By: Allison Pellerito
When I was younger, I was terrified to walk around my grandpa’s farm at night. During the day, I was fine- I got to hang out with my cousins, play with my grandpa’s dog, walk the trails. At night? Yikes.
My grandpa’s farm, by all rights, deserved to be the scenery of some horror film. Old, abandoned, rusty farm equipment surrounds nearly every part of the nearby forest. Bats fly from the unused barn, seemingly at the most opportunistic of moments during scary campfire stories. My cousin used to take us on tractor rides through the dark while cousins would tell the younger kids about the trolls that lived under the walking paths. Deer skeletons could be found in the most hidden pits of earth every so often after the uncles’ inebriated hunting trips. The moon always seemed to be full and in summer, and there always seemed to be a fog over the crops.
Walking to the house is spooky, as eerie light peek through the cracks of crumbling storage sheds as apples plummet to the earth near the campfire.
The house itself is not any less frightening. Years upon years of family history is stored in every single corner of the house. Countless pictures of long dead ancestors hang on the wall, each with that creepily familiar feature of all looking at the bed. Breezes pass through rooms, despite closed doors and locked windows. Everyone seemed to have at least one story dealing with the Haunts that lived in the house.
As a child I was admittedly scared of the house, but as I grew up, I learned over and over that real life is always scarier than the stories. Fear is being sat down by my mother and hearing the words “There’s been a fire” blur with “we don’t know how bad it is yet.” It is not if anyone was hurt or why. It is the kind of fear that strikes when life outshines urban legend, when I was sat down in the same chair at the kitchen table: “I was laid off at work” and “Your grandpa’s in the hospital” and “We need to borrow money for your tuition.”
My grandpa’s farmhouse has been in my family for generations. It’s old. It was as good as kindling.
The Haunts that live in my grandpa’s farmhouse weren’t quite as scary in comparison. The strangest thing, though… The fire inspector was amazed. Despite all reason, the house was miraculously intact. A house that hardly had anything to count for “fire retardant” only needed a few coats of paint and the reimbursement of remarkably few heirlooms.
The Haunts may have been more powerful than we thought.
My grandpa’s land is my childhood. The Haunts may still be there, but they’re nothing to worry about.
This is all there is.
And yet. And yet, during an actual full moon in August before the family reunion, I couldn’t quite comfort myself as usual. My mind replaying the terrible thunk of my cousin mercy killing a raccoon literally rotting alive the night before, I almost didn’t agree to go on a midnight walk with my cousins. As we walked past the foggy corn field, joking about werewolves and zombies, we still felt that underlying hint of danger. We laughed to ourselves about our cliché horror movie counterparts, as we walked through the foggy clearing and under the moon beams filtering through the leaves. We weren’t attacked by a zombie scavenger or a feral lycanthrope that night, but I know that setting is important to scary stories. If these stories were to come to life- well, I can certainly say I’d become a new urban legend quite quickly.