Reposted with permission from the author
My uncle Warren worked for my town's police department for 16 years. It's a small town, and it never had that much serious crime in it aside from the meth trade, so he doesn't really have very many crazy stories. One time he stopped a break-in, this other time he showed up to a domestic spat that turned into a brawl. But nothing really sensational or scary happened to him during his time wearing a badge.
Except for that one thing that made him quit the force. Warren wasn't fond of telling anyone what happened, he didn't even tell his wife Janet much. So we sort of dropped the issue and assumed he was just sick of it all, sick of the crappy pay, sick of the tweakers...
That is, until a week ago when he called me up wanting to talk about it. At first I had forgotten all about the incident until he mentioned he wanted to talk about why he quit the Police Force, then all those memories of him being so quiet about the whole thing came back. I asked Warren what got him to change his mind and he simply said.
"If I don't tell somebody, I'm going to lose my mind. But you gotta promise you won't tell Janet."
Fine, I said. I won't tell Janet. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm still honoring my uncle's wishes because Janet doesn't browse this site. So we worked out a time and place to meet, he'd bring a six-pack and I'd take notes. Curious how he didn't want his own wife to find out yet he wanted this shit written down for posterity.
I'm not judging him, I'm sure he has his reasons... I just think it's weird.
We met at a motel outside of town. It wasn't a nasty place but it had seen better days, with the vinyl siding faded from the sun and the pavement cracked. He checked into his room, the lady at the counter disinterestedly thumbing through an old issue of Field and Stream as he payed for three days in cash. The room itself was pretty shabby; dusty beige carpet and a small single bed that smelt of cigarette smoke from its red and white striped sheets down to the mattress.
Warren closed the door behind us, then locked it. With a haunted frown on his face, he asked me if I knew why he checked into the motel.
I didn't say anything.
He said: "It's because I gotta get out of this town for a while. It just feels wrong here, y'know?"
"What do you mean?" I said, and he sighed and sat down on the mattress, prompting a soft creak from the worn bed springs.
"I don't know how much you know about this, but weird shit's been happening more often every year. People seeing things, kids turning up missing in the woods. Whole place feels wrong." As he talked, Warren ran a hand through his thinning hair. I mostly just remained silent, letting him continue.
"So you want to know why I quit the force? Do you remember the Baileys?"
It took me a minute to pick up what he was setting down.
"Oh shit, the family that died?"
Warren nodded, taking the first beer from the six pack and cracking it open. "Yep... officially their deaths were ruled as suicide but..." He took a long drink from the can and set it down on the nightstand, wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his black jacket. "But I don't believe that's what happened."
And so he told me the story:
Joseph and Sarah Bailey moved to our town in 1992. Their son Martin was just an infant at the time, and their daughter Hillary was only four. Joseph worked real estate and Sarah was a stay at home mom, and they seemed like a perfectly normal, happy family at first. That changed in May of 2002, when both Martin and Hillary were found dead in the woods. Apparently the family was on a picnic and Martin had wandered off and fallen in, then Hillary ran off after him. They were missing for a week before they were found dead from exposure some two miles off from where they had gotten lost.
We questioned both of them, and they were absolutely gutted by what happened. Sarah was a total mess, blaming herself for everything while Joseph kept reminding her it was an accident, that it was his fault. Even when everyone knew it was just a tragic accident, they still acted like they had straight up murdered their kids. It was horrible, but there was nothing anyone could do.
The funeral came and went and after a while, Joseph and Sarah seemed to have adjusted. A parent never really 'gets over' the death of a child, but it looked like the Baileys were managing their grief well enough. Though there was the usual pub talk of Joseph talking to psychics and Sarah looking up weird books but most of it was treated rightly as bullshit, you know.
That is, until the both of them just stopped going out. Around 2006, they showed up in town less and less. They only went out to buy groceries, they stopped talking to people or keeping up with friends, they didn't even answer their email after a while. It was alarming enough that we got called to do a welfare check on the family in 2008 after the both of them stopped showing up entirely.
Shortly after we were asked to do a welfare check on the Baileys, the station got a call from their own number. neither Joseph nor Sarah spoke to the dispatcher, it was a completely silent save for the heavy, rasping breathing of whoever actually was on the line; then they hung up after a few seconds. So we go down there, and I could already tell their house was in a sorry state.
The lawn was overgrown, looking like it hadn't been mowed in years, with patches of dead yellow grass running along the edge of the lawn close to the driveway. The windows were dusty and dark, with the curtains drawn on all of them, the mailbox was empty with the lid hanging open. We walked up and knocked on the door, receiving no answer.
So we knocked again, even called out to them and there was still no answer; after a third attempt we just forced our way in. If they weren't answering their door, they were either seriously hurt or worse and we couldn't take a chance on that.
On the count of three, I kicked the door off its rusty hinges and we all rushed inside. When we saw the interior of the house, we knew how bad things had gotten. The den was strewn with trash, empty chip bags and soda cans everywhere. The TV was off, with the screen wearing a thin, gray film of dust like nobody had touched it in a long time. There was a bitter, almost chemical smell in the air and it was so overpowering that one officer had to step outside for a bit and catch his breath.
