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Joe was under a tight deadline. He had married the woman of his dreams and now he, his wife and her school-aged daughter were anxious to start their lives together. They had all shopped for the right piece of property to build their new home. And they all fell in love with it as soon as they saw it.
Hilly and forested, the piece had been tucked between farmers’ fields. It hadn’t been worked because the terrain was too rough and so, it had sat empty for decades, just waiting for the right people to buy it.
The moved a mobile home onto it as soon as they closed and then, with the help of a bunch of friends, dug and poured the foundation, put up the studs and enclosed the outside walls. Now it was up to him to finish the inside, so they could all move in before Christmas.
It was the weekend of Halloween. Trick or treating was held in town, so his wife had taken her daughter in for a couple hours of fun. Joe had decided it was the perfect time to get the electric wired underneath the sink in the new house. He and his dog, Brook, a black lab, walked down from the mobile home to the house.
The lines still hadn’t been run, so there was no electricity down to the home site. Joe carried a large battery-powered lantern that cast a pool of light about three feet in diameter, enough light to work with. With the lantern shoved under his arm and his tool box in his hand, Joe unlocked the door. He pushed it open and Brook darted inside, eager to explore the unfinished interior. Joe headed immediately to the kitchen.
He set his tool box on the floor next to the area where the sink would be placed and turned on the lantern. The sun hadn’t completely set, so there was still a little light coming through the windows. Pulling out his wire cutters, screw driver and 12-guage wire, he started laying out the wiring for the dishwasher and countertop outlets.
He was so engrossed in his work that he barely noticed with Brook came back into the room to join him, laying within the circle of light. The sun had set and the house was plunged into darkness, except for the glow of the lantern. At one point, Joe looked up from his work to glance around the room, the skeletal studs with wires or pipes running through them surrounded him, like a wooden jail cell. And shadows seem to waver in the corners of the house.
“I’m just freaking myself out,” he said aloud, then he stretched his shoulders and his neck to relieve the tension.
The window above the sink was open, and he was surprised to hear voices carrying through the woods. The were male voices and he decided they must be his friends. He couldn’t make out the words in the conversation, but since he was at least a mile from the road, whoever it was had to be coming to visit him. He felt a surge of relief, although he would have never admitted it, that he was going to have a little company in the dark house. “Hey, guys, I’m in the kitchen,” he called out.
The voices stopped immediately.
Joe felt a chill race up his spine.
Brook stood up, the hairs on the back of his neck bristling, and looked toward the back of the interior of the house. “What is it Brook?” Joe whispered, not really wanting to know.
A low warning growl was his response.
“Easy, Brookie, easy,” Joe said, his apprehension growing by the moment. He could feel his heart pounding and his throat becoming dry as he looked around the dark house, trying to see what Brook was seeing. Suddenly, Brook barked at something in the back of the house and the lantern went dark. Plunging them both into pitch blackness.
The dog barked and growled, but he stayed close to Joe. Joe searched wildly for his phone, to access the flashlight. Finally, phone in hand, he turned on the small light. He shone the light around the area, but it wasn’t powerful enough to reach the back, shadowy recesses of the house. Brook whined suddenly and backed up quickly. Joe felt a wave of terror wash over him. Grabbing Brook’s collar, they ran from the house, leaving the door wide open and the tools on the floor.
The next day, in the morning, he went back to the house. At first, Brook refused to enter the house, but after much persuading he did, sniffing around the back of the house with his tail tucked between his legs. Finally, after a thorough examination, Brook returned to Joe, his tail wagging and his body relaxed. Joe entered the kitchen and found his tools neatly stacked and the window above the sink closed. From that day on, he never worked on the house at night by himself and he always brought along an extra lantern, just in case.
Joe never figured out who or what was out there that night. But, this experience was just the beginning of a number of interesting adventures his family would have while living on that property.
But those are for another day.
Like what you read? Find more stories by Terri Reid here.