Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Liberty Horror #4: Ghost of A. Chantz

Ghost of A. Chantz

Dominic, Ryan, and MaryJane arrived at the historic Chantz Mansion where a van with 107.3 FM emblazoned on it was sitting in the yard. “You the contest winner?”

“I am,” Dominic said. “These are my friends, Ryan and MaryJane. They’ll be spending the night with me.”

“A threesome with two men in a haunted house. It’s a dream come true. Again,” MaryJane said.

Everyone looked at MaryJane. “O…kay…The rules are pretty simple. You have to stay in the Chantz Mansion for 18 hours. From three this afternoon to nine a.m. tomorrow morning. We will pay for pizza to be delivered at 7—three pizzas, one for each of you. As long as you stay in the house then you win the $1,000 each,” the radio guy explained.

“Sounds easy,” Dominic said. “It’s not like this place is haunted anyway.”

“Innit,” a gravelly voice said from behind them. “I been caretaker of the Chantz Mansion for nigh on twenty years. I’ve seen mysterious lights, bodies in the window, footsteps on the floor, heartbeats in the walls, and the smell of death in the air. It’s enough to drive a person insane.”

“But you seem fine,” Dominic said. “Can we go in the house now?”

“If we’re murdered by the caretaker does that void our winnings?” MaryJane asked.

The Chantz Mansion was a beautiful brick house on a hill overlooking the river. It had been built by a milliner in 1879 and abandoned since the 1940s. As the house became more deteriorated, the more people thought it was haunted. The great-grandson of Alexander Chantz was trying to rehabilitate the house and reopen it as a bed and breakfast, AirBnB, or museum. The radio station gave him several thousand dollars in exchange for allowing this contest to happen at his house.

“This place is beautiful,” Ryan said, aghast at the fancy woodwork, marble, and brick throughout the interior of the house.

“It is now three o’clock. You three are now required to stay in the house until tomorrow morning. We do have cameras placed throughout the house and yard to watch you. The caretaker will be in his house and also keeping an eye on you,” the radio guy explained.

“Oh, good,” Dominic said sarcastically.

“Just give me your pizza order and that will be delivered at seven.”

They exchanged information and the radio guy left leaving Dominic, Ryan, and MaryJane alone in the Chantz Mansion. “What are we supposed to do here?” MaryJane asked.

“Do we just spend the next eighteen hours on our phones? Is there a TV? Books? Is there even electricity in this place?”

The wood in the fireplace suddenly ignited. They all jumped and looked at the fire. “Well, the fireplace works,” Dominic said.

“Who lit it?” Ryan asked.

“Maybe there was already a burning ember…” MaryJane said “…and it got hot enough…or the ghost was getting a little chilly, I don’t know.”

The three had been in the house for a few hours with no incident. They decided to wander and explore the house. Most rooms were empty but were strewn about with dust, rodent feces, and some debris. The wallpaper was faded and peeling in some places. A deer head hung on the wall which went good with the stuffed bear in the corner of the living room. There were no lights anywhere so they were relying on whatever natural light that came through the boarded-up windows.

“Where are the bathrooms?” Ryan asked.

“I think there is just the one downstairs,” Dominic said.

“What’s in here?” Ryan asked, grabbing a doorknob and trying to turn it. “It’s locked.”

“Probably just storage,” Dominic said.

“Sex dungeon,” MaryJane said.

“I think that would be downstairs in the basement,” Dominic said.

“Mine’s not,” MaryJane said.

“But you live in an apartment.”

“I need to find a bathroom,” Ryan said. “I’ll see you downstairs,” Ryan walked away and headed downstairs.

MaryJane turned to the locked door. “Why does this sex dungeon storage room have a giant window in it?” As she asked herself that, a mustachioed face appeared in the window. The eyes had dark circles around them and tight curly hair. The face stared menacingly at MaryJane. She yelped and turned to Dominic. The face disappeared.

“What’s wrong?”

“A face. In the window.”

“What? There’s nothing there,” he looked and saw nothing. “It was probably just your reflection.”

“I don’t have a mustache,” MaryJane said.

“Well…” Dominic shrugged.

“I. Don’t. Have. A. Mustache,” MaryJane repeated, hitting Dominic with each word.

“Maybe you turned your head too fast and it was your hair…” he pulled her hair around her face, bringing a lock of it under her nose.

“No,” she shook her head.

“Maybe…” he began to offer another explanation.

“No,” she cut him off. A high-pitched Joker-esque laugh echoed through the house. Dominic and MaryJane looked at each other. “Feets, don’t fail me now,” she said and began running downstairs.

“It’s probably Ryan or something,” Dominic said. He slowly followed her down the stairs.

MaryJane got downstairs and turned, running right into Ryan as he was leaving the bathroom. They both screamed loudly in each others faces.

“Quit screaming. You’re both acting like idiots,” Dominic said. “Show a little decorum!”

