Authors: Mixi J Applebottom
But let me back up and tell you exactly what happened to Rachel before we speed back up to where we are now.
Rachel had been planning this event for months; this was partly my fault. She wanted to have a party, and I had a gorgeous guesthouse all set up for haunted house murder mysteries. I'd rented it out a few times now, and it's really a good way to make a killing.
Even I know that was a bad pun, but really, isn't it time for a grin?
Anyways, if you recall, Rachel went missing before everyone was dead. Before Lucy killed herself, moments before Ben was declared a corpse. Before John killed Beezer, and then himself.
She was missing when Ricky went to turn on the generator when the lights went out. She went missing really effing early on. She was absolutely gloriously pretty. Have I told you that? She was dressed like a hippie gypsy card-reading fool today, a long white lace shawl on her skinny, pretty black dress. And that goofy little headband around her forehead.
Anyways, so everything blacked out--Mikaela and Zane fell down the stairs, and the ghost with the peeled skin wandered about, Ricky ran to the generator...
And Rachel, she took the goats outside. She had a plan--she was always a girl with a plan. First off, she was still very frustrated about Rafael being dead. Beezer's leg was broken, and it was ruining her party. Her very expensive party that she had been planning for months. She pulled out her phone and looked at the solid five bars. She could call for help. But... did they need help? Would the whole party be ruined? She tugged the leash hard for Cletus and Carson. And stepped further into the night air. She needed a minute to think. This was ridiculous. Why wouldn't she call?
She bit her lip slowly and frustrated tears slowly welled up. This wasn't just a party, this was
party. It was going to be the thing that changed her whole life going forward. Her whole plan was to be a party planner for the stars; she wanted all the movie stars to call her up and plan their parties. Hell, what if she got to run the Met Gala in five years? The world's best party planner. That was what she wanted to be. No weddings, just parties.
It was her first real gig, the first overnight, very elaborate party and it was all going wrong. She was supposed to make the call. Get an ambulance for Beezer and end the party now, or let her guests be in pain and terror and ride it out to the end. If the cops came, party over. She'd failed at the biggest thing she'd ever done.
She held out the phone, tears welling up in her eyes. The goats were both nibbling at grass and weeds while she considered. But could she live with herself if she allowed this to continue?
A fat tear rolled down her cheek as she started to dial nine. Before she could press the number one, the goats yanked forward in unison. She was suddenly dragged down into the woods, both goats bleating and pulling hard. And she fell. The goats fell too, sliding down suddenly into the darkness. To the beneath. Under the ground.
It reminded me of this time when I was a kid. I was out in the woods, like Rachel was now, but it had snowed really hard. I was pretty little, maybe, five or six. Maybe even seven. So I'm walking on top of the snow, and it has crusted over just enough to hold my weight, barely. If I stepped too hard I'd sink suddenly beneath the snow.
The snow was about thigh deep on my little legs, so it was much easier to walk on top the crust of the snow. The thin ice layer. I loved it. And even though my mother told me not to go out too far into the woods--because of the bears--I didn't listen. I was walking along carefully, enjoying the crunchy, dangerous snow walking. At any moment, I might get stuck! Very exciting for a child like me, I must say. So I wandered out farther into the woods, and suddenly, the snow, did just the thing I was hoping and frightened will happen. It broke, and I sank in! But here's the thing. I didn't sink up to my thighs like I was expecting. Instead, I kept going down, down deep into the hole.
And as soon as I saw the big, sharpened sticks I knew, I just knew, I was in trouble. They didn't catch me. I was so little, I somehow just got speared in the snowsuit. But my skin, my actual skin and bones and body were just fine. I was dangling on that little wooden spear.
I knew what this was. This was a bear trap. Sharp pointy sticks in a hole in the ground. I had helped to sharpen the sticks for my father. I had helped!
And somehow, with the heavy snow, I had missed where I was walking entirely. The world looks so different with snow! So I was stuck,
I was really stuck.
But that wasn't even the problem. The problem, the way I saw it, in that moment, was that there was a bear in the trap with me. He was grimacing in pain, and looked up at me with big, frightened eyes. He didn't have much fight left in him; his brown fur was positively dripping with blood. He let out a soft growl as he looked at me, then his tongue seemed to loll from his mouth as if it was too hard to hold it in. Blood dripped off his fangs. It had obviously snowed after he had fallen in, for he was almost invisible. Took my mom two days to find me. And I'm glad that bear was there, and hadn't quite died yet. I bet I would have gotten too cold in there without him. Dad shot him, and he's in the living room right now.
So you might say I know a few things about falling into a hole, and how scary it can be. Rachel, unfortunately, was in a lot more trouble than I was. She wasn't falling into a hole with a half dead bear. She was falling into the basement with two tasty goats.
I didn't plan for them to come in the basement. In fact, I talked with Rachel about it extensively; it is not safe in the basement. Don't come to the basement. No basement at all!
I told her that I operate the "ghosts" from the basement and her party would be absolutely ruined! Absolutely ruined. I put all the locks on the door, and made sure it was obvious that this is not a safe place.
Stay out of the basement!
And then she went and did something I didn't expect at all.
