When we got to the campground it was practically deserted --as it was the off season—with only 3 campers in the whole place. Not a problem since there were plenty of us to have fun and go exploring. Once we were set up, it was time to go exploring.
Once we hit just the right spot in the dirt road, we saw an old house looming ahead on the left. There has never been a better haunted looking house in a Hollywood movie. This place was two stories high with a widow’s walk on top. The siding was old and gray looking with some slats hanging down at an angle from the rusty old nails that could no longer hold them in place. There were steps leading up to a porch that spanned the front of the house. Several of the boards curved up at the edge of the steps and the porch and there were holes where the wood had given up and rotted away. There was a porch swing hanging at one end of the porch and it creaked, just a little, in the breeze. Most of the windows had been broken, leaving half panes of jagged glass and, those that were intact, were covered in a film of dust and age. Through the windows, we could see old, tattered curtains hanging limp. The walkway leading up to the wide steps was no longer level and was cracked in places with weeds growing up through them. The front yard was overgrown with weeds and dead bushes and was surrounded by an old, gray picket fence that swayed in places and had more leaning slats than straight up and down ones. To enter the walkway leading to the house, we had to pick the gate up, that was hanging by only one rusted hinge, and place it to one side. Several old trees that had already shed most of their leaves were on either side of the house reaching out with their spindly arms. It was coming on dusk; there was a slight breeze; and not a sound was heard other than the ever so slight creaking of the porch swing and the occasional rustling of dead leaves.
There were seven of us kids altogether and we decided that perhaps going up to the door and going inside that house was not the best idea we’d ever had. We discussed this in quiet whispers all the while keeping our eyes sharply focused on the house. Finally, my brave brother, Tony, said- in his best 11-year-old manly voice, “I’m not scared. I’ll go in.” The rest of us stood statue still in a bit of shock at hearing his words and Tony had an expression on his face that clearly indicated he, too, was wondering who the hell said that.
Mere seconds passed as my courageous brother realized that it was indeed his voice and that now, because of his impulsive bravery, he was going to have to go into the haunted house. His steps were shaky and slow as he proceeded up the worn path to the first step. He slowly and carefully placed one foot up on the step and looked back. We were all still standing there with wide eyes and opened mouths. Tony walked up each step with uncertainty and paused to look back again when he stood, nervously, on the porch. We had not moved a muscle. Tony took small, careful, baby steps all the way to the front door and stopped. He gingerly reached out his hand to open the old door. At that very moment that insignificant breeze that had caused only slight movement of the porch swing and a gentle (albeit creepy) rustling of the leaves became a wind. And that wind was strong enough to blow the tattered curtain hanging at the broken windows. that ran vertically beside the front door, out just far enough to brush my brother’s arm.
To this day I do not think that my fearless brother’s feet touched any part of that house or the earth as he spun around and took off! He was beside us and then past us within a millisecond and there was dust behind him as he flew down the dirt road. The expression on his face illustrated terrified quite well with the eyes bugging out and the extreme paleness of his color. As soon as we realized what had happened (and it took a few seconds), we laughed hysterically- half from my brother’s reaction to the curtain and half from sheer relief.
Of course we had to go off after him because he was running in the opposite direction of our campsites. Along the way we met our parents’ friends who were driving out to visit- complete with Tony on the hood of their car.
I've told this story quite a lot over the years and I've posted about it on Empty Nest. I never tire of it and the visuals in my head are still vivid. We discussed this particular trip over Christmas and my brother still recalls the haunted house too.
He's still not laughing as hard as the rest of us though.
This is Day 8 of the A-Z Challenge!