The website scrawled underneath the pier in chalk effectively killed my buzz. I spit out the lingering remnants of my joint, whipped out my phone and punched in the URL.
The content of the site was just an email address…
I sent an email just as simple and to the point as the site.
I need your help.
The response to my email eventually led me to a crumbling curb in front of a ghastly eyesore of a house right in the heart of Hollywood, just a dirty side street away from the madness of the Walk of Fame. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw a guy dressed up in a Hulk costume stroll by my car and pour a bottle of water into the mouth of his silicone mask. The sight would have been a gut buster even if I hadn’t spent the past 10 minutes smoking weed in my car, trying to take the edge off.
Unfortunately the edge I was facing was unbreakable. The house I was supposed to stroll up to and ring the doorbell of was something out of a nightmare. Old, but without charm, the vaguely Victorian gray monstrosity was sun-rotted gray with a planked porch drenched with dead leaves and a yard garnished with what looked to be massive piles of what I hoped was dog shit. The place looked like it could have been a frat house for Boo Radley, Norman Bates and Buffalo Bill.
But I had to go in. I had crawled four hours through Southern California traffic to get here and the thirst of revenge was an urge that needed to be satisfied.
I thought the porch might collapse when I stepped up onto the rickety thing and rang the doorbell, which produced as much more modern tone than I would have expected. I immediately heard rustling from behind the door and bit down upon my lip as I heard locks slide on the other side.
The man who opened the door looked nothing like I had pictured him in my head. I imagined Rick Kast looking something like a cross between Vincent Price and The Elephant Man, but he just looked like your typical 45-year-old Southern California mutt. Short and tan with a floppy head of shaggy black hair, Rick looked like he could have been Asian, Latino, Native American, or even just a white guy who spent all of his time in the sun. I was shocked when he greeted me with a big toothy grin and ushered me into a well-air-conditioned and well-lit modern home straight out of a yuppie’s wet dream.
“Jennifer! Come in, come in,” he ushered me in and shut the door behind me.
Rick led me through a futuristic foyer and into an incredibly normal home office.
We took seats with a cheap Office Depot table separating us and I regretted smoking so much weed in the car.
“So… you would like to work together…” thankfully Rick got the conversation going, because I didn’t know what the fuck to say.
“Uh… uh… yeah,” I was so high I could barely talk. “…uh, but how does this work?”
“Well, there’s no real easy way to answer that question, but would you like to hear my story? Even if it’s a bit long?”
I barely mustered up a nod that indicated “go ahead.”
“I used to do special effects in the movie industry, he said. “All kinds of stuff – dinosaurs, aliens, dreamscapes and of course… ghosts. But the industry is awful. You work hours upon hours upon hours and the pay is good, but not nearly as good as it is supposed to be. I decided about a year ago, that I needed to find something new, something that I could own, something that could be my passion and I found it one day at Disneyland with my niece. I was on that haunted mansion ride and it all clicked… I could do that. Actually, I could do that, but better. So I went back to Disneyland every day for like a week until I figured out how they were making the apparitions on that ride. I swear I spent about a thousand dollars, but I figured it out. It actually took me less time to figure out how to do it than it took to figure out what to do with it… but it eventually came. Ghosts for hire! I could have a company where I can make convincing ghosts for whatever someone wants. A Halloween party, a prank, whatever. And the thing with my ghosts is they are so convincing, you could never tell they aren’t real. They aren’t like those corny ones on the ride. Here…”
Rick waved me around to the other side of his desk and showed me his computer monitor. He started a video of a shadowy hallway. I held my breath when I saw a goth-looking girl walk into the hallway and heard a low grumble come out of Rick’s speakers. After the grumble, a figure emerged from out of the ceiling of the hallway. The thing, accompanied by a misty cloud of horror, seemed like something your brain would create in a nightmare that you could only vaguely remember the next day. A stumpy human-like figure with a faceless head of just rows of jagged teeth, the thing’s head looked almost like a shark’s mouth. The goth girl let out a scream that was deeper than any I had ever heard and sprinted out of frame.
I looked away from the monitor to see Rick staring at me.
“See what I mean?”
“Uh, yeah,” I agreed, my throat choking with fear.
“So, now I have to ask, what are you looking for?” Rick’s eyes burned into me when he asked the question.
I gulped. “Uh, I am looking to see if you can set something up for someone I know.”
“Well of course I can, but what are you looking to do a prank? A fun demonstration?
Rick coiled out of his loose, sunny posture, I knew I shouldn’t have stated my true intentions.
Rick gulped. “I can do that… but I have to let you know, I charge a lot more for revenge. It tends to get a bit messy.”
I refreshed the inbox of my email for the 10th time in a minute. My fluttering heart would not be content until I saw a fresh email from Rick.
