Welcome to the Haunted House of Misery

Trick or Treat. 

Ah, the phrase will be used in abundance in next few weeks as children and adults alike shed their everyday skin  to don outfits ranging from their favorite pop star to the most grotesque creatures imaginable. It’s a great time to celebrate and partake in devouring handful after handful of delectable treats, but as with the good, also comes unmitigated evil. Hence, the story I have for you today. House of Misery is not my usual, but given Halloween is right around the corner, I decided to focus on a story I will be including in the Harvest of Death anthology, coming to you in early 2013. It doesn’t necessarily take place during Halloween, but the atmosphere around it makes it seem like it does… Hehe.  I thought it would be fun to post it and give you all a sneek peek at the first portion. Well, without further ado, I wish you all a happy and safe Halloween…

Enjoy the haunt!!

House of Misery

“What do you think?” Brooke asked, flipping back her long, blonde hair. She parked the black four-door sedan in a space alongside the dark, dilapidated structure that used to be someone’s home.

“Well, this street is called Misery Isle.” Austin sat next to her, flashed his partner a smile as he finished setting up the long-range camera he held.

The two investigative reporters were selected to this assignment, not due to their journalistic acumen but because they were the only ones who didn’t get caught up in the circus surrounding the origin of the house. Blake Misery had been the architect of this gated residence, just as he was for a majority of Grand Island’s modern buildings. The man was the epitome of success, and the naming of a local street in his honor was just a small sample of what the community thought of him.

But just as there was with every proclaimed hero, there was a dark side. It was rumored that one night, Blake returned home early from a conference, finding his wife of twenty years and her much younger lover in passionate embrace. He became enraged, grabbed a machete, and sliced them into pieces and buried them somewhere on the property. He then doused himself with kerosene and lit himself ablaze. Local law enforcement kept the details of the case under wrap, despite the fact that Blake’s son was also missing. A few months later, people in the neighborhood started seeing apparitions of Blake, his wife, and her lover roaming the property. Several reporters had attempted to enter the house to uncover what had really happened, but before they could get inside, something scared them away. Brooke and Austin wouldn’t be swayed that easily.

“It’s just a name. Don’t freak out on me.” Brooke laughed, exiting the car and opening the rear car door to grab a dark plastic bag from the back seat. She undid the tie string and removed several digital recording discs.

“Me? Freak out? I wouldn’t call it that…exactly.” Austin looked at her over the roof of the car, both eyebrows raised. The comment was not accurate in describing the former bodyguard. He had a history of being in volatile surroundings, and this wasn’t anything close to those.

His partner on this assignment was Brooke Anders. She was a recent graduate from Purdue University, possessing the cookie-cutter good looks most women in her profession usually displayed. Austin Davenport, on the other hand, had gained a great deal of weight around his midsection. The combination of high fat and nutritionally extinct meals, along with the lack of any type of fitness program, was to blame for that.

“You ready with the camera, Austin?”

“Hold on. I’ll be done in a few seconds.”

“Hurry up; this is supposed to be the night. I want to be ready, just in case,” Brooke said.

“How did you find out it was tonight?” Austin leaned in towards her.

“Strange phone call from an unknown source…early yesterday morning.”

“What do you mean strange?” Austin asked.

“Well, when I answered the phone, the man’s voice whispered something I could barely make out.”

“What was it again?” Austin had a little grin on his face, as he stared at the old structure.

“‘The evil you seek will find you on December 24, at the hour of contemplation,’” Brooke said, as the hairs on her arm stood up and her body suddenly felt like it was dipped in freezing water.

“What in the hell does that mean?”

“I don’t know, but the day, Christmas Eve, does seem a little out there,” Brooke said.

“Yeah, it’s definitely out there,” Austin said.

A flash of light from a window on the second floor caught Brooke’s attention. “Look up there!” She feverishly tapped on Austin’s shoulder, pointing at the window.

“Whoa. What’s gotten into you?” Austin brushed her hand away.

“Get the camera quick…something’s up there.” Brooke ran through the overhang of branches covering the sidewalk. She burst through, almost tumbling at the feet of the crumbling cement blocks that used to be the front steps.

“Wait! You’re gonna kill yourself if you don’t slow down,” Austin called, chasing after her.

“I think someone’s in the house,” Brooke said, almost out of breath.

“I think you’re seeing things.” Austin finally caught up to her at the top of the steps.

“I know what I saw. There was something in the window looking at us.”

The two reporters faced the front door of the mysterious home. Austin held the camera at the ready, while Brooke shakily grasped the ancient silver doorknob. She jerked her hand back, staring at it in disbelief.

