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The Haunted Place - Part 2 - Investigation and Return

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* * *

 

Newman and MacLachlan went downtown to the county courthouse and searched the records for the owners of the house. After a couple of hours, Newman had compiled a short list of former owners. They were:

 

1869 - Patrick Clayton

1885 - William Trip

1894 - Elijah Whittle

1902 - Linda McConnell

1918 - Clint Everton

1925 - Jacob North

 

That only went back to the mid 1800s and they found out there were other records they could look at if they wanted, though those records would take some time to examine.

 

* * *

 

Sims talked to people in the neighborhood and learned the place was called, by some, the Massacre House. No one was really sure, however, why it was called that. Rumor had it the house was haunted and had a bad reputation.

 

* * *

 

Miss Carpenter went looking for old newspaper articles about the house and Academy Avenue, starting with when North had purchased the house and working her way back. She found an article in the Monday, July 30, 1923 Providence Journal that read:

 

 

MURDER MOST FOUL

Police Officer Suspected

Massacre House Claims New Victim

 

A police officer is suspected of murdering his wife, Mary Everton, in the infamous “Massacre

House†on Academy Avenue.

 

Police were called to the residence at 430 Academy Avenue at 11:50 p.m. Friday by Officer

Clint Everton with the Providence Police. They found Everton hysterical and a cellar covered

in blood, according to sources in the Providence Police Department.

 

Everton claims that a shadowy figure whom his wife had allegedly been seeing in the house

since 1918 dragged the woman from her bed and down into the basement. By the time Everton

could arrive, he claims, she was gone and the basement was a bloody mess.

 

All of the basement windows were locked. Neighbors claim they heard nothing until Everton

started screaming around midnight. Police arrived soon after.

 

Police have taken Everton into custody under suspicion of murder. Everton will undergo

psychiatric evaluation and testing.

 

He is a veteran of the Great War.

 

This is not the first time strange incidents happened at the so-called “Massacre House.â€

 

In 1911, Alexander and Theresa Scott were committed to Butler Hospital, both of them

hopelessly insane, after living in the house for two years and losing eight children to the

place through death and disease.

 

In 1902, two women who lived in the house were committed to Butler Hospital after the

house was found ransacked and the women in terrible shock in their bedrooms. Both women

reportedly died in 1904.

 

In 1897, Elijah Whittle died in the home of mysterious circumstances. His wife and son were

killed by his own daughter in 1895 and Whittle was severely injured. His daughter committed

suicide soon after.

 

A family of squatters died mysteriously in the house in 1882.

 

The house was originally built in 1869 by Patrick Clayton, who lived on the property by himself.

On his death in 1875, over 40 bodies were found in the basement, apparently his victims. That

earned the place the title “Massacre House.â€

 

 

* * *

 

Nurse Helms went to Butler Hospital and learned her name was on a list of people whom Jacob North’s brother was allowing to see the man. Before that, only family was allowed to see him.

 

She found herself in one of the small visiting room with a large orderly. Jacob North was brought in wearing a straitjacket. He was a relatively handsome man of about 40 with short cut hair and a mustache. He had lost a bit of weight since being in the hospital and his hair was messy.

 

“Oh, hello,†he said. “Can I …? Hello. Is this another session? We’ve been having lots of sessions. We’ve been having lots of sessions.â€

 

“No, this isn’t a session, I just wanted to talk to you, see how you’re doing since you’ve been in here, in the hospital,†Nurse Helms said.

 

“The doctors say I’m better. They say I’m better. They say I’m better.â€

 

“Okay. Do you remember the last thing that you saw before you came here?â€

 

“The last thing I saw? Um … there was … I need to get home! Can you get me out of here so I can go home?â€

 

“You want to go back into your house?â€

 

“I need to go home.â€

 

“You need?â€

 

“I need to get back there. I don’t want … I guess I don’t want to go … I don’t want to go, but I need … I need to go. I need to get back there.â€

 

“Why do you need to get back there?â€

 

“I don’t know! I don’t know. I … I just … they … I … I … she’s there! You know? She’s … I don’t know who, I don’t where she is but she’s there. I saw her.â€

 

“Okay. Okay.â€

 

“She’s in the closet.â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

“It was in the dark and she’s waiting for me. I have to get back to her. I’ve gotta go home. You’ve got to get me out of here! You’ve got to let me go home!â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

“You’ve got to let me go home! Let me go home!â€

 

The orderly walked over and put a hand on North’s shoulder and then gave Nurse Helms a look before removing him from the room.

 

* * *

 

Dr. Bitters went home and made several telephone calls to other parapsychologists. He also checked through his pile of the New England Journal of Parapsychology magazines, but couldn’t find any mention of the house on Academy Avenue. None of the other parapsychologists had heard of it either.

 

* * *

 

They all met for lunch at a diner on Smith Street in order to assess what they’d learned. They ordered meals and ate, then talked. Sims told them he’d learned the place was called the Massacre House but no one knew why. Miss Carpenter noted it was for a good reason and that she knew why. She told them what she’d learned from the newspaper article from 1923. Newman asked about Linda McConnell but that name was not in the article.

 

MacLachlan noted he and Newman had a list of the previous owners of the house back to the 1800s. They went through the list. The name William Trip was one that was not in her newspaper article. They discussed the names. Since McConnell was also not on the list, Newman figured she and Trip were the ones to look for.

 

Nurse Helms told them of her visit with Jacob North and that the man claimed he needed to find some woman in the house. He didn’t name her but she suspected it might have something to do with Linda McConnell. They went over the list of names and dates again. Newman noted that William Trip was the only one who didn’t die in the house. They guessed Linda McConnell was one of the women that went insane.

 

They talked about the figure they had seen in the house. Sims said it looked like death.

 

Newman copied his list and gave a copy to everyone.

 

They split up after lunch to do more research.

 

* * *

 

MacLachlan and Miss Carpenter both went back to the Providence Daily Journal offices to look for more information on the house. They found more articles. There were four of interest.

 

The first was dated April 17, 1911. It read:

 

 

Parents Finally Committed

Eight Children Dead in Massacre House

 

Alexander and Theresa Scott were committed Sunday after years of losing children

in the so-called Massacre House.

