The Victorian House at the End of the Road
The quiet town of Marblehead, Massachusetts that sat just outside of Salem was abuzz with Halloween excitement. Kids wandered from their houses with candy pails and mischievous smiles on their faces. The night air was chilly, barely above forty degrees, with clouds that threatened to pour freezing rain down and ruin everyone’s night.
The slight breeze in the air picked up the yellow and orange leaves that gently blew over the sidewalk and carried them towards the end of the road where there was only one house that sat in the dark, accumulating tall grass and chipped paint.
Through the streets of Marblehead, kids were running and screaming as they went house to house getting treats while their parents communed at a local house where they drank their night away with rowdy music and no curfew in site.
A few kids adorned in various costumes scattered in various spots along the road walked without a care in the world with their candy rattling in their buckets while they walked shoulder to shoulder down towards the yellow line that told them to stop. The yellow line separated them from the only house on the last block in town. A few of those kids lined up at the almost invisible borderline between them and the only house in the short distance.
One, dressed as a pirate with an eye covered, lifted the patch and squinted at the Victorian house in the distance.
“They say a witch lives there!” The kid shouted to his friends as they all stared into the distance. They could just barely see the outline of the front porch to the house no one ever visited. But even they could see how desolate it had become in its long years of occupation.
“That’s a load of bullshit, no one lives there.” A second kid piped up and shoved his hand against the first kid’s shoulder.
“Ow! Don’t do that!” The first kid shouted in pain and rubbed his shoulder and then his running nose. “And mom said not to say bad words!” The first boy bellowed back to his brother who only rolled his eyes and turned to walk away from him and the other two smaller kids that were standing with them. The older boy, adorned in a shiny white and black plastic suit from his favorite movie turned to speak over his shoulder at his ridiculous brother.
“There’s no such thing as witches, Brandon, the quicker you learn that the quicker you’ll go to bed and forget about that house at the end of the road.” Brandon’s brother, Seth, shouted back at him before he disappeared back into the crowd of kids that were still running around trick or treating. He would head home with or without his brother while Brandon stood there contemplating his next move.
Brandon stayed frozen to the spot, even after the other kids next to him had left. He knew the stories about the lonely old lady that lived in the house. His mother told him that she’s lived there her entire life and even heard the stories when she was a kid. He didn’t want to believe his mother but even the schoolyard stories he heard from various people made his curiosity wander around telling him to get closer; so he did.
“I know there’s a witch in that house, and I’m gonna prove it.” Brandon worked up the courage to take a few steps forward. Then another few and another until he had nearly walked a quarter mile down the road and past the yellow line to stand at the battered front gate to the old Victorian house.
His shaking hands pushed the handle of his pumpkin candy basket up to his arm while he placed his hands on the sharp points of the picket fence that badly needed a paint job. He slowly looked around the desolate yard filled with weeds and grass that would be up to his waist, had he walked through it, and thought about what his brother told him.
“Witches don’t exist”
He repeated those words in his head over and over trying to give himself some comfort and confidence but the sudden loud squeak of a hinge made him jump out of his skin. With shaking hands and wide open eyes, he looked over at the broken front gate. He took in a breath, then another and another until his heart rate steadied before trying to take a peek into one of the windows near the front of the house.
The medium window with the black crossline that would normally show off the front tea room had a thick curtain in front of it instead. He desperately wanted to see in the house to get just a glimpse of proof the stories he’s been told for years.
He looked behind him quickly to make sure no one was sneaking up on him. When he saw the long path from where he was standing before he wondered how he got over here so quickly. Shaking off the thought he turned back to the house again. Soon another squeak came from the rusted hinge on the gate only he didn’t jump as high this time. The wind wouldn’t be dying down anytime soon.
Slowly and with shaking hands, he crept across the sidewalk with his grip still on the points of the fence as he walked along. Tracing his eyes along the edges of the house and the overgrown grass he froze with a sudden deep fear that rocked through his small body.
His eyes widened when they fell on overturned and cracked tombstones that littered the other side of her yard. He had never heard about a graveyard being around here. Witch or not, he didn’t want to stick around long enough to be another one of those bodies in the ground. Not only did his eyes find the broken stone but several more that looked very similar to the fallen one. He couldn’t read the etchings that had long faded with age and weathering.
Not even the tall grass could hide all the stones. Some too tall for him to even reach the tops had he wandered into the yard beyond the fence. They stood at a point and almost intrigued him to want to go beyond the broken fence but the whistling wind that past his ears and face told him to back off, to get the hell out of there.
Slowly backing up, his sneakers barely missed a large brick that was laying in his new path. With the distraction of nearly twisting his ankle, Brandon looked down for a second only to be met with something so terrifyingly haunting when he looked back up, that a high pitched scream tore from his lips faster than he could run away. The shadow of a giant was cast on the side of the house that faced the broken and standing stones. The low groan that came from the shadow made a frightful chill run up his spine before his brain could tell him to get the hell out of there.
His feet tore away from the cement and ran as fast as they would carry him in the direction he originally came from. Back to the safety of his bed and the warm sheets that reflected the consume her still wore. His pumpkin bucket all but forgotten on the ground next to the brick with its inners of candy spilled everywhere.
His screams were heard for at least a mile while the shadowy figure stood next to the decrepit house wondering why the child was running away from him. He didn’t believe that he was scream-worthy but then again, he wasn’t an eight-year-old child that still used a nightlight in his bedroom. Still, the giant’s face turned into a frown as he watched the scared little boy run away from him and his petite friend next to looming figure.
“Hm, I think we gave him a bit of a fright, don’t ’cha think?” A high pitched voice came from the right side of the hooded tall figure that scared the piss out of the young child. He looked down at the young lady with her bent arm touching his hip as she leaned against him.
“What a poet you are,” The shortstop girl standing next to the large brute of a man nudged him in the side with her elbow. He barely felt the push before she turned and fixated her short attention span on the thing behind them. The thing the child should have been happier he didn’t set his sites on before.
“Now, we need to find that witch, Kay back there is getting worse.” She motioned with her shoulder back to the thin and pale ‘boy’ that was laying just behind them on a few fallen gravestones. “If we don’t get help soon, it will die and I’ll be sad. You don’t want to see me sad, do you, big guy?” She asked him with little to no concern in her voice as if things like this happened every day. The hint of guilt dripping from her voice and the almost sincere glimpse of sadness in her eyes pulled at the big guy’s heartstrings.
“Well, come on! I can’t pull the stick by myself.” She shouted and threw her hands into the air while the brute of a man followed after her like a sick puppy that moved slowly like a cinder block. They were aiming for the house just to the right of them, they had heard the same stories the people of the town had. That a witch lived there all by herself and that’s something they desperately needed right now. Otherwise, Kay would wither away and they would be doomed.
The legend of the loneliest witch may just be a story parents tell their children to get them to behave and listen to them. But to three strangers needing their help, the legend just might save their lives.