Where Does True Horror Lie?
Every small town in America has that scary house on the corner that is supposedly haunted. I love that shit. I eat it up for breakfast.
My town is no different. It’s called the Caldwell House, and supposedly the ghosts of a man, woman, and baby haunt the residence. They were burned alive as they slept. There was another child too, a little girl named Susan, whose body was never found.
They died in screaming torment on June 1, 2010.
At midnight on June 1, 2015, I broke into their abandoned home. No one dared lived there; only a brave few had ever ventured inside. The place was bone cold. My flashlight barely penetrated the darkness. I began to shiver as I walked up the dusty staircase. The stairs seemed to go on forever; I began to tire.
Finally, I reached the top. It became colder still, and I could hear a strange melody coming from a bedroom. My heart began to pound as I approached the door. I nudged it open and saw two dark shapes huddled over a crib.
The melody stopped. I heard a baby start to cry, softly at first, then a piercing wail. Dark tendrils reached out, surrounding me, then they began to circle at preposterous speeds. I was caught in a supernatural tornado.
It became hard to breathe. Then a laugh pierced the atmosphere. Booming, as if from the belly of fat old Saint Nick himself.
The apparitions jumped back, roaring in hatred. The little one became silent.
The laugh was mine.
I was impressed at how much the Caldwell ghosts seemed to grow in their power, in their hatred.
Their hatred of me.
I pulled out some recent photographs of their beloved Susan. Bound, gagged, unnaturally dirty: she was near blind from living in total darkness for five years.
I like to come back every anniversary to let Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell know how their daughter is doing. I like to show little baby Caldwell how his sister is doing.
She’s not doing very well. Not very well at all.
Once again I light a flame in their house. The pictures of Susan quickly become a conflagration, illuminating everything they have lost.
Their torment has not ended with their death. It has only just begun.
They cannot harm me in their ghostly form. But they can understand me.
True horror does not lie with chains rattling in the night. It is not cacophonous moaning, nor disembodied objects floating in the chill air.
True horror lies in the hearts of men.