I recently wrote a cheezy short story as part of a gothic writing assignment for english class. It's so-so in my opinion. I'm only 16, so my writing isn't that great, but hey, it's the best I can do. It's loosely based on episodes of A Haunting on Discovery Channel and Paranormal Activity.
The Death House
The Callahans’ once-recognizable farmhouse sat in charred ruins on the front page of the Savannah Morning News. Scorched white ceramic tiles and glass window shards poked out through blackened remnants of what was once finished drywall. Hundreds of glowing embers appeared to pulse in and out of intensity as they consumed whatever remnants of the home’s wood framing and furniture had not yet been converted into ash. Jenny sat staring at the paper with an ineffable look of sadness on her face. She fell limply into her husband’s arms, gazing fixedly at her feet as to avoid looking at the dreaded publicized photo. Peter was amenable, offering a word of consolation to his wife, but she disregarded the gesture with disdain. He decided it was his prerogative to make sure his wife knew he’d take care of everything and that she ought to be grateful he was trying to work something out, but he knew her temper and decided not to push it.
By lunchtime, Jenny and Peter had made a good twenty to thirty miles from their last rest stop, and decided that the Holiday Inn in North Carolina was nothing compared to the cockroach-infested motel in Philly. Within eight to ten hours, they’d be arriving at their new house in Millbrook. Jenny stared out the window, giving the white road lines her full attention. Her eyes were glossy with tears, yet she held her composure so Peter wouldn’t suspect how devastated she was about the move. He glanced over at her as they drove silently, scrutinizing her every subtle gesticulation. Jenny tensed, sensing Peter’s eyes grazing her back.
At that moment, a chilling jolt surged through Peter’s skin. He shivered uncomfortably and turned his attention back to the highway. Had he known what the chill was, Peter would have told his wife about it, but this was a feeling unlike one he had ever experienced. It was depressing. Looking at Jenny suddenly made him confused, angry even, and for a split second he felt like hurting her. Jenny sensed her husband fuming behind her, and when she turned to see what was up, Peter had his fingers clenched in a fist, as though he had been completely demoralized by some unseen force. Before Jenny could grab his hand to stop him, Peter’s anger faded and he pulled his hand away. The next few hours of the car ride were spent in silence except for the occasional remark about the GPS and NPR’s monotonous radio broadcasters.
“I want friendly neighbors. Peter, what if our neighbors aren’t nice? We won’t have the Wilsons to feed our cats anymore,” Jenny finally broke the silence, trying to catch Peter’s attention. Peter sighed heavily, shaking his head and shrugging. He gazed out in front of him with rapt attention to his driving.
“How do you know the new neighbors won’t be better?” Peter replied, attempting to drive off Jenny’s questions. “Hey look, a ‘welcome to New York’ sign. We’re almost there.”
The center of town was nice; quaint. There were stores, offices, company buildings. It was a typical upstate New York town. Condominiums, townhouses, and cul-de-sacs sat atop hills and hid in valleys as far as the eye could see. Jenny didn’t mind the main streets in the center of town, but the new house was in a nice, secluded area of Millbrook – a perk Jenny did not complain about. She and Peter couldn’t agree on much of anything, so at the very least, it was a plus that they both wanted the house to be in a rural location.
By the time the Callahans reached their destination, the sun had long disappeared beyond the horizon and dusk was making itself known. The car’s tires rolled and bumped over old a long, winding cobblestone driveway. The house was just barely visible from the road as trees cast dark, grainy shadows onto the front yard. The entire property was covered in silvery-blue darkness, and from the moment Jenny stepped out of the car, she could hear the wind whistle ominous, gloomy tones – a harbinger, Jenny presumed, for what her new life would be like.
“Help me unpack the van, Jen,” Peter called, rousing Jenny from her reverie. Jenny walked around to the back of the van and started pulling boxes from the trunk. There were only four boxes, which contained temporary necessities and the dearth of precious items that had been resuscitated from the fire.
