12 min read

The Haunting

An account of the strange events occurring in and around a certain house in Boston.
The Haunting

After the horrible events on Beacon Island, Special Agent Solomon Redwell of the FBI had spent the last few months seeing a psychiatrist. As part of his recovery, she had recommended he tackle his fears. Consequently, he was developing a reputation as an agent interested in odd, or just downright bizarre, cases.

The Lightless Beacon
On a dark night, as a storm brews, the lighthouse on Beacon Island suddenly goes dark and the SS Essex County flounders on nearby rocks. As the crew abandons ship...

Monday, 13th September

Thus he was not surprised to have a case land on his desk dealing with an allegedly haunted house. The file reported several people living in the house in north Boston had gone mad and that the landlord was desperate for help. This case seemed perfect for Solomon Redwell, but he felt he needed help. (It never crossed his mind that no one else could be bothered to investigate it.)

Redwell contacted his old friend Rupert Garfield II; after all, who better to debunk bizarre rumours of a haunting than a biologist. He also hired an engineer—Sam Stephanson—to investigate the house on the off chance it had hidden secrets or structural abnormalities.

On Monday the 13th of September, the team gathered in Solomon's grimy basement office. Solomon was surprised to discover Rupert had brought a lady friend with him—the beautiful and wild Jezebel Slaughter. Jezebel seemed well out of Rupert's league but enamoured with the quiet, studious biologist. Solomon, however, couldn't shake the feeling he'd seen the woman somewhere before. He was also suspicious of a large bag which she toted everywhere. It bulged oddly and looked much heavier than a typical lady's handbag. He was intrigued to see what she kept within—but that was a mystery for another day.

In any event, introductions were made, and plans laid. The four decided simply it was unwise to go straight to the house. It was sensible, they agreed, to uncover as much information about the place as possible: forewarned is forearmed, after all.

The four decided to split up and search for records of the place in various Bostonian institutions. Sam, Solomon and Rupert kept to the plan, visiting (variously) the central place station, the offices of the Boston Globe, the Central Library and Hall of Records.

Jezebel had different plans, however, as she wanted to scope out the neighbourhood surrounding the house. She quickly discovered the old house was the only home still on the block; the rest had been torn down and replaced with new offices and the like. Asking around, she met a street vendor who had dark and murky things to say about the old house—the Corbitt House, as he called it. He also mentioned a ruined chapel—the so-called Chapel of Contemplation—stood only two blocks away, and this piece of news piqued Jezebel's capricious interest.

She found the ruin without trouble but nearly had a severe accident while exploring the tumbled and time-worn, fire-damaged chapel. As she poked about inside, the ground gave way, and she almost fell into a forgotten basement. Luckily, Jezebel's panther-like reactions meant she avoided a nasty fall. Without climbing down into the cellar, she made an investigation of the place by dropping lit matches into the hole she had made. She glimpsed what looked like two skeletons amid the ruin and discovered a strange sigil daubed on one wall in white paint that looked like three inverted Ys surrounding a lidless eye. Being near the sigil gave Jezebel a headache, and she quickly left the ruin.

That night, the four regrouped in Solomon's dingy office to share their findings. Discussing the day's events and what they had found, the four agreed the house stood at the centre of a strange series of happenings. Many people who had rented the place had died, gone mad or fallen seriously ill. Something was amiss with the old house!

Plans were laid for the next day. Solomon wanted to find out more about the old chapel in Boston's official record—he sensed it could have some connection with the old house—while Rupert was confident he would find more in the library. Jezebel and Sam, more adventurously than their fellows, resolved to explore the Corbitt House's overgrown garden and the nearby ruined Chapel of Contemplation.

Tuesday, 14th September

Sam and Jezebel made their way to the old house on a gloomy Tuesday morning. Here they confirmed—seemingly—the place was at least cursed. Two bizarre accidents—Sam falling and hitting his head and an old gazebo collapsing on Jezebel—left the duo shaken, battered, bruised and a little embarrassed.

