Axe Murder Hollow – A #Halloween Story

I thought I’d share this little tale for this Friday the 13th… enjoy!

Susan and Ned were driving through a wooded empty section of highway. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, the sky went dark in the torrential downpour.

“We’d better stop,”  said Susan.

Ned nodded his head in agreement. He stepped on the brake, and suddenly the car started to slide on the slick pavement. They plunged off the road and slid to a halt at the bottom of an incline.

Pale and shaking, Ned quickly turned to check if Susan was all right.  When she nodded, Ned relaxed and looked through the rain-soaked windows.

“I’m going to see how bad it is,” he told Susan, and when out into the storm. She saw his blurry figure in the headlight, walking around the front of the car. A moment later, he jumped in beside her, soaking wet.

“The car’s not badly damaged, but we’re wheel-deep in mud,” he said. “I’m going to have to go for help.”

Susan swallowed nervously. There would be no quick rescue here. He told her to turn off the headlights and lock the doors until he returned.

Axe Murder Hollow. Although Ned hadn’t said the name aloud, they both knew what he had been thinking when he told her to lock the car.  This was the place where a man had once taken an axe and hacked his wife to death in a jealous rage over an alleged affair. Supposedly, the axe-wielding spirit of the husband continued to haunt this section of the road.

Outside the car, Susan heard a shriek, a loud thump, and a strange gurgling noise. But she couldn’t see anything in the darkness.

Frightened, she shrank down into her seat. She sat in silence for a while, and then she noticed another sound.  Bump. Bump. Bump.  It was a soft sound, like something being blown by the wind.

Suddenly, the car was illuminated by a bright light.  An official sounding voice told her to get out of the car. Ned must have found a police officer.  Susan unlocked the door and stepped out of the car.  As her eyes adjusted to the bright light, she saw it.

Hanging by his feet from the tree next to the car was the dead body of Ned.  His bloody throat had been cut so deeply that he was nearly decapitated. The wind swung his corpse back and forth so that it thumped against the tree. Bump. Bump. Bump.

Susan screamed and ran toward the voice and the light. As she drew close, she realized the light was not coming from a flashlight. Standing there was the glowing figure of a man with a smile on his face and a large, solid, and definitely real axe in his hands. She backed away from the glowing figure until she bumped into the car.

“Playing around when my back was turned,” the ghost whispered, stroking the sharp blade of the axe with his fingers. “You’ve been very naughty.”

The last thing she saw was the glint of the axe blade in the eerie, incandescent light.

Now that you’ve finished reading this I need to tell you something… this story was based on TRUE events. bwahahahahaha…

You can read more Ghost Stories by S.E. Schlosser in Spooky Pennsylvania.

Sifty Sifty San – A Texas #Ghost Story

Here’s another fun Halloween treat…

There was once a beautiful old house right on the edge of a lake, surrounded by woods. But no one would live there because a spirit calling itself Sifty-Sifty-San drove everyone away.

 In desperation, the owner of the house went to the big city, looking for a man or woman who would be able to banish the spirit of Sifty-Sifty-San. The first night in town, he came across a man named Sam who had spent much of his life banishing ghosts.

As Sam approached the house he whistled cheerfully to himself; the prospect of a good night’s sleep in a fancy house and a big wad of money in his pocket made Sam a happy man.

Darkness came swiftly, and with it came a sinister hissing sound from the forest. Sifty-sifty, the wind whistled in the treetops. Saaaannnn, the waves lapping the shore responded. Outside, a powerful gust of wind shook the house and howled down the chimney. Sam shivered and threw another log on the fire.

The wind settled down a bit, and Sam could once again hear the tiny sounds of the night. Sifty-sifty, the little frogs, croaked. Saaannn belched the biggest of the bullfrogs. The sound of the waves grew louder. Sam heard a booming thud-thud-thud noise coming from the forest. Sam ran around the house, making sure all the windows and doors were locked.

