I found a child’s diary stuffed into a wall cavity in my new house, and it’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever read. The estate agent (“realtor”) did not disclose anything about what happened in this house. If it did, we would never have come here. My family and I moved to the United States from England, and you will understand why this scares me when you read what I found:
11th October 1999
Mummy made me go to Ben's birthday party. She said I need to try harder to make friends because I've been lonely since we moved to America. I am lonely because I miss everyone in England.
People at school said Ben's granddad is ill, but not like most people get. He's ill in his mind. Mummy said to ignore people and go to the party.
Ben's party was boring. He invited a load of girls. Why does he invite girls more than boys? You can't play Army and Ghostbusters with girls. It was funny at the end though, because the lights went off and everyone started screaming. Ben's granddad told us a ghost story, but Ben's nana got mad and shouted at him afterwards. I didn't like the story.
He said that in our town, a man went mad because all his friends were dead. The birds ate them. You could see the front of their skeletons after he chased the birds away. They were a circus but they did weird things and nobody liked them, so British soldiers killed them. I didn't tell Ben's granddad that I am British in case he thought I was one of the soldiers. He said they wore red coats.
The man got mad and upset and set his caravan on fire while he was still inside. Ben's granddad said their bodies were immolated, so they turned into smoke and blew away. But then he said that some of the smoke came back, and people in the town got scared because one of the soldiers was found tied to a statue in the churchyard. Ben's granddad said it was horrible, because the soldier's face was smiling like he won the goddamn lottery but he was also terrified at the same time, and no man should ever look like that.
There was a war between Britain and America then and the soldiers went to fight. Everyone made friends again and someone built a big farm house on the same land where the circus was burned, using wood from their caravans. Some English people came to live in the town. They said they were being watched by a man they couldn't see properly. He would be at the edge of their field far away from their house. Other times he would be standing at the edge of the woods along their back garden. They couldn't tell who he was but they thought he was wearing something on his face.
The man didn't say anything or even move, just stood there watching them. Once the dad opened the door and shouted at him. He didn't reply. The dad got a gun and fired it to scare him off. The man just turned and walked into the woods. He didn't even run.
There was a little girl around my age living in the house. One day she came in laughing and crying, saying the man had killed her dog. It was a big shaggy dog and the family loved him because he protected them. She said the man was outside, closer than he'd ever come before. She said they had never been able to make out his face because he was wearing a scary red mask that looked awful. He had ripped their dog open with his bare hands but he couldn't eat its gizzards because his mouth wouldn't open, so he lifted the dog up and shook it so that its insides slopped down all over him. He was making a weird noise, like mmmm-MMMMMMM-mmmmmm-MMMMMMM! and doing some kind of dance. Ben's granddad said it was like he was celebrating a goddamn home run.
I can't remember what happened next but I had to go to the toilet because I felt sick and I didn't want to hear about the man. When I went back down, Ben's granddad was finishing by saying the scary man hated all British people and he wouldn't let them live on that land. Everyone looked white-faced and Ben was trying not to cry. I can't stop thinking about the man and the dog and the noises he made.
Mummy says I'm not to go to Ben's house ever again.
12th October 1999
Ben isn't allowed to play with me. His mummy says my family are trouble. My mummy says his mummy is a pillock. I feel sorry for Ben because his family are so horrible.
The others at school play a game at playtime and sometimes in the evening that they call Old Man Tag or Creepshow Tag. It's like Tiggy Hiddie, which is what we called Tiggy-Hide-And-Seek back in Barnsley. One person is on, and the rest have to run and hide, then the person who's on has to find them and tig them by touching them and shouting Mr Creepshow Killed You. I asked them who Mr Creepshow is and they said he's the man from Ben's granddad's story. I'm not allowed to play because they said that Mr Creepshow hates British boys and girls and if they caught me, they'd really have to kill me.
14th October 1999
My mummy won't let me play out in the garden. I saw her looking at the woods near our house, but she wouldn't tell me why.
17th October 1999
I've got to go to the doctor because I am not sleeping very well and I keep feeling sick. Mummy says the noises are in my imagination because of the story Ben's granddad told me. But why does she keep looking out of the window at night if the noises aren't real?