I called out for Joseph and Sarah, once again receiving no answer but the echo of my own voice. The whole house was dark and dusty; it was the first time I had to use my flashlight during the day, in fact. We split up into two groups and did a sweep of the whole place, My group searched downstairs, the other upstairs. The kitchen was just as neglected as the rest of the house, with piles of empty dishes in the sink, cupboards full of expired food and cobwebs.
When we reached the parent's bedroom, we were fully expecting to see their dead bodies. With the state of neglect around the place, it was clear to all of us that there was absolutely zero chance of finding either of them alive. Yet, the bedroom was empty. The bed was neatly made, nothing was missing from any of the drawers or the closet, where the hell were they?
Then I got a call from the upstairs team on my radio.
"We found them," he said. "You're gonna want to come look at this. It's fucking crazy."
We regrouped at the top of the stairs and Richardson led us to a room at the far end of the hall. It turned out to be a child's bedroom, or what remained of it. The cloud-print wallpaper was covered in these weird symbols drawn with a black permanent marker. Richardson identified some of them as alchemy-related, but for the rest of them he didn't have any idea what they were or meant.
Joseph and Sarah were on the floor dead with a blanket draped over them, covering their upper bodies. From the smell and what we saw when we lifted the sheet up, they'd been dead for a few days. One officer walked over to the closet, then turned to face the rest of us.
"See if you can explain this." And he opened it to reveal a department store mannequin.
The mannequin was painted a glossy black all over, with the same symbols that were on the walls painted in yellow and red all over it. It wore a hand-carved wooden mask decorated with glued-on beads and feathers, with little strands of hair attached to it in a makeshift wig. Bright green eyes with black pupils stared out from the mask's eye-holes. As if that wasn't fucking weird enough, the mannequin was dressed in articles of clothing from both of the kids.
Richardson turned to look at me, and it was the first time I saw that man genuinely scared. "Must be some occult shit," he said.
Behind the doll was a crude altar fashioned out of an old desk and decorated with old photos of both children and more of those runes. Then, we all felt this intense and hateful presence looming over us. Even with the weird shit in this town, none of us expected to see anything like this. An officer took photos of the altar, the doll, the bodies...everything while we collected evidence.
I tried to stay in the altar room as long as I could, looking for anything that answered the some hundred questions in my head. But something in that room really, really didn't want any of us in there. That suffocating presence just bared down on us, not letting up. After a few minutes, my teeth began to hurt and my whole body began to ache like I spent hours doing hard exercise.
Then something fell off the shelf and hit me in the head. I looked down to see a paper folder full of letters, all signed and dated by Sarah herself. So naturally, I read through them; finding that each and every one was addressed to those kids of hers after they had passed away. Each letter described what she and Joseph were doing, how much she loved and missed them, and so on.
After a while, I stopped feeling sad for them when I noticed that more and more as the letters went on, Sarah wrote less like the kids were deceased and more like they were simply away. There were even mentions of what they'd do when the kids 'came home'. I saw that exact phrase some ten times in the same letter.
The last letter simply read:
"Everything in its right place. Mommy's coming very soon. I'm so sorry it had to be like this."
And when I checked the date, it was the exact same day we kicked their door down. I didn't have time to process this discovery when the lights flickered and there was a rumble coming from inside the walls. I don't know how much of this was physically happening, but I've never felt such a hateful force in my life. My head was pounding, my heart was going so fast I could barely breathe. I ran out of that room and urged the others to hurry it up and get out of here, and nobody argued with me. None of us wanted to be in that damned house a second more than we absolutely had to.
We took the bodies in, checked the house over before locking it up, then we all got the hell out of there when the work was done.
Some time later, the coroner called the station with the autopsy results. He was certain the Baileys had died of poisoning but he couldn't find anything in their systems, no arsenic, no cyanide, nothing. However, their livers were twice the size they should be, with congestion in the brain and kidneys. Their hair had been shaved off before death, which reminded me of that awful mannequin and the hair on its head. Did they use their own hair to make that thing?
He asked if we'd be satisfied if he ruled it a ritualistic suicide and left it at that. I didn't object, neither did the chief. Some times it's best if you just dropped the issue. This was one of those times. So it was officially a suicide, the story faded from the news before long, and the whole thing was forgotten. The Bailey's house was bought by a real estate developer and renovated; another family bought it a few years after.
Needless to say, they didn't stay too long. They kept hearing something move around the house in the night, their little girl kept seeing a dark shape in her room when she was trying to sleep, things turning up missing or broken around the house, shit like that. So they moved out, the house was sold to yet another family who were run off by the exact same things.
Right now, that house has been sitting empty for years without a buyer. I don't know exactly what the Baileys were doing, but I think they were trying to bring those kids back and something else, something really bad came out instead. Ever since then, I can't look at this town the same way.
Credited to Kindlypatrick