He had just settled down by the fire for supper when there came a soft cry from the far side of the lake. The frying pan shook in his grip, and he hastily put it back on the fire and pulled a Bible out of his pack. The cry came again, louder. A strange gust of air blew through the house bringing with it a strange musty smell, like the dust in a graveyard.

Out on the lake, Sam heard a soft voice chanting: “I am Sifty-Sifty-San. I’m here on the lake, but where is the man?” Sam froze in place, and the wind picked up again, howling down the large chimney.

“I am Sifty-Sifty-San,” a sinister voice hissed from the shore of the lake. “I’m here on the shore, but where is the man?” Sam dropped his Bible in his fright. His hands were shaking too much to grip anything, and the dusty, decaying smell coming through the window seemed to dull his thoughts and numb his body.

“I am Sifty-Sifty-San,” a terrible, howling voice called from the front of the house. “I’m here on the porch, but where is the man?” Abandoning food, Bible, bag, and sanity, Sam wrestled desperately with the back window, trying to open it wide enough to climb through. He heard the front doors slam open with a bang, and down the passageway came the thud-thud-thudding of footsteps. Then the kitchen door slammed inward, and a huge shadow with burning yellow eyes appeared in the frame.

“I am Sifty-Sifty-San,” a horrible, blood-chilling voice bellowed. “I’m here in the house with the trespassing man!”

“No you ain’t, on account of I’m gone,” shouted Sam, springing through the window, glass, wood frame, and all. He hightailed it back to town faster than a jackrabbit.

And that was the last time anybody went near the old house on the lake. If it hasn’t fallen to pieces by now, then Sifty-Sifty-San may be there still.

Taken from the American Folklore site   Excerpted from Spooky Texas

Black Magic – A #Halloween Treat

I found this story on the American Folklore site.

Mad Henry was a hermit who lived alone in a decrepit mansion at the edge of town.  Rumors were rife about the wild-eyed man.  Some folks said that he was a magician who called upon the powers of darkness to wreak havoc upon his neighbors.  Others called him a mad doctor who could restore life to foul corpses from the local cemetery.  No respectable citizen in town had anything to do with Mad Henry.

Then one year a new family moved to town with a lovely daughter, Rachel, who caught Mad Henry’s eye. He showered the maiden with gifts—goblets of pure gold, necklaces of pearl, and a pot of daisies that never dropped a single petal. Despite the gifts, Rachael fell in love with another, Geoffrey, a handsome young man just home from university. A week after meeting they eloped, leaving behind a stunned Mad Henry.

When Rachael and Geoffrey returned from the elopement, they threw a big ball and invited everyone in town. While Rachel was waltzing with her father, she heard a  clap of thunder. Lightning flashed again and again. Suddenly, the double doors blew open and a breeze whirled in, bringing with it the smell of dead, decaying things. Mad Henry loomed in the doorway, pupils gleaming red with anger. He was followed by the grotesque figures of the dead, who came marching two by two into the room. Their eye sockets glowed with blue fire as they surrounded the room.

Two of the corpses captured Geoffrey and threw him down at the feet of their lord. Red eyes gleaming, Mad Henry drew a silver-bladed knife and casually cut the bridegroom’s throat from ear to ear. Rachel screamed and ran forward, pushing through the foul, stinking corpses of the dead, and flung herself upon her dying husband.

“Kill us both,” she cried desperately.

But Mad HHenry plucked the lass out of the pool of blood surrounding her dead husband and carried her out into the thundering night. Behind him, the army of the dead turned from the grizzly scene and followed their master. The sounds of thunder and lightning faded away as the alchemist and his dead companions disappeared into the dark night.

Geoffrey’s father and Rachael’s father gathered a small mob and followed the evil hermit, intent upon saving Rachel.  When they searched Mad Henry’s house, they found it completely empty save for a light, which shone from a series of mysterious globes that bobbed near the ceiling of each room. Mad Henry had vanished.