The intrepid duo had more luck at the ruined chapel. Therein Sam, who bravely clambered down into the basement, recovered two old books. To his unsophisticated eye, one seemed like a "proper big book," but its Latin title defeated him. The other book was much smaller and thinner. The two did not attempt to read either book and bore them off to Solomon's office.

There they met Rupert and Solomon. Both had found records suggesting the house and chapel were linked. Solomon had unearthed documents detailing a hushed-up police raid that led to the deaths of many people at the chapel. Meanwhile, Rupert had discovered that one of the prior owners of the house—a Walter Corbitt—had died of pneumonia and been buried in the cellar!

With this new revelation, along with news of the strange and fatal doings at the Chapel of Contemplation and the discovery that none of the group could read Latin, the four plotted their next move...

Wednesday 15th September

Drizzle fell over Boston as the four intrepid investigators prepared for another day of research and—perhaps—action. However, events were to stymie their plans.

Solomon was called away suddenly to participate in an FBI raid on a warehouse down by the docks. The bureau had received reports that a gang of mobsters were using the place to smuggle illicit alcohol and firearms into the country. The raid was a bust—the warehouse was empty—but the alert agent did catch a faint whiff of a strangely recognisable perfume. He couldn't put his finger on precisely where he'd encountered the scent before, but other evidence in the warehouse strongly suggested the place had been recently occupied. Clearly, an unknown party had tipped off the mobsters.

In any event, the raid stopped Solomon from helping his friends continue their investigations of the Corbitt House.

Across town, outside the Corbitt House, Sam and Rupert waited for Jezebel to arrive. The two waited for hours before giving up on the impetuous woman. Neither could say where Jezebel had got to, and it seemed unwise to explore the house without Solomon or Jezebel. Thus, the two damp investigators returned to Rupert's home to escape the incessant drizzle, discuss their next move and get some food.

Thursday 16th September

With dark clouds threatening rain, the investigators decided a few more inquiries and preparations were in order before exploring Walter Corbitt's house.

Sam and Jezebel travelled to Boston University. There they met an old contact of Sam's—Professor Ankins—who taught Latin. The pair asked him to take a look at the book Jezebel had found in the crypt below the ruined Chapel of Contemplation. The professor agreed and asked the two to return the next day.

Meanwhile, Rupert and Solomon visited Roxbury Sanitarium to meet with Vittorio and Gabriela Macario—the last tenants to live in the house.

Vittorio was quite mad; he simply sat in his cell rocking backwards and forward muttering the same phrase over and over again: "By his own weapon is the devil worsted!"

Gabriela was in a much better mental condition. She told the pair that she believed an evil spirit dwelled in the house and that sometimes at night she could feel it leaning over her while she slept. The presence hated her husband and could make dishes and other objects fly around the house when it was aroused.

Friday 17th September

Jezebel and Sam returned to Boston University to meet Professor Ankins. He wasn't there, but his secretary returned their book and gave them a note from the professor. It simply read:

"Here's your book back. Don't read it. I'm going away to France for a rest".

Of course, the two immediately ignored the professor's advice and sought out another Latin expert—Chuck Smithers. This time the pair stayed with the linguist as he translated parts of the book. As Chuck read, his face paled and he occasionally shook. Eventually, he turned to the two and explained the book was called the Liber Ivonis and that it contained knowledge of a horrible and shocking nature. He also suggested the pair not read the book.

Back in Boston, Rupert and Solomon visited the nearest Catholic church to the Corbitt house. Here they met Father O'Reilly who had only bad things to say about the Chapel of Contemplation and good things to say about the Macario family. The old priest had heard of the Liber Ivonis—the two groups of investigators were in touch by telegram and telephone—and he strongly advised the pair to have nothing to do with the old tome

Saturday 18th September

With their final preparations and investigations complete the investigators approached the house. They had a key, and it was easy to enter the home. Sam and Jezebel explored the living and dining rooms while Solomon and Rupert searched a small storeroom. A boarded-up cupboard caught Solomon's eye. Carefully, for things falling out of cupboards or off shelves held a special fear for the agent, he pried the boards loose. Three books lay inside the cupboard. Rupert quickly examined them and declared them to be Walter Corbitt's diaries. The learned researcher, though, could only get a rough sense of the contents. He declared it would take days to pry loose their secrets.

