House of Hanging – A Horror Tale
During a cold autumn night the rain drizzled while I watched a video online appearing in my recommended watchlist that piqued curiosity about a house, in the middle of a tiny town in Mississippi that naming it would only give it credence, which led me driving to the house daring the pouring rain. Rain battered down like a marching bands drumline on my roof while I laid on the couch, laptop warmly resting on my chest, thumbing through videos about America’s southern hauntings when I came across a peculiar, spooky and somewhat haunting video about a house not far from where I stayed. It popped up, “Watch this,” it said. The video was short, a mere seven minutes and thirty-seven seconds. The house stayed on the corner of two roads curving into each other forming a crooked t-shaped intersection. It consisted of two-stories tall with three windows in the upstairs, two on the sides and one slightly above in the middle containing the attic. A side porch came out to the right with the door facing the driveway. The front of the house had nothing but a dining room window with a dying flower bed beneath. I’ll leave the streets names unnamed to see to it that no one else ventures wittedly into this home. I hope potential buyers avoid it and never accidentally wander across it in an ad. It’ll leave you suspended as it did me.
Sitting and staring at my computer screen I wondered what about this house attracted such thoughts and conspiracy. My name is Rob Graham, I work for the Commercial Times here in the county, seeing as there are hardly any stories here in this tiny town I must get out to find the story. Tonight, a story popped in my recommended videos that may have changed the course of my life and brought terrible memories of
my past wife back to the front of my mind. It brought back the shame, regret, and melancholy. An unfinished letter, trying to be poetic, laid by my side to my past wife. I should throw it away. I should let go of past memories but I simply can not. Memories are only for me and more pleasant than reality. The story called and I clicked to watch. The video played.
The crude video is part of a series filmed across the states of reportedly haunted sights. This particular episode debuted thirty-one days ago and has since received over a thousand views, it was nothing viral. The video paused. Again I clicked play on my computer and watched the video. It drove me beyond average curiosity and drove me to the house to see it for myself. The camera work and speaker showed little and left more to wonder. While watching it I had tabs opened up doing my own research of the house to uncover some mystery and trivia for myself.
This house had a nickname, the Hanging House. It was built in the late 1800s by a former slave owner after he lost his plantation due to losing his slaves and his lack of maintenance upkeep. His name was Thomas Finman, an old master that couldn’t let go of old ways. Reportedly he killed many of his slaves that wouldn’t stay after the war. He was cruel to the woman and had no kindness to the children. He beat them regularly. After Thomas died his house went to his children, strictly a line of woman, no man to carry out his name. Good, I thought. I read the last in his blood was just as cruel as he was. Her name was Kathyrn Porter.
Kathyrn died at age thirty-five, but her children weren’t so lucky to reach a ripe age. Her husband was much younger at only twenty-four years old he died. After the Porter family was gone the house never held a resident for over a month. Most moved out after a week, some residents only after twenty-four hours. The Hanging House was on the market, the Hanging House was always on the market.
* * *
A woman of fine beauty, but with a reserved sense of style, hosted the program with just a cameraman. Her name was Abby Spinner. “Here we are, outside . . . Mississippi.” The video cut out at the mention of the towns name. It was taken outside the “Welcome to Mississippi” sign on the interstate. She did a curtsy as she said it. “Hello y’all, Stephen and I, Abby, are going to a reportedly spooky place here in . . .” The video cut out again. “Mississippi to see if the rumors are true. We’re going to do a tour inside and talk about it’s history.” They drove to the house at night talking about the house, about Kathyrn. “Kathyrn was reportedly only thirty-five years old when she died.” They arrived after a few pieces of dialogue that couldn’t be heard. The graveling sound of the tires told us that. She walked into the house with the cameraman following behind her as she described it’s history. “Built in the late 1800s by a former slave owner after he lost his plantation and could not maintain the upkeep.” Abby said.
The woman led the camera into the living room, fully furnished with paintings of Picasso-esque type. The layout of the furniture had no understanding of order. The couch’s back rested against the fireplace, paintings were crooked, the window appeared stained with a black paint to avoid it’s primary function, and the coffee table sat near a nightstand, away from the chair. Nothing made sense, nor did Abby comment on it.