“Well, looks like this is pretty much it,” Jenny sighed. “I guess this makes us neophytes at home-owning. We’re going to have to start from scratch all over again.”
“Hey, look on the bright side. It’s a nice house. Quiet, secluded, and I bet good neighbors too,” Peter replied, already making his way to the front door with one of the boxes. Jenny stared at her husband’s receding back, a million thoughts running through her head. It wasn’t long before Jenny was able to hear that same sound again. It was like the wind was breathing on her skin, and she could feel it – hot, loud and clear, saying her name with heavy, guttural gushes of air as though it were being streamed through broad metal pipes. Jenny’s heart began to race, and she dropped her box out of sudden fear.
“Jen! Come on, we don’t have all night!” Peter called from the front door. Jenny picked up the box she had dropped and hauled it to the front door as Peter waited to open it.
“Sorry, I…Pete, I feel like I heard something, like a breathing sound, back there by the van. And I’m fairly certain it wasn’t the wind,” Jenny quibbled nervously as she looked around the front yard to make sure there weren’t any burglars or animals in their vicinity.
“Oh, Jen. Stop your caviling. You’re just tired. We’ve been stuck in a hot car for three days straight. That last motel probably had bed bugs. There’s no need to be so fatuous about everything. Breathing? Come on, Jenny.”
“Bed bugs? First of all, how do bed bugs have anything to do with me hearing strange noises? And secondly, how could you be so sure if you didn’t hear them yourself?” Jenny retorted, jamming the new house key into the doorknob. She jiggled it a few times, finally pushing the door open. It creaked sharply on its hinges, announcing their arrival with vim and vigor. The house was pitch black inside except for the soft moonlight streaming in through the foyer and living room windows.
“Wow, this place is cavernous!” Jenny exclaimed with sudden ebullience. Her voice bounced off the home’s lofty interior, echoing with metallic acoustics, like the garbled breathing sound Jenny had sworn she’d heard in the yard. Peter found the light switch by the front door, and flicked it on. When he did, the new homeowners dropped their boxes in sheer surprise.
Pieces of furniture were turned over on their sides, spoiled food littered the kitchen counters, and the whole house appeared to be in shambles. Jenny gasped, and Peter noticed her shocked mien as they looked on at the mess. It was as if the old owners made a mess in the house, got up, left, and never returned to clean it up before giving away the key. Jenny walked into the main room first, running her hands over the staircase railing as she stepped over shattered glass. It was a vintage spiral staircase and, through layers of dust, had a beautiful iron patina. Turning the corner to the dining room, Jenny shrieked at the top of her lungs.
“Jen, what’s the matter? What happened?” Peter called worriedly, rushing over to his wife’s side. An assemblage of kitchen knives lined the dining room and kitchen floors, and Jenny looked around at the horrendous sight. “What in God’s name is this mess? Who in their right minds would leave a home for sale in this condition?” Peter exclaimed in exasperation, picking up one of the knives.
“Looks like we’ve got a lot of cleaning to do. But for now, let’s just get some rest. We’ll take care of this in the morning.”
“You read my mind,” Peter replied. “I’m absolutely exhausted. Come on and help me get the suitcases upstairs.”
Jenny brushed her teeth and lay on the bed, watching the ceiling fan spin above her and listening to the mellifluous buzzing sound created by the spinning blades. Around and around and around, like her life, being tossed into chaos over the past few weeks. She let herself be mesmerized by the fan’s tranquil motions until, after a few minutes, she could see the individual blades as if moving in slow motion, catching her eye so she could follow and count the rotations, one by one. She could feel herself relaxing completely until she was on the brink of falling asleep. She could suddenly feel her eyes getting heavier until, gradually, she felt as though something was holding her shoulders and head down onto the bed. Her breathing increased rapidly and she tried to sit up but was forced down onto the bed as soon as she started struggling. Whatever was holding Jenny onto the bed was also sucking the breath out of her lungs. Before losing all memory of what had happened, Jenny watched the fan slow down until a gray apparition of a face appeared to emerge from the spinning mass of gray and white. It stirred curiously, spotting Jenny and knocking her into unconsciousness. Jenny’s breathing relaxed until she fainted where she lay, unable to wake up until the next morning.
