by Eric G. Ekaut
3845 Bellfor was a two-story brick bungalow on the East Side of Detroit and the only house on the block without a green front yard. Slim Love had lived there all his life.
When Slim pressed his forehead against the living room picture window, the cool glass crinkled his brown skin. Bloodshot eyes, swelled by three weeks of restlessness, stared out at a dead tree planted on a strip of dead grass wedged between the sidewalk and street. Slim remembered both the tree and the lawn being alive just over a month ago.
Slim’s birth name was Elroy. His father gave him the nickname Slim eighteen years ago when he was born a thin infant one month premature. Today the nickname still fit his lanky frame. So much in fact that most of his senior classmates at Bishop Greggson High School knew him only as Slim.
Memories tore through Slim’s mind like a missile through its target. He remembered nights from his childhood, cowering under his Star Wars bed sheets and wondering what was making those strange noises in the attic.
Slim was haunted by other memories as well. One was the death of his mother two days after his twelfth birthday. Another was eerie bone chills brought on by the feeling of being watched while alone in his upstairs bedroom, or riding his bike up and down the street.
None of those memories were as fresh as discovering the lifeless body of his ten year old brother Terry three weeks ago.
Janelle Cain sat on the floor. Her back rested against a black leather sectional that was covered with piles of shirts and sweatshirts, some still on hangers. She was a simple girl with ambitious brown eyes, cinnamon skin, and an elegant short black hairstyle. Her bubbly smile typically lit up a room like a summer sunrise over a mountain landscape.
Janelle looked up at Slim. Her stunning face masked with sorrow. Her eyes held back tears. She had been dating Slim for a little over a year, even though she had known him for almost five. She shared his grief, but refused to ignore the hunch that something else was bothering him.
“Are you looking at something specific?” Janelle asked.
“Death. It’s all around this house,” Slim answered without looking back.
“Death is the end of life on Earth. It’s tragic, but natural,” Janelle said.
“Depends who takes it.”
“What does that mean?” Janelle asked.
Antonio Dawson entered the room with a large cardboard box set between his muscular arms. The word KITCHEN was scribbled on the side facing out. He placed the box on top of three others, completing two stacks of four.
The twenty year old sophomore, attending Eastern Michigan University on a football scholarship, had become apathetic to everything but his education and improving at the sport he had been playing since he was two. Antonio was there only at his uncle’s request.
Janelle paid no attention to Antonio. She was unable to take her eyes off Slim, and unable to take her thoughts off what he had said.
“Slim, what does that mean?” Janelle asked again.
Slim finally turned around. He faced Janelle. “God didn’t take Terry. An evil presence did.”
Antonio rolled his eyes. “Are you for real?”
Slim made brief eye contact with Antonio, then looked away.
“Uncle O asked me to help you pack, not do it myself while you fantasize,” Antonio said.
“I’m confused.” Janelle said.
“Ever since we were little he thinks there’s a ghost in the attic,” Antonio said.
Slim had heard that skeptical tone in Antonio’s voice before.
“Why do you think that?” Janelle asked.
“Let me show you,” Slim said. He turned to Antonio. “We gotta pack things up there anyway.”
Antonio stepped aside, motioned for Slim to lead the way.
Slim led Janelle and Antonio up a creaky staircase and into the large bedroom he had shared with Terry.
The attic was located at the front of the house, directly off the large bedroom. For as long as Slim could remember, it was the scariest place in his house. Slim was spooked regularly about what resided behind the closed door, always refused to open it, and was constantly fearful that whatever it was would one day exit the attic and enter the bedroom.
Slim stepped gingerly to the attic door. His hand quivered as he grasped the medieval style wrought iron handle.
Slim eased the door open, peeked in, and led Janelle and Antonio into the attic. It was only the second time Slim had been in there.
Slim moved warily to the corner of the attic. He bent over and picked up a block of light brown wood, slightly bigger than an average board game, with coarse sides about an inch thick. He placed it in the middle of the floor. On its surface, the letters A-Z, numerals 0-9, and the words yes, no, and G-bye were all burnt into the wood calligraphic style.
“You made a Ouija board?” Janelle asked.
“It was here when my parents bought the house. I just found it last month,” Slim said.
“I thought you stayed outta here,” Antonio said.
Slim made his way to the only window in the attic. It overlooked the front yard, same as the living room picture window. Slim never caught this view before, yet often looked up at the window to try and catch a glimpse of who was watching.
Slim gazed out the window.
“When I was little, I was scared to death of this room. Sure Antonio said the creaks and thuds were an old house settling, but I always knew it was something else. As I got older, I got tired of being scared, so I became curious. Just over a month ago that curiosity got the best of me. That’s when I found the Ouija board.”
Slim made his way back to the corner and picked up a shot glass, so crusted with dirt that whatever had been printed on it was unreadable. He set it on the middle of the Ouija board, upside down.