* * *
I threw on my hooded coat, exchanged my workout shorts for blue jeans and got in my car. I drove through the rain fighting the increasing need of my car to slide off the road into a ditch. Months ago I should have replaced my tires.
My past wife always complained about that. Now I’m alone continuing to make mistakes. Despite my tires I trudge onward coming closer to the house, and as I came closer the clouds become darker and numerous.
When I finally made it there, I saw no street lights of any kind, with the area being covered by a blackening cloud. My headlights shone on the garage and lit up the side of the house. I could see the upstairs attic window. For a flicker somebody appeared inside, I didn’t let it spook me. The porch facing the trees to the right side of the property appeared to be depressing and a sad sight upon the eyes. A swinging bench on the porch, that I’m sure has not been used in a long time, seemed surprising to have not been stolen. I’m sure the children played swung on it often watching cars drive by. I walked towards the front door, with hesitation, stepping onto the old planks that resembled steps, and placed my hand on the door knob and instantaneously an image of
my past wife manifested itself in my mind. I thought of the unfinished letter to her and how sorry I was. She was sick, my past wife.
* * *
Abby and her cameraman Stephen led us into the kitchen with quiet desperation. I could feel it in the tone of her voice. “We’re here in the kitchen that old lady Katheryn cooked many meals for her late husband, Thomas, and her two children. She would lock her children in the car, pour kerosene over it and light it on fire, leaving the children there to die. She abandoned them to die.” The cameraman aimed his camera at the kitchen stove as she spoke these words and pulled it up to the kitchen cabinets. White flour remained stuck on the handles. The glass cabinet, normally plates and chineware would be stored, instead had a length of rope and pictures of Kathryn’s animal pets on the stands that the plates would normally go on.
* * *
Turning the front door knob I let myself in, not considering of it being locked. With it being fully furnished, and on the market, it should have been. Darkness encompassed the room, with light bearing through the available windows where it could. I turned on a flashlight to find some light for my eyes to see. The windows were stained with a sort of black, not that from paint I could tell. The furniture looked yellow unlike in the video. All of the furniture appeared yellow. A nightstand and lamp blocked the fireplace. Freshly burnt ash with a log nearby laid there. On the wall, the paintings captured my attention. I stared at the one between the two front windows looking onward at the street in front. It appeared to be a woman with disfigured proportions and a engorging nose, holding a cross with his right hand but placed on his left. The candle lit with a blazing fire and behind him appeared to be a dog, or a wolf, but with claws protruding from its mouth. It shook me. The front door closed. The rain pounded harder.
* * *
Abby and Stephen went to the first of two rooms downstairs. With two more being upstairs followed by the attic. The first room, behind the kitchen, contained two twin beds for small children. The walls were painted baby blue. Two twin beds were in the center, a nightstand between them, and clothing drawer in front of them. A phoenix, painted above both beds, seemed to be moving, but it must have been the camera playing a trick. The one above the left bed away from the door had a phoenix taking off, it’s wings were spread and a fiery gust of wind blew behind it. The other above the bed nearest the door, seemed as if it were landing to attack its prey. This room lacked any windows. Light beaming from Stephen’s camera had lit up the room.
“This is the room where her children slept.” Abby said. “This is reportedly where she took her children from their sleeping beds to lead them to doomed fate. Afterwards she came home and made their beds. Like nothing happened.” Abby was quiet. The camera clicked and flashed back on.
They went back and behind the staircase in the living room they entered the second bedroom. It had two windows facing the door. A loveseat faced the corner and a writing desk on the opposite side of the room. It had no carpet, just a rectangular rug in the center that included a pattern of overlapping squares.
Stephen aimed the camera at Abby. “Kathryn’s husband, Robert, would stay late into the night writing his manuscripts. Many, as you can see on the floor and plastered to the wall, were unfinished.” The camera panned across the room noticing the manuscripts, many pages with a single sentence or with scattered letters typed. Some pages had meaningless text like “fdaipfjdaipfojdaiopf” over and over as if out of frustration, or boredom.
* * *
I couldn’t breathe. The air was thick with humidity, I choked on it.
