's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Submitted by Anonymous



I found the record in an old chest of comic books when I was thirteen. I was an avid collector for years, by then, making regular forays to the local card shop on my bike. 

   It was 1994. The attic was like an endless cave of moldy odds and ends from long lost eras. Old furniture fought for space among wardrobes filled with dated garments. There were cobwebs everywhere, just like in the movies. Five generations had inhabited that house and the collection of eccentricities must have accumulated for over a century. I never saw the far end of it.             
   The chest should have been more recent, though, being towards the front. It could have only been there about twenty years. I thought it was my father's.
    I was a teenager, now. It was not in me to run and announce my discoveries. That brought with it the chance of things being forbidden. I was a monster loving sort with stodgy parents. I already knew the lack of welcome anything I had to show them would get. Even good grades.
    My father wasn't, the least bit, interested in monsters and comic book heroes. He always asked me what I saw in that 'crap'.
     I remember Pop always seemed angry about the subject. He was more than just disapproving. It never occurred to me that he could've been afraid.
     I thought it was his chest. He never told me he had a brother. When he, finally, related the particulars of that tragedy, it was many years too late.
     How could I have known? What else would I have done? The contents of that treasure were irresistible. Just look at all those golden Era comics. They were worth a fortune! All the cheap and hard to find novelties! I was in Marvel heaven.
    I decided to savor the comics later, occupying myself with the x-ray specs and the goofy joy buzzer. How much enjoyment could I get from the fake vomit or the doggy doo? I was shuddering just at the thought of the looks on my parents' faces. 
    I delved through the layer of gags and came upon the plain white sleeve of a miniature vinyl record. 
    The circular label glued to it was also white. It featured a nastily drawn face of some hooded creature with its' claw outstretched. The big, block letters at the top read "GAYLE HOUSE". The lower edge proclaimed it as "The Haunting".
     Other less interesting information was present. 33 1/3 rpm meant something, at least. I glossed over things alot at that age. 
    My focus was on the old, children's record player that sat close by. I remember how the thickness of the dust on it was the same as the coating on the chest. I was certain it was from the same fossil layer.
    You'd be more likely to listen to a  cassette tape or compact disc, back then. I could just imagine placing this on my dad's turntable. Like I'd dare touch his fine stereo system. That would definitely be off limits, messing with his pride and joy. Classical music and the Four Lettermen records would only ever emanate from those four foot speakers.    
        Well, I never heard him play the Four Lettermen, but there were more than four albums of them in his lame record collection. Iron Maiden or those were records. I would have bought a Yes record just for the cover. I was more likely to record CD's onto a cassette and listen to it on my Walkman.
    No. I had decided that tiny little record was meant to be played on that tiny little box and I flipped it open to inspect it's  dusty little needle. 
    I sat in the attic. A fractured mirror was propped up against a dresser to one side. I wasn't able to see very far into it. It was so grimy you could barely see any reflection at all. 
    There I was, surrounded by the detritus of ages. I was, kind of, in a trance. I placed the record over the little nub and put the needle on the record. 
    As I searched for an outlet to plug into, the tiny speaker crackled with noise. A chill went down my spine. My ears were assaulted by the ancient record's sounds. It began with the agonising  groan of a spooky, creaking door.
    Through the crispy slurp - slurp of the needle plowing through its' imperfections could be heard faintly clinking chains. Was that someone dragging their foot? 
     It was supposed to sound like someone limping into the room. I could barely hear  the moaning. Something moved over my shoulder. I turned to look and the record stopped. 
      A cold chill ran down my back and churned in my guts. 
    I faced that grimy mirror. It towered over me in its decay. I couldn't be sure I was looking at myself  through all that filth. 
   I don't know why but I took off the record, put it in its sleeve and closed the box. I thought only of getting out of that scary old attic. I could listen to the whole record in the safety of my room. 
    Maybe I'd plug it in this time. 
    I grabbed a few choice comics and closed the trunk on my indiscretions as quickly as I shut the door on my way, the hell, out of there.
     I had no idea why but I felt like I needed to leave in a hurry.

    My parents were going out that evening. I figured it would be cool to listen to this record late at night. It would make it real spooky.  
    The posters of Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon greeted me as I entered my room. I turned on the lamp by the nightstand and put the stack of plunder under my bed. I would pull out that record after my parents left, and put it on the big stereo in the living room. 
    There was a good monster movie on when mom and dad were preparing to leave. I was reading the old comics I had found, forcing myself to be patient. 
    I came across the original ad for the scare record halfway through the first issue of Weird War Tales. That had made looking forward to the whole experience that much juicier!