Search parties scoured the countryside for days, but turned up nothing. Geoffrey was buried in the local cemetery, and the dance hall was torn down. No one in town spoke about what had happened, and no one dared imagine what had become of poor Rachel.

A year to the day after the ball, a timid knock sounded upon the door of Rachael’s parents’ home. When her father opened it, he saw a gaunt, gray figure on the stoop. Her eyes were dull with exhaustion and pain. It was Rachel! Her tongue had been cut out so she couldn’t speak.  But when she produced a knife from her tattered garments—the knife with a silver blade they had last seen in the hands of Mad Henry— the gleam of satisfaction in Rachel’s eyes told them the streaks of blood that coated the knife were those of Mad Henry. That night, Rachel died in her sleep with a peaceful smile upon her ravaged face.

Excerpt from Spooky Massachusetts

Retold by S.E. Schlosser

Halloween Funnies

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d share some Halloween Funnies with you.

*****

zombie-521243_640

A zombie was roaming through the woods looking for something to eat. He came across two men. One was sitting under a tree and reading a book the other was typing away on his typewriter. The zombie quickly pounced on the man reading the book and started to devour him. Because even a brain-dead zombie knows that readers digest and writers cramp.

 

8ixKyAyLTA guy dies and is sent to Hell. Satan meets him, shows him doors to three rooms, and says he must choose one to spend eternity in. In the first room, people are standing in human waste up to their necks. The guy says “no, let me see the next room.” In the second room, people are standing with human waste up to their noses. Guy says no again. Finally, Satan opens the door to the third room. People are standing with human waste up to their knees, drinking coffee and eating danish pastries. The guy says, “I pick this room.” Satan says okay and starts to leave, and the guy wades in and starts pouring some coffee. On the way out Satan yells, “Okay., coffee break’s over. Everyone back on your heads!”

cartoon-werewolf-18A witch’s werewolf has a problem so she takes him to the vet’s. The vet looks at the werewolf and says he’ll have to take him to the examining room. In the examining room, he takes a black cat out of a cage and lets the black cat walk all over the werewolf, but the werewolf doesn’t do anything. The doctor says, “Your werewolf is dead.” The witch then goes out to the receptionist and asks for her bill. “That’ll be $666,” says the receptionist. “What! $666? How’s that possible?” “It’s $66 for the consultation and $600 for the Cat scan.”

18870979-Large-crowd-of-ghoulish-undead-zombies-pursue-a-running-man-fleeing-for-his-lfe-after-they-find-a-lo-Stock-VectorThree guys run into a museum to hide from the hoard of zombies coming down the road. While looking for something to eat and drink one of the survives finds a golden lamp and out pops a genie roaring out “You can have three wishes. So what is the first wish?” One man says ” I want to go back to my family before the zombie apocalypse and I want it to never happen,” The second man says “that sounds great I wish for that, too” And puff the two men were gone. The front door of the museum just broke in with the weight of all the zombies pushing on it. Now, the museum is filling up fast with zombies.  The genie asks the last man what he wishes for. He thinks about it quickly then says ” I wish my two friends were back here to help fight off all these zombies.”

 

The Halloween Tale of Stingy Jack

There are many stories in folklore that speak of the things we love about Halloween.  However, do we really know their origin?  This is the story of Stingy Jack and his run-in with the Devil. I won’t give any spoilers away, but I’ve often wondered how this beloved character of Halloween came to be. I hope you enjoy the story of Stingy Jack.

 

Sacrificing Souls: A Halloween Treat

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I share a scary treat with you.  I have this as an extra in my Novella  – Boding Evil, which is a free download on Amazon and the other ebook outlets.

