The House on Linden Street by J. Paré

My older brother David and I were walking home from baseball practice Friday night. It was getting dark, and the streetlights had just turned on. Dad had told us to be home before the lights had a chance of thinking about going on, but baseball practice ran late. David said we’d better take the old shortcut down through to Linden Street, even though I was too young to be going through the woods.

“It’s a chance we’ll have to take. You don’t want Dad to get mad, do you?” David walked ahead of me.

Agreeing with him, I ran to grab his hand, and we went through the narrow path that led through the woods. I was only seven at the time, and to a seven-year-old, the woods got awfully scary after dark. We didn’t talk much through most of our walk. The wind blew between the branches and the twigs and leaves crunched under our feet. The darkness was getting worse by the minute, making it harder for us to see the path. Also, the brush that surrounded us grew thicker and thicker until we could barely walk.

We almost gave up, but the trail gave way to a field that had a house sitting right in the middle of it. The place looked awkward being in the woods. It kind of looked ancient, creepy, and weather-worn. Many of the shingles had fallen off or were in serious need of repair, and quite a few of the windows appeared broken. Many of them were so dirty that light would not shine through them.

“I wonder who lives there. Do you think anyone’s home?” David asked in a whisper.

I looked up at my brother, and he had that look on his face again, the one that said, “Come on, Joey, be a sport and do as I tell you, or I’ll break your face!” Reluctantly, I followed him to the front door, which was all boarded up. David turned around to me and asked if I was afraid of ghosts.

“Why do you want to know that?” I asked suspiciously.

“Oh, I don’t know. I just heard some stories.”

“What stories?” I asked, my voice rising steadily above a whisper.

“Shhh…do you want to wake up, old man Fitch?”

“Who?” I asked.

“Old man Fitch. He went crazy and killed his whole family, and then no one ever saw him again.”

Just then, a light went on in the basement. We could see it through the tiny window near the foundation of the house. “Oh, jeez David, let’s get out of here.”

“No, wait. Come on, let’s look in the window and see who it is,” David pleaded, but I just stood there shaking my head no.

He ran towards the window, and I followed him partly out of fear and partly because I was almost as curious as he was. Who would be hanging around in an old boarded-up house, anyway?

David got to the window before I did, and he just sat there with his mouth wide open. When I reached him, he flew to his feet and ran past me, nearly knocking me over.

“Wait for me, you fool!” I screamed as I started running after him.

We had reached the end of the path that led to Linden Street, and David and I stopped to catch our breath.

“What was in there?” I asked.

“It was nothing. Just some old guy, that’s all.”

“What old guy?”

“Shut up and let’s get going. I’ll tell you on the way home.”

As we walked towards our house, David told me about the old guy.

“He was huge and looked mean as hell.”

You could tell when my brother was making things seem scarier than they were because he tried to emphasize all the details by using arm and facial gestures. “He was holding a shovel and digging a hole in the basement floor. All I could see was a pair of legs sticking out of the hole, and before I took off, he looked right at me.”

“Holy crap! What are we going to do if he comes looking for us?”

David shrugged and gave me a weird look, then nudged me with his fist, sending me into a tree. “Shut up. I’m trying to think.”

We walked a little further down the street, then David stopped. “I got it!”

“Got what?”

“We’ll go back down there tomorrow after practice to check that guy out again.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “If you want to go back, then you can go yourself. Leave me out of it.”

“What are you…a wimp?”

I told David I would tell Mom if he brought me down there again.

“If you do tell, I’ll kick your ass.”

That was enough for me. I was going whether or not I liked it. I knew my brother was serious when he had that wild look in his eyes.


That Saturday, we went back. The creepy old house seemed even scarier in the daylight, if that was possible. It was a big house with those two windows in the attic, the kind that seem to stare at you. There was an empty dirt driveway leading around back.

David said something like, “Not home,” under his breath, and as he walked toward the back door, I could tell he was planning on breaking in.

I whispered as loud as possible, “What are you doing? You’re going to get us both caught.”

“Nah, the old man will be gone for hours.”

I wondered how he knew that, but fear kept me from staying outside alone. I followed him through the unlocked door and into the house. David tried the lights, but they didn’t turn on. It looked like the old man used gas lamps to get around; there were several of them placed strategically around the house. Any light that shone through the windows was a blessing. I almost squealed when I ran into David, who had stopped short in front of me.