“I have no idea why, but I placed my fingers on the shot glass and asked whatever was up here to show itself. The shot glass moved. I got scared, pulled my fingers off, and it kept moving.”
“On its own?” Janelle confirmed.
“On its own. It spelled out FUG is awake. The shot glass then slid off the board, across the floor and stopped.”
Slim made his way back to the window. He recalled the next day, visiting the Detroit Public Library to search for anything he could find regarding the history of the house, and what FUG meant.
“I found nothing evil,” Slim said. “But I did find FUG. They’re initials. Father Urban Grimm, a Catholic priest who was the previous owner of this house. He used it mainly for counseling children who came from abusive or neglectful homes, as well as housing and feeding the homeless.”
Antonio reached down into the neck of his sweatshirt and took out a white gold charm molded into the face of Jesus Christ. It hung from a white gold chain. He pinched it gently between his index finger and thumb.
“What you drivin at cuz?” Antonio asked with agitation in his voice.
Slim turned to face Antonio. “When Father Grimm lived here, evil spirits couldn’t get in. Maybe that pissed’em off, and made this home a target.”
“Why would a Catholic priest have a Ouija board?” Janelle asked.
“He wouldn’t,” Antonio said, raising his voice. “Knowing cuz he brought that thing here himself.”
Slim hurled a dirty look at Antonio. “Why would I do that?”
Antonio challenged the dirty look with one of his own. He loved Slim like a brother, yet rebuffed his type. He recalled the time when Slim got food poisoning at a dinner celebrating Antonio’s scholarship, in what Antonio suspected was faked to draw attention to Slim. That was just one of many events where Slim had done something simply for attention.
“I think it’s time you talk to someone,” Antonio said. “You’re not well, and Terry’s death is only making it worse.”
“So because you disagree, I need help?” Slim asked.
“I’m concerned you’ve finally crossed the line to get attention.”
“What are you accusing me of?” Slim asked. He shook his finger at the Ouija board. “Ever since I found that, the tree out front has died, the grass has died, and Terry has died! I need to get rid of the evil I accidentally summoned.”
“You need to move on,” Antonio said. “Let’s pack up and get out! Uncle O said he’s already sold this place.”
“Yeah, dad sold it to a family with two young children,” Slim said. “When they move in, they’ll be killed. I have to stop it.”
“Why?” Janelle asked.
“Cause I started it.”
“See how fucked up he is? He started it, yet it was here before he moved in,” Antonio said.
Slim turned to Janelle. From that moment on Slim pretended Antonio wasn’t there.
“I’m gonna contact St. Michael the Archangel. A reliable source at my dad’s church said pray to him in order to rid places of evil spirits.”
Slim sat down on the floor, the Ouija board in front of him. He moved lethargically. His hands hovered above the board palms down. He steadied his fingertips over the shot glass.
“I don’t know about this,” Janelle said. “Messing with that thing may lead to something worse.”
“I’m not gonna force you to stay,” Slim said.
Janelle took a long, deep breath. She felt torn between her love and support for Slim, and her growing fear of the attic.
Janelle decided to stay due to her faith in God, and her inherited belief that a woman should stand by her man. She never forgot how her mother stood by her father, despite the many dangers of his job as an undercover DEA agent. She stood by him right up until the time his true identity was discovered by the drug trafficking organization he had infiltrated. The Black Mafia Family executed her father that same day.
Janelle took her Smartphone and began recording video. Just in case something happens, others will see it, she thought.
Slim nodded. “Here we go,” he said. He closed his eyes.
Antonio found himself questioning Slim’s true motives. For a brief moment, he thought Slim could be responsible for Terry’s unexpected death. Having that thought cross his mind bothered him greatly.
Antonio stomped his foot down, reducing the shot glass to tiny shards and white dust. The momentum carried his foot partially through the Ouija board, exposing it hollow.
Slim’s eyes snapped open.
“You have two choices,” Antonio said surly. He glared down at Slim and clenched his mighty fist. “Help me pack, or I’ll knock your ass out and carry you to the hospital psyche ward.”
Antonio lifted his foot off the Ouija board. Before he could set in back down on the floor he grimaced, clutched his right thigh, and collapsed to one knee.
Janelle’s glare threw daggers at Antonio. She fumed at his actions, not just because he had scared the shit out of her, but because she thought he was mocking Slim.
Then she saw the red blossoming on the front right thigh of Antonio’s jeans.
Slim saw it too. Red soaked through the jeans at a rapid rate.
“What happened?” Slim asked.
“My leg…it’s gone numb,” Antonio muttered. His eyes rolled into the back of his head. He toppled over, unconscious. By now his blood had drenched the entire top portion of the jeans and was dripping onto the floor.
