Axendough

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House of Bones

“I don’t even know why they want to renovate this place; it’s a waste of time and money!” muttered Len. “Just tear down the whole damn place and build a new house!”

The other man nodded absently. It was no secret that the house frightened Len; it was a joke amongst the other men working for the contractors. “How old did they say this house was?” he asked.

“From what I hear it’s pretty old,” Len replied.

“Too bad the original owners didn’t keep it. This house could’ve classified as a heritage site; and then the family would be rich if they ever sold it. It’d make a nice tourist spot too!”

Len rolled his eyes. “The original owners are dead, Gary!”

Was he rolling his eyes in fear? Gary wondered. He’d been working for the same contracting company as Len for four years now; Len had never acted this strange on a project before. Gary examined the walls.

They were on the second floor, in one of the three bedrooms; the current owners wanted to make the second and third rooms into one large studio area. It would have been much cheaper to tear the place down and start from scratch. Gary wondered if the current owners were going to sell the house once it was finished. They could charge quite a bit.

In order to make the studio, they’d need to knock down a wall or two. Normally he didn’t care, but this house was too old; it made him uneasy. What if the floor caved in? There were more men working below them.

Listening to Len go on about tearing down the house also made him feeling apprehensive. The man’s fear was starting to eat at him. “So what happened after the owners died?” At the time the original owners, the Clergues, had been quite affluent up until their mysterious death. It was all Gary knew.

“After their death, their children left town. No one returned. So basically the house was left to rot.” He plugged the shop vac into the extension cord. “Nobody knew why they didn’t come back to the house. A few years back there was a case of three children who were reported missing in this area though.”

“Okay,” Gary said slowly. Was that what Len was bothered about? From what he knew the nearest house was a kilometer down the road. They were also in bear country. “Get a grip on yourself, Len!” He hefted the sledgehammer.

“It stinks in here,” Len muttered.

Gary rolled his eyes. The room hardly smelled at all. It was one of the better rooms, there had been no furniture or books for the mice to chew on and there was little water damage, if any. At the most, it was dusty.

“There’s something dead in the walls!” Len groaned.

“It’s probably a rat. Shut up.” Gary made the first swing, knocking a hole the size of a fist.

“Wait!”

“What the hell’s wrong with you? Can I do my damn job, please?” Gary didn’t even bother looking at the other man.

“I see it!” It was more of a whisper than a shout; the urgency in his voice was what struck Gary. “It’s looking straight at me, Gary!” Len stared out of the window facing the backyard. All Gary could see was where the forest began. Out of curiosity Gary went to where the Len was standing, just to see if there was something there. Len pointed at a spot. “It’s right where my finger is; I thought it was just another tree. Until it moved . . .”

Gary couldn’t see anything he asked, “What are you on?”

“Life,” Len replied sourly. “I’m not seeing things. Its right in front of that birch tree. How can you miss it? It is right there damn it! Now it’s looking at you, Gary . . . Shit!”

“Move out of the way. Okay, which birch tree are you looking at? There are at least twenty of them.” Gary stood where Len had been. He followed the man’s finger to the exact spot. For a minute he stared hard. All he could see was the birch tree; the bottom half was black, and the rest was normal. Teenagers came out to this place on dares, so it would seem natural for a few to strip the bark off of a tree. He’d never seen someone strip off that much before. It seemed a bit senseless.

“Len, it’s a birch tree. Someone stripped off A LOT of bark. That is not a monster. It isn’t anything.”

Len opened his mouth to protest, he shrugged his shoulders. “You’re probably right. I don’t know what’s happening to me.”

“Maybe you should take a few weeks,” Gary suggested. From what he knew Len was due for a holiday anyways. There were enough men, so he wouldn’t be missed.

“Let’s finish this first,” Len said. He turned his back on the window.

Gary returned to the wall. An odd smell wafted from the hole. “I think a rat died in here.”

A shout rang out, shrill and hoarse, loud enough to be heard from the main floor.

One of the workers looked up to the ceiling. “What--?”

Even before they had thought of posing the question there was a clamor coming from down the stairs, a clatter of frantic footsteps.

“OH SHIT! SHIT! OH SHIT!” was what the two workers were saying, over and over again. Their voices held a hint of terror, even a touch of delirium. Len and Gary burst into the living room area with wild eyes. Len sunk to the floor while Gary leaned against one of the walls.

“You okay?” someone asked.

“What’s going on?”

Slowly, Len lifted his eyes.

“Well?”

Gary began to sob. He started to thump his head against the wall, muttering, “No! No! No!”

Len cast his eyes to the floor. Funny that he should be so calm now. From the corner of his eye he saw the thing again. It stood outside one of the windows. He tried not to scream. His words came out in a choked whisper. “There are bones in the walls.”

Once the proper authorities were called in the house was scoured from top to bottom. Inside the walls numerous skeletons were found; most were estimated to be the remains of children aged three to ten.

The house was confiscated, and then left abandoned . . . again.

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