 

At 4 p.m. Sunday, neighbors complained of woman’s screams from the house.

Police arrived to find Scott in the parlor, smoking his pipe, while his wife lay in

 

bed upstairs and merely screamed and screamed. Both were removed from the

house and committed to Butler Hospital. According to doctors, they have both

suffered from extreme shock and are unable to provide for themselves further.

 

The Scotts moved into the house at 430 Academy Avenue in January of 1909 as renters.

They had eight children who ranged in age from 2 to 17. Only six months after they started

renting the house, their youngest, Ian, age 3, died. Autopsies performed on the boy could

find no trace of anything suspicious.

 

“It was like the life was drained out of him,†Dr. Emmet Horton, County Coroner said.

 

Though it was a terrible loss, it seemed like it might be the only one. Then their second

youngest, Tiffany, age 5, died in early 1910. More deaths followed, with another child

dying every few months. City and State Agencies investigated both the house and the family,

though nothing definitive could be found either in the location or parents.

 

Their last child, Erin, age 19, died in February of this year, leaving only the parents.

 

When asked why they simply didn’t leave the house, Alexander Scott simply replied

“We can’t. We can’t leave!†His wife never commented during the investigations.

 

This is not the first time something strange has happened in the house. In 1902, the owner

of the home, Widow Linda McConnell, and her companion Gloria Littlefield were committed

to Butler Hospital after living in the house for only seven months.

 

In 1897, Elijah Whittle, the only survivor of the Whittle Massacre, died in the home of

mysterious circumstances. The murder of his son and wife by his eldest daughter in 1895, and

her own attack upon her father, left him severely injured for the rest of his life. His daughter

died some weeks after the massacre in 1895.

 

In 1882 a family of squatters died in the house.

 

The house was originally built in 1869 by Patrick Clayton, who lived on the property by

himself. On his death in 1875, over 40 bodies were found in the basement, apparently his

victims. That earned the place the title “Massacre House.â€

 

 

The second was dated Sept. 23, 1902. It read:

 

 

More Madness in Massacre House

Widow and her ‘Friend’ committed

 

On Monday, the Widow Linda McConnell and her “associate,†Gloria Littlefield, were

both removed from their home at 430 Academy Avenue and committed to Butler Hospital.

 

Police were summoned to the neighborhood by concerned neighbors when the two women

had not been seen for almost a week. When policemen entered the house, they found both of

the women in one bed together upstairs.

 

Neither of the women seemed surprised by police in the house. Both were terribly undernourished

and the house was reportedly a mess, with rotten food in the ice box and cupboards in the kitchen.

Other rooms were filled with debris as if the house had been ransacked. When asked who had

done that to the two women, they would only reply that “That woman who wants to kill us all.â€

Both of them complained of something “sucking and drawing†from them and of someone else

in the house who could not be seen.

 

Both women have been referred to Butler Hospital and committed. Doctors say that they have

high hopes for a complete recovery for both of the women.

 

Widow McConnell and Miss Littlefield purchased the house in February and lived in it ever

since. Rumors abound that the two are more than simple friends and neighbors claim that the

two have become stranger and stranger as the year progressed.

 

The house was originally built in 1869 by Patrick Clayton, who died on the property in 1875.

After his death, over 40 bodies were found in the basement, various tramps, traders, and travelers

who had been murdered by Clayton over the six years of his residency.

 

In 1882, a family of six was found dead in the then-abandoned house. No cause of their death

could be found.

 

In 1875, Elijah Whittle’s daughter Prudence murdered both her younger brother and her

mother and badly injured her father. She was jailed but committed suicide before she could

be moved to Butler Hospital. Whittle died in the house in 1897.

 

 

The third was dated Sunday, May 16, 1897. It read:

 

 

Strange Death on Academy Avenue

Survivor of Family Dies Mysteriously

 

Elijah Whittle, age 43, died mysteriously in his home at 430 Academy Avenue on

Saturday.

 

Initial investigation of the death shows no injury or damage to Mr. Whittle, who

was found in his bed by his nephew early on Saturday. Police do not suspect foul play.

 

Mr. Whittle had lived in the house only three years.

 

This has not been the first strange occurrence at the aptly-named “Massacre House.â€

In 1895, Elijah Whittle’s eldest daughter, Prudence, then 17, murdered both her younger

brother Jason and her mother, Joyce Whittle. After severely injuring her father and leaving

him for dead, she was captured by police and sheriff’s deputies. She claimed she’d heard

something in the basement floor and had to kill everyone. She took her own life before

she could be moved to Butler Hospital.

 

Others who had rented the house between 1885 and its sale to Whittle in 1894 also made

complaints of smells and strange sounds in the basement, especially from the basement

floor, as if something lay under it. The sounds have been attributed to the stream that

runs nearby. Renters continue to complain of sickness in the house.

 

In May of 1882, a family of six squatters in the house were found dead on the site, none

of them with any marks on their bodies.

 

The name “Massacre House†comes from 1875, when over 40 bodies were found in the

basement of the house, then owned by Patrick Clayton, a farmer and landowner. Clayton

was also found dead in the house at that time, possibly by the poison he had administered

to so many innocents he had killed before.

 

 

The fourth article was dated Friday, June 21, 1895, and read:

 

 

DAUGHTER GOES MAD!!!

Attempts to Kill Family

 

Police and Sheriff’s Deputies reported to the home of Elijah Whittle on Thursday after

his eldest daughter, Prudence, age 17, killed both her younger brother Jason, age 14,

and the children’s mother, Joyce.

 

“It was a bloody massacre,†Sheriff’s Deputy Harmon Devol stated to this reporter.

“She apparently went mad.â€

 

According to officials, sometime during the morning hours, Prudence Whittle used

a carving knife from the kitchen to first stab her younger brother repeatedly. When her

mother attempted to intervene, the young girl murdered her as well. She was found by

her father when he returned from his work on their farm that afternoon and attacked

him. Mr. Whittle, though severely injured, was not killed.

 

Police have remanded the girl to the County Jail, though it is thought that she might

have to be committed to Butler Hospital before the week is out. It is reported that she

has already tried to commit suicide twice and she must be restrained.

