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Fiction

The House on Cobb Street

Concerning the affair of the house on Cobb Street, much ink has been spilled, most notably from the pens of Rupert Young in the busy offices of the Athens Courier; Maude Witcover at the alternative weekly Chronictown; and independent scholar, poet, and local roustabout Perry “Pear Tree” Parry, Jr. on his blog Under the Pear Tree. Indeed, the ink (or in the case of Parry, the electrons)—and those from whose pens (or keyboards) it spilled—are all that remain today of the incidents that came to be known locally (and colloquially) as the Cobb Street Horror. The house itself was razed, its lot now surrounded by a high fence bearing a sign that announces the construction presumably in progress behind it as the future offices of Drs. Laura Gonzales and Didi Mueller, D.D.S. The principal witnesses in this case did not respond to repeated enquiries, and in one case, obtained a restraining order against this author. And the young woman in question is said by all to have disappeared, if indeed she ever existed in the first place.

Ghosts and Ghouls of the New American South, by Roger St. Lindsay, Random House, 2010

***

I wanted to embed the YouTube video here, but it looks like it’s been removed. It was uploaded by someone bearing the handle “cravencrane” who has no other activity on the site. Shot in low quality, perhaps with someone’s cell phone, it showed a red-haired woman in a gray wool coat—presumably Felicia Barrow—not quite running, but walking away from the lens rapidly and talking over her shoulder as she went. “Of course Vivian existed,” she said. “Of course she did. She was my friend. That hack would print anything to make his story sound more mysterious than it was. Roger St. Lindsay, that’s not even his real name.” And then she was out of the frame entirely, and the clip ended.

The snippet purported to be part of a documentary-in-progress known as The Disappearance of Vivian Crane, but little else has been found about its origins, its current status, or the people behind it, and it is assumed that the project is currently dead. Felicia Barrow was located but had no comment about either the project or the fate of the Cranes.

Perry “Pear Tree” Parry, blog post at Under the Pear Tree, June 26, 2010

***

Vivian wakes.

It is a night like any other night and not like any night she has known at all.

The heart of the house is beating. She can hear it, vessels in the walls, the walls that exhale with that life’s breath that is just as sweet to the house’s groaning floorboards and arched doorways and soaring cupolas as her own breath is to her; she can hear it, heart beating and moaning and sighing and “settling.” That was what her mother used to call it, in the other old house they lived in way back when, her a skinny wild girl; and maybe “settling” was the right word for what that old house did, that old house that was never alive, never had a pulse and a mind and—most of all—a desire, but “settling” was the least of what this old house did. Vivian knows that if she doesn’t know anything else at all.

This old house is not settling for anything. This old house is maybe waiting, and possibly thinking, and could be sleeping, even, but never settling.

This house is getting ready for something.

She can feel that like she can feel the other things. She has watched cats before, how they crouch to pounce, their muscles taut, rippling under the skin it’s said, and she thinks it now about the house—even though it’s a cliché (phrases become clichés because they’re true, she tells her students)—this house is doing it, tense and expectant, counting time, ticking off years and months and weeks and days and hours and minutes and seconds and fragments of seconds and fragments of fragments and soon time itself degrades, disintegrates, and dies.

And then the alarm is screaming, and Vivian wakes for real.

***

Waking for real had become an important benchmark, and sometimes it took as many as several hours for her to be certain she had done so. She would be standing up in front of a class of freshmen who exuded boredom and eagerness in equal parts, talking about narrative point of view in “A Rose for Emily,” and the knowledge would grip her: I am here, this is real, I am awake. And then she would drift, like one of the sunlight motes in the bright windows, and the class would wait—their professor was weird, a lot of professors were weird, I’m still wasted from last night, can I borrow your ID, did you hear, did you, did you—and the dull cacophony of their voices, familiar and banal, would bring her back, but past that point she could never bring them back, and often as not had to dismiss the class to save herself the humiliation of trying and failing to reengage them.

That the house was haunted was a given. To recite the reasons she had known this to be the case from the moment she crossed the threshold was almost an exercise in tedium: there were the cold spots, the doors that slammed when no breeze had pushed them, the footsteps that paced in the rooms upstairs when she knew she was at home alone. But Chris had been so pleased, so happy to be moving back home. He’d found the house for sale and fallen in love with it, shabby as it was, battered by decades of student renters and badly in need of much repair and renovation but a diamond in the rough, he was sure, and how was she to tell him otherwise? It wasn’t just that neither of them believed in such things; that was the least of it. But to suggest that the house was less than perfect in any way was to reject it, and, by extension, him.

