I don’t own a camcorder and I am afraid any footage I record from my phone won’t come out clearly. The damn thing hasn’t worked right in days. I can’t call out and haven’t received any incoming. My texts send out as garbled much like I were typing in Arabic. I will write it all here and leave it for the next person. Hopefully it will serve as just as good of a warning as the previous owner’s. I only hope that it is enough. If you are reading this, turn around and go back to where ever you came from. You will not survive 32 Backbend Road.
Four months ago I closed on this small two bedroom, one bath home in a quaint little community called Bradmoore Creek. I have tried finding it on a map multiple times but I simply can’t anymore. The place is about sixty miles south of Montgomery, Alabama and you would miss it if you blinked. There is only one intersection that has no light. Four rust covered stop signs are placed on each corner and that is all the traffic safety you get. At that same intersection there is a small general store and gas station combo and if you can’t find it there you might as well get ready for a road trip. There is no local police or emergency responders. They all come from the county. All of these things I learned the day my realtor lead me out to the middle of nowhere. Some people would have seen this as a deal breaker but I was actually looking forward to getting out of town. An eight year nightmare called marriage that ended in an even uglier divorce made sure of that. I just wanted to be on my own for a while.
We pulled up to a yard that hadn’t been cut in a good ten years. You would have thought the seller would have wanted it to look a little better. As we approached the door I saw the realty sign and it started to make sense. In big letters at the bottom it read, “Sold as Is”. I could only imagine what surprises waited in store for me inside if the lawn was this unkempt. I was fairly handy though and at $25,000 I could afford to make the repairs on my own. The wooden steps leading up to the porch groaned in displeasure as we made our way up them. The front door had seen a fair share of water damage. The old pine had swollen to the point it didn’t want to open. I had to help the realtor force it with my shoulder. Dust puffed up around us as we broke open the tomb. We both fell into a coughing fit as the midday sun tried to push back the darkness of the foyer.
Directly ahead of us was a staircase that had once been white. The paint chipped and flaked, leaving memories of what it once was on solid cedar floor below. To the left was a rather large living room and the ceiling was vaulted to give it quite a bit of height. It had to be at least twelve feet. I called out, “Hello”, just to see if it echoed. I listened as my voice bounced back to me. To the right of the stairs was the kitchen. It was fairly long but not very deep. It had that galley style that a lot of older homes seem to carry. The laminate counter tops waved in places and the cabinets below were missing half of their doors. The upper cabinetry looked as though they could fall at any moment. The whole kitchen needed remodeling but the realtor promised me that this was the only room that had this much disrepair. I could only hope that was true.
The laundry was just beyond the kitchen and there was a door leading to the back yard from there. The appliances would need updating but the rest of the plumbing and electrical seemed fine. I pulled open the back door and peered out the screen door just past it. A large oak tree sat in the middle of the small plot and hanging from its lowest branch was a worn tire swing. It reminded me of one my grandparents use to have, even though I was sure that old thing couldn’t support my weight. I could imagine the weathered rope snapping as soon as my feet came off the ground. I would probably take it down just in case. I returned to the stair case and the two of us made our way upstairs. I grasped the bannister tightly and listened for every creek and moan of the steps. I honestly wasn’t entirely sure I wouldn’t fall through them. Once I made it to the landing without incident I gave a sigh of relief. The door to the bathroom was right ahead and both bedrooms were to the right. The guest bedroom was on the left side wall and I stepped in to notice that there was still a full size bed frame with headboard and chest of drawers in the room. It was only about twelve by ten foot but more than enough for a house guest. I leaned back out and saw the master bedroom ahead. I reached for the dull golden handle and gave it a turn. It didn’t want to budge and again I had to persuade my way in with my shoulder.
I stumbled into darkness. The curtains had been drawn tight and the sun couldn’t seem to pass by them. I pulled out my phone to illuminate my way and noticed that the room was filled with cardboard boxes. The realtor walked over to one window while I navigated past the mess to the other. We both pulled the curtains apart to see that the windows had been painted red. The entire room was bathed in the same hue. I would definitely have to do something about that. I questioned about the packed items and she quickly dismissed the question with, “Just things that didn’t get sold at the estate sale. It all comes with the house.” Definitely an odd occurrence but not unheard of. At any rate, how could I pass up on such a good deal? At least, that’s what I told myself when I began the purchasing process.