 

She is reportedly convinced that “that woman with the black hair†is coming to get

her and kill her if she does not return to their house and “finish what I started.†She also

reportedly said “The footsteps are in the basement! It is under the basement!â€

 

Elijah Whittle does not know what might have caused his daughter to seemingly go mad,

though he did state that the family have been beset with illness since he purchased the home

on Academy Avenue in 1894.

 

The house itself has an evil reputation. Called “The Massacre House†after several dozen

dead bodies were found within in 1875, a family of squatters also died in the house in May

of 1882.

 

 

* * *

 

Dr. Bitters went to the library to find out anything he could about the area. He found a book entitled Dark History of Providence by Mary-Anne Carden with a publication date of 1910. It detailed some of the stranger things in Providence, as well as odd tales of the city. Most were vague and only recounted stories without filling in any particulars. Others had some remarkable and disturbing details. Though the book was badly written, he found a chapter about a woman named Abigail Hardy who was allegedly a witch and lived in Providence. The passage read:

 

 

Abigail Hardy was one of the more feared witches of the Providence area.

 

The woman was thought to have come to Providence from Salem, Massachusetts in

1690, just before the Salem witch trials that would cause so much death. She settled in

a swamp in what is now the Elmhurst neighborhood of the city in a place thought by

the Narragansett Indians as cursed. She used gold to hire men to build a tiny structure

though she was never accosted for her riches. Then she terrorized the people who lived

near her.

 

Stories indicate that Abigail, though she was thought to be in her 60s when she first

came to Providence, kept her long black hair and wore nothing better than dark, dirty

clothing. She acted as a midwife in the county, though many didn’t use her services for

fear of her calling up the devil upon them.

 

Stories passed down through the years indicated that she had strange and fearsome

powers. She could make people or animals sick with just a word and the locals feared her

casting her evil eye upon them. The stories claim she could change into a bat when the moon

was right and that she always knew when folks were in their homes. It did no good to hide

from the woman as she would seek out those folks if she had a mind to. It was said she could

cause terrible blight on farmers’ crops if she was of a mind to and that once, she told a man’s

heart to stop beating and he died, writhing, in the road.

 

She was said to consort with the devil and some claimed she had the ability to call down

terrible creatures from the stars to carry her wherever she wanted to go. This seems to be a

common story for there are many tales of her going to Providence proper and back to her own

house, some miles away, in mere minutes, though the stories and rumors conflict on many

of the details. One tale claims that she raced a man from Providence to Woonsocket, he on

horseback, she merely on foot. He left Providence and allegedly, when he reached Woonsocket,

she had already been there the better part of an hour.

 

She made many enemies in her life and extorted many goods from the locals, all of them

fearful of her terrible powers. One of them must have finally had their revenge.

 

In 1730, after her absence of about a two months from Providence, a gang of men went to

her house. They found the place abandoned and, from the wildlife that had entered the house

already, they assumed she had been gone for almost as long from her home as she had been

missed from Providence. Doubtless, one of the people she had slighted had murdered her and

most likely deposited the body in the swamp, where it would never been seen again. Or perhaps

she had just wandered off to die, as the woman was at least 90 or 100 years old, if rumors can

be believed.

 

In any case, her shack was left to rot and collapse over the years, still feared by many and

avoided by all. It must have collapsed into ruin at some point or other, though no one is sure

exactly where it might have been.

 

 

* * *

 

Newman returned to the county courthouse but found there were no blueprints of the house due to its age. He did find a few old maps of the area around where the house was located from 1881, 1904, and 1925. He guessed where the house was probably located on each of the maps.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Helms went to the hospital to look for information on Linda McConnell. She learned that the woman had been admitted in September of 1902 and died two years later. She was admitted with an associate, Miss Gloria Littlefield, who had also died some two years after her admittance.

 

* * *

 

Sims went looking for William Trip. He learned that the man had been a landowner and owned many rental properties. He guessed that Trip had rented out the house for some years before he’d sold it as well. Then he went to the gun store and purchased more bullets. He was also able to purchase a small bottle of corn liquor.

 

* * *

 

Newman went to the library after he found the maps. He discovered Dr. Bitters there, reading a book. He had some trouble getting the man’s attention so he got a stack of books and slammed them down on the table in front of him, startling him badly. The man cursed.

 

“What are you reading?†Newman asked the man.

 

“I found a book with something about a witch named Abigail Hardy,†Dr. Bitters said. “There’s a lot of stuff.â€

 

“Was there a witch in that house?†he asked.

 

“It was talking about this witch who caused terror to her neighbors,†Dr. Bitters said.

 

He told him what he’d read: of her being a consort of the devil and the speed which she travelled. Newman asked if it was the same house and Dr. Bitters confessed he didn’t know, though he noted she had come from Salem in 1690. He said it was guessed she was murdered or wandered off to die. When he asked when she died, Dr. Bitters told him it was 1730.

 

Newman told him he’d return to the courthouse to find out more about that plot of land. He looked for records of earlier owners of the house and learned that the property had been owned by Abigail Hardy in 1690 and possession had reverted back to the City of Providence in 1731 upon her disappearance.

 

* * *

 

They met again that evening and talked about what they had learned. Newman shared the information that Abigail Hardy had lived on the property or very near it from 1690 to 1731. MacLachlan shared the 1923 article with Newman. He showed him other articles in which people noted that some voices came from under the basement floor. Miss Carpenter said a woman with black hair told Prudence Whittle to kill her family and the Scott family had been unable to leave the house. She also noted Clayton poisoned everyone. Dr. Bitters pointed out Abigail Hardy had been described as having long, black hair. He also related it was said she always knew when people were in their homes.

 

Miss Carpenter guessed Abigail was telling people to kill for her.

 

Sims had a plan: pop the drain cover off and drop a stick of dynamite down the hole.

 

Miss Carpenter, on reading the 1902 article, thought there was a woman in the house as well as someone else. Sims was convinced something was under the house. He noted he could operate heavy machinery. Miss Carpenter guessed Abigail Hardy was buried under the basement and the house was built on her grave. Dr. Bitters pointed out no one found the body and the house was filled with wildlife. Miss Carpenter guessed it fell down and then the present-day house was built atop it in 1869 by Patrick Clayton.