Meanwhile, Jezebel was investigating the cellar door which lay at the end of the corridor running the length of the house. She discovered a lock on the door and three deadbolts. As she was pondering her next move Sam tripped and knocked a heavy soup tureen onto the floor. The loud clatter resounded through the empty home. As it faded, Sam heard ominous creaking overhead. Someone—or something—was upstairs!

Sam shouted a warning, and Jezebel panicked. Unbeknownst to her friends, she carried a stick of old dynamite she had got from a "friend". She lit the dynamite and dropped it on the floor next to a can of petrol she had also insisted on bringing with her.

She shouted a warning as she ran down the corridor, and her friends joined her in a mad dash for the street. As the four stood on the street, looking back at the house, nothing happened. The dynamite did not explode!

Bravely, after a short while, Sam crept back into the house to see what had transpired. He found the dynamite on the floor by the cellar door. The burnt down fuse lay on the floor next to the petrol can.

The revelation deeply affected the investigators. What had happened? How had the fuse become detached? What was Jezebel up to? Had she gone temporarily mad with fright or was she a danger to public safety?

After a brief discussion, the four decided to retreat. Rupert said he needed several days to read the diaries, and it seemed wise to see what information they held before the investigators once again dared the house.

Monday 20th September

After two days of exhaustive reading, Rupert was ready to speak of the secret’s lurking in Corbitt’s diaries. In Solomon’s dingy basement office, the group met to discuss their plan. The investigators quickly decided that Corbitt’s dagger—mentioned in his diary—was the key to riding the house of whatever—or whoever—lurked within. Theorising the dagger may lie at the Chapel of Contemplation the investigators decided the ruin would be their first port of call.

Tuesday 21st September

Arriving at the Chapel of Contemplation early the next morning, the investigators got to work. Sadly, their efforts were in vain. Despite a comprehensive search of the ruins, they could find no dagger. With this final avenue of investigation now closed, it seemed there was nothing for it but to once again dare the haunted house.

Arriving at the old Corbitt house in the mid-afternoon, the investigators affected entry through the front door. Downstairs, all was quiet, although a stillness and pregnant malice seemed to lurk in the house’s shadowy confines.

The search of the ground floor passed without incident until Solomon noticed something red and sticky dripping through the ceiling of a small storeroom he was investigating. The grizzled detective quickly realised the substance was blood and that it was dripping through the floor above.

The group cautiously moved upstairs. It was then things started to go wrong. After searching several upstairs rooms, the group’s investigations centred on the spare bedroom. Jezebel swore she could hear movement and scratching—perhaps even rattling—from within. Steeling themselves for some unknown terror, Solomon thrust open the door, and Jezebel leapt into the room. The highly-strung women saw danger everywhere. A huge pool of blood lay under an iron bedframe while the curtain covering the window opposite the door was moving in a fashion suggestive of furtive stealth.

Not taking any chances, Jezebel fired both barrels of her shotgun at the curtain. In her frenzy, she forgot that bullets pass through glass. Her wild shots shattered the window—and that of the office opposite. As screams erupted from across the alleyway, she quickly reloaded. Solomon and Sam meanwhile rushed downstairs to help the office workers caught in Jezebel’s crossfire.

At that moment, Rupert and Jezebel noticed—horrifyingly—that the window frame had started to bleed! As Jezebel frantically reloaded, Rupert moved to investigate. It was a brave, but poor, decision. As he got to the window, the iron bedstead started to move! It shot across the room and knocked the hapless biologist through the shattered window and into the street below.