The whole thing went smoothly. I had purchased a home before and I couldn’t recall it ever being this easy. The seller didn’t even show up to the closing, his attorney handled it all for him. I am assuming it was a "him" by the name "Joseph Cleary" on the seller section. I quickly signed away, “Christopher Malone” and the house was mine. The attorney handed me the keys and quickly sorted her papers before exiting the room. I received a lackluster congratulations from my realtor and a small gift basket of fruit as a home warming gift. Now all I needed to do was get the house livable.
Day one was demolition day. I was actually a bit excited as I stomped into the kitchen with a sledgehammer in hand. Fixing something could give you a sense of pride but tearing something apart somehow sparked that primal part of a man. Three hours in and I had removed every cabinet and filled the dumpster with wooden debris. I cleaned up my mess and pulled up a folding chair I had found in the laundry room. I tried to envision what the kitchen could look like. A tapping at the screen door snapped me from my day dream. I stood up and walked back to the laundry again. I peered out the hazy glass of the door but couldn’t see much. I opened it and found a young boy standing on the concrete back steps. He was just high enough to see through the top portion of the screen. With his matted hair and dirt-covered face I could only imagine that he was your typical country boy that spent his days running through these fields. He didn’t speak at first and just stared up to me like I was a ghost. I broke the silence, “Can I help you?”
The boy looked passed me at the house then back up to me and asked, “Did they tell you what happened here?” I kind of chuckled at the thought of getting to hear the local legend of my new purchase. A lot of places had stories like this.
I enjoyed hearing the tall tales of small town folk so I played along, “No, I don’t think they took the time to mention that. You want to fill me in?” I got to hear about how the previous owner went crazy and committed suicide in the bathroom. Then he went on to claim that his ghost still haunted the house. He told me that the owner of the general store heard noises up here at night and the people that lived down the road reported lights going on and off at all times of the night.
“I appreciate the warning,” I said with a smile, “You want to come in for some lemonade and help me check it out?”
The boy shook his head rapidly and backed away for a bit before responding, “We don’t go in here and I don’t know you mister.” Then with a leap from the steps he disappeared into the tall grass behind the old oak. I hadn’t really thought of how odd my question might seem to a kid I didn’t know. Of course he wasn’t going to just come into a stranger's house. I mentally kicked myself for being "that creepy guy." “Oh well,” I said to the empty house and closed the back door. I picked up my tools and made a once-over of each room to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I intended on picking up some new cabinets and returning the following day to get started again. I entered the master bedroom one more time before leaving. In the middle of the room sat one of the dusty boxes but this time I noticed it was open. I leaned over and sitting right on top was an old VHS camcorder. I picked it up and noticed that decay hadn’t coated it like everything else here. It still held a tape and when I pressed the playback button it actually worked. I squinted at the tiny screen and noticed a man speaking into the camera. I couldn’t make out the words but he looked rather distressed. I pressed stop and popped open the tape deck so I could remove the tape. “WATCH ME,” was hurriedly scrawled across the side in red marker. I pushed the the camcorder back closed and tucked it under my arm, deciding to give it a look once I got back to my temporary living condition, also known as Motel 6.
I hooked the device to the hotel room’s television and plopped back on the bed with a cold bottle of beer. I took a swig as the film began to play. The picture was distorted at first but the person being filmed obviously made some kind of adjustment and it became clearer. A man of about, thirty-eight, sat in an old arm chair that rested in the middle of that master bedroom I had not long left behind. He seemed nervous and rung at his hands the entire time.
“My name is Joseph Cleary,” he began, “I purchased this house three months ago and it needed a lot of work. I planned on fixing it up during the day and staying with a friend at night until I could make it something nice. I thought I had done a really good job and when I finally moved in I was pretty proud. My first night here though was different. I could barely sleep for all the odd noises this place makes and I was sure it was just from the age of the place but I swear to you it isn’t that…,” his voice trailed off as the sound of something shuffling in the background had him in a panic. His eyes darted around the room until the ruckus ended. He cleared his throat and continued, “The next day I woke up and all the work I had done was just…gone…I mean it was like I never touched the place. I know...it sounds crazy but I swear to you if you came in and found this tape and the kitchen was almost destroyed then it happened again. I have pulled out that rotting wood at least three times and it keeps coming back!”
