Suggested Audio Candy:
 Ultimate Horror Sounds “Haunted House”
 Ultimate Horror Sounds “Torture Chamber”
I should never have returned to that house. Isn’t it funny how things always seem like a good idea at the time? How bad could it really be; one night in a dilapidated mansion, and in return, initiation into the most sought after pledge house anywhere on campus. When you consider that the options included being gaffer taped naked to a statue or blindfolded and forced to eat pig’s entrails, it seemed like the smart decision. Granted, this place had history, none of it particularly encouraging; but I have never been easily spooked and was desperate to gain acceptance from my sorority brothers so I agreed to the terms and packed my overnight rucksack. The first rule was no mobile phones and that didn’t seem like a hardship considering the prestige of what was at stake. The second was that all doors needed to be securely fastened behind me on entrance; once that bolt dropped there would be no 11th hour change of heart and I would be a prisoner within until dawn. By my estimations that was around eight hours.
They call it the murder house; the scene of one of the most horrendous mass murders of our times. A seemingly balanced man slaughtered his entire family with a sledgehammer one night in October and concluded by blowing his brains out in his study. The story went national and the Denville house was abandoned indefinitely as nobody in their right mind desired to become its next inhabitants. I used to come down here with my friends and poke around. The windows were boarded up but we lifted the panels with a crow bar one night while feeling particularly courageous. The authorities hadn’t even seen fit to whitewash the walls; all bloody handprints were still smeared between the living room and kitchen which, reportedly, is where Nigel Denville murdered his family one-by-one as they watched on in terror. It stuck with me for months afterwards and I revisited the house each time I shut my eyes to sleep for some time. Recently there had been talk of restoration although the asking place would need to be rock bottom given the reputation which proceeded it. I certainly wouldn’t pick up the lease although a solitary night inside seemed like a benign arrangement.
I didn’t let on that the place bothered me and combated the nausea I felt from the moment I agreed with knowledge that this would finally provide closure. Facing my fears would allow me to move on as, in some bizarre way, I had felt its presence ever since learning of its terrible secret. What could lead a respected figure of the community to wipe out his own brood in such a nonchalant manner? Neighbors said they heard screaming but none of the cries came from Nigel. Instead, he went about his business, snuffing out his very own flesh and blood as though it was part of his daily routine. I think it was that thought which was responsible for my blood chilling at the very thought of spending the night holed up there alone. I guess that, if I had to state a weakness, then it would probably be the fact that I am never satisfied with ambiguity. I was raised with the belief that there is always a logical explanation for everything, no matter how shrouded in mystery. Being a realist, I have always been solution focused but this house offered one conundrum which I had never been able to decipher.
Considering I was going to be here for the foreseeable, it felt only right to poke around once the latch dropped. Nobody had so much as stepped foot inside since the night of the Denville murders so it wasn’t as though I would be doing anyone an injustice by digging for clues. How else would I make it through my tenure with sanity intact? At least if I knew more I could process the information and carry on with my life. Part of me didn’t relish the notion of finding out more than I should; but logic suggested that I would be in no immediate danger so I puffed out my chest and began to forage. I had no real idea what it was I was hoping to discover and I wasn’t even sure I hoped for it anyhow. A nagging voice in my head kept reminding me that any answers would not be to my liking but I ignored them in favor of the one telling me that knowledge is power. After twenty minutes I was none the wiser; any utensils or paperwork had been confiscated for evidence and the entire downstairs had been left gutted. It was at this precise time that I made an executive decision to move to the second floor.
Any expectations of an uneventful night were soundly thwarted around midnight with the first ominous audio. I had barricaded myself into the spare room, found a crawlspace behind the dresser to retreat into, and at first it felt as though my decision had been astute. That was until the footsteps. Slow, meandering footsteps which passed the doorway and proceeded toward the stairwell. My immediate consideration was that one of the guys was fucking with me as they would surely have something heinous planned to ramp the challenge. As whomever it was reached the top step and began to descend; I discerned a second more portentous soundbite. Alloy thumping against wood at measured intervals; with increasing intent as though the prize was growing nearer with each creaking board. My mind started racing and I wasn’t best pleased with where it took its first pit stop; Nigel Denville. By this point logic was beginning to lose its battle against sheer terror and my blood began to freeze in its arteries. Thump…thump…thump. Although the sound was growing more distant; my pounding temples were heightening every subsequent thud and, furthermore, with intensified rhythm.
For a few minutes I sat utterly frozen where I was huddled; attempting to rationalize something which wasn’t about to offer the easy out I prayed for. My cubby hole had felt secure up until that point but, once the blood left my head and returned to my vital organs, I was positively leaping at shadows. Natural light was not something I had at my disposal; the solitary window above me was so heavily fortified that not only did it stop light from coming in, but it also detained the blackness and sent it swirling around my head. There was total silence now other than any customary creaks and groans a forty year-old build supplies in abundance; but that proved no consolation whatsoever. Those few minutes felt like hours and the last thing I wanted was for time to grind to a halt so, against any superior judgement, I left my solace behind and ventured downstairs.