She phoned Ben's mummy and they had an argument but my mummy said,
“Have some bloody common sense!” and hung up. Mummy is very sensible and she also likes to get the last word in.
I'm going to the doctor next week.
19th October 1999
I am getting very tired. It's hard to sleep because I keep having dreams about a man with a red face coming into our house and killing us. I can hear him sometimes. It wakes me up at night. I'm too scared to go to the window now. This time they weren't from far away. Mummy says I'm imagining it. Why can't she hear him laughing?
23rd October 1999
Mummy has installed spotlights at the front and back of our house. I can't get to sleep at night because the one outside my bedroom keeps switching on.
24th October 1999
The doctor was very kind. He said that Ben's granddad was naughty for telling me the stories about Mr Creepshow, and that I mustn't listen to everyone at school. He said they don't get many English boys in the Bible Belt so people would tease me for being new. The doctor gave my mummy some weird blue pills and said I should only take them when necessary. He asked me lots of questions about how I was feeling and if I'd been feeling upset for a long time. It scared me a bit because he kept asking about the laughing. I think he thought I was imagining it, but I'm not. I know I'm not imagining it because today, Ben was scared to death and crying at school. He said someone had horribly killed an animal in the woods where we normally play, near my house, and hung it from some trees by ropes.
Ben thinks we have brought Mr Creepshow to life by telling his story.
25th October 1999
I couldn't sleep last night so mummy made me take one of the blue pills, but she cut it in half and said that a full one is too much for my little tummy. I got really dreamy and peaceful but at the same time it didn't feel very nice. My dreams were weird and it felt like I wasn't properly asleep.
In my dreams, I heard Mr Creepshow laughing in my garden. It was really hard for me to move like it is in bad dreams. When I got out of bed, I fell into my bedside table and knocked my Spider-Man over. I might have banged my head.
Mr Creepshow was dancing in the garden at the edge of our spotlight. He pointed at my window and I opened it because I thought he wanted to talk to me. Mummy must have taken the other half of my pill, because she didn't wake up when he started singing. It was a horrible song. There weren't even any words. He sounded like a dog.
Then he turned around and started doing something I couldn't see. When he turned back to me, he was juggling something. It was very dark outside and my eyes were tired but I am very good at eye tests and I thought they looked like toy birds. Mr Creepshow sang a song about it being fun to eat dead animals. I started crying.
He got mad and stopped juggling. Then he threw one of the things he was juggling. It banged off the glass. I fell over backwards and then got back on my bed to wait until morning when it would be safe. Nothing happened for a long time and then I had a different dream which carried on from the first one.
I saw one of Mr Creepshow's hands curling around my window ledge like he was climbing in from outside. His skin was like a monster's, all red and bubbled. I screamed and screamed. That woke Mummy up. She came running in and turned the light on. I told her Mr Creepshow was outside and she went to the window. I screamed and screamed for her not to look out because he would get her. I thought for an awful minute she would put her head out of my open window, but she closed it and locked it instead, and I slept in her bed for the rest of the night.
Mummy told me I'd been having bad dreams and said she was flushing those bloody pills down the bog. She said we are never going back to that doctor. I asked when daddy was home. She said he would be back next week and I had to be brave until then and not let bad dreams scare me.
It felt a bit better when she told me it was just a dream. Mummy said men don't dance and juggle in kid's gardens, and that I should stop listening to my friends telling me stupid stories. But if it was a dream, why was my Spider-Man still broken in the morning?
After we had breakfast, Mummy found a dead bird in the back garden and said it must have flown into my window, and that a cat must have got it, even though there aren't any cats where we live, because she couldn't find its head.
26th October 1999
I slept in Mummy's room and still had bad dreams about Mr Creepshow climbing in through our windows and using his long fingers like claws. He is always laughing in my dreams, but he says that he laughs to stop himself from screaming, and that he hurts people to make them scream so he doesn't have to. The others at school have told me lots about him. They say that screams are his song and that he wants to write the longest and loudest song in the world.
27th October 1999
Mummy is looking very ill and she has to take tablets to sleep properly. She seems scared whenever she looks at me. It is very frightening but she keeps saying nothing is wrong.
