2016: Taylor

The Not Haunted House

According to my co-workers, the house that I have just moved into is extremely haunted. It’s not. It’s not that I am a huge skeptic or anything, I just haven’t experienced any kind of paranormal activity. Two months ago, I moved to this small town for my job and found this amazing house right near the office where I work. The house is absolutely gorgeous. It has Georgian-style architecture, with beautiful dormers, four stories, a huge porch, a pool in the backyard, and large columns in the front. It’s my dream home. Shockingly, it was within my price range and I rented it immediately. I have quickly learned, however, that this house has a reputation. A bad one.

Several people told me that there was an old rumour that several murders took place in the house. At first, I was really freaked out. I went home every night fearing for my life, hoping that some ghost wouldn’t murder me in the night. I waited for any sign that there was a ghost in the house with me: flickering lights, footsteps, actual ghost sightings, etc. Nothing. I even invested in some ghost-hunting equipment and set it up around the house. I bought security cameras. Still nothing. This sounds terrible, but I sort of wanted my house to be haunted, because I would be kind of like a mini-celebrity in this small town. People would say, “You’re the gal that lives in the haunted house? Bless your heart. You are so brave.” I would become the town hero. The local news would be dying to interview me. People would ask for my autograph at the grocery store. Kids would do “MY IDOL” projects about me in school. I might even make national headlines. If only my house were actually haunted.

As I settled into my new life, loneliness crept over me like a dark cloud, consuming every moment of my day. I live alone, I have no friends at work, and my life pretty much revolves around my boring job and my not haunted house. One day during my lunch break, while I was microwaving my bland, leftover chicken, some guy I work with named Brad came up to me and starting chatting about my apparition-free house.

“How’s the house? Have you seen any ghosts yet?” Brad said, chuckling. Obviously a skeptic. He probably was expecting me to say something along the lines of “No, I haven’t” or “That’s just an old rumour”. Out of desperation, I lied, “Actually, yes, I have. There have been a lot of weird things going on. I saw a figure walking up the staircase the other day. And just yesterday, I realized that my steak knives have been moved. I am truly fearing for my life. The spirits seem to be growing angrier with each passing day.” I hoped that he believed my big, fat lie.

Brad looked shocked as he walked away without saying anything, and I giggled when he was out of sight. This might be easier than I thought.

The next morning, the usually quiet office was buzzing. When I walked in, everyone looked at me. People crowded around my desk, asking a million questions about the house.“Everyone, please, one question at a time!” I bark, “I will confirm that my house is in fact haunted by a demonic presence. But not to worry, I intend to stick it out and find a way to get rid of it!” This was a total lie and I knew it, but I had to give the people what they wanted. “You brave soul,” says one half-dead old woman named Linda Sue. I heard a few other people whispering about how brave I was to continue living there even though it was haunted. I was beaming.

With each day, the lies became bigger and bigger. I told wild stories about being attacked by ghosts, seeing dead bodies in the basement, and having knives thrown at me by angry spirits. One of my elaborate stories included a ghost locking me in the basement for two days. To give my story credibility, I skipped work two days in a row and watched all ten seasons of Friends and ate like 5 bags of Cheetos. When I came back, everyone was dying to know all of the details. I pretended to be psychologically scarred by the experience, and as a result my boss gave me a whole week off to “recover”.

What was amazing to me was that everyone actually believed the stories that I was telling. Nobody ever asked for proof, which was great for me because I had none. My “haunted” house quickly became the talk of the town. The local newspaper wrote an article about me. People stopped me in the streets to ask me about the house. Unfortunately, as the subject became more talked about, people started asking to come over, especially since Halloween was just a week away.

My boss, Sharon, calls me into her office one day.

“S-Dawg, Share-bear, Sharonator, what’s up? How’re the kids doing?” I ask. I obviously have become very close with the locals because of my recent rise to fame. I’m like the local Beyoncé now.

“Please call me Sharon during work hours. Anyway, I think it would be a fantastic idea to have our annual Halloween office costume party at your house, since it’s, you know, haunted and all. And as a fun party activity we could go ghost hunting in your house,” she says. Oh no. This can’t be happening. If people come over, they’ll see that my house is totally not haunted and everyone will think I’m a phony. Life would go back to the way it was before all of this: boring and lonely. This is my worst nightmare.

“I don’t think that would be a very good idea…” I mumble, not sure what kind of lie I could tell to get out of this one.

“Why not? It’s the perfect location,” Sharon snorts.

I take a deep breath, trying to buy some time to fabricate an excuse.

“Honestly, Sharon, it just isn’t safe. I wouldn’t want to put any of my coworkers’ lives at risk,” I lie.

Hopefully she buys it.

“Nonsense. We’re having the party at your house, end of story,” Sharon snaps.

This is not ideal. This is the worst possible situation ever. What am I going to do? Telling the truth at this point is so not an option. I need to come up with a plan. After a few hours of pacing around my ghost-less living room, I’ve got it. I will create a fake haunted house experience for my coworkers and hopefully they will think that it’s real. I will make it so realistic that everyone runs out of my house screaming in terror. If I can pull it off, this will be my biggest feat yet.

Tonight is the night. Everything is prepared. There is a knock at the door. The first guests have arrived.“Welcome to my haunted house! Please make yourself comfortable…if you can,” I say. A few adults dressed in ridiculously risqué costumes look around my foyer expectantly, like they are waiting for some guy in a mask to jump out and scare them. As more and more barely-clothed people arrive, I’m starting to get nervous. My reputation is on the line here. What if I can’t pull this off?! Maybe I should just tell the truth….NO! This is my only option. The plan will work.

