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Contemporary Fiction Horror

NAIL HEAD

by Del Gibson

Five years ago, Dr. Roman Wilson quit his job as a clinical psychologist, and this is why…

Amanda sits on the soft white leather couch. Her legs are crossed, they are jigging up and down. She is sitting in her psychologist’s office, Dr. Wilson, telling him about her life, and what happened to her and her family, all of those years ago; in the house on Broken Hill.

“So, like I was just saying. The first time I saw Nail Head, I was six or maybe seven years old,” she grips the couch with white knuckles. “Mum turned out my light, kissed my forehead and told me she loved me. I fell asleep. Then the next minute, I opened my eyes and there he was. I was staring right at him…he…oh my god, he was standing on the ceiling, just right there, upside down, his face right next to mine. I thought I must be dreaming, or having a horrid nightmare, but I could feel his breath against my skin, and the smell was so putrid, like decay and rotten meat. Then he ripped his mouth apart with is hands…oh god this is too hard…I can’t do this. I’ve been having the nightmares again doc, they are really scaring me!”

The doctor pulls his chair closer and pats her hands to loosen them.

“Ok, ok…look. Just calm down. Take deep breaths, you are safe here in my office. I will get you a glass of water. Be back in a minute. You need a break.”

Dr. Wilson leaves the room, clearly unsettled by his patient and her horrifying story. She has been coming here for a couple of months, but this is the first time Amanda has talked about Nail Head. As he makes it to the kitchenette, his spectacles are fogged up and he can’t see two steps in front of him. But he sees something. A shadow? A really big black shadow passes him, clouded in fog, it disappears into his office. He quickly whips off his glasses, wipes them on his shirt and looks back, but there is nobody there.

Moments later, he returns to his office with a glass of water, and finds Amanda sitting at his desk.

“Amanda, are you okay?”

He makes it around his desk and drops the glass. It shatters on the floor as he screams. On hands and knees, he crawls slowly towards her. Her eyes are open, and she is smiling, but her mouth is too wide – unnaturally so, it’s ungodly! Her face has ribbons of black veins popping up all over. She looks dead, but he takes the chance to feel for a pulse. Slowly he reaches with for her wrist. She is deathly cold. His fingers settle there, he feels no pulse.

Then suddenly, she grabs his arm and screams and screams – it is so intense, he has to cover his ears. He watches transfixed, as all the windows in the office implode, sending shards of glass across the room. Suddenly she stops, closes her mouth and collapses to the floor. He drops down beside her and proceeds to do CPR. After some time, Amanda’s eyes fly open and her colour slowly returns. She sputters and takes in great gulps of breath.

“What happened?” she asks.

He never did answer her question. He ran from the room, passed his secretary, out the door of the building, into his car and he never looked back. That was the day Dr. Roman Wilson quit his job, and his life changed forever.

Now, five years later here they are again; Amanda and Roman, sitting together. They are travelling together to the house on Broken Hill. Roman is now a ghost investigator. Since he discovered the truth about the paranormal, Amanda’s story is one he always wanted to tell. When finally, they arrive, the house still looks the same to her. Nothing much has changed, except the trees are taller and the garden is well overgrown. Dad always kept the gardens in pristine condition; it saddens her slightly – all his hard work had been for nothing. They stand on the wrap around porch, and Roman pulls the keys from his pocket. He puts it in the lock.

The key enters the hole and the building feels it – it groans in anticipation. After being somewhat lonely for the past few years, it remembers the feeling of being full, then empty. It senses immediately that someone has returned from eons ago, though it isn’t sure who it is, just yet.

The door screams and creaks as it is opened. Ahead of them, there is only a maw of darkness; the sun has not entered here for years. Roman turns on the light, it is dim, then it blinks out.

“At least the power is still on. Perhaps some of the bulbs need replacing?” he says mainly to himself, to explain the light bulbs sudden extinction.

They make their way towards the back of the house. He hears a noise above them, almost like someone is softly walking, he ignores it for now. Roman hadn’t noticed that Amanda has stopped dead in her tracks, looking at a painting on the wall.

“There are my parents Roman. Why would they still have these up in the house after all of these years?” it clearly baffles her.

“Maybe they kept them up, you know as a historical contribution. Didn’t you say this place is one hundred and fifty years old?”

“Yes, something like that. I would have thought, well after what happened here all those years ago, they wouldn’t have kept them up, considering.”