Chris, as it turned out, had noticed those things as well.

***

Authorities have ruled the death of thirty-eight-year-old Christopher Crane a suicide, resulting from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Crane shot himself at approximately two a.m. on Thursday, July 22, in the backyard of the house on Cobb Street in West Athens that he shared with his wife, Vivian Crane.

According to Chief Deputy Coroner Wayne Evans, investigators discovered a note of “mostly incomprehensible gibberish” that is believed to be Crane’s suicide note.

 Crane was born and raised in Athens, and had recently returned to Georgia after seventeen years in the Seattle area . . .

“Crane Death Ruled Suicide,” by Rupert Young, Athens Courier, July 29, 2008

***

When you watched those movies or read those books—The Amityville Horror had been her particular childhood go-to scarefest—what you always asked yourself, of course, was why don’t they leave? Why would anyone stay in places where terrifying apparitions leapt out at you, where walls dripped blood, where no one slept any longer and the rational world slowly receded and the unthinkable became real?

Countless storytellers worked themselves into contortions and employed ludicrous plot contrivances to keep their protagonists captive, and yet the answer, Vivian learned, was so much simpler: You stayed because you gave up. You succumbed to a kind of learned helplessness that convinced you that the veil between worlds had been pulled back and you could not escape; wherever you went, you would always be haunted.

You entered into an abusive relationship with a haunted house.

And of course, there was also Chris to be considered. If the house did, in fact, capture the spirits of the souls who died there, shouldn’t she stick around to keep him company, in case he wanted to contact her, in case he needed her for something?

But Chris had remained strangely silent on the subject; he either couldn’t or wouldn’t talk to her. She found herself growing angry at his reticence, angrier even than she’d been at him in life, when the house and its ghosts first began to come between them, as he was pronouncing her anxiety within its walls “neurotic” and “crazy,” not yet knowing all the while those same ghosts had their ectoplasmic fingers deep inside him, in his brain and his heart, twisting them into something she no longer knew.

He was soundproofing one of the downstairs rooms so he could record music there, and then he wasn’t; he stopped doing much of anything at all, she later realized, save for going to work, network administering something or other, but even there—well, nobody was going to tell a suicide’s widow that her dead spouse would have been fired in short order, had he not offed himself before that eventuality could come to pass. But she wasn’t a professor of literature for nothing; subtext was her specialty. In every interaction with his ex-coworkers and former supervisor she read it: he’d been neither well-liked nor competent, she surmised, and yet that wasn’t the Chris she’d known and loved and married and moved into the house with. That wasn’t her Chris, the Chris with the still-boyish flop of brown hair in his eyes and penchant for quoting from obscure spaghetti westerns. Not her Chris with his left hand calloused from the fret of his bass and his skill at navigating not just computers but workplaces and the people therein. And not just work: he had a warmth and generosity toward his fellow musicians that never failed to stagger her (a tireless ability to offer constructive feedback on the most appalling demos and YouTube uploads, because, he said, assholes were rampant enough in the music world without his increasing the net total assholery out there). Nobody disliked Chris, or at least not until the final months of his life.

That was the Chris the house made.

***

The first time for her, it was the little girls.

They were the worst of all; they had come to her when she slept in the guest room, coughing and feverish. She moved there so as not to disturb Chris with her tossings and turnings, her sweating and chills. That first time, she woke and heard them, an explosion of vicious whispers like a burst of static, and one word distinguishable above the rest, her, her, her—and she never knew that three letters, a single breathed syllable, could be weighted with so much hatred. Next she became aware that she could not move, that her arms and legs and indeed her entire body seemed clamped in a vise; and finally, she knew that the vicious little girls floated somewhere above and just behind her head. She could see them in her mind’s eye: four or five of them all with wide pale eyes, pert little nose, mouths half-open to display rows of sharp shiny teeth.

The morning after, she attributed it to fever (although she was really not that sick), or something else, googled phrases like hypnagogic hallucination and sleep paralysis and gazed on the Fuseli painting until she could no longer bear the image of the demon on the woman’s breast and the mad-eyed horse thrusting its demented face through the curtains. She drank her coffee, cycled to campus (a bad idea; she had to pull over for three coughing fits in the two short miles she rode), and forgot about it.