* * *
Abby gasped at the scrapes from scratches on the wall in the center like a dog locked in a room trying to get out. There were not on the door though, whatever scraped appeared attempting to cut through the wall, seemingly for freedom. The cameraman turned around and the darkness from the room seeped out into the living room.
The cameraman waited at the staircase as Abby shuffled to circumvent him and proceed upstairs. Pictures were spaced out out along the stairs going up the wall. They were not evenly spaced out. I’m a mathematician, a professor at the City University, and could see they followed the golden ratio. Nothing natural about the way they were placed. The stairs creased and bent as they went up and landed on the second story.
* * *
I felt flabbergasted by the awkwardness of the living room and more so by the kitchen. They had no forks, or spoons but only knives in the drawers. As I attempted to open the cabinets they pulled away from me, not wanting to open, and inside lacked nothing but unique items such as paper, matches, lighter fluid, and a single looking glass. The kitchen sink seemed stained brown with rust. The floor also stained with paint, like a last attempt to renovate the kitchen before murdering her children, seemed fresh. Unimaginable as it felt difficult to breathe and even harder to smell, it pained to do so while I stayed in the kitchen.
My past wife loved to cook. I always hated the result.
I went to the bedroom letting my flashlight guide me through the halls and into the first bedroom, which appeared to be the childrens room. Images flashed in my mind of the final restful night the children slept in this room before their mother burned them alive in her car. Their beds were still freshly made with the sheets tucked underneath and pillows laid on top, with no head to squish them in. The door had a lock only on the outside, to lock a prisoner in their cell I suspect. The dead birds above the beds I knew to be odd, like the mother tortured her children every night before she burned them alive. Walking out of the room, I felt a chill brush against my shoulder that let a shiver down my spine. I dared not look back.
Following the wall with my flashlight I went around the staircase to the second bedroom downstairs, which appeared smaller than the other and seemingly used as an office. Disorganized and flustered like the living room, this bedroom consisted nothing of forethought. Nothing seemed to be in its right place. The reclining chair faced the corner wall opposing me with a desk right in the center of the room. The ceiling fan, placed to the corner to my right, seemed off. It’s blades would hit the wall if turned on. Clearly drilled there into the ceiling with purpose. I opened the closet, another door greeted me. I opened it. A wall. A wall! Looking back, I left the room.
The stairs were difficult to navigate. They lacked a railing to hold onto. Every step took a maddening effort to climb. The stairs extended far beyond their need. Memories of the
past permeated my head. I could not breathe, my throat seemed to be swollen. The day I met my wife swelled until it popped like a red balloon. Our first date, at the county fair. Our first kiss at the top of the ferris wheel. We fell in unison love then. I remembered when we went on a vacation together, in a cross-country trip where I inevitably proposed and she in return inevitably said yes. Never were we more in love than then, my past wife and I.
Something seemed not right about this house I thought but I took another step, climbing my way up like a mountaineer. The pictures were part of the wall in a way our souls are part of our bodies, like wallpaper, burned into the wood. Somebody colored and designed the wood in a haunting fashion. I took my final step, I stepped onto the second floor. A shelf with three flowers greeted me. They were alive, but evolving into something dead.
My past wife would complain.
* * *
Abby called out to her cameraman, “Stephen. Stephen bring the light here.” He shined it at the stairs landing where a shelf came protruding from the wall. Three miniature statues sat, a fox, a goat, and something that may have resembled an elephant crossed with some sort of land beast, like a cheetah. It’s trunk had teeth. I paused it here to examine the statues, they were grey and about five inches in height, the statues moved slightly with my paused video page.
Stephen went ahead of Abby to the left, slightly opening the door to reveal the bathroom. For a small home, the bathroom had been spacious.. The mirror had a lengthy crack and the bathtub did not have a shower, just the oval shaped tub standing off the ground with it’s four legs. He pointed the camera down at the tub. “Abby, come here, what’s that in the bathtub?”
“What is that? Is that dried . . . blood?” A dried crust of crimson color around the bathtub drain. Stephen crept back out of the bathroom leaving Abby staring at the walls. He turned the camera around heading across the hallway into the next bedroom. The master bedroom. Abby went in front of him marching in. “This is just as . . . strange as the rest of the house. I feel a presence here.” An audible shiver from Stephen heard on the camera’s audio. One couldn’t tell if Abby was attempting to be haunting in her voice, acting, or if she actually was spooked. The camera shook as it’s vision went around like a popcorn machine.
