In an effort to help you have a scary and creepy Halloween, I’m trying my hand at some spooky fiction. This is the second installment of my first attempt at a creepy Halloween story, Can’t Go Home Again. Click here for Part I, because you might want to read the beginning first! Beware, and enjoy…
The morning had gone awry, certainly, but she was determined not to let the strange behavior of others dampen her spirits. Even the creepy feel of the old cabin this morning had to be shaken off, and she wondered if the best remedy would be to go inside and look around. Still toting her groceries, she turned around and looked back at the ramshackle little house on the edge of her property. All this ghostly drama had to stop. Sometimes it was best to just face your fears head on. She hadn’t ever really been afraid of the little old shack before, but something just seemed off about it. Today was the day she intended to get down and dirty with wallpaper removal in the formal living room, but decided to take the time to go face that fear first.
She entered the big farm house through the kitchen door in the back and put her groceries away, stopping to scarf down a PopTart before digging the key to old cabin out of the junk drawer and going back out the door. The cabin was about 200 yards away by street, but she decided to walk through the side yard and around the apple orchard. The clouds had already dissolved, and the morning had once again turned sunny. She wove through the apple trees, heavy with fruit, and made a mental note to harvest a few on the way back. She reached up to pluck one, and could have sworn the branch extended toward her…now she was really losing it!
‘Shake it off, you ninny!’, she chided herself. She decided to leave the apple and keep walking.
When she reached the cabin she realized that the door was open, just a little, and it appeared that a bucket was stuck in the doorway. Had she missed this on the way by before? She tried to push the door open, but it seemed to be stuck, or blocked. She shoved a little harder, and it gave, creaking open and smacking the wall behind it. She hadn’t been inside this old run down cabin in years, not even once since she’d moved back. Maybe she was a little more leery of it than she wanted to admit. With dingy oil cloth hanging over the two small windows, visibility was scarce. She stepped around the oddly-placed bucket and pulled the scrap of fabric off the window, opening up the room with light. That’s all there was… one room with a narrow, dilapidated staircase leading up to a tiny loft. It reminded her so much of the home of the Ingall’s on Little House on the Prairie. There was a rudimentary table with two wooden stools, one laying on its side, and a bunch of junk that Daddy had tossed in to store years ago…her old tricycle, some egg cartons, and a pile of stuff underneath a tarp. She walked toward it, intending to uncover the pile, and caught a whiff of soot and ashes in the air. ‘That’s strange…’ she thought to herself, and turned toward the fireplace. Sure enough, there amongst some falling insulation boards that had been propped up with some 1’x1′ lumber, were blackened coals, evidence that a fire had been built recently enough to still smell. How strange…the chimney was still partially blocked, and the insulation seemed unharmed.
Suddenly she was startled by a whipping whoosh, and screamed like a child. It was a wren…it had obviously come in through the gaping hole in the roof and had been roosting in the loft. Hand over her heart, she caught her breath and giggled at herself for her jumpiness. She figured the little bird had a nest up there and was just protecting it, as birds do. She shook her head and turned back toward the pile of junk covered by the tarp.
Just as she reached for the tarp to pull it down, she was scared out of her skin again by the sound of Great Uncle Funny’s annoying laugh. She spun around to find him standing in the doorway of the cabin, looking in two directions, as always. “What you doin’ in here, little miss? Ain’t you got work to do up there in the castle?”, he whined.
“What are you doing, Uncle Funny? You scared the mess out of me!” she hissed back at him, hand over her heart once again.
“I’s just wanderin’ around town and seen the door open.” He reached inside the bib of his overalls to scratch, grossing her out. “Thought they might be a prowler.”
“No, just me”, she breathed, walking toward the door. She didn’t like the feeling of Uncle Funny being between her and the exit. “It seems someone has been here fairly recently, though, and started a fire in the fireplace. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” He stepped out of the way as she approached, allowing her to exit the cabin.
“Nope.” His short response made her suspicious. He had both hands in the bib now, scratching away.
“Hmm. Okay, just seems odd. And, the door was ajar when I got down here, with a bucket propping it. It usually stays locked, doesn’t it?”, she inquired, trying to decide which eye to look at.
“Aw heck, this old rotten door couldn’t lock anybody out. Prolly just some kids, horsin’ around. Wanna show me what you done finished up in the castle? Call me nosey, but I’d like to see.”
The last thing she wanted was Great Uncle Funny stinking up her house with his B.O., but decided it couldn’t hurt to give him a little tour. Maybe then he’d be on his way, and she could get to work on that wallpaper. “Sure. Come on up”, she invited, hoping she wasn’t making a mistake. “I can make a pot of coffee.”
“Mmmm-mmm, sounds good!” He grinned, and those few rotten teeth shone out at her like little lumps of coal. They started up toward the farmhouse, her hands shoved in her jacket pockets, his in his overalls. At least he had quit scratching.
They walked up the street instead of through the orchard, and the closer they got, the more Uncle Funny dragged his feet. The scratching had started again, and seemed to get more fervent as they walked. She prayed silently that the man didn’t have a case of scabies, or worse. When they reached the front porch and she started around to the back, he stopped. “Where ya goin’?” he inquired, all trace of a smile gone.