     The night was dark beyond the sliding glass door in the living room. There was me, lit by the television's light. Cast in gloom, the couches and surroundings were reflected clearly on the half of the glass door that always remained closed. 
    I could hear crickets through the screen door and the sighing of the wind through the trees. They rumbled like an ocean tide. 
    I turned on the stereo. LED's flickered on  across its data bank like face. The stacks of its components lay like patient slabs of mayan machinery winking at me as I closed the glass door. 
    Seeing my reflection staring back at me, I crouched in front of the cabinet's faint glare. I could see in it the room reflected in the back door behind me. A wall length copy loomed over my back. Everything was directly across from their opposite as reflections have a natural tendency to do. 
    When you're in motion, your eyes are focused on what you are doing. All your surroundings are blurred out of the corners of your eyes. Everything is taken for granted. That's one of the biproducts of Reality.
     Anything out of the ordinary is impossible. You are the only one here, right? Something affected here can be done by nobody other than yourself. You're in charge. You're all alone in the house.
    All of this was a given. None of it consciously registered as I rocked back on my heels to bounce my way up from my stooped position, I was just about to push up, when I could see something was standing up at the same time right behind me.
    The reflection in the glass had shown someone was, clearly, there. It was already inside the door, with me in the room. 
   I jumped up and turned around rather more dramatically than intended with the resultant loss of visibility. I looked around. The room was empty. 
   The shrill, reedy, tone of the crickets took that moment to die out and I was thrust into a world of silence. I just stood there frozen on the spot, chilling sensations flooding down from my head to my toes.
   It was terrifying. I thought I just saw the boogeyman! Something was just about to lunge at me out of the corner of my eye. What had thrown that brief reflection?
    I took a few deep breaths to settle my nerves. 
    After making sure the room was all clear I returned to the main highlight of my night: The Gayle House Haunting.  
    I'd read the ad over and over. "Invite your friends over for a...Haunting" it commanded in big, red balloon letters, "with this haunted sound effects record." 
   Draped in a spectral sheet, the face of a leering, blue demon roared in silence from the picture's corner, claw outstretched beseechingly like "Give me blood!"
   The tutorial continued beneath a rough depiction of a delapidated house lit by a
papery full moon. Through a skeletal tree the moonlight shone as only antique wood pulp and cheap ink could deliver.
   "Just imagine how scared your friends will be when you flip out the light" the ad offered, "and they start hearing creepy sounds like the howl of a wolf, a creaking door, chains rattling, and then a man's voice telling them that the house is haunted and they are to die - one by one."
    The tortured script blared its ominous offer from a yellow background that could make your eyes bleed.
   "They'll be scared stiff when they hear footsteps coming across the floor, the sound of people fighting, glass breaking, hideous laughter, terrible shrieks and screams, eerie moaning and then more footsteps, more screams..." My goodness! "Each person in the room will think that he is going to be the next victim." Yeah. Right.
   It then explained how "This 7 inch long playing 33 1/3 RPM special haunted house sound effects record can be yours for only"- more red balloon letters- "$1.00 (+25 cents for postage and handling)" 
   It actually claimed "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back." It was right there above the sectioned off space.
You could tell it was for cutting out and sending away for the record. It was  cordoned off by those tiny little dashes. 
   "THE GAYLE HOUSE" the address read. " Dept H2. P.O. Box 512, Flushing,  New York 11352 (Please Print) followed by the lines for your name, address, etc etc. "DON'T DELAY. USE THIS RUSH COUPON TO ORDER TODAY!" The blue floating arrow said. 
   "Be the first in your neighborhood to get this record and invite your friends over for a Haunting!" it repeated in pathetic red. This thing was going to be such a stinker.
   Under the reaching ghoul shone a fine little illustration of a plastic record and tiny letters listing it's contents.
    "Side 1: The Haunting. 
    "Side 2: Assorted creepy sounds to be played when the lights are out!"
    I picked up the plastic disc in its dirty white sleeve. The same contents were listed on it. Beside the elaborate and colorful album collection this creased up offering was disappointingly blank. It was a stark white. Well it did only cost a dollar after all.
   I guess all the instructions were in the ad. Like all cheap novelty mail orders in the business I expected the ad had already provided more entertainment than the product would ever have to offer. 
   Cheesy. It's gonna be cheesy and lame and poorly done. I mean, just look at the last sentence.  "This record creates a real atmosphere of terror with sounds that can almost be seen!" Oh, for sure...
    So why was he so freaked out? What charged the atmosphere with such a chilling storm of expectancy?
    The crickets outside the half opened screen door had completely stopped. I couldn't say when. There was no sound of the wind rushing through the trees.
