Ghost Stories from Hell, page 3
“Do you think that you’d believe me?”
She looked at him, confused. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“No one did,” Mason said, “I was seven years old. Kevin walked up to the door of the Boylan House and knocked on it. I was with him.”
“Then why wouldn’t they have believed you?” Julie asked. “If you were there, it seems completely logical that they would talk to you and take your statement.”
“They did talk to me,” Mason said. “And they did take my statement. But they didn’t believe me. They tried for over a decade to get me to, well, ‘remember correctly’ but I never did.”
“Well,” she said, “will you tell me what you saw?”
Mason thought for a long moment, before nodding. “There is one thing, though,” he said.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Even if you think that I’m absolutely insane, will you please let me keep researching? I’m not done, and Halloween is coming up fast.”
“Yes,” she said, without hesitation. “I promise.”
“Thank you,” Mason asked and breathed easier, realizing that his chest had been tightening. Julie sat looking up at him, a coffee cup cradled in her hands.
“Kevin was trying to get my cousin, Matthew, to go up to the Boylan House with him. He was riding Matthew pretty hard about it,” Mason said, “and Matthew wasn’t the type of kid to stand up well to peer pressure. I wasn’t exactly a meek kind of kid myself, but I wanted Kevin to leave Matthew alone. Obviously, I couldn’t have fought Kevin, he was twelve or thirteen, like Matthew, almost twice my size. I was a tough kid, but I wasn’t an idiot. Kevin only wanted someone to go up to the house with him. I told him I would.”
“Screw that,” Julie said. “I’m an adult, and I wouldn’t go up to that house. Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Mason smiled. “That’s okay. Anyway, I went up to the house with him and, like you said, the place is creepy as hell.”
Julie nodded her agreement.
“I was standing behind him, just a little bit. I was dressed as a Stormtrooper. Kevin was dressed as Darth Vader. Now these were the 1980 costumes, a plastic pull-down mask and a vinyl jumpsuit that tied in the back. That’s important to remember, okay?”
“Okay,” she said, taking a sip of her coffee.
“As I stood behind him, and he raised his hand to knock, a trap door above us opened.”
Julie’s eyes widened, and she looked like she wanted to ask a question, but she stopped herself.
“I was terrified,” Mason said. “I mean I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t move. This white hand shot down, grabbed Kevin by the hair and dragged him up into the house.”
“What the hell?!” she asked.
“Are you serious?” Julie asked.
“Well, why the hell didn’t they believe that?” Julie asked.
“Because none of the other boys saw it,” Mason said. “Turns out they weren’t looking. They looked when they heard Kevin and myself screaming, and all they saw was me. Standing at the door, alone. So, they ran.”
“They ran? They left you?” she asked.
“Of course they did,” Mason smiled gently. “They were kids. I was a kid. I ran, too.”
“But you just saw him pulled into the house,” Julie said. “That’s understandable. But why didn’t the police believe you?”
“Because when they went into the house, there was no one in there. No sign of Kevin ever having been in there. Downstairs had the remains of somebody’s camp. Old canned food. Remains of a fire. A blanket roll, some other stuff. The police figured that whoever grabbed Kevin had done it and got out right away. But, they said that he couldn’t have possibly dragged Kevin up through the trap door. The dust up there hadn’t been disturbed in decades.”
Julie shook her head. “Kids know what they see.”
“That’s what I figure,” Mason agreed.
“Okay,” Julie said, taking a sip of her coffee, “why are you researching the house? I know the stories, about how kids have disappeared around it for years. But as far as I know, the kid you talked about is the only one who was ever documented. People say the house is haunted, but that’s just an urban legend, you know?” she said, “a boogeyman story that kids tell to scare each other.”
“See,” Mason said, “that’s why I’m researching the house. I’m trying to find out whether I’m simply crazy, or whether there really is a boogeyman in the Boylan House. Now, do you remember what costumes Kevin Peacock and I were wearing?”
“You were a Stormtrooper, and he was Darth Vader, right?”
“Right,” he said. “Now, those masks were plastic. Cheap plastic that barely survived their one night of use on Halloween, and really got beat to hell once they were played with. So, I’ve been to the Boylan House twice since Kevin went missing. The second time in 2000, I went with my cousin, Matthew. He didn’t want to go. He believed that I remembered everything wrong.”
“That sucks,” Julie said, frowning.
“Yeah,” Mason agreed. “But he did come with me. It was Halloween again, and we went to Meeting House Road. He stayed on the road, I walked up to the house. Just before I got to the front door, something was dropped from the trap door.”
“Kevin’s Darth Vader mask.”
“Bullshit” she said. “Oh, sorry!”
“No worries,” Mason smiled. “That’s pretty much what I felt.”
“Have you been back since?” she asked.
“Only once. It’ll be ten years ago this coming Halloween.”
“Did anything happen?”
“What?” she asked, leaning forward.
“Whatever is in the house dropped something else.”
