Some people swore that the house was haunted. And they were right. Not because of the cold spots, or the creaking floor boards, or even the soft weeping in the back bedroom. All that was just a gimmick dreamed up by Jack (who owned the house) to drum up business for his motel and diner down the street. His son Joe—a born geek—had rigged up the spooky effects back when he was only ten. Joe had done a great job, and gotten the house listed in half a dozen haunted house guide books. The story (or stories) grew and there were now no less than three separate legends: the unmarried pregnant girl who had leapt into the ravine in 1873, the mother who had pined away after losing six sons in World War I and (Jack’s personal favorite) the mad scientist who had poisoned himself with radium trying to raise his son from the dead. There was a local amateur psychical research society that met annually in the motel to tour the house and argue over chicken-fried steak (a Jack’s Place specialty) about which theory was the most likely. Joe (now fully grown and easily recognizable among geeks as a kindred spirit) liked to sit in on their discussions. Afterwards he would tinker with his special effects to accommodate their expectations. The real reason the house was haunted was the body buried in the basement, as Jack would have realized if he believed in ghosts. After all, he had buried the body there himself. What he didn’t know was that there had already been another body buried in the basement when he did it, but since he didn’t believe in ghosts anyway he wouldn’t have cared. Sometimes, when Jack had been drinking, he remembered burying his father’s body. He didn’t remember finding it, or even knowing how it got there. He just had a mental snapshot of his father lying there in the basement dead. Jack sincerely hoped he hadn’t killed him—Dad had been an okay guy. Maybe it had just been a heart attack? But why had he buried him in the basement? Why not call the police and hold a regular funeral? Jack just couldn’t remember. So he drank until he passed out, and after that was careful not to drink so much. Or think so much. Or go down in the basement. But Joe went down in the basement a lot. He had a secret room there for his electronic equipment. He’d managed to rig up the door to look like dusty shelves on a plaster wall. Eventually, while he was screwing around, he had an accident, and yelled for Jack. When Jack came down he saw a big hole in the floor where the concrete had caved in. Jack’s father rose out of the hole. “I can’t rest!” wailed Jack’s father. Jack fell back, sweating and clutching his chest with a numb arm. Joe turned almost as pale as Jack’s father. “This can’t be happening! There’s no such thing as ghosts.” Then he looked at Jack. “Oh, my God, Dad’s dying! No, he’s dead!” “No, I’m not,” said Jack, but nobody heard. “My father, killed by a ghost!” sobbed Joe. “How do I explain that to the police?” “You can’t,” said Jack’s father. “So put him in here with me. I need the company. I can’t rest. Besides, it’s only fair. It’s what he did to me.” So that was what Joe did. And for Joe, life went on pretty much as normal, except for maybe a bit of extra drinking. But for Jack? Nothing was ever the same again after that. The End
About the Author Michaele Jordan was born in LA, educated in New York, and lives in Cincinnati. She's worked at a kennel, a Hebrew School, and AT&T. Now she writes, supervised by a long-suffering husband and two domineering cats. She has published three novels—Blade Light, Mirror Maze, and Still Life with Spaceships—and has numerous stories scattered around the web. Her website, www.michaelejordan.com, is undergoing reconstruction, but just grab a hard hat, and come on in.
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