It was evening when I arrived at the town of New Haverford for a quick holiday from writing books. I had been looking for inspiration in my city of residence for quite some time now, but after I found that there was nothing to be discovered, a friend recommended that I try the horror genre out and suggested his hometown of New Haverford to me. He mentioned a place of interest that would get me plenty of ideas for writing a good scary story, a tavern called "The Weepy Sheep Inn". And so, after a train ride that took several hours, I arrived in the dreary port town. It was drizzling lightly, and the sky was a magnificently dull shade of grey.
Everything about this town seemed as if it were an old black and white photograph: the people, the buildings, and even the water of the bay seemed a greyish color to me. I decided that I would check in to a nearby hotel and head to this tavern later that night. After driving for about ten minutes, I came to a shabby looking motel and checked in for a few nights. By the time I had gotten unpacked, it was already dark out.
Night fell faster than I expected it to, turning the town into a film-noir setting in only a half hour's time. I wrote in a small journal that I kept with me that this could take longer than I thought. I did, however, promise myself I was going to relax over the holiday, so I intended to do just that. I gathered my wits and departed for the Weepy Sheep Inn, hoping I could at least get a decent drink in this boring little town.
Upon my arrival, I noticed that the establishment absolutely stank of the foul odor that only many years of 2nd hand cigarette smoke can produce. I cautiously made my way up to the bar, being careful not to disturb the numerous drunken people that were shouting and playing darts. I ordered myself a Gin and Tonic, taking my glasses off afterward. The overhead lights were reflecting off of them and really making a glare. It wasn't much better with my glasses off, but blurry is better than completely blind. The bartender came back with my drink, which I gulped down with moderation. My eyes scanned the room, and through the blur, I noticed that there was one elderly man in the back who wasn't laughing and cheering on the drunken dart game. He looked...distant almost, as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. I put my glasses on and walked over to him, still cautiously avoiding the intoxicated buffoons with sharp, pointy objects.
I sat down next to the man, casually starting: "So the locals around here get pretty enthusiastic over darts, eh?"
"You should see them try to play bowling, it's a real hoot." He replied back, with a hint of a joking tone in his voice. "Name's Robert Sterling, and yours?"
"So what brings an upstanding young man like you to this Hell hole of a bar?"
"I'm on holiday from my job. I'm currently looking for some inspiration for a ghost story."
This seemed to set the old man off. He was quiet for a very long time after that, seemingly contemplating whether to tell me something or not. Finally, the old man began to mumble, and then finally spoke. His words were uneasy as he managed to ramble out in a quiet voice: "If I was you, son, I wouldn't go looking for ghost stories around here. You might not like what you find."
"What are you saying, sir? Do you have some sort of story?" I asked hesitantly, not liking the frightened tone of voice the man had used in his previous statement.
The man cleared his throat and explained himself in the same quiet voice he had used before: "I'm saying you might find that you didn't really want to know what you were looking for, 'specially searching in a place like this."
I asked again if he had some sort of story to tell. He looked around nervously, took a swig from a hip flask and finally began to speak.
"It was 'bout twenty years ago." He started, attempting to recollect events that had long since passed by. "I had opened up a boarding house in the neighborhood I lived in. Real nice place, pretty spacious and lots of friendly people living nearby."
"Okay, was there anything special that the realtors of the building mentioned about it?" I asked, trying to get as much information as I could about the building.
"No, I don't recollect the realtors saying anything fishy 'bout the place. All they ever hyped up was the fact that it was big and that it was cheap." The old man cleared his throat, and took another swig from the hip flask. "Come to think of it, I should've probably took the low price of the place as a sign of the trouble I was about to run into."
"What kind of trouble, sir?" I was starting to gain interest in the story already.
"It didn't start happening until the house had 'bout reached half-way carrying capacity. We had maybe 5 or 6 people living here when the first haunt came, and all our troubles began."
"Haunt? Are you talking about ghosts or something" I nervously asked.
"It's exactly how it sounds. It was a frightful apparition that haunted us day and night." He sounded exasperated as he tried to explain this to me.
"Okay, so what did this haunt look like?"
"It wasn't nothin' but a little baby, maybe a year old at the most. Boy though, that thing caused a frightful racket that nearly shook the damn house off its foundation." He once again took the flask out and took a large gulp. Now empty, the flask was placed in his front coat pocket.
"Were other people able to see or hear this baby?" I asked, my excitement rising steadily.
"Only me and the other residents could hear the confounded thing. Believe me, if someone from out in the street could hear the dreadful screaming that came from this baby, they would've called the police in a twinklin'."
"So what did you do about it?" I asked.
"Didn't do nothin'. It was pretty much taken care of the minute the other three haunts showed up." He calmly replied.
"There was more than one haunt?"
"Yes, and they all seemed to have a bone to pick with that baby for some odd reason or another."
It was at this point that a waitress showed up and asked Mr. Sterling if he wanted another drink. He asked for some exotic sounding thing I'd never heard of and ordered one for me as well. She was gone and in no less than two minutes, she was back with two brightly colored drinks with umbrellas and orange slices. Refreshed, he continued his tale.
"Anywho, the second and third haunts seemed to show up at the same time. The second looked like she was a Jap. She had the stereotypical robe and long dark hair." He paused, as if attempting to remember an old friend. "The third haunt looked like an old woman. She was in a hospital gown, and her face was shiny, like a cheap, plastic Halloween mask."
"What did they do while they were there?" I asked.
