William M. O'Brien, Jr.

Jennifer Bobbs and Rachel Laxon sat on the top step of the old cement stairs leading to the large fishpond in the middle of the Library Park. They had been in the old library building across from the park, going over old accounts of ghosts in the Harrisburg area from many years ago.

The research had been interesting so the two had enjoyed their work which had stretched into almost four hours. Now, the two sat on the steps and contemplated what they were going to do for fun that evening.

“I feel like about three, maybe four, beers,” Jennifer declared, off “the top of her head.”

“I feel like a couple of shots,” Rachel replied and laughed. “Of Jägermeister.”

“And you’ll be drunk on your ass.”

Both girls laughed while a jeep carrying Jas Roundtree drove up to the nearby curb.

He stood up in the jeep and hollered,” Hey Ladies, what do we do long about quitting time?”

The two girls convulsed. “What…What do you recommend?” Jennifer barely sputtered through the laughter.

Jas hopped down from his jeep and came around the front and stepped up on the curb.

“I’m thinking a cold one, or maybe a few more.” He grinned and held up ten fingers. “Or maybe this many.”

“That sounds soooo good.” Rachel slowly rose from her perch on the curb. “What do you have in mind, big man?”

“I’m thinkin’ we need to go down by the river to Allenby’s, you know the place that’s mostly hidden by trees.” Jas stepped up to the two girls. “I can drive us down there.”

“Yeah, and your jeep’s cool,” replied Rachel, grinning. “And whoever winds up the most sober can drive us back up here.”

“Sounds fair enough.” Jas turned and headed toward the driver’s seat. “Hop in, Ladies,” he hollered over his shoulder.

Later, at Allenby’s, Jas picked up a pitcher of beer and poured three glass fulls to the top.

“This will last us a couple of minutes, at least,” he murmured. “Boy, do I need this.”

“Wow, we’ve just been working our asses off in the library,” Jennifer laughed. “What have you been doing?”

“Oh, wow.” Jas whispered. “Jack Torrenz, Bill Goodman, and I spent most of the day out at old man Greenhow’s place clearing away crap from his barn and house.”

“Hey Jas, that’s not Mr. Greenhow, from our high school. Taught math?” Jennifer leaned over the table.

“That’s the man. It seems he’s been in the hospital most of the time since he retired, and his place just let go.”

“Oh, no. That’s too bad.” Jennifer reached up and scratched the side of her face. “I had him for calculus senior year.”

“I had him for probabilities,” Rachel chimed in. “Is he in bad shape?”

“Hell, no,” Jas laughed. “He and some woman are in Europe right now and he sent word to my dad’s office that he needed someone to fix up his place.” Jas took a deep draught and then poured another.

“Apparently, he got over whatever shit he had and then took off. It must be nice to have the money”

“On a teacher’s salary,” Jennifer replied.

“He got the money somewhere.” Jas took a deep breath, another deep draught and settled back in his chair. “How are things at Benton State?”

“Busy,” Jennifer replied in a louder voice. “I can’t believe that place used to be a vocational school.”

“They’re trying to rival the damned universities with their curriculum,” Rachel added. “Holy shit!”

“Right now we’re working on a project concerning local color,” Jennifer took another sip. “Four to Six thousand words, for God’s sake.”

“Yeah, we picked ghosts.” Rachel laughed. “We haven’t found a hell of a lot on it.”

“Yeah, most of the stuff we found was about the Abel farm outside the city,” Jennifer poured another beer. “And we can’t use that shit.”

“Why?” Jas gave Jennifer a puzzled look.

“Because the material has to do with the city proper.”

Jas sat back in his chair and took a deep draught, then sat back up. “I don’t know why there isn’t much on the city because the area you two were working in all today is full of ghosts.”

“Yeah,” Rachel suddenly perked up. “All those old houses down there.”

Jas poured another beer. “You bet. Why, the old Cervantes place just behind the library is one of the most haunted places in the state.”

“No shit?” Jennifer suddenly sat up and glanced at Rachel. “Where did you see that?”

“In the paper about a week ago.” Jas looked at each girl in turn. “They had a listing of the most haunted places in the state.”

“The Cervantes place,” Jennifer replied. “I’ve heard of that.”

“Yeah,” Jas took another drink. “There’s been murders, suicides, abandoned children, the whole bit.”

Rachel turned to Jennifer. “That sounds like what we need.” She gushed. “Instead of all this research shit, we go to a real place. A haunted place known to all.”

“Yeah. Firsthand knowledge.” Jennifer laughed, looking from Rachel to Jas.

“And I happen to know there’s nobody there,” Jas added. “it’s been empty since…since last March, I think.”

“Then how do we get in?” Jennifer suddenly became serious. She couldn’t afford another brush with the police.