And then there it was, the bold print of a new email smiling back at me.
Hi Jennifer –
Here is the scare video that you requested. I still can’t believe that I did this, but I appreciate your business and hope that we can find a way to work together in the future under less sinister circumstances. The video is attached. I suggest you do not share it with anyone as stated legally in our contract.
All the best,
I knew I would love the video as soon as I opened it up. The first image I saw was my former roommate Stephanie tucking herself into bed in the blue light of her TV. I was giddy with anticipation when I saw her pony tail duck underneath her comforter and heard the tickling sound of little feet begin to trickle out from behind the camera’s view.
The next thing I saw fully satisfied my lustful thirst for revenge… a cluster of hollow white spiders crept into the lower view of the camera. The misty little arachnids scurried across the hard wood floor of Stephanie’s floor towards the foot of her bed.
The sound of the skittering of the dozen or so ghostly spiders’ tiny feet against Stephanie’s floor drew her out from under the safe cover of her blanket. I smiled when I saw her eyes meet the sight of the hideous spiders climbing up onto her bed I and heard her let out a guttural scream that gave me the shivers alone in my apartment. After her scream, Stephanie threw herself back under the blankets like a child and I watched on for minutes until the spiders faded into the ether on the edge of her bed and all I could see was a blanket shivering until the video cut off.
Content with everything in life for the first time in quite a while, I shut my laptop and threw myself underneath my down blanket the same way Stephanie just had.
I thought I would be able to quickly drift off to a warm sleep, but watching the video cranked up the gears in my anxious mind and I started to toss and turn inside my skull as I tried to get to the bottom of the question you would probably love to ask me right now. Why would I PAY to do such a horrific act to my former roommate?
The reason was pretty simple and admittedly sadly clichéd for a 25-year-old girl. Stephanie pried my boyfriend away from me.
The day I discovered the betrayal still haunts me just as much as I’m sure those ghost spiders haunted Stephanie. There had been no signs that my boyfriend of two years, Adam, and I were even close to the rocky shores of separation. Nothing had seemingly changed since we drunkenly made out that one night while we commiserated about not being able to find a job in our first year of college over half-smoked cigarettes and pleads from my girlfriends about going home. That night sparked basically what was a one-night-stand that last for two years, until he ventured down the hallway between my room and Stephanie’s and saddled up.
I know men’s favorite pastime is doing things without explanation, but his slide over to Stephanie destroyed my brain. Was she more attractive than me? Was there something that she did that I wouldn’t do that she would? Worse, was there something about her deep inside that was better than me? I would lie awake all night in bed picturing them having sex. And not just the action, it was the thought of the little intimate intricacies of the act between the two that made me punch my pillow. Did he always make sure to take his socks off before they began? And did it always make her giggle? Did she connect the dots of the freckles that dotted his shoulders the way she would right before things reached a climax. Did she like to admire the muscles of his back when he walked to the bathroom to clean up after? These were the waking nightmare of questions and thoughts that kept me up every night since it happened that were far worse than any hideous ghoul Rick could have conjured up in his lab.
It was the reminder of these thoughts that eventually led to me sleeping like a baby that night.
It all started on a 3 AM bathroom trip. An after-work happy hour of three white wines led to my bladder seeking relief in the middle of the night. I stumbled in the dark about 75 percent sober into my bathroom.
One of the many advantages of losing my whore of a roommate and moving into a one-bedroom apartment on my own was that I could now pee with the door open on these frequent late night filtered wine ejections. There is a certain freedom in going to the bathroom with the door open that I am a little bit sad people who never live completely on their never get to experience.
My new bathroom gave off an especially unique sense of freedom because the toilet actually directly faced the door and I could see the crumpled mess of blankets on my bed from my seat. I would frequently sit their peeing, staring at my bed while anticipating the return of sweet sleep.
Something was different about tonight though. My bed looked different, the blankets were in a much taller pile than they usually were and just as my brain began to tickle with questions, I got my answer.
The haze of the night and the alcohol vanished when I saw a dark figure rise out from under the blankets on my bed. Simply black, the figure had the outline of a tall man, but no features. It looked like something out of those old iPod commercials where black human outlines danced, but the thing had come to life and was now extending from my bed and radiating a sense of cold that I could feel from 30 feet away.
My mouth dropped and I barely cut off a scream as I watched the figure walk away from me and disappear deeper into a part of the bedroom I couldn’t see from where I sat on the toilet. My teeth clattered as I sat on the toilet unable to move for minutes.
The figure was still somewhere in my bedroom.
It took minutes, but I eventually worked my way off of the toilet and staggered to my feet. I stepped into the doorway of the bathroom and gained a wider view of my bedroom, but couldn’t see any sign of the figure.
“Hello?” I called out into the near darkness of my bedroom.
