Callum did not like being told what to do. Callum defied authority. Callum did not like rules that did not fit into his mindset, his way of being, his comfy zone.
When Callum was told that the old Benson house was being demolished by the town council, the old haunted Benson house, the house where all those hippies died in the sixties, he took note. He decided that no, he would sneak in before it was gone.
When he was told by his parents to never, ever enter that “house of death” he took note and decided he would sneak in that weekend.
When he was told by Mister Johnson at the hardware store where he bought batteries, candles and matches, that he shouldn’t go there, ever, he too note. When he was told by mister Johnson that a group of klan members had secret meetings there in the twenties and thirties and murdered all sorts of “coloured” drifters there, he decided he would sneak in there Saturday when his parents went to play euchre at the pub.
When he went to the library, and Ms. Morton told him that back in the late eighteen-hundreds, the Benson family held black mass there, killed a number of young girls and were eventually killed to a one by local family members under cover of night, he decided to spend the night.
When he was told by the greasy old man in the library resource room (who overheard their discussion) that there were spirits there who sought out blood, evil spirits, many evil spirits who lived in the shadows he laughed.
Callum didn’t even sneak out. He told his mother and father lies about sleeping over at a friends. He told his friend that he was staying over at another friend’s house, a friend who had no telephone service, a friend with a similar name, because Callum planned ahead and knew confusion would cover his tracks.
He walked through the forest as the sun set behind him, casting a shadow on the leaf strewn path and eventually upon the doorway of the great old homestead. Its paint was all worn away. One could see between slats of wood into the main floor. One could see through it as one would see through ones fingers held in front of ones face to shield the sun. One could see when he entered the doorway that the main floor was bare and empty and dry and dusty and not a pane of glass existed thanks to young scared boys with pellet guns.
He climbed the stair to the upper floors after deciding that even he would not brave the dark, cold, wet basement. He found a room, the only room, at the top of the long dark stair. Unlike the building, this room was black. He thought it was paint, but after moment he could tell its surface was charred. He lay out his sleeping bag in the middle of the floor knowing his mother would be unhappy with the dirt that he would have to explain away. He lay upon it his book, his alarm clock, his batteries and flashlights. He lit his four twelve hour thick pillar candles and placed them in the corners of the room. He shut the door. He sat on the bag and opened his backpack, removed water and snacks and began to read.
At ten, a candle along the wall blew out. At ten and one minute he re-lit it.
At eleven, two candles along the wall blew out. At eleven and one minute he lit one, heard a noise behind his back and turned quickly. In the shadow on the far wall, he saw a shape. He heard a noise. He turned on his flashlight and it was gone. At eleven and two minutes he re-lit that wall’s candle.
At twelve, three candles blew out. He heard the sounds and saw the shapes and turned on his flashlights and scared them away. He retrieved all four candles in the corners of the room and placed them within reach around his sleeping bag. He turned on both flashlights and held one in each hand. He shone the lights around the room, supplementing the candle light. No shadows could be seen. He sat in fear but safe in the knowledge that the shadows, where the spirits, the evil spirits resided, the evil spirits that craved blood, his blood, were vanquished. He looked at the clock. Six hours remained till dawn would break.
At two in the morning, Callum heard the noises. At two in the morning Cullum heard the noises but saw no shadows. He stood and turned around and around. He shone the dying flash lights around and when they died he lit matches and threw them into the corners of the room until they were all gone. He spun and spun and wondered aloud where the shadows were but there was only light only brightness in the black charred room then at once on a thought, he looked down. Beneath his feet, in the twisted mess of his bedding, in the dark, shadowed folds, he saw them, the eyes, the teeth, the fingers, and the noise stopped except for the sound of four candles being blown out.