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By Jacksen West



I woke up to the sound of my eight-month-old daughter Jessica laughing and giggling through the Nanit Baby Monitor on the nightstand next to me.


Hearing her sweet laughter is better than any alarm clock on my phone. A few weeks ago, the camera on the baby monitor broke, so I could only hear her, but I couldn't see any video. I really need to replace that camera with a new one.


Sharon must have checked on Jessica after she woke up. Sharon is always the first to wake up each morning, and the first thing she does is check on Jessica, whose bedroom is right next to ours.


I can hear both giggling and laughing; hearing Mother and daughter playing together is like heavenly music to my ears.


"Honey, I'm up; bring Jessica into the bedroom so I can say good morning to her."


Huh, no answer; maybe she didn't hear me?


"Sharon, honey, I'm awake. You and Jessica, come on it, let Daddy say hello to my little princess."


Instantly, they both are quiet; I know they heard me the second time. Still, Sharon doesn't answer back. 


Jessica begins to giggle again, and I can hear Sharon joining her, but I can't make out what she's saying to Jessica. I'll let mother and daughter have some alone time; besides, I want breakfast I'm starving.


I grab the baby monitor in my left hand and head downstairs to fry some eggs and Jimmy Dean Sausage patties; I love those little sausages with my eggs.


"I'm going downstairs, honey; you want some eggs?" She didn't answer me again, which was strange. Then I heard them laughing again, so I knew they were okay.


When I grab onto the railing on the side of the stairs, I almost pull it out of the wall. Shit, I need to fix that, someone could get hurt. I leave the railing pulled half out of the wall; I'll fix it after breakfast.


We bought this old farmhouse only two months ago; it had been on the market for ten years. There are so many things that need fixing or just replacing. I have yet to find the time to do everything. Damn, these stairs are squeaky.


This old house had been vacant for over sixty years before it hit the market ten years ago. The young couple who bought it ten years ago started to fix it up, but after only four weeks, they moved out and put it on the market. They just packed up and moved out, leaving the roof half-shingled.


One Saturday afternoon in March, we took a lonely backcountry highway on our way to my Sister's place for a long-overdue family reunion. 


Seventy-two of us would be there for barbeque ribs, grilled hamburgers, apple pie, and more salads than anyone could ever eat. We were already an hour late. Sharon tells me to speed up.


As I round the sharp bend on old County Road 16, I see an old white two-story farmhouse on the left side of that winding country highway, peacefully sitting on a small hill. The dirt driveway had long ago grown over with weeds and small sprouting trees—what a mess.


Sharon saw it, too, and nudged me to pull over so she could check it out.


"Richard, this is what we've been looking for."

"What, that old run-down place?"

"Have some imagination, a little work, and it will be as cute as ever."

"I guess, I see a sign sticking out of the weeds; hold on."


It had an old, weathered 'For Sale' sign in front. The sign had been there a long time. I could barely read the phone number, but after looking at it a few times, I managed to type it into my phone.


When I called the number, a gravelly older woman's voice answered. After hearing her cough several times, a noticeable cigarette smoker cough, she replied.


"Hello, who's this?"

"'Yes, ma'am, I am standing outside that old farmhouse on County Road 16 right now and was wondering?"


Immediately, she cut me off.


"It's not for sale anymore, sorry."

"What?" I said. "But there is a sign out in front."

"You don't want that house, trust me." She said.

"Well, can I still see inside it?" I said. "Maybe I am interested."

"You are that interested, huh?"

"Maybe, yes."

"I meant to take that old sign down long ago; I just kept forgetting."

"Please, my wife and I really want to see it."

"Okay, meet me there at 11:00 am tomorrow, don't be late, I won't wait."

"Okay, see you tomorrow then, I'm driving a...."


She hung up before I could even finish my sentence. I wondered why she told me it wasn't for sale anymore, but she still had that old sign out.


Sharon and I met her the following day at eleven o'clock sharp. She pulled up in an old, rusty green Chevy Impala; I could hear that old Chevy coming down old county road 16 a half a mile away; that car had to be twenty-plus years old.


She steps out of her car, cigarette in hand, and walks over to Sharon and me.

She had the look of a cranky old woman, the frown on her face had it's own deep cracks in the skin, I bet  she had not broken a smile in forty years. Even her  dark blue polyester pants looked like the were from the 1970s.

"Hi, I'm Richard; this is my wife, Sharon."

"Doris, nice meeting you both," She said with no emotion.

"So, can we go inside?"

"I guess so if you want to see it."

"We do very much," Sharon said.

"Okay, but I'm not going upstairs with you; nobody goes up there."

"What?" I ask. "Why not?"


Doris takes a drag off her cigarette and looks at me with some fear in her eyes.


"Something happened upstairs in the second bedroom a long time ago." She said. "Something horrible."

"What happened up there?"

Story continued on next page >

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