“To the kitchen door. This one is locked, since I entered through the kitchen when I came home from the store”, she answered, impatiently waiting for him to follow. He didn’t. He just stood there scratching, looking at the house with one eye, and her with the other. “I don’t like that door. You go on around and let me in this way. I like this one better”, he said, warily. She started to protest, but just sighed and said, “fine”.
When she got through the house to the front door, she opened it to find Uncle Funny was nowhere to be seen. “Uncle Funny?”, she called, as she walked across the porch and looked around. The man was gone, nowhere in sight. She went down the six cracked concrete steps and walked around to the side, seeing no one. She turned and went back the other way, but he was not there. She stood there at the edge of the porch for a minute, dazed, wondering where her crazy uncle could have gone. Her heart jumped out of her chest when she heard his whiny voice call out, “You lookin’ for me? Heeeheeehee!” She turned to find him lying in the old porch swing, which was drawn up to nearly the ceiling of the porch by the chains, one leg hanging over the side and his fat gut up in the air. How in the hell had he gotten up there? “Quit fooling around, Funny! How…what…Oh, Lord, just get down from there!” She felt like she was scolding a child. He suddenly rolled out of the swing, landing on all fours on the floor of the wooden porch with a crash, cackling the whole time. The swing jerked and swayed, hitting the ceiling before finally coming to a rest again. She jumped backwards, startled by the swing and unsure if Uncle Funny was going to pounce from his precarious position.
“Know what? I’ve changed my mind. You’re too jumpy, little miss. ‘At means you’re spooked, and I ain’t goin’ in there if you’re spooked,” Uncle Funny said, slowly creaking up from the porch floor.
“Who wouldn’t be jumpy? You’re the reason! How in the world did you get up there?” But he was already ambling down the porch stairs. “Uncle Funny? Answer me!” she demanded to his back. He finally turned around, but he just started that awful laugh of his, shrugged his shoulders, and wandered on down the street. She stood there and watched him until he reached the end, turned the corner, and disappeared out of her sight.
This was too strange. A 90-something year old man….what…climbing the porch column? She knew he hadn’t jumped that high. The big window on the left of the hiked-up swing didn’t have any major footholds, either. She finally shook her head and went back inside, letting the screen door slam behind her.
Four hours later, she had only gotten down the wallpaper on half of one wall. She had started in the corner where it was peeling, having to first take down a framed picture of some ancestor…she thought it was a lady named Lilly Maude, whom she’d never asked many questions about.
Once she started, she found that there were 4 layers, each one uglier than the last, and knew that this would be a long, slow job. She was listening to Harry Connick Jr. on her iPhone, taking her time, and trying to think about anything but the strange happenings of the morning. She couldn’t help wondering about the scene in the old cabin, though, and who had been in there building fires. She would need to go back down before dark and close it up, possibly put a padlock on the door. The damper was probably not functioning, and she was sure the chimney was full of soot….the last thing she needed was for the little cabin to burn down! And she still hadn’t gotten a chance to look underneath that tarp!
Suddenly, she saw something strange becoming exposed on the wall, beneath the 4 layers of old paper. It looked like writing…she sprayed and scraped faster, so curious to know what it said. It took 20 minutes or more to get it all uncovered, and the script was so slanted she didn’t even try to make it out until it was all exposed. She set her scraper down, took a step back, and read:
Thank you for finally setting me free. Love, “Little Miss”
Chills ran up her spine. The room suddenly turned cold, that bluish-gray cast settling over everything, just like she’d seen in the old cattle pasture. Little Miss? Isn’t that what Uncle Funny kept caller her? She backed away from the wall and sat down on the nearest surface, an end table, and tried to catch her breath. All of a sudden, she heard a ripping sound. The wallpaper started peeling away from the walls, one layer at a time, and falling in heaps onto the floor. The room seemed to spin as she jumped up from her perch and watched, jerking left to right, completely terrified and amazed by what was happening. She could’t walk out, she was too mesmerized, but she didn’t want to stay, either. Before she knew it, every last scrap of wallpaper was down. Having come off sheet by sheet, it was curled on top of itself and taking up a large expanse of the room. She felt her blood turn cold and her knees go weak, then collapsed into a heap on the floor, still conscious, but unable to move or blink for several moments. The cold vanished, the blue haze was gone. This was just too much.
Suddenly, her energy returned, and she crawled, for fear of standing, out of the living room. She had to find Uncle Funny, make him give her some answers. Who was Little Miss? How had she not heard of her? She knew she had now experienced a real taste of the hauntings she had been warned of, and was desperate to get out of the house. She felt the tears start to burn her eyes as she shoved out the kitchen door, and hopped on her bicycle this time, for speed. As she pedaled down the driveway, the tears splashed on her cheeks, and the sobs began. She prayed, as hard as she could, and sped down the street toward town. This was getting real….
Hope I’m not scaring you too much with my creepy Halloween story! This is too much fun, and I can’t stop yet! Part III, The Final Chapter is coming soon. I wish for you all a scary and creepy Halloween!