He had always loved exploring abandoned houses. Figuring out why had not taken him long; a heady mix of learning things certifiably known by few others, on top of it being an activity deeply disapproved by not only his parents, but also the general public. He had gotten his driving license almost entirely to easily be able to search more remote locations at his own pace; few things disrupted the true feeling of exploration as knowing you’d have to leave in 5 minutes if you wanted to catch the last train home.
Todays haunt was a tornado-damaged farmhouse; One of the tornadoes from the end of April had torn through the edge of the house, but the resulting fire had done most of the work. The house was still standing, but evidently the owners had left, without doing anything to the property. However, despite the damage, it was still standing. Mostly. Perfect for exploration.
The front door was quite seriously fire-damaged, more charcoal and ash than wood. He tried the handle, but it was essentially jammed. A kick with a thick-soled boot solved that issue, breaking the flimsy remains in half. It would have to be removed anyways, he told himself. The entryhall was even worse off than the door. Small black piles indicated where furniture had been before and the doorways that had not collapsed were empty. There would not be anything to find here. Choosing a door at random, he found himself in the kitchen. A meter from the door, the floor was about as fire-blackened as the entryhall had been, but was otherwise mostly undamaged. The windows had been shattered. Possibly when the family had evacuated the house. Someone had been back later; the drawers had all been opened and emptied, along with the cupboards, closets and fridge. The sole remaining piece of furniture was an old and battered chair, with a single piece of paper on it. The paper was quite badly waterlogged, as if it had either been soaked or covered in ice that had then melted. Examining it, he could only make out 3 words – “ghost eating children“. Ominous. But while it made itself into his list of creepy things found in abandoned houses, he was neither suspicious nor a child, so no worries. Besides the note and the chair, the kitchen was as empty as the entryhall. The room had 3 doors; one into the already-explored entryhall, one into another badly damaged room, and a third leading into a tiny room with a floor-hatch. Going by the kitchen, the residents, or someone else, had been back and removed anything that was still valuable or useful. The hatch was not visibly locked, so he decided on that over an empty, fire-damaged living room.
The hinges must not have been oiled in a while, as they creaked when the hatch swung open. Immediately the temperature in the room dropped. The weather outside was early fall, so while it wasn’t exactly warm, he shouldn’t be able to see his breath infront of him. The stout stair leading down into the basement, or larder or whatever it was, was untouched by the tornado or the fire, protected by the hatch and its location. It was even colder down there, but it looked like it had suffered the same fate as the rest of the house; it had been stripped bare of anything that wasn’t nailed down. But there was something. A faint tapping sound. If he wasn’t all alone in the house, he’d have sworn it was someone calling for help. The basement room was a 6 meter long corridor with a few doors leading out of it. The doorway immediately in front of the hatch was empty, and the room beyond stripped of anything. The sound was coming from the next room over. The abandoned house was empty save for him, but still he felt trepidation. But that was silly. Nothing to be afraid of. Walking briskly to the open doorway, he found another room that had been stripped. But someone had moved back. In the far left corner, a large bin was surrounded by piles of white cloth and metal chains. Dreamcatchers were spread all over the small chamber. The tapping sound had become far more insistent, and was coming from this room. Looking to his right, the other wall was lined in large glass cylinders, each containing something he had not believed in for almost a decade; a ghost. All clothed in white, chains hanging from their limbs, there were both men and women contained inside, all of them shouting silently at him, smashing their transparent hands on the glass. There were footsteps behind him. Whirling about, he saw a small boy standing at the foot of the stairs.
“Hello. Come to join me for dinner?”