 

Sims hypothesized there might be a tunnel that went under the house, perhaps where the streams ran in the area. He guessed the drain led to it.

 

Nurse Helms had taken the book from Dr. Bitters and read about Abigail Hardy. She pointed out the woman terrorized anyone who lived near her and scared away anyone who came near her. Dr. Bitters wondered if the house was not atop her old house but close to where her house used to be.

 

Newman said it sounded like when Elijah Whittle bought the house, after the daughter went crazy, he stayed there. He had lived there for three years. Miss Carpenter pointed out a couple lived there for years and the children died every few months. When they were asked why they didn’t leave, the couple had said they couldn’t leave.

 

“Maybe the witch they killed is lonely,†Newman said.

 

They talked some more about the articles. Sims pointed out the stream that ran through the area disappeared underground there. They discussed the swamp that was there and Sims noted they needed to dig down. He also pointed out burning the place down probably wouldn’t do anything. Miss Carpenter noted they couldn’t just burn the house.

 

“We’re not supposed to just go around shooting radios,†Dr. Bitters said.

 

“Sorry, Doc,†Sims said.

 

They discussed excavating the basement, Miss Carpenter saying perhaps Abigail Hardy had been buried down there. Newman said they needed salt and fire. MacLachlan wondered about using iron and suggested rock salt in shotgun shells.

 

Miss Carpenter wondered about the cement floor of the basement, which seemed somewhat extravagant. She wondered if it was due to the fact that the land was on a swamp at the time.

 

They decided to meet for lunch again the next day after investigating some more. They also made a plan to get picks, crowbars, sledgehammers, and shovels to possibly excavate the basement.

 

* * *

 

Newman found a gun shop and talked to the owner about getting several shotgun shells filled with rock salt. The man was willing to do so for him but they wouldn’t be ready until the next afternoon. Newman asked him to make him a dozen.

 

He returned to the library to find books on the supernatural, witches, and ghosts. He found that such evil things could not stand the Lord’s Prayer or the crucifix. Salt could be very effective against them and their servants were black cats and bats. They could fly through the air either on broomsticks or not. Being polite to a witch and not angering them seemed to be the best defense, though he read they were often burned or hung. It seemed that they were no more resilient than anyone else.

 

* * *

 

MacLachlan found a gun shop and purchased a 1911 .45 semi-automatic pistol and a small box of bullets.

 

* * *

 

Miss Carpenter also bought more bullets, a sledgehammer, picks, a quart of lighter fluid, and matches that evening. Sims bought shovels.

 

* * *

 

The next morning, Saturday, March 13, 1926, MacLachlan and Miss Carpenter met at the Providence Journal again and continued to search the newspaper morgue for more articles. They found two.

 

The first was actually from the Providence Journal and Advertiser, the precursor to the Journal, dated Friday, May 19, 1882. It read:

 

 

Squatters Found DEAD in Massacre House!!!

———————————————————

 

A family of squatters was found dead in the farmhouse at the end of Dagon Street in

the Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst neighborhoods Thursday.

 

The identities of the family are not known and there was no identification on any

of them or in the house. The family consisted of a father and mother, two daughters of

teenage years, and two sons of grade school age.

 

None of the bodies appeared to have been injured in any way and no one knows how

long they might have been living in the farmhouse, which is relatively isolated. However,

Sheriff’s deputies confess that the amount of ash in the fireplaces and behind the house

indicate that the family might have lived there for as long as the entire winter, if not longer.

 

The farm is relatively isolated though it can be seen from houses on Dagon Street and

other nearby roads. The squatters were not working the nearby fields and it is said that

they had black cloths or curtains to keep anyone from seeing lights from the house at night.

That a family could live so long in the proximity of others seems unthinkable.

 

The farm was previously the residence of Patrick Clayton, who build the house and farm

in 1869 and drained the swamp in the immediate vicinity to create his farm. Clayton died

in 1875 and was found to have been a mass murderer when over 40 dead bodies were found

in his basement, covered in lime. The farm has laid unused since that date, which is also

when the name “Massacre House†was attached to it.

 

 

The second, also from the Journal and Advertiser, was dated Tuesday, March 16, 1875. It read:

 

 

Forty-Three Bodies Found

——————————————

Bloody Basement Massacre!!!

——————————————

Patrick Clayton Prime Suspect

——————————————

 

A terrible secret was revealed when Patrick Clayton, owner of a farm just off Dagon

Street in Mount Pleasant, died. He had been murdering strangers for years!

 

Bill Perkins alerted authorities that Patrick Clayton was dead when he arrived at the

farm and could not find his employer. Perkins has worked for Clayton since he established

the farm in 1869. Clayton was found in the parlor sitting in a chair facing the fireplace, a

disturbing expression on his face. He appeared to have finally succumbed to a wasting disease

afflicting him for some years.

 

What alarmed authorities and sent both Providence Constables and Sheriff’s men to the scene

was an odd odor coming from the basement of the house. There, police were horrified to find

a reported 43 bodies laid out on the floor, some of them apparently years old. The entirety of

the floor and the bodies were covered in lime; Clayton must have used it to keep the smell

from making the house uninhabitable.

 

None of the men had markings or injuries upon them, leading to speculation of Clayton

poisoning them. Some of the bodies are far too old for a proper examination however. Numerous

traveling bags and paraphernalia, no doubt the possessions of the men he murdered, were found

in the attic.

 

Clayton lived alone on the farm since he established it in 1869. Neighbors have noted that he

had been in ill-health since establishing the farm and house, the latter built on some foundation

that had stood there before.

 

 

* * *

 

Newman got his rock salt shotgun shells, putting the shells in one pocket and carrying the normal shells in the other. He made sure the shotgun was loaded with the salt shells. He also picked up a small crucifix, some table salt, a rope, and a small rucksack to carry things in.

 

* * *

 

They all met at the house after noon that day.

 

They discussed the two newspaper articles, Miss Carpenter telling them Patrick Clayton built the house on a foundation that was already existing in a swamp and the drained the house. She guessed it was built on the witch’s house.

 

“Time to set it on fire,†Newman said. “We’re done.â€

 

“That’s what I’m saying,†Miss Carpenter said.

 

“I said that earlier,†Sims pointed out.