“We should get out of here,” he said in a tone that made me scared.

I peeked into the room in front of him. The space was empty except for five candles melted to the floor around the points of a pentagram drawn in white chalk in the room’s center. In the middle of the pentagram was a bloody outline of a body. It might have been the same body David had seen being buried the night before in the basement, and as the thought entered my mind, a truck pulled into the driveway.

“Crap!” exclaimed David. “Hide.”

There wasn’t anywhere to hide. The rooms were barren, and as I frantically scoured the rooms, I saw David climbing into one of the kitchen cupboards. Without a second thought, I ran toward my brother and climbed into the cupboard next to him right before the kitchen door opened. As I peered through the crack in the cupboard door, I prayed that my heavy breathing wouldn’t give me away. The back door shut, and David cupped his hands over my mouth to stifle my panting. I almost screamed when he grabbed me, but the man who walked into the house put cold shivers down my spine, and I froze.

The man was very old and at least six-and-a-half feet tall, with wild eyes and an unkempt beard. His denim jacket was torn at the sleeves, and he had what looked like mud and red paint on his sneakers, though I kind of knew it was blood. The old man started humming as he lit the gas lamp on the floor next to the back door, then walked into the room where the pentagram was. He was chanting in some language I didn’t recognize. Bending over, he collected the five candles and threw them into the middle of the pentagram.

I strained to see what he did next, but he was out of eyeshot. When his cell phone rang, I was startled and almost whimpered, but I looked at David, who was looking back at me with his index finger pressed up against his lips.

The old man started talking about the “hidden package,” then his voice raised to a scream as he started shouting in that strange language. As he hung up the phone, he screamed obscenities and ran outside.

I was about to get out of the cupboard when David grabbed my arm hard. I whimpered, and he put his index finger to his mouth again, whispering, “He hasn’t driven out of here yet.”

Just then, the truck door slammed shut, and I went to get out again, but David only held my arm tighter.

The man came back in, this time carrying a shovel. As he stalked through the house, three other cars pulled into the driveway. The old man made his way to the stairs going down to the basement, bringing the shovel with him as quite a few other people entered the house. There were three men and two women who looked equally as old as the man in the basement. Everyone was talking in that strange language. The last person who walked into the house was carrying a leather bag with two handles. She had long hair, and her face was all wrinkly, but that wasn’t what made me scared. It was the wild look in her colorless eyes that did it. It was the same wild look that the old man in the basement had.

Two of the men went down the creaky stairs, and I heard them talking as the other man who’d stayed with the women went outside saying, “I’ll go get the offering. Hopefully, it will work this time.”

My mind raced. What offering?

The two women chanted and pulled things I couldn’t see from a black pouch. They were placing the stuff inside the circle drawn on the floor when the man came back in with a large burlap bag that I knew was another body.

I almost threw up.

The man replaced the candles and lit them. The sack was wriggling all around, and I thought I could hear muffled cries beneath the cloth. Just then, the old man came up the stairs panting. His partners followed him with the other body, and as the men brushed the dirt from their pants, the women took the dead body and placed it back in the middle of the pentagram, right over the bloodstains.

When they opened the burlap bag, I could see the person inside struggling to be set free. The woman, not much older than David, was pleading with the people to let her go. Everyone laughed in unison, and then one of the women spoke to the others in that strange language. Everyone laughed again. Two of the men pulled the girl to her feet, holding her head over the pentagram. One of the women took what looked to be a pewter goblet with symbols scribbled over it and placed it under the girl’s neck as the other woman slit the girl’s throat.

Everyone started chanting feverously, then the candle lights dimmed and flickered out on their own, even though there wasn’t any wind blowing in the house. One of the men relit the lantern. No one spoke a word. They just cleaned the room and left.

The old man who’d carried the dead body up the basement stairs had followed one of the other men back downstairs. Each of them was carrying a dead body on their shoulders.

When everyone was gone, David and I got out of there as quickly as possible. I didn’t know if we should have told the police or not. David said it was better to shut up about it.

I pleaded, “Shouldn’t we at least tell the cops that there are two bodies buried in the basement?”

