Story: The Hanging House
By: Reese Scott
It was dark. The three of them had planned this night for some time. They waited till Billy’s parents were asleep, Craig’s Mom passed out and Eddie’s foster parents never come home. They met just up the street. The area where the homes slowly disappeared. Except for the one.
There had been stories since they could remember. Of murders, rapes, sacrifices, demons and exorcisms that didn’t work. There were stories that if you were under eleven you had a good chance of not coming out.
It was a week before Billy’s birthday when he would be twelve . Eddie was almost eleven and Craig was ten. The only thing they knew was that a girl from school never showed up one day and was never seen again. That’s when they found out that the other girls from her class dared her to go to what they called “The Old House”. They told her they would all be meeting there. But the other girls had no interest in meeting her there. They just wanted her to suffer in a nice natural way.
There were stories of the police moving into the old house. That specialists came in and the girl was still alive. That they spent weeks trying to exorcise the demon or living person out of her. But instead of helping her each day only made her worse. Until one morning she didn’t wake up.
They never knew the name of this girl. In fact she was known just as “that girl” Eddie always said this made him angry. He never said why. But Billy and Craig knew it had something to do with growing up in a foster home till he was almost six and, then as he said, “I was raffled off.” He came to Craig’s for Christmas. He went to Billy’s for dinner. Craig and Billy had never been inside the house Eddie lived in. In fact nobody had ever been inside. But they both liked Eddie. They had been friends since he was raffled off. They never said that word in front of Eddie. In fact they never said it out loud ever.
It was after eleven when they rode their bikes up to the old house. The windows looked like eyes. The paint was so old that it looked like a cracked face.
They had decided beforehand they would all go in together. They said they were the “special musketeers.” They each brought something. Eddie had a gun he had taken from his foster parents. Billy had stolen some mace from a store. Craig had his mother’s taser. They all wore black. They thought the black would shield them from whatever might be waiting inside. The front door was open already. Like it was expecting them. They walked in. It was dark. Except in the back there was a small light. Craig walked to the back and turned it off.
“Why’d you do that?”
“Because I don’t know.”
And all three of them laughed. They walked from room to room looking for something. They looked inside drawers, cupboards for something that showed there was something living here. But they found nothing. After three hours they all sat down on the coach in front of the broken TV.
“This fucking sucks.”
“Tell me about it.”
“It remind me of Christmas,” said Eddie.
Billy and Craig didn’t need to say anything. They knew what Eddie meant. They had been friends for what seemed like forever and they promised they would be friends forever.
But that night things didn’t work out like they had planned. There were no ghosts. No dead bodies. No limbs missing from bodies. It was nothing but an “old house.” Craig and Billy felt a strange sense of disappointment. Like they were torn between being happy and sad. Eddie was quiet. He hadn’t said much the entire night. He looked different. Like he was there but wasn’t there.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Dead people,” Eddie replied
“But there aren’t any dead people here,” said Craig
“I know,” said Eddie. He didn’t seem disappointed. He seemed like something else. But neither of them had seen before.
“He looks like a flat tire,” said Billy
Craig turned around to look at Eddie’s face but he was no longer there.
“Where the hell did he go?”
They started to look around the house for Eddie. But they couldn’t find him. Then they realized that the “old house” was alive. It was playing tricks on them. But Billy and Craig didn’t realize nobody was playing tricks on them. Eddie wasn’t playing tricks. Eddie had come for a reason they didn’t know or understand.
Craig found a note underneath the sofa they were sitting on.
“You guys came here for the right reason. I didn’t.”
They both looked at the note and didn’t know what to make of it.
After looking all over the house they went outside to see if Eddie was outside. But he wasn’t there either. They both said they didn’t know how long they were outside looking for Eddie. Craig said it felt like forever. Billy said it seemed like a few seconds.
But when they both looked up at one of the windows that looked like an eye they saw Eddie standing there. But he wasn’t standing from the window. He was hanging from a rope. At first both of them ran. Then they stopped. Billy looked at the note Eddie wrote.
“Do you understand it?”
“Neither do I. I don’t think I want to.”