Scary Story Week #1: Calloway Manor
Scary Story Week is here, and I’m very pleased with the responses we’ve received! Our first comes to us from the titular Brian of Beards, Bears, and Brian, which is well worth a visit. We’ll have a new scary story each day this week, so add us to your feed if you haven’t already!
Many of our Scary Story Week contributors are writers and bloggers of much nobler aspiration than the slackers here at MA101. Please share your thoughts with them! You all know I never read the comments, but I’m sure our guest authors do, and they’d love to hear from their readers, even if it’s just a quick “good job.”
“They say the place is haunted, Danny.” The young girl paused for effect, then re-emphasized her point. “Haunted.” Erin placed her gloved hands on her wide hips, her stance a mix between petulance and defiance.
“Well,” Dan responded, running a finger through his knotted black beard, “I guess if you’re too scared…” He let his voice trail off, tempting Erin to argue or prove herself. A hint of his teasing grin split his lips before he looked away to hide his toothy smile.
It was a cliché of course, and Erin knew it. It was overused reverse psychology, and she was completely aware of that fact. That didn’t stop her from striding forward towards the large stone and mortar building and its heavy oak door. At just over five feet tall, her wavy blond hair barely made it past chest height on Dan, who was just over six feet, already standing at the building’s entrance. Both of them were dwarfed by the enormous ornately carved doors.
The stone structure they were standing in front of was called “Calloway Manor” by most of the town, though as far as anyone knew no one named Calloway had ever lived there. It was also known as the “Old Murder House” or to the young kids in town, the “Murder Manor.” In any case the building was a popular site for adventurous teens seeking a mystery, and one that had not been clearly solved. Despite its many appellations, though, the building had never been cited as the site of any major crime, violent or otherwise. The only police records even mentioning the home were the dozens of citations for vandalism or trespassing issued to teenage kids who’d broken in to feel a sense of risk and daring.
Still, the house held a certain urban-legend status that scared Erin, so despite her bravado she was hesitant as she raised her hand to the old-fashioned brass knocker on the door and let it drop, a dull clack echoing in the late autumn air.
To her surprise, the door immediately swung open from within. Erin let out a frightened screech and stumbled backwards so quickly that she fell over herself. Inside, Dan’s older brothers Mike and Shane were both wearing Halloween masks and held flashlights in their hands as they stood, laughing, at the door. They were built like Dan, tall and thin, though they both had goatees instead of the scruffy full face beard Dan always wore. Shane, the older brother, reached forward for Erin and pulled her to a standing position only to lift her into the air in squeezing a bear hug. “We got you,” he crowed, while swinging her back and forth.
Erin swatted at his arm and demanded, “Put me down dammit! You scared the crap out of me!”
Dan, from behind, kept laughing and nearly fell over, unable to breathe. He quickly subdued himself as Erin spun on him, far less amused. He held up his hands in mock defeat and the young couple and older brothers all headed inside.
* * *
The two older brothers led Dan and Erin around the whole of the house, walking them into various old rooms and closets and constantly making bad ghost sounds and pretending to hear strange, eerie voices off in the distance. In each room they paused at the door, and pretended to hear some sort of sound from within. After the third room, it became apparent that they were ready to believe that dozens if not hundreds of angry spirits wandered the old estate. Erin was not amused by their antics.
She spoke up to show off her faux-bravery.“It’s not what I expected. Less murderous, and more…pretty. Almost ornate, like an old mansion, or something. If it wasn’t dark and old it might be, like, homey.” She cocked her head to the side and stared up at the cobwebs hanging down in ropes from the ceiling. “If you fixed the lights I wouldn’t even be scared.”
“So you are scared,” laughed Dan accusingly, “because if I recall correctly you told me this was stupid and lame. I believe the word you used was ‘childish’? I’m pretty sure you said it wasn’t even a little bit scary?”
Erin quieted her voice so Mike and Shane wouldn’t overhear her, and pulled Dan back from the other two who were continuing around the corner into the last main-floor room, the kitchen. “I don’t like the dark in here, but it’s not scary. It’s just…I don’t know, creepy. It’s old, and people say someone died here. Like, killed or something.” Dan tried to wave the idea away with a swat of his hand but Erin persisted, “No, really. They say a bum got stabbed when he was squatting here or something, and then the police disappeared when they came to pick up the body.”
