Friday, September 12, 2014


Genre: Horror

By Daniel Skye

So intent was Dino Argento upon summoning the spirit of his deceased grandfather, he failed to notice the precipitous change in room temperature.
Not all spirits are malevolent. Some are just lost and confused souls, ambling through the afterlife in search of closure. These spirits do not wish to be disturbed any more than you do. But there are other spirits that are downright malicious.
It had been ten years since Dino stepped foot on his grandparent’s farm, and he wasn’t shocked to see things had fallen apart since Antonio Argento’s passing.
The white paint was bubbling and peeling in front of the farmhouse. And the sides of the house were being devoured by green mold. Beside the house was a rustic red barn that had seen better days. Dino didn’t venture inside for fear of the dilapidated structure collapsing on him.
And besides, his interests didn’t reside in the barn. The living room of the farmhouse, where Antonio was found in his recliner with no pulse; that’s where Dino’s interests lied.
Dino was holding this séance at the behest of his grandmother. Sofia Argento had been plagued by dozens of strange occurrences since Antonio’s passing.
Even on the hottest summer nights, the bedroom and living room of the farmhouse were as cold as a meat locker. The lights would hum and flicker. Strange thumps emanated from beneath the floorboards.
            On several occasions, she witnessed items such as books or canned foods falling from shelves, as though they were being pulled by some invisible force. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
            Sofia adored plants, but she couldn’t have any in the house. No matter how much exposure to sunlight they received, no matter how much Sofia watered them, all her plants would wither and die.
            No plant lasted in the farmhouse for more than a week. Each week, she’d bring a new plant home. And each week, she’d watch that plant blacken and decay before her stunned, unblinking eyes.
            But not all these events coincided with Antonio’s death. One night, Antonio and Sofia had a fight, and he returned home with a bouquet of roses. Sofia placed them in a vase with plenty of water, and in less than week, the red roses were black.
            She wanted to reach Antonio’s spirit, and find out if this was his doing. She wanted to know if he was mad at her for some reason, if some dying wish of Antonio’s had gone unfulfilled.
            So she reached out to her grandson, Dino. Dino was a web designer and had plenty of connections on the internet. So locating a legitimate medium wasn’t the hardest task he’d ever been assigned by a family member.
            Crispin Burr was more than happy to assist for a nominal fee. Conjuring the spirits of the dead was Burr’s specialty, or so he claimed.
            Crispin arrived at the farmhouse by five o’clock, and after brief introductions were exchanged, the séance commenced.
            Crispin, Dino, and Sofia all formed a triangle of sorts at the kitchen table; Crispin sitting in the center, Dino and Sofia sitting at the sides. Dino insisted they perform this act in the living room where Antonio’s body was discovered, but Crispin insisted if his spirt was present, they’d make contact. They all joined hands and closed their eyes as Crispin spoke in a loud, clear voice.
            “Antonio Argento, my name is Crispin Burr and I’m speaking on behalf of your wife, Sofia, who is currently sitting beside me. If you’re still with us Antonio, please give us some sign you are here.”
            No response. Crispin persisted. “Antonio, we’re not here to hurt you. We’re here to help your spirit find closure so that you can rest in peace. Now please, if you’re here with us, give us a sign.”
            No sign.
            A flustered Crispin gave it one more shot. “Antonio, if your spirit is still in this room with us, please give us some sign.”
            The floorboards rumbled beneath their feet and the pipes in the ceiling rattled hard enough to shake the foundation of the house.
            “I’ll take that as a sign,” Crispin said. “Antonio, are you angry or disappointed for any reason?”
            The rumble of the pipes and floorboards persisted. In the hallway, they heard a door snap shut, which made their eyes pop open and made Sofia gasp sharply.
            “It’s ok,” Crispin assured them. “Perfectly normal occurrence.”