***

Down through the ages, we have all heard stories of haunted houses.  Homes that were once full of love and life, but through a tragic event, a spirit becomes hopelessly trapped to wander the halls for all eternity.  This, my friend, is not one of those stories.

~~~

“Hurry up; I want to sleep in our bed tonight,” Keri pointed down the hall to the master bedroom.  “Be careful, that headboard and frame have been in my family for over 100 years.”

“Yes, Ma’am, we’ll take extra care not to damage it,” the burly man snorted.  The two men from the moving company looked at each other and rolled their eyes.  They had heard claims such as that all the time from customers.  Every piece of furniture was either a priceless antique or had belonged to a dead relative and was irreplaceable, regardless of what it was.

***

Mike and Keri Beale were both nervous and excited about their decision to move to Louisiana.  It had been a difficult decision to leave their lives behind in New York City.  However, when Mike was given the opportunity to join a prestigious Law Firm in New Orleans, they decided to jump at the chance.

At first, Keri was not sure if she wanted to move, but Mike had promised they would find a beautiful Southern mansion and she could make it a grand showplace.  At hearing this, Keri, of course, had immediately contacted a realtor in the area and had found the home of their dreams.  It was not exactly the most beautiful house at the time, but with hard work and lots of love, Keri knew one day it would be the perfect showplace for a successful attorney.

“Set the bed up other there.”  Keri pointed to the wall opposite the large walk-in closet.  “And please be careful not to damage the wood molding.”

The two men looked at the old, yellowing wallpaper and faded wood molding.  “Yes, Ma’am, we’ll be careful.”

Once the moving company personnel had left, Keri walked into the kitchen and looked at all of the stacked boxes.

“There is no way I can cook anything tonight.”  She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed, “I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”

***

Mike was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere at the new firm.  When he had first passed the bar and joined the large firm in New York, he realized it was going to consume a large part of his life.  Therefore, when the opportunity to join the law firm in New Orleans arose, he had jumped at it.  While he loved all the hustle and bustle of the city, he also longed for the time to begin a family with Keri.

“Dinner’s here,” Mike called out from the large foyer.  “Where are we going to eat this delicious smelling pizza?”

“In the dining room, of course,” Keri said playfully as she walked to the dining room and waited for Mike to join her.

“I don’t know why, but the delivery guy seemed relieved that he didn’t have to come up to the door,” Mike chuckled, placing the pizza box on the dining room table.  “Heck, he practically threw the pizza at me before he sped off.”

“Really, I don’t understand why.  I love it here,” Keri opened the box and inhaled deeply.  “This smells delicious.”

Mike sat next to her and grabbed a slice of the pizza.  “It tastes great, too.”

“I wish I could have cooked our dinner tonight, but everything is still packed.”

“Hey, I understand.  I just wish I could be more help.  I’ll be able to do more this coming weekend.”  Mike put the last bite of pizza in his mouth then grabbed another piece.

“Maybe I should have ordered two pizzas?  You seem exceptionally hungry tonight,” Keri chuckled when she saw the surprised look on his face.

“I am.  I was so busy today that I didn’t go to lunch.  I wanted to get my office organized and go over a few case files.”

creak…creak…

“What was that?” Keri looked toward the staircase that led to the upstairs rooms.

“I wouldn’t worry about it.  This is an old house, so we’ll probably hear things like that all the time.  These old houses have their own personalities,” Mike chuckled then shoved more pizza in his mouth.

creak….creak…THUD!

Keri looked at Mike, daring him to say that was nothing.

“Okay, maybe I should go see what it was.”  He stood and slowly walked toward the staircase, unsure if he wanted to find out what had made the unnerving sound.

“What was it?” Keri whispered, as she slowly followed Mike up the stairs.

“Quiet, I think I hear something.”  Mike felt his heart beating with such force that he believed it would explode from his chest.  As he topped the stairs, he held his breath and said a silent prayer they would find nothing out of the ordinary.

He leaned forward and looked to his right and then to his left.  Nothing.  “I don’t understand, the only thing I see is moving boxes stacked along the wall in the hallway.”