All my American friends are really excited about Halloween, which is weird. Nobody really cares about it in England except to get free sweets from people. Ben hasn't been back to school for a few days. Everyone is saying Mr Creepshow got his family because they knew too much about him. I don't know what that means. The girls at school were crying because two of their dogs have been murdered. People are teasing me because if you see where the dogs were killed, it makes a zig-zag line towards my house. They say Mr Creepshow knows a British boy is living on his land and he's coming to get me. But that's silly, we live in a big house, not a farm. We haven't got any cows or anything.
29th October 1999
He was definitely in our house last night. I wasn't dreaming. I wasn't!
The back light kept going on and off and I couldn't sleep. I stood on my bedside table and tried to hang my duvet over the curtain rail to block the light but it was too heavy to lift all the way up. Then I saw Mr Creepshow tip-toeing across the garden like Wiley Coyote. I couldn't see him when he went under my window and I didn't want to open the window and put my head out of it in case he bit it off. He didn't say anything and no noise came from outside so eventually I did open the window and I did look down.
He was climbing in through a downstairs window. I saw one of his feet disappear into the house. He wasn't wearing clown shoes. He had bare feet but they were red and bubbly. The bottoms of his trousers were torn. I ran into Mummy's room and screamed at her to wake up but she wouldn't, even when I shook her. There was a bottle of pills on her bedside table that I didn't recognise but they said TRANQUILIZER on the label.
Mummy's bedroom door creaked. I looked back at the landing but it was too dark to see anything. I could hear him breathing though. I started crying and begging Mummy to wake up.
“Your mommy will never wake up,” Mr Creepshow said from the dark landing. His voice was terrible, I've never heard anything like it. I'll never forget a single word.
“Do you know what I did to her pills, little friend? I broke them open and put bugs inside. Then I put them back together and your mommy ate some. Now she's got alien bugs inside her! Who knows what they'll do!” He started laughing but it sounded like he was crying at the same time. Even though I couldn't see him, I could hear his body creaking as he moved, like he was made out of wood. Then he went quiet, but I think I heard him growling.
I begged him to help her. Then he said, “If you will play with me, I'll do whatever you want, little friend.”
I didn't want to, but told him I would so that he'd save Mummy. He went quiet again. Then he spoke loudly in a happy voice that made me jump.
“Of course I'll help you! Just sit by her side until morning light, and look at her face. Be sure, now – look only at her face! If you take your eyes away from her for longer than it takes to blink, she will die foaming at the mouth and howling like an animal!”
I screamed and jumped onto the bed, holding Mummy's hand and looking at her face until my eyes burned and her face seemed to turn green. Mr Creepshow laughed and his body creaked and crackled as he ran downstairs. I could hear banging and crashing for hours and hours. Then he stopped laughing, he stopped breaking things, he just stopped. It was getting lighter outside. Mummy finally woke up and she was so scared when she saw me. She hugged me and when I told her what had happened, she said that no-one had messed about with her pills and that there were no such things as alien bugs. I begged her not to go downstairs and I couldn't cry anymore but I tried to cry. When she went downstairs, she called me to come to her. I was so scared that my feet seemed to keep sticking to the stairs. When I finally got to her, she was standing in the living-room. Nothing was out of place. Nothing was broken.
Mummy says she is going to take me to a special doctor who will understand why I am having such terrible nightmares.
30th October 1999
He was in our room again tonight. Mummy was asleep and snoring. I woke up from a bad dream because I heard him crying. He sounded very sad. He was sitting on Mummy's dressing table with his face in his hands. It was difficult to see what he was doing in the dark but he stopped crying and slowly looked up at me. His face was all bloody and hurt. It looked like a mask. I was too scared even to scream or cry.
“Tomorrow will be a happy day!” he said. His mouth didn't move properly, like it wasn't working, but I could still understand him. Then he crawled under the bed and made growling sounds until the sun came up. After that, he wasn't there anymore.
31st October 1999
1st November 1999
My dear friends! I now see that I was wrong about the man I so crudely labelled “Mister Creepshow”. We are going to play together forever and ever. We are having so much fun! My friend is more of a tutor or guardian than my distant, despised father. How he has taught me to sing!
Written by Adam McLaughlin