Chapter 3: Uninvited Guest
“Honey, I’m home,” Greg announces, stepping into the house. He feels an unnerving stillness hovering all around him the moment he closes the door. It was like an unsettling feeling of doom was lurking closely about. Shivering, Greg continues through the dark eerie house.
“Abby, Lilly,” he yells. Hearing her daddy’s voice echoing through the house, Lilly runs to the edge of the stairs.
“What is it pumpkin?”
“Mommy is in the attic and she’s hurt.” Racing to the top of the stairs, Greg scoops the terrified child into his arms. Halfway down the corridor, the two sees Abby slowly climbing down the wooden stairs.
“Lilly said you’re hurt.”
“No, no, I’m alright.” She laughs, carefully climbing down the remaining steps.
“Why did you scream, Mommy?”
“I saw my shadow on the wall,” she chuckles, stepping off of the ladder.
“You nearly scared me to death young lady,” Lilly exclaims, wagging her finger at her.
“I promise to never scare you again, Princess Lilly.”
“You better not!” Turning on her heals the child stomps towards her room. Her parents laugh.
“I guess she told you.”
“I guess so.”
“What’s that?” Greg asks, eyeing the black object in her hand.
“I found this on the floor. It was lying away from the stuff like someone wanted me to find it.” Handing it to him she continues.
“It looks like someone’s old diary. An expensive old diary,” he corrects, eyeing the leather cover and its sturdy binders. Opening it up, he sees the yellowing pages full of scribbly child-like writing.
“It’s Suzanne’s,” Lilly says, walking back down the hall.
“Who’s Suzanne, honey?”
“She’s the girl’s mommy. She told me she wanted you to find it so you can understand what happened to them, why they don’t want us to go in the barn.”
“Is Suzanne your pretend friend too?”
“No Daddy, she’s real just like Ashley, Amy, and Anna.”
“No honey, the girls are imaginary because you can’t see them.”
“I can see them just fine. In fact, they’re standing right beside you,” she giggles, pointing to his left side. He quickly steps to the right.
“Don’t worry Daddy, they won’t hurt us,” the child giggles again.
“That is enough of your story telling, Lilly!”
“I’m not telling stories, Daddy, honest.”
“Go to your room right now!” He orders, pointing down the hall.
“They’re right grownups just don’t understand,” she says, stomping down the hallway.
“I had a dream about this book,” Abby says, glancing at the weathered object in her hands.
“The same dream you told me about yesterday?”
“No, a different dream, I dreamed a woman dropped it as she’s being thrown into a fire.”
“You dreamed that a woman was tossed in a fire?”
“I dreamed that a short, stocky, man threw her and two small children into a blazing fire and I couldn’t do anything to stop him.”
“That must have been one hell of a dream, honey.”
“It was awful, just awful, Greg. I’m so glad Adam woke me up when he did.”
“So what do you plan to do with the book?”
“Read it of course.”
“It might give you nightmares.”
“They can’t be any worse than the ones I’m, already having,” she says, walking towards the steps.
“A strange thing happened to me at work today.”
“I overheard two people talking about the last renters. I ran out in the hall hoping to talk to them, but they already left.”
“What did they say?”
“They said they hope what happened to them doesn’t happen to us too.”
“Did they say what it was?”
“No, but by the tone of their voices, I knew it couldn’t have been good. When I asked a couple of coworkers about the house they said they didn’t know anything about the place. I knew by the way they acting, they weren’t telling me the truth.”
“Why would they lie about something like that?” she questions.
“Maybe they’re hiding something.”
“I have no idea.”
“One of our neighbors stopped by today.” She says, wiping the dust off of the small table.
“Yeah, maybe,” she says smacking the dust off of her clothes.
“Why, didn’t you like her?”
“She’s alright, I guess.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“It was the way she acted?”
“Was she strung out on drugs or something?”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that. She didn’t want to come in the house at first. When she did, she acted real jittery like she was expecting something to jump out at her. When I asked her about the house, she said she didn’t know anything and said it’d be wise if I didn’t look into it either then bolted out the door.”
“I wonder what’s happened here,” Greg says. Feeling the eerie sensation coming back, he shivers as he heads towards the steps.
“Hopefully, this book will tell us something,” she says, following after him. Turning to the first page she continues.
“Maybe Lilly’s friends know what’s going on.”
“You believe her?”
“I’m starting to,” she hands him the book. Suzanne’s Diary is handwritten on the first page.
“Lilly, come here please,” Greg orders.
“What is it, daddy?”
“Your friends Amy, Ashley, Suzanne and.”
“Her name is Anna daddy.”
“Yes, Anna. You said they use to live here?”
“They did until their Daddy killed them.”
“How did they die?”
“I already told you.”
“Tell me again.”
“Their Daddy killed them in a fire.”
“Where is their Daddy now?”
“He’s in the shed.”
“Suzanne won’t let him in the house.”
“Why is that?”
“He’s a bad, bad man Daddy. That’s why they don’t want you to go in there.”
“So he’s dead, too?”
“How did he die?”
“A few neighbors hung him in the shed. Can I go play now?”
“One more question and you can go.”
“What,” she says, stomping her foot.
“The girls aren’t going to hurt us, are they?”
“Of course not, Daddy.” Lilly laughs
“They aren’t going to start throwing stuff, knocking pictures over or anything like that, are they?”
“You’ve been watching too much TV, Daddy.” the child laughs again.