 

They headed into the house. As they passed the parlor, they heard the scratching noise again. Sims cursed at the room. Miss Carpenter looked into the parlor and could see the record was on a the floor next to the record player. The turntable was turning and the needle was upon it, scratching away. Everyone else headed for the basement.

 

“The record’s on the floor,†Miss Carpenter called. “It got moved to the floor.â€

 

Newman went into the parlor and put the record on the turntable and put the needle onto it. “Venetian Moon†started to play. They all headed down into the basement. There was a bad smell down there. Miss Carpenter put down several items by the stairs.

 

“She’s coming,†Miss Carpenter said cryptically.

 

“Abigail, if you don’t want us to tear up the basement, give us a sign,†MacLachlan said.

 

There was a creak from the ceiling above as if someone was walking around in the living room.

 

“We need something more specific!†MacLachlan said.

 

Miss Carpenter headed up the stairs, followed by Nurse Helms. They looked towards the parlor but saw no one in the hallway.

 

“Be done with this!†Sims yelled.

 

He swung the sledgehammer at the concrete right next to the drain, and then continued to work on breaking the concrete.

 

“You know what happens when you break concrete trapping a witch, right?†Newman said.

 

“We might be letting her go!†Miss Carpenter said from the top of the stairs.

 

“She won’t be trapped,†Newman said

 

“Huh?†Sims said, bringing the sledgehammer down on the concrete floor again.

 

“We might be letting her out,†Miss Carpenter said. “It might make it worse.â€

 

Sims continued working on the floor.

 

“I want to see it!†Dr. Bitters said.

 

“Still?†Miss Carpenter said.

 

Nurse Helms seemed nervous. She didn’t feel this was the correct way to approach the ghost that haunted the house. She thought the ghost needed help and she said so. Sims noted they couldn’t help her from up there. They needed to get down to her.

 

The grate went flying as he broke away the concrete around it. He put down the sledgehammer and looked down the three-inch hole. Miss Carpenter called down she left a flashlight down there. Sims picked it up and shined it down the hole. The pipe there looked like it went down about 10 inches and then opened up after that. The flashlight was not powerful enough to show him what might be below, however.

 

Newman and Dr. Bitters started to look around the walls for any kind of passage or secret door that might somehow lead below. Dr. Bitters warned Sims to be careful not to fall down. Miss Carpenter suggested taking down the clotheslines in case the witch tried to hang anyone. Sims thought that a bad idea as loose rope would be easier to hang someone with.

 

The door at the top of the steps suddenly slammed shut. Miss Carpenter called down it had done so on its own and almost hit her in the face. She asked Nurse Helms to try the door and she’d cover her. Nurse Helms pushed the door open. No one was there. Miss Carpenter suggested they remove the hinges. She tried to do so with her knife but was unable to get the pins out.

 

Sims asked for help but MacLachlan just watched him work. A large crack formed in the floor and a large chunk of concrete fell into the darkness. leaving a two-foot-wide hole. He grabbed the flashlight again and shined the light below. There was some kind of chamber under the basement. The floor was wet mud and he could make out no other details.

 

“Hey, you’re a little guy,†Sims said to Newman. “See if you can squeeze down in there.â€

 

Newman just shook his head.

 

Sims looked around for a rag and soaked a little in corn liquor. He lit it and tossed it down into the hole. The wet mud partially extinguished the flame so it didn’t make a whole lot of light, but it did illuminate the chamber around it. He couldn’t make out much more than the mud that made up the floor of the room.

 

“Should I continue?†Sims asked.

 

“Keep going, big man!†Newman said.

 

“Make it a little bigger,†Dr. Bitters said.

 

Sims went back to work as Newman and Dr. Bitters continued to search the walls.

 

It was about 10 minutes later when there was a loud crack and the concrete seemed to shatter like glass, crumbling under Sims and MacLachlan, who stood nearby. MacLachlan leapt and landed on the part of the floor that had not collapsed. Sims fell to the chamber below along with a good portion of the floor, landing hard on the muddy ground below. The sledgehammer fell to the ground nearby.

 

“That hurt!†Sims cried.

 

Newman ran to the furnace and tied off one end of the rope he’d brought.

 

Sims stumbled to his feet as the light bulb in the basement above suddenly popped and burned out. He was flung into darkness and could hear movement somewhere nearby.

 

“Help me out, guys!†he cried frantically. “Get me out of here!â€

 

MacLachlan grabbed the flashlight and pointed it down at Sims, then pointed it around him to see what might be down there.

 

Sims cringed as something pulled itself out of the muddy floor. It looked like it might have once been a man but time and the elements had done their terrible work upon the dead body that was somehow now struggling towards him! Even as it pulled itself free of the mud, bits and pieces fell from it as it seemed to be falling apart. He felt himself chilled to the core.

 

“Big rat!†he shouted. “Big rat! Big rat!â€

 

A rope fell from the hole above and struck him in the head as Newman tossed the free end down into the hole. Sims frantically grabbed at the rope. A popping noise came from the corpse stumbling towards him and the thing’s outstretched arm fell away from the rest of the rotting body. More pops and one of its legs shattered underneath it.

 

“Get me outta here!†Sims screamed.

 

He climbed up the rope as the terrible dead body collapsed under its own putrescence. When he reached the top, Newman grabbed him by the back of his jacket and then pulled the rope up as well. Miss Carpenter ran down to the foot of the stairs. Sims pulled out the corn liquor and started to pour it around the hole in the floor. Newman told him to stop and get some wood from the shelves and toss them down. MacLachlan suggested they throw them down and then light them on fire.

 

“We need to kill what’s down there!†Sims said.

 

Newman and MacLachlan both started to rip the wooden shelves from the walls towards the back of the basement.

 

“Whatever is down there probably won’t be affected by fire,†Miss Carpenter said. “It’s not …â€

 

“Everything’s affected by enough fire!†Sims said.

 

The ceiling creaked above them again. It sounded like someone was walking around in the parlor. Miss Carpenter ran back up the steps. Sims drew his pistol and pointed it down into the hole.

 

“You do whatever you want!†he said to the others. “I’m making sure nothing comes out of there.â€

 

He could see, in the dim light of the basement, that the corpse that was lying on the ground under the hole was no longer moving.

