Sunday, November 20, 2011


"ECHOES" - Peter Emmett Naughton

Some people swore that the house was haunted.

Others thought it was cursed, and still others thought the building was simply off in some intrinsic way that they couldn’t quite describe, but felt whenever they passed the place.

There were dozens of stories floating around about the former residents and every generation seemed to have a different idea about what went on there. My grandfather told me the house was inhabited by the ghost of the man who built it, having supposedly died of a heart attack the moment he completed its construction.  My mother claimed that it was plagued by the restless spirits of teenage twins who had succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning in the basement, and my best friend’s uncle told him about the accidental drowning of a young boy in the upstairs bathtub.  There was a girl in my homeroom that told a story about a beautiful newlywed bride who had been mysteriously electrocuted after plugging in a lamp in the living room.  Even the quiet boy who sits in front of me in English class and never raises his hand claimed that an infant in the house had been crushed in its crib by a loose board falling from the floor above.

I’m not sure if I believed any of these accounts before me and Brian went to check the house out for ourselves that night, but I believe them now.

It was just after dusk when we approached the front porch.  My mother’s meatloaf was sitting in my stomach like a brick that made me queasy every time I took a step and much of my excitement over investigating the house had started to ebb, but Brian was determined, so we made our way up the steps and went inside.

There didn’t seem to be anything particularly extraordinary about the place.  I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, something more extravagant and luxuriant I suppose, a gothic manor in miniature.  Instead we found a modest house that looked a lot like our own homes with only slightly more ornate furnishings and appointments.

Everything was coated in a thick layer of dust, but the interior itself was surprisingly well preserved, marred by only the barest traces of age and neglect. We went from room to room looking for confirmation of what we had heard.  There was a bathroom with an old claw-foot tub on the second floor, but that in and of itself proved nothing.  We checked all the outlets in the living room, but none of them had even the slightest sign of scorch marks on the faceplates or the surrounding area.  Likewise all the flooring appeared to be of the same age.  There were no obvious indications that any of the boards had been resurfaced or replaced.

We were getting ready to leave, our adventure an apparent bust, when we heard it.  A low hum rising up from beneath us that shifted the dust on the floorboards and sifted it down through the spaces between them.

I turned and looked at Brian, our faces stark mirrors reflecting the same mix of curiosity and apprehension.      

After a long moment I pointed to the basement.  Brian nodded and followed me down the stairs.

The room was black, our flashlights providing only a thin wedge of illumination.  I paced carefully over the unfinished floor until I felt the dirt thrumming underneath my feet. 

We both dropped to our knees and dug into the earth with our hands.  After several minutes of scooping up loose soil, we found the source of the sound.

There, buried beneath the basement, was a small, metal box.

It vibrated in my hands like a hummingbird and I nearly dropped it in surprise.  Brian and I gazed at the box for what felt like hours, neither of us saying anything.

I gestured wordlessly to the latches on either side that held the lid shut, and Brian and I each placed a hand on one of them.

We stared at each other for a moment more and then we opened the box.

Nothing was ever the same after that. 

BIO:  Peter fell into fiction by writing stories to amuse his grammar-school classmates, which helped him overcome his shyness, but led to very few completed homework assignments.  He has an abiding love of cheese in all its gloriously stinky forms, horror movies with a sense of humor and trashy punk and garage-rock. He was raised, and currently resides in, Chicago with his wife and cats. Peter's writing has appeared in The Delinquent, Candlelight and Black Words On White Paper.


  1. just when you think no one can bring anything new to the haunted house scenario, along comes a story like this! Good one! More please!!!!

  2. Thank you for the feedback and kind words Antonia!

    I have another story that appeared here on April 1st that you might enjoy. As for the future, only time will tell. :)

  3. Enjoyed this story Peter. I felt I was there, scary. Maire

  4. Thanks for the praise! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

  5. Hi Ravenpen

    Enjoyed this scary write

    Really welldone ;-D