"Most of the time, they kept to themselves. They would whisper to each other, and when they baby was screaming the loudest, they would sometimes go and huddle near it to make it shut up. His voice trailed off as he looked at the empty glass in his hands. I could clearly see that his hands were shaking. He managed to sputter out his next sentence with great difficulty:
"The last one though. The memory of the last haunt has been burned into my brain for the past twenty years."
"What did it look like?"
"It was a he and he had a hole in his chest. No blood, no gore, just a big, ragged looking hole. When the others would talk or scream, all he would do was cry out in pain, as if he could still feel it hurt."
"Mr. Sterling, what did he look like?" I asked again.
"Why boy, he looked a lot like you do. Had the messy hair, the glasses, even had a similar suit! Only difference was that it was brown, and not blue." He bleakly answered.
I froze, cold chill creeping up and down my back. This was slightly unnerving to me, and I was sure he wasn't comfortable with telling me any more tonight. I thanked him for his time and asked if we could meet somewhere tomorrow. He agreed to meet here, but for lunch instead. I headed back to the motel and got ready for bed. I can't really describe it, but I felt like I was being watched all through the night.
The next morning was a slightly lighter shade of grey than before. I walked to the Weepy Sheep Inn and immediately recognized Mr. Sterling sitting at the same table he was sitting at the night before. I sat down and began a friendly conversation. It wasn't until after we had each ordered a meal from the menu that the subject drifted back onto the story that was told to me the previous night. I asked if he could continue, and he obliged.
"So anyway, once all the haunts were in the house, they caused one heck of a ruckus. I had residents moving out because the ruckus would so out of hand, they thought that damn roof would cave in!" He started, making a gesture that described something falling.
"How did you break it up?" I asked.
"I tried calling a priest, but they just laughed at him and kicked him out on his pious ass." He chuckled."Usually, I'd ask them to quit and they'd settle down for a bit, but they wouldn't pay me any mind whatsoever if that baby was around."
"Did they have some sort of problem with the baby?" I asked, wondering what sort of grudge a group of ghosts could hold towards an infant.
"Oh they hated that thing. In fact, once they got rid of it, they all went away..." He trailed off, staring blankly at the ceiling.
It was at this point that the waitress brought our food back. Mr. Sterling seemed to break from his trance and wasted no time in digging into the meal that I can only describe as "Slightly better than cafeteria food". We finished eating and I began to ask questions again.
"So how did they get rid of it?" I started. "The baby, I mean."
" The old lady had a strange lookin' knife. She didn't cut the baby with it, she just pointed it at the devilish thing. Nothing happened for a long time. Then the other two joined in with the woman, each touching the handle of the knife."
"What happened after that?" I asked nervously.
"The baby started going absolutely nuts. It started jumping around, floating this way and that. It looked like it was having a seizure almost. Then it just disappeared. Poof! Just like that." He made some hand gestures to go along with what he was saying.
"And then they all just left?"
"Yes'm. I had no more troubles after that. New residents moved in and I made a decent amount of money out of rent. I moved down here shortly afterward." He suddenly sounded a lot more light-hearted, as if that weight he had been carrying previously had miraculously been lifted from his shoulders.
"I think this is good inspiration for a story. If it's alright with you, I'd like to make this into a novel and place you in the dedication." I stated.
"I'm fine with you using my story, but don't mention me anywhere. Just say that it happened to you, okay?" His face was like stone at this point, and he had a stern look that could scare the snakes off of Medusa's head.
I obliged and departed for the motel after a thank you and a quick good bye. When I got back though, that feeling of being watched crept up my back again. I turned to the mirror and noticed there was an Asian woman with long black hair that covered her face, with a set of robes that were torn and ragged. I was speechless as she let out a shrill laugh. Completely out of my wits, I screamed and fled the motel. While I lost my clothing and my laptop, which ended up costing another $200 to replace, I still had my notebooks with me and the story fresh on my mind, where it would remain for the rest of my life.
Returning to the subject, something odd years later, I began to do research on the area. From my research, 4 people had died in that house, all murdered. The first was a business man who was shot right outside of the building in 1923. It was a stray shot by a burglar who had robbed a house across town and attempted to flee into the maze like alleyways of skid row. The second was a young Asian woman who was a performer for a local theater in 1946. She was run over by ruffians who had the anti-Japanese attitude that was sweeping the nation during WWII. The third was an old woman in 1973 who was strangled to death with a plastic bag by her caretaker after she decided she finally had enough. The final was a baby that had died two years before Mr. Sterling bought the building in 1987. The baby died from abuse by a drunken husband and a wife that was too terrified and mentally broken to do anything. The husband went to jail, sentenced to death row; while the wife was put into intensive care and was rehabilitated back to health. After the 4th death, the house was deemed cursed, and nobody would go near it. By the time that Sterling had bought it, everyone in town had deemed the building condemned and moved on with their lives.
I published my story shortly after the research, adding in my extensive research as back story and publishing it as a fictional novel. I made a moderate amount of money off of the book, and I went on to write other stories from other people's experiences, each one dedicated to them, and each set as a work of fiction. While I did make a small fortune publishing the terrifying pasts of others, I did not feel remorse. After all, I was simply relieving them of bad memories, right? However, from time to time, I still feel a cold chill down my back, and I get the feeling I'm being watched. Usually when that happens, I head for a new town, where I would find another person with a story to tell.
If I don't, it's only a matter of time before I begin to hear a familiar, shrill laugh...