“The laugh clearly wasn’t Ryan. Then who was it?” MaryJane asked.

“Probably the radio station playing a trick. It’s so they don’t have to pay out the $3,000,” Dominic said. “No matter what, we do not exit this house.”

The deer head on the wall suddenly fell and rolled down the stairs. As the deer head came to a rest, the laugh echoed through the house again.

“We may not get a chance to exit this house,” MaryJane said.

A little after seven, the doorbell rang, a simple chime from a bell connected to a turnkey on the porch. MaryJane and Ryan jumped a little as they sat on an old and kind of damp couch. “It’s the pizza,” Dominic said and stood up. He walked over to the door and opened it. The caretaker stood on the porch with three pizzas.

“Your pizzas are here,” he grumbled.

“Why are you delivering them? Where’s the delivery person?” Dominic asked.

“The pizza boy met with an unfortunate accident shortly after entering the grounds,” the caretaker said.

“That’s too bad. Want to stay and have some pizza?” Dominic asked.

“No. Thank you. I have to call the pizza place about the pizza boy so they can call his next of kin,” the caretaker began walking away.

“What a cool guy,” Dominic said, closing the door.

“What’s going on?” Ryan asked.

“Pizza’s here. I think the caretaker killed the pizza boy.”

“Oh,” Ryan nodded his head. “Great.”

“Wanna eat this at the dining room table?” MaryJane asked, referring to the large table in the fancy dining room just off of the living room.

“Yeah. Let’s do that,” Dominic agreed. “It’ll be nice. We can light the candles on the table and get really fancy with our pizza.”

The three of them went to the dining room where a giant table was in the center of the room. Two candlesticks sat on the table—one on each end. They put the pizza down on the table and Dominic went into the kitchen. MaryJane pulled a lighter out of her pocket and lit the candles. When Dominic came out of the kitchen, he was holding a pack of matches. He saw the candles were lit and stopped in his tracks.

“Who lit the candles?” he asked.

“They just lit on their own,” MaryJane said. “It took all our power to not run away in fear.”

“Weird,” Dominic looked closely at the candles. “I wonder how they did that.”

MaryJane and Ryan rolled their eyes at each other.

After dinner, they heard footsteps upstairs and banging on pipes in the basement. They went to investigate both and saw nothing. This happened several times and each time they went to investigate. “You know, it’s ten o’clock,” Dominic began. “We should all just go to bed and get this night over with. It’s not like there’s anything to do anyway.”

“That’s a great idea,” MaryJane agreed. “I’d rather be murdered in my sleep anyway.”

The three of them went upstairs to the bedrooms. By the time they all got ready and into bed, it was a little after eleven. “I’m glad you all agree with me to just go to sleep and end this night,” Dominic said “but there are enough beds that we don’t have to sleep together.” Ryan and MaryJane were in Dominic’s bed, snuggled up close to him.

“But this is how it is in all my stories,” MaryJane said.

“Do your stories feature three grown adults sleeping in the same bed with their clothes on?” Dominic asked.

“At the beginning…” she replied.

“I’ll go to another room but I’m gonna make sure your name is scrawled on the wall with my blood,” Ryan said as he got out of bed.

They fell asleep quickly when they each got settled down. A loud thud woke Ryan up and then he heard the sound of what sounded like a chain being dragged across the floor. Ryan got out of bed and went to door. “I’m probably going to regret this,” he sighed and opened the door.

MaryJane awoke to a scream—a long, almost ear-piercing scream from what sounded like everywhere. MaryJane hopped out of bed and ran to Dominic’s room. He was also awake but was still lying down. “How can you just lie there when a ghost woman clearly wants her baby back?”

“It’s just a recording,” Dominic said. “Or Ryan on the toilet. It could be Ryan on the toilet.”

“It must be Ryan on the toilet because he hasn’t run in here yer.”

“That is odd,” Dominic threw the covers off and got out of bed. “Don’t tell me he’s in his room soundly sleeping.”

The two went down the hallway to where Ryan was sleeping. They pushed open the door and saw Ryan wasn’t in the room. The screaming had stopped when they both got in the hallway. Both looked around the room for a place where Ryan could hide. “Where is he?” MaryJane asked. “I’ll check in the bathroom.”

“I’ll stay here in case he comes back,” Dominic said. MaryJane went off downstairs. Dominic leaned against the door jamb to the bedroom and crossed his arms and waited. Five minutes passed. Then ten. After fifteen, Dominic shouted. “What’s going on down there?”

There was no response.

Dominic sighed heavily and followed MaryJane’s path downstairs. Dominic approached the bathroom and saw the door was open. There was no sign of Ryan of MaryJane. “Well, crap,” he said.

For nearly an hour, Dominic sat alone and silent in the house. In two more hours, the sun would be up and then three hours after that he’d be $1,000 richer. He thought for a moment. He wondered if he could get Ryan and MaryJane’s money if they had left, gone missing, or were murdered.