Julie looked at him. “What was it?”
“A bag,” Mason said, pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes. “A small bag with scalps in it.”
Julie inhaled sharply, and Mason opened his eyes.
Surprisingly, she didn’t have an expression of concern for his mental well-being on her face. She was shocked and disgusted.
“Scalps,” she said in a low voice.
“What type of scalps?” she asked.
“Small scalps,” Mason answered. “Caucasians mostly. A few Native Americans.”
“Oh Jesus Christ,” she murmured. “They were real?”
He nodded. “I brought them to an old professor of archeology down at the University of Connecticut. Nice man. I lied and told him that I had picked up an old chest at a flea market in Hollis and found the bag in a false bottom. I asked him if they were real, and he took a look at them.”
“And they were,” she said.
“Yes,” Mason said. “He told me that he couldn’t put a definite age on them, but that he felt fairly certain that they were late seventeenth, maybe early eighteenth centuries. He wanted me to leave them with the University for further study, maybe add them to the University’s collection. I told him that I would bring them back when I could, but that I’d purchased the trunk with another buyer and had to speak to him before I made any decision like that.”
“Do you still have them?” Julie asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I still have the Darth Vader mask, too.”
“Wow,” she said.
Mason nodded. His throat hurt. He hadn’t spoken at such length in a long time.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“You look like there’s something wrong.”
Mason smiled. “I’m not used to speaking so much. I don’t talk to too many people these days; and definitely not as much as I’ve spoken to you.”
“Well, thank you,” Julie smiled, “I’m flattered.”
Mason felt his face get hot, and Julie’s smile widened.
“So,” Julie said, standing
“Yes,” Mason smiled. “I would love a cup of coffee. Am I allowed to drink it in here?”
“Of course not,” she laughed, “but I’m the only one here, and I’m not going to say anything about it. Come on around the desk,” she grinned, motioning him to follow her. “Let’s get some coffee.”
Chapter 9: A Place to Rest
Halloween. 1977. The Boylan House.
Marcus came out of the woods somewhere in a town called Monson. He was tired. He’d been walking all day. His backpack was heavy, his feet were sore and night was setting. He needed a place to sleep. A glance at the sky showed that the clouds rolling in from the east were thunderheads. An October rainstorm in New England promised to be a miserable experience, and Marcus wanted nothing of it.
He followed a small trail that led through a field, heavy with grass gone to seed. Birds continued their calls and at some point, he scared a small animal, sending it rushing away, the grass waving ever so slightly as it sought refuge.
Marcus didn’t need to hunt anything, tonight. He had plenty of canned food, and even a little bit of money tucked away in his boot from the last job down in Nashua.
The trail turned and emptied onto a dirt road. Looking down to the left, Marcus saw a pair of houses and a single streetlamp marking the road. The houses were well lit, and he could make out Halloween decorations from where he stood.
Damn, he thought. It’s Halloween. Can’t go that way.
Marcus turned to the left and saw a large house, ancient and dark and on a small hill on the left of the road, set back just a little.
No driveway. No cars. No lights.
The place looked abandoned.
In good shape. But definitely empty.
I need to make sure, though, he thought.
Adjusting the pack on his back, Marcus moved forward, keeping to the growing shadows and making his way around to the right. The road ended a hundred yards further down, and Marcus stuck to it. He could smell water and rot. There was a swamp nearby. A good thing to remember.
Fifteen minutes later, Marcus had managed to make his way close to the back of the house. He pulled his binoculars out of a side pouch, brought them up and focused them on the window to the far right.
He moved on to each window and saw nothing. No appliances. No furniture. Nothing.
Marcus smiled and put the binoculars away. He approached the house carefully. His eyes darted from window to window as he made his way to the back door.
At the door, he found an old iron latch and hinges made of iron as well, and massive boards. The house, he realized, was ancient. Maybe even a landmark. Something on the historical register. But there were no signs. Nothing.
Marcus tried opening the door and found it unlocked. He pushed it open and stepped into the house. The fading light showed him that the home had stood empty for years.
The depth of dust on the floor was thick. Not even rodent tracks cut through.
Curious, Marcus thought as he stepped in and closed the door behind him.
It sounded like the house sighed.
Marcus looked around nervously, for a moment. But his stomach grumbled, and he knew he needed to eat. And he knew he needed shelter from the weather.
Just one night, he told himself. Just one night.
He walked over to the huge chimney that stood in the center of the house. There was only one room, a giant one that filled the entire first floor. A set of stairs, running along the far wall, went to the second floor. But Marcus had no desire to go up there.
He removed his pack, put it down, and took his flannel shirt off. He used his shirt to sweep away a spot on the floor so that he could sit down without being coated in dust. With that finished, he put the shirt down on one side to be shaken out later and opened his pack. From it, he took his P-38 can opener, a can of peaches, a can of corn and a can of Dinty Moore beef stew. His spoon and canteen followed.
