This is a published work and is thus copyrighted to Matthew Robert Dimitroff. All rights reserved.
This is one version of this story. There is another version featuring interjecting commentary from the listeners. After feedback for this one, I may put up the alternate.
Chuck poked at the campfire with a stick to evenly distribute the burn while Eddie sat on a log across from him, polishing his shotgun. Jake sat one spot over as he disassembled his rifle. They looked over at Hunter as he walked from his tent, carrying shell cartridges.
“Anybody got any stories to tell while we clean our rifles?” Jake inquired.
“Chuck’s got a story for us,” Eddie suggested with a smile. “Tell ‘em, Chuck.”
“Which one’re you talking about?” Chuck asked.
“You know, the one about that house we worked on.”
“Now, we’ve worked on several houses…”
“You know, the one with the spooks.”
“Oh yeah, I gotcha. Boy, is that one a hoot.”
“Spooks?” Hunter inquired. “That’s like ghosts, right?”
“Yepp’n it is,” Eddie answered.
“Y’all quiet down now so I can tell the story.” Chuck set his stick down and crossed his legs as he leaned forward on the log.
“Oh, boy…” Jake grew restless with excitement.
“Eddie and I had just bought a new house. Well, it was an old house, but it was new to us. Having been abandoned for years, it was definitely a fixer-upper. Which was fine, because we were fixer-uppers. In our line of work, we’ve seen a lot of doozies, but this house…this one took the cake and ate it. Eddie thinks the place was haunted. I’ve been a handyman long enough to know that most unexplained incidents are caused by negligence and rickety old masonry.
“When we first started moving in, right away we had problems. Eddie had gone upstairs to use the latrine. Next thing I knew, he was running down the stairs hollering for me to see the toilet. I told Eddie he was a bit old to be showing off his good jobs and the only good jobs I wanted to see were in renovating this house. But, he insisted I come and see anyway. So I followed him up to the restroom and he showed me the toilet. The bowl water was pitch black. He said it was clear one minute, then dark the next. I asked if he went number one or number two, and he said he ‘ain’t done nothin’ yet.’ So I said it musta been the septic tank. Eddie said there weren’t no septic tank. Well, no wonder. Whoever built the house forgot to install a septic tank. All the waste was just clogged up in the pipes ‘cause it had nowhere to go. Eddie agreed with me, though he seemed a bit reluctant. He never did use the toilet.
“A few days later, I was tweaking the plumbing under the kitchen sink when I heard Eddie walk in and sit at the kitchen table. I crawled out from under the sink and saw him sittin’ there, shakin’ with the jitters. I asked what the problem was and he said he didn’t wanna talk about it. Then, I stood and felt this cold draft pick up, which was unusual because all the windows were closed, and it was the middle of summer. I surmised that it musta been the air conditioner and Eddie was just trembling because he was cold. So I went to investigate the AC unit in the basement, of all places.
“It was pretty empty down there, as we hadn’t really worked on it yet. When I examined the air conditioner, I was befuddled because the derned thing wasn’t even on! I felt another cold draft. Now, it wasn’t uncommon for a basement to be cold, but this was unusually cold. Then I heard this deep, low roaring sound. It sounded like the wind. I figured that there musta been a hole in the wall somewhere what was letting in cold air. Sure enough, upon further investigation, I found that the outside cellar doors were open. I closed them back and went upstairs to find Eddie struggling to pour himself some coffee. I berated him for spilling it as he poured. A man in this line of work has to have strong, steady hands!
“A few days later, I was in the living room measuring some wood when Eddie came back from the store. He was carrying what looked like a board game in his hands. I asked him what the deal was and he told me it was a ‘Luigi Board.’ I asked him if it was a board game based on that video game character and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about. He said this board could be used to have conversations with ghosts. I told Eddie that was just spookerstition, though I would have liked to speak with the missus one more time and ask her where she kept those life insurance papers.
“Eddie led me over to the dining room table and set up this Luigi Board. The board itself had every letter of the alphabet printed on it, with a few words like ‘yes’ and ‘no’ spelled out. It came with this crazy silver object what looked like a cloverleaf which had a plastic lens that magnified the letters on the board as it passed over them. I thought that was silly. You could see the letters just fine without it. Eddie instructed me to set my fingers onto the cloverleaf as he did the like. He asked if there was anyone there who wanted to speak, and I said I would. Eddie corrected me, saying he was talking to the spirit.
