01 Feb I Used to Think that Ghosts don’t Exist
It all started a month ago when we went into that God damned house. We all grew up being told that that house was, evil, forsaken, touched by the Devil’s hand, or whatever other synonyms for bad juju you can think of.
I guess we’re just dumb kids because one month ago today we decided that we would finally go to the old Combes mansion. What in God’s name would compel a group of three nineteen-year-old guys to do this? I don’t know…call it skepticism, or maybe a macabre curiosity.
You see, we never really believed the stories that we heard about the house that we all heard while growing up. You know, the stories of abuse and rituals that allegedly went on in that place. But we had to see it for ourselves, just to prove that it wasn’t true.
I wish now, more than anything, that we hadn’t.
A month ago, on a clammy, overcast night I sat around a bonfire in the backyard of my parent’s house with my two childhood best friends, Alex and Phil. We were enjoying a few beers and telling college stories since we all went to different campuses, but we were all home for Spring break. It seemed like the thing to do. Alex was telling a story about a fling that he had had before coming home for Spring break. He said he broke it off because she was into some kind of “witch shit”.
Phil and I laughed at this absurd story that he was telling. “A witch? Yeah right man” Phil said.
Alex responded by saying that she was crazy. Allegedly, she had sacrificed a dog to Satan before. “We all know that witchcraft garbage is a hoax. Just scary stories that our parents told us to make us behave when we were five.”
Alex quipped back by saying “That’s bullshit man, do you remember the old Combes house? The one that we were always told to stay away from as kids? That place still gives me the creeps!”
Phil replied “What? The witch house? This is why you got bullied in high school” while laughing obnoxiously.
I could sense the agitation between my friends at this point, so I said: “Well if it will shut you two up, why don’t we go check out the house?”
Phil replies immediately with “Dude, hell yeah!” and pulled out the keys to his Subaru.
At this point Alex looked concerned, all color draining from his face. He weakly said, “You know guys, it’s getting late, I think I’m going to go home.”
“You’re such a girl!” Phil exclaimed loudly “Dude come on, why are you being such a bitch?”
I rolled my eyes, Phil is always such a clown.
“Fuck you, man” Alex exclaimed, in an annoyed voice. “I’ll go to the stupid house”
After a few minutes, we all piled into Phil’s car, throwing a twelve-pack in the back seat for good measure. We drove for what seemed like an eternity, even though it was only about a twenty-minute drive. Naturally, we drank the entire time.
The old Combes’ house was only thirteen miles from town, and it was allegedly haunted by the ghost of a long-dead family member, who was rumored to be a witch back in the day. As we drove it got darker the further we got from the street lights. It also got quieter the closer we got to the house. Eventually, all we heard was the rattle of the old car going down the back road.
Finally, we got to the house and began driving up the long, crumbling cobblestone driveway. The driveway seemed to go on for a mile, but maybe that was just because we had to go two miles per hour to not blow out a tire. The driveway was shrouded in trees, half-dead from the Winter that had just ended.
“Yo Phil, why is your car such a piece of shit?” Alex yelled from the backseat
“It’s better than yours, bicycle boy.” Phil retorted.
Then we saw it, the house. The depressing looking stone and log structure stood two stories tall. Most of the windows had been broken, and half of the roof was caved in on account of the large tree sitting on the roof.
“Dude…let’s..uh.. turn around,” Alex said in a nervous tone, his voice cracking slightly. I was silently thinking the same thing when Phil let out a cry of “That driveway was about eighty miles long, and I almost lost a tire about four times, I’m not leaving until I see a witch!”
I told Phil “Eleanor Combes has been dead for almost a hundred years, dumbass. Don’t you remember any of the stories that our parents told us?”
Phil responded with a snarky attitude, “She’s a ghost, dumbass”
We finally parked the car and began the trek up to the house. It’s pitch black outside, the only illumination came from our cell phones. We could hear the gravel crunch under our feet when suddenly Phil let out a shrill sounding yell “Ow! I twisted my ankle!”
I turned to look at him and saw that he was fine
“You’re being a baby. Come on, let’s get this over with.” I said in a short tone
As we approached the front door, which was caved in almost completely, a chill shot down my spine. But, like any self-respecting college-aged guy, I ignored this feeling, not wanting to be called a bitch by Phil yet again.
We had to climb through the caved-in door and when we got in we were immediately faced with a shroud of blackness.
“I can’t see shit!” Alex said.