He probably had half an hour before it would be too dark to eat.
Marcus didn’t waste any time. He quickly opened each of the cans, neatly stacked the lids on the hearthstone of the chimney, and then began to eat.
It took him only a few minutes to finish off the corn and the beef stew. He was working his way through the can of peaches, when he heard a noise from the upper floor.
Marcus put the can on the floor and pulled his pocketknife out. It wasn’t much, but it would be enough to let him either work out a deal with another squatter or get the hell out with his gear.
He looked up at the large beams and the wide floor boards.
The creaks crossed the second floor to the stairs.
Marcus tightened his grip on the knife. Someone started to descend the stairs and pure blackness descended upon the room.
Marcus’ heart started racing and his hand was sweating upon the knife.
The creaking continued, the footsteps descending. Suddenly, they stopped, and Marcus tried to control the fear racing through him. He tried to remember where his pack was, where the exit was. He was confused, and his thoughts were racing.
I have to get out, he said to himself.
He leaned forward, reaching out with his left hand, seeking the pack. His hand touched the rough wool of his bedroll, and he sighed, grasping the blanket and pulling the pack to him. Good, thank God, he sighed.
“Yes,” a deep voice said suddenly in his ear. “Yes, you’ll do fine.”
And Marcus screamed as something cold closed upon his neck.
Chapter 10: Hunting Liam through History
Mason rubbed his eyes and sat back into the chair. The microfilm reader hummed loudly, waiting for him to put in another spool.
But Mason was done. He was up to date.
Terribly up to date.
A stack of photocopies, printed off from the machine, stood beside his empty cup of coffee. The stack was nearly an inch high. There were dozens upon dozens of articles about missing boys from around the area.
“How are you doing?” Julie asked, coming around the small wall that separated the microfilm and microfiche readers from the stacks of books.
“I’m okay,” Mason said. “I finished.”
“Really?” she asked. “That was a lot of newspapers you had to go through.”
“Not really,” he said. “I focused only on October. There might be others, rarities, I would think, but I focused on October.” Mason patted the pile of photocopies.
“Damn,” she said softly. “That many?”
“Yes and no,” Mason said, standing up and stretching.
“How is it ‘no’?” Julie asked.
“Well,” Mason said, “I figure that Liam Boylan has been killing boys since the late seventeenth century. If he continued to do this after he was crucified and killed, he’s only been taking a few boys here and there. This stack,” he said, picking it up, “these articles represent missing boys in the surrounding area for the past two hundred years. There can’t be more than fifty here. He takes one every so often. Just enough to sate whatever appetite that he has, just enough to leave an urban legend behind him.”
“Fifty?” Julie asked in a low voice.
“Fifty,” Mason nodded. “And that’s just what we have recorded in newspapers from the time. Remember, we don’t know exactly what happened before that. But that book by Gunther mentions previous incidents.”
“Unbelievable,” Julie muttered. Then in a louder voice she asked, “Are you done?”
“For now,” he nodded. He pushed the chair back on its wheels. He stood up and stretched and saw her smiling at him.
He smiled back, and she blushed slightly. “Come on up to the front,” she said after a moment, “we’ll have another cup of coffee.” She glanced up to the clock above the microfilm machine. “And we’ve got to close up, around, I don’ know, say fifteen minutes.”
“Sounds good,” Mason said. He p
Only a few people had come in throughout the day, and none of them had paid much attention to Mason. Now, the library was empty except for Mason and the librarian again.
They walked behind the front desk, and Mason put his carry case on the desk as Julie walked into the small back office. She returned, just a moment later, with two mugs of hot, black coffee.
“Thank you,” he said, taking one from her.
“You’re welcome,” she smiled, sitting down.
Mason sat down after her. He took a sip and smiled at the strength and richness of the coffee.
“Well,” Julie said after a moment, “what’s your next step?”
“I need to find out if there’s a pattern, a schedule, if there’s even anything really to it,” Mason said. “Halloween’s in three days, and I don’t know if boys disappear every year, every other year, every five years or what exactly,” he sighed. “I don’t know if I really saw what I saw. Or if I’m mad, or what. I just know that boys go missing. And they aren’t found again when they go too close to the Boylan House.”
“So you want to see if it’s just terrible coincidences or something sinister?”
“Exactly,” Mason nodded.
Julie took a sip of her coffee, her brow furrowing, and then she smiled. “Do you want me to talk to my brother?” she asked.
Mason looked at her, confused. “About what?”
“About the Boylan House,” she said.
“Why?” he asked.
“You said that things happen at the end of October,” Julie said, “and you want to figure something out by Halloween.”
“If you figure it out, or even if you don’t figure it out,” Julie said, “I could ask my brother to go to the Boylan House on Halloween.”
Mason straightened up in his seat. “Do you think that I could go with your brother, or meet him there?”
“I’ll give him a call tonight,” she said. “Do you want to stop by tomorrow? I can tell you what he said.”