    The breeze had totally ceased. I could barely hear the soft roaring of the highway traffic down the road. It usually moaned slowly between our houses and the interstate. Now, the source of that constant background noise seemed especially muffled. I felt like the whole house was trapped in a bubble that ended just at the yard's boundaries.The air began to stale.
     The automated arm carried the needle over to the abbreviated plastic disc spinning lazily on the huge turntable. 
    The crackling sounds of the record had been decreased greatly by the cleaning I had given it with dad's products. A fresh stylus had helped, too. The rhythm of one remaining flaw scritched monotonously in the gigantic speakers. It was a mechanical heartbeat; regular and familiar. It should have reassured me but it felt more like an approaching storm as the record began.
   There it was again. The drawn out groan of the mother of all creaky doors. Colossal and echoing, it squealed on longer than it was necessary. Then the shuffling gait. By the time the narrator's voice started I had determined for myself I was safely alone and sat back in dad's big sofa chair content.
   "Do not be afraid." A badly acted voice droaned. "I have come from the world of the unliving to warn you. This place is haunted by a Blood Banshee!"
     "If you do not leave at once, each of you will die one..."
    What followed was a miserable sound like someone doing a wounded moose call through an empty toilet paper roll.
    "It's too late" the narrator, a ghost guide perhaps, said dramatically, "the banshee is already here. You are DOOMED." 
    Then the fruitcake faded off to safety.
   "I must GO now...I must go...I must go..."
    I'd never heard of a Blood Banshee. I had prided myself on knowing about all the monsters. Even Dungeons and Dragons never, ever, mentioned a blood banshee.
     Banshees were well known. They were the spectral washer women of some Irish family's ancestors. By all reports, they exist to herald the next death in the family.
    This thing, whatever they claimed it was, sounded big and beastly. Its' groan was pathetic. It stomped onto the soundtrack to the noise of one heavy boot being slapped onto the floor.   
   "IT'S IN THE ROOM!" a boy cried.
    More footsteps. More moose calls. It didn't sound like it was hard to outrun. Sure enough, the kid got caught.
   "No, please. Let go of my arm. Please. PLEASE!", followed by sounds of commotion that sounded nothing more than a sound effects man rubbing a wooden chair around on the floor.
   A few seconds of this, and the kid was done for. He let out two short screams and then... the most hilarious sounds I had ever heard recorded. 
    More clear than anything else before it,  the sound effects man had put the mike right to his lips. The sipping noises he was making were, positively, juvenile.
   "Hueeyoo, hueeyoo...sip sip sip!"
   I burst out laughing. This was grand! How could anyone be scared by this?
    It was as childlike as the booger ghost story -"I've gotch you where I want you and now I'm gonna eatch you!"- or Bloody Fingers. Stories we'd tell each other in the closet when we were, what, five?
   Well, this did fit that era. As sophisticated as Laverne and Shirley.
   Ever so slowly, the monster continued its rampage. It went after another boy, howling its miserable sounding call.
   "It's not gonna get me! I'm gettin' outta here!", the other boy proclaimed. I guess he wasn't fast enough either.
   "NO! Somebody HELP me! I don't  WANNA die!"
   Again with the chair, scrabbling it back and forth. This time the sound effects guy threw in a couple glasses, shattering them for good measure. 
   "No. No...AAAAAH AAAAH!" This boy screamed twice, too. Then the close up sipping and lip smacking, again.
   Suddenly, the tortured hinges of the ancient door were back. It was the only thing to elicit a true picture in my mind on the whole recording. With it, came the terribly overdramatized narrator.
   "I have returned to DESTROY this evil creature!", he warbled. "With this STAKE, I will END THE CURSE of this demon FOREVER!!!"
   The creature's only reply was to repeat itself.  It was the only sound it seemed able to make. "Hrooooo! HarooOoo!!"
   A different sound rang out. The special effects man had gone for broke and started hammering a window pane.
    It was explained by a man's voice. "It's TRYING to GET OUT the WINDOW!" he yelled.
   A two chair tussle ensued. The sound effects man must have had one in each hand as someone smashed bottles of glass over his head. 
   Then came the best line yet. "The STAKE! The STAKE! Give me STAKE!!"
   They must have had the thing pinned because all it could do was continue to moan. This time, it seemed more in pain as the sound effects man smacked a piece of wood against a baseball bat.
   Plonk! "HarooOoo!" - once
   Plonk! "HarOOOOO!" - twice
   Plonk! "Harooooo!" - the thing was sounding tired now.
   Plonk! - the fourth shot and it was done.
    Then the narrator dragged himself over to get the last word in. Apparently, he had been mortally wounded, himself. 
