Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry
If it wasn’t for the lightning, Cecil would never have gone into the old Dunsmere house.
The intensity of the storm made visibility difficult. He was still, at least, an hour walk from town. The fierce storm lashed the trees that lined the lane leading to the deserted old house.
Cecil cursed his junk heap of a pickup truck for the hundredth time. It was broken down on the side of the road four miles out-of-town. He suspected the engine finally gave up the ghost when he saw smoke pouring out of the block.
He was born and raised in Louderville, Tennessee, population 1,788. He knew all about the Dunsmere House, and the ghost stories associated with it. As a kid, he and his friends would go by there on Halloween and dare each other to go inside.
No one ever accepted the dare.
The house was built in 1858. It’s builder, Lucius Dunsmere, was destined to be a captain in the Confederate Army. He was killed at Gettysburg in Pickett’s valiant charge against a well-entrenched Union Army.
His wife, Dorie May, remained a widow for two years before marrying a prosperous businessman; Earl Jason Jones, who came with a cloudy past. No one seemed to know where he was from, or exactly how he acquired his wealth.
He built a hardware store in town and soon became a member of the city council. He was an outgoing personality who never tired of hearing his own voice. At six-feet, two inches, he was taller than the average man at the time.
It was easy to see how he stood out in a crowd with his flaming red beard, and booming voice. No one in town could beat him at arm-wrestling during drunken saloon gatherings. His ability to consume alcohol was legendary.
What people in town didn’t know about Jones was that he beat his wife and young adopted son, Blake, for the slightest infraction of his rules. They were prisoners in their own house. One more thing about Jones; he was a hired killer, willing to murder anyone for the right price.
It amused him to live in two worlds.
One day Earl pushed his luck too far. He was beating Dorie May for not shining his boots well enough when 12-year old Blake snuck up on him and stabbed him in the back! He pulled the hunting knife out, and when Earl turned to face him…slit his throat with a vicious slash!
His life blood squirted out on Dorie May, and Blake. It splattered the floor and two walls. His big body crashed onto the wooden floor, thrashing about for a bit before finally stopping.
They both knew they hid to hide his body. It would be too hard to convince his cronies that he was attacking them, and they were only defended themselves.
It was Blake’s idea to cut the body up and to hide the parts throughout the house.
The story goes that Dorie May and Blake convinced the towns people that Earl Jason Jones took off on his own, deserting his family. When Dorie May passed away in 1891 the house reverted to Blake, who didn’t want anything to do with it.
The new owners were said to have discovered a dismembered torso in the basement and promptly moved out while the police investigated. The house was already in need of repair and the new owners gave up trying to sell it (the local gossips assured that).
As Cecil warily opened the front door, his heart was beating like a drummer in a rock band. He tried to calm himself and stepped inside. Lightning lit the room up through the open door for a moment, revealing antique furniture in need of repair.
A broken chair lay in the entryway. As he carefully stepped around it a loud clap of thunder made him piss his pants! The suddenness and the following humiliation were draining away his resolve to be brave.
He couldn’t help from feeling like that little boy who came to the house for Halloween and was afraid to enter. He did it now, but there were no witnesses. No one to share the feeling of terror that was growing inside of him like a living thing.
The wind whistled through a broken window in the living room and screeched through the house like a banshee. The spatter of rain that followed, soaked the moldering couch beneath it. A rat ran across the room and disappeared into the ancient cushion on an overstuffed chair.
He felt an additional coldness in the air. An evil presence. Even with his eyes adjusted to the darkness he could only make out basic shapes. He slid down the wall in the entry way into a sitting position.
A woman cried out in pain! A man growled something in response. The voice of a boy pleaded with the man to stop.
Cecil tried to stand, so he could run, but his legs had turned into rubber.
A woman screamed in terror! Again, and again!
The blood curdling quality of the scream finally motivated him enough to stand up…but, he ran the wrong way and into a wall, smashing through the thin sawn wood lath that was used to support plaster, exposing a hidden room.
Thunder rolled through the valley. The following lightning lit up the old house once more and Cecile saw a skull sitting on a tiny table in the corner. Next to it stood a tall man with a red beard.
Cecile’s sanity slipped away into the night.
When the search party found him two days later, he was near death and in a coma. They transported him to the county hospital where he was put in the intensive care ward.
Two weeks later Cecile came out of his coma, and was transferred to a regular room. He still hadn’t talked yet.
The doctor thought it was a good idea for his old school buddies to visit him. They might even get him to talk. One Sunday, when a group of his old buddies stopped by to see him, Cecile spoke!
He sat up in the bed and looked everyone over carefully. They clustered closer.
“Any of you boys wanna arm wrestle for a drink?” he asked his stunned friends.
As It Stands, it’s always a good idea to avoid haunted houses.