RAOB Halloween story 2018


Incident at the Old Johnson House


D. J. Belt


Copyright: Original story copyright 2018 by D. J. Belt.

E-mail: You can reach me at dbelt@mindspring.com. Don’t be shy.

Comments: Mayhem and supernatural weird stuff! Humor and horror. Screams and laughs. In other words, about like dating these days. Well...not quite. Bwa-ha-ha! Hope you enjoy! Read it with the lights down low and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor playing in the background. And pass the candy! Happy Halloween!


June O’Brien entered the kitchen of her parents’ house and dropped her book bag on the counter. In response to her mother’s cheery ‘Hi, honey. How were your classes today?’ greeting, she groaned. “God,” she said, “there’s got to be a special place in hell for whoever invented statistics.”

“That good, huh?” her mom said, as she opened the oven door and extracted a sheet of cookies. When June reached for one, her mother slapped her hand. “That’s for your little sister’s bake sale,” she chided. “Don’t touch.”

“Aw, Mom!”

“Or eat a couple, then pay her some money. Oh, and there’s a letter for you. Looks like an invitation. Is one of your friends getting married?”

“My friends? Yeah, right.” She found the envelope, tore it open, and read the card. “It’s a Halloween party invite,” she said. “Listen to this: Come in costume as a character from an old television series, representing either ‘50's bliss or ‘50's dysfunction. Your choice, but make it good, bitches!”

June’s mother raised her eyebrows in surprise. “It really doesn’t say that, does it? Who’s that from?”


“I should have known. Well...” She forced a smile. “Have fun, don’t do any drugs, don’t get knocked up, and don’t call me for bail money.”

“Ally doesn’t go for drugs at her parties.”

“I noticed you only mentioned one out of four possibilities. Drinking, then?”

June shrugged. “Sure. The usual amount, I guess.”

“Oh, gosh. Are we going to have to lock you into a nunnery until you’re forty?”

June snickered. “Those nuns are the biggest lushes of all.” She finished reading the invitation. “Hey, she’s rented a big farmhouse in the country. The old Johnson place. We’ll stay overnight. So cool!”

“Isn’t that where they film all those horror movies?” June asked. “That place is supposed to be haunted.”

“That’s the point, Mom. Halloween. Duh!”

“I’m not sure whether that makes me feel better about this or not,” her mother said.

“No driving after the party, Mom. It’s safer.” June picked up her book bag and headed for the stairs.

“Safer, my eye,” her mom said. “Don’t you go losing your virginity, young lady.”

As June trotted up the stairs, she muttered, “It’s a little late for that, Mom.”

“I heard that!” her mother shouted from the kitchen.

“I really need to go to college away from home,” June said.

“I heard that, too!” A second later, her mother’s voice followed her up the stairs. “Who was it? It wasn’t that Edwards boy from your junior prom, was it?”

June snickered. “Either him or his two sisters,” she retorted. “I can’t remember now.”

As she reached the door of her room, she heard her mother say, “Holy Saint Francis! Why couldn’t I have had sons?”

“Jeez,” June said, as she entered her room. “Okay, what costume? What character? Hm...” She puzzled over it for a moment, then sat down and turned on her television. She flipped through the menu until she found the “golden oldie” stations, and considered the sitcom playing. “Naw,” she decided. “Too eighties.” She flipped channels until she found another one. “Naw,” she said. “Too Seventies. Gad, look at those hairstyles. Besides, I’m allergic to polyester.” She changed channels again. “Hm. Addams Family. Now there’s possibilities...” She tried one more station, and watched. As she did, her eyes widened, and a wicked smile crossed her face. “Oh, yeah,” she said, breathlessly. “Leave it to Beaver. Now this is twisted.” She looked up a program description and read:

This sitcom defines the "golly gee" wholesomeness of 1950s and `60s TV, where dad Ward Cleaver always gets home in time for dinner, mom June cleans the house wearing a dress and pearls, and kids Wally and the Beav always learn a lesson by the end of the episode. (Description courtesy of Google)

She snickered as she envisioned a scene from a typical episode of the historic ‘50's sitcom:

Scene opens. Wally (age about 14) and Beaver (age about 10) enter through the kitchen door with schoolbooks under their arms. June Cleaver, their mother, is there, baking. Her hair is immaculate, her dress starched, her apron frilly, and she’s wearing her pearls and a perfect smile.


Oh, hello, boys. How was school today? Did anything interesting happen? (She gives each one a peck on the cheek)


No, Mom. Just the usual. Some greasers beat the crap out of Eddie again.