“No, we shouldn’t. That was black magic. Do you want to be the next victim?”

I shut my mouth and walked down Linden Street with my hands shoved deep into my pockets. I did what David told me, but I didn’t sleep well that night.


The next day I went grocery shopping with my mom, and she let me drive the grocery cart. As I sped around the corner into the meat aisle, I ran right into one of the creepy old guys from the abandoned house.

He stared down at me, and I screamed.

Mom looked at me as if I had three heads.

The man grabbed my wrist, chanting. He had closed his eyes as he spoke that crazy language. Then he raised his head and shook it, put his finger out, and waved it back and forth as if to tell me I’d done something terrible.

I swallowed hard and blinked up at him fearfully.

I didn’t know how much trouble I was in until two days later when funny things started to happen. At first, I thought it was a coincidence, but David was having funny things happen to him as well.

There was a dead black cat stuck to our front door with a dagger. At school, books flew off their shelves in the library at David as he walked past them, and the spokes on my bicycle wheels crushed in on me as I rode home. Other stuff happened, like lights turning on and off on their own. Even the television turned on in the living room while everyone was asleep. I didn’t know what to do, so I talked to David about it. He just passed it off as a fluke, but I knew we were cursed. I knew we shouldn’t have gone into that creepy old house, and I knew I shouldn’t have reacted that way at the supermarket.

The next night, I had a dream about the old man from the supermarket. In the dream, he had opened a portal to hell. He laughed as he turned his head to stare at me. The dream was so vivid that I thought it was really happening, and when the man reached out to grab my arm, I screamed.

When I woke, I noticed my arm was hurting. It was the same arm the man had grabbed hold of in my dream. I pulled up my pajama sleeve to take a look and found a bruise in the shape of a handprint. It took me quite a while to fall back to sleep again, and when I did, I dreamed David got dragged into the blackness of that malevolent pentagram. His body had burned up as he scrambled helplessly, trying to keep from falling into the void. I woke screaming again and ran to see if David was okay, but all I found as I lifted his bedsheets was a burned outline where his body had been.

Mom and Dad questioned me, but I said nothing. I hoped that if I didn’t talk about it, things would go back to normal. They didn’t. Three weeks went by, and I was still having nightmares. Mom would come into the room to check on me, but I wouldn’t tell her what had happened.

The police were baffled. They couldn’t figure out what happened to David, and since I was sleeping in the same room when David disappeared, I was asked a lot of questions.

Eventually, the police had given up, but the nightmares weren’t going away. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided to tell Mom and Dad everything.

Mom and Dad wanted me to take them to the house, but as our car pulled into the dirt driveway, there was no house to be found, just an empty field. I got punished for telling them what they thought was a lie, but I suspected black magic was involved.

The next night, I took Mom’s camera to the house. I was hoping it would be there when I went alone. Sure enough, the house seemed to be staring at me with evil coursing through every pane of glass and piece of wood that held the place together. I took picture after picture of the house. I even got the nerve up to go back inside, seeing as there wasn’t any light showing through the windows and the driveway was empty. The inside seemed even creepier this time. I assumed it was because I was alone. The pentagram was still there, and I took a ton of pictures of that too.

Hurrying, I closed the door behind me and scrambled home, hoping the evidence from my pictures would be good enough. When Mom pulled the pictures up on her computer, though, there were only pictures of that creepy field. The images that I took from inside the house showed a graveyard where the pentagram had been. There were only two gravestones, and they had the names of two people that supposedly died a hundred years ago. Mom and Dad got mad at me again, and this time I got beat with Dad’s belt. I decided that there wasn’t any way out of the nightmares, and finding the place with anyone but myself was hopeless. I figured the only way out of this horrible situation was to let the old man do with me what he wanted.

That night I had another dream, but instead of running, I allowed him to pull me into the abyss in the center of the evil-looking pentagram. It was over, and as I took my last breath, I looked up to see the old man laughing with wild, colorless eyes.

Picture of J. Paré

J. Paré

J. Paré has lived most of his life in Coventry, Rhode Island with his wife, Patricia and his two children. He is a self-published author who has been writing since he was sixteen years old. His short fiction has appeared in All Roads Magazine, Collective Tales Publishing, and The Stygian Lepus Magazine.

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