 

“I think that was a sign she didn’t want us to do that, fellows,†MacLachlan said. “We need to just part ways and tell him this is crazy.â€

 

“He wanted to know why he went crazy,†Nurse Helms called down. “This is why!â€

 

“Now there’s a gaping hole in the basement as proof,†MacLachlan said.

 

“Yeah, there’s something bad down there,†Sims said. “We need to just … I don’t know.â€

 

“Skedaddle?†Miss Carpenter said.

 

“If you want, I’m game!†Sims said.

 

There was another creak from above. Dr. Bitters wanted to explore the chamber. Newman and MacLachlan continued to rip down shelves, smashing some of them into kindling. Sims nursed his back. He was covered in mud that smelled like death. He fired a round into the corpse below. It didn’t move.

 

MacLachlan went up the steps to where the women stood. They told him they had heard noises from upstairs. Meanwhile, Newman ripped down the clotheslines, took one of the boards and poured lighter fluid on it, and tied it to the clothesline. He lit it on fire and lowered it down into the chamber below. It didn’t illuminate a large area though he could see the rotted, fetid corpse lying in the mud.

 

“I bet it’s William Trip!†Newman said.

 

He could see there was a large bullet hole in the corpse’s back.

 

“Well done,†Newman said. “You killed a dead man.â€

 

“Hey, it was moving!†Sims said.

 

The room below was obviously large, possibly as large as the house. Newman started to swing the burning wood in a large circle to better illuminate the chamber. In the passing light, he thought he saw an open coffin on one side of the chamber. The floor appeared to be completely covered in mud. He pulled up the burning wood, which was going out, and put it on the floor. He grabbed three large, intact shelves and tossed them down into the chamber, trying to make sure they landed flat. All of them did so, all of them landing flat almost directly beneath him.

 

“Does someone else want to go down?†Newman said.

 

“I’ll go with you,†MacLachlan said.

 

Dr. Bitters said he wanted to go down.

 

“You want to go down first?†Newman asked him.

 

Dr. Bitters nodded.

 

“Sims, you want to pass him your gun?†MacLachlan suggested.

 

“Aw, Hell,†Sims said. “I’ll go down too.â€

 

Miss Carpenter told them that only three of them should go down.

 

Newman led the way, asking for a flashlight. MacLachlan tossed him the one he carried and Newman climbed clumsily down the rope. It took him a while to get to the boards, whereupon he called up for a flashlight. MacLachlan climbed down next. Dr. Bitters started to climb quickly down after them as Miss Carpenter came down to the foot of the stairs again.

 

Another body leaned in the far corner of the room, they could see as they shined their two flashlights around. The body had long, dark hair and a dress that was in rags. It appeared to be tightly clutched in rigor mortis, the hands drawn together like claws. Closer to them was a trough of a casket without a top. It looked like it was full of liquid of some kind. In the far corner nearest the corpse was running water flowing through one corner of the room. In the corner further away was a rotten table with a chest atop it.

 

Newman picked up a plank and laid it at the end of another plank, then picked another, laying it down, as he made his way towards the table and the chest. MacLachlan also had a flashlight and shined it around, standing on the only remaining plank. Sims watched from the lip of the hole.

 

They heard a splash and MacLachlan shined his flashlight towards it. Something sat up in the trough, splashing water out and over the sides. The head of the horrible, pickled corpse turned with a creak of muscle and ligaments to look at them. It appeared to be a desiccated woman, her light colored hair pulled back from her rotten face. Her nose was completely gone, leaving only two holes and her eyes had swollen in their sockets. Her flesh clung tightly to her bones and her mouth seemed little more than a slit.

 

“No!†Dr. Bitters said.

 

He dropped to the ground and pulled his legs up into the fetal position, tucking his head down and looking at nothing.

 

Newman stopped crossing the room on boards and lifted up the shotgun, which had been tucked under his arm. He pointed it at the corpse which looked at the other two men. Sims slid down the rope, giving himself some rope burns and landed over Dr. Bitters.

 

In the upper basement, Miss Carpenter ran to the edge of the hole and peered down. She had her gun in her hand. Nurse Helms ran down to the foot of the stairs.

 

MacLachlan drew his pistol and fired at the dead woman who was climbing out of the trough. The gun roared but the bullet missed, ricocheting off the stone wall. The body stumbled towards them through the mud. Newman’s shotgun roared as he blasted away at the corpse with one of his rock salt shells. The blast nearly knocked the little man off the board he was standing on and blew a hole in the dead woman’s shoulder. She stumbled back but then started to walk forward again. The stink of rotten flesh and brine filled the room.

 

MacLachlan fired again, this bullet striking the dead woman in the right hand, which was reaching for him. The fingers of her hand seemed to splay around uselessly but the awful corpse continued to move towards him and Sims. Newman fired another blast from his shotgun, aiming at the woman’s head. The blast struck her in the face and tore away part of her skull. She again stumbled but did not fall as something dripped from her cranium. Sims drew his own pistol and fired at the woman’s head as well, blasting it apart. The corpse stumbled backwards and fell into the mud.

 

MacLachlan leaned down and patted Dr. Bitters on the shoulder. The doctor remained in the fetal position and didn’t respond. Newman reloaded the shotgun with two more rock-salt shells. Then he headed for the chest.

 

Above, Miss Carpenter laid down on the floor of the basement next to the hole and leaned down into the pit, looking around. She grabbed the rope to allow her to lean further down. Nurse Helms saw it and rushed over to grab the woman’s feet.

 

As Newman crossed the room, he felt a chill go down his spine. He looked around but nothing was near him and there was nothing that might be the source of the terribly cold draft. He felt unnerved.

 

Miss Carpenter suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to jump down into the subbasement. She let go of the rope and pushed off the floor as hard as she could. Nurse Helms, holding onto her feet, felt herself get pulled forward but held onto her feet, screaming as she fell. The two landed solidly in the mud below, just missing Dr. Bitters. MacLachlan was quite startled.

 

Nurse Helms grabbed the rope and climbed back up as quickly as she could. Miss Carpenter grabbed the flashlight out of MacLachlan’s hand. She shined it around the room, noticing the strange corpses and the trough. She saw Newman making his way slowly towards a table and chest in the far corner.