“Are you sure?” Keri breathed with a sense of relief in her voice.

“Yeah.  Come on, let’s go clean up downstairs.  I’d like to take a shower and go to bed.”  Mike took Keri by the hand, and they went back downstairs.

***

An unnerving silence filled the room as Keri lay next to Mike, who was now soundly asleep.  Lying there, her mind began to wander.  She tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, but for some reason, Keri felt there was something she was supposed to do.

After several minutes, Keri sat up on the edge of the bed.  The room was deathly quiet, and the coolness of the wood floor under her feet caused her body to shiver.  She could not explain it, but she felt the overwhelming desire to get up and do something.  What is wrong with me?

Convinced it was just new house jitters, Keri laid back down and rolled over on her side.  Then after a few minutes, she finally fell to sleep.

***

The door creaked as it slowly opened, allowing entry to its guest.  Stepping inside, an eerie glow filled the room, giving it a ghostly appearance.

“Come, my child,” the voice beckoned to her.

“Why am I here?” she asked hesitantly.

“You are here to restore me.”

“Restore you?  I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Come to me, so we may speak.”

Not understanding why; she did as commanded.  With each step, the floor grew colder against her bare feet as she padded her way to the large framed mirror sitting in the corner of the room by a stained-glass window.

“Who are you?” her voice quivered as she stood in front of the mirror.

A swirling mist began to form in the mirror.  Then from the mist, the image of a well-dressed older man appeared.

“I am the man who built this grand house.  It is my home, and it will be for all eternity.”

“How is that possible?  This house is over 150 years old.  Are you a ghost?”  The room suddenly grew bone-chillingly cold, as the man’s eyes began to glow a vibrant red.

A menacing laughter filled the room.  “I am no mere ghost; I am much more, foolish child.”

“I’m sorry, I meant no offense.  Please tell me why you summoned me.”

“That will come at the proper time.  For now, I only wanted to introduce myself.  Go rest, for tomorrow you have much to do.”  The swirling fog then wrapped around the man as he backed out of view.

***

“Keri, wake up.  I’ve already started the coffee, and I thought we could spend some time together before I have to leave for work,” Mike laughed then he pulled the blanket off her.

“Sheez, I’m getting up.  I didn’t sleep very well last night,” she groaned, wiping her eyes.

“Really, I slept like a log.  It must be the fresh country air,” Mike inhaled a deep breath.  Suddenly, he pointed toward the foot of the bed.  “Dang, what did you do last night, go running through a dirt field?”

“What?”  Keri looked down at where he was pointing and saw dirt smudges on the sheet.  “That doesn’t make any sense.  My feet were clean when I got into bed.  Besides, I don’t remember getting up all night long.”

“Maybe the reason you’re still tired is that you were sleep-walking,” Mike teased.

Keri did not find his taunts amusing one bit.  Typically, his teasing did not bother her, but for some reason, it did now.  “Come on, let’s go have some coffee.  Maybe that will wake me up some.”

***

Once Mike had left for work, Keri decided to go into town and check out the local hardware store.  Mike had told her to hire a painter and other contractors to do the renovation work on the house, but for some reason, she wanted to do it herself.

The little bell attached to the door rang, alerting the proprietor of a new customer.  Keri stepped inside of the small hardware store and was amazed at all the different things lining the shelves.  She had never done renovation work before, but for some strange reason, she knew just what she needed.

“Good morning, Miss.  How may I help you today?” the cheerful, elderly man asked.

“I’m in need of a few items, please.  First, I need to know if you have a floor sander to rent.  I plan to refinish the wood floors in my house.  I’d also like to see some paint color samples.”

“You must be new to town.  I don’t believe we’ve ever met.  My name is Bernie, and I own this establishment,” he held out his hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Bernie.  My name is Keri.  My husband and I recently moved here from New York,” she smiled, taking his offered hand.

No sooner had the words left her mouth than Bernie pulled his hand away; a look of fear replacing his smile.  “Oh, you’re the ones who bought that house.”