I sat up, finishing off my beer and pausing the tape. The people in that little place must be really bored. They went to a lot of trouble to scare the new neighbor, I thought. Leaning over I grabbed another beer from the mini fridge, popped the cap, and sat back to continue the film.
“There is something in this house. It keeps making awful noises at night and I can’t sleep. I even tried sleeping pills and somehow it wakes me up. Something doesn’t want me here and doesn’t want this place to change and if you are watching this then I didn’t survive this place. Something is watching me and waiting. It sits in the dark and I know it is coming for me. I have recorded this as a warning to anyone who buys this house. Do yourself a favor and burn the place down,” Joseph almost yelled at the screen. The footage became distorted again and while Joseph tried to correct it the light seemed to dim in the room. I could hear him yell out for help and then the recorder was knocked over. I was left staring under the bed as the man’s feet could be seen shuffling about. The sound became garbled but for a moment I could swear someone else was in the room with Joseph. The scene became clear again but I couldn’t see Joseph’s feet anymore. Then suddenly a face came into view with a crash. Joseph’s eyes were wide mere inches from the camera. He whispered, “Help…,” almost as if he were talking directly to me before being pulled from the scene. I heard him cry out again and then the tape went silent for a moment. A squeak was heard and then water running. The water gurgled and splashed. Soon I recognized the sound, the bath tub was filling with water. Then it went quiet again as the water was shut off. The tape kept going but nothing else happened. I fast forwarded through two more hours of watching the empty room before it finally cut out. It must have ran out of tape. I felt a chill run up my spine. If this had been an prank it was a damn good one.
It took me three months to get the kitchen like I wanted. I had tried to match the woods with the floor and had a black granite top placed above it. It was a nice contrast between the light colored cedar. I had the floors refinished and they almost looked brand new. I brought in stainless steel appliances and purchased a small round table to accent the small breakfast nook area that separated the kitchen and laundry. It was more than enough for just me. The rest of the house just needed touch ups. A good cleaning and fresh paint made the place look like something out of Better Homes and Gardens, you know if you didn’t look at the outside. I hadn’t quite got to all of that yet. I did however take down that old tire swing. For my first night I invited a couple of my work friends to take a look and everyone was impressed but I honestly think they were just glad to have a single friend that they could bachelor it up with on weekends. Either way, I was proud of myself.
After the last guest left I made my rounds to pick up any latent trash. I left a light on in the stair well and shut out the rest before retiring to my master bedroom. It had taken a lot of time to clear all those boxes out of here and get them up in the attic but now my new bedroom suite lit up the space. It took a bit more to replace those red painted windows that I had planned but it was worth it. I changed clothes and brushed my teeth before making my way to bed. It was nice to be sleeping in my own bed again. I lay there in the dark for about thirty minutes just enjoying the quiet of the place before my eyes finally got too heavy for me to fight off.
I woke to a shuffling noise, very faint and definitely not coming from my room. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I looked over at my clock to see it was just past three o’clock. I slid from my bed and walked out onto the landing. The light over the stairs was no longer burning but I definitely remembered leaving it on. Oh, I really hope the wiring isn’t completely shot in these walls. I stepped over to the top of the stairs and pushed up on the switch. Click, click, click,…Nothing. Curses fell out under my breath. I had been so happy to be finished and now I needed to call an electrician. I fumbled down the stairs and stepped into the kitchen. I tried the light there and it too would not come on. “Shit,” I called out in the dark. Moving over to the fridge, I opened the drawer right beside it. I removed a flash light and flicked it on. The dull amber only lit a small area but it would help me find my way to the fuse box in the laundry. I opened up the panel and checked each one. They all appeared to be fine. If I have to call an electrician anyway I might as well see what it will cost to replace those fuses with breakers, I thought. I was about to leave the kitchen and just head back to bed when the shuffling started again.
