The Inherited Mansion
In this scary horror story, a young family learns that something terrifying lives within their inherited mansion.
I have always hated the cold. Too many cold winter nights spent alone while my father, an unemployed butcher, blew our welfare benefits on booze and took his frustrations out on me with his belt. I left Michigan fifteen years ago at the age of sixteen after a particularly bad beating, and never looked back. Last I had heard, about eight years ago, he had taken to living on the streets. Good riddance, I say.
I spent a few years in the military, got a college education courtesy of Uncle Sam, and started a family of my own in the sunny state of Florida. Life was great, and I had not thought about my father in years. I truly believed that the worst part of my life was behind me. I had the American Dream: beautiful wife, kids, and was on the verge of buying our very own home. That all changed last year.
Last November my wife and I were nearly ready to sign the papers on our dream home. She worked as a home decorator and I owned half of a small auto repair shop with an old Army buddy. We were so close to signing the mortgage for a small, beautiful house. We were not to be so lucky. I can still remember the heavy envelope we received in the mail the day before we were set to finalize the purchase of our new home.
Inside the envelope was a letter from a lawyer in Detroit informing me that my Grandparents on my Mother’s side had passed away. My mother had died during my birth, and I had never met my Grandparents. I remember my father once telling me, during one of his many attempts at sobriety, that my Mother’s parents had hated my father, and blamed him for her death. The lawyer’s letter stated that I was the only living heir to a sizable estate. I directly inherited $700,000, a decaying mansion, and what was estimated to be 3.5 million dollars worth of artwork and antique furniture. The only caveat was that I needed to be in the small Michigan town to claim the inheritance within thirty days, or else the estate would become property of the State of Michigan.
My wife was ecstatic. I tried to match her excitement, but failed miserably. I had done a hell of a good job building a new life to replace the broken life I had left behind in Michigan. Yea, this was a shit-ton of money, but we had what we needed here in Florida. My wife was determined. She believed that this was the jumpstart that her career needed. She convinced me that we should move the entire family into the mansion. She could blog about home improvement and interior decorating and I could use the inheritance money to start a new auto shop. It was a done deal. I wish that I had resisted more, knowing what I do now, but my wife is stubborn as a mule when she wants something.
So we moved. I sold my stake in the auto shop to my buddy, and reluctantly packed up for the cross-country move. My two kids shared my wife’s enthusiasm for the move. She showed them pictures of the place that were included in the envelope from the lawyer. I remember my oldest son, Brian, saying, “Cool! Our very own haunted house!”
He was right. The place seemed pretty damn haunted. It was huge, over 6,000 square feet, and looked like it hadn’t been lived in for years. The mansion seemed to have a perpetual fog surrounding it, likely due to its proximity to Lake Erie. The lawyer informed me that my grandparents had lived as shut-ins for the past twenty years. Their lawyer had last seen them five years ago, before they disappeared. A lengthy police investigation determined that my grandparents had likely drowned in the lake, possibly as part of a suicide pact.
White sheets covered all of the furniture and artwork, and a thick layer of dust covered everything in the mansion except for in the kitchen and master bedroom. The roof leaked in a few areas and the yard was in dire need of landscaping. The only source of heat came from huge, drafty fireplaces, which seemed to scream during windy nights. So yeah, my son Brian was right, we had our very own haunted house.
The first few weeks of living in the mansion were actually pretty great. My two sons and I would go out onto the estate grounds and collect firewood to warm the mansion. My wife started her home improvement blog and got to work on fixing up the place. I began putting out feelers for local communities in need of a good auto shop. We had one of the best Christmas’s in recent memory. My wife even found an old photo album, which had pictures of my mom as a child and teenager. I became complacent. It all seemed too good to be true.
The initial euphoria of the move began to fade by the second month. The mansion felt too big, too old, and too goddamn creepy. It sounded like a giant awakening from a slumber when fierce gusts of wind blew in from Lake Erie and forced their way through every nook and cranny. I would toss and turn in bed at night, trying to shut out the howl and scream of the wind which seemed to come from deep within the mansion.
After many sleepless nights, I decided it was time to use some of the inheritance money to add insulation to the mansion. I called every handyman and independent contractor in a fifty mile radius. Each one of them made excuses or hung up when I told them the address of the mansion. The area was still reeling from the implosion of Detroit’s economy; these guys needed the business. It should have worried me a little, that people seemed afraid of the place, but it never crossed my mind at the time. Instead I made a trip down to the local hardware store and picked up a couple caulking guns. I will never forget the looks that the locals gave me. At the time I assumed their coldness and stares were due to jealousy of the inheritance. When I look back now, I can remember that their expressions seemed to exhibit wariness, perhaps even pity from the locals that suspected the truth about the mansion.
I got back to the mansion and caulked like a madman throughout the night. I stalked throughout the mansion, caulking gun in hand, in search of gaps, cracks, and holes to fill up. My wife and kids slept peacefully throughout the night, yet I tossed and turned while the mansion tormented me with demonic sounds. Sleeping in different rooms did not help. Ear plugs, music and my head stuffed between two thick pillows finally allowed me to get a full night of sleep. My wife suspected it was all in my head and told me that it was just the stress of moving back home after so many years.
