tilt for another cycle of terrorized driving in the Dodge. By the time I get stopped, I can see the highway just out of reach of the headlight beams. I can hear the engine idling. I am contemplating my options but first I have to decide whether or not that I have any options. One thing I know for sure, without this truck, I cannot outrun this “thing” for very long but I am definitely parting ways with the Dodge if this "thing" is in the back...that seemed to be the only options I had at this point.
I sit for a bit with the driver’s window rolled down listening and hearing only the idle of the Hemi. Off in the distance behind me, I hear faint voices yelling but they are too far away to understand. No need, I know by now that it must be Banks and Morton yelling for me to come back for them. The thought of heading back to that old house terrified me to no end. My gut told me to hit that highway and head home. Banks and Morton would end up walking for sure if I did. I had to go back. As I pulled out on to the highway to turn around, I resolved to become a “killer”, a “cold-blooded killer” driven by terror and using all the force of a Hemi-powered Dodge pickup as my instrument of death if the need should arise. If the “thing” came out of the bushes or a ditch, I planned on running it down and maybe backing over it a few times. I rolled up the window and began my slow drive back toward the old house praying that the “thing” was long gone.
Arriving back at the drive of the old house, both Banks and Morton met me at the road. They began to chew on me and question my sanity in running off like I did. I tried to tell the story but I was still in shock and unable to gain any real coherence in my presentation. It would be days before I returned to a state of normalcy and begin to question what had taken place on this old farm. Meanwhile, Banks and Morton were telling their version of the story all around school labeling me the “fraidy-cat” that sees things in the dark. That was easy enough for them to do since they had not been the one being chased by the “thing”.
It was a few weeks before I was able to get the full story about this incident. The only part I knew was my side of it and that was terrifying. For Banks and Morton, it was hilarious it seems. Thank goodness it was for they could not help but share it with everybody in sight swearing them all to secrecy in an attempt to keep the terror in me alive. Of course, as in any situation where too many people know too much, the real story is bound to get out and it did. It seems that in his search of the downstairs, Morton had come across an old pair of long-handle underwear and a white pillow case. It did not take him long to devise his plan once he had these items. Once I headed outside with my burned out flashlight, the plot had thickened that much more. With Banks sitting up stairs tossing out the nails to taunt me and distract me, he figured that he could rush the truck and scare me a bit. Needless to say, he was quite successful but got more than he bargained for in the deal. He was astonished when I got the truck cranked, in gear, and out of the drive so rapidly yet he was running fast enough to grab at the tailgate as I stopped momentarily getting from the drive to the road. As he grabbed to get in back of the truck, I took off at full throttle and he could only hold on to the tailgate for a short distance. In that distance, I was spraying him heavily with gravel in my desperate attempt to escape. Morton later told me that he had bruises all down his front for days where the rocks had peppered his body. Once he let go of the tailgate, he quickly rushed back to the house to hide his “thing” suit while I continued down the road redistributing the gravel in my path. Now the tables had turned and the two of them began to realize they might be abandoned and facing a long walk back to town in the dark. Now, it was not so funny anymore and they began to scream out for my return.
I am not sure who got the best end that stick that fateful night. I do know there have not been many times in my life when I have been that frightened. At the same time, I like to think there were never many times that Banks and Morton were ever that worried about walking home in the dark. I’d say it was a draw but I will add that the thought that the “thing” might be out there somewhere stalking me does cross my mind from time to time.
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