“Jenny, sweetie, wake up. I have something to show you,” Jenny stirred in her bed at the familiar sound of her husband’s voice, and sat up quickly, her heart racing.
“Oh my God, Peter, I just had a dream about the fire, and you were killed trying to wake me up and get my out of the house before the flames could reach my bed. Why did I dream of that? It’s not even like we were in the house when the fire started,” Jenny questioned, confused and exhausted from what had happened that night.
“I don’t know, Jen, but I have something I need you to see. Actually, two things.”
“Peter, if you’re gonna tell me you found more knives, I don’t want to hear it. We’ll get rid of them later. It’s only seven in the morning, for goodness sake. Come on, show me quickly so I can get some more rest.”
Peter helped his wife out of bed and led her downstairs into the dining room, where not only was the mess completely gone, but the knives had been taken off the floor and were nowhere to be found. Jenny looked at her husband, puzzled.
“Pete, did you clean this up yourself?” She inquired, running her hand across the table and feeling the lack of dust on its surface.
“No, Jen, that’s what I can’t get over. I came downstairs this morning and the mess had magically cleaned itself up. I don’t know what to make of this at all,” he began, shaking his head in disbelief. “But Jenny, there’s something else I found that I swear we didn’t have when we got here.”
“What’s that? Oh my goodness, Peter! Where did this come from?” Jenny exclaimed, rushing over to the other side of the room, where an unfamiliar box lay on the floor. She opened the flap and sitting inside was the gamut of china that was somehow extant after surviving the house fire. “How in the world did this get here? I thought we lost all my precious china in the fire?” Jenny asked, utterly confused by what she was looking at.
“I don’t know how it survived the fire, much less how it got here. But it’s here.” Peter replied, just as confused.
Jenny spent the rest of the day decorating and unpacking, and when she got to put away her china, she could feel someone’s presence. Peter had left the house earlier to buy some landscaping supplies, and Jenny was home alone to take care of the house. When she reached into the box to retrieve a china plate, a little girl’s cry could be heard from behind her, and she dropped the plate in sheer terror. When she looked up to see what had made the noise, a familiar chill surged through her body and Jenny could smell perfume. It was rose-scented and had an old-fashioned edge to it. When she looked up, she saw the face of a little girl, smiling devilishly at her reflection in the window of the china case. Jenny screamed, her heart pounding faster and faster. She felt the poltergeist stream its intentions into her, and suddenly Jenny went mad. She ran into the kitchen, slid open a drawer, and grabbed a knife. Her husband’s voice called from the door.
“Jen? Is that you? It sounds like things are breaking? Is that – “. But Peter was unable to finish his sentence. Jenny had stabbed him with the knife and proceeded to kill herself. The apparition of the little girl laughed manically, and, taking the knife and dropping it onto the floor, she returned peacefully to the attic, where dozens of dead bodies lay, killed at the hands of their loved ones.
The phone rang, neighbors knocked at the door to welcome the Callahans with a homemade pie, and, seeing the freshly killed couple, returned only to call the police. Within twenty-four hours, the bodies of Jen and Peter were removed for investigation and the house was permanently locked down. Nothing would ever enter its trap again, and nothing would leave. The house sat in stagnant darkness. Heavy silence permeated the house, brewing fear even in the minds of the spirits that roamed the house. Most, if not all of these spirits possessed knowledge of a dark, unchangeable past. Nothing would give them freedom, and nobody would know their stories. Forever they would be trapped, forced to watch their own decaying bodies.
Lame, isn't it? I need someone to tell me this is awful, just so I know I need to work on my writing style.