She didn’t forget about it; she’d had dreams stay with her before, mostly the unpleasant kind, and she hated those days, haunted by her own unconscious. She knew instinctively this was different. This was something from outside her. She could not have produced objective proof to show to someone that this was the case. She knew all about the games the mind could play to make oneself believe in its wild flights of fancy. And she knew in the depths of her soul (in which she did not believe, any more than she believed in ghosts or haunting) that the kind of words she’d googled and the daylight world with its prosaic explanations and even the most unwholesome depths of her own brain had nothing to do with the things that had stolen into her room that night and despised her with such vehemence.

She had always thought of hate as a human emotion, a uniquely human frailty, a condition from which we might have to evolve in order to survive. Never before had she considered the possibility that hate was the most essential thing there was; that the universe was an engine driven by hate, animals savaging one another, atoms smashing together, planets and worlds dying in explosions of rock and fire. And to have so much of that directed at her. At her. She sat stunned in her office at Park Hall, her eyes fixed on the fake wood grain of her desk, someone knocking and knocking at her door and she knew it was a student because he’d scheduled an appointment with her and yet she could not answer it, she could not move, she could only sit paralyzed by her newfound knowledge, and at last the knocking ceased and went away and she wished she could, too.

***

The existence of Christopher Crane has never been in question. The roots of the Crane family run deep in the soil of Clarke County, and though Crane himself was away for many years, he was fondly remembered as one of the founding members of the indie/alt-country group the Gaslight Hooligans, who went on to moderate mainstream success following his departure.

At least, this is how I remember Chris Crane, as do a number of people I know, but others insist on a different narrative. That Chris Crane never left town, that the Gaslight Hooligans broke up more than a decade ago after playing a few house parties and one or two dates in local clubs, to indifferent reception. Same as hundreds of other bands that spring up here each year and are soon forgotten.

Sources online and off are mixed in their reportage, but one thing is certain, that at least two and possibly more conflicting versions of the life of Chris Crane are out there. This introduces a disconcerting possibility: that we are all, now, existing in a dubiously real and unstable present, one in which Vivian Crane was and was not, and the house on Cobb Street at the heart of it all.

Perry “Pear Tree” Parry, Google cache of a blog post made at Under the Pear Tree, July 9, 2010 (not available on the blog itself)

***

It is six months since she lost Chris. Her best friend Felicity has come from Seattle to visit her, has been staying in the house with her and urging her to get out. She doesn’t need to do anything big, Felicity says, but she needs to do something besides go between home and campus. (This awful home, Felicity doesn’t say, this terrible place that took Chris and is taking you. But Felicity knows.)

But she’s hiding something from Felicity, and she’s increasingly sure Chris was hiding the same thing from her in his last days. It’s something that happened just before Felicity arrived, and afterward she tried to make Felicity postpone her visit (forever), but Felicity was having none of that. Felicity thinks Chris’s suicide has opened the gulf between them, best friends from the age of five gone suddenly quiet and awkward in one another’s presence. Felicity has no idea that the gulf is so much greater than that.

Vivian does not know whether to be overjoyed or horrified that she now bears physical proof that she isn’t mad. A week before Felicity’s visit, she is sleeping in the bed she and Chris shared. She has woken paralyzed once again, and something is screaming in the walls. This is not so bad; at least it’s in the walls, and not in the room with her. She lies there and thinks about “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a story she has taught to countless freshmen, and the poor insane narrator following the twisty patterns and the women creeping beneath them. Thinking of these creeping women serves, oddly, to calm her as the screamer eventually winds down, perhaps because she is able to make them into academic abstractions and symbols while the suffering of the screaming woman in the walls is so very real.

But it is not long before she senses a presence beside her, in the very bed next to her, and this is so terrible that she starts to shake all over in spite of the paralysis. If it were Chris, she would be sobbing with joy, but it is not Chris. It is something else. She cannot tell if it is male or female, or neither, or both. The something else takes her hand, weaves its awful fingers through hers in that intimate fashion, and she realizes that before now she has never known what cold truly means. From the palm of her hand the cold blooms into her wrist, up her arm, and then throughout her body, and she thinks this is my death and knows they will find her some hours or days later and pronounce it “natural causes” without knowing there is nothing in the world so unnatural as the thing that has hold of her in the bed at that moment.

