Nightmare House has a history – murder, mayhem, suicide. All
who live there fall victim to its deadly hold.
When Teagan, Ryan, and Will go after a killer article for the school
paper, they figure staying one night can’t hurt. And what better night
than the anniversary of the first slaying?
But Nightmare House plays fiendish tricks. The three face deadly ghosts,
past demons, and a house that is unforgiving of their former sins.
Teagan glanced again at the gravel road that stretched some twelve miles back to the main highway. Isolated was the first word to pop in her head. Then her eyes shifted to the surrounding wooded areas, the setting sun masked behind dark clouds. No…hidden.
“Are we ready to do this?” Will asked as the three of them tested the boards of the rickety wooden porch.
Ryan clapped him on the back. “You’re looking a little pale.”
Teagan could only imagine how she looked. But she put on a brave face and hoped the boys couldn’t hear her thumpity-thumping heart. “Think the door’s locked?” Like the rest of the two-story farmhouse, the door hadn’t encountered a paintbrush in a series of decades. And judging by the splintered wood and rusted hardware, getting in would be a snap.
Ryan tried the knob and pushed. “Yep. Locked.” Without warning he stepped back and gave it a powerhouse kick. The house groaned. He did it again, this time, separating the door from the jamb. It swung open with a massive creak. “That was easy enough.”
The three stood there a moment before Will said to him, “Well? We’re right behind you.”
Yeah, Teagan thought, Ryan’s not such a badass now.
Ryan double-shouldered his backpack and peeked in. “Anybody home?”
They waited. Since the boogerman didn’t answer, they crept inside.
Wow, Teagan couldn’t believe it. Here she was, in the actual living room of Nightmare House. Or as the locals called it, Boogerman’s House—one of the most haunted spots in America and Thornback, Texas’s famous landmark. Her heart still jogged double-time, not only from fear, but because this would be the best article in the history of The Paw Print, Thornback High’s school newspaper. And better still, on the anniversary of the first murder-suicide.
She crossed the gray-shadowed room with its filthy brocade curtains and draping cobwebs. Ugh. No wonder so many people killed themselves here. What a dump! The coats of dust were already making her nose tingle. But it hadn’t been so shabby when the Richardsons lived here in 1931. Back when old man Richardson bled his family like pigs, then turned the straight razor on himself.
Teagan raised her eyes to the fifteen-foot ceiling. They died up there. But they weren’t the only ones. Ruby Smith and her sister, Janice, occupied the place from 1940 to 1959…till Ruby smothered her sister with an heirloom pillow, then drank a jug of ammonia. The boogerman got to her too. The only other person to occupy the place was famous horror author, Kingsley Wyre. He and his typewriter temporarily moved in in 1996 “for the atmosphere.” He only meant to stay a month. But one thing Teagan knew for sure, horror writers were never afraid of the things they wrote about. Kingsley should’ve been. When his agent couldn’t reach him two weeks in, the sheriff’s department was dispatched. They found Kingsley hanging from the rafters of the barn. The only writing he’d managed was dire confessions to petty things that shouldn’t shame anyone, much less cause them to end it all. But that’s what Boogerman’s House did. Shamed you. It talked you into the funk of no return. That’s why Teagan was here. She and the boys would put those feelings on paper for the whole school.
Will sidled up beside her, his black hair spiked like he’d already been spooked. He stared up. “I sure hope those are water stains.”
Teagan saw them for the first time, her mind narrowing back from the events of the past. “Blood stains would be darker.” She looked hard, noticing the black bubbled plaster. “I think.”
Ryan joined them in their upward gaze. Then: “Come on, let’s check everything out before dark, starting with the rest of the house.”
“Okay,” she said, “but let’s do this reality show style, like those ghost hunter shows on TV.”
Ryan gave her the side-eye, throwing shade. “Sorry, I left my EMF meter and compass in my Maserati. You, Will?”
“Just this.” Will held up his Canon Rebel attached to the strap around his neck.
Ryan turned back to her. “You bring any ghost hunting gear? Thermometers? Motion detectors?”
She decided not to mention the blacklight app she’d downloaded earlier that day. “I just meant…never mind. Let’s video it though. Recording it will come in handy.”
“And can be used as evidence,” Will shot back. “Last I looked, trespassing was illegal.”
Teagan brought out her phone to video anyway. “I think you’re forgetting, we’re going to publish this in the school paper. Everyone’s going to know we broke in here.”
Will popped a shrug. “Whatever.”
The first thing Teagan noticed on her phone were the missing bars. Oh crap! What if there’s an emergency? “Damn. I don’t have reception.” She looked to Ryan. “Do you?”
He dug out his phone. “Nope.”
Will checked his. “I do. It’s weak, but there.”
Ryan nodded, his sandy bangs dipping onto his right eyebrow. “Good enough.”
Teagan looked over Will’s shoulder. Two bars. That’s all they’d need. She tapped the video button on her own phone as she and Will followed Ryan through an arched opening into the kitchen.
Ew. She checked it over through the lens of her phone, occasionally letting her eyes stray upward to the real world. Her best guess was that the black corroded sink had once been pristine white. And what was that junk heaped near the drain? No flies swarmed so it must’ve been mineral rather than vegetable. An eroded faucet protruded out, a large screw where a hot water knob once sat.
The red gingham curtains (was that red?) above the sink hung in rags, the edges looking chewed. Teagan gingerly peeled one aside to see the grounds beyond. But the panes were filthy and crusted with lime and gunk.
“Dare me?” Ryan said.
Teagan weaved around, framing him in her lens. He stood by a small refrigerator, a flashlight in one hand, the other on the lever-style handle of the fridge. He squinted against the automatic lighting of her phone.
Teagan had a flashlight in her pack too. Ryan had insisted they bring them, saying their penlight apps would drain the batteries on their phones.
Will raised his camera to his eye. “Proceed.”
Ryan hesitated, and for a moment, Teagan thought he might chicken out. But what’s the worst they’d find in there? Some petrified mac and cheese, maybe?
Ryan counted off, “One…two…three!” On three, he pulled down the lever, popping open the fat rounded door. The second the flashlight beam hit the contents, they all three flew back with a yelp.