I followed the noise and it lead me back upstairs. I leaned in the bathroom and waited for it to happen again. It sounded like something being dragged across the floor but I couldn’t see a thing moving. It was coming from the spare bedroom. I pressed the flashlight against the door and it swung open. There is no logical explanation for this that I can think of but I walked into a room full of the boxes that I had placed in the attic. I looked over to the closet that was now open and the small scuttle hole in the ceiling of it was open. This was the only entrance into the attic and I know for a fact I didn’t open it just to bring all these boxes back down. I stood there dumbfounded for a moment before I heard the shuffling again and within moments a box rested on the edge of the attic access. I stepped back for a moment as the box dropped from the hole and landed in the floor of the closet on top of the rest of them. I leaned over to the closet and let the beam of light cross over the opening. There was nothing directly above me but something had to have pushed the boxes down. I slowly made my way up the ladder that was attached to the back wall and peeked over the edge into the empty attic. The light swept across the darkness to find nothing there. I stepped down and closed the door to the room before going back to mine. I would have to investigate in the morning with better light.
I finally woke up around ten o’clock and was immediately confused as to why my alarm clock had not roused me sooner. Looking to my left I noticed that it was not on my bedside table. I slid the table aside and found no trace of it at all. I was sure I had unpacked it and placed it right there. I scratched at my head as I exited my room and looked over at the pile of boxes in the spare room. I looked at them for a moment then entered and opened one of the boxes. Inside sat my alarm clock on top of various small household items that I was sure I had already unpacked. It was so strange but I guess with all the things I had been doing I had forgotten a few thing items to remove from their storage. I climbed the ladder to the attic again. The light from the window at the far end made it far easier for me to see my surroundings. There was nothing there of interest and definitely no sign of activity. The ceiling must be sloped, I thought. I had simply placed the boxes adjacent to the opening and they must have just fallen through. Then, one by one, I returned each box to the attic. I made sure to place them further away from the access this time and pulled out a few things I would need, mainly my alarm clock. I made sure to close the doorway and descended back into the room.
I had been severely distracted with the home remodel I had not been able to focus on my work. I reviewed and edited articles for a news website. I made it a point to catch up on the last few weeks’ worth of articles and by the time I had finished it was late in the evening. I had worked straight through lunch and my stomach was screaming at me. I made my way to the kitchen and popped open the freezer. Frozen pizza wasn’t my first choice but it would be ready quickly. I tossed it in the oven and made me a glass of tea. Leaning against the countertop and sipping on my tea, I thought back to the boy that had come to my back door. I decided that tomorrow I would take a trip up to the general store and see what the rest of the locals had to say about my house. I finished my dinner, tossing the dirty plates in the sink. I took a quick shower then made my way to bed.
Again, I woke up late. Not only was my alarm clock missing but so was my nightstand. That was impossible. I quickly made my way to the next room and sure enough there sat all the boxes from the attic. I threw on some clothes and bounded down the stairs. I grabbed my keys off the hook and was rolling down the road to the store in minutes. There were only two other vehicles parked outside the little building and when I entered I didn’t see anyone. I called out a few times but received no response. I turned to go back out and was greeted by a pair of men wiping their hands with an oil rags. The one in front was balding, overweight, and bulged in his coveralls. The other was thinner, hid behind a baseball cap, and didn’t believe in wearing a t-shirt.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting,” the older of the two said, “We don’t get a lot of regular customers this early. Me and my boy where working on the truck.”
I hadn’t seen anyone working on anything outside but maybe they meant next door. “It’s alright,” I replied with a faint smile, “I am new to the area, my name is Chris…”
The old man cut me off, “We know who you are. You bought the old Laramie house. Not sure why anyone would want to do that but anyway, how can I help you son?”
“I’m glad you said that because I really came down here to see what the deal is with the place. Some kid stopped by the other day and told me some wild story about the previous owner going nuts,” I laughed a little at the thought.
The two of them looked at one another for a moment and smiled then looked back to me. I was asked to sit down out front and was treated to a real old fashioned tall tale from a good ole boy. Apparently, Willard Laramie built that house a long time ago for himself and his wife. His wife passed away from some illness before it was finished. Mr. Laramie became secluded, barely leaving the house. He even had a month worth of groceries delivered to his house so he wouldn’t have to travel out of town. It was no surprise it took almost three months for anyone to notice he was gone. Someone from the store started to get worried since they hadn’t received an order from him in so long. They had the sheriff go up and check on him. From the way they told it the old man must have just had enough. The master bedroom had blood spattered all over. They said it even painted the windows red. He had put the barrel of his shotgun in his mouth and somehow managed to pull the trigger. They cleaned up the rooms but the windows remained that awful crimson hue. I had been the third person who tried to purchase and fix up the place. The previous two supposedly also committed suicide. One hung himself in the attic and the last one appeared to have taken sleeping pills before slipping into the bath. The official cause of death was drowning but the county coroner stated it had to be intentional. I asked them if both of the owners had tried to remodel the house and I found out that they witnessed truck-loads of materials head up to the place but it looked the same the next day.
