Pen & Muse Haunt: MA by Michelle Ceasar Davis

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in PM Haunt: The Haunted House, Writing | 2 comments

Pen & Muse Haunt: MA  by Michelle Ceasar Davis

Boys and Ghouls!

Welcome to the Pen & Muse Haunt!

The Haunted House looms before you, threatening to swallow you up. It’s larger up close, isn’t it? You know that you shouldn’t really be here. In fact, now that you’re here, you want to leave.

 

But you chose to come inside. Even though you knew something felt a little off. All you can really do now is try…try to stay alive.

You can see the live list of participants and their post dates on this link.

Good luck. You’ll need it. Muahahahahaha!

Pen-Muse-HauntedHouse

 

 

MA

by Michelle Ceasar Davis

Class ended early so I decided to get an early start on the next issue of our college newspaper. I walked into the office and found the rest of the staff standing around the editor’s desk, even though neither the editor nor the advisor were in the room.

“Someone get fired?” I asked when I got into the huddle.

“Hardly,” Kylie said. “We’ve been discussing the assignment we were left.”

“Don’t you mean assignments, as in plural?”

Avion shook his head. “No, man, we got one for a group, for all five of us.”

“They call it a human interest story,” Dayn said.

“I call it macabre and in poor taste,” Nita finished.

“You’ve got my attention,” I said. “What is it?”

“Investigate the old frat house on the north side of campus,” Dayn said.

“The one that has the cemetery behind it,” Kylie said.

“I guess I’m not understanding the problem,” I said. “What are we investigating?”

“C’mon, Jeremy,” Avion said, “it’s the sixty year anniversary.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Of the murders.”

“People have said the house is haunted,” Nita said.

“Witnesses have seen things, heard things,” Dayn said.

“Are you scared of a little ghostie?” Kylie asked, putting her fingers in his face. He rolled his eyes at her.

I turned to Nita. “Is there another reason why we were asked to look into this?”

She sighed deeply and began to chew on her bottom lip. “I don’t know if I should say anything else. My sorority sisters will never trust me again if I say anything.”

“We can protect your identity. You can be an anonymous source.”

She walked to the window and looked over the trees toward the rundown building. “It’s not that simple. I’m a legacy member. I know things none of these other girls will ever learn.”

Kylie took a drink of her Diet Coke. “Ever? Really?”

Nita ignored her and continued. “My mom and aunt are also Delta Sigmas, and when they pledged, each girl had to spend five minutes inside the house. It freaked both of them out so bad, they never told me what happened to me until I was near the end of my own pledging.”

“So what happened?” Avion asked, his voice lower than his normal baritone.

“Something grabbed my mother’s hair and touched my aunt’s hand. My mom said she would have all her teeth pulled without anesthesia if it would keep her out of that house.”

“Did you have to do it when you pledged?” asked Dayn.

“No, thankfully. When my mom and aunt began planning activities for the pledge classes, they made sure that one was left off the list.”

“But no one has seen or heard anything out of that place in nearly twenty-five years,” Kylie said.

Nita counted on her fingers. “That would be around the time my mother and aunt pledged.”

Kylie walked toward the other side of the room in frustration. “Please don’t tell me you’re all scared of a silly story told to sorority pledges?”

“People died in that house,” Dayn said.

She rolled her eyes again. “How many?”

Avion went to the desk and logged onto the computer. He soon pulled up an article from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “This says ten men and one housemother.”

“Isn’t there some garden around here to memorialize those who died?” I asked.

“Sure, but it’s overgrown now.”

I looked over Avion’s shoulder at the monitor. “It says that in the article.”

He shook his head. “No, I found it on a run last semester. It’s between the house and the cemetery, a very depressing place for a memorial garden.”

“No one from campus would take care of it,” Nita said. “Everyone is scared of what is inside the house.”

“That explains a lot. The plaque says ten trees and a flowering shrub were planted. All that’s left are tree stumps and weeds.”

“The trees became diseased.” Nita’s eyes crossed slightly and she appeared as though in a trance. “The ground around the house is cursed. Nothing of any beauty or value can grow there.”

Kylie folded her arms across her chest. “Please. Curses. Ghosts. Noises. Completely unbelievable. Avion, is there anything in that article about the murderer?”

“Let me see. Umm, he may have been an inmate who escaped from a mental institution. Police said there was too much blood on the scene to identify clues to the actual killer.”

“So he could still be out there,” Nita said, pulling her jacket closer to her body.

“How old was he sixty years ago?” Dayn asked.

“If he was the escapee, he was in his early thirties,” Avion said.

“The likelihood that he’s still alive is highly improbable,” I said. “Can you Google his name?”

“I found his death certificate.”

Dayn noticeably exhaled. “How long ago did he die?”

“His body was found in a pond less than mile from campus.” He stopped reading and closed his eyes. “Two days after the killings.”

“So it’s possible he may not even be the murderer.”

Kylie pounded her fist on the desk. “I’m so tired of listening to all your bullshit. Yes, some people died a horrible death but none of this is going to help us complete this assignment.”