“Hold on, I have a flashlight on my phone,” I said as I pulled out my phone and turned on my light.
The others all did the same
“Holy shit, how long has this place been abandoned?” Phil said as he moved his light across the room, illuminating a dusty, moldy, living room that is littered with broken furniture.
“Uh… I don’t know, maybe seventy-five years?” I said, despite being completely clueless. We kept looking around the room and the surrounding hallways, it was just a dusty old house, no pentagrams, dead goats, or sacrifices to be seen.
Phil began to rummage through a cabinet and Alex looked at some of the old-timey portraits on the wall.
“Yo guys, check this out!” Phil says while holding up a small doll that he found in a cabinet.
I knew something was wrong with this doll as soon as I saw it. It was stained brown, almost like blood had dried on it.
“Uh…is that real hair…?” I asked sheepishly
“I don’t know…” Phil replied, sounding almost as nervous as I am at this point. There was a single, long needle going through the doll’s head.
Something was wrong, with this place, very wrong. It was quiet, and the air around us felt heavy.
“What the fuck is that?” Alex said nervously as he pointed to an old family portrait of a family, who must have been the Combes.
“Those are the witches, obviously!” Phil declared obnoxiously.
“No, I mean, why is the little girl scratched out of the picture?” Alex said, a nervous tone permeating his voice.
“Uh…I’m not sure, I didn’t think the Combes had a daughter,” I said as I was overcome by an uneasy feeling.
“Hey guys, I think we should go now, we saw the house, it’s just an old house. No witches” I said.
“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” Phil said.
Phil reached into his pocket to get his keys so we could leave “We have a problem, where the hell are my keys”? He asked while sounding tense.
“You probably dropped them while you were rummaging around in that stupid cabinet,” I said.
Phil bent down and began looking around on the floor, his flashlight illuminated the damp, moldy floorboards.
“What is that?” Alex asked as Phil’s light floated over a handle on the floor underneath the cabinet.
“It looks like a trap door,” Phil said.
Then, out of nowhere, a sickening feeling of dread, mixed with an insatiable curiosity hit me, as if there was some kind of terrible secret I just had to know, hidden underneath that door.
“I’m going down there. Help me move this cabinet guys” I said.
“No chance in hell!” Alex exclaimed in sheer panic at this point
I got angry at this point. God, we should have just left, but I remember saying “Alex, you’d better fucking help me, or else!”
Phill stood there quietly, looking very nervous, until finally he chimed in “Alright man, just calm down, we’ll help you…”
I heard Alex exclaim under his breath “What the hell is the matter with you man”?
I didn’t know, something had just come over me. A horrible feeling, rage, disgust. I finally muster up the courage and reply “I don’t know man, there’s something wrong with this place, and I think we’ll find out if we move this drawer.”
We moved the dresser, and what we found… dear God, I wish we hadn’t. Upon opening the trap door that was hidden underneath the cabinet we found… human remains. Partially skeletal and partially preserved.
“Oh my god.!” Alex yelled
“What the… that‘s a fucking corpse!” Phil screamed
I panicked, overcome by a sense that something truly horrible had happened here. I illuminated the body with my flashlight, it appeared to be a girl, a small girl, maybe five foot tall, wearing a gray, tattered gown. With the same brownish bloodstains that were on the doll. It looked just like the doll Phil had found earlier.
“What is that?” Alex said in a terrified voice while motioning to a small, leather-bound book next to the body
“I… I don’t know,” I said
Phil proclaimed again “That’s her spellbook! We need to leave and call the police, dude”
It was at that moment I knew, we had to read that book. “Hold on, we need to read the book…”
They all had a look of sheer panic drawn on their faces, but for some ungodly reason, we didn’t run then. We didn’t run while we could have.
I opened the book and began to read aloud “To my dearest daughter, I’m so sorry. But you had to be kept away from the world”
I felt my heart sink. This was a diary, the diary of Eleanor Combes. The stories had been true. At least partially.
“Eleanor wasn’t the witch… She was” I said, gesturing towards the skeletal remains we had just unearthed.
“Dude I told you so! These people were supernatural lunatics!” Phil exclaimed
“Hold on,” I said, as I continued to read, the diary outlines how after Susan, the name of the girl, who’s corpse we had just unearthed, the entire family died, one by one, with Angus Combes dying of a gunshot wound to the dead while hunting, and Samuel Combes, the son, died during WWI.
“The needle… through the doll’s head…” Phil’s voice cracked, “No way, man!”
