Log Title: The Haunted House
Date: Immediately following the events in The Witwickys Go Camping.
Summary: After the campfire's been extinguished, Daniel decides to go on a little ghost-hunting excursion to a nearby abandoned house. Naturally, he takes a bunch of energy-reading equipment, along with his friend, Andy. What they find may shock you!
Mount St. Hilary <MSH>
Mount St. Hilary is an active stratovolcano located in Hood River County, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is 100 miles south of Seattle, Washington and 50 miles northeast of Portland. Mount St. Hilary takes its English name from Hilary of Poitiers, who was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. Mount St. Hilary is famous for being the place where the Ark crashed on Earth. A catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1984, at 8:32 am PDT awoke the Autobots and Decepticons slumbering there, restarting the Cybertronian War. Since the 1984 eruption, greenery has returned to the slopes of St. Hilary, and the Autobot spacecraft has been extracted. Support buildings and a reinforced landing pad have been built outside the volcano, as well as the Mount St. Hilary National Volcanic Monument to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied. Inside the somewhat smoky interior of the mountain, the old caverns of the Ark Headquarters are still standing, the ground littered with volcanic ash, dust, and fossils of dinosaurs. It has been disturbed it seems, and it looks now lived in, with piles of collected parts and odds and ends stacked in careful groups all around, and one area now dust free almost completely, at the very back of the caverns in a small car-sized area. Someone has made this old place their new home.
Lifeline has left, leaving Spike, Andy, and Daniel. It's around 9:30. Spike has killed the campfire. He yawns "Look, it's 9:30 - We've got a loooong trip tomorrow. I'm not going to make you guys go to bed, but try to get in before midnight."
"OK, Dad!" Daniel says cheerfully, and begins heading off to the tent...to go prep his ghost-hunting kit.
"This is gonna be eeeppiiicc," he murmurs under his breath.
The LAST thing Andy can do - is get some sleep and hope to god Daniel sleeps through this. Andy lies down in the sleeping bag.
"Well, knowing your dad, it's going to take about 45 minutes to get to sleep...so... I'm going to get in a quick 30 minute nap, then we set off...cool?"
"Sure," Daniel says, apparently not minding one bit if Andy wants to nap prior to their excursion. In the meantime, he begins filling his backpack with all kinds of mysterious equipment -- some of it he's borrowed from Autobot City, or modified himself.
Spike is sound asleep now. Andy is shutting his eyes, making like he's been sleeping. Hoping Daniel will sleep as well. Daniel is still in the tent, but unfortunately, he looks far from sleeping. After packing some food & bottled drinks for himself and his friend, his cellphone alarm goes off, indicating that 30 minutes has passed.
"OK, get up, I got you all packed!" He picks up a large Maglite-type flashlight.
Andy's eyes open... it's too late.
"Okay..." Andy does his best to look like he's down for this excursion.
"All right!" he whispers.
Daniel grins widely, opening his pack and producing two pairs of night-vision goggles. One pair he wears himself, and the other he gives to Andy.
"Awesome," he whispers. "Let me go see if the coast is clear."
He cautiously peeks out of the tent, and looks about.
"Yup. C'mon. These goggle things really work." Daniel ventures out of the tent, lurking away from the campsite towards the woods.
Spike's chest rises and falls quietly, showing he's definitely KO'd.
Andy follows closely behind Daniel - though he's almost (but not quite) 2 years older - he's fine letting Daniel be the leader. He quickly walks behind and looks around. Whispering, he mutters "You know where this is?" Once they've cleared the campsite, Daniel speaks in a soft tone, but no longer needs to whisper.
"Yeah, it's about 1/2 a mile down this trail." He flashes the maglite down the woodsy trail, and the powerful beam ends in solid blackness, only illuminating about 20 feet and no further. Somewhat Slender Man-nish setting.
"Okay, let's get going."
Andy gulps, "I... I've been so used to living in the city, I didn't realize what it's like to be in COMPLETE darkness." He looks down, making sure he doesn't trip on any branches. Daniel presses onward, which somewhat forces Andy to stick directly beside him so that he'll be able to see the way forward. It isn't long before they're surrounded by dark woods pressing in from every side. Even the camp can no longer be seen behind them.
"We're like, halfway there already."
From somewhere above, an owl hoots, and the hoot echoes. Andy's eyes widen and a cold chill rushes up his spine.
"Shit! SHHHH!!! SHHH! SHH!!!!" He holds his hands up. "I heard something!"
