Buyer Beware

Reads: 43  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Denial can be a powerful place, but if it seems like too good of a deal, best listen to your gut.

 

 

 

I would have written about this much sooner, but I was in shock for months after what had happened, so now that I have moved on, let me start from the beginning.

My name is Hank, short for Henry and everyone calls me Hank. This is a story about an old ranch house I bought a few years ago, in N.W. Montana. I am a retired roadie for a platinum recording group, I cannot say which group, because I promised I wouldn't. Just let me say, this band is still touring and has been since the late 70's, which is basically when I hooked up with them, and after almost forty years of busting my ass all over the globe, I finally retired. The last 26 years or so, I was in charge of the crew, a crew of almost 30 people, stage hands, gaffers, grips, truck drivers, believe me, it was quite a stage show. Anyway, I had amassed quite a nest egg for myself, the pay was amazing and you never spent too much money on the road, first you were too busy and then you were too tired, but it had always been my dream, to buy a ranch style home, practically in the middle of nowhere. Well about two years ago I started looking, at first not too seriously and then I tightened my gaze and found a place in Conrad, Montana, just north up the 15 from Great Falls. Great Falls is a good size town, almost 60,000 people which is where I would go to get any supplies and food stuff I needed, I guess I was going there about once a week in the beginning, and less when I moved in. 

This house used to be part of a huge ranch at one time, once owned by the Johnsons, which back in the day, were some of the biggest ranchers in the state. Something like 100,000 acres, but over time it got broken up and sold off to the neighboring ranchers, to expand their own cattle range, oh ya, up here there are three things, cattle, cattle and you guessed it, cattle. When I took over the property, known as the 'old Johnson house, it sat on about 13 acres and most of that was just from the entry gate off the road, back to the house and about an acre or two all around the house. Well, I was happy to get a small piece of land and this huge house for a steal, well what I thought was a steal anyway. The house was built in 1936 and had been bought and resold many times, and was refurbished in the late 80's, with newer kitchen and bath fixtures, new copper pipes to the well, some new windows and of course all new paint inside and out. I was thinking that all this was done by one of the past owners, so it would sell easier, which was weird, in that the records of this house of its previous owners were incomplete, meaning many were missing throughout the decades. 

I guess that didn't bother me though. Conrad is a very small town, about 55 miles north on Great Falls and the people that live there have been living there a long time, generations of families settled there over a hundred years ago and many just stayed. I remember the first time I went into town, I definitely got all the stares, maybe because I dressed in all black, didn't wear a cowboy hat or boots, didn't own a horse, in fact I had only two vehicles, a Ford F150 I bought just for working on the house and my 1966 Chevy Corvette, baby blue with black leather, that thing was the love of my life. Speaking of which, being on the road all those decades, I never married, never had kids, my only brother moved to Germany in the 60's after a small stint in the Army, met a gal, had kids and has never been back to the states, so what money I had, was just for me, which was a lot. 

Being a friendly kinda guy, I wanted to make sure I made a good first impression in town. I went to City Hall, to the police and fire station (yes, just one each) to introduce myself, my intensions were good, although my results were not so good. Being on the road all those years, you end up watching a lot of movies and that is what it reminded me of. I am sure you have all seen a movie (or dozens of movies) that a family buys an old house, with a sorted and/or haunted past, and everyone in town knows about it except the new owners, that always seemed stupid to me, but there I was. As I walked into the fire house, I met the chief, introduced myself as the new owner of the Johnson house and just like in those movies, a blank stare came over him and he repeated, "The old Johnson house ya say?" with a calm yet reserved voice. I shook my head and told him a little about me and then he excused himself, I could see they were prepping for what turned out to be an annual parade in town, what they celebrated I still don't know. I grabbed some items from the general store, bread, beer, some lunch meat, laundry soap etc. and headed up to my new house. 

Now this was only the fourth time I had been inside, twice before escrow, once about two weeks ago and the time everything went down. It was a huge sprawling type ranch house, 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge kitchen and several sheds outside, the weird thing is though, it didn't have a basement. I was really looking forward to going through those sheds, there was a lot of old tools, lanterns, cattle type gear, ropes and other hardware for ranching, but it was getting dark so I thought I'd go out in the morning, first light. After I made a sandwich and had a few beers in me, I started looking around more intently and I started in the kitchen. I noticed that there were a lot of cupboards around the entire parameter of the kitchen which had a commercial stove, an extra-large double sink, but it didn't have any windows, which I thought pretty strange. Just outside the kitchen, I guess was the dining area, there was no table but the marks on the floor told me this table sat maybe 30 people, knowing this was once a very large working ranch, it all made sense. A lot of hands were fed here at one time, probably two or three meals a day. 

I found myself back in the kitchen looking through these cupboards, just to see what I could see and noticed that the ones just inside the kitchen, off to the left were different, kinda custom made, meaning roughly trimmed and not painted on the inside. At first glance they matched the rest, but the details showed differently. I was on my hands and knees, with my head in the lower cabinet, when I thought, "I have one beer left" and as I leaned on the floor of the cupboard I was in, trying to stand up, "SNAP!!!", the floor of the cupboard gave way, my hand went through the panel, I lost my balance and smacked my forehead on the floor! It could have been the beer, or just plain exhaustion, anyway, I couldn't help calling myself all kinds of names and as I pulled my scraped and bloody arm out of the hole, I noticed quite the draft coming from below, which seemed odd. I stood up, wiped off my arm, grabbed the last beer and sat there bewildered, pondering over that hole. So, I got up and started taking those bottom panels off. The cupboard I was checking out was about nine feet tall, floor to ceiling and about seven feet wide.