Solomon and Sam had just got to the office building when a strangled cry and a loud thud—quickly followed by renewed gunfire from inside the house—brought them rushing back outside. They discovered Rupert lying in the alley. As Solomon tended his friend, Sam dashed back into the house to help Jezebel, who was clearly fighting for her life against some unknown threat.

He found Jezebel once again reloading. “Three left,” she muttered as the redoubtable carpenter reached her. The two quickly discussed their next move and decided the time was ripe to dare the cellar.

The cellar was even darker and dingier than the rest of the house. The light switch therein did not work, but Sam had an electric torch, and the two gingerly descended the rickety wooden stair. The cellar was full of rubbish and trash. The pair searched the room, and Sam found a dagger amid the rubbish! Could this be the dagger they sought? However, his glee at finding the weapon quickly turned to terror as it began to writhe and twist in his hand!

The dagger shot forward and stabbed the carpenter who, unnerved by events, was trying to flee the cellar. Jezebel unleashed both barrels of her shotgun (again), knocking the dagger up the stairs.

As the two investigators staggered (or crawled in Jezebel’s case) from the cellar, Sam had a genius idea. He ducked into the dining room to grab the soup tureen; he planned to capture the weapon therein. Sadly, while the plan was a good one, the dagger eluded his attacks and instead injured him once again. As Jezebel—now out of ammunition—moved to help Sam, the dagger buried itself in her chest. With a scream, she collapsed.

This was too much for the badly wounded Sam. With Rupert gravely injured outside, Solomon engaged in bandaging the biologist’s many wounds and Jezebel’s serious injury, the horrors and dangers of the house were too great. Dragging Jezebel out of the house, Sam escaped to the street and into a different world. Terrified office workers were now streaming out of the opposite building while police and ambulances were arriving in ever-increasing numbers…

Wednesday 22nd September - 7th October

Jezebel, Sam and Rupert were bundled into ambulances and rushed to Boston Hospital for emergency treatment while Solomon stayed behind to help manage the scene.

The next morning, the three injured investigators lay in their hospital beds recovering from their wounds. The hospital staff were being particularly solicitous and nice. This baffled the investigators until they saw that morning’s paper which credited them with stopping the murderous rampage of a deranged gunman!

The three wisely stayed quiet as to the actual events at the Corbitt House. None of them particularly wanted to be arrested or confined to a sanatorium.

Sam quickly discharged himself from the hospital; his wounds were not severe, and his vitality seemed stronger than Jezebel’s and Sam’s. Sam and Jezxebal rested in hospital for two weeks, slowly regaining their strength. During this time, the Corbitt House was again featured in the papers. This time, it reported that the landlord had been found stabbed to death in the house’s cellar and that the house had been scheduled for demolition.

While Rupert and Sam were keen to leave matters to lie, Jezebel had other ideas. While Solomon was curiously absent—a brief note from the agent spoke of being “sent elsewhere” for a month or two—she took it upon herself to visit the Macario children. Sadly, this fact-finding mission revealed little else of import, except that while living in the house, the two had suffered horrible nightmares of an old man with burning eyes leaning over their beds.

This new revelation added little to the investigator’s store of knowledge. Meeting early in October at Rupert’s large, but ramshackle, home on Chestnut Street, the three reluctantly decided to end their investigation. With the demolition of the house imminent, it seemed the city would soon resolve the matter of the Corbitt house.

Interlude: Early October - Early December

After the events at the Corbitt house, two uneventful months passed. Solomon returned from his mysterious assignment while Sam and Jezebel took well-earned rests. Rupert, however, was busy studying the Corbitt diaries. By early December, the biologist believed he had unlocked understanding of an actual magic spell—Call Forth the Opener of Ways. However, he had not yet mustered the courage to cast the spell and so it remained a matter of conjecture as to whether it would actually work…

Thus at the start of December, the three investigators—and a new friend—gathered for a quiet dinner at Rupert’s old home. As they ate and talked, Rupert noticed something strange happening across the street…