That’s nice, dear. How about your day, Beaver?


Oh, gosh golly! Today we had an atom bomb drill! It was the coolest thing. The siren went off, and little Suzie, next to me, wet her pants. Then, we all had to hide underneath our desks so we wouldn’t get our skin peeled off by the atom bomb. They told us how to cover our heads with our arms so we wouldn’t get all cut up with flying glass. And how we shouldn’t look at the bright light, so we wouldn’t go blind from it.


(Aside) Oh, great. There’s something else that makes you go blind?


That sounds like a fun day, Beaver.


Yeah, but that’s not the coolest thing. Miss Canfield started crying really loudly and shaking all over, and they had to take her out of the class. We haven’t seen her since. What’s an insane asylum? And Mom, how come girls don’t like atom bombs? I think they’re pretty neat.


Well, dear. Whenever I have a question like that, I ask your father. He’s pretty wise.


Dad’s home?


Yeah. He’s always home. He’s that guy that’s always sitting around in the living room in his suit coat and a tie, reading the paper. What he does for a living, I have no idea. (Whispers to Beaver) I think he’s Mafia.

(Wally and Beaver leave the kitchen. In the living room, they spy Ward Cleaver, their father.)


Hi, Dad! How was your day?


Oh, hi, boys. Just fine. I made another thousand today just sitting at work in my suit, reading the paper. Now, I’m finished with work, so I’m just sitting at home in my suit, reading the paper.


Cool. Hey, Dad. The Beav and I have a question.


(Folds up his paper and focuses on his sons) Yes, boys?


Why do the mean ol’ Russkies want to drop atom bombs on us?


Yeah, and will the light really make you go blind?


(Ward lights his pipe as he thinks about it, then puffs philosophically as he begins to explain.)

Well, first of all, I notice that you, Wally, have a preoccupation with going blind lately. By the way, how’s that tennis elbow of yours?


(Blushes) Um, fine, Dad. Doing better. Yeah.


Good, good. And yes, it is true. It’s also true that it can incinerate us all in a second’s time and destroy all that we know and love. But don’t let that worry you, boys. President Eisenhower won’t ever let that happen.


Why not? Is he like, God or something?


No, Beaver. He’s the President. See, he’s got atom bombs, too. And if the Russkies ever drop one on us, we’ll unload on them.


Gee, Dad. If that happened, we’d all be barbecued. Them and us.


Right, Wally. That’s very perceptive. We would have won the war and made the world safe for democracy.


But we’d all be dead.


Right, son. See, I knew you’d understand. Now, when you’re a little older, you’ll be mentally prepared to be drafted into the army and to fight in a nasty little war in some far-flung part of the world for reasons none of us understand. After all, it’s what a man does.


Holy crud.

(Wally heads toward the stairs with a demoralized, puzzled look on his face. Beaver lags behind.)


Um, Dad? While we’re at it, I have a question I’ve been wondering about. The folks in TV land have been wondering about it, too.


(Puffs his pipe, looks at his son) I’ll answer it if I can, Beaver.


How come you and Mom named me after a body part?

(End of scene. Fade out to commercial)

June snickered. “Who can I be? Ward? Nah. Who reads the paper anymore? We have internet now. Wally? Nah. I could never rock a ‘50's flat-top haircut like that. The Beav? Hm. My figure and his are about the same. Might work. Oh, I got it. June Cleaver, the happy little perfect homemaker. That’s the ticket.” She turned off the television. “But not her. I mean the real June Cleaver. The one hiding behind all that starch and hair spray, just dying to come out.”

As she thought about it, she couldn’t help a little evil laughter.


Halloween night.

“How do I look, Mom?” June asked. She halted at the kitchen door and struck a model’s pose. Her mother glanced toward her. A second later, a cup shattered on the floor. June said, “That good, huh? Yes!”

“My God, dear. Are you off your meds again?”

“No, Mom. It’s my Halloween costume.”

“Oh.” June’s mom thought about that. “That means,” she said, “that I’m off my meds again. Now where are they?” She began glancing around the kitchen.

June spotted the bottle, snatched it off a shelf, and handed it to her mother. “You don’t like my costume?”

Her mom popped a pill, then studied June’s costume. “Well, it is rather, ah – frightening, isn’t it?”

“That’s the point. I got this stuff at the resale store. Neat, huh?”

“If you like ‘50's chic. Who are you supposed to be, anyway?”

“June Cleaver’s alter ego.”

“Dress, apron, stockings, a string of pearls, and little white gloves? Now you remind me of my mother.” June’s mom nodded. “Yeah, that would be about right. She was a ‘fifties housewife. I was an early ‘seventies hippie freak.”