No answer, just the feeling of a cold, cold breeze that pushed against my face. I took a swift step out of the doorway in the direction of the living room and the exit to my apartment, but stopped dead in my tracks when I heard the bathroom door slowly creak behind me.
Before I could run away, I saw a dark shadow towering over my left shoulder. The dark figure had moved behind the bathroom door that opened out into the little hallway between my bedroom and my bathroom.
I didn’t look back, but I felt its cold presence lunge at me as I tore off into the living room and ran to the door.
I recently experienced something in my apartment that seemed very similar to your work. I wanted to reach out and see if anyone had contacted you about pulling off a ghosts for hire scare on me. Please get back to me as soon as possible as I am horrified.
Sunsets had become a prelude to madness as over the course of the past few weeks, small incidents similar to the first one with the dark figure kept happening in the middle of the night.
They were never anywhere near as terrifying as that first one, but they were always things that would wake up in the middle night to raise my hair, sweat my skin, and twist my nerves. One night it would be my TV turning on the in the middle of the night, another night a knocking on my bedroom window.
One night it was the faint sounds of a conversation coming from behind my closet door.
I crept over to the closet and craned my ear towards the door. I could barely make out the murmured words…
“Please, I beg you, please. Please stop.”
The man’s voice was pleading, but sounded too beaten to be frantic.
“Please, I will do anything. Just stop…”
The urgency, volume and clarity of the voice picked up with the second sentence and was punctuated by a hard thump against the inside of the closet door.
I flinched and the voice spoke again, this time in a sorrowful tone that came from the deep gut and was backed with the choir of a round of furious punches that pounded the inside of the door.
“Please, help, please, help, please, help.”
The words had almost a rhythmic cadence before they were cut off by a piercing scream.
I slowly stepped away from the door as if I was walking on hot coals and slipped into the cover of my bed. It might seem foolish not to just run away and never come back, but I held onto a belief that allowed me to get past it.
All of this was just Rick’s doing. It was not real.
Not sure why you haven’t responded to my last email, but please do not ignore me. I have continued to experience hauntings in my apartment I assume are being created by you. At first, I was worried about reporting you to the authorities because I wasn’t sure about the legality of being involved with the haunting I sent Stephanie, but I no longer care. I will go to fucking jail to make this stop and I know that you must have found some way to break into my apartment, because I am the only one who has ever had a key. If I get one more bullshit haunting thing of yours I am going to cops. That’s it. And if this is not you doing this, I don’t know, maybe you have some competitor or something that Stephanie is working with, please tell me. It would really save you a lot of legal trouble if this shit keeps up.
Please get back to me!!!!!!!
The sound of my upstairs neighbor trudging upon her hardwood floor in the middle of the night rustled me from a cold sleep. Hard wood floors look divine, but I promise you that if you live below someone who has them, you will hate them more than a painful zit on the tip of your nose. Even before the haunting, there was rarely a night when I wouldn’t get woken up in the middle of the night because of the girl-who-lived-above-me’s overactive bladder.
I was ready to go right back to sleep after the initial rustle, but it wouldn’t be that easy…the footsteps above me started to get heavier with each step until it sounded like a herd of buffalo were running through the apartment above me. The ceiling started to shake and crack, sending white shards of paint onto my face.
“Fucking stop,” I screamed hysterically.
Right on cue with my scream. The stomping stopped and the sound of the crickets playing their chattering violins in the night was all I heard.
It was a false relief as the pounding sounds were replaced with a horrifying sight … Stephanie. My former friend stood in the shallow light of the doorway, her bow-legged shadow beaming off of her small frame, her blonde hair wet and draped over her emotionless face that hung down towards the floor.
“Stephanie?” I whispered.
She didn’t acknowledge me in the slightest, her eyes stayed glued to the floor where drops of water fell from her hair and onto my floor.
No acknowledgement again at first, but I had to plug my ears when she let out a hideous shriek that cut through the air of the room like a knife. I didn’t think it was even possible, but her screams reached a higher pitch when I watched long, jagged cuts that looked like grotesque meandering rivers travel up from her wrists to her elbows and she fell to the floor in a bleeding heap.
I wasn’t sure if it was really Stephanie or some kind of trick when I got up out of my bed and rushed over to the doorway where she laid motionless.
“Stephanie,” dribbled out of my mouth sheepishly as I tip toed up to her.
I was about to say her name again, but just as the word was rolling onto my tongue she was gone and I was alone in my apartment again with the crickets still playing their unnerving melody outside my window.
I knew something bad had happened when I was woken from the half sleep that I had accomplished in my car by the sound of what seemed to be 100 text notifications at once.
The first text I opened told me all I needed to know.
Oh my fucking god. Stephanie killed herself last night.