“There’s a window in the back that’s loose.” Jas laughed. “All we need to do is lift it up and go in.”

“How do you know all this shit, Jas?” Rachel became dead serious. “We get busted and my scholarship goes down the drain, and Jenn gets her ass in jail.”

“Everything’s cool. I swear to God

The two girls looked from one to the other. It certainly seemed like a good idea. A legitimate experience in a real haunted house.

An hour later found the three of them carefully removing the window covering from a rear window of the former Certantes mansion and setting it carefully behind a large bush nearby.

Then Jas, climbed into the window, followed by Jennifer, then Rachel.

“My God, look at all this furniture,” Jennifer offered, casting a flashlight beam around the room.

“Yeah, but I can guarantee that no one is living here.” Jas whispered in the darkness.

When all had passed through the window, they proceeded toward the hall and the main staircase. When they entered the hall, they found that they seemed to be in an enclosed space, a closet instead of the main hall.

“This is a closet, damn it,” Jennifer whispered over her shoulder. She was feeling along a wall, looking for a closed door.

“Let’s go back to that room where we climbed in the window,” Jas spoke loud enough for both girls to hear him.

However, when they turned to retrace the few steps to the aforementioned room, they found that the door they entered seemed to be the only door in the room.

“This is crazy as shit,” Jas complained, standing at the window through which they had entered the house.

“Jason, can’t we turn a light on,” Rachel felt along the wall by the door for a light switch.

Jas shined his flashlight beam around the walls. In a corner across the room appeared a door.

“There’s the door to the hall,” Jas announced, holding his beam on the door. “There doesn’t seem to be any light switches, though.”

Jennifer rose and hurried to the door. She tried a knob and then tried to pull the door open. “Shit! It’s locked. This is the door we just came back in.”

“No, it isn’t, Jen.” Rachel added. “That door is just behind me.”

Jas suddenly rose and hurried across the room to the closed door, open folding knife in his hand. “Let me try this,” he said, over his shoulder.

With very little effort he forced the lock open by forcing the tongue back into the door. The door popped open on its own accord. “See what happens when you know what you’re doing, ladies.” He crowed, knocking the door completely open.

They found the main staircase almost immediately, a wide staircase almost inviting the three to come upstairs. Two large nudes crowned the staircase posts.

Jas grabbed one of these and hugged himself to it. “What do you think, ladies. Do you think she’ll let me do it?” He started to laugh but immediately, from out of nowhere, he received a sharp blow to the back of his head. He let go of the statue and fell heavily at the bottom of the staircase.

“What the Hell…” Jennifer ran to the fallen Jas, Rachel just behind her.

“What the Hell hit me?”

“You backed into the statue, you dope,” Jennifer knelt beside Jas.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have drunk that much beer,” Rachel admonished.

“Something knocked the shit out of me.” Jas struggled painfully to his feet.

The enormity of their present surroundings overpowered the limited range of their flashlights. Were they to go down the hall to the first floor rooms or upstairs to the second floor rooms or even the areas on the third floor. And the temperature…

“Hey, I’m freezing my ass off,” Jennifer complained. “It’s like a meat locker in here.”

“It should be hotter in here than outside,” Rachel ran a flashlight down the hall in front of her. “There must be an AC in here that someone keeps on all the time.”

Jas, still smarting from the blow to his head, started off down the hall. “No one is here. No one has been here in years,” he said over his shoulder. “And you’re right. It should be as hot in here as it is outside.”

They decided to go down the hall to what they surmised was a parlor or a kitchen. There, they could start their investigation and work their way up. Off the hall, however, they found not only a large parlor but a cloakroom. Also, there were two small rooms off the hall to their left. These they figured were small guest rooms so they left them closed up,

In the parlor, however, they sank into the soft lounge chairs and then a soft couch large enough to hold all three of them. On this the three settled quite comfortably.

“I could sleep on this all night,” Jennifer declared. “It’s a hell of a lot more comfortable than my bed.”

She rose to reach an ash tray she spotted on an end table, but in the act, she received a hard pinch on her left buttock.,

“Ouch, damn it.” She hollered. “Why’d you pinch me, Rachel.”

“I didn’t touch you.” The puzzled girl looked from Jennifer to Jason.

“Someone pinched me on my rear end and it hurts.” Jennifer sat, still angry, and scooted away from her friend as far as she could.

But then something pushed Jennifer off the couch and onto the floor.

“Holy shit! Who pushed me?” the girl screamed.

Jason and Rachel stood up, their eyes wide and staring.

“Shit, we’ve got a damned ghost here,” Jason offered his hand to Jennifer, still on the floor.

“My God, I think you’re right.” Rachel helped her friend to her feet and then hugged herself and looked around.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jason turned and started back the way they came, followed by the two girls.