“After off of that, you still want to go in there?” I asked.

“Of course. I think it’s going to be a great article once we write it. In fact, I think we should debunk all the phooey surrounding the house and go in tonight.”

“I’m sure our advisor was looking for something more along the line of an anniversary piece.”

“Which is why this is so much better. It’s still a few weeks until Halloween and we’re going to have a full moon tonight.”

“No one has been in that house since my mother and aunt’s pledge class,” Nita said. “I doubt if there’s a key for it any longer.”

“Let me worry about getting inside the house. Is anyone coming in with me?”

“I’m in,” Avion said. “We might be able to get two or more stories out of this one visit.”

“I need a story like this to balance my portfolio,” Dayn said. “All my by-lines are sports related.”

“Nita?” she asked.

“I can’t. I promised my family I would stay away from the Kappa E house.”

“Wouldn’t you want to share an experience with your aunt and mother?” I asked.

“You don’t understand. I promised them and took an oath with my sorority sisters. I have to stay away from it.”

“That leaves you, Jeremy,” Kylie said. The others turned to face me. “What are you going to do?”

What could I do? Only Kylie and I had aspirations to work for news magazines, the only true journalism majors.

“I’ll go tonight,” I said. After all, what choice did I have?

 

#

 

The four of us stood outside the Kappa Lambda Epsilon fraternity house at ten-thirty that night, armed with cameras, recorders, flash lights, and backpacks. Kylie walked up to the door and cut the padlock with bolt cutters. She then pulled a small packet of tools out of the pocket of her jeans. It made sense that she would own a set of lock picks, based on the number of anonymous sources she had for her stories. Fortunately, she had us inside in less than ten minutes.

I’ve been in many old houses over the years but those couldn’t prepare me for the tomb we walked into. The house smelled of rot – food, wood, furniture, clothing. It didn’t appear as though anyone had ventured inside in the last sixty years, no matter what Nita was told by her mother and aunt. Walking into the lounge, I made contact with numerous spider webs and heard the pitter patter of mice. Or maybe they were rats, I’m really not sure.

“This must be them.”

Shit. I didn’t hear Kylie walk up to me, and then she had to speak loud enough for the entire campus to hear.

“Don’t we need to worry about security?” Dayn asked, joining us in the lounge. “I mean, I can’t be arrested for trespassing.”

“Stop acting so stupid. I have it taken care of.”

“What exactly does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that for the cost of one date with the student guard on duty tonight, no one will both us and the cameras won’t record anything.”

“They have cameras aimed at this place?” Avion asked.

“The ones are night are infrared and record when motion is detected. Except for tonight.” She rubbed her hands together. “So what’s our plan?”

“I thought it was your plan,” I said. The others nodded.

“Fine. Let’s start in here, all of us. Look for anything that may be from that last group of members. Then we should split up, pair off to investigate the rest of the house. Oh, and I have something else for us as well.” She dug into her backpack and pulled out two walkie-talkies. “You take this one,” she handed one to Dayn and the other to me, “and, Jeremy, you can keep ours.”

We wandered around the room for more than twenty minutes. Avion took several photos of other photos, as well as the room itself. Dayne recorded his impressions into a digital voice recorder. Kylie took things off the walls and rifled through desk, tables, and bookcases, putting several items in her backpack.

“What are you doing?” I asked her. “You shouldn’t take anything from the house.”

“I need these things to tell my story. This,” she pointed over her shoulder, “is my ticket to a top news job.”

She looked through several more bookcases before announcing it was time to split up.

“Dayn, you and Avion finish investigating this floor. Jeremy and I are going upstairs and working our way down.”

“When do you want to meet back here?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe between one-thirty and two o’clock. It shouldn’t take longer than that to look through this house.

The dust of sixty years aggravated my nose on our walk upstairs and my sneezes echoed throughout the otherwise silent house. Just as quickly as they started, my sneezes stopped when we walked into the first bedroom, which was also the attic.

It must have been the horror of the scene.

The room had been partitioned so there was storage on one side of the room and living quarters for two on the other side. Clothes were scattered throughout both sides of the room, including some ceremonial robes that appeared to have blood on them.

“Jeremy, come over here and take a picture of this.”

Kylie stood in a far corner, her small bean of light concentrated on something she had found. “Look here.” She stirred up a dust cloud and uncovered a few letters. MA. “I think they’re written in blood.”

It was possible. There was probably enough blood available that night to write an epic poem.

I snapped several pictures of the letter and then the room itself. I found the silhouettes of the beds again and clicked several photos of each. As I approached them, I saw each still had its blood-stained mattress. I reviewed the images of the bed and stopped on the third to last.

A man was lying in a pool of blood on one of them.

“Time to go!” I grabbed Kylie’s arm and half dragged her out of the room.

She shook off my hand when we got back into the hall. “I wasn’t done in there.”

“Too bad, I was. I found more than I wanted to. Come on, we have more rooms to look at.”

About forty minutes later, we were on the main floor and Avion and Dayn had gone upstairs. Neither said anything when we passed on the stairs, but Avion was definitely breathing harder.