Stephen raised the camera and panned it across the room. It had a desk, clothing drawer, a large window that overlooked an oak tree right outside of it, with its branches banging on the window, and the master king size bed. Stephen aimed the camera at Abby.
“Here is the bed that Kathyrn and her husband, Rob, laid in. Slept every night.” Abby said. “After she piled her two children in her car, poured kerosene over it, and burnt them alive, she returned home to fix her childrens beds and then knifed her husband to death in his sleep. She then made the bed, the same as the children.”
It happened after they panned away, then back to the master bed.Underneath the tucked-in blanket of the bed had a large lump on the left size, large enough to have been a body. The body didn’t move.
“Holy shit, what is that?” Abby said. It laid as calm and unmoving as a bolder in the wind. It had an emptiness to it, lack of life, yet, danger filled in the atmosphere. Their voices could not be heard as Abby and Stephen spoke, just key words with seemingly obvious bits of important dialogue skipped. The footage had no edit. Looking into the reflection they used an old dvd recording camera. Stephen was also an amatuer.
“Don’t touch it. Let’s go.” Stephen said. The camera stayed on Abby as she approached the bed from the right side. The branches banging on the window became louder until they stopped. The branches were still, lowering themselves against the window, scratching and screeching their way down. “We need to leave, Abby.” He called out to her.
* * *
The walls are weird.
My past wife was sick.
* * *
“Let’s go to the attic.” She said, as she began walking up the steps. “In the attic, after killing her two children by burning them alive, and knifing her husband, Kathyrn went to the attic to hang herself.” Stephen turned the flashlight around and panned it behind her so she could see the stairs and her feet stepping on them. Despite the light beaming from the camera, darkness crept upwards. Lurking its way into the attic behind them. It was noticeable on the camera.
* * *
I made it to the second floor and looked around at the old house, questioning how it still stood despite it’s structural damage and amateurish build. I stepped to the right down a hallway seeing a bedroom, a closet, and a bathroom. The bathroom, nearest to me, is where I went into first. I felt nauseated remembering the video of Abby and Stephen, this building is not the same from what I watched. Now that I thought about it, the building outgrew it’s outside structural dimensions. The hallway had grotesque wallpaper, dying brown flowers spread out among a field of weeded dirt. A crying little girl laid among the flowers. Her eyes were opened, she wore red overalls, and a straw hat, and she seemed ready to sprint but being held against her will she remained inert. So it appeared by my eyes. I blinked. She resembled
my past wife.
Stepping into the bathroom with my flashlight first I carefully shove the door out of my way, waving my light across it. Different and disturbing the room appeared. The mirror seemed in fine order, the wallpaper had a maroon color, and the tile floor was made of a crude linoleum. I imagine many people have puked and slept on that linoleum. The bathtub had dirt in it like it was only used to wash filthy children who played too much in a ditch and tracked in mud.
My past wife hated kids.
Crossing the hallway to the master bedroom I notice some pictures that Kathryn had hung up. The frames were nailed in through the wood with Kathryn, her husband, and two children. There were three kids here, though, I wondered where the third child could be found. The third child, unfamiliar to me, had blonde hair in contrast to all others brown, and seemed older than the others. His eyes were red. He wore a flannel shirt and blue jeans, again in contrast to the other members wearing dress clothes. He held a length of rope.
The door to the master bedroom was shut and the knob stiff and unmoving as I attempted to turn it, it seemed to resist purposely my hand twisting it, and one would think it had a mind of its own. It did not. Placing the flashlight between my arm and chest I pulled as hard as I could to open the door and it snapped open and lunged me into the room nearly falling face first. It felt like being in a pressurized submarine. I looked up while lifting up the flashlight to examine the room. The master bed sat to my right, with a writing desk, and a drawer in front of it. Nothing laid in the bed beside a great quilted blanket tucked in at all sides. No windows existed in this room. Still, light seemed to penetrate from the moon and stars outside into the room.