Slim dropped to his knees, yanked Antonio’s jeans off and tossed them aside. He recoiled at the blood gushing from three deep gashes on Antonio’s front right thigh, like red water from a pressurized pipe that had burst.
Janelle’s heart raced. Pain constricted her chest and made it hard to breathe. She sat on the floor the minute the room started spinning. Her hands tingled. She tried to flex it out and dropped her phone, unmindful that it was still recording.
Slim lifted his shirt up over his head, tore the fabric to make it longer, and tied it firmly around Antonio’s thigh.
Blood continued to gush, pooling on the floor alongside Antonio.
Slim sprung to his feet. He pulled a belt through the loops of his pants and tightened it around Antonio’s thigh.
The gushing slowed to a moderate flow.
“Hold this in place,” Slim said.
Janelle did, and then closed her eyes. She found battling her fear induced anxiety attack was slightly easier with her eyes shut.
Slim scanned the room. The cracked and partially caved in Ouija board caught his eye. He picked it up, slammed it against the floor.
One entire side splintered and slid across the floor.
Slim retrieved the strip of wood, slid it between Antonio’s bloody skin and the belt, and twisted it clockwise. The belt constricted Antonio’s thigh until the bleeding stopped.
“How you feeling?” Slim asked.
“Weak,” Antonio said. He could barely keep his eyes open.
“You’ve lost a lot of blood,” Slim said. “We need to get you to a hospital.”
“I can’t move cuz,” Antonio said, slurring the words like a drunk.
Slim turned to Janelle. “Dial 9-1-1,” he said.
As Janelle reached for her phone, she noticed Antonio had stopped breathing. His body went limp, and it became painfully obvious why the bleeding had stopped.
Harsh reality seeped in while tears trickled out of Slim’s eyes. He shook Antonio, called out his name, and even attempted CPR all while praying that he would regain consciousness.
It was too late. Antonio was dead.
Slim’s guilt weighed more than he could bear. He laid his head on Antonio’s chest and wept. On the outside he cried out repeatedly how sorry he was, not only to Antonio, but to Terry as well. On the inside he prayed to be killed next.
Janelle on the other hand was way too horrified to cry. Her face masked with the unspeakable fear that another unseen attack could come any second. Instead of a life already lived, the potential of her future flashed before her eyes. She saw glimpses of a college campus, herself in a cap and gown, and herself teaching a class full of middle school students.
Janelle reached for her phone again. This time she realized it had been recording the entire time. She alerted Slim and got the phone ready to watch what had been captured.
Slim wiped the tears from his face and gathered himself with a slow deep breath. He peered over Janelle’s shoulder to get a better look at her phone.
She played the video.
They watched with great trepidation as a ghostly shadow, eerily shaped like a human arm, swiped at Antonio’s front right thigh. Suddenly Slim noticed something else.
“Go back, right after it cuts him,” Slim said.
Janelle rewound the video and played it seconds before the violent attack.
“Pause that!” Slim yelled.
She did, right as the shadow completed its swipe across the thigh.
“Holy Mary mother of God,” Slim said softly.
They stared at the phone screen. The moment seemed surreal, and so did the image they were staring at. But it was real, very real. The shadow was indeed an arm, attached to the apparition of a man. Although facial features and even skin tone were invisible, a white clerical collar could be seen around the neck area.
“We’re in grave danger! We need to go now, and figure out how to stop it later,” Janelle said sniffling the whole time. She held her phone up. “We have proof of paranormal activity right here.”
Slim nodded in agreement.
They bolted towards the opened door.
The door slammed itself shut.
They flinched, both nearly jumping out of their shoes.
Slim yanked on the door handle repeatedly. Janelle stepped in and helped. Despite their combined efforts, and the fact that the door failed to possess a lock of any kind, it refused to open. It was as if the door had become a part of the wall, and they were now trapped behind it.
Janelle juggled her phone back and forth, right hand to left, left hand to right. “Something’s up with this phone,” she said. She tossed it high into the air and blew on her hands to cool them off.
Slim caught the phone before it hit the ground, but was unable to hold it. He pulled his hand back and tried to shake away the burn.
The Smartphone hit the floor and caught fire.
Slim and Janelle watched in utter disbelief.
Seconds later the fire extinguished itself, leaving a tiny puddle of black, bubbling goo.
Neither Slim nor Janelle could grasp the reality of the situation. No way had that just happened, they thought.
Then something occurred to Slim.
He examined the blood stain on the front right thigh of Antonio’s jeans. The denim was intact.
Slim turned his attention to Antonio’s leg. He examined the fatal wound on his front right thigh. Three gashes deep enough to sever the femoral artery. The length of each gash, and the space between them, was identical. Too perfect for humanity.
How could something penetrate the denim to get to the skin, cut the skin, yet not cut the denim? Slim pondered silently.