And then it’s gone; she’s heaving and sputtering and gasping and racing for the bathroom where she steps into a scalding hot shower, pajamas and all (for she is afraid to be naked), and she is scrubbing herself, shivering still, and her now ungripped hand is cold, so cold, and that’s when she first uncurls her fingers from her palm and sees it there, a scorched circular shape, and then she looks closer and notices the head of the snake in the fleshy part at the base of her thumb and realizes what she is seeing: an Ouroboros, the serpent devouring its own tail. And she knows in that moment that she has been claimed by something terrible.

***

The house on Cobb Street possessed several unique properties in regards to its purported haunting. There appeared to be no originating event, no horrific murders, no ghastly past prior to its possession of the Crane couple (and after reviewing the evidence, I believe this is indeed the best description of the effect the house had on Christopher and Vivian Crane). Locals remember no unsavory legends attached to the house. For roughly three decades prior to its purchase by the Cranes it was simply another decaying student residence. The house was previously owned by two sisters, who spent their entire lives there. Its Wisconsin-based owner, a great-niece who died shortly after the Cranes purchased it, left its management to the local Banks Realty, who say no unusual problems were ever encountered beyond the usual wear and tear.

Yet few of its residents from the years immediately prior to the Crane purchase could be tracked down. Of those who reported any paranormal experiences at all, each attributed it to the ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms or LSD. All three were located as in-patients at separate mental health facilities. None had been roommates with or were aware of the others, nor had any of them discussed their experiences with anyone else, but all date the onset of their initial mental illness as subsequent to their residence at the house on Cobb Street. Each claimed to have once borne a circular tattoo on the palm of their left hand, visible now only in the faintest outline of one of the three: that of the snake Ouroboros, the symbol for infinity.

It appears to have been a symbol with which Vivian Crane was obsessed as well, since, following her disappearance, numerous versions of it were said to have been found scratched on the walls throughout her house. This evidence, combined with the temporal shifts reported by Ms. Crane and all three of the former residents interviewed, originally led this author to theorize that this particular “haunting” is an occurrence on the order of “freak” weather events such as rains of frogs, sudden tornadoes, and so on. In other words, not ghosts at all, but an anomaly in the very fabric of time and space, burst into existence at some stage in the last few years. And the Ouroboros symbols suggest some sort of intelligence lurking behind this anomaly, something perhaps even more fearsome than the ghosts that populate the rest of this volume.

Ghosts and Ghouls of the New American South, by Roger St. Lindsay, Random House, 2010

***

I’ve been reading Roger St. Lindsay’s account of our local haunting, and reckless and inaccurate as his speculations appear to me (not to mention entirely ignorant of the laws of physics, and this apparent even to myself who knows as little about the topic as anyone), his method is not entirely one of madness. His history of the house is more or less corroborated, although his theories do border on the ludicrous. By the way, an alert reader recently forwarded to me the details, available only with a “pro”-level subscription, of an IMDB page regarding the documentary The Disappearance of Vivian Crane. Currently Vincent Llewellyn, who made his name with the Poltergeist Rising series of fictional “found footage” horror movies, is attached to the project. Apparently, however, production on the Crane documentary was halted due to legal concerns.

Perry “Pear Tree” Parry, blog post at Under the Pear Tree, August 12, 2010

***

Vivian wakes.

It is not a night like any other night. At first she cannot be certain why this is the case, and then she realizes: it’s because of the silence.

This is a terrible thing. Like the silence of children up to no good, except this silence is sinister, not mischievous. She reaches to touch Chris and of course he is not beside her. She does this almost every night, but this time it reminds her of that other night. The last night. She had not been immediately concerned—why should she have been?—even though it wasn’t like him to be up in the middle of the night, but then Chris had not seemed much like himself for some time. That night, she reached for the lamp and in the little pool of light she found her robe. She peeked into the guest room and at the sofa and Chris was nowhere. She went through the house looking for him, still not concerned, because none of it seemed real although she was certain it was not a dream.

Back up the stairs and down them again. It was here she began to call his name, here she started to get really worried. She wanted to be angry, because angry was better than worried, and she thought that she would be angry later, after finding him, angry at him for frightening her and happy for the chance to be angry because it would mean nothing was really wrong.

Later the questions would come, disbelieving: how could she have slept through the shotgun blast? Had she been drinking? Did she take drugs? Sleeping pills? Did she and Chris have a fight beforehand? They needn’t have blamed her; she blamed herself. How could you not have known, how could you not have done something, how could you, how could you?

She had not been the one who found him propped against the back fence, his head ruined; a neighbor phoned the police shortly after it happened, reporting a gunshot, but this could not be possible, for she walked up and down the stairs and from room to room for hours, searching for him, long before she stumbled into a backyard awash in spinning lights and the sound of police radios and a cacophony of panic.