“I have been watching a lot of scary shows,” he chuckles.
“Can I go now?”
“Yes, honey.” Grabbing the rag doll off the antique rocker, the child rushes back to her room.
“I don’t know if I want to stay here, knowing about our five ghosts, Greg,” she says. Clinging onto her husband, she anxiously starts looking around.
“Where do you suggest we go?”
“Anywhere but here,” she says, scooting closer to him. Hearing Lilly’s door open they both look down the hall.
“Mommy, daddy they don’t want you to go.”
“My friends, they said they like us living here and don’t want us to leave.” Abby and Greg glanced at each other, a horrified look on their faces.
“They promised not to hurt us if we stay,” the child continues.
“Now I’m really spooked, Greg.”
“Tell your friend’s we’ll stay as long as they behave.”
“Greg!” He looks over at Abby and winks.
“They heard you, daddy,” she says, running to her room.”
“I have something to show you in the car,” he says pulling Abby down the stairs. When they’re both safely settled in the van he continues.
“I’ll start asking about another house tomorrow, alright?”
“I’ll see what I can find in the paper.” Suddenly the large metal door slams shut.
“Guess they can hear us out here too,” Greg wearily replies. The garage door opens and closes again.
“I guess so.”
Mr. Jones is working in the field when he sees a red pickup pull into the drive.
“What does that lame brain want now,” he asks. Wiping the sweat off of his forehead he starts walking towards the house.
“I heard you got some new renters.” The brawny man begins.
“A young couple with two little kids moved in over the weekend.”
“They’re not going to be a problem are they?”
“They better not be,” he warns.
“They won’t be,” he says, wiping his forehead again.
“Good, because I’d hate to do to them what I had to do to your last noisy renters.”
“Now don’t you go causing the Jenkins any trouble,” he warns.
“I’ll leave them alone as long as they don’t go asking a bunch of questions.” Jumping in his truck he speeds out of the driveway.
“Maybe I should go talk to them, stop the situation before it begins,” Ed thinks, walking back towards the field.
Walking in the bedroom Greg sees his wife propped comfortably against her two favorite green pillows. She had another smaller pillow underneath her feet. He starts undressing as he walks over to the closet. Abby insisted he add on so they’d both have room for their things. Even with the added space, Abby’s stuff still manages to make its way over to his side. What am I going to do with her? He thinks, moving her stuff back over to her cluttered side.
“You’re still reading that thing?” Greg asks eyeing the leather book in her hands.
“I’m almost finished.” Reading the last paragraph, she closes the book.
“It must have been interesting for you to finish it that fast.”
“You wouldn’t believe half the stuff he did to her, Greg,” she says sitting on the side of the bed.
“He’s that bad huh?”
“Worse than you can possibly imagine,” she says, waving her hands around. Something she often does when she’s upset.
“Lilly’s right, Jack is an evil, evil man. All of the horrible things he did to his wife. He even raped his little girls. I wish Suzanne had castrated him when she had the chance.”
“Honey,” he exclaims, covering his privates.
“The bastard deserved it, Greg. He deserves that and a lot more! He’d screw anything with two legs. The rare occasions he did come home, he’d beat and torture his family. The town’s people got wind of his abuse and threatened to kill him, but only one had enough balls to do anything about it.”
“What did he do?”
“George shot him in the nuts for sleeping with his wife.”
“I bet that curbed Jack’s appetite for a while.”
“It only made him meaner, more promiscuous.”
“Maybe one of the others finally carried out their threat.”
“I wouldn’t doubt it,” she says, laying the book on the nightstand beside her.
“No one should ever have to live through the hell that Suzanne and her girls did. No one! She sobs into Greg’s chest.
“She’s in a much better place, honey,” he soothingly replies wrapping his arms around her.
“I know, but she still didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I’m so lucky to have you,” she blubbers cuddling into Greg’s loving arms.
“And I’m lucky to have you,” he says kissing her forehead.
“Suzanne was an orphan, living on the streets when they met.” She says wiping her tears away.
“Yeah, she thought he was her knight and shining armor coming to rescue her from the cruel world.”
“Some prince he turned out to be.”
“Her prince charming turned out to be the prince of horror. You know what I hope?” she asks, sitting back up.
“What’s that, honey?”
“I hope that whoever killed him made him suffer a long time for what he did to his family.”
“I’m sure they did.”
Ed has been thinking about the new renters all day long. He assured the gang that the new tenants wouldn’t give them trouble, but he’d thought that about the last renters too.
If the group hadn’t made them disappear when they did, it’s hard telling what kind of chaos they would’ve started. All the questions they were asking, digging in the past, putting their noses in places that it didn’t belong. Those damned hard headed city slickers just can’t leave well enough alone. It’s like they purposely come down here with their highfalutin ways just to stir up shit! I bet these guys will be just like them too. They’re already asking about the last tenants. So I figure it’s only a matter of time before they start asking around town. God knows what else they’ll ask or who they’ll ask in the near future. Maybe If I scare them bad enough, they’ll be too afraid ask anything else. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll put the fear of god in them, and if my tactics don’t frighten them, then I’ll warn the others. Now I have to figure out what would terrify them the most. Sitting down with a pen and paper, he began scribbling a few ideas.
“What if I do a combination back to back,” he thinks, grouping ideas together. Suddenly another thought came to mind.
“That’d scare the shit out of me.” laughing he jots it down.