“You still are, Mom.”

“Except that I get high on different stuff now.” She held up her prescription bottle. “Because you can’t get weed on your health insurance card.” She studied her daughter again. “So explain the meat cleaver in your apron pocket.”

“It’s plastic, from my old toy kitchen set. Neat, huh?” June said, as she waved it around. “That’s for my perfect husband’s throat.”

“Somehow, I really get that. And what’s that hanging around your neck?”

“That’s my pill bottle, Mom. Valium.”

“And your eyes look all dark and sunken, and your mascara is running down your cheeks.”

“That,” June said, “denotes the existential angst of June Cleaver’s existence, the psychic scream of her unfulfilled soul in the remorseless , meaningless void of suburban life.”

June’s mother shook her head. “You always have been ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, haven’t you?” She gave her daughter a peck on the cheek. “Now have fun and behave, young lady.”

“Later, Mom!” June hugged her mother, then skipped down the back door stairs, threw her overnight bag in her car, and climbed in. When it fired up, she pulled out onto the road and headed toward the edge of town.

Fifteen minutes later, she found the house. Other cars were already there, and the farmhouse was lit up with candles and Jack-o-Lanterns. A skeleton hung by a hangman’s noose on the front porch, and music was playing. June parked some distance away from the porch, locked her car, and shouldered her overnight bag as she headed for the front porch stairs. On the way, as she passed a car, she noted some activity in the back seat. “Oh, Jeez,” she said, as she rolled her eyes. “In the car? So ‘fifties! There’s bedrooms in the house, peeps!”

She entered the house, and a squeal of delight greeted her. Ally rushed to her, hugged her, and held her at arm’s length to inspect her costume. “Let me guess,” she said. “Alice in Freakazoidland?”

“Close,” she said. “I’m my grandmother, my mom tells me. And you look great. What superhero are you? I don’t recognize the costume. And what’s the big ‘PCH’ on your chest stand for”

Ally laughed as she puffed her chest out and held her arms up. “I’m Psycho Chick from Hell.”

“Now that’s scary,” June agreed. “And it explains the icepick hanging around your neck, too.”

“Yup. Strikes fear into the hearts of lovers everywhere. Okay, you can crash with me in my room tonight. End of the hall. You’ll recognize my bag. Then come and start drinking, bitch, because you have some catching up to do.”


Township police officer Kerrie Douglas was slowly cruising behind a strip mall on the edge of town, looking for signs of drug-dealing or break-ins. As her patrol car crept slowly forward, she used her spotlight to illuminate the back doors of closed stores, and flashed the beam toward the spaces behind dumpsters. Nothing seemed amiss tonight; perhaps the bad guys were trick-or-treating? She snickered at that thought as she passed Mister Kerrigan’s shop; he was known to sometimes spend the night in his store. If a perp tried to trick him with a break-in on one of those nights, they’d get a treat from his shotgun. It had happened before.

She glanced at the clock on the car dashboard. It was about four in the morning now, witching hour, she decided. After two a.m., it’s said that there’s only two types of people out: perps and cops. Everybody else is snuggled in somewhere for the night.

She yawned and rubbed her eyes. Jesus, she was getting tired. Maybe she’d cut around to the convenience store and get a fresh cup of coffee. Just as she cut off her spotlight, the radio crackled with a call.

“Aw, hell,” she said. “That’s all the way out on the edge of town.” She keyed her handset. “Unit four en route,” she answered, as she sped up, pulled out onto the road, and flipped on her blue lights. She didn’t bother with the siren; there was no traffic out.

Several minutes later, she pulled off the road and onto the long, winding driveway of the distant farmhouse. She noted the number of cars parked to the side of the house and the Halloween decorations, and deduced that a party was in progress. She didn’t hear loud music, though, and that was usually the reason for a call a this time of the night. She keyed the radio handset clipped to her shoulder tab.

“Dispatch, unit four. What kind of complaint is this?”

“Disturbance. 911 got a crazy, garbled call. Couldn’t make out much. Might be a crank call.”

“Thanks, dispatch. Will advise.” She rolled the car nearer the front of the house and kept her headlights on the porch. She flicked them on high beam and studied the house in the glare of the headlights and her flashing blue lights. There seemed to be no movement at all, but weak lights shone from the windows and the front door was open. She watched for a moment, then halted her car at the front porch and got out. With her flashlight, she scanned the edges of the porch and the surrounding front yard. There was no movement of anything living, and nothing unusual. There were several beer cans scattered over the grass and dirt, but that was common at parties.