Dan had heard the same stories, but was far less convinced. “No! Never! Seriously, I mean, I bet that’s just dumb urban legend crap. No one has died in here, unless it was from from the mold, or something. Nothing scary. Otherwise they’d just tear the building down.” Dan tried to persuade Erin, but she seemed legitimately frightened. He put his arm over her shoulder and guided her into the kitchen where his brothers had just gone moments before. The kitchen was empty.
The only door that led out of the kitchen was slightly ajar, and looked like it ran downstairs into the old house’s basement. Erin walked towards it, pulling herself out of the crook of Dan’s arm when he suddenly grabbed at his pocket, his phone buzzing.
“It’s Mike,” he said to Erin, holding the phone up so she could see the name. “he’s probably going to jump out and grab us or something. You saw the masks at the door, just expect something stupid and shocking and you’ll be fine.” Dan then answered the phone and put it on speaker, for Erin’s sake.
Before Dan could speak the phone echoed loudly in the kitchen with a man’s scream. Eerily, it could also be heard from the basement where the brothers had seemed to go. As quickly as the scream began, the phone hung up, though the scream from the basement persisted several seconds longer. Dan stared at the phone for a second, then looked to Erin, then back at the phone. “Wow.” He seemed lost in thought for a moment, but quickly slid the phone back in his pocket. “They really went all out to scare us.”
Erin nodded, and pushed the basement door closed, as she looked around the kitchen for a way out, or a hiding space where Mike and Shane would likely be waiting to pounce. After a few seconds, she’d finished her walk around the room without seeing anything suspicious as a place to hide and jump out, so she asked Dan for help. For the next several minutes the two looked around for a way out of the kitchen were Shane and Mike could’ve hidden, but they saw none. Aside from one rusted old pot filled with dust and dirt and a handful of cigarette butts on the side counter, the room was empty.
Erin and Dan made eye contact just as he began to say, “I think we need to go down-”
Erin cut him off with a crisp, “Fuck no.” She crossed her arms in front of her, and repeated herself. “Fuck. No. I said I’d come and do the house thing with you, I didn’t agree to get tricked into a stupid prank by your brothers. Fuck no. I’m not going downstairs.”
Dan pleaded with her, “They’ll just be downstairs with food or something. They probably have booze or they’re just trying to scare us before we start partying. We’ll just look downstairs, for a second.” When Erin continued to shake her head, he wrapped his arms around her and set his head on top of hers. Then he repeated, “For a second, just to make sure they’re really alright, at least.”
Erin still refused. “I’ll wait in the car. You do what you want. I’m going to the car.”
When Dan looked down and saw her slightly trembling and the pale look on her face he realized she was trying to hide the intensity of her fright. He took a deep breath and calmly responded, “Fine. Head out, I’ll be in the car in just a moment.”
Erin seemed unconvinced. “No, walk me out. Come out to the car with me.”
Dan sighed, but agreed. He walked Erin outside and all the way to the car where he grabbed a flashlight from his trunk. “It’s getting dark, and the lights don’t seem to work inside.” he explained. When he closed the trunk, he saw Erin eying him plaintively through the back window of the car. With the doors closed her voice was muffled but it sounded like she said ‘Five minutes or I leave.’ Dan gave a thumbs up, flipped on the bright red flashlight, walked back up the walkway to the oak doors, and slipped back inside.
Erin, from her seat in the car, kept a close eye on the front door. After a moment, she clicked the lock button on the car’s front door, and settled back into her chair, murmuring to herself about how immature and stupid boys can be.
* * *
Inside the house, Dan headed back into the kitchen and opened the door to the basement. He shined his light down the steps, and was unsurprised to find broken and torn cobwebs hanging across the stairs. It looked like Shane and Mike had indeed come this way, and made sure to leave a trail. It was a trap, but Dan knew that already so he began down the creaking wooden steps. He kept his eyes forward, darting from side to side. He was ready for someone to jump out and scare him, but nothing moved or made a sound as he walked down the stairs. At the basement landing, there was another closed door, leading into the main basement on one side and what appeared to be a room full of empty wine racks on the other. Taking a guess, Dan stepped into the side of the basement with the wine cellar and shined his light in a circle around the room, and called “Mike? Shane? Guys, it’s over, Erin left. Let’s just call it.” No one responded, so Dan yelled louder. “Erin left! She got scared! Let’s go home!” The cellar stayed silent. Dan stepped forward out of the basement landing’s doorway only to miss a last step and fall flat on his face.