   "It's days of evil are OVER!" his pompous voice stated."the BLOOD BANSHEE is dead"
    With that groan, he expired along with the time left on that side of the record. It ended with a final hiss and pop of the needle.
   I stood up and looked at it spinning on the turntable. I lifted it off and held it, just looking at it. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. At least I didn't waste a dollar twenty five on it. 
   It was everything, everything awful that is, I had expected of it. There was a charm to it that made you want to play it again and again. I flipped it over in my hands and set it back on for side two.
   As the automated arm carried the stylus  over to the edge of the record, I noticed the crickets had stopped again. 
   On the wall, to my right, was a picture under glass. In it's glare was the reflection of the table lamp in the back door. What I saw after the needle set down made me turn and wish there was room to back away.
   There was something standing in the corner. Or, rather, it was standing in the far corner of the living room's reflection. The reflection in the sliding glass door.
    That would put it right next to me!
    I looked over at the corner of the room figuring this was it. It was the end for sure.
   There was nothing there!
   I turned my head back to the figure standing in the glass. Lightning bolts of fear traveled up and down my body, tickling my ribs with ice and making my hair stand on end.
    I felt like one of those cartoons, stretched up high and eyes popping out with fright. Isn't this how it happened in the movies?
   Good GOD! I'M in a MONSTER MOVIE!, I thought. This wasn't good.
   Through my fear, I studied this thing as I watched it glare at me. From my point of view, pressed back against the wall next to the record player, I could clearly see it in the lamp's light.
    There was no mistaking it.
    It was the Blood Banshee. 
    It wore an immaculate sheet like a cloak. Pointed nails at the end of its' feet poked from underneath the hem. It's hooded face came into the light as it approached me. Side two started to play. 
   The volume dial turned, by itself, all the way up. The first sounds, as you'd know if you've heard it, are a repeat of the Banshee's howl. 
  The noise hit the room like a freight train. I looked into its greedy yellow eyes.
    The blue scales on its rubbery face parted ever wider, revealing it's tusked mouth, big as a walrus. And the hand came up. A claw of  matching blue scales reached out. Nails dug upward the same way it's pictured in the ad; pleading. It was calling out for my blood. 
   It took two shuffling steps towards me. My panic rose as I pressed myself back into the wall and I felt my own howl rising. I was gonna scream! Scream like a little girl.
   Then it turned and walked slowly across the reflection of the room, towards the edge of the door.
     It didn't move like in the movies. It didn't ratchet or flick around super fast. It just walked slowly, step by step, as if it knew that I couldn't do a thing about it. 
   It reached the side of the reflection and  passed from view just as the howling on the record ceased. A very lame attempt at a werewolf call was next, but I wasn't even interested.
    I looked into the darkness of the screen door. I was positive nothing was out there. I could see the bird feeder and the bushes at the back of the yard. It hadn't walked past the door. 
   By the time the ludicrous cries of a torture victim warbled on the record, I had worked up the courage to go to the door and slide it shut. I had to make sure it didn't come in from outside.
    What was I thinking?! How much more inside could it get? I couldn't think straight. I knew I had to close the door. I had to complete the reflection. I had to see where it had gone even if it was gonna get me.
    I could imagine sliding the door shut and it's reflection would be right there in my face. Or worse, the reflection of him standing behind me. 
    The sounds of a creeper moaning and pinching a screaming woman played in the background. He cackled in delight.
   I put a hand on the door. I slid the door shut. I was, once again, all alone in the room. 
    I hadn't seen him as he'd moved through the reflection of the kitchen window or of any of the rooms along the first floor. All I knew was that he had gone. I didn't realize at the time where he had moved on to. 
    I didn't hear the screams of the neighbors three doors away and across the  street. By all reports later, nobody had. 
   At some time that night, a whole family disappeared without a trace.
   It took two weeks for someone to notice. Another week for the story to come out. That was long enough for me to fail to make the connection. 
    As it happened, both parents didn't show up for work and their daughter didn't make it to school. Phone calls were made. 
    When all attempts at contact went unanswered, finally, the authorities were notified.
   They entered a house that was as empty as the deck of a ghost ship. Beds were used.  Their cars were in the driveway. 
    They were gone just like that.
    Afterwards, nobody knew how much further it went on. It was too widespread. The news agencies could have added things up had there been any reports.
   It became a silent epidemic as years went by. Word of any incidents went unspoken. It wasn't even an urban legend.  
   How many thousands...thousands of families fell victim to the alien visitor.
    It took twenty five years, or more, before it was brought to my attention. What had I unleashed on the world that night? What would it take to combat it?
    The ad for the Gayle House Haunting sunk back into obscurity. The album was forgotten. 
    The killings went on, unbeknownst to anyone, for decades.