Slowly, she clumped up the wooden stairs and across the porch. The beam of her flashlight was in constant motion, checking dark corners and the woods around the house. Nothing. Even so, she felt a cold chill run up her spine that made the hair stand up on the back of her neck. As a cop, she’d felt that in a lot of situations, and it never bode well. Something wasn’t right here. She could feel it in her gut.

She opened the front screen door. It creaked loudly when she did, and the creak gave her  pause. Just nerves, she decided, as she stepped inside. Nevertheless, she pulled her pistol from its holster and held it by her leg, her finger just above the trigger guard, as she slowly began searching the front hallway. Most of the light inside the house, it seemed, came from the multitude of candles around the house, probably someone’s idea for atmosphere for a Halloween party. She halted about three steps inside and looked down. Her flashlight beam reflected in a pool of blood on the wooden floor. A trail of dots lead away toward a front room. She followed the blood trail, and it lead to a body. It was a young man, high-school or college age, sprawled on the floor. He lay in a pool of blood. She looked him over; he was in a Micky Mouse Club costume. Ears, white turtleneck shirt with a first name on the front – but no mask. She read the name on his shirt: Jerk. Obviously not his real name – or maybe it is. One can never tell these days. She touched his neck, feeling for a carotid pulse. There was none. His eyes, though, did not have that normal, half-open and dull gaze that the dead usually assume. These eyes were wide and fearsome, his mouth open and his teeth exposed, as if he’d witnessed something which horrified him. It gave her the creeps.

She stood and keyed her radio handset. “Dispatch, this is unit four. Got a body. Possible homicide. Request backup. Is Sergeant James available?”

The radio crackled. “This is James. I’m heading your way. You okay?”

“Yes,” she said. “Will advise.”

Kerrie resumed her slow, methodical inspection of the house. She paced down the hall, tucked her flashlight beneath her gun arm, and grasped the handle of a closet door. This, she decided, would be the front coat closet. She twisted it, and it unlocked. She swung the door open, and gasped at the sight before her as she snatched the flashlight from beneath her arm and shone it on the closet’s contents.

Inside, a young woman hung by her neck. Another Mouseketeer. Her face and eyes had that same wild expression that the first body exhibited. She watched it for a moment; it did not show any signs of life. She shone the light on the young woman’s shirt: her name was listed as ‘Jezebel’. “Nasty,” she said out loud, and clicked her radio handset. “Unit four. Got a second body.”

“On my way,” James’s voice replied. “Be careful out there, Kerrie.”


Damn straight I’ll be careful, she thought. How many more bodies am I going to rack up tonight? And is the sick fuck who did this still around? That was her major concern. She considered hanging back until James got there, but decided to press on. She resumed her slow trek down the front hallway. In the main room, decorations were up. Beer cans, liquor bottles, and stacks of red disposable cups were lined up on the table, and a big punch bowl took center place. She approached it and sniffed the punch. It smelled like rum, and lots of it. Great, she thought. Liquor drunks are almost worse than beer drunks. She noted a light switch on the nearby wall and flipped it. The room lit up. As she glanced around, she scanned the table for drugs. She saw none, and was relieved. One of her greatest secret fears was having to face someone high on synthetic drugs. They often had superhuman strength, they were paranoid and violent, and they didn’t feel pain. The couple of times she’d faced that before, she’d always ended up on her knees at the end of the night, thanking God that she had survived. And that she’d had backup. She was alone right now.

Her eyes, constantly roaming around the room, stopped on a pair of legs protruding from behind a sofa. She wasn’t alone, after all. The legs weren’t moving. Even so, she announced herself. “Police,” she said, in an authoritative voice. “Come on out and show me your hands.” The legs did not move. She approached them, pointed the flashlight behind the sofa, and winced. It was a female this time, dressed in some sort of superheroine costume, mask and cape. Kerrie knelt down and felt her neck. There was no pulse. She studied the young woman beneath her flashlight’s beam. “Hm,” she said. “I wonder what PCH means?” She focused on the wooden handle protruding from the young woman’s chest. It appeared to be an ice pick. The flashlight’s beam strayed up to her face, and Kerrie’s blood ran cold at the sight as she pulled the mask away. The expression was the same as the others. The eyes were wide and wild, and the mouth was open as if silenced in mid-scream.

Kerrie stood up and keyed her radio handset. “Unit four. Got a third body.”

“I’m almost there,” James replied.