On New Year’s Day my wife woke me and told me that a blizzard was heading towards our town. There was already a foot of snow on the ground, and weatherman on the radio said to expect three to four feet of snow within the next 48 hours. I suited up to go out and chop and stack wood in case the storm lasted longer than expected. After two hours of hard work I decided to take a break and head back inside. Another half foot of snow had fallen while I had been cutting wood. I remember thinking to myself that I would get the boys to come out and help stack the wood while I chopped.
On my way back I noticed paw prints in the fresh snow. They were big. Too big for an animal. Almost human, but who the hell walks barefoot in the snow? I was about to find out.
My thoughts trailed off as I noticed that the front door of the mansion was wide open. I had definitely closed it when I left. I quickened my pace, and began to call out to scold one of the boys for leaving the door open in the middle of a blizzard. I paused mid sentence when I saw a round object lying on the doorstep.
My heart dropped into my stomach and my hands clenched around the axe. Lying on the doorstep was the frozen head of an old man. Head severed cleanly at the neck. Blank, cold eyes stared lifelessly over Lake Erie while his tongue protruded from the side of mouth, twisted in a permanent scream.
Instinct took over. It was fight or flight. I stormed into the mansion, feeling the surge of adrenaline as I called out for my wife and sons. A faint scream arose from the direction of the kitchen. I took off running and came upon an open trapdoor in the floor of the kitchen. Cold air burst through the trapdoor as I lowered myself onto the ladder. I found myself in a dark passage illuminated by smoky oil lanterns hung on the walls. I ran through the tunnel with both hands wrapped around the wooden handle of the axe. Sobs floated up the passage towards me. I broke into a sprint and soon emerged into a large, chilly room.
My wife and oldest son sat in the middle of the room shivering with their hands tied behind their backs. A dozen frozen bodies, hung from the walls on meat hooks, looked down upon us. Against the far wall I spied my youngest son tied down to what looked like a homemade guillotine.
I took a step towards the contraption, but an old man emerged from the shadowed wall and grunted, “I wouldn’t touch that”.
The grizzled old man held a gun in his right hand and a rope in his left. The rope led up to the ceiling, where it held a sharp guillotine blade in place, about ten feet over the neck of my youngest son.
I took another step towards my son, and the man loosened his grip on the rope, letting the blade drop an inch before catching the rope again. I froze.
“What do you want with us” I sputtered through clenched teeth.
“Dinner” he said with a phlegm filled laugh. “A man gotta eat” For a moment I thought the laugh sounded familiar, but the man resembled no one I had ever known. Yellowed skin covered with oozing lesions, rotted teeth, black and broken fingernails. He looked like something out of a Zombie movie.
A strong gust of wind blew open a large trap door leading outside. The cannibalistic man looked away for a moment, and that was when I raised the axe, and let it fly across the room. The blunt portion of the axe head smashed into the man’s face and he toppled backwards into an oil lantern hanging on the wall. His grip on the rope loosened and then gave way.
I took two quick steps and dived forward. Arm stretched upwards as the blade began to fall. I caught the blade in the palm of my hand, and it sank downwards, finally coming to rest halfway through my forearm. I fought the pain and terror surging through my body and forced myself to grab onto the rope to pull the guillotine blade back up. My son was unharmed, except for being drenched in my blood. Smoke wafted up behind me. The broken lamp had started a growing fire in the corner of the room.
I pulled my wife and two sons to their feet and rushed them outside. I freed their hands from the bonds and my wife immediately began to bandage my arm and hand with whatever clothing we could spare.
I began to lead them back up the hill, towards the mansion, when I heard an inhuman scream from behind us. We turned around and saw the man, engulfed in flame, burst from the hidden chamber. He ran haphazardly towards the lake, but slipped on the bank and fell face forward into the mud. He writhed for a moment longer, as the flames continued to burn, and then lay still.
The police did not arrive for hours, due to the snow. By that time it had snowed over five feet. I do not want to imagine what sort of horror we would have had to endure, if we had been snowbound with that lunatic.
The police chief of Detroit told me it was the most gruesome case they had seen in his entire career. The Detroit Cannibal, as the press called him, passed away shortly after the police arrived at the mansion from full body, third degree burns. Police have been unable to identify the cannibal, but I have my suspicions. They were also unable to identify most of the victims, except for my grandparents. Police believe most of them to be vagrants, alcoholics and drifters.
My family and I are back in sunny Florida. My arm is healing, and I hope to be back at work in the auto shop soon. We sold all of the furniture and artwork from the mansion, but were unable to sell the mansion. I relinquished ownership of it to the town. Last I heard they were planning to demolish it. We’re still dealing with emotional trauma of this ordeal. The kids are young enough that they should be fine with the help of some therapy. I still have trouble sleeping at night, and even now, I am plagued with the thought that it might not have been the wind that was keeping me up at night.