Three weeks ago, my fiancé, Jenny, and I moved into a beautiful old home in the outer suburbs of Boston. Jenny and I met ten years ago at Boston College and have stuck together as I toiled through medical school and she supported the two of us with her job as a paralegal. I bought this old house to celebrate finishing my medical residency and to thank Jenny for working so hard to provide for us while I chased my dream of becoming a doctor. The house is more than one hundred years old, has been sitting empty for four years, and needs a lot of work. I probably paid more than I should have for a house needing so much extra work, but I could imagine Jenny and I raising a family and living here for the rest of our lives. Well, that changed soon after we moved in and I found something terrible living in our attic.
The first few days in our new home passed in a blur as we coordinated furniture deliveries, stocked the house with food, and planned for future renovations. By the fifth night the high of moving into our new home had worn off. Only then did I notice signs of habitation in the supposedly vacant house. On the fifth night, Jenny and I fell asleep after an exhausting evening of unpacking boxes and moving furniture around. I awoke in the middle of the night with a full bladder and groggily shuffled towards the bathroom to relieve myself. I stopped dead in my tracks only a few steps from the bathroom. Faint moans floated through the vents in the ceiling and I could have sworn that I heard the distinct sound of chains rattling from above. I quickly entered the bathroom and splashed cold water onto my face before stepping up onto the toilet and placing my ear up to the ceiling. I moved my ear closer to the vent, when the bathroom light suddenly flashed on. I fell from my perch and landed hard my side.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jenny said, stifling a laugh as she helped me up.
“I heard something up there,” I muttered sheepishly. Looking up I saw a crooked grin on her face so I said indignantly, “Whatever, I need to piss.”
She laughed and headed back to the bedroom while I emptied my bladder. As I flushed the toilet I could have sworn I heard heavy breathing floating down through the vent. I shook my head and told myself that I needed to get back to sleep. I had a ten-hour shift at the hospital the next day but promised myself that I would thoroughly search the attic on my day off later in the week.
The next few days passed uneventfully as I focused on work. I eventually convinced myself that the noises I had heard were common in old houses. On my day off I puttered around the house trying to make some headway on the long list of home improvements. I hoped to cross a few of the easier tasks off the list before Jenny got home from work. After fixing the kitchen window I moved upstairs to start working on the leaky faucet. However, I remembered that I had promised myself that I would check out the attic. Innocent curiosity got the better of me.
Unfortunately, someone had sealed the trap door in the ceiling which lead to the attic. I fetched a stepladder, flathead screwdriver, and attempted to pry the door free from whatever held it. The trap door refused to give, and I slammed my palm against the ceiling in frustration. At that moment, I heard definite movement above my head as well as the soft clink of metal against metal. The movement continued for a few moments and then stopped. I beat my fist against the ceiling to try to arouse another reaction, but none came. I figured that there must be a raccoon or some other sort of large vermin stuck in the attic, and it sounded like it was caught in some sort of trap. I decided to head over to the hardware store to pick up a hammer so that I could open the trap door to the attic.
As I pulled back into the driveway I saw Jenny’s car parked in the garage. I headed into the house, crowbar in hand, excited to prove that I was right about something living in the attic. I couldn’t find Jenny on the first floor so I headed upstairs. As I neared the top of the staircase I noticed that the attic trapdoor was open. I called out for Jenny as I approached the ladder but received no response. My heart raced as called out for Jenny to stop playing around. I mounted the ladder, crowbar in hand, and began to climb. A sickening stench met me halfway up the ladder and I struggled to maintain my composure.
My head cleared the top of the ladder and I nearly lost my grip on the ladder as my eyes took in the horror before me. Human heads in varying states of decomposition adorned the slanted walls of the attic. The only source of light came from a small, open window. A slight movement in the corner of the room pulled me back to the present situation. I moved towards the corner, my right hand tightly gripping the hammer, and found Jenny lying on an old bloodstained table. She was unconscious with a head wound and it appeared that something had been gnawing on her foot. Suddenly the trapdoor slammed shut behind me and I heard the metallic click of a lock sliding into place.
A large, dark figure emerged from the opposite side of the attic. In his hands, he held a heavy chain, at the end of which was a small emaciated dog. They slowly crept forwards and I realized, to my horror, that it was not a dog at the end of a chain but an old man crawling on all fours. There wasn’t any dramatic showdown that you usually see in the movies. There wasn’t time for that.
The next few moments passed in a blur as is typical when a person is forced to fight for their life. Obviously, I wasn’t going to leave Jenny behind, so I immediately charged the gruesome duo with the hammer raised high above my head. I quickly closed the distance between us and brought the hammer down upon the crown of the man with a sickening crunch. The large man toppled to the round and the old man scurried back into a dark corner, dragging the chain behind him. I unlocked the trapdoor and half carried half dragged Jenny out of the attic and down onto the second floor after which I immediately called the police.
I have been awake for the past twenty-four hours and am sitting in the hospital next to Jenny right now. The doctors tell me that she will likely be released tomorrow. Her wounds were mostly superficial; a nasty gash on her head and some skin torn off her foot. Thankfully she doesn’t remember much due to the blow she took to her head. A detective interviewed both of us a few hours ago. The whole situation is sickening. Police have not been able to identify the man I struck with the hammer. He had no identification and his fingerprints did not show up in their system. The old man in chains was the previous owner of the home, who had disappeared four years earlier. The detective’s working theory is that the large man had killed the family living in the house four years ago, and moved into the house, keeping the old man as a pet.
There is no way in hell that Jenny and I are moving back into that house. I plan to call my lawyer in the morning and make plans for declaring bankruptcy. We will be moving back to Boston as soon as Jenny is released from the hospital. Our suburban experiment has come to an abrupt and terrifying end. Whether we buy or rent next I can say for sure that our next home will be brand new. No hidden surprises.