As a grade school kid I served as a safety patrol crossing guard. On a corner near my school stood an old, abandoned house. There was a crossing post on this corner that none of us wanted. Many of the kids claimed the house was haunted. The drapes would move in the upstairs window is if pulled back by an unseen hand. The wind would moan through the rickety structure like it was being tortured by malevolent spirits.
One Halloween night, Danny, Billy, Mike and I were trick-or-treating past the old place and Danny, being the pain in the neck he was, made…The Dare. Yes, he dared us to go into the house.
“Chicken?” he taunted. Yeah, right; none of us were chickens.
“I’m not goin’ in there,” said Billy.
“Me neither,” said I.
Mike claimed there was no such thing as ghosts and started up the crumbling walkway over gnarled roots and tuffs of weeds toward the rotting porch. Danny followed, so, naturally, I had to as well. I think Will whimpered and stammered, “I…I guess I’d better g-go along and protect you g-guys.”
Atop the steps of the porch Danny turned the knob on the front door and squeaked it open. Hesitantly we stepped inside, greeted by musty smells and dusty air, and scarefully made our way through clouds of cobwebs across the “living” (and I use the term loosely) room. The house—it was the house wasn’t it?—moaned as we finished the first floor tour, arriving back at the entry. A staircase offered access to even more suspense (oh, joy) on the second floor.
Somehow, and most unfortunately, I was closest to the steps so, grasping the rail and placing my foot on the tread, I led the ascent. Talk about creep-out, every step whined in protest, as we made our way to the second floor landing. If someone—or something—were here they had to have heard us coming.
Danny tried the first door off the narrow hallway. It opened into an empty bedroom. I tried the second. It, too, opened into a bedroom. Here there was no bed per say; there was a casket! You heard me, a bone-a-fied coffin! I nearly wet my pants and stepped back with a gasp of shock. This drew the attention of the others—sort of a masochistic curiosity, I suppose—and they all peered around me into the room.
Billy started screaming (a high-pitched screech like only girls and prepubescent boys can produce) and everyone spun around and proceeded to bowl me over in their sudden need to exit. I scrambled to my feet and looked over my shoulder into the casket room. To my utter surprise and, need I say, terror, the thing had sprouted legs and hands! And the coffin was walking toward me.
Don’t ask me why, but with the walking dead hot on our heels, we overshot the stairs and ran down the opposite end of the hallway. Mike, in the lead, whipped open another door and we all dove into what we discovered was a bathroom. Fortuitously, it had one of those slider locks on the door and I, being the last one in, quickly bolted it shut. Immediately there was a banging on the other side of the door. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that our hearts were all banging in our chests as well.
A hand splinted through the door, groping for purchase, and we all fell backwards, stumbling over the toilet bowl or into the claw foot tub. Both Billy and Danny were screeching their heads off as the door continued to bust apart and the casket thing advanced. Mike got up on the back lip of the tub and began trying to open and escape through the small bathroom window. I knew that wasn’t going to work.
Just then the thing tore off the last semblance of door and stepped into the tiny room with us. We were going to die! Danny picked up an old toilet plunger and brandished it like a sword.
With no other ideas I swung open the door of the medicine cabinet over the sink. Within there were several old containers. I reached in and plucked a bottle of Robitussin® from the shelf, spun off the cap and successfully employed the cough syrup to stop the coffin.
– By Gregory E. Zschomler, an author of books for children, living in Cannon Beach, Ore. For more information about his books see: www.gregoryezschomler.blogspot.com.