Some nights, the best nights, the police never arrived. On those nights she searched until she, Vivian Crane née Collins—born Vancouver, Washington June 10, 1971, raised in Seattle, the shy bookish only child of a single mother (father present only following occasional bursts of paternal guilt)—ceased to exist, or became a ghost, if that was indeed how one did become a ghost; she simply searched and searched the rooms, and the stairs, and the hallways again and again until she no longer remembered who she was or what she was looking for, and sometimes she woke and still could not remember for long moments where she belonged.

Driving Felicity to the airport in Atlanta at the end of her visit almost saved her. Almost. She remembered thinking that—remembered the hard and beautiful reality of Interstate 285 with its multiple lanes of frantic traffic, the billboards and the chain restaurants and the warehouses and the mundanity of it all. At Hartsfield, the busiest airport in the world, she stood in line at the check-in counter with Felicity and thought about sleek planes bearing her away to someplace, any other place, a place that was safe and faraway, and then she saw Felicity through the security gate. Afterward, she sat in the atrium in the main terminal for a while and chewed on a pesto chicken panini from the Atlanta Bread Company and thought about what to do next.

In the end it was all too overwhelming: where would I go how would I explain to people what would happen to me my job my life my belongings I don’t know any other way.

And she got in her car and she drove back home again.

Chris’s death had branded her as much as the Ouroboros symbol ever would.

So now she wakes to the silence of infinity. She has a singular thought, to leave the house, and it is so strong she wonders that she has not thought it before. She has been sleeping in a T-shirt and a pair of yoga pants (she used to take yoga, long ago when she also used to be a real person); to change, to even find her shoes would delay her disastrously, and her feet hit the floor with a thump and she is running down the stairs; she half expects the corridor to stretch out forever before her like a horror movie or a dream but the corridor is normal and the door springs open to her touch and outside the stars are reeling and she gasps lungfuls of air that are not house-air and she is free; it is so easy, she need only not go back inside again. She doesn’t have her keys (no time) so she cannot take the car, but she can run now, up the street, she can run forever if she has to, because even the simple act of breathing and running is an act of living and not one of extinction.

But here is nothing but silence. A dead, dark street, familiar houses blank and empty, no sound of traffic from the busy street a block away. No dogs barking, no sirens, nothing.

She will run back into the house and reset it; this time it will work.

Back inside the house. Deep breaths on the house side of the front door, and how has she not noticed the corrupted air, the choking rot and decay? Again she opens the door; again she steps outside; again and again and again and again and she never imagined eternity like this, isolated even from her fellow ghosts, an infinity of repeating the same futile action again and again until time itself does die.

***

It is Athens’s very own urban legend, one of short duration and dubious provenance, a tale of a woman who disappeared not only from her own life but from the lives of all of us. There is no record of her employment as an adjunct instructor at the university, though a few former students claim to recall taking her class. Chris Crane lived and died alone in the house on Cobb Street, although many insist this was not the case; some say his wife stayed there after his death, the wife in whom no one can quite believe or disbelieve in any longer. Some say it was she who was haunted, not the house, and she brought the haunting to all of us. Some say memory is forever shifting, never reliable; we take it on faith that we have lived all the days of our lives up to this moment.

But the handful of students who claim to remember Vivian Crane all produce the same account of the last day she turned up to class.

“She was going on and on about a snake eating itself, about time turning itself inside out and what would happen if you got caught in something like that, and where would something like that come from—God or another human being or just a natural force in the universe. And then she showed us this weird tattoo of the snake on the palm of her hand,” says one young woman, who asked only to be identified by her first name, Kiersten. “And she said, ‘What would it be like if reality had to constantly readjust itself in order to make things fit—what would it be like for the ones left behind?’”

This story is roughly the same as that told by two other individuals, both of whom asked not to be named or quoted at all. A fourth former student, who recounted a similar tale (with a few variations), has since recanted and asked not to be contacted again. When I attempted to follow up with the others I was unable to find anything about them. I did contact the recanted student despite his request, but he would not speak with me and indeed purported not to know me.

And so it goes: the mystery appears to be solving itself by scrubbing out its own traces until there will be no mystery left at all.

But Chris Crane was a friend of mine; we grew up together, we went to college together, we did stupid things together, and had he gone away for seventeen years and come back with a wife, surely I would be one of the first to know about it?