Keri could not understand his sudden change upon learning who she was.  “Yes, we were very fortunate to get such a good deal on it, too.  It’s a bit run down now, but I plan to have it back to a grand home again.”

“Did the realtor tell you the story of that house?” a faint voice came from the doorway to the back room.

“Quiet, Martha.  It’s not our place to meddle,” Bernie’s voice was firm but dripping with fear.

“She should be warned,” Martha said firmly.

Keri did not understand why, but the words the old woman said made an uncontrollable rage begin to burn deep inside of her.  She turned to face the woman, “There is nothing wrong with my house.  You need to keep your thoughts to yourself.”

When their gazes met, Martha suddenly grabbed her throat, unable to speak.

“Martha!”  Bernie rushed to his wife and caught her in his arms before she collapsed to the floor.

“What have you done to her?” Bernie cried out.  “Leave, and never come back!”

Without saying another word, Keri turned and walked out of the store.  How dare you speak to me that way. I love my house, and it WILL be beautiful again.

On the drive home, Keri thought back to what had transpired in the hardware store.  “Why did they both seem so afraid of the house?”

She decided to put that all behind her and focus on fixing up the house.

***

A feeling of contentment consumed Keri as she stepped through the front door.  Noticing how tired she was, Keri decided to take a short nap before unpacking the boxes in the kitchen.

After lying on the sofa, it only took a few moments before she began to float off to sleep.

“You did well today, my child,” the now familiar voice whispered in her ear.  “You have begun to restore the life to this house, and in time it will once again be the grand mansion it once was.”

At hearing his voice, Keri felt joy surge throughout her entire body.  “Yes, it will be beautiful again.”

***

“Keri, I’m home,” Mike called out, then set his briefcase down in the foyer.  “What smells good in here?”

“I’m making your favorite; lasagna, a tossed salad, and garlic toast.”

Mike stopped and looked around.  “I don’t know when you found time to cook.  You’ve really cleaned up this place.  Did you polish the floor?  It looks like it’s brand new.”

“I just did a little cleaning, that’s all.  Now, go wash up, dinner is ready.”

Keri grabbed the pan of lasagna from the oven and placed it on the table next to the salad.  She then put the garlic toast in a basket and set it on the table as well.

“I heard the most tragic news when I stopped in town to fill up my car on the way home.  The wife of the man who owns the hardware store died suddenly today.”  Mike sat in his chair and pulled it up to the table.  “They’re saying she had a stroke.  I guess it was quite a surprise since everyone there told me she seemed to be in good health.”

“Yes, that is quite tragic.”  Keri reached for the basket with the garlic bread and handed it to Mike.

He took a piece and set it on his plate.  “Anyway, they said her husband is quite upset and keeps talking about a demon that came into the store today and killed his wife.”

“The poor man is just distraught.  It must be hard to have your spouse suddenly die like that.”  Keri could not explain it but knowing the woman had died seemed to fill her with joy.  “Let’s eat before our food gets cold.”

***

As the moon shone through the bedroom window, a silent voice beckoned to Keri.  “Come, my child, we have work to do.”

***

The road was dark and foreboding on the drive to town.  She knew where she was headed but did not understand why.

“He is waiting for you, my child,” the voice said.

Keri turned the car down the long driveway and stopped in front of an old house with a wrap-around porch.  After getting out of the car, she quietly closed the door, surprised at how the dog lying on the porch remained asleep.

The cool night air caressed her skin through her thin nightgown, but she did not notice.  Placing her foot on the first step, it groaned.  She paused a moment, her breath catching in her throat with the fear she would awaken the sleeping dog.

“Do not fear, my child.  I have prepared everything for you,” the voice prodded her onward.

Keri then placed her foot on the next step and was pleased when there was no sound.  Glancing over at the dog, Keri noticed it was still sleeping soundly.  After taking a deep breath, she took the last two steps up to the door.

A dim glow of light escaped from under the door. When Keri reached for the doorknob, the door creaked, then slowly opened, as though welcoming her to enter.  The flickering of the dying fire filled the room, creating a haunting feeling.  The door slowly opened wide, showing the man asleep in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace.