I continued to read. Eleanor went mad in her grief. She locked her daughter in her room for years until finally, she made a tree fall on the house when she caused a terrible storm. Following this Eleanor did the unthinkable, she let her daughter starve to death, in her own home, and buried the body under the floorboards. But according to the diary, it took a long time for Susan to die, because she had eaten her fingers and parts of her flesh.
“The tree…” Alex muttered looking up towards the ceiling which had a massive hole in it with the limbs of a large, dead willow dangling through it.
I looked down at the hands of the corpse. She had just one finger.
I took a deep breath before I finished reading. I felt as though I had an obligation to tell the poor girl’s story at this point, but also had a sense of dread.
It concluded with this… “To whom finds this diary, you have found her. May God save your soul.”
We left shortly afterward and called the police once we got back into town. We were all in shock from what we had seen. After giving statements and being told that we would be facing trespassing charges, we vowed to never speak of this again, to anyone.
I had hoped, we had all hoped we would be able to forget about what we had seen. Alas, no. The night after we had returned home, I struggled to find any sleep, but when sleep finally came, it was interrupted.
I heard a nauseating sound. The kind of sounds you would hear when stripping a deer. Crunching of bone and squishing of flesh, coming from the corner of my bedroom. I could see the outline of a figure, curled up in the fetal position. I picked up my phone and used the flashlight to see better. There was nothing there, it must have been a figment of my imagination, most likely assimilated from what we discovered in that house.
“God, what had we found,” I thought to myself before falling back into a feverish sleep. This sleep was plagued with terrible dreams. Dreams of animal sacrifices and silhouettes of demons dancing on a wall, illuminated by candlelight.
The next day when I talked to Phil and Alex, they were exhausted. They had experienced the same disturbing apparition and dreams.
“It must have been a dream,” Alex said in a shaky, nervous tone
“Yeah right, you heard what the diary said. We’re cursed.” Phil said in a panicked voice
“Haven’t you guys taken psychology yet? The brain can do crazy things when stressed” I tried to explain.
I hoped it was just our minds playing tricks on us, but secretly I knew it wasn’t. I knew that whatever we uncovered was now haunting us.
For a few weeks, we continued to have the same visions and disturbing dreams at night. We continued to talk about it every day, despite saying that we would try to forget about it. We couldn’t. She had latched onto us.
One night, about two weeks after the first apparition, it got worse. As I slept the same uneasy sleep that had become the norm, I saw the same silhouette again, except this time it was standing. It was closer to the end of my bed this time. I heard the same disgusting sound, almost as if…
“No…God no” I thought
I picked up my phone off the nightstand and used it to illuminate this figure in front of me, and I wish I hadn’t. There she was, in her tattered clothes, the gray, rotten flesh peeling off her bones. She looked down at the floor, her long black hair partially obstructing her face.
I threw up all over my sheets at what I saw next. She was gnawing through her fingers and swallowing pieces of them. Thick, black blood dripping onto my floor and filling up her rotten mouth. I screamed, petrified of the horror that was sitting in front of me.
“What the hell is going on?!” My mother screamed as she barged through my door and turned the lights on. The apparition vanished.
“What happened? Are you sick?” My mom said in a panicked voice upon seeing my vomit on the floor.
“Uh… Nothing mom, I must have had some kind of fever dream and then threw up.”
Upon hearing this my mom calmed down and finally left. I cleaned up my vomit, but I wasn’t able to fall back asleep. I couldn’t see her…that thing, again.
The next day I told my friends what had happened, the same thing had happened to them.
“What does she want? Like why is she here man?” Alex said in a shaky voice
“I don’t know. I wish I did.” I said
“There’s nothing we can do. She won’t leave us alone, she’s a ghost!. We should have never gone to that damn house!” Phil said, following up with an apology “I’m so sorry, this was all my fault. I just wanted to see the witch house.”
“It’s okay…We all thought it was fake,” I replied, feeling smitten.
We were all unsure, and very afraid. What did she want? How would we make her stop?
A few nights passed, with nothing happening. Had whatever we disturbed turned it’s gaze away from us?
I wish, but sadly, no. Things only got worse from here. I don’t remember how many days had passed, but I was once again awakened by the sound of gnashing flesh and crunching bone. The stench of something long dead assailed my nostrils. I sat up immediately and looked around my room, but I didn’t have to look far. She was standing right next to my bed. Less than a foot from me.