A clanking sound began from the basement. “Nope,” Dominic began. “It’s just someone in the basement banging on a pipe with a hammer or something. It doesn’t scare me. In fact, it makes me want to go back to bed. I think I’ll do that. Go back upstairs and back to sleep.”

Dominic got up and went upstairs. He passed the locked door then paused. He took a couple steps back and tried the knob. It turned and the door popped open. Inside, was an old-timey glass doll sitting in a rocking chair, completely naked and missing both eyes. There was a crack in the doll’s head and the doll, somehow, was holding a giant knife.

Dominic closed the door. “That is not a good use of that room,” he said. “But it doesn’t bother me. I’m still going back to bed. And I know it may seem like me narrating what I’m doing and talking to no one might look like you have driven me insane, but I assure you that I am not. I’m just making sure the radio people, the caretaker, and my so-called friends know that I am not scared.”

Dominic went back into his bedroom and got back into bed. He heard stomping up the stairs and down the hall, passing in front of his door. Dominic covered himself with the blanket and closed his eyes.

He woke up to thunder. Out the covered window, he saw that the sun was coming up. The thunder boomed again. “That’s odd…” Dominic got out of bed and went to the window. He peered out of the boarded-up window and saw three people in black robes and hoods standing around a fire underneath the window. “The hell…?”

Laughter echoed throughout the house. Dominic’s hair stood on end and goosebumps appeared on his arms. There was a loud, slow knock on his bedroom door. Dominic didn’t know what to do. Keep an eye on the possible cult members outside or see who was at the door. He slowly approached the door. They knocked only once. He opened the door and stuck his head out and looked up and down the hallway.

Darkness there and nothing more.

There was a knock on the front door. Slow and loud like the one on the bedroom door. Knock……knock……knock. “Probably the caretaker,” Dominic chuckled to himself. “Leaving Ryan and MaryJane’s dead bodies on the stoop.” Dominic went downstairs and opened the door. Three robed people stood outside the door, similar to the ones that were out back. They began approaching the front door with their hands leading the way. “I already know about Jesus,” Dominic said and slammed the door.

He turned around and saw three hooded figures enter the living room from the dining room. The front door flew open and the other three figures entered the house. “Well, this certainly didn’t end up on my list of ways I’ll probably die.”

The six figures surrounded Dominic and moved closer, boxing him in. The figures were silent then stopped when they were within a couple feet of him.

“It’s time to give your soul…” one of the figures said “give your soul to 107.3 FM—the city’s rock alternative!” the hoods were taken off and the radio guy was standing there along with the caretaker, Ryan, MaryJane, and two guys Dominic had never seen before.

“What? This is all a bit? For the radio?” Dominic asked.

“Yep. And you all passed with flying colors. We were streaming the whole thing. I have to admit that I’m shocked you weren’t as scared as Ryan and MaryJane.”

“He’s a emotional robot,” Ryan said.

“So what happens now?” Dominic asked. “There’s still three hours until nine.”

“You all get the money. This was just a fun little idea we had to drive people to our website,” the radio guy said.

“I just think it’s so cool that everyone but me was in on this,” Dominic said, a huge smile on his face. “My best friends, the radio guy who I trusted, the creepy caretaker. You two I’ve never seen before.”

“This is our producer, Milton Saunders, and our prize patrol head, Scott Geiger.”

Dominic pointed to Milton’s mustache. “Hey. Mustache,” he turned to MaryJane. “Mustache.”

“Told you I didn’t have a mustache,” MaryJane replied.

Everyone sat in the living room, eating breakfast ordered in. “So everything was accomplished with hidden speakers and random people hiding in dark corners?” Ryan asked.

“Yep,” the radio guy said.

“Somehow creepier than if there was a murderous ghost haunting this place,” Ryan said.

“Okay. So you explained how you did everything but how did you get the candle to light?” Dominic asked.

“Candle?” the radio guy was confused.

Ryan and MaryJane looked at each other.

“I looked all over that candle and couldn’t find any way to light it from a distance. How’d you do it?”

“Candle? We didn’t do anything to candles or lights. It was too expensive,” the radio guy said.

“Seriously?” Dominic got up. “Feets don’t fail me now.” Dominic took off out the door.

“What’s this about a candle?” the radio guy asked Ryan and MaryJane.

“He thinks there was a candle that lit itself,” MaryJane said.

“MaryJane lit it with her lighter while Dominic’s back was turned,” Ryan laughed. “So we just let him believe something supernatural lit it.”

The radio guy laughed. “Are you going to tell him?”

Ryan and MaryJane looked at each other again. “No,” they said in unison.

“He’s needs to be knocked down a couple of pegs anyway. He’s been absolutely terrible since that whole Ryan’s car was trying to kill him thing,” MaryJane said. ▩