The night was fully underway, the portable generator whirring as it provided power to the television, all four teens smoking pot, drinking beers (wine coolers for the girls) and playing a fighting game where they got to knock each other around with highly animated cartoon characters. So far Liz was winning despite not owning the system while Carlos seemed distracted by having Rose sitting between his legs.
Shane was sitting on a ruined couch with Liz perched right next to him, knees folded under her delicate frame as she howled with success after sending Carlos flying off the screen once more.
“You pansy,” Liz laughed, shoving Carlos in the shoulder. Beneath his jacket had been a short-sleeved green shirt that seemed a little tight on him, but that just seemed to be an incentive for Rose to wrap her arms around him at every opportunity. Liz was taking a pull off of a passed joint when the thud from upstairs caused everyone to jump and Luz to start coughing and hacking, dropping the joint to the ground where Rose picked it up daintily.
Taking a puff from the joint, she blew out a smoke ring after holding in the smoke for a few moments. “Sounds like the ghosts are getting excited,” she said, eyes locked on the ceiling. “Must be the kids.”
“Kids?” Shane asked, cracking open another beer, drinking the foam from the top to stop it from flowing over.
“Yeah, this house is pretty old as you can tell. Back in the 70’s, there was a mass murder here, four kids and their mother, with the father eventually hanging himself in this very room.” Rose said calmly, pointing up at the rafter that still bore a tangle of frayed rope.
Shane blanched at that while Liz laughed. “You look so scared right now, it’s pathetic!”
“H-how did they die?” Shane asked, looking between Rose, who was leaning back into Carlos’s embrace, puffing on the joint slowly.
“The kids were all watching television and playing a board game when the mother ran in and told them to hide,” Rose said, looking over at Shane with clear eyes.
“Yeah?” He said.
“They hid in various places, closets, under the sink, in the basement… but they heard the car door slam and their father stomp into the house. Then they heard the scream followed by a loud thump.”
Rose took a longer drag off of the joint before motioning to Shane to roll her another joint, which he promptly began to do. She continued.
“Well the kid in the basement, Landon, saw blood trickling down from the floorboards and started yelling, crying for his mother,” Rose said, finishing off her joint and flicking the ash over to the floor. “The father locked the front door and made his way down the basement stairs, ax in hand. He cornered Landon and cut off his arms, before leaving him to die.”
“That’s horrible!” Shane said, looking behind him as he felt a cold draft bow through the room.
Rose nodded and looked at the joint Shane was rolling. He finished packing it and handed it to her, along with the matchsticks they’d been using all night.
Lighting the match off the side of the box, she puffed on the joint before taking a long pull. “While Landon was screaming, the youngest girl ran out from under the sink and tried to leave the house. But her father was walking up from the basement,” Rose said before exhaling the smoke, smiling gently, “he caught her in the hall, ax to the shoulder. She screamed, prompting the older sister and younger brother to scream as well, revealing where in the house they were hiding. After beheading dear Cassie, he walked over to the coat closet and yanked out the oldest daughter, Rachel.”
“Take your sister’s head, he ordered her,” Rose said, looking over at Shane once more. “When she wouldn’t he swung his ax into the little girl’s body, spattering gore over the lot of them. It took two swings before Rachel finally agreed, bending down to retrieve Callie’s roughly hewn head.”
Shane was feeling uncomfortable now, but Liz was cuddling into his side, calming him a bit. Rose continued.
“The father told her that if Rachel ate her sister’s eyes, he’d let her live,” Rose said before passing the joint up to Carlos. “Rachel cried and begged, pleaded and wept, but her father told her she had until the count of three to begin digging out Cassie’s eyes and eating them.”
“So did she do it?” Shane asked after Rose fell silent.
“Rachel lived,” Rose said as if that was enough of an answer. “She’s in a mental institution now where she’s cared for by the state and her parent’s life insurance money.”
Shane shuddered at the thought of eating someone’s eyes before he thought of something. “You said there was a younger boy?”
“Indeed, he is the violent ghost I spoke of earlier,” Rose explained.
“Wait, the father isn’t the violent one?” Shane asked, sounding incredulous.
Rose shook her head. “He regrets what he did but he wasn’t in his right mind. Now he has clarity and can see the harm he caused.”
“Too little, too late…” Shane muttered before reclining further on the sofa. “So what about this young boy, what was his name? Why is he so violent?”
“He’d hidden in the parents’ bedroom and taken a pair of shears his mother had used to alter dresses. He’d crawled under the bed and sat on his belly, waiting.” Rose said in a low whisper. “When his father entered the room, he watched his father’s dress shoes wander around the room before stopping in front of the closet. That was when you Zachary struck.”
“What?” Shane said before being shushed by Liz.
“He crawled forward and used the shears on the back of his father’s calf, slicing through muscle down to the bone, blood spurting out from beneath the black trousers he wore as he screamed in agony. Spinning in place he swung the ax overhead and planted it in his son’s back, killing him instantly. He then, while bleeding out, gathered rope from the laundry room and hung himself before he bled out, shears still stuck in his leg.
Everyone fell silent for a moment before Shane just muttered. “That’s fucked up,” he said, summarizing what happened. Liz sat up and crawled to the other side of the couch, crossing her arms as she smiled at Shane. He looked down at Rose, puzzled by one thing. “How do you know this? Did you visit Rachel in the hospital?”
“No,” she replied, taking a long pull from the joint before smiling. “I spoke with Landon, Callie and Zachary, along with their mother Michelle.”
“What?” Shane said before a cold hand gripped his shoulder from behind. Turning, he nearly shrieked at what he saw.
Rotted and moldy, covered in writhing maggots from opened sores, were three children and an older woman. All were bereft of hair and sported several wounds on their bodies. One was eyeless, with roaches crawling from her eye sockets and into her open nasal cavity, while a taller boy was armless, black blood dribbling from the wounds, two arms floating close by, one clamped on his shoulder. The final boy was no older than six, and through solid black eyes over dirty, gray skin, he bared his teeth before looping an unwound coat hanger over Shane’s neck, pulling him from the couch with the aid of the mother. Cassie dropped her eyeless head onto Shane’s chest before following him as he was pulled along the floor and out of the room, into the kitchen where an assortment of knives was waiting.
Liz turned and looked down at Rose. “You’re sick, you know that?”
“You were the one that told us weed allowed us to see them,” she countered. “Now we can soothe their pain on the anniversary of their death.”
“Still, kind of a bummer,” Carlos said as he stood up and began packing up the game. “He was pretty chill.”