I’m still not entirely sure what drove me to investigate; where before I had been seduced by curiosity, now I had no interest in learning this house’s foul secret. Damage limitation would have kept me there in the spare room; sitting and waiting would see me through to my dawn deadline. Morbid fascination and my inquisitive nature both played their part and, of course, the fact that I was still banking on no harm coming my way. Terrible events had admittedly played out under this very roof but that was years ago; long before I had agreed to this. Fear feeds on inconclusive rationale and I was so overcome with dread when vacating my sanctuary that I couldn’t halt myself from vomiting violently. Meanwhile, another of my senses had been awakened. A stifling scent filled both nostrils; one which hadn’t been present earlier. To call it the smell of death would be clutching at straws as, thankfully, I had never before been forced to identify such a ghastly aroma. But fragrant it most definitely wasn’t.
Once downstairs, I instantly lamented my decision. Nothing had changed; everything appeared to be where I had left it before. I say nothing had changed but there was something different about the atmosphere; not something I could put my finger on, more a feeling that whatever had played out behind these closed doors years prior, had been relived. The blood spattered liberally across the back wall was still dry to the touch but, as I ran my fingers along it, I could almost feel every scream. Panic began to set in and I started hyperventilating; something I hadn’t done since my childhood asthma lifted. Suddenly I had an overwhelming need to escape and there was only one conceivable way of making that happen. All secondary exits were sealed from the outside, leaving only the front door to end this torment. I have never pounded my fists with such purpose; to the point where both hands began to bleed. In addition, I screamed myself coarse. But it was to no avail.
I carried on laying into the door; scratching at the frame to create even the most insignificant vantage to the outside. More than anything, I was desperate for sight not to become the next of my senses tainted by whatever was bound through these fixtures and fittings. Any visual would be impossible to rationalize; the eyes don’t lie and that doesn’t help when being enveloped in darkness provides even the faintest movement mistruth. It was at around the fifteen minute mark that I began to tire although my decision to cease my attempts was more down to the return of audio than anything else. Thump…thump…thump. My heart all but stopped beating within my chest and dropped to the pit of my abdomen on confirmation that the sound was not located on the staircase at this time but instead directly behind me and ever closer. There was vague accompaniment this time around and that offered no respite. Children moaning; sounding like they had already been put through their paces and absolved of anything resembling hope. My bowel excavated where I stood and the warm tacky feces sliding down my inner thigh actually afforded me slight relief at this point.
If I could have suffered a voluntary coronary then I would have facilitated it rather than turning to face whatever had me so asphyxiated. However, adrenaline kicked in and took the decision out of my hands. I span around quickly with expectation which I fully expected to be exceeded and, with that, the floorboards beneath me buckled, sending me a full six feet underground. I landed awkwardly on my ankle and immediately deduced that it had fractured. The hole was barely large enough to accommodate me so I had no choice but to transfer my body weight to the other leg while the agony graduated. Lack of any discernible light left my hands as my only available eyes and they were blinded by moist soil which just fell away in my hands. Something beneath me was splintering under my heels; something brittle. The summit, meanwhile, was insurmountable and any attempts to return topside proved totally fruitless. Five minutes or so after plummeting to a fresh degree of consternation; my eyes gradually began to acclimatize. This was one occasion where blindness would have been preferred and I dare not look up in case my very worst fears were realized.
As dawn began to draw near and my adrenaline rush subsided; the full extent of my injury became apparent and the head-rush brought with it release as I passed out still standing but only on account of space being at an absolute premium. Mercifully I remained unconscious until the light finally returned. I had passed with flying colors, although celebrations were put on hold on account of the fact that my initiation had taken an unforeseen turn. It took all four of them to hoist me out. It’s ordinarily not advisable to move somebody who is evidently carrying an injury but they had no choice as I wasn’t about to wait for reinforcements to arrive. After a titanic effort; I was pulled free from my diminutive quarters and, as I was laid out alongside the hole, curiosity got the better of me a second time. Dawn light was pouring in from the entrance way, illuminating the fissure and affording me a clear view of the bottom. I had spent the most grueling hours of my entire existence in a pit of bones; femurs, capitulated skulls and shattered ribs to be precise. Needless to say, I requested in no uncertain terms that I be reintroduced with the outside world. That was the last time I stepped foot in the Denville house.
This begs the question; why am I choosing to tell you this story now? The case was reopened and the bones identified soon after. That was nearly twenty years ago. All bodies had been recovered and this was nothing to do with the murders that took place on that night. The plot had formerly housed a mausoleum and this would likely have played a part in Nigel Denville losing his mind that October evening. Of course, it’s purely circumstantial and nobody will ever know what was running through his mind as he walked his family to their graves. But let me pose a question to you as we have known each other a while now and I feel that it is my duty to inform you. Do you ever notice the floorboards creak particularly vocally as you enter your front door each day? Have the sounds of your particular home kept you awake at night? Have you sworn blind that you have heard thumping at around midnight? I’m sorry to bamboozle you with so many questions but I must ask one more before I close. Didn’t anyone ever enlighten you as to the history of the house you currently live in?
This short story is based on a real-life investigation