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       Crawlspace: A Story From Scary Stories: A Collection of Horror- Volume 4, p.1

           Billy Wells
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Crawlspace: A Story From Scary Stories: A Collection of Horror- Volume 4


  A Story From Scary Stories: A Collection of Horror-Volume 4

  Copyright © 2014 by Billy Wells

  This story is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.



  About Billy Wells

  Reviews in Today’s World

  Other Books By Billy Wells


  Alex and Mia, two young reporters from The Daily Chronicle, peered at the black foreboding structure through the trees the townsfolk called Hell House. Alex had parked his Toyota at the entrance to the town cemetery, which bordered the property and provided an adequate view. Gnarled leafless trees surrounded the black clapboard frame house only a stone’s throw from a hillside of broken tombstones dating back to 1651. The gray overcast sky and the chill in the air added to the somber, disquieting feeling Mia felt in her bones just looking at the structure.

  This past April, a secretive, humpbacked man the neighborhood kids had nicknamed ‘Creepy’ had purchased this house and moved in. He had become the “Boo Radley” of Black Falls.

  Mia heard Joyce Haines, the mysterious recluse’s closest neighbor, had snapped a picture of him driving by in his dilapidated black hearse the day he arrived and posted it on Facebook. No one had seen him since.

  His ominous residence was scary and intimidating just like the reputation of the creepy eccentric owner himself. That’s why Mia had urged Alex to come with her. He was adamantly opposed to the idea, but agreed to accompany her grudgingly even after she wouldn’t let him feel her boobs.

  Mia knew this could be just another wild goose chase like so many others, but she was hopeful and driven. Something in her gut told her there was a compelling story here.

  She peered at the substantial, weather-beaten structure through binoculars. “The windows are so dirty, it's like a second layer of curtains, but I believe I see a light inside,” she said, sitting on the passenger side of Alex’s Toyota Sienna.

  “Let’s forget this,” Alex groused. “It's not right to bother the old man. He’s obviously doesn’t want to know his neighbors. We should leave him alone.”

  “Alex, we need one more article for The Chronicle. It goes to press tomorrow night. A piece about this weirdo and the infamous Hell House will be a perfect story to fill the gap.

  Mia had discovered in her preliminary research the house had a malevolent history of death and dismemberment precipitated by a mad doctor named Angus Gloom. Neighbors located a quarter of a mile away had reported recurring nocturnal screams from the residence to the authorities during the summer of 1989. A search warrant and the consequent inspection of the property revealed Dr. Gloom had performed ghastly experiments on homeless people over a forty-year period. Skeletons chained to various torture devices and operating tables told the grisly story the prosecution believed would have yielded thirty-nine consecutive life sentences. The public outrage ended when Gloom hanged himself in his cell awaiting trial.

  The records at the town hall indicated Gloom’s son, Barnabas, inherited the property. But, due to the scandal surrounding it, he let it fall into ruin for many years until the mysterious recluse with the black hearse had taken ownership this year.

  Creepy had been the talk of the town for over a month after he moved in, but of late, the gossip had died away. Now, there was only an occasional prank of a teenager creeping up on his porch and ringing the doorbell after dark. Even then, the recluse never answered the door.

  “I don’t know why you wanted to drive out here when you know no one has seen the creep since the day he arrived,” Alex bellyached.

  “This is the only lead we have on a story to meet tomorrow’s deadline,” Mia explained.

  “The old codger may have died in this old house for all we know. He’s old. And you know from the kid’s pranks he won’t answer the door.”

  “We'll see.”

  Alex almost dropped his teeth when Mia got out of the car, threaded her way through the trees to the front door, and rang the doorbell.

  When no one answered after several minutes elapsed, she rang it again.

  In the meantime, Alex had gathered his courage, particularly since he assumed the old man would not open the door anyway. He exited the car and joined Mia at the front door.

  When he planted his feet alongside hers and joined in her waiting, Mia said curtly, “Well, Alex. You should forget about a career as a reporter. You don't have the constitution for it, or should I say, the balls.”

  “That's not it at all. I don't want to harass the old man who obviously doesn't want to be bothered.”

  “Really. The way your lip is quivering I’d say you don’t like knocking on doors of a house where people were slaughtered next to a graveyard.”

  Alex fumed at the remark, but couldn’t deny it.

  They had waited an inordinate amount of time and were about to give up and return to the car when the door creaked open. Alex almost browned his shorts.

  “What do you want?” the eerie voice inside the door rasped.