* * *
“We’re approaching the attic, shine it above me so I can see, Stephen!” The camera struggled in his hands as he aimed it ahead. The attic’s location above was strange and not placed correctly. “Damnit, I can’t see. Focus it.”
“I’m trying to, Abby! It’s hard to hold it and walk on these stairs, they’re steep as hell.” He spoke! That voice.
My past wife would speak of that voice.
* * *
It glowed and radiated with an unknown source from above. The attic, I thought! That’ll be where I’ll find what is causing the light to shine so bright in this room. I left the room, immediately being swept forward by the force of the door shutting behind me. The pressure of the room that kept beings out and things in. My eyes closed and I imagined how
my past wife would decorate this room. She would’ve preferred a window for a beautiful view of the world and not to feel locked in a cell as a prisoner in solitary confinement. I went over to the attic door and thought of the resistance, but it opened welcomingly and warmly beckoning me upstairs. I heard my past wife calling.
* * *
Abby went up the steps into the attic with Stephen behind her, keeping the camera turned to her side not to be rude and show her behind on film, yet ensuring light guiding her way up. He went up in an unsteady fashion balancing himself and the camera’s light. Abby landed on the platform above making a crashing sound. Rushing upstairs, Stephen checked on Abby. She appeared to be okay, minus a bump from the fall on the attic floor board. Stephen placed the camera on the wood while Abby moaned about her knee. The sound had been muffled.
Time went by and Stephen picked up the camera to pan around the attic room. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary, except the emptiness of the room. The camera flash light turned off. It remained recording.
“Turn it back on,” said Abby. More rumbling around and flashes of light ensued. The camera appeared to have fallen out of Stephen’s hands. They ruffled around longer, the sound was heard in and out in bits, a scream occurs. “Who is that?” Abby screamed.
Stephen picked up the camera and banged against the side. The flashlight went on, then off. He hit it again. And again. It brightened up, and the room. Stephen pointed the camera at Abby. She stood against a board holding up the ceiling with her hands covering her mouth. He panned the camera to the direction of her gaze to see a figure. Something stood there, staring at both of them, simultaneously. It came up the stairs. Stephen went back to Abby and began walking towards her. Abby remained immobile, like a statue.
* * *
Come. Why didn’t you write?
* * *
“Come on, Abby, let’s go.” She refused to respond. Her gaze penetrating. Stephen panned the camera back in her eyes direction, but the wall is all they penetrated. The room had a single chair in the center, beneath a wooden beam. A body laid on the floor. Abby stayed still. Stephen couldn’t hold the camera any longer, it fell. It turned off.
* * *
Carefully and with intent I went up the attic steep stairs to reach my final destination. Looking ahead shock swelled inside, the steps curved and looped around much like penrose steps. It didn’t make sense how I could reach my destination. I reached out to grab onto another row of steps and maintained my footing forward. I must continue.
My past wife would.
Reaching the plateau I see two people that were not what I intended to recognize but I recognized nonetheless. I cried out, “Katie!” Shock and despair were filling me with resentment. “Katie, oh Katie, why are you here?”
The woman turned around from her piercing gaze to the corner at the figure that once stood there. Nothing was there now. If only I were nothing. I came from the shadows and looked fixedly at
my past wife with wonder and suspicion. Turning my head I see her lover. “Stephen, you are here too!” I said with discontent. Dark thoughts encompass me as the world’s puzzle pieces come together. A gaping hole had always been in Stephens head, with thrice more in his chest. My past wife, with bruises from my hands around her neck until all breath of air left her as her chest pumped it’s last thrust. I saw their bodies and knew what I had to do. A length of rope lay upon the floor beneath a chair with the rope being tied ready to rock. I contemplate my fate and there’s as I stood on the chair looking down upon what I wrought, what shall I do to deserve what I’ve done? What does the soul deserve for ceasing another? I let fate of the House decide for me and stood there contemplating. I read the description of the video that I had not read before, the last words I spoke to my past wife. Standing there on the chair I should have known what I couldn’t bear. I finished the letter and left it to fly from my grasp, floating in the air in the house of hanging.
“Do not speak to me in such few words
For such few words I do not deserve
So I’ll wait here patiently, deservedly
Waiting for those letters that I deserve”
-The House of Hanging