Nathaniel Russeck hopped up and down on the spot, desperately trying to warm himself up. He could feel the bite of the coming winter even through his windbreaker like it wasn’t even there. Clouds of breath drifted between his lips, encircling his head, hanging there, Nate’s own personal poltergeists. Looking back over his shoulder through the trees, he considered high tailing it for home. This thought was quickly erased by the bobbing light pushing its way through the branches.
“Thanks for waiting!”
The light was not a will-o-wisp but Nate’s friend, Ben.
Ben wasn’t the most popular kid in school, what with his greasy blonde hair that fell in his eyes and his large girth. Often he was bullied and abused by his classmates until Nate swooped in to save the day. Ever since he had socked Davey Wilhelm in the mouth for calling Ben a ‘fat ass’ they had been best friends.
“No problem,” Nate called back.
Ben’s jovial grin, light by the dim glow of his flashlight, was infectious. Soon Nate felt the corners of his mouth turn upwards. Their mood was spoiled by an unearthly howl that echoed out from the broken jaws of the house.
The house in Central Park had been there for as long as any of the locals could remember. As far as they knew, it had always been abandon. Rumor had it that a ghost haunted the home, driving away any and all who had ever lived there. Few knew how it had even come to be there. It was smack dab in the middle of the Park, hidden in a cluster of trees. The Park officials swore up and down that the house didn’t exist but the teenagers that roamed the streets of New York City knew better. They had seen the house with their own eyes and witnessed the horrors within.
Because of Ben’s sister’s homeless friend, Nate had come to learn of the house. Ben was obsessed with it. It was no wonder the son of a ghost hunter would want to explore the creepy building. Ben’s mother was part of a paranormal team that believed in everything from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness monster. Nate didn’t believe in that sort of thing. He was only there because, Ben, his friend, had asked him to come along.
Ben lifted his yellow bangs out of his face with one hand and shone his flashlight on the door-less porch of the house with the other. Windows without glass stared back at them, lit by darkness from within. Nate jumped a little when the light fell on something shiny. It took him a moment to realize it was the remnants of a metal doorknob lying in the doorway.
“Are you sure it’s safe?” Nate breathed, his hands automatically drawing up towards his chest.
Ben grinned and shook his head, “Nope! Not a clue! Let’s find out,” He walked up to the house and stepped onto the porch.
The floorboards groaned beneath him. Nate shuffled forward and followed suit. The two boys stood there for what seemed like hours, staring into the mouth of the monster that huddled in Central Park. Ben sneezed suddenly, breaking the awful quiet.
“The most dangerous thing in there,” Ben stated, “Is probably broken glass,”
They exchanged glances that said, I’m freaked out and I don’t know why but we’re here now so let’s get this over with. Banishing their sixth senses which screamed at them to turn back, Ben and Nate entered the dreaded house.
The first thing Nate noticed was the furniture. Everything inside the house appeared intact. Ancient upholstered chairs and couches were
arranged haphazardly in the living room to their left. Ben swept the beam of light over them, revealing the wear and tear that Nate hadn’t been able to detect in the shadows.
Every single one of the chairs had been shredded by something sharp. Stuffing and feathers littered the floor like some huge bird had died there. The legs of the couch had huge gouges in them, bits of wood all over the place, mahogany shrapnel. Nate swallowed the huge lump that had formed in his throat and pointed up the staircase before them.
He didn’t say anything to Ben, but the chubby boy nodded, his neck fat jiggling, “Yeah, there might be something cool up there,”
Without hesitation, Ben barreled up the steps taking them two at a time. Nate trailed behind him, timid as a mouse.
Once upon a time the house had probably been beautiful. It had been owned by someone rich, obviously, judging by the remains of chandeliers and fancy furniture. But here, in the heart of New York City, long past midnight it was a place where nightmares were born.