  “We're reporters from The Daily Chronicle. I‘m Mia Phillips and this is Alex Post. You are the newest member of our community, and we would like to include you in this month’s Get To Know Your Neighbor section of the paper. Do you have a few minutes you could spare to tell us a little about yourself?”

  After a long silence, the door opened wider. Almost in a whisper, the voice said, "Come in.” The invitation reminded Alex of Bela Lugosi as Dracula inviting the realtor into his castle in Transylvania.

  They followed the creepy little man into the foul-smelling gloom. From the foyer, he led them into a small room lit only by one flickering candle in a candelabra for eight. “Have a seat anywhere,” the humpback wheezed.

  With only one candle burning, the room painted black, and two barely visible ebony sofas facing each other, the reporters had to feel for a place to sit. Finally, Alex disappeared into the darkness to the left close to the entry door. Mia plopped down on something leathery across from the grizzled old man.

  As Mia peered at the two gaps in the upper row of his yellow teeth, she decided the nickname, Creepy, suited the old man perfectly. In addition to his grotesque deformity, he was cross-eyed and had a baldhead with ugly sores oozing pus. He also walked with a silver-tipped cane and dragged his left foot behind him.

  Mia settled herself in the blackness, and rifling her purse for a pen to take shorthand, she said to the ugly man cloaked in shadow, “I'm sorry, sir, but could you turn on the light? I need to jot down a few notes during the interview, and the candlelight is rather dim.”

  “I'm truly sorry, Miss,” he croaked. “I don't have the electricity turned on yet.”

  The guttering flame of the lone candle casting weird irregular shadows on her steno pad made her heart beat faster.

  She took a deep breath. “Let's start with your name.”

  “My name is Vladimir Frankenstein,” the doctor replied with almost a lisp.

  “Vladimir… Frankenstein,” Mia repeated eerily. “The same as the surname of the fictional character in Mary Shelley's book?”

  “The same. It was my mother's favorite novel all her life. It was actually a great love story.”

  “But Frankenstein…is that your real name?”

  “I come from a long line of Frankensteins long before Mary Shelley was even born.”

  “Really. How fascina
ting. And what did you do for a living before you retired and moved to Black Falls?”

  “Oh, I haven't retired. I'm still doing research, the same as I have since I was a young man.”

  Mia pondered his reply. “What kind of research, may I ask?”

  “Genetic research, cloning, organ replacements…. Some reanimation.”

  Mia’s face creased with misgiving. “Mr. Frankenstein, I….”

  “Please. Dr. Frankenstein. I must insist,” he said emphatically.

  “Sorry. I came here to write an authentic article of your life for my readers. I don't think you’re taking my interview seriously.”

  The doctor twisted his grossly deformed shape closer into her space and sniggered. “Oh, but I am, I assure you. My work is a bit out of the ordinary, but everything I've told you is accurate.”

  “You’re actually experimenting with organ replacements and reanimation much like the Dr. Frankenstein in Shelley’s classic novel?”

  “Absolutely. Possibly her book and my mothers love of it inspired me to pursue these things as a career.”

  “I would think not having electricity would be a serious hindrance in your experiments,” Mia said skeptically.

  “Reanimation needs lightning not manmade electricity, and I work in the morning when the sun bathes the kitchen with more than adequate light. In a pinch, I also have a generator with a crank I can fire up if I need it.”

  They heard a sudden burst of wailing and moaning from underneath the floor.

  “What is that, Dr. Frankenstein?”

  “Those are some of the…” he paused, “lab animals whining for attention. It's getting close to feeding time.”

  “I didn't realize you have a basement. This house must be larger that it appears from the outside.”

  “Actually, it’s quite substantial. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a basement, but there is a lovely crawlspace.”

  Mia felt the fear building inside her. She was glad Alex had come with her even though she was probably more of a fighter than he was. She hoped there would be safety in numbers. “And you keep your lab animals down there?”

  “Well, to be completely frank, only the rejects from my failed experiments are down there. You know what they always say, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’” Frankenstein giggled, and Mia turned away from him in disgust, reeling from what she took as another distasteful attempt at humor. How could anyone take such a remark seriously?

  It was then Mia perceived something mounted on the wall behind the doctor she hadn’t noticed before. In the subdued light, it appeared to be the head of some kind of exotic animal, but she couldn’t identify it. She looked further along the wall, and in the far corner closer to the light; she could see a second mounted head more clearly. It had hair and horns like a buffalo, yet again, it wasn’t an animal she had ever seen before.