I thanked them for the information and decided to head back home. It seemed like a long drive up the dusty road to my house. I pulled up in the yard, turned off the truck, and just sat staring at the house. I realized that strange things had happened in the place but nothing really sinister. Still, between the rumors and the video tape, I couldn’t just ignore it. I decided to give it a little time and see if the stories turned into anything. I could handle some moving boxes and misplaced items. It might even make for an interesting story. If that was all it was I would be fine and I wouldn’t be writing this now.
Every morning the boxes would be down from the attic and eventually I stopped putting them back up. Little things would end up in a box here and there to begin with. After a couple weeks I woke up to the windows being red again. I am not sure how most people would react to the sunrise peeking in your window only to make your bedroom look like a crime scene but I almost had a heart attack. Each day things got worse and one morning I walked down the stairs to find the kitchen in disrepair just like the day I first walked in. There are a lot of things I had tolerated and brushed off as minor inconveniences but this was too much. I pulled out my phone and dialed the number for the realtor. I waited a moment but I never heard a ring. Then through the silence someone whispered, “It’s time for you to go.” Then my phone went dead. Out of every strange thing to happen this was the first time I truly felt threatened. Standing there in that dust covered kitchen I could actually feel someone watching me. The hairs on the back of my neck rose and I began to shudder. The house felt cold now and the feeling of being unwanted unbearable.
That was all I could handle and I made my way to the front door. Grabbing my keys and reaching for the door I took one more look over my shoulder. The place looked dead but something definitely was alive inside. I turned the knob and pulled at the door. It wouldn’t even budge. There was no forcing it with my body this time. The door swung open and I would be fighting against the door frame itself. I backed up, lifted my leg, and drove my heel into the door. Pain shot up my leg but the door remained. I had hurt my ankle. I hobbled over to kitchen door and used the dilapidated counter top as a crutch all the way to the laundry. I tried the back door and it too wouldn’t budge. I yelled out to the empty space, “If you want me to go then you have to let me out of the house!”
The whole house groaned and creaked in response. I slowly made my way back to the foyer and as I reached the doorway I heard what sounded like footsteps from the landing. Looking up I saw a dark figure move to the steps and begin to descend them slowly. Each step howled out into the dark and I could feel it echo through my body. I couldn’t move now, my body refused. My eyes grew wide as what appeared to be a man came closer and closer. Just as the figure approached me a burst of air forced me back against the front door and my body crumpled to the floor. I winced in pain and grabbed for my ankle. My eyes shot up to look again but the figure was gone.
It has been almost a week since I first saw Willard Laramie and he still won’t let me out. He has come to visit me every night though. I am almost out of food so I just brought what little was left upstairs. It has become too hard to make it up and down the stairs on my ankle. I tried kicking out the door again and only made it worse. I am using a bucket to relieve myself, because the last time I went to the bathroom he was standing in the tub. It is almost as if he is playing with me but I know that won’t last for long. I am almost ready for him to do whatever it is he plans on doing. The fear of not knowing when is greater than knowing what will come. I find myself yelling into the dark, “Just get it over with already!”
It has been three more days and I am now out of food. I am keeping to the master bedroom and have barricaded the door. I’m sitting in the middle of an empty room where my bed once sat. I am putting this all here for the next person that purchases 32 Backbend Road in Bradmoore Creek, Alabama. I will leave this here for you in hopes that you believe me. I should have listened to Joseph. I should have set the house on fire after the first night. I should have listened to the boy and the man at the general store. If you don’t believe me ask them yourself. He won’t let me just walk out. I have to go the same way everyone else did and so will you if you decide to stay.
This letter was found in an envelope that accompanied the closing documents. Christopher Malone requested in his last will and testament that any future buyer be asked to read before signing.
Written by L0CKED334