She looked around the main room, and began turning on every electric light she could find. In the lights, she could see blood trails. They seemed to head for doors and windows. That means that there could be more victims outside, in the dark and the woods. Great. “What the hell went on here?” she wondered aloud, as she scanned the main downstairs area slowly.

Her eyes stopped at a closed door. A closet? A bathroom? She’d have to find out. She breathed deeply a few times to calm the pounding of her heart, then silently paced toward it. At the door, she listened for a moment, but heard nothing. Her hand grasped the knob and she turned it, then slowly swung the door open as she stood back. The door creaked, then thumped against the wall. She found the light switch and turned it on. It was a bathroom, and from the looks of it, hadn’t been redecorated since the ‘50s. Flowery wallpaper, an old medicine cabinet over the ornate sink, it would have been right at home in her grandmother’s house. The one item out of place was the leg protruding from the old claw-foot bathtub, beneath the closed shower curtain. She announced herself as she stepped forward.

“Police. You, in the bathtub. Let me know that you’re all right.”

No motion answered her. She leveled her pistol, pulled the curtain back, and felt the bile rise in her throat as what lay before her.

A young woman in a Bride of Frankenstein costume lay crumpled in the bathtub. A meat cleaver was firmly lodged in her forehead and face, and she was resting in a pool of blood. It was a gruesome injury. She leaned forward, felt for a pulse, and found what she’d expected to find: none. She stood and keyed her radio handset. “Dispatch, Unit four. Got another body.” The sound of her voice echoed strangely, as if there were another police radio in the house. A moment later, she heard footsteps. It was Sergeant James. He peered around the edge of the bathroom door, considered the scene, and said, “Yuk.”

“Tell me about it,” Kerrie said.

“Have you checked upstairs yet?” he asked.


“Let’s do that.”

Kerrie put a hand on James’s arm. “Blood trails heading to doors and windows,” she said. “Might be more outside.”

“I got two folks putting up a perimeter,” he said, “and crime scene tape.” He radioed, “Hey, units two and five, check the house perimeter for injured or dead people.”

As the affirmative response crackled in his radio, James pointed to the stairs. He held up his shotgun and activated the flashlight mounted on the barrel. “I’ll go first if you want.”

“No,” Kerrie said. “I got it. Just back me up.” I’ll be damned, Kerrie thought, if I let him see how scared I really am right now. Get it together, Kerrie. You can do this. Just another night at work, that’s all this is.

They stopped at the base of the stairs and peered upward, shining their flashlight beams into the darkness. Kerrie flipped the light switch on, and the stairs illuminated. Slowly, they paced up the stairs, one squeaky step at a time, guns leveled, flashlights on, straining to hear or see anything out of the ordinary. Nothing.

At the top of the stairs, James flipped another light switch, and the hallway illuminated. Several doors lined the hall, presumably bedrooms and perhaps a bathroom. They all had to be checked. Kerrie felt that old, familiar cold chill again, and the hair bristled on the nape of her neck. There was something up here. She knew it, and she knew that it was pure evil. She said so, and James scoffed.

“You’re just getting spooked. It happens. Keep your mind on what you’re doing, Kerrie.” He motioned ahead with his shotgun, and Kerrie led them to the first door.

She twisted the knob, but it was locked. James kicked the door, and it splintered and swung open. Kerrie entered and flipped on the lights, then groaned. “Oh, man. That sucks,” she said, then keyed her radio handset. “Unit four. Got two more bodies.”

It was a bedroom. They approached the young couple sprawled on the bed. They had been killed in mid-lust, it seemed, by what appeared to be a broken-off broomstick jammed through both of their bodies at once. “Jeez,” James said. “It must have taken incredible strength to do that.”

Kerrie and James looked at each other wordlessly for a moment. Then, Kerrie voiced both their thoughts. “What the hell are we dealing with here?” she asked.

“Damned if I know,” he said. He keyed his radio handset. “Hey. Units two and five, report.”

“Two here.”

“Five here.”

“Keep sharp. There’s some bad juju around here tonight,” James cautioned, over his radio. “Did you guys find any bodies outside?”

“No, Sarge. I got a blood trail leading off into the woods, though. Should I follow it?”

“No,” James said. “Stick close to the house. We’ll wait for the sun to come up and more backup to arrive.”

“What’s going on, Sarge?” a voice crackled.

“Mass murder, looks like. Keep sharp.”

Then, he began poking around in the room. There wasn’t anything else to see, though, except costumes on the floor and red plastic cups in the room, still half-full of liquor. A typical college-age tryst gone wrong. Very wrong.