That’s Bernie, the man from the hardware store, the words formed in her mind, as she found herself drawn to him.

“Why am I here?” she whispered.

“You know why.  He must die.  He is another sacrifice to restore the house to its once beauty and grandeur.”

“But I don’t understand.  How is that possible with his death?” Keri knew what the voice meant, but a part of her did not want to accept the truth.

“You must do this, or the house will die.  It needs the sacrifice to survive and regain its life-force.  Now do what you must,” the voice commanded.

Keri walked over to the sleeping man and glared down into his pain-filled face.  After a few moments, he opened his eyes and met her gaze.

“What are you doing here?” Bernie mumbled with a raspy voice.

“You know why I’m here,” she said with no emotion in her voice.

“You’re here to kill me just like you did Martha, aren’t you?  I’ve heard the tales about that house, but I always thought it was nothing but bullshit.”  Bernie tried to get out of the rocking chair but found his legs would not move.

Keri did not respond, she merely looked at this simple man and wondered what it felt like to know you were about to die.

“I do have one thing to say before you kill me.  Once the house is finished with you, you will die as well.  Anyone who has ever lived in that house has died a horrible death.”  Bernie then closed his eyes and awaited his fate.

Keri smiled, “Your death will be a great addition to the house.  Thank you for your sacrifice.”

Bernie opened his eyes and laughed.  “Your soul will burn in Hell with the demon who built that cursed house.  He was crazy and murdered so many innocent people in his quest for immortality.  He finally sold his soul to Satan for the opportunity to live forever.  I grew up hearing the stories about that house, but I never believed them; I guess I should have paid closer attention.  The entire town has watched that damn house suddenly appear restored after several strange deaths in the area.  Then those who bought it would die and the house would again sit vacant for years.  Then once the house is completely run down again, someone new will move in, and the strange deaths begin again.  Go ahead, you devil bitch, do what you must.  I’m ready to join my beloved Martha anyway.”

Bernie closed his eyes again.  After a moment, Keri reached out and touched him on the forehead.  His body trembled, and a burst of light shot forth, leaving an empty shell of the man he once was sitting in the rocking chair.

***

“Didn’t you sleep any last night?” Mike walked into the kitchen with an expression of concern on his face.  “You’re up early this morning.”

“No, not much.  I just wanted to get busy on the house.”  Keri reached for her cup of coffee and took another sip.

“Well, I need to get going.  I have an early meeting this morning with a new client.”  Mike leaned over and gently kissed Keri on the cheek.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Keri yawned then reached for the coffee pot to refill her cup.

***

“It’s happening again, just like it did forty years ago,” Clara, the Post Master whispered while she glanced around the post office lobby.  “I don’t know why the town just hasn’t torn that house down.  It’s cursed I tell you, cursed.”

“You know why they don’t.  Anyone who tries to destroy that house dies a horrible death.  We’ve all heard the stories of what he did in that house.  All that devil worshiping stuff and sacrificing those people,” Chuck, the feed store owner said in a hushed tone.

“Well, I don’t like it one bit.  Two wonderful people have died suddenly after meeting that woman.  How many more have to die before she’s done?”  Clara held her hand to her breast, feeling her heart beating rapidly with fear.

“I don’t know, but I sure hope that I don’t cross paths with her,” Chuck’s voice quivered at the thought of facing the one sent to gather souls.  “Well, I need to get back to the store.  Take care, Miss Clara.”

Chuck picked up his mail and said a silent prayer that he was not chosen as a sacrifice for the cursed house.

***

Keri stood in stunned amazement at the beauty before her.  She could not explain it, but somehow the walls inside of the house now appeared to have a fresh wallpaper, and the wood trim looked to be freshly stained.

“How is this possible?” she asked herself, but she knew the answer.  It was the sacrifices made the day before that was restoring the house.  She reached out and touched the wall. “You are alive, aren’t you?”