            “If you say so,” Dino said, rolling his eyes.
            “Can I speak to him?” Sofia asked.
            “Certainly,” Crispin said.
            “Antonio, it’s Sofia. I still love you. And whatever I did to anger you, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Outside, the sky grew black, and a clap of thunder ushered in a savage storm. Buckets of rain poured down as the storm showed no immediate signs of relenting. The gutters flooded and the rain trickled down the windows.
Lightning struck the roof and the whole house shook. Sofia loosened her grip, but Crispin insisted they continue. So Sofia retained her grasp and he spoke again. “Antonio, your wife has asked for forgiveness. Please respond.”
Lightning struck the roof two more times in succession, and Sofia couldn’t help but relinquish his grip.
It was then that Dino had noticed the drop in temperature. The kitchen was as frigid as a walk-in freezer.
“Has this ever happened to you before?” Dino asked Crispin.
“Not very often,” Crispin answered. “Sofia, you said this started happening after Antonio passed away. Can you recall anything strange ever happening on the farm when Antonio was still alive?”
            “The plants,” Sofia recalled. “Antonio was able to grow corn, tomatoes, and other vegetables on the farm. But I was never able to keep a plant or flowers inside the house. They’d all wither and die in less than a weeks’ time.”
            “Dead plants,” Crispin said. “You should have mentioned this much earlier. Has anyone else ever died here before?”
            “Not to my knowledge,” Sofia replied. “The realtor said the property belonged to a young couple that moved to Florida after they had their first child.”
            “So you never met or spoke with the couple directly?”
            “No,” Sofia said.
            “I see,” Crispin said. “Give me a few minutes here.”
* * *
Crispin did a quick Google search of the address on his phone. Dino had never thought to research the property, and modern technology was something beyond Sofia’s comprehension.
“The former owner was incarcerated,” Crispin informed them. “Thomas Thorne is currently serving twelve consecutive life sentences for torture, mutilation, and murder. The decomposing remains of his twelve victims were found stuffed inside the crawlspace of this house. In all cases, Thorne hacked up his victims with a rusty sawblade. A few times, the saw was so rusty he’d have to implement a second saw to finish the job.”
“Dear God,” Sofia said, covering her mouth.
“I don’t think God wants anything to do with this guy,” Crispin said. He was shivering from the cold.
“Do you think we somehow disturbed the victims’ spirits when we moved in?” Sofia asked.
“It’s possible,” Crispin said. “And our little attempt to summon Antonio probably just agitated them further.”
“Great,” Dino muttered.
“Wait,” Crispin said. “I’ve found more…”
“What is it?”
“Thomas Thorne had a partner,” Crispin read from his phone. “A man named Otis Hayes. Hayes helped him kill eleven people. He was the twelfth victim, killed by Thorne’s hands.”
“What does this mean?”
“It means when you entered this house, you unwillingly awakened the spirit of a bloodthirsty killer. It’s the only way to account for all the hostile energy, all the negative vibes. When we attempted to contact Antonio, we must’ve been communicating with Hayes instead.”
Upstairs, the bedroom door creaked as it blew open, and they heard the heavy thuds as someone or something descended the stairs.
“What did we do?” Dino asked.
“I-I-I don’t know,” Crispin stammered. “I have no-no idea what’s going on.”
“I’m scared,” Sofia whispered.
“It’s all right, grandma,” Dino assured her. “Who’s there?” he shouted.
The thuds reached the bottom of the stairs.
“What can we do to stop it?” Dino asked.
“I don’t have a clue,” Crispin said. “I’m a hack, ok? A fraud, a phony. I looked all this stuff up on Wikipedia. I was just trying to make a quick buck. I didn’t think anything would happen.”
“Stay here, both of you,” Dino said, getting up from the table. He walked from the kitchen to the hallway, but found nothing. “There’s nobody here,” he shouted from the hall.
Dino felt the cold air circulating around him and as he heard the floorboards creak, he turned to see the dark figure standing just a few short feet away. It was holding a rusty sawblade in one hand.
The last thing Dino saw was the warm blood spurt across his face as the saw carved into his neck.

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