He looked toward the hall where Kerrie was standing, and he saw her expression. “What?” he asked. In reply, she merely gestured. He strode to the hall and looked in the direction she’d indicated, then looked at her. “What?” he asked again.

“Something moved. I saw it. It was there, and then it wasn’t there.”

“What was it?”

“It was about five feet tall and kind of smoky gray. It just – ” She looked at him. “It just disappeared.”

“Oh, come on. You’re getting freaked out. Get a grip, Kerrie.”

“I know it sounds crazy, but – ”

“Is your body camera on?”

“Yeah. It’s been on this whole time.”

“Good. Mine, too. We’ll check the footage later.  Let’s go.” He indicated the way with a gesture. She raised her pistol and led the way, with James just behind her. As she placed her hand on the knob of the next door, Kerrie felt a freezing chill sweep over her and steal her breath. She gasped, then staggered backward and fell to her knees in the hallway. James stared at her in disbelief.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” he said.

“I just – ” She shivered, then shook off her disorientation. “Something hit me.”


“I don’t know. Freezing, and it was like I was gut-punched.” She looked up at James, expecting a skeptical expression and a snide comment. Instead, she got a horrified look. “What?” she asked.

He backed away from her. “What the hell are you?” he asked.

“James? Have you lost your marbles?”

He pointed toward the end of the hall. “Go. Look. Mirror.”

Again, her hair stood up on the nape of her neck. She pulled herself to her feet, then staggered down the hall toward the full-length mirror. As she approached it, she focused on her face. When she neared the mirror, she dropped her flashlight.

Her face was not her own. The face which peered back at her was a gray pallor of pain and anguish. The eyes were sunken, the pupils black, and the skin wrinkled. Kerrie stared at the apparition in the mirror for a still, silent moment, then fainted. As she lay on the floor, James slowly approached her, his flashlight’s beam on her, his shotgun pointed at her. He stared down at her, then into the mirror. Both Kerrie’s face and its reflection in the mirror appeared normal. He blinked in surprise. “What the – ?” he said. “I know what I saw.” He nudged her with the toe of his boot. “Hey, Kerrie. You okay?” When she did not respond, he bent down and felt for a pulse. She had a strong one. He slapped her face a couple of times, and she stirred. “Hey, girl. Talk to me.”

“Huh?” Kerrie opened her eyes. “What happened?” she asked.

“You flaked out. You okay?”

“Yeah. I think.” She sat up, found her pistol and flashlight, and got to her knees. Then, she looked up and screamed. “It’s there again!”

“Where?” James whirled around and pointed his shotgun down the hall, then stiffened and cried out, a strangled cry which cut off much too soon. When he turned back around, Kerrie almost wet her pants. She shuffled back against the end of the hall, still on her knees, and pointed her pistol and flashlight at James.

“Jesus Christ, James! What the hell?”

He did not answer. He merely stared into the mirror in horror. His reflection was not his own. It was pale and anguished, a reflection of what he’d seen in Kerrie’s face a moment before. He attempted to cry out, but could only manage a moan. Then, he raised his shotgun and pointed it at the mirror. When he racked it, Kerrie yelled, “No, James! Don’t – ”

He pulled the trigger. The sound of the shotgun in the closed hall was thunderous, and the mirror dissolved into a cascade of flying wood and shards of glass. Kerrie clapped her hands over her ears and rolled away from it. “What the hell, James?” she yelled. She looked up in time to see him rack the shotgun again. That face was still there. This time, he fixed her with that hellish stare, and he turned toward her. She panicked, and she scooted away from him, yelling hysterically, “James! Snap out of it. James!”

He walked toward her, but his gait was unsteady, as if whatever possessed him was unfamiliar with being in a body. Closer, he came, until he towered over her, looking down at her. She began weeping from fear, screaming his name over and over again, trying to reach him. He wasn’t hearing her. The eyes, though, frightened her the most. They were black and cold, eyes that she’d only ever seen before in a crazed psychopath. She rolled to one side, then kicked him hard with both feet. He staggered, then fell down the stairs with a loud clatter and a series of thuds. When he reached the landing, he lay still, unmoving. She leaned against the wall, her pistol trained on him, and shone the flashlight’s beam on his face. Her heart almost stopped at what she saw next.

A gray fog exited his mouth and swirled along the stairs, over the bannister, and down the hall. Kerrie could swear she heard an insane laugh accompany it. A second later, someone stomped up the stairs at a frantic rate. One of the other officers stopped at James’s silent form, felt for a pulse, and looked up the stairs. That’s when he saw Kerrie.

“What happened? I heard a shotgun.”

