It’s just a story. That’s what you’ll tell yourself. That’s how folks keep from losing their minds.
I heard one woman last week—some rich bitch outta Frisco, I think it was—tellin’ her friend how it was just a trick of the shadows or some such shit. Lady, that ain’t the shadows. You saw what you saw. What did you think you were payin’ all that money for.
The tickets—fuck me. They run upwards of five-hundred. That’s for the basic tour. You want to see it all? Everything from the basement level to the attic? You gotta pay. That runs … shit … around fifteen-hundred, I think. More than I make in a week, I’ll put it that way.
But you get the whole sha-bang—whether you really want it or not.
That’s what these fuckers don’t understand. You stand in the doorway like that—not a doorway in the house. I don’t mean that kind. Like a metaphor. You stand in that doorway and peer into the dark, sometimes you catch a glimpse of something peering back.
And I don’t care what anyone says. That’s not really what they want. You get that, right?
What they really want is a story. A story they can tell their friends while they sip merlot, sure, but really they want a story to tell themselves. Sometimes it’s because they’re just curious. Sometimes it’s because they lost someone. Those are sad. You can tell by the questions they ask. I kinda hope they don’t see anything. But sometimes it’s because they’re over 50 and they’ve been thinking too much about their own mortality and they wanna know.
Or they think they do. They don’t really.
So things start with the facts. We sit ‘em down in this cooshie lounge and tell ‘em all about what happened. We list all the dates. All the names. The ways they died. We don’t really embellish much because you don’t have to. Just hearing about ‘em all, back to back like that, it’s enough to make some people back out right then and there.
Then we take questions.
Was there really that much blood on the stairs?
“Yes. Enough to make the wood soggy.”
Why did people keep moving in?
Hard to say. They didn’t believe it. Or they thought they were better.
Are there still bodies in the yard?
The last excavation found seven, but there are still dozens unaccounted for.
Is this place just evil?
It ain’t good.
When they start making jokes, we finish the questions and take ‘em into the rest of the house. The jokers are usually the first to get quiet. We try to tell ‘em it’s better to be reverent—that’s the only thing that keeps me safe—but they’re too stupid or too proud to listen. Some of ‘em, at least.
Then someone feels a tug. Someone else sees the dog, it’s head still hanging limp from the ax wound. Someone hears a whisper or smells the fire. One lady slipped on the fucking stairs and when we helped her up, she had blood on her dress … and she wasn’t bleedin’.
But it’s the back room. That’s where the stories become real. That’s were Maddy died, her legs cut off, her hands crushed, her eyes gouged out, and her chest split open from throat to tits.
She’s still there. I ain’t never seen her. But I’ve seen the looks on the faces of the people who have, and I’ll tell you, I pray to God I never do.
They say she’s still trying to claw her way out of the tub, blood and bile all over the fucking place.
Me? Oh, I just close my eyes and hope she finds peace. I don’t think she ever will, but I’m not fool enough to look. Not like these dumb fucks who pay.
Sorry. Not like you. I didn’t mean it that way. I just got goin’.
Do me a favor, okay? Don’t say anything. I need this job. We good?
Good. Come on. Tour’s about to start.