Meanwhile, Janelle noticed a stuffed Manila envelope sticking out slightly from the absent side of the Ouija board.
Neither of them however, noticed the steam that had begun oozing off the four surrounding walls.
Janelle pointed out the Manila envelope. Slim tugged it out of the wood’s hollow core.
Slim unclasped the envelope and pulled out a stack of loose papers.
What the papers revealed was the most unsettling thing Slim and Janelle had ever read. Police reports mostly, documenting a year long investigation involving the rape and murder of thirteen young boys, with physical evidence unmistakably pointing to the priest who counseled them, Father Urban Grimm.
Even more unsettling were the gruesome crime scene photos stacked underneath the reports. The last photo at the bottom of the pile was how Detroit police detectives found Fr. Grimm the night they came to arrest him, hanging from a noose in the middle of the attic.
Once the initial jolt of realization wore off, they noticed the steam.
Slim used every ounce of energy to break the attic window. He kicked it, slammed his shoulder into it, and swung what was left of the Ouija board at it like he was Prince Fielder. The results were as if he was striking a brick wall.
Am I that fucking weak? Slim questioned. Or is he that fucking strong?
Slim found he was struggling to catch his breath. He wiped an extreme amount of sweat from his forehead, and then observed Janelle sweating just as excessively. It became clear to Slim that the sweat was a result of something other than him trying to break the window.
Slim thought back to ghost stories he had heard as a kid, where temperatures dropped so drastically people could see their own breath. He had never heard of temps rising. Slim kicked around the notion that harmless ghosts dropped the temperatures, while deadly ones spiked it.
Sweat saturated Slim’s shirt, both front and back.
Janelle’s hair looked as if she had just stepped out of the shower.
The heat in the attic continued to intensify. The walls glowed red. Intimidating black smoke had overtaken and replaced the innocent steam.
An apparition appeared suddenly within the thickening smoke. It morphed into human form with a thin face, thick ashen beard and wiry gray hair. He stood perfectly still, wore black pants, a black clergy shirt with a clerical collar. The man was Father Urban Grimm. His eyes were devoid of life. He stared at Slim.
An unanticipated chill zapped Slim’s bones, reminding him of that eerie childhood feeling. Now he knew who had been watching.
Janelle cried hysterically. She had never been so scared. Her paralyzing fear rendered her unable to hold a thought.
Slim felt as if his pounding heart was going to burst through his chest. One thought crossed his mind and he reacted immediately.
“Almighty God, please allow the innocent, young victims of this evil monster to come forward and extract revenge!” Slim yelled out.
For a minute there was nothing. Then apparitions stepped through the smoke, one by one, and materialized into thirteen young boys still labeled with bruises and open cuts. Their ages ranged between eight and twelve. They formed a circle around Father Grimm, each holding novelty baseball bats given to them as souvenirs from Detroit Tiger baseball games, by Grimm himself. The bats were often used to sodomize the boys soon after, by Grimm himself.
In a sudden and furious attack, the boys used the bats to beat Grimm repeatedly.
Grimm fell to the ground and curled into a ball. His defenseless body spewed blood with every vicious blow. The boys were merciless. They jabbed the end of their bats into his balls when not crushing his skull, or breaking bones in his arms, legs, and chest.
Slim and Janelle turned away from the brutal, yet justified violence. They took notice of the attic door opening.
By now, smoke had just about filled the entire attic.
“Go!” Slim ordered.
“What about you?”
“I’ll be right behind you,” Slim said. He shoved Janelle towards the door. “Go now!”
Janelle was hesitant, but exited the attic and then the house anyway.
Slim scurried around the attic, gathering the loose papers and photos found hidden in the Ouija board. He stuffed them back into the Manila envelope and started out, then stopped abruptly.
Slim tossed Antonio’s jeans over his left shoulder, and then took Antonio’s lifeless body and put him over his right shoulder. As he made his way towards the door, he made eye contact with one of the young boys.
“Send him where he belongs,” Slim said.
The young boy winked at him.
Slim stepped through the doorway.
The attic instantly became an inferno.
Janelle waited on the front lawn, watched flames smash out the attic window and swallow the second story whole. She held her breath, then let it all out when she saw Slim stumble out the front door.
By the time the Detroit fire department arrived, the entire house was engulfed in flames that formed an orange, spiritual glow against the black sky.
By the time the fire department left, the entire house was nothing but a charred shell, with no glass in any of the windows, and large burn holes in the roof.
The next night, Slim lied awake in a spare bedroom leant to him by Janelle’s mother.
He had a satisfying smile on his face. Earlier that day, he had disclosed the evidence and church cover-up to the media and forced members of the Catholic Church to assemble volunteers to have the remains of the condemned bungalow torn down.
Slim still had plenty of mourning to do, but at least now he could do it without remorse.
Finally he could close his eyes and fall asleep.No tags for this post.