 

She suddenly turned to Sims, her eyes glazing over and her jaw going slack, and pointed her gun at him.

 

“What are you doing?†Sims said.

 

She shot him point blank with her pistol. He tried to dodge out of the way but the bullet struck him in the left hand. The man swooned and fell to the ground. Miss Carpenter shook her head.

 

Newman ignored it all and continued to cross the room. He reached the old, rotten chest and saw it had a latch but not a lock. He opened the latch and then pushed open the lid.

 

Miss Carpenter looked in horror at what she’d just done.

 

“I’m going to have to ask for the flashlight back because one of us can actually use it now,†MacLachlan said.

 

He quickly moved to Sims to try to help him without luck. Miss Carpenter shoved her pistol into her purse and tried to bind the man’s wounds as well.

 

“The witch is down here!†Miss Carpenter said.

 

At the top, Nurse Helms looked down at the carnage below. She started to dig in her bag for medical supplies.

 

Sims blinked his eyes and found Miss Carpenter leaning over her. His last memory was of her shooting him so he flung her away from him, his gun still in his hand. He stood up and pointed his pistol at her.

 

“What?†he yelled. “What the Hell!?!â€

 

“The witch!†Miss Carpenter called.

 

“You shot me!†he shouted.

 

“You know people go insane down here!†she shouted back.

 

His eyes suddenly glazed over and he shot her. The bullet struck her in the lower abdomen snapped her spine. She collapsed to the floor and, a moment later, they heard the death rattle in her throat. MacLachlan ran to her and grabbed up her flashlight.

 

Dr. Bitters opened his eyes, finally, but didn’t move. He had heard the yelling and shooting around him.

 

Across the room, Newman looked into the chest. He saw a few coins and two rotten books, both of them bound in some kind of leather. He tucked everything into his rucksack. The books had nothing on the front or the spines.

 

Sims shook his head and looked around.

 

“I don’t know why I just did that …†he said. “Well, I mean she did shoot me.â€

 

MacLachlan stood over Dr. Bitters.

 

“Well, apparently she’s hearing voices,†MacLachlan said. “Doc. She just shot that guy. Then he angrily got up and shot her back, which was seemingly acceptable, but he seems off. They both seemed off.â€

 

Suddenly, MacLachlan’s eyes glazed over and he turned towards Sims and shot him. Sims didn’t even see it coming. The bullet struck him in the gut and the man went down with a cry, a surprised look on his face. MacLachlan looked at the body and then ran to the rope and started to climb up it frantically.

 

“We need to get out of here!†he cried.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Helms was horrified to see all of them shooting each other. She ran out of the basement and up to the kitchen with the intention of finding a knife and cutting the rope.

 

* * *

 

Dr. Bitters stood up.

 

“Hurry up!†he said to the man. “I want out of here!â€

 

Newman continued to make his way towards the rope, still staying on the boards as best he could. Dr. Bitters could see the two pistols in the stinking mud but didn’t want to touch them, afraid that he might be possessed or worse. MacLachlan continued to climb.

 

Dr. Bitters, waiting to climb up, looked down at the three dead bodies clustered not far away. Then he realized there should only be two bodies there. Someone else was lying on the floor. The third body stood up and he recognized it as the thing he’d seen in the pantry. The dead woman had long, black hair, sightless eyes, and her jaw hung slack. She had long fingernails that looked almost like claws. She rushed him.

 

“Get her!†he yelled.

 

Newman started advancing on the two, holding the flashlight under the shotgun and aiming the gun at her. MacLachlan took one look at the witch and started climbing up the rope faster. Dr. Bitters drew the butcher knife he’d taken from the kitchen and tried to grab Sims’ gun from out of the mud. The dead woman rushed him and rent at him with her claws, tearing at his clothing and raking across his chest.

 

Newman rushed forward and tried to club the horrible, dead woman in the head. He only struck her a glancing blow to the shoulder. Bitters put Sims’ big pistol into the dead woman’s face and fired, blasting a huge hole in her face. Her jaw cracked and sagged on one side but she continued to claw at him.

 

“Get this crazy bitch off me!†he screamed.

 

MacLachlan had reached the basement above and looked back down to see the horrible woman attacking Dr. Bitters. He aimed his pistol at the woman and shot her, hitting her in the left shoulder. There was a snap as one of her bones broke but she didn’t react at all to the horrible wound. She tried to bite Dr. Bitters, ripping at the man’s neck but only succeeding at tearing at the collar of his shirt and jacket. She growled like an animal.

 

Newman shoved the shotgun into the side of the terrible dead woman’s head and pulled the trigger. There was a click and nothing happened. He had two dead shells. Both of them were completely surprised. Dr. Bitters shot the horrible woman in the other side of the face again, blasting away with Sims’ gun. Part of her skull was shattered but she didn’t fall.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Helms reached the foot of the basement stairs and heard a gunfire from below. She was alarmed to see MacLachlan standing at the edge of the horrible hole, gun in hand.

 

* * *

 

MacLachlan fired down into the hole, missing the horrible witch. The awful thing glared at Dr. Bitters.

 

“No,†she hissed. “Shoot him.â€

 

She pointed at Newman. Dr. Bitters looked at the man, his eyes glazing over. He brought Sims’ gun to bear. Newman swung the shotgun at the gun, knocking it out of Dr. Bitters’ hand and sending it flying into the room. It disappeared into the darkness and he heard it splash into the mud. Dr. Bitters looked around and then walked towards Miss Carpenter’s gun lying in the mud, going by Newman as if he wasn’t there.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Helms crept to MacLachlan with the intention of stabbing him in the back. He didn’t seem to hear her approaching him.

 

* * *

 

MacLachlan fired down into the hole again, narrowly missing the witch. The mud splashed where the bullet struck it. She looked up at him.

 

“Jump!†she hissed.

 

MacLachlan leapt into the hole, crashing to the mud below and hurting himself badly. He stumbled in the mud, his face slamming into the board that was there.

 

Newman punched Dr. Bitters in the back of his head. Dr. Bitters shook his head as he came out of the terrible influence he’d been under. He found that he had a little .32 pistol in his hand. He turned and opened fire on the witch. The first bullet struck the horrible dead woman in the head, blowing away more of her skull.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Helms turned and fled. She ran up the basement stairs and out of the house.