Momentarily stunned, he let out a girlish yelp before rolling onto his back and then standing up. He turned back to the doorway to see a plastic toy skeleton hanging from the rafters above the door he’d just entered, with a sign that said the cliched ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here!’ stapled to the white plastic toy’s ribs. Dan brushed past the hanging skeleton and stepped back onto the main basement landing, now positive his brothers had been this way and set up some surprisingly elaborate type of trap.
Dan pushed the remaining door leading into the rest of the basement open and walked forward into the dark, his flashlight now dimmer after his fall. In this other basement room there was a fold-out table and chairs set out, with several bottles of cheap alcohol set on its surface, and two pizzas in boxes stacked alongside the drinks. There was a flashlight lantern of some sort set up on the table, though it wasn’t on, and there were the same goofy Halloween masks Mike and Shane had been wearing at the door earlier, stacked on top of each other. The only things missing from the room were Shane and Mike themselves. But, realizing this was probably part of the continued prank, Dan stepped into the basement and walked over to the table where a note was taped onto the pizza boxes.
The note read ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here!’ in a thick red paste, which looked suspiciously like the pizza sauce from the pizzas underneath. Dan almost laughed at the poor quality of the prank. He called out , “I have to admit, this seemed like a good prank. Thorough. But it’s falling apart. Now let’s go, Erin’s not going to come back in. You guys really freaked her out with that phone call.” Dan shined the flashlight around the basement, and was disappointed until he saw a line of footprints in the dust leading towards the back wall. He approached the wall and saw that what he’d taken for a solid gray and red brick wall was actually covered with a drapery. Though the drapery looked solid from afar, it was actually covering a small back room. Clearly, this is where Shane and Mike were hiding. Dan pushed under the thin cloth, and ducked into the small space, where he found what appeared to be his brothers’ bodies with fake blood and guts spilled all over the floor. The gore was so over the top as to be comical, but Dan was still disturbed. Dan was approaching when another plastic skeleton dropped from the ceiling, with a new sign that said “Get Out Of Our House” attached to its thin plastic chest.
The tense situation and adding number of tricks and turns in this prank were getting to Dan worse and worse. He decided it was time to go. After a few moments of feeling around the outside wall of room, Dan gave up and pushed back under the curtain into the main room of the basement. Dan yelled into the darkness, “I’M DONE! I’M LEAVING!” He ran to the stairs, ran up the steps, past the kitchen and out of the house only to be greeted by a cackling duo wearing masks sitting on the hood of his car. It seemed that apparently Mike and Shane were enjoying a laugh at his expense with Erin, who was laughing along just as happily.
Dan approached the car and punched his brothers in the arms, and was ready to yell at Erin when she offered a quick, “I promise, I had no idea, I just saw them crawling out the side window right when you went back in!”
Dan laughed, embarrassed but impressed. “Yeah, it freaked me out.”
Erin asked, “So what did they do? They’ve been laughing too hard to tell me anything.”
Dan grinned sheepishly, “I found the party set up in the basement, and there was this back room…” When Dan mentioned the back room, the laughing duo doubled their volume and slapped each other on the back. Dan explained to Erin, “They set up a fake murder scene, and holy crap I could have sworn the bodies were real.”
Shane and Mike looked at each other from under their masks and stopped laughing. They stood up, and in unison took a bow. There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment until Dan’s phone began to buzz. Looking confused he held up the caller ID display for Erin to see. It was Shane’s phone calling. Nervously, Dan pressed to answer the call and put the phone to his ear. He turned completely white, and passed out backwards, his phone dropping to the ground. The masked duo suddenly tore off, running across the old building’s lawn. Holding the dropped phone up to her ear, Erin heard Shane’s voice weakly moaning, “911, call 911…oh…God…9…” The voice trailed off.
Like Dan, Erin then passed out. She woke surrounded by concerned looking police officers, and there was a piece of paper taped to her shirt that read, “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here!” She turned to look at where Dan had sat on the ground, and saw him rocking back and forth muttering to himself with two blood-stained Halloween masks clutched in his hands.