"That was an owl," Daniel says, peering up toward the tree canopy overhead. "...Or was it something else?" He stops walking.
Andy keeps walking...and bumps into Daniel. He jumps back. "OK...let's. I think we're done."
"Andy, come on. Look, nothing's gonna hurt us. It's just real dark out here. And you said yourself there's no ghosts, so I'm just gonna go prove it with science," Daniel urges. "We can't turn back now! Right over that ridge, we should be able to see the house. That's how close we are."
He shines the maglite at the road ahead, which disappears over a ridge.
Andy frowns and whispers, "Fine..." He adds "There are no ghosts, BUT there could be paranoid redneck militants out here!"
"So?? We'll just tell them about Ralph Waldo Emerson, that's what we'll do!" Daniel says bravely, forging ahead. "Rednecks would totally love that guy, he was into doing your own thing in the woods."
Andy frowns "I know that! My brother made me read that." He looks up and sees the outline of a roof. He breathes out, "Holy...shit..." Once they reach the top of the ridge, Daniel shines the maglite at the breathtakingly beautiful, yet horrifically abandoned property. Many of the windowpanes are shattered out, but those which are still intact reflect the maglite back at them eerily.
"Check it out," he says in amazement. "This is the place, we're HERE..."
Andy nods. "Yup...wow...Amazing, isn't it?" He adds "Just like Walden." He then tugs Daniel's arm and tries to pull him back.
"Wait, what are you doing??" Daniel says. "I gotta get the meters out, to scan for...activity! Energy readings. Stuff like that. Once we get a few samples of what's going on here...then we'll go back to camp, OK?"
Andy nods a few times. "Yeah..yeah...just hurry the hell up!" he whispers.
Daniel grins. "U mad, bro?" he taunts, but just trying to break the tension. He doesn't want Andy to go full angry on him way out here, and he's flipped out in the past. "Just kidding. Okay, meters." He pulls something that looks like it came straight off an alien spaceship out of his pack. In fact, there's weird Cybertronian lettering on the buttons, which are modified so that Daniel can press them, and he's put new labels on them that read 'on', 'off', 'record' and 'analyze'. He begins heading down the slope towards the house. A few field mice get terrified, and scurry away from the path as he approaches.
Andy creeps behind Daniel. "What if someone's here?!" he whispers.
GAME: Daniel PASSES a COURAGE roll of Immense difficulty.
Daniel turns and looks at Andy with a smile. "Then we'll tell him we're selling Avon. Dude, c'mon, does it LOOK like anyone's here? I don't think anyone's been here in years." He tries the front door. Locked. A few startled cockroaches drop down from the front foyer ceiling and scamper off into the woods. "Well...OK, let's go in through a window. But to be safe? Let's break out all the glass before going in." The place, of course, is filled with cobwebs. A few field mice, a sickening dank smell. And a few paranoid scribblings, including a few walls that have 'DEATH IS THE ONLY CERTAINTY' scribbled on it.
Andy shakes his head. "NO! That'll stun...anyone out here! find an open door and creep in! Steal-like."
"Oh, okay, but that just means walking circles around this huge place. I was just trying to save us some time." Daniel sighs, but seems to be amenable to locating a door, when he shines his flashlight curiously through one of the broken-out windows.
"Oh SHIT, look...LOOK...it's the graffiti...it's true, look at what they wrote!"
Andy gulps as he sees the terrifying graffiti. He blinks and looks around. "OK...ok...ok...get your stuff set up STAT!"
Excited in the heat of the moment, Daniel just pulls a hammer out of his backpack and begins smashing out the rest of the windowpane, until all the glass is shattered on the ground. "I know we're not supposed to break stuff, but this was already broken, OK?" Daniel says, as if Andy cares at this point. Then, he squeezes into the abandoned home, taking a few flash pictures with his phone and then scanning the walls for anomylous readings.
Andy finds a journal. He kneels down and looks at it. He gulps, lighting a cigarette lighter and reading the words "They don't understand - they're turning against me. It's all the chemicals in the sodas and fast food they ate before - it's a toxin, it's infecting their minds." Andy's voice cracks slightly "Anything I can do to...hurry...this up?"
"Epic find," Daniel says cheerfully. "You gonna keep that journal?" He makes a few more energy recordings.
Across the room, something FAST scurries into the dark retreats of the rest of the house. Probably a rat, but one never knows. "Damn, did you see that??"
Andy says meekly "No..."
"I think it was a rat, though it might have been a possum. It was BIG." Daniel glances around