  Mia gathered her composure and her nerve to continue. Was she interviewing a doctor with a warped sense of humor or a raving lunatic? She asked innocently, “If the rejects are in the crawlspace, where do you keep the lab animals for your current projects?”

  “Miss, I assure you my finances do not allow me the luxury of an inventory of live specimens. Each week, a discreet man leaves what I need on the loading dock behind the house at three o’clock in the morning. I choose to avoid the prying eyes of my neighbors.”

  They heard another agonized wail from below.

  Mia muttered nervously. “It sounds like you have quite a few rejects down there.”

  “I do, but I haven’t added many. Most of them were here when I bought the house.”

  “You don’t know how many there are?”

  “No. It would be suicide to try and count them.”

  Mia decided to ignore the doctor’s remark. She was afraid of where it might lead. She wondered why Alex remained so silent. Was he so scared shitless he was speechless? She wanted to ask, but didn’t want to embarrass him if he had indeed shit himself like he had once before when a dog chased them.

  Mia continued the interview; “You say you conduct most of your research in the kitchen in the morning?”

  “I’m afraid so. It’s all I have now that my finances have dwindled, and I no longer have my castle. I never thought I’d be able to continue my work, but the owner of the house almost gave it away. When I saw how dilapidated it was, I almost decided not to buy. The crawlspace and its occupants intrigued me. They were actually the decisive selling point that caused me to change my mind.”

  “Can you give me an example of one of your projects?”

  “My last experiment was impregnating a female Doberman with the sperm of a polar bear. Both of the original species were capable of extreme violence and uncanny stamina. But, by combining them, I created a creature of staggering ferocity.”

  Mia tried to visualize the monstrosity and returned her gaze to the first mount she’s seen on the wall. Could that be a cross between a Doberman and a polar bear?

  Turning back to the doctor shrouded in shadow, she remarked, “I hate to say it, but your research sounds more like The Island of Dr. Moreau than Shelley's Frankenstein.”

  “When H. G. Wells wrote that story, the public was appalled at such a concept, but now everyone except a hayseed with his head in the sand realizes how possible such genetic couplings can be. I look forward to the day I can join humans with something as deadly as a praying mantis or a black widow spider.”

  Finding this last preposterous statement too depraved to ignore any longer, Mia could hardly breathe from the sudden crippling terror she could no longer deny. Frankenstein was clearly not a comedian; he was raving, psychotic lunatic. She knew now it was way past time to leave. It had been hard to see the doctor clearly during the interview, but now he had disappeared completely into the black interior.

  Searching for the doctor in the gloom, Mia perceived a dark shape suspended from the ceiling like a piñata with one big eye in the middle of its forehead in the darkest corner of the room. A stab of unbridled horror all but paralyzed her when the eyeball winked at her and stuck out its tongue.

  She didn’t recognize her own voice when she stammered, “Alex, Wake up. I think we've taken up as much of Dr. Frankenstein’s time as we should for one day. I have enough material for a fantastic article.”

  Mia arose from whatever she’d sat on and looked in the direction where Alex had gone when they arrived. She waited for a reply but he didn't respond. “Alex, where are you. It's time to leave.”

  “I'm sorry, Miss,” Frankenstein sniggered. “Your friend sat on the chair where a family of black widows made their web. One of them probably bit him for sitting on some of her eggs. He's probably in anaphylactic shock from the poison and can’t move a muscle.”

  Mia heard more unnerving moans and shrieks from below. To make matters worse, she heard the rumble of thunder, and the crack of lightning.

  Frankenstein croaked jubilantly, “My pets heard your voice, and they are agitated with excitement. It's been such a long time since they feasted on something alive.” His hideous laugh made her skin crawl.

  Mia made a run for the front door, but stumbled over Alex’s body lying prostrate on the floor. Before she could regain her feet, Dr. Frankenstein had stuck her in the neck with a syringe, and she slumped into a pile alongside Alex.

  Frankenstein unbolted the trapdoor and lifted the lid. The stench of both the dead and the living human and animal beings wallowing in the filth below would have gagged a buzzard, but to him, it was the sweet smell of genetic engineering.

  The doctor grabbed one of Alex’s legs, dragged him to the trapdoor, and opening it, pushed him over the side.

  Sounds of bones breaking, chewing, and flesh tearing were barely audible under the agonized screams of the male reporter.

  Even Frankenstein cringed at the horror taking place in the crawlspace. Many of the pitiful beings below were born horribly deformed in Dr. Gloom’s laboratory and had never seen the light of day.
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