 

* * *

 

MacLachlan stood up, trying to gather his wits. He looked around and silently prayed to God to survive the horrible place. The horrible dead woman rushed Dr. Bitters and slashed at the man, tearing at his flesh and cutting him badly. Dr. Bitters shot the gun again wildly but missed her completely.

 

MacLachlan and Dr. Bitters both fired at the witch. Dr. Bitters’ bullet missed completely. MacLachlan shot her in the head, the bullet ripping away her left ear. Newman reloaded the shotgun as Dr. Bitters fired another wild shot. He screamed wildly as the witch turned and headed away from them as quickly as she could, stumbling on legs that probably hadn’t moved in years.

 

Newman slammed the shotgun closed, put it to his shoulder and fired at the dead woman. The blast splattered mud right next to her. Dr. Bitters fired as well but his last bullet missed and he kept pulling the trigger, sending the hammer home on used shells over and over again. MacLachlan crossed the room towards the witch, walking right into Newman’s line of fire. Newman fired the second barrel anyway, striking the witch in the right kneecap. The blast shattered her knee and separated her leg, the lower half flying away from her body. MacLachlan cried out as a little of the blast caught him in the buttocks.

 

The witch hit the ground, landing in the mud, her head and shoulders in the water of the stream that ran under that section of the basement.

 

Dr. Bitters flung the gun at the witch but missed completely. It disappeared into the water.

 

MacLachlan ran to the witch and fired the last bullet in the magazine through her lower back. She didn’t move. He quickly removed the magazine from his semi-automatic pistol and started to put bullets into it. Newman put two more rock-salt shells into his shotgun and closed it.

 

Newman searched the corpse but found nothing on her disgusting putrefying body. Then MacLachlan poured the remains of his bottle of gin over her. Dr. Bitters stumbled to the witch and started stabbing the corpse with his knife over and over again.

 

Newman shined his flashlight around the room. He checked on Sims and Miss Carpenter. They were both very dead. He quickly searched their bodies and took their wallets and bullets they had in their pockets. He also managed to find Sims’ pistol.

 

MacLachlan lit the witch on fire, the gin not burning terribly hot. He turned the bottle around and beat the horrible dead body until it broke, then used the broken bottle to mangle her remains. He burnt his hands somewhat on the flaming alcohol.

 

“We should crush their heads so they can’t come back like that,†MacLachlan said, pointing at Sims and Miss Carpenter’s corpses.

 

* * *

 

Nurse Helms ran from the house, sprinting down Academy Avenue heading towards Smith Street. She saw approaching lights and heard the police sirens so ducked between two houses and continued her frantic flight from the terrible house.

 

* * *

 

Newman climbed up the rope and only then could hear the approaching sirens in the distance. He looked down at MacLachlan, who was also struggling to climb up the rope.

 

“Do you want to burn the bodies?†he said.

 

“Burn it!†MacLachlan said.

 

Newman dropped the kerosene can into the mud below.

 

“Let the good doctor do it,†he called down.

 

Dr. Bitters recovered the kerosene and dumped it onto the witch’s body. He used the electrical device from his camera’s flash equipment to ignite the kerosene.

 

“Burn everything down there!†Newman called as MacLachlan climbed up.

 

* * *

 

In the sub-basement, Dr. Bitters looked at the water that was flowing in the corner. He guessed the stream came to the surface somewhere. He climbed into the icy water and let the current take him away, taking a big breath before doing so. He surfaced a minute later where the stream came out of the ground. He quickly fled.

 

* * *

 

Newman and MacLachlan could see something burning in the sub-basement. However, the bodies of Sims and Miss Carpenter, directly under the hole, were still unlit.

 

“Burn all of the bodies!†Newman called down.

 

There was no reply.

 

“Doctor!†Newman said.

 

There was no reply. Newman shined his flashlight down and saw no one alive. He moved around the hole and was able to see the body of Abigail Hardy was on fire. He guessed that Dr. Bitters might have dumped all of the kerosene upon it before lighting it. He saw no sign of Dr. Bitters.

 

“Let’s go back down,†Newman said.

 

“Go back down?†MacLachlan said.

 

“We need to spread the fire,†Newman said.

 

The sirens were getting closer.

 

Newman climbed down the rope while MacLachlan took longer to get down. Newman ran over to the burning corpse of Abigail Hardy and tested the depth of the water. It looked to be pretty deep and was flowing quickly.

 

“Let’s go!†he said.

 

“Let’s go!†MacLachlan said.

 

They leapt into the water, holding their breath. It was terribly cold. Newman came out of the water a block or so away where the stream came to the surface. MacLachlan never came up. His body was later found floating in Woonasquatucket River.

 

* * *

 

A newspaper article in the Providence Journal on Monday noted that a man and a woman had apparently shot each other to death in the basement of a house on Academy Avenue after excavating a sub-basement and defiling several corpses there. The bodies were not identified as they apparently carried no identification.

 

* * *

 

Newman visited Winston North on Monday, March 15, 1926, and told him they had returned to the house on Saturday and broke into the sub-basement against his personal wishes. He said the floor had collapsed and they got into a firefight with something which might have been the reason why his brother went insane. He suggested he sell the house and told the man he didn’t have to pay him.

 

He sold the 22 16th and 17th century gold coins he’d found in the chest for over $2,000.

 

He also read Abigail Hardy’s Book, which one of the two tomes he’d taken turned out to be. The thin, leather-bound book was crudely made and put together. It was held together with stitching that appeared to be woven from some kind of hair and the clasp appeared to be bone. There was a leather bookmark connected to the cover with brass gewgaws upon it. The book was both her journal and diary though no dates were given. It included some tales of her life as well as an indication that, with the right spells and magic, she could make herself a god, though time and the essence of innocents was required to do so. There also appeared to be several spells.

 

The other book was thicker and so ancient that the engraving on the cover was almost impossible to make out. It was written in Latin.

 

* * *

 

Dr. Bitters never sought out Winston North for his pay but did receive a check for $20 in the mail from the man some days later. Also in the envelope was an unsigned note that read “Please never contact me again.â€


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