“The Crane Enigma,” Maude Witcover, Chronictown, week of July 24-July 30, 2009

***

She cycled home from campus that day as fast as she could, like she was outrunning something, even though she knew whatever it was could never be outpaced. She thought briefly of taking refuge in a church on the way; she had not believed in so very long that she was surprised at the tiny seed of comfort that began to unfurl deep in her chest when she thought it, but the only church she passed was the Southern Baptist one with the all-trespassers-will-be-towed sign in their parking lot and a dubious reputation with the progressive neighborhood in which it sat, and she imagined its doors would be locked literally, no need for the figurative.

She rode as fast as she could but it is not possible to ride fast enough when infinity itself is at your heels.

***

A small assortment of reporters and curiosity-seekers were on hand today for the planned demolition of the house at the center of what has come to be known as the Cobb Street Horror. The house had in recent months, following the disappearance of Vivian Crane, become a major nuisance for law enforcement and neighbors, as several self-styled “urban explorers” broke in to photograph the bizarre signs and symbols—purportedly left on the walls by Ms. Crane—and a series of mounting disturbances were reported in the vicinity. Said disturbances included the sound of a woman screaming, day and night; the sight of several little girls running from the front of the house; and a figure whom no witness could adequately or consistently describe in terms of sex, age, or appearance crawling about the perimeter of the house.

Although the “urban explorers” spoke of signs and glyphs and drawings of the now-famous Ouroboros throughout the house, none of them ever produced any identifiable photograph from inside. A number of photography methods were experimented with, from top-of-the-line digital technology to old 35mm film and even a Polaroid at one stage, but neither the least nor the most sophisticated technologies produced any images. Save for one. One resourceful young woman went so far as to construct a ‘pinhole’ camera out of a cardboard box, and with that captured a single image: in a low right-hand corner near the front door, written in very small letters with a ballpoint pen (as the woman described it), were the words “This house erases people.”

Paranormal investigators assert that the existence of this photograph supports the idea that Vivian Crane herself was trying urgently to convey something important to those who read it; if so, however, it was that one time only, for while others who entered the house reported seeing the graffiti, no one else was able to reproduce the pinhole camera’s photograph, not even the photographer herself.

The demolition of the house on Cobb Street commenced without incident; in fact, it was so routine that bystanders quickly lost interest and dispersed.

Perry “Pear Tree” Parry, blog post at Under the Pear Tree, October 19, 2010

***

The heart of the house is lost. The heart of the house is beating. The heart of the house is bleeding. The heart of the house is breaking. The heart of the house is longing, mourning, searching, willing itself back into being, circles within circles, time turned inside out. The heart of the house, like all of us, is mad and lonely and betrayed.

***

No unusual activity has been detected along Cobb Street since the house was razed and the dental offices built. The dentists at the site report a thriving practice. Today, fewer and fewer locals appear willing or able to talk about the incident in the house on Cobb Street.

The symbol of snakes twining round a rod known as the caduceus is sometimes used on medical signs although in fact this represents a confusion with the single-serpented Rod of Asclepius, and thus this author feels it would be irresponsible to speculate about or attach any significance to the inclusion of the similar (if symbolically quite different) Ouroborous on the modest sign on the front lawn of the brick building. It ought, however, to be noted that on the day this author visited, several little girls were engaged in making similar chalk drawings on the sidewalk in front of the offices. On attempting to question them, this author was informed that they were not allowed to speak with strangers.

This author’s sensitivity to the unsettling effects of their shrill voices and the flash of their fingers gripping the chalk and the sound of the chalk scratching at the sidewalk are all most likely attributable to the severe fever this author subsequently suffered through in his hotel room later that night.

For now, we can only say that the house on Cobb Street has gone, and has taken its mysteries with it.

From the ebook edition of Ghosts and Ghouls of the New American South, by Roger St. Lindsay, published with added material in 2012

© 2013 by Lynda E. Rucker.

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Lynda E. Rucker

Lynda E. Rucker

Lynda E. Rucker is an American writer currently living in Dublin, Ireland. She has published nearly two dozen short stories in such places as F&SF, The Best Horror of the Year, Black Static, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. She is a regular columnist for the magazine Black Static, and her first collection, The Moon Will Look Strange, was released from Karōshi Books in 2013. She blogs very occasionally at lyndaerucker.wordpress.com and tweets more frequently as @lyndaerucker.

 

Stories by Lynda E. Rucker