The Bradford House (part one)

Where the hell did that week go? I planned on posting something mid-week but that didn’t happen. Well, it’s time for another edition of Finnegan’s Five Hundred Word Feast. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and it is just around the corner, so here’s an introduction to a scary story. It is a tease, but I will continue with it next week if I get a few comments. So, let my introduce you to “The Bradford House”.

Happy reading!

The Bradford House

by Wade Finnegan

“Turn up there at the corner. It’s the green house on the right.”

Rachel poked me in the ribs. I knew what house it was; everyone knew what house it was. She was waiting for me to chicken out, to turn the car around. No one we knew had ever gone through with it and I believe Rachel was doing everything in her power to give me an out. One problem to her attempts, I wanted her to believe I was a tough man. Staying the night in the Bradford house was something of a legend at Crescent High School. Sure there were rumors and grand stories of kids pissing themselves when the ghosts appeared, but there was never an actual face you could put to the name. We figured kids made the crap up to impress others.

“Did you bring the flashlight and the candles?” asked Rachel.

“Yeah, I have all the supplies. And I made sure to bring two sleeping bags, but of course mine is big enough for two,” I said.

I couldn’t help but grin. I knew my comment would get a rise out of her. She slugged me in the arm and looked up at the giant old run-down mansion through the rain splattered car window.

“Like you’d be so lucky. I will sleep in my own, thank you. Why do you think someone would build such a big house back in the old days?” Rachel’s hand trembled a little as she reached for the door handle. “Won’t we get in trouble for trespassing?”

“Who’s gonna care. Nobody has lived here for eons. Do you want to go get some coffee first?” I asked. I was trying to hide my cowardice as best as possible.

“No, let’s just get this over with. We said we would do it, and that’s what we’re going to do.” Rachel threw her backpack over her shoulder, shut the car door, and headed up the crumbling cement steps two at a time.

“Thanks for the help carrying everything,” I yelled through the closed door. I love how she goes at things head on. There was this one time, back in middle school when the administrators proposed to take away music class. Rachel organized a rally and gathered signatures and just wouldn’t take no for an answer. She got our music program back almost single-handed.

I put the two sleeping bags under my arm and grabbed the little suitcase. The front door creaked open on one hinge. The musty smell about knocked me over. The floor was splintered and cracked in places and big spots of discoloration dotted the hard wood. The living room opened into a sitting area with a large bay window to the right. I bet it was quite the place back in the day. The windows were boarded up and piles of old newspapers were scattered about. I had a feeling transients had used the place often.

“Where should we set up?” I asked. “If you want to be real bold we could go upstairs.”

“You’re just hoping there’s a bed up there,” Rachel said. “Let’s put the bags down by the fireplace. Do you think we could use it?”

“I doubt it. The chimney is probably plugged and besides we don’t have any wood to burn. Let’s pile the papers up as a mattress. I don’t trust this floor. And then eat the sandwiches I made.”

We broke out the Monopoly board and started to play and eat. For a while I forgot we were in the Bradford house and was enjoying Rachel’s company. I had just bought Boardwalk when the afternoon sunlight faded.

“Should I light a candle?” I asked.

“Yeah, good idea. It’s getting chilly. I think I will get in my bag,” said Rachel.

I struck the match and placed the fat red candle on top of the mantle. The light flickered throughout the room. The shadows danced in a rhythm on the walls like Native Americans stomping around an open fire. Rachel slid herself into the synthetic bag and smiled wide.

“I guess this is it? I really think we can make it. Don’t you?” asked Rachel. She looked at me like she was waiting for me to say no. Of course my macho bravado took over and I smiled back.

“Sure, this will be the easiest one hundred bucks ever and we’ll be famous,” I said with confidence.

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