But the hall they followed led to another room, not the staircase.

“We must be going the wrong way,” Jason exclaimed, loud enough to echo throughout the house.

“This is the hall we came into from the window,” Rachel replied. “I swear to God it is.”

“Let’s go back the other way.” Jennifer turned and started back the way they came.

But they came to another room.

“What the hell is this room?” Jennifer was almost in tears.

“And there are no windows in this hall,” Jason flashed his light up and down the hall. “This couldn’t be the way we came in.”

“This must be an inside hall.” Rachel turned and put her arm around her friend. “Somehow we’ve gotten to the other side of the house.”

The three of them entered the room. Rachel tried the light switch but it didn’t come on.

“This is weird,” Jason muttered, loud enough for the girls to hear. “There’s not even a window in this room.”

“God Jas, look,” Rachel grabbed Jason’s jacket. “These aren’t pictures on the wall. Just empty frames.”
“This…this is like a fun house at the amusement park.”

Jennifer sat down on a couch. “This is comfortable, nice and soft.” She ran her hand over the edge of the couch. Then she lay back and put her hands behind her head. “I’m thinking about spending the night right here. In fact, I’m…”

Suddenly she was trying to move but seemed frozen in place.

“My God, I can’t move,” she screamed. “Help. Help. Something’s pressing on me and I can’t move.”

Her two friends suddenly realized their friend was in real peril and both raced to the couch. But neither of them could put their hands on anything that was pressing their friend. They could see her body pressed solidly into the couch.

“This is crazy!” Jason shouted. “I can’t feel anything.”

“Oh shit!” Jason I can’t feel anything. She tried to lay her hands on her friend but couldn’t. Her hands slipped, like her hands had tried to grip ice.

“Now Jennifer began to groan and cry from the bottom of her voice. More and more she was pressed as her two friends could see her entire body caving in.

Then they began to hear her bones begin to break and suddenly, a stream of blood issued from her mouth.

Jennifer gave out one last grown and then, lay still, her eyes wide open.

“Oh, my God, she’s dead!” Rachel screamed and jumped up and down, wringing her hands. She turned to Jason. “She’s dead! She’s dead!”

Jason, tears streaming down his face, tried to calm Rachel as well as he could. “I know she’s dead, Rach! And we’ve got to get out of here.”

“Now, Rachel collapsed in his arms, sobbing uncontrollably.”

Jason, though, could feel utter peril. He could feel incredible danger around him. He clasped the girl tightly to him and moved down the hall in search of a room that had a window.

But he was halted, suddenly, by hot breath blowing in his face, coming from something unseen just before him. He could even hear the thing before him breathing.

The invisible horror before him reached out and grabbed Rachel by her hair.

The girl screamed and began flailing her arms through the air attempting to knock whatever had her away. But to no avail.

Whatever was holding her lifted her from the floor and then crushed her with invisible arms. Rachel dropped to the floor.

At the point Jason screamed. And then screamed again. He turned and headed, as fast as his legs could carry him, down the long hall, in the hopes of finding an avenue of escape.

He did not find any escape route. Instead, he found himself in a large room with a fireplace that was filled with a large, flaming fire.

Completely apprehensive of his surroundings, he grabbed a nearby hat stand and began thrashing the air around him with it. In just a few minutes, he found himself up against the wall near the fireplace.

Holding the hat tree firmly with both hands in front of him, he stood perfectly skill and awaited what would come next.

When nothing happened, he yelled. “I want out of here, damn it! Out of here, did you hear me!” His shouts echoed through an empty house.

Still, Jason stood, ready with the hat tree, up against the wall. He knew that whatever killed the two girls was in that room with him, but all he had for defense was an old hat tree that should be in an antique shop. But what other weapon was there?

Still, he stood against that wall, the tree ready in his hand.

Looking around, he found, in a far wall, a large window that looked to the outside. He could tell it was an outside window because he could barely see a tree a few paces back from it.

His only chance now occurred to him. With the hat tree held tightly in front, he would smash the window and go, headfirst, through it.

Looking around the deserted room and trying to feel something, anything, that might prevent his plan of escape, he found nothing.

Finally, determined, he took off across the room, the hat tree held tightly out in front of him. He struck the window and it shattered, now to throw himself through it.

With just a small jump he propelled himself through the window, but something stopped him with only his head through the window.

Suspended in air for only a few seconds, he felt a brute force jam his head and neck down on shattered glass. Jason’s neck was cut almost all the way through.

He hung there, bleeding, and losing consciousness.

Two hours later, daylight appeared on the old Cervantes place, Large, dark, and foreboding, it stood just a stone’s throw from the public library. But the secrets it held would never be found in any library. And neither would the three latest victims.

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