Kerrie managed to holster her pistol. “Yeah. Him. Shot...mirror...up here.”

“Shot the mirror? You okay, Kerrie?”

“No.” She managed to haul herself to a standing position, and she keyed her radio. “Dispatch, need ambulance. Officer down.” When dispatch acknowledged the call, she waved the officer up the stairs. “I still haven’t cleared the upstairs yet. Get his shotgun and follow me, Kevin.”

Kevin picked up the shotgun and followed her down the hallway. She paused before another door, drew her pistol, and tried the doorknob. It turned, and the door swung open. She clicked on the light, and it illuminated a clump of three bodies on the floor, in a massive blood pool. They approached the carnage slowly. For a long, silent moment, they just studied the scene. Kevin looked at Kerrie.

“Check for pulses?” he asked.

“Where? Their throats are all slashed, looks like. Nah. They’re all dead.”

“God, what a mess. Look at this blood pool. The carpet’s soaked.” He paused, then asked, “Who are they supposed to be, anyway?”

“What we have here,” Kerrie said, “is all three Stooges.”

“Sure it isn’t the Marx Brothers?”

“Nah,” Kerrie said. “Stooges, for sure.” She keyed her radio. “Dispatch, three more bodies.”

“Three more knuckleheads, you mean,” Kevin quipped. “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”

Kerrie and Kevin stared at each other, then burst into snorts of laughter so hard that they bent over as they laughed. It was a release of tension, a catharsis of the fear they felt. Finally, as the laughter trailed off, Kerrie managed to speak.

“Time to get professional again.” She slapped Kevin on the arm. “Come on. One more room to clear. Let’s do this.”

They walked down the hall to the end room. As Kerrie placed a hand on the doorknob, she halted. “Listen,” she whispered. Both she and Kevin leaned forward and placed an ear near the door. Inside, they could hear – it sounded like weeping, but in a hysterical, high-pitched manner. She grasped the doorknob and turned, but it was locked. Kevin kicked it in, and the door swung open as they entered, guns at the ready. “Police!” Kerrie said. “Give it up!”

Kevin clicked on the light. There was no one in sight. It was a small bedroom with a single day-bed against the wall and a few pieces of furniture, the most notable one being an old-style wardrobe. Kevin got down on one knee and shone his light beneath the bed. “Nothing,” he said.

“Where is that coming from?” Kerrie asked, as she quietly tread the perimeter of the room. She stopped by the wardrobe, gestured to Kevin, and pointed at the wardrobe. He nodded, then took his place next on the other side of the furniture. When he yanked the door open, Kerrie pointed her pistol into the wardrobe, then slowly holstered it. “She’s alive,” Kerrie said. Kevin joined her and looked into the wardrobe.

Inside, in the bottom, a young woman was curled up in a ball. Her makeup was running down her face, and her hair was disheveled. She was splattered with blood and shaking, but she appeared uninjured. “Are you okay?” Kerrie asked the girl. “Hey, we’re the good guys. You okay? Let’s get you out of there.” She held out a hand, and the girl reached for it. Slowly, she extracted the young woman from the wardrobe, then looked her over. “What’s your name?” Kerrie asked.

“June,” she said.

“What happened here, June?” Kerrie asked. June began shaking almost uncontrollably, and started speaking in sentence fragments or unintelligible words which made no sense. “Okay, never mind,” Kerrie said. “You hurt?”

“I – I don’t know,” June managed to stammer out.

“Okay,” Kerrie said, as she keyed her radio. “Dispatch, need ambulance. One survivor. Seems unhurt, but she needs the medics, I think.” She looked June over; the dress was torn and bloody, the girl was wearing stockings, but no shoes, and her manner and expression reflected someone who had just experienced some sort of mental or nervous breakdown. Kerrie sympathized. After all, she’d seen some pretty weird shit tonight, things that she still had to sort out in her own mind. “Kevin, take her downstairs, will you, and stay with her until the ambulance gets her.”

“Will do.” Kevin took her by the arm and coaxed her from the room, speaking gently to her in an attempt to soothe her. She was still weeping and sniffing, and occasionally managed to mutter a word or two in question. Kerrie noted that as she walked away, she left bloody footprints behind her.

When they were gone, Kerrie shone her flashlight into the wardrobe. It was old and made of dark wood, but she could detect blood smeared on the walls. As she twisted the flashlight and expanded the beam, a glint caught her eye. She leaned into the wardrobe and focused on it, then stood, withdrew a latex glove from her back pocket, and slipped it onto her hand. She reached inside, straightened up, and held at arm’s length a bloody kitchen knife with at least an eight-inch blade. For a long time, she studied the weapon; the amount of blood on the blade and handle, and the occasional drip which fell to the carpet, near her boots. Then, she turned and looked in the direction that Kevin had led the distraught, weeping June. She considered the knife once more, the bloody footprints, then shook her head in disbelief. “Nah,” she said. “Couldn’t have been. Unless...”