“You all right?” Austin asked.

“I don’t know. The knob is freezing. What’s going on?”

“Brooke, hello…it’s winter. Of course the doorknob is freezing.”

Brooke stared at her hand, noticing the skin immediately showed signs of frostbite. “Damn it! Look at this.” She stuck her hand out for him to inspect.

“Okay, I see it. You don’t want to leave, do you?”

“No, but you go ahead and try to open it.”

Austin reached into his pocket and slipped on one of his winter gloves. He reached for the knob, slowly opening the door.

“We’re in.” He glanced back and could see Brooke wrapping her injured hand with her brown scarf.

“I’ll be alright, but stay close, in case I want to get the hell out of here.”

“Gotcha. You’re right, though…it’s a little strange.”

“A little?”

“Okay. It might have some paranormal aspects to it.”

Brooke finished wrapping her hand as the two walked through the entryway. A thin layer of frost covered everything within sight. Brooke could see the warmth of her breath cut through the icy air. She looked in Austin’s direction. He gasped, noticing the icy interior as well.

“You got the camera rolling?” Brooke shivered as she grasped at the pocket flashlight. Even though her hands were covered, numbness crept through her fingertips.

“Yes, it’s ready.”

Brooke glanced at the side of the device, realizing the recording button wasn’t working. She tapped at it with her hand, and soon, the red light activated. The two reporters had only taken a few steps when they were assaulted with an odor of rotting flesh and defecation.

“Oh my God…that’s awful!” Brooke put a hand over her mouth, the taste of vomit filling her throat.

“Probably some dead animals in here somewhere,” Austin said.

“In this cold? That’s nasty, Austin. And it looks like this place is pretty well boarded up. I can’t imagine anyone ever living here.”

“Well, they did.” His voice was terse.

Before she could respond, a cackling sound erupting from above the two. “Ahh, ahh, ahh…”

Brooke turned her head toward the noise. “What in the hell—”

“Sounds like someone’s hurt. You were right. Somebody’s up there,” Austin said.

“I told you I wasn’t imagining it.”

Brooke pointed up in the direction of a spiraling staircase, as it seemed to disappear into darkness. A small ball of red light screamed across the floor above them. Brooke clung to Austin, nervous and afraid. Austin guided her with one hand, as his other held the recording device in position. He aimed the lens in the direction of the unknown illumination. Brooke’s first instinct was to turn and run, but the firm grip Austin had on her forced her to move forward. Brooke gave her co-worker a sheepish smile. The two cautiously ascended the stairwell. The deep, penetrating sound became stronger, piercing the eardrums of the house guests.

Brooke tried to cover her ears but was unsuccessful. Tears started to well up in both eyes. “Austin, we gotta get out of here!”

“I know—”

A strong booming voice began to reverberate through the walls, as the two again grabbed at their ears. The light flared brighter, and suddenly, they heard a voice with distinct clarity.

“The hour is at hand, and many have come before you are waiting.”

The stairs began to sway and rumble beneath the frightened investigators. Austin tried to keep his hand around the camera and maintain his balance, but he was failing desperately. The camera slid from his grip, falling over the edge of the staircase. Brooke scrambled up the stairs, racing against the wooden planks that fell as they were torn from their foundation.

“Austin, what’s happening? Oh my god…we’re going to die!” Brooke cried out.

She felt her body lift as it was hurled forward from the unknown force. Blood began to flow from a gash she had on her forehead as she bounced helplessly at the foot of the second floor. She turned and couldn’t see Austin.

“Austin? I’m hurt—where are you?”

Brooke realized the screeching noise had ceased, but the other noise was still deafening to her ears. Crawling to her feet, she braced herself against a wall. In confusion and disbelief, she fumbled for the flashlight but was unable to find it. She again called out for her partner.

“Austin…Austin?”

Just as Brooke regained a little balance, the unseen energy again struck her with little compassion. It propelled her backwards, smashing her through a hallway door, splintering her small ribs. She looked up and could see something approaching her. It was a man dressed in black with a hood around his head.

“Who are you?”

“I’m here. Everything will be fine, my child,” he said.

“Who are you?” she asked again, sobbing.

The figure in black stepped forward, then slowly slipped his hood away.

“My name is Austin Misery, and this is my father’s house.”

Brooke grabbed at her waist. “You’re Blake Misery’s son?”

He put a finger to his lips, removing a machete from under his cloak. “Shh. No time for talk now…lots of work to complete before daddy gets home.” He placed the palm of his other hand on her head and smoothed out her hair. “Welcome to your new home. And more importantly, welcome to Hell…”

(Death is only a click away.)

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