Or maybe--I don't even want to say it. I doubt Richard or Amelia would have done it, I doubt they would have pulled them into the basement. The twins--Delilah and Trevor--they do sure like a giggle, and they love that I'm here in the basement. I'd say they are the ones I am closest with. But they are stuck, tied to the chandelier; they don't move.
So I guess that only leaves Oliver. I guess I shouldn't be so shocked that he'd... I just don't want to talk about that anymore. The goats dragged Rachel to a very old crumbling exit from the basement. I don't know why there was a secret basement exit. I just don't know. Maybe this house was part of the Underground Railroad at some point. Maybe it was for some sort of other, much darker purpose.
I do know it was here when I moved in a long time ago.
Anyways, I don't use it because it's crumbling. But the weight of the goats and the girl was enough to collapse the room. And in she went. Into the basement. She couldn't go out the way she came in; it had fallen just enough to block the door that would have been an exit, and it was a deep hole in the ground.
You can't just climb out. Especially not if you just fell and crushed your ankles.
Rachel was screaming bloody murder, her bones crushed and snapped. Cletus and Carson were spunky little goats and had all sorts of fight left in them. Neither were injured. Goats jump down crazy stuff all the time! But the leash was still tangled on her arm, and they were tugging in unison, starting to drag her forward. She shouted for them to stop, but goats don't care.
They dragged her several feet before Carson stopped.
I didn't want to do that, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. I put Carson's head in the sink, and I left his body at the basement stairs.
Maybe I should tell you what happened to Ben.
I didn't mean for him to get so beat up, but he was getting too far away. I promised Rachel I'd have everyone terrified out of their minds at the party. Why wouldn't I help? She wanted to spook and fright and laugh and party.
And I was gonna help.
Meanwhile, Ben goes running off with a phone and wants to end the whole thing early. Who would do that! I promised Rachel that we would make this party last two days. So yes, I chased him down, and knocked him out and dragged him into the basement and shoved him out the door. I did that. It needed to be done. I had to unlock the whole damn door and lock it back up just for him.
And unbelievably, Rachel became the very person she said she'd never be. Here I have scrambled, I have worked for it, I blocked off the main road and made sure they walked in circles. I did everything that I was supposed to do. And there she stood with a damn cellphone, begging for relief. She didn't want to party.
If I sound angry, I was angry. That was why I beheaded Carson. Ever got so mad you just chopped the head off a goat with an ax? Believe me. It's not fun.
I dragged Rachel inside the basement and tied her to the wall. "You said you wanted this." My words were harsh and angry, but it was so damn unfair.
She came to me.
I wasn't gonna kill anyone.
Okay, so I might have killed Ben, but that wasn't my fault. I didn't know he couldn't take a licking and keep on ticking. Must have been a heart condition or something.
I feel like I should be explaining or apologizing to you, but, you get me. Don't you?
So Rachel is tied up, in my basement. I can't let her go, I told her that this party was going to be awesome. And they got distracted and stopped doing the things they should have been doing.
They should have been solving puzzles. Pay attention to the damn ghosts! Do I think Oliver wants to stand around skin flapping and nobody looking at her? Hell no. The twins have been dying of boredom. And these damn kids won't even pay them mind. They're so busy freaking out and killing each other over literally nothing.
So I tied her up. Now you know.
I know you are terribly clever and have already figured it out. And yes, you're right. The others are down here too.
Beth and Zane and gorgeous Mikaela with her pretty sparkly dress. They wandered off the path when they heard Cletus bleating. They turned and ran, shouting together and also fell in that damn hole. College kids, am I right?
Anyways, I let them into the basement and tied them all up next to Rachel.
Then we waited.
Mike was the next one to hear the goat, bleating his sweet little cry. It didn't take much to make Cletus beg for help, honestly. Just a few plucked strands of fur and he'd let out a real good one. I'd barely even call it torture.
Jenny and Tiffany followed quickly, and soon, they were all tied in the basement. I forgot about Ricky.
I had my hands full.
So there they were--Rachel, worn out from sobbing, and silently hanging with her hands over her head. I put them in order, arms up in the sky. Beth, then Zane & Mikaela
(the twins honestly are beside themselves with excitement to meet another set of twins. I don't think they ever met other twins while they were living.)
Then Mike, Jenny, and Tiffany.
Honestly, if they hadn't hung there so long, I wouldn't know, I wouldn't know all these things about them. I certainly couldn't tell you their sweet little stories if they hadn't come down to the basement. This was where I learned about Tiffany banging Beezer and aborting her baby. This was where I learned that Mikaela had a little boy. I heard the fearful, intimate, teary-eyed stories they told each other, while I sat and listened quietly.
I don't think I've ever seen anything so beautiful.
But then, my damn house was on fire.
I know I was a handful as a kid; most people wouldn't have put up with me. Not just because I kept going into the woods where I shouldn't have been. But I was different. I still am, I suppose.
I daresay not many people would keep living here after the things that I have seen. After the things I have done. But what else can I do? I don't have anywhere else to go. This house is a part of me. It's always been a part of me. The only other time it has been on fire, I got it put out awful quick. It was before...