June sat in an interrogation room at the police station, staring at the styrofoam coffee cup in front of her. Kerrie had taken her home from the hospital emergency room and collected her torn, bloodied clothing as evidence. It was procedure, she’d said, as June stripped the clothing from her body and showered until she was pruning. Then, after she’d dressed, Kerrie had escorted her to the police station for her statement. She’d explained that it was important to get her recollection of events as quickly as was possible, to ensure accuracy. Time dulls memories, she’d said.

Now, June was sitting in an interrogation room, sipping lukewarm coffee and waiting for – for what? She got the answer when the door opened, and Kerrie walked in and sat down at the table across from her. For a moment, they merely studied each other. June managed a pained little smile. “You look exhausted,” she offered.

“You’ve had quite a night, too,” Kerrie said.

“No kidding,” June said.

“So tell me, how the hell did you survive a mass killing?”

“We’ve gone over it twenty times. I hid.”

“Yeah. With a kitchen knife covered with blood?”

“I was scared. I must have picked it up from somewhere.”

“I guess.” She leaned forward and studied June. “Did you do any drugs last night? Any bath salts, for instance? Any synthetic stuff?”

June stared at Kerrie. “No,” she said. “I don’t do illegal drugs. Ever.”

“Good for you. So, during the night, did anything weird happen to you? I mean, did you feel an icy cold, or like someone gut-punched you, but you didn’t see anyone?”

June’s expression was one of shock. “You’re the first one to ask me that. Yeah. Exactly.”

“What did you see?”

“Nothing. Wait, it seemed like a smoky cloud. And then I felt that cold and that gut-punch, like you said.”

“What happened after that?”

“I don’t remember. Just a flash or two. I do remember kneeling over Ally’s body and freaking out. I mean, she had that ice pick in her chest, and she wasn’t moving. She’s been my dear friend since elementary school, and she was dead, in front of me. And I heard screams and people crying, and I don’t remember much after that, until I ended up upstairs, in the hall. I had blood on me, all sticky and gross. And I crawled into the wardrobe and hid.” She shrugged. “That’s when you found me, I guess.”

“I guess. After you felt the cold and the gut-punch, did you happen to look in a mirror?”

June blinked in surprise at the question. “No. Why would I?”

“Just wondered.”

“I feel like hell. Can I go home now?”

“Your statement’s being typed up. Sign it, then you can go.”

“My car’s at that freaking house.”

“I’ll drive you there.”

“I don’t want to go back there. Just take me home, okay?”

Kerrie managed a tight smile. “Sure. Excuse me,” she said, as she rose and left the room.

In the hallway, she met a detective. He shook his head as they considered June through the one-way glass. “I wouldn’t peg her for it,” he said. “No previous record of violence, no history of mental illness or drug use. By all accounts, she’s a good kid. And she doesn’t have the physical strength to have killed all of those people. No motive, either. She was the only one left alive in the house, though, and she had a potential murder weapon with her. There’s no other ready explanation but her.”

There’s one other explanation, Kerrie thought. “You going to charge her?” she asked.

The detective snorted. “It’ll take two weeks to go through all the forensics in this case. A crapload of bodies that need autopsies, a ton of forensic tests, what-have-you. Nah. Not unless something comes up.” He eyed Kerrie. “Why? You were first on the scene, weren’t you? Do you think she did this?”

Kerrie watched June for a moment, then looked at the detective. “I do,” she said. “And I don’t.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“It was her, but it wasn’t her.”

“You’re not making sense,” the detective said.

“Tell me something. What’s the history of that house?” Kerrie asked.

The detective shrugged. “Supposedly haunted,” he said. “Been rented out for movies and such. Nobody wants to live there, though.”

“Why is it haunted?”

“An old murder, so they say.” He smiled. “Don’t tell me that you believe in ghosts, Officer.”

“Ghosts? Damned straight. Seen one.” Kerrie pointed at the window. “And I believe in her, too. She wasn’t the cause of all this. She’s just as much a victim as the rest of ‘em. She just survived.”

“Then who did this?”

Kerrie managed a tired smile. “Whoever it was, I’m thinking that they’re, ah -- history.”


The End.

Djb, October 30, 2018.