They make their way to the kitchen; Amanda still remembers the layout.

“How about we go around and open these curtains? It’s too dark in here,” Roman suggests.

After going from room to room on the bottom floor, they sit at the dinner table.

“I am going to record everything that happens while we are here,” he explains. “I have brought a few devices with me. I have to go out to the car to get them, but I think we will start with some backstory first. I will record this on my cellphone and transcribe it later.”

“Okay,” is all she manages to say, as a floor board above them creaks.

The girl is back, the one who fled with her family. She is petrified, and so she should be. This house was never meant to be built. The graves beneath the property are full, and the ghosts inside them are restless.

“I will start our first session, okay? We have this place for two nights, so there should be plenty of time to work through this,” he is relatively calm, though his head is covered in cobwebs – this is never a good sign.

“Okay. I lived here with my parents, and my older brother Mathew. I was about ten years old, when we fled this place.”

“What is your first memory?”

“My first memory? Ummm…I was out in the garden with mum and Mathew, I think dad was at work. Mum was hanging washing; I was about four years old. Anyway, I lost sight of mum because I was chasing butterflies, and I ran to the back of the property. There I found an old man holding a shovel or a spade, something like that, and he was digging a large hole. I asked him what he was doing, and when he turned towards me, there was something wrong with his face,” she scans the room in apprehension. “I remember thinking he must have been in a fire, because his face was burnt, like it had melted. I was terrified. He said to me he was digging a grave. When I asked him who it was for, he said it was for me.”

Amanda’s face pales as she recalls the memory. Anxiety crawls upon her skin.

“I ran back to mum and told her about the old man and the grave, she told me I had a wild imagination. She didn’t believe me. I even made her come with me so I could show her. But when we reached the spot, he was gone and there was no hole in the ground. She told me off for lying.”

Suddenly a door slams shut somewhere in the house. Roman’s eyes search the room, but he says nothing about it. He tells himself they must have left the front door open and the wind closed it.

“When we were speaking about this house and the nightmares back in my office five years ago, you mentioned seeing things in the house while you were growing up. Can you tell me a little about these occurrences? We were discussing the entity you call Nail Head. When was your first experience of him?”

We take in the subtle change around the girl. She is sucking in a deep breath; can she feel us watching her? There is movement from somewhere within. Footsteps walking the hallway. The soft padding of tiny feet. It’s the twins – they are up to no good.

Roman reaches for his satchel bag he has slung over the chair. As he turns around, he is certain he glimpsed someone standing in the doorway. After everything he has documented over the past few years, of this, he is sure; ghosts are one hundred percent real. Suddenly the air around them is bone chilling cold – like icicles are forming in the corners of the room. Goosebumps, tingling senses; breath of frost escape their mouths.

“Something is in the house with us, I can feel it. I really think I should bring in my gear, set up and get this going. There is a pressure building, I feel it in my bones.”

His sudden uncertainty is actually excitement. He lives for the chance to prove the paranormal is real – he has done that a thousand times over. He stands, tightens his coat and walks towards the door.

“I’m going to get my gear. Do you want to help me? I could use a hand.”

“Sure.”

Outside, the sun shines no more on the property; the trees hide it. Roman has a thought, they need to get some heating going and sort out the lighting. He doesn’t want to be in that house, in the dark, no way!

When everything is setup, the lights turned on and a small fire burning in the living-room – they sit in front of it, upon rugs that feel a little dirty and dusty, and they talk. Into the night they pretend not to hear the knocks and taps, the footsteps that could be wind. The creaking on the staircase, could merely be the house groaning. They dare not explore upstairs at night.

So, they are scared to come upstairs? Good. The old man in the attic is stirring. If he starts up, there will be no mercy. He will wake the man in the basement; together they are lethal.

Roman spends time showing Amanda the equipment, devices, and gadgets. There are too many names for her to remember. Cameras and tripods, she recognises these. But there are cat toys, he calls them ghost detectors. Even a teddy bear that talks, it shocks her to no end. The one which fascinates her the most, is the SLS camera, which according to him indicates where an entity is in the room; they show themselves as stick figures. After a while of this Amanda starts yawning.

“We will start with this. It’s an EMF device, a K2 meter, and it can detect energy in the room. If a spirit is near it will register by lighting up this box, it goes from green to the max, which is red,” he places it on the dusty old coffee table.

A pregnant pause follows. Then suddenly, the lights begin to flash on the device, green to yellow.