“Suddenly, the cloverleaf moved across the board, spelling the words ‘get out’ over and over. Eddie musta been doing that because the look on his face suggested he was terrified and wanted that spirit gone.
“I then told Eddie I’d had enough of this silliness and had to get back to work. Later that day I saw that Luigi Board burnt to a crisp in the barbecue pit. Eddie sure knew how to waste money.
“The next day, I was walking down the hallway next to the stairs when I noticed a candle on the wall was melting. I went to touch the wax, but the wax evaporated! I drew two possible conclusions from this: One, the candle was so old that the wax turned to powder once it melted and dried. Two, the manufacturers had come up with a new type of candle that evaporated, saving people from having to clean up wax from their tables. What was odd, though, was the fact that the candle wasn’t even lit…
“Just then, Eddie walked in. I asked him if he had lit the candle earlier. He said he hadn’t, so I told him about the powder. He said that ‘weren’t no powder, it was ectoplasm.’
“‘Ectoplasm?’ I asked. ‘Like the car from the Ghostbusters movie? That don’t make no sense.’
“He said that was just ‘Ecto.’ Ectoplasm was ghost gunk. As soon as he said that, that low roar was heard again, only it was coming from upstairs. I knew for sure that the cellar doors were shut, so it musta been something in the vent. I looked back at Eddie to ask him about it, but he had run out the front door. I guessed he went to inspect outside.
“When I entered the upstairs hallway, I noticed there was a lot of smoke around. I turned and saw this black figure at the end of the hall. Now, when I say ‘black figure,’ I don’t mean ‘African-American,’ I mean black like a shadow, which was weird because the sunlight was shining directly into the window behind him. Then I heard that low roar again. I figured it was coming from the ventilation shaft behind the man.
“I called out to him, ‘hey, fella, what are you doin’ here? Did you put somethin’ in that vent?’
“Suddenly, these two red lights appeared where his face shoulda been. Then I heard that sound again. I scratched my head. Whatever was in that vent had me dumbfounded. Then next thing I knew, that fella was standing not an inch in front of me. I asked him what the deal was, getting in my face like that. I even went to poke him in the chest to show him what-for, but my finger seemed to go right through him! I figured the smoke musta clouded my vision and I missed.
“Then it looked like he was trying to talk back, but I couldn’t hear him because the sound from the vent drowned him out. It sounded like he said ‘pig snout.’ I figured he meant that was what was in the vent. Suddenly, the whole house started shaking, which caused me to lose my balance and nearly topple down the stairs. That pig snout was causing quite a ruckus. I grabbed the stair railing and guided myself down. When I looked back up, that man was gone. So I came to the conclusion that he musta gone to check out that vent.
“‘’Preciate it!’ I called to him. Then the house started shaking more heavily. I stumbled out the front door. As soon as I stepped off the porch, I looked back and saw the second floor collapse onto the first floor and the whole thing wound up as a big ol’ pile of firewood.
“‘How peculiar,’ I thought. ‘My insurance is gonna skyrocket.’ I never saw the man afterward, so I figured he was trapped inside, God rest his soul.
“Since the house had collapsed, I decided to take a stroll over to the police station to report it. I took a pen and notepad out of my pocket, wrote a note for Eddie, and stuck it under a shingle.
“At the station, I approached a receptionist and asked where to report a collapsed house. She gave me a funny look then asked me to wait. Before long, I was called back into this office with three officers. I told them that my house had collapsed. When I gave them the address, they looked at each other, then looked at me and said ‘get out.’”
“Hoo doggie, that gives me the shakes hearin’ it again.” Eddie said with a shiver.
“What’d you do when the cops told you to get out?” Jake inquired.
“I left.” Chuck replied.
“Now, you don’t expect us to believe this mess, do ya?” Hunter questioned.
“It happened,” Chuck replied. “Eddie was there. He’ll tell ya.”
“I shore was,” Eddie chimed in. “I don’t ever wanna go back.”
“Whaddyou think, Jake?” Chuck asked.
“I think I shoulda brought s’more clothes.”
Chuck, Eddie, and Hunter all laughed at Jake’s expense for several minutes before turning in for the night. As Eddie settled into his sleeping bag, he could swear he heard a low roaring sound from the woods. He figured it was the wind.