submitted by Drew Spevak of the Pottsville Open Writers Group
A Far, Simpler Fate
One dark rural Ohio night, the low hum of car tires filled the ears of its college age passengers. As Darryl's Ford Escort carried he and his ex-roommate along the quiet roads that divided the cornfields near the Indiana border, Lyle's flashlight, poised over his notes, cast a dull glare on the dried stalks nearby.
"Dude," Darryl spoke. "Do you know where you're even going?"
"Kinda. I know this is the right road. My buddy told me to look for the wide, old tree at the intersection that had grown around part of a fence. Then, head North," Lyle said.
"How do you even know where North is?" Darryl replied.
"Man, it's Ohio. Everything's a grid. If you know where Lake Erie is, you always can find your way around." Lyle said. "Wait," Lyle quickly added, "pull into that driveway. I think this is it."
"Cool. Is this the place that's haunted with that ghost of a crazy lady?" Darryl asked.
"The story goes that she was taken to a windowless room in their basement and sealed her in." Lyle said. "She allegedly had lost her grip with reality, but if not, I bet she did being locked up like that."
"Well, grab the backpack and I can check the flashlights." Darryl said. "Let go find ourselves a ghost. Do you have the camera?"
"Yep, Let's go around back to see if there's a subtle way in." Lyle said.
Darryl and Lyle slowly made their way through the darkness. Their eyes still adjusting to the now-absent headlights. Darryl paused a moment, wondering if they should hide the car, but then changed his mind. No one would be wandering by a place this isolated, he thought. We'll be out of here by morning. Two rusted metal doors angled towards the basement lay at the back of the old farmhouse. Lyle stood before the doors a moment to rethink his next move.
"Are you sure you wanna go in?" Lyle asked. "This place looks pretty run down. We could get hurt."
"We'll be fine. If one of us gets hurt, the other can go for help." Darryl said. His thought lingered on the possibility of being alone and injured in this house, shuddered then chose to appear somewhat bolder than his friend. "Let's do this." Flashlight beam pierced the night but we soon absorbed by the basement darkness.
Dry, dusty air mixed with a slight heavy smell of oil filled the boys nostils as they descended down the concrete stairs inside. A thick layer of dust shown that it had been some time since anyone else had passed through this home. Lyle noticed some finger and handprints on the workbench on the far wall, but even dust had filled them. Remnants strewn around the basement gave glimpses into the lives there before them. Bicycle rims, old tools, unused lathing strips, old metal toys hung from the ceiling but the floor - other than dust - was uncluttered. As the sound of the wind caused a disconcerting buzz outside the house, the young men were startled and looked briefly towards the sound. Recognizing it, went back to their exploration.
"I think I found it. Over here." Darryl whispered loudly."This part of the wall looks different from what's around it."
"All right. What do you want me to do?" Lyle asked. "I haven't seen much of anything particularly scary. Should I find some chains to rattle. Maybe moan a bit."
"How about you find something that can help me break through this wall, Captain Obvious?" Darryl replied. "Let's see if we can wake the spirits and get some photos. Anyway, didja find anything?"
"Just a couple of crowbars." Lyle said. "We might be able to get through the block, especially if it's old."
The gentle taps of metal on concrete were soon traded for loud rings of hardened steel. Their eagerness focused so strongly on tearing down the wall, they failed to notice the ceiling above them weakening as the basement was being compromised. Large chunks of the wall, appearing as quick progress, soon changed the message to impending doom. The metal clangs were silenced by a large crash, low rumble then the gentle hiss of dust settling on the partially collapse basement. The night soon returned to its regular orchestra of noises that included the ocean-tide like pattern of the cornfield stalks in the wind.
The morning sunlight diluted the daunting presence of the house once again. The empty car sat at the end of the driveway, eventually catching the eye of a local policemen on patrol. Calls had come in the night before of a burst of noise, but a quick drive around town the night before yielded no obvious answers. There were no reports or eyewitnesses in town for any disruptions, so Officer Dalton would follow up in the morning. As he pulled into the drive behind the abandoned car, he called in the license plate. He made a quick check of the property and eventually found the remains of the young men. He returned to his car to call the coroner, although this looked like a clear case of trespassing gone awry. He had pulled what had obviously been a backpack that had belonged to one of the men. His curiosity drew him to look for some specific reason to explain what happened. The coroner, just then, pulled into the driveway.
"What's up, Mike." Officer Dalton asked. "Looks like we have two dead bodies in the basement. It's gonna take some time to clear, but we should be able to get them out. Looks like the part that's still standing should be o.k. for now."
"This isn't the old Treskow home, is it?" Mike asked. "The one that was supposed to be haunted, was it? I thought that had been torn down a few years ago. It was nearby, if I remember correctly."
"Yep. You got that right." Officer Dalton said. "I was trying to figure out what happened here. After all, I have to track down these kids' parents to let them know what happened." Officer Dalton said, grimacing at the thought of breaking such news. "The sad thing is that, this isn't the house they probably thought it was. This house wasn't haunted, as far as I know. These guys were lookin' for a supernatural thrill and got something a lot more natural than they bargained for."
"That's just sad." Mike said. "Well, I suppose we could call in my brother who's in the construction business to take a look at the structure before we go in. Let's check the barn to see if there are any shovels to start gettin’ them boys out."