Thursday, October 22, 2015

Liberty #55: The Scream

Tim and Meredith laid in bed together kissing, their bodies pressed together under the covers. “Our first night in our new house,” Tim said before he kissed Meredith.

Meredith kissed him back and smiled. “We need to get to sleep,” she said. He moved off of her as she reached over to turn off the lamp. It was now dark in their room. “Tim! What are you doing? We’ve already done that and we get up...” The silence of their bedroom was soon broken by their kissing and moans and by their bed’s soft squeak.

It was almost midnight when they finished and started to go to bed. The room was completely silent and both Tim and Meredith were almost asleep when they heard a scream.

It was a ghastly and constant scream. They jumped out of bed and threw on underwear and robes before leaving the bedroom. They followed the screaming to the kitchen where it seemed as if the source of the screaming changed and moved closer to their bedroom. They followed the scream to their bedroom where it then moved past the kitchen to the hallway.

“It keeps moving,” Meredith said as they walked to the hallway.

“Mommy! What’s that noise?” asked Sammy, their youngest daughter. Sammy was followed down the hall by their son Scott.

“We’re not sure, sweetie,” Meredith said. She bent over and picked Sammy up.

“The source keeps moving,” Tim said, annoyed. “What the hell is going on?”

“Is it some sort of weird alarm system?” Meredith considered out loud.

“Well, that’s great but how do you turn it off?” Tim asked. “Or reprogram it?”

“Maybe it’s a ghost,” Sammy said.

“There’s no such things as ghosts. There has to be a rational explanation to this,” Meredith said. “It’s clearly not hurting anything so let’s split up and try to find it.”

Meredith put down Sammy and the four of them wandered the house, following the scream into rooms, closets and cabinets. After an hour, the screaming continued and the family was no closer to finding a source or stopping it.

“What should we do?” Meredith shrugged.

“I don’t know. I say we just go to bed. We can block out the sound and figure out what’s going on in the morning,” Tim said.

Tim and Meredith covered their heads with pillows and Scott used earbuds and music to block out the screaming. Tim and Meredith woke up occasionally and had to readjust their pillows over their ears while Scott was able to sleep through the night. Only Sammy didn’t sleep. She stayed awake, listening to the screaming.

“You’re home late,” Meredith said as Tim came through the door.

“I stopped at the courthouse after work to do some research on our house,” he said. “Have you had any trouble today with the…?” he spun his finger around and whistled.

“Nope. It’s been perfectly quiet since the screaming stopped when the sun came up. What did you find out?”

“Not much. We’re only the fourth owners from this house and it’s never been in the news, there’s not an Indian burial ground underneath us, no murders. I even cross-referenced names in the obituaries and found that no one even died in the house.”

“So the screaming is an anomaly?” Meredith sighed. “There’s no explanation for it? It just happens?”

“From what I can tell.”

“Can you contact one of the previous owners and ask them?”

“Except for an owner in the ‘70s who lived here for four years, everyone else lived here for really long times. 17, 22, four and 36 years. The scream either didn’t happen with them or they lived with it,” Tim explained.

“I can’t believe they could live with it,” Meredith huffed.

“Is it us? Did we somehow cause it?”


“I don’t know,” Tim threw up his arms. “I’m just guessing. Maybe it’s a joke from the previous owner or the realtor?”

“Well, it’s not a very good one. Besides, we couldn’t find a source for the scream so it’s not a recording and it’s not coming from a speaker,” Meredith explained.

“If anything, it’s coming from inside the walls,” Scott said. “Maybe there’s a skull sealed up in our walls.” Everyone looked at Scott. “What? It happens. Nearly every place in Europe has a story about a screaming skull where the skull will scream if it is removed from its resting place.”

“We didn’t remove a skull,” Meredith said.

“Maybe the realtor did. It’s worth a shot,” Scott said. “It makes more sense than any other explanation we’ve come up with.”

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to call,” Meredith said.

“Seriously?” Tim asked in surprise. Meredith, Scott and Sammy looked at him. “Okay, fine. I’m going to feel like an idiot though.” Tim got up and called the realtor. “Hello, Jason? This is Tim O’Rourke. Yeah, the house is fine. Not complaining. I do have a question though. Did you or a contractor or somebody find a skull in one of the walls? No, I didn’t think so. I was just wondering. Thanks,” he hung up.

“Why didn’t you mention the screaming?” Meredith asked.

“I think he thinks I’m crazy enough just mentioning the hypothetical skull,” Tim said. “Maybe tonight will be smoother.”

They all went to bed early and used what they could to block out sound. Only Sammy didn’t try to muffle the scream and was still awake when it started at midnight. Tim, only using a pillow to cover his ears, woke up immediately. Meredith, using headphones plugged into a sound machine, woke up ten minutes into it. Scott, using earbuds and music, stayed asleep.

“I’m just going to ignore it,” Tim said. “It doesn’t seem as loud as last night. You can probably turn up your sound machine and drown it out.”

“We can’t do this every night, Tim,” Meredith said. “We need to figure this out and stop it.”

“I agree,” Tim got out of bed. “Maybe we can record the sound or…” Tim stopped talking to focus on a soft beeping. A piercing, rhythmic beeping was coming from the other side of the house. “Is that the smoke detector?”

Meredith listened and then another detector went off. “Yes,” she leapt out of bed and threw on a robe. Tim and Meredith ran out of the bedroom and met Scott in the kitchen. “Where’s Sammy?” Meredith asked him.

“She wasn’t in her room. I think she’s already out. The fire was in our bathroom,” Scott quickly said as he and his parents ran out of the house.

Sammy was already across the street. Her family joined her. The fire rose on the south end before spreading to the north end. The fire trucks arrived but everyone knew that it was too late.

“What happened?” Meredith asked, holding back tears.

“If it started in the bathroom, how did it start?” Tim wondered.

“I lit all the toilet paper on fire and threw in a couple of hairspray bottles,” Sammy said.

“Why did you burn down our house, Samantha?” Tim knelt down to Sammy.

“To stop the screaming.”

“Where did you get the idea that burning down the house would stop the screaming?”

“Because the screaming told me it would.”