For the first fake paranormal encounter, I will create fake footsteps. Easy enough. While everyone is enjoying party snacks and drinks in the living room, I run into the kitchen where I hid my heavy boots earlier and stomp really loudly a few times. I can hear the living room go quiet.

“THE GHOST! IT’S HERE! EVERYONE, GET OUT YOUR GHOST HUNTING GEAR!” I hear someone say from the living room. Oh great. They brought actual ghost hunting gear?! These people are nuts. Quickly, I hide the boots in my pantry and run into the living room, using my best acting skills to look afraid.

“I saw the silhouette of a man in the kitchen! Definitely a ghost!” I exclaim. Everyone crowds into the kitchen, looking around.

“I don’t see anything,” Brad the skeptic snickers. Before anyone else can agree with him, my pre-recorded ghost noises start playing upstairs.

“WHAT WAS THAT?!” one fossil of a lady shrieks. My guests are beginning to look slightly terrified.

Suddenly, the TV in my kitchen turns on. But that wasn’t one of my tricks. I always keep the remote in the drawer next to my sink, and when I check, it is still there. Uh oh. My cookbooks start flying off the shelf. Another thing that I didn’t plan.

“Are you behind all of this?” another skeptic asks.

“No! I promise, I’m not!” I yelp, telling the truth for the first time since I moved here. Now I’m really panicking. Muffled voices are coming from the living room, but everyone that came for the party is in the kitchen. I’m freaking out right now.

“EVERYONE NEEDS TO LEAVE, LIKE, NOW,” I scream. What if someone actually dies? I’d have to move probably. I’d get fired from my job for sure, which would be so not ideal. And the worst part would be that my house would possibly be haunted for real with an actual ghost after that.

“Dude, chill. We’re here for the ghost hunt, so obviously we wanna see some ghosts. I wanna to see someone get possessed,” a young intern says. Everyone else nods in agreement and looks at me expectantly, as if I’m supposed to bring out the ghosts that I’ve hidden in the closet like party favors. There is no way that I am getting these people to leave.

“Ok…um, then follow me this way,” I murmur, terrified of encountering an actual ghost. I’ll just have to continue with the scheduled tour and hope that whatever was causing the real paranormal activity would just go away until the party is over. I show the guests the basement where I was allegedly locked in for two days, and the fake scratch marks where I tried to “claw myself out”. I showed them the “real” skeleton in the closet (that I had purchased on Craigslist for $49.99). Thankfully, they seemed to believe my lies. Maybe the plan would work after all.

It’s time for the grand finale. If all goes as planned, my co-workers will run out of my not haunted house screaming. Hopefully. I gather everyone in my living room.

“So, as you can see ladies and gentlemen, I am living in a real life haunted house, where I risk my life everyday so that you don’t have to,” I lecture to the crowd. Okay, maybe that last statement was a bit exaggerated.

“Thank you so much for coming tonight, and I hope you all have a-a-a-aa,” I stutter. My eyes roll back into my head. In an effort to make this performance as real as possible, I have watched The Exorcist at least five times now, and I am pretty much an expert on “demonic possession” (if that is even a real thing). I fall to the ground and begin to roll, screaming incoherent words and generally making a fool of myself. Everyone looks terrified. My plan is working.

“Is she possessed? What do we do?!” someone in the back yells.

I point to a piece of paper that I wrote on before the party, that says:

“DON’T FREAK OUT TOO MUCH IF I GET POSSESSED, IT HAPPENS MORE OFTEN THAN YOU’D THINK.”

Everyone looks at me strangely. Uh oh. Have I taken this lie too far? Are they starting to see through this charade? Is this whole thing too crazy to actually be true? This is getting ridiculous, even for me. I seriously hope no one has seen The Exorcist. For my final, shocking stunt, I turn my back on the crowd, fill my mouth with some of the split pea soup I have concealed in my jacket pocket, and proceed to spit out the soup towards the crowd while screaming my head off. I didn’t realize how disgusting this fake exorcism would be. The worst part will be cleaning this mess up. Ew. Why did I think this would be a good idea?! I fall to the ground, exhausted from my extremely believable acting performance. I lie there for a minute, then stand up. I almost take a bow, but I stop myself.

“What happened?” I ask innocently, as if I wasn’t just spewing split pea soup all over my living room. As if I have no memory of the ahh-mazing performance I just put on.

Everyone stares at me, stunned.

“You…uh…started going crazy all of the sudden…we weren’t sure what to do….” someone mutters.

“I must have been possessed. It has happened several times before. It used to only happen about once every two weeks, then it started happening more and more, and now it happens nearly everyday,” I say casually, forcing a single tear to roll down my face. I know that this situation is totally impossible and if anyone at this party actually knew a thing or two about REAL demonic possession, my whole act would be totally busted.

“Um, okay,” Brad the skeptic scoffs, “That was weird.”

The rest of the party follows Brad out the door, and soon enough everyone is gone.

A few hours later, I am alone once again in my home and I am feeling pretty good. Everyone believes that my house is haunted and I can go on with life as a small-town celebrity. Maybe I’ll even tone down the stories a little bit in the future. Maybe.

As I settle on the couch to watch to TV, I hear something upstairs. It sounds like footsteps. No. This can’t be happening. I’m just hearing things. Yeah, I’ve probably just convinced myself that this house is haunted because of my thrillingly authentic performance. I am a true method actress, after all. Wait…  There it is again, louder this time. It sounds like someone is walking down the stairs. Uh oh. Maybe I was wrong about this house not being haunted…