Even thought there were nine doors on it, after opening all of them, you could see it looked like one big cabinet, it was obvious that this section was built after the rest and quickly. It had a few shelves in there, which I removed as my curiosity grew. I started removing more of the floor panels inside the cupboard, that draft I felt earlier was getting stronger, but all I could see below was darkness, like pitch black. I did notice that those boards came out too easily, I remember thinking that no cabinet maker made these, just someone with a table saw. After about a half an hour removing all the panels, a huge hole was revealed and even a staircase. "I thought this place didn't have a basement" I said out loud. Shaking my head, thinking of that lame real estate lady, I did recall she was in a hurry to leave here that day we signed the papers. Still shaking my head, I went out to my truck to grab a flashlight. I had bought one of those ridiculously bright LED flashlights you see on YouTube, the one that lights up entire city block, well they weren't kidding, this thing out shined the moon! As I reentered the kitchen, some kind of thick, dense feeling came over me, like I was under water, I don't know, it was just weird. As I walked across the kitchen to the cabinet I was working on, I shined the flashlight down the hole and there was a staircase, leading to what looked like a small room, which had doors, I'd suspect leading to other rooms. I had all kinds of thoughts that came over me, call the realtor, call the local police or at least call a friend and let them know what's going on and that I am going down to check it out. 

As I was removing more boards to clear a good-sized pathway, I quickly forgot about calling any one and with my curiosity getting the best of me, I started down the steps. I noticed my chest felt very heavy, it was cold to the point that I started seeing my breath. I could tell that draft was coming from the different rooms, cause each door had a bout a two-inch gap at the floor. Shining the light around the first room, it seemed the floor was made of clay, like a deep red clay, which was odd. There was no clay like that this far north, more like in Arizona and maybe parts of Nevada. I shrugged it off and started checking the other doors. There were four in total, all with old fashion type hinges and door knobs and I started at the far left. The first and second doors seemed to be locked, which was odd cause there was no key hole and locks to be seen. The third door wasn't easy to open, but I finally did manage to get it about half way and I shined my light in there noticing the same red floor, and along the back wall, were cages. "What the hell?" I said out loud. 

There were six cages in all, made with steel pipes, about six foot tall and a base about three by three feet. Again, I noticed this red clay was in the cages, around the cages even on some of the bars. All the doors of the cages were open, except for one that had a pile of something in it. Just then a breeze hit me and the stench of rotting meat hit my nose and it was so strong, it almost buckled my knees. As I walked toward the closed cage, past the others, I realized that this is not clay, but more like dried blood, I was really weirded out at that point. I walked up to the closed cage and realized that pile inside was human bones, rotting flesh and dried blood everywhere. When it finally hit me, I screamed, spun on my heals and started running out the door, flashlight toward the ground when 'WHAM!', I must have smacked my head on the door way, cause I woke up a couple hours later, with a very sore head and a dead flashlight. After I got to my feet, I noticed a small light from a desk lamp I had turned on up in the kitchen earlier and that was the only way I found the steps. Still freaked out and unsure what to do, I started up the steps. Maybe I was still a bit dizzy cause as I looked up, I fell straight back onto the dirt floor, covered with what I knew was dried blood. Within a couple seconds, my body was being pulled by some invisible force toward the room with the cages, "what the fuck!?" I screamed. It was then I started hearing voices, many different voices, but I didn't understand the words, and just as I reached the door way, I grabbed the frame and used the door knob to stand up and I flew up those steps. 

Luckily, I had made the opening as big as I did, little did I know I'd be shooting back through it as though my life depended on it! Now I was standing in the kitchen, trying to process all that had just happened, but I quickly replaced the wood on the bottom of the cabinet and started placing anything heavy I had laying around on top of the cupboard floor, thinking it might help, though the reality was, I wasn't thinking, just acting on impulse. Again, all kinds of thoughts went through my mind, did the realtor know about this? Did the police or fire chief know about this? They all acted kinda weird I remember. Anyway, I knew I had 6 days left to back out of this deal and back out I did. The next day, I called the realtor and asked her to meet me here one more time, that I had questions about the sheds and some property lines to the north, I didn't want her to even suspect I knew about the basement, the one I didn't have. The rest of the day, I just sat on the porch and slept in the truck that night. 

The next morning, Ms. Rose, the realtor showed up, but before she did, I had totally cleared the cupboard again to reveal the 'basement of horror' I now called it. She pulled up, got out of her car and walked up to me on the porch. I was holding the contract and escrow papers and as she said hello, extending her hand, I violently ripped all the papers, through them up in the air, and to her shock, I said, "I found the basement, this contract is now void, I am outta here and you'll be hearing from my lawyer about this!" I didn't wait for her response or even an expression, I jumped in my corvette and as I stepped on the gas, looking in the rearview mirror, Ms. Rose was just standing there with her mouth open. It was at that time I knew, that everyone was well familiar with the history of this house, they were just waiting for a sucker, well, I aint no sucker. I don't have an attorney either, but I thought the little added threat would keep her off my ass. I went back later to get my stuff and my truck and started looking, on-line, again, for a nice secluded ranch or farm house, but far away from here. I remember seeing some places in North Dakota I liked, but this time, I will take my time and do a lot of research, which would include talking with locals and what not, my lesson: Buyer beware.

 

*Subject to copyright

 


Submitted: May 26, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Strange and Scary Stories. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

More Thrillers Short Stories

Other Content by Strange and Scary Stories

Short Story / Thrillers

Short Story / Thrillers