Kylie obviously was looking for something in particular because she stopped suddenly in the kitchen. “Where is it?”

“What? And can you keep your voice down? We don’t need to draw any attention to ourselves.”

“Grow some balls, Jeremy. It’s just a creepy old house.”

Sometimes, she could be so nice to everyone. This wasn’t one of those times.

“What are you looking for?”

“The chapter room, where they keep all their real secrets. It has to be here somewhere.”

“Is that why you’ve been going through all the personal belongings. You’re looking for secrets.”

“And answers. I’m hoping to come across the true name of the killer.”

“You don’t think it was the escaped mental patient?”

“No, too tidy, too easy to wrap up. I’m going to go through these drawers and cupboards. Maybe I can find the switch to a secret panel.”

“Okay. I’m going to the housemother’s room.”

She turned to talk to me over her shoulder. “You won’t find anything in there.”

“I won’t know that until I actually look.”

I left her in the kitchen and went down the hall to one of the smallest rooms in the house. It wasn’t must more than ten feet by ten feet but the unfortunate woman had made it comfortable.

Like every other bedroom, the blood-stained mattress remained as a gruesome reminder of the carnage inflicted that night. Nothing else seemed out of place.

I look several photos in quick succession, attempting to show how no one was spared, but something kept drawing my attention to a jewelry box on the dresser. Next to the box was a single pearl earring. I opened the small box but didn’t find its match. I swept my flashlight beam over the carpet until something reflected back.

I reached down to grab the earring and found a cuff link with the monogram MA.

Something – someone pushed me backwards and I fell on my ass in the doorway. Then I heard a scream but I couldn’t tell if it came from me, my friends, or someone not visible to me. A door slammed and I jumped several feet.

I made the best decision I could. I ran down the hall until I found Avion and Dayn in the lounge.

“You okay,” Avion asked. “Did you scream?”

“Maybe, I don’t really know.” I tried to calm down but my heart wouldn’t stop racing. “Have you seen Kylie?”

“She’s supposed to be with you,” Dayn said. “Why aren’t you together?”

“Because she’s trying to find the chapter room and she’s frustrated because she can’t.”

“So where did you leave her?”

“In the kitchen. She’s looking for something that will trigger a hidden passage or secret door.”

“We’ve spent enough time in here,” Avion said. “Let’s find her and get the hell out of here.”

Dayn and I nodded in agreement and the three of us went to the kitchen. Kylie wasn’t there, but we did find the back stairs and searched every floor for her.

She wasn’t anywhere we could find.

“Maybe she left when I heard the door slam earlier,” I suggested.

“But do you think she’d really leave us in here?” Dayn asked.

“Without a moment’s hesitation,” Avion said. “If she couldn’t get what she wanted, she’d bail on us. I’ve had her do it to me before.”

“Okay, then we all go back to our rooms and meet in the office at one tomorrow. I’ll send Kylie a text what we’re doing.”

 

#

 

The three of us were in the office around noon, none looking like we had slept. I could personally attest to that.

The clock took an abnormally long time to reach one o’clock, but when it did, there was still no sign of Kylie.

“You know what we have to do,” Dayn said.

I picked up my backpack from the previous night and walked with the others back to the Kappa Lambda Epsilon house.

In our hasty exit, we did close the door only enough so it would shut but not lock. Again, we walked through that entire house, opening every door and large drawer.

“This is ridiculous,” Dayn said. “I didn’t want to spend my Saturday afternoon in this creepy place too.”

“Let me call her,” I said. “Maybe she has a good explanation.”

As I waited for her to answer, we all heard her ring tone.

“Keep calling her,” Avion said. “We need to zero in on that ring.”

We traced it to the housemother’s room, and he found her phone under the bed.

“But she was never in here,” I repeated several times. “I was in here alone.”

That damn jewelry box caught my attention again. I picked it up to put it in the closet when I saw it.

The clothes were parted and there was a bloody hand print.

“Are you sure it’s hers?” Avion asked.

“That void,” Dayn pointed to a blank area, “is where she wrapped her finger after we played tennis two days ago.”

“And the blood hasn’t dried fully,” I said, turning to look at the others. “Not to sound like a broken record, but you know what we have to do.”

We called our advisor, who called the president, who called the sheriff. Her parents were called, of course, and they made several appeals on tv for Kylie’s safe return. Everyone within ten miles of campus came out to search for her.

The old Kappa Lambda Epsilon house was down a few days later, in case she was trapped somewhere within. An old skeleton was found but it obviously wasn’t her. That is another mystery that remains to be solved.

 

#

The students organized a candlelight vigil this year, twelve years after her disappearance. I can see them gathering from my office. They’re planning to stand where the house once stood, hoping it’ll bring some answers.

I’ll join them soon but I can’t stand too close.

I don’t want to be the next one.

2 Comments

  1. I loved It.

  2. Great story.

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  1. Night Harvest: Like Father, Like Son by Michelle Ceasar Davis - @PenandMuse | @PenandMuse - […] Ma (PM Haunt showcase) […]

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