“There is someone here with us,” his face lights up in excitement.

He reaches for the EMF; it blinks to red.

“I’m going to use the spirit box, see if we can hear anything. They might want to talk to us.”

He takes the Ovilus from the coffee table. It’s a black box, with a small round speaker attached to it.

“Is there anybody here that wants to talk to us?”

He switches it on and almost immediately a giggle escapes the edges. Then it scans through white noise, so loud and annoying to the ears, but Roman is used to it – heard it thousands of times. Underneath the chatter, there is a deep and guttural voice, but the words are illegible. It sounds more like coughing or perhaps a growl? They both startle when they hear the sound of footsteps creaking above them. Night has entered the room, they shut the heavy red velvet drapes. Dust dislodges from the folds, casting them around the room.

“Spirits, if there is anyone here with us, could you please say your name? Can you come up to this device in my hand, you can touch it and pretty lights will show.”

It rattles in his hand that is shaking. For the life of him, he doesn’t know why, but this place is different to any other investigation he has conducted. This house is heavy with burden and lost souls – he can feel it in his bones. The device goes off, and another giggle comes through the spirit box.

“Did you hear that? It sounds like children. Do you ever remember hearing that when you were living here?”

“All the time, and I would see them too. They were only small, and there were two of them; they looked like twins,” she exhales a large sigh of exhaustion.

It is getting late, so they decide to resume in the morning. Roman opting to spend the night on the couch. Amanda has made up the bed in her old room. Even though she is a little apprehensive about sleeping here, she does it anyway. Perhaps the ghosts will come calling? Do they know she is here? This might be the only time to face it head on, have some closure.

The man from the attic has woken the man in the basement, they are walking around the bottom floor, where the girl is sleeping in her old room. The man she brought with her is on the couch in the living-room. The twins are running around, up and down the staircase – the spiral one in the library room is their favourite. Nail Head has finally arrived.

Roman wakes to an ear-splitting scream. When he opens his eyes, there are two men standing above him. One is wielding a long-handled axe in his hands, while the other man is leaning himself around a shovel. At first Roman believes he is dreaming, but the sensor monitor is going off beside him. The REM pod in the corner is screeching, someone must be playing with it. Giggles fill the air, then the soft patter of tiny feet flee the scene through to the hallway.

He sits up then confused, and in fear he leaps to his feet. As he escapes the room, he can hear the sound of heavy tread following close behind. He walks a little faster. Fear doesn’t usually get the better of him, but right now his skin is riddled in goosebumps, chills afflict him. Roman makes it to Amanda’s bedroom and without knocking he bursts through the door.

“Amanda, you need to wake up,” he yells.

The room is ice cold when he enters. He searches the darkness with his hands, for a light switch. He flicks it on, but nothing happens.

“Amanda, wake up!”

Still no response; the sleeping pills must have her out for the night, but they need to get out of here, the men are coming along the hallway. Searching his mind, he realises they aren’t human, they are ghosts, most probably demonic entities. He slams the window shut. There doesn’t seem to be any working source of lighting in the room, so he pulls his cellphone out of his jean pocket, turning on the torch function; he wished to hell he hadn’t.

Nail Head, he finally has her, after all these years of waiting…

When Roman goes to Amanda, gently shaking her, he cannot see her properly, because the phone torch is flashing on and off. He can hear noises outside the bedroom door. When he entered the room, he had locked it behind himself, but now it is opening and slamming shut. It becomes persistent, he shakes her harder. Still nothing, and now he can see why as the light finally finds her. His scream is choked off when Nail Head turns in Roman’s direction. What Roman sees, stops his heart cold. He falls to the floor, clutching his chest. Nail Head has Amanda in his mouth. His jaw is stretched around her and all that is visible is half of her body, he has devoured the top half. Standing in the room are the ghosts of the past. There are thousands of them. They live here and this is their home, and no one will ever live here again.

As long as we stand, we will keep taking souls. This should never have been built above an old burial site. Those who enter will pay the ultimate price: their eternal souls.

THE END

Copyright © Gibson, Del 2021

August 31, 2021 02:46

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2 comments

Tricia Shulist
18:49 Sep 04, 2021

Well that was creepy. Haunted houses — the creepiest. I’m glad I got to read this. I struggle writing horror because I scare myself. Thanks for this.

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Del Gibson
20:33 Sep 04, 2021

Hello Tricia, thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Much appreciated 😀

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