Somewhere in the middle of a mostly sleepless night, I decided calling the police was really the only thing I could do. I had horrible nightmares of running through old oakwood hallways in a dim and moldy house somewhere in the backwoods of Texas. The record player moaning out that old-timey tune as someone hacked away at some poor soul in the house. The screams echoed off wet walls with peeling, dingy wallpaper all around me. I couldn’t tell if I was getting closer to the sounds or farther away as I ran. I couldn’t force myself to look back.
I woke up and was pretty resolute in my decision to contact the police. I didn’t bother with my usual routine today of exercising or catching up on emails. I threw my clothes on, ate some slightly burned toast and a downed an energy drink, and booked it for the bus. When I got to work, I went straight to the branch manager and filled him in on the situation. His concern was comically light, but he knew the policy and understood what to do. He put in a “welfare check” and notified the local police. I tried to tell myself that was enough.
I sat down at my desk and started making calls. I tried to push the awful thoughts out of my head, and for a couple hours, I nearly forgot about the anxious feeling I’d been going through since yesterday. Then, it all came flooding back when I came across an appointment approval for a local agent.
My eyes scanned over the address for the home and I could feel the blood rush up to my face and brain. I felt a snap sweat beckoning to seep out of my skin. It was the house on the farm road. The house of music, screams, and chopping. I didn’t know what I should do, and I felt like if I didn’t decide soon, someone was going to get hurt — or worse.
I hit my break button and rushed to my manager’s office. I’m sure I looked off, because he gave me a confused look and asked me what was wrong. I ignored his question and spat out one of my own.
“That house on FM [address redacted], did we ever hear back about it?” I nearly shouted.
“Yeah…” my manager said with an almost amused hesitance. “The police called back. They checked the home out. Said it was a little rundown, but otherwise pretty nice.”
“What?” I shouted. It felt like he was writing me off. “What about the creepy guy and the screaming?”
“They said there was no one there,” he said. “I mean, there was furniture and the like, but no sign of people. The contact must have been for the owners, not the tenants. And the agent apparently texted his office last night. Said the buyer lost interest in the listing and he’d reschedule some other time,” he rambled on while he stared at his three computer screens. “Why don’t you set FM [address redacted] as a Courtesy Listing? Streamline the process.”
I was so furious, I could feel my face becoming red. A Courtesy Listing? That would mean that we wouldn’t even need to get approvals to send agents to the home. Anyone who scheduled would be automatically approved. I quickly returned to my desk. It was painfully obvious that talking to my manager was getting nowhere. I pulled the appointment screen back up and fumbled with notions of what to do. Finally, I went to the next step dictated by company policy: I called the agent to let her know she was good to show the home.
“Hello, this is [name redacted] with [office redacted],” a woman answered with a chipper voice. I could hear two other people as well. She had at least two clients with her. I started to worry.
“Hi, this is Wayne with [company redacted]. I’m calling in concerns to your appointment at FM [address redacted],” I hurried through before she cut me off.
“Oh yes, I got the text. We’re actually walking up to the property right now,” she said in an excited tone, as if she already knew this was going to be the one her buyers would close on.
“Oh no,” I blurted out. I scrambled for a way to keep them out of that house without coming off crazy. “Uh, actually ma’am, we’re showing a restriction on the home. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t seem to be showable at the moment.”
“Well, that can’t be right. The owners are here, letting us in,” she said, with a chuckle hiding her annoyed reaction. She called out to someone. “Hello sir!”
I felt my heart start to beat hard in my chest. I didn’t know what to say, but I couldn’t let her and the buyers walk into this.
“Excuse me, ma’am?” I called into the phone loudly. She didn’t answer. I could hear her voice as she approached the house, it was obvious the phone was away from her ear. I listened intently.
“Hi, sorry if we interrupted something,” the agent said in her sweet voice, but you could hear it falter towards the end.
There was that sickening laughter I’d heard yesterday. It was him. The man all-too happy to have guests and the very man sitting in the company of screams. His guttural laugh caused me to shiver with tension and fear.
“Ma’am! Ma’am, please wait a moment!” I called into the phone, but she didn’t answer. Some of the other representatives working beside me began to stare. I heard the sound of footsteps through grass and his awful laughs.
Then I heard a sound that nearly made me shit myself. A deafening roar of a chainsaw thundered to life close to the phone. The blaring sound of the chainsaw engine was quickly followed with a wet tearing sound and a high-pitched scream. Then the phone disconnected and all I heard was my panicked breathing.
I was sweating. I felt sick to my stomach, and I’m pretty sure I was pale. I called the showing agent back, but she didn’t answer. I didn’t want to, but I dialed the “Home” number for the listing. It rang for a few moments, then someone picked up. There was that music again, much louder, but it was that same exact song. I could hear the chopping with much more intensity now, and it was clearly something heavy and soft being hacked. The laughter was there. Right into the phone, hurting my ears. The heavy bastard on the other end bellowed his disgusting laugh until I couldn’t take it and hung up on him. I got up to speak with my manager, but I found out he had left for the day. I gathered the few other supervisors on duty, and we all listened to the call again. Only one of them agreed to how absurd and dangerous the situation seemed. Everyone else just figured the agent was done with me and the homeowners were landscaping. I thought that was bullshit. I didn’t want to think about what actually happened, but I knew for certain it wasn’t landscaping.
I argued with myself what to do, but only for a few very stressful minutes. I clocked out for break and I called the police — from my own phone this time. I told them everything and they said they’d already sent a car out and found nothing. I explained to them this was different and they needed to send a car out now. I felt like no one was taking this seriously enough, not even the police.
About two hours later, I got a call back from the police station. I answered. The person on the line sounded so disinterested, it made me a little angry.
“Mr. [last name redacted]. Just following up with you, we did send a vehicle to the location at FM [address redacted]. There was no sign of any occupants or visitors or clear signs of disturbance. Thank you for your concern,” and then the call ended. The police hung up on me! I couldn’t fucking believe it.
I don’t know what the hell to do. I feel like I don’t have a lot of options here, and no one’s as concerned as I am. Or concerned at all.