Although the topic of the house at the end of the street was one I knew we’d be having with Tabitha one day I honestly didn’t think it would be before her sixth birthday, but kids today are learning about all things so much earlier than we did.
Everyone in the area knew about the house at the end of the street, the rumours of it being haunted were well known, what was less known was the exact story about the house. Most of the stories revolved around people dying in the house, whether it be by murder, by accident or by something even worse. There was stories about the murders being the act some sadistic serial killer and there was stories about murders by Satan himself. Most of the stories seemed to get more unbelievable as each new group of kids heard and retold it.
The truth of the house however was far simpler, it was a vacant house nothing more nothing less. The owners of the house came into money more than 20 years ago, moved out of the area leaving the place vacant and forgotten. The grass was cut once a year, usually it coincided with one of the locals ringing the local council to complain at which point the council would send a letter to the owner requesting the grass was cut. There has been no visible maintenance of the property in that whole time and the big iron gates at the end of the driveway where always padlocked.
Tabitha was a curious kid, she was only five but some of the questions she asked were well beyond her years, she might not always have understood the answers she was getting but the topics were wide and varied, thanks to TV and her older cousins.
I sat down at the kitchen table with Tabitha, my wife hovered around the kitchen obviously wanting to listen in on the conversation I was about to have with our young daughter.
“What do you know about haunted houses Tabitha?” I started.
“They have ghosts!”
“Is that all? Just ghost?”
“Samantha’s sister said,” Samantha was her best friend, her teenage sister’s name was Ellen, “the house was haunted by some dead guy.”
“Is that all she said?” I asked wondering how much a teenager had bothered to share with two five year olds.
“She also said the man was on the run from the police and he decided to use the house to hide, he knew it was vacant and nobody would look there. She then said he was in there for a few days hiding, the police couldn’t find him and just gave up. The guy figured he’d got away with it then one night while walking around in the dark house he fell down the steps and died. Samantha said he now haunts the house because he was never able to get free of his life.”
I thought about Tabitha’s story for a few moments before speaking. “Hon, you do know that what Samantha told you is a story don’t you?” She looked at me with those sweet innocent five year old eyes as if she believed what I said but still wanted to believe what her friends sister told her. “There is no man, no police and no ghosts. The house is not haunted.”
The problem with telling Tabitha that was that she didn’t disbelieve me but she also didn’t disbelieve the ghost story either, she was the sort of girl that wanted proof of either before she would believe it. Unfortunately I knew simply showing her a few pages on the internet that said ghosts weren’t real was not enough, she was going beg for proof, but how the hell was I going to show her proof that ghosts didn’t exist?
Because my eavesdropping wife knew exactly what was coming she was standing in the kitchen with a huge grin on her face and laughing quietly to herself so that Tabitha could not hear her.
“Take me into the house and prove that it’s not haunted Dad!”
The comment was too much for my wife who had to walk out of the room where she no longer had to contain her laughter.
I know what you’re thinking, “she’s five years old, why would you give in to her and take her into a haunted house?” Well I guess I sometimes think things like that too and while some people see it as pampering her, doing what she wants, giving in to her, I see it as educating her. Right, wrong, other peoples opinions don’t really matter, Tabitha had an enquiring mind and I like feeding that even if the topics weren’t that of a normal five year old.
So there we stood at the gates of the house at the end of the street, the small gate to the left of the main gates was not secured in anyway and we were easily able to access the front yard from it. We stood at the end of a path that weaved it’s way to the house, why someone chose to weave a concrete path through the yard and not directly to the house was beyond me but with the over grown grass and cracks in the dirty concrete it looked oddly weathered and old.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked Tabitha, she agreed without words.
We walked up the path looking at the house looming in front of us. It’s tired and aged weatherboard cladding was falling off in parts and the paint was peeling off nearly every panel. More that half the windows we could see were either smashed or had holes in them, most of the damage had been done by the kids of the area lobbing rocks at them. There was no curtains in any of the windows and the grime that covered them was thick and in parts dark.
Several times as we walked the path we had to move into single file to avoid the long grass and at one point to avoid the wildly growing rose bushes which appeared to be all thorns. When we got to the front step I asked Tabitha again if she wanted to go in, she was more keen than I was.
I stepped up onto the wooden step, the timber creaked but felt solid enough, Tabitha followed me. Just like the step every wooden decking board creaked as we stepped on it, one or two even felt loose but none of them gave way.
When I got to the door I stupidly knocked and Tabitha laughed. “Just try the handle Dad!” she said with a smile.
I tried the door and it opened, there was no backing out now.
Holding Tabitha’s hand we stepped inside, it was dark, not pitch black but darker than I expected. We only took three steps before we stopped.
We were standing in a huge open foyer area, there was a twisting staircase to our left, massive double doors about 10 metres in front of us and a room off to our right. There was dust everywhere, cobwebs everywhere and the dirt and muck on the floor was thick enough to be carpet. As expected the house was silent, that was when we heard it most horrific and scary thing I have ever heard in my life. A sound that will be with me until the day I die, a sound that will haunt my dreams every night for the next 12 months.
“Hi I’m Peppa Pig…And this is my brother George!”
*Authors Note* This is ridiculous piece of writing came about when I asked our youngest daughter what sort of story Daddy should write and Miss 4 said, “Make it about a haunted house and Peppa Pig.”
I believe I was Successful