I tried to scream, but no air escaped my lungs. There I was, looking directly at her. Her matted, black hair no longer covers her face. I could see the coagulated blood on her face. Her eyes, or lack thereof, stared into my soul. I looked directly into her cavern-like eye sockets and was overcome by fear. There was a literal dead witch right in front of me.
This encounter felt like an eternity but was in reality it only lasted a few seconds. It ended when she lifted her mangled, rotting hand and pointed at me with the one finger she had left. Blood dripping all over me at this point.
I was frozen. She opened her mouth, and let out a groan as if she was trying to scream but her vocal cords had decayed away.
I knew that I was going to die at that moment, but then, she vanished.
The following day we all met again, we had to do something about this. We had to find out what was afflicting us. Alex’s’ parents’ kitchen made a strange venue to discuss the entity that was haunting us.
“There is no way I am going back to that house!” Alex exclaimed
I explained to him that we had to and that we would be no worse off than we are now.
Phil was silent. A miracle considering we could rarely get him to shut up, but we could tell something was wrong.
“What did you see?” I asked, confused at his silence and lack of emotion.
“I don’t know what happened, but that thing, it crawled on top of me last night,” Phil said, his emotionless face contorted into one of repulsion and fear.
We looked at him, concerned at he was telling us, and before we could speak he followed up with a shaky voice “She’s evil. She wants us to suffer the same way that she did.”
Our conversation fell mute after that. Just abject silence, but I could tell that we agreed. We had to go back to the house.
It was settled. We returned to the house, hoping to find more clues as to why this was happening to us. We agreed to meet back here at night because we could have to sneak back to the house. It was too risky going in broad daylight with it now being a crime scene.
I returned home and I tried to go about my day, I researched witch-hunting and how to exorcise a ghost, but it was all clearly bullshit.
The entire day I could hear it. The sound of flesh and bone being gnawed on and the groan of decayed vocal cords, but I didn’t see her anywhere.
I decided to head out as it got darker, and I could smell the stench of rotting flesh coming from behind me, but there was nothing. Yet. She was stalking me.
When I arrived at Alex’s’ house he was already ready to leave
“Dude, let’s just get this over with,” He said in a rushed, nervous tone.
“But… Where’s Phil?” I asked
“He should show up soon,” He said
We waited. Five minutes passed, and then thirty, and then an hour. We tried calling our friend probably a dozen times, but it went straight to voicemail.
“We need to go to Phils’ house,” I said
Alex agreed. We were hoping that he had just fallen asleep, but we knew something was wrong as we drove on the backroads that led to his house.
It was dark and clammy out, it had started to rain. As we drove we had to keep the brights off because we could see her, standing along the road, pointing at us with her one remaining bloody finger.
We didn’t speak for the entire car ride. There was nothing to say, what was happening was impossible. Ghosts aren’t real, neither are witches, yet here we were, seeing the ghost of a witch. Finally, after what felt like an eternity of driving we saw it.
My heart sunk. Sitting in a ditch, crushed against a tree, was Phils’ beat-up car, the brights still on.
“Shit! We have to help him!” I exclaimed loudly, as I slam on my brakes and stop the car.
We ran over to the car, Phil was in it, but he was gone. The steering wheel had punctured his chest cavity and his head was smashed into the windshield.
“What the fuck man?!” Alex said, screaming at this point “Our friend is dead! All because we wanted to go into some fucking house!”
“We don’t know that. Maybe he just lost control…” I replied, knowing that I was just lying to myself. I knew that he had seen her.
But then it hit me. Phil’s hands were wrapped around the steering wheel. His fingerless hands. Well except for one, which was outstretched and pointing to a small clearing.
There she was, staring at us. She was illuminated by the headlights from Phil’s car, and I was terrified. This thing had killed our best friend.
She smiled a sickening, twisted grin, black blood flowing out from her mouth of rotten teeth.
We ran and got into my car and sped off, almost going off the road at several points. Finally, when we had gotten far enough away we could call 911.
We found a spot to pull off and wait for the ambulance.
Finally, we saw the lights of the ambulance coming our way. Once they passed us we followed them to the crash.
When we arrived at the crash we were horrified to find that Phils’ body was gone.
“Do you think that she… took him…? Could he still be alive?” Alex whispered, not wanting to be overheard by the paramedics.
I didn’t know. I had no idea what could have happened. Did Phil somehow survive the crash? No, that was impossible. He was dead, anyone with injuries like that would be dead.
“I.. I don’t know…” I said, trying to sound as collected as possible.
After being questioned by medics, the police arrived and asked us even more questions, we answered them to the best of our ability, but we had no real answers for them.
“We need to go to the house. This has gone far enough.” I told Alex
“Yeah, right. Let’s go,” he replied.
The drive was tense, nerve-racking. So much had happened in the past month.
“What are we going to do man? We’re fucked. She is going to kill us, just like she killed Phil!” Alex let out, yelling from my passenger seat.
“We don’t know if Phil is dead. Maybe he was able to walk away…” I replied, knowing that I was wrong. I was just trying to cling onto any semblance of reality.
“No one can walk away from that. His fucking chest was caved in!” Alex screamed, now sounding angry and frantic.
I didn’t say anything, I knew that he was right. This ghost, or witch, or whatever the hell that thing is, killed our friend.
We finally arrived at the house. The drive took what felt like an eternity. When we arrived the house was dimly lit, as if by candlelight.
“She’s waiting for us,” Alex said, staring at me with transfixed eyes
“What the fuck are you talking about? How do you know that?” I asked
“Why else would there be lights on in that place?!” Alex yelled back at me
He was right. But we had to go inside, we needed answers. I mean, what hope did we have?
We sprinted up the dilapidated cobblestone driveway, not caring if we fall or break our legs. We dove through the broken front door and were greeted immediately by the stench of decay. I look around the house, it’s lit dimly by candles, but it was what was in the center of the floor that made me lose it.
Laying in some kind of sigil on the floor, that was drawn in blood, was Phils’ body.
My heart sank. Standing directly above Phils’ corpse was the ghost. Groaning in a haunting, rhythmic manner, as if saying some kind of incantation.
Alex yelled as he lunged at her but he ended up stumbling over Phils’ body and passing directly through the apparition, but she vanished, at the very least.
“We need to get out of here! And we need to get his body out of here too. I’m not leaving him behind!” Alex said, still frantic after what had just happened.
“You’re right. Let’s go.” I said, as we grabbed Phil’s remains and carried him out the door.
Alex tried desperately to call the police after this, but it was no use. There was no signal.
“Fuck. Fuck!” Alex let out a cry, bursting into tears and falling to the ground.
I wanted to curl into a ball and let that thing take me at that moment. None of this could be real. This couldn’t be happening.
“You need to get up! We have to get out of here!” I told Alex
He finally got up, and we did the only thing that we could think of. We put Phil’s remains in the trunk and tried to leave.
But the car wouldn’t turn over. Had I left the lights on? No, we were only in there for a few minutes.
Then, in my rearview mirror, I saw her. Sitting in the back seat, reaching up to grab Alex, who is sitting next to me. I cranked the car one more time and stomped on the gas, the motor roared to life and sent us barreling into the house.
When I came to everything was on fire. Alex was on the floor of the burning building, around 10 feet from met, next to him was my car, completely engulfed in flames.
I couldn’t feel my legs. I tried to drag myself over to him but as I did that thing crawled on top of him. He was thrashing and screaming but it was as though she weighed a ton, he just couldn’t move.
She took her one, rotten, twisted finger and put it over his face, thick black blood was dripping all over his face. Next, she shoved the finger down his throat as he tried to scream. He flailed a twisted violently, letting out muffled screams as he was choked and suffocated on her tainted, vile blood.
Next, she let out that same hellacious groan I had come to know and extracted her hand from Alex’s’ mouth. He went limp instantly, as she pulled a black, hazy mist from his body. There was one last gasp as she pulled the soul from his body. She proceeded to open her decayed mouth wide, her jaw seeming to unhinge, and devoured the black mist that came from Alex’s body. He was dead.
I let out a cry “God help me!” I screamed, as the building burned and the world went black. As I slipped into unconsciousness, she crawled towards me. The last thing I remember was her gangly, rotten limbs crawling across the floor, her decaying mouth opened wide with her hand outstretched towards me.
I woke up four days later, in the hospital. I was badly burned, and I’m now paralyzed from the waist down. I guess part of the ceiling fell on me as the building burned. The firefighters aren’t sure how I survived and say that I am lucky to be alive.
But I’m not. I’m not lucky to be alive. She comes and goes, just standing in the corner, sometimes in broad daylight. She just stares at me and smiles that twisted, bloody grin as she points at me with her mutilated hand. She just wants people to know that she is real, so if you’re reading this, now you know. I’m sorry, it’s the only way.