“Remember the plan,” Lilith Grave told her husband as they walked up to the front door of the old Victorian house. “He is not to go into that room.”
“I know,” Dante told her. He knew as well as she did how disastrous that would be. “I just wish he hadn’t insisted on seeing the house at night.”
“In the dark,” Lilith added.
Dante slid his card into the lock box and entered his code. The box opened, and he pulled the house keys out.
As he unlocked the door and searched for the porch light switch, a car pulled up in front of the house. Its lights shone on the Grave Deeds real estate sign rising up out of the tall, unkempt patch of grass that was the front yard.
Grave Deeds specialized in houses like the one they were about to show. Houses that had strange attributes and tragic pasts. Houses that weren’t repossessed, but just simply possessed. Houses Lilith referred to as dark properties.
And, just as often, their clients were as strange and dark as the houses. The kind of people who found the dark properties inviting. Henry Lumpkin was not one of them.
Henry Lumpkin stepped from his car and hurried up to the porch. Dante switched the porch light on just as Henry reached the bottom step. Henry’s neat red hair flashed in the sudden light. He straightened his tie and apologized to the couple for being late.
“I hope I haven’t kept you waiting,” he said. He sounded more like a timid little boy than the middle-aged man he appeared to be.
“No, Mr. Lumpkin,” Lilith told him. “We just got here.”
“Good, Good,” the man said, “and please, call me Henry.”
“Ok, Henry, shall we have a look around?” Dante asked, holding the door open for him.
Henry nodded and hurried into the house.
“Now, Mr. Lumpkin,” Lilith began.
“Henry,” Henry reminded her.
“Yes, Henry, you told us you wanted to look at this house, but you didn’t tell us what kind of house you are looking for.”
“A haunted one,” Henry said as he glanced around the entryway with its sparkling chandelier and ornately-carved wood bench at the bottom of the main staircase and moved through an archway into the front parlor.
You picked the right house, Lilith thought. But, in this case, haunted is an understatement. The room upstairs went far beyond haunted.
That room appeared to be a typical bedroom, just one more of the six bedrooms in the house. It had ordinary carpet, ordinary walls and an ordinary closet. Nothing was unusual about the room in the daylight.
At night, the room was anything but ordinary. Odd sounds could be heard emanating from the room. Eerie lights alternately glowed and flashed behind the closed door. Blood had been seen oozing from the walls and pooling on the floor.
Anyone who had tried to stay in the room could feel the presence of something in the room with them. Most would flee the house screaming in terror. A few were found raving about “the eyes,” driven completely out of their minds. Two actually disappeared.
Because of that room and the stories of the evil possessing it, the house had stood empty for more than 20 years and for sale for the last 13.
Every client that looked at the house ran screaming from the room. They flew down the front stairs, fled out the front door, and never looked back.
If they were ever to have a chance to sell the house, they had to keep Henry Lumpkin away from that room.
“I want to look upstairs,” Henry said after taking a quick look around the front parlor. He had no interest in the magnificent pump organ and bookshelves still full of dusty old tomes. He headed back to the entryway and the front stairs.
“Wouldn’t you like to take a look at the basement first?” Dante suggested. “Basements are always haunted.” He stomped his foot on the floor to wake up anything that happened to be sleeping in the dark corners of the vast room below.
The sound of groaning floated up through the heating ducts. It started softly but quickly became a wail before dying off again.
Dante and Lilith looked at Henry expectantly, but the man just started climbing the steps without comment as if he hadn’t heard the wail from down below.
They followed Henry upstairs where he stopped as if he were trying to determine which way to go.
“Take a look at this closet,” Lilith said, opening the odd-shaped door leading to the space under the attic steps. The closet was completely dark except for two eyes that glowed red deep within.
Lilith tried to direct his attention to the eyes, but Henry ignored them. He looked down the passageway toward the back of the house and made up his mind. “This way, I think,” he said.
As he passed the door to the attic stairs, Dante grabbed the knob. “How about the attic?” he asked. “Everyone is scared of old attics.” He started to open the door. Above them, slow, heavy footsteps could be heard crossing the attic floor toward the top of the attic steps.
But, Henry was already padding along the hallway toward a bedroom at the back of the house. The bedroom. He paused in front of the door with his hand on the knob.
“Now that’s something you don’t see every day,” Lilith said, pointing out the window to the backyard. “This house has its very own cemetery.”
Down in the back corner of the yard, headstones could be seen in the moonlight. Dark figures shambled around between them.
Henry turned and looked at the two of them. “Is there a reason why you don’t want me to see this room?” he asked.
Dante and Lilith couldn’t meet his gaze. Slowly, Dante told him the story of the room and the horror that lay inside. Henry’s face turned pale, and his eyes widened.
“So, you see,” Dante finished, “this is not a room you should look at. Not tonight. Not in the dark.”
He looked at his wife and gave her a wink. They knew that they had talked him out of it.
Henry turned and the couple intended to follow him back downstairs but he went to the door of the bedroom instead.
“I’m still going to look at it,” he said. And before they could stop him, he opened the door and went in.
The door slammed behind him as if a great wind had blown it shut. Dante and Lilith just stared at it.
The room behind the door erupted with light and sound. Bright lights flashing in a multitude of hues shined out from around the door and through the transom window above it. Thumps, crashes and strange, unintelligible voices could be heard. And there was one terrible scream that seemed to go on forever and then, everything abruptly ended leaving the room dark and silent.
The couple looked at each other and wondered what they should do. Dante decided to look in. Just as he reached for the door, it began to creak open.
And, Mr. Henry Lumpkin stepped out. He had a dazed look on his face, and his hair and clothes were disheveled. There were several dark splatters on his clothes, obviously blood. But neither of them knew whether the blood belonged to him.
They led him downstairs to the bench seat at the bottom of the steps and helped him sit down.
“Mr. Lumpkin,” Dante said, “how are you feeling?”
The man just sat there staring straight ahead.
“Henry,” Lilith said, “can you hear me?”
Henry nodded, slowly.
“How do you feel?” Lilith asked.
“That was…” he began and then his voice died away again.
“That was?” Lilith prompted him.
“That was great,” he said. His face lit up with a wide smile. He stood up and tried to straighten his suit and hair. “I’m buying the house.”
“You’re…buying…the…house?” Dante asked, not quite sure what had just happened.
“I’m buying the house,” Henry repeated. “But first, I have to do that again,” he said and headed back up the stairs.