***

A thick fog had settled in around the small town, making those who understood the current events to stay safely inside their homes.  Mike had stayed late at the office, so he was glad to see the town’s Welcome sign appear along the side of the road through the fog in front of him.  The last couple of weeks had been strained whenever he went home.  Keri seemed distant, and whenever he asked her how she was getting the house renovated so quickly, she would tell him that it was none of his business.

“None of my business, what the hell is that supposed to mean?”  Mike did not like the feeling he had growing inside of him.  It was as though the house did not want him there, but how was that even possible?

Turning on the road leading to their house, the fog seemed to grow thicker.

“Damn, I can barely see.  I should have stayed in the city for the night,” he groaned, straining to see through the thickening fog.

She no longer needs you, a voice whispered in his ear.

“WHAT?” the word escaped his lips with such force, it nearly caused him to run off the road.

You heard me.  I said, she no longer needs you.  She has me, and that is all she desires.

Mike reached up and rubbed his eyes, trying to remove the thoughts stirring in his mind.  What was happening to them?  They used to be so happy and had such hopes and dreams before they bought that damn house.  When he opened his eyes again, the image he saw sent chills throughout his entire body.

There standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by thick, swirling fog was Keri.  Swerving to miss her, Mike plowed head-on into an old Southern Live Oak tree.

The blood on Mike’s face, mixed with pieces of broken glass felt cold as the night air filled the car.  He reached for the door handle but found the door jammed shut.

“Keri, help me,” his words were a mere whisper because of the steering wheel compressing his chest.

A deafening silence filled the air, as tears filled his eyes, and all hope of escape evaporated.  Suddenly, Mike heard a crackling noise come from under the hood of the car.  “Oh, God, no.”

The muffled cries of panic filled the air as the flames grew, steadily moving toward him.  “Please, I don’t want to die!  Help me, Keri, please, help me!”

Struggling to see through the smoke and fog, Mike wondered if he had only imagined seeing Keri.  Smoke filled the inside of the car, stinging his eyes and filling his lungs.  Wiping away the tears from his eyes, he now saw Keri standing in front of the car.

Smoke and fog swirled around her body, creating a ghostly appearance.  As their gazes met, a smile of satisfaction appeared on her lips.

“You will be a perfect addition,” were the only words she said, as the flames completely engulfed the car.

Keri stood in silence, watching the gruesome scene all play out before her.  She knew she should be sad, but she wasn’t.  Keri knew this sacrifice would nearly finish the renovation of her beloved house.

***

The morning sun burned through the thick fog, creating a sense of rebirth as the new day began.  Keri had awoken and was thrilled to see the latest improvements to the house.  Now, not only was the inside of the house completely restored, but the outside looked as though it was not just freshly painted, but newly built.

Standing in the yard, admiring its beauty, she knew the renovation was nearly complete on the home she loved above all else.  Keri was aware there would be questions regarding Mike’s death, but she was in no mood to worry about it now.  She was far too happy to dwell on such things.

Come to me, my child.  It is time to join me.

“Yes, I want to be with you for all eternity,” she felt a sense of peaceful contentment as she walked toward the house.  “I’m ready.”

With each step up the staircase to the top floor, the house seemed to take a breath, awaiting its final sacrifice.  She glanced over at the mirror, standing in the corner.  Do not fear, my childYou will forever be with me.

Squaring her shoulders, she walked to the stained-glass window and paused, resting her hand on the window latch.

It is time.  You know what you must do.

An eerie chuckle filled the room as she opened the window and stepped out on the narrow ledge.  The warmth of the sun beat down upon her but went unnoticed.  The only thing she felt was the cold, welcoming embrace of evil.

A strange smile crossed her lips while she looked down and watched the once dead and desolate landscape surrounding the house transform into a beautiful, lush garden.

“You live again with beauty and grace,” Keri said with a pleased expression on her face.  Knowing her task was complete, she stepped off the ledge into the bright morning sun.

***

Thirty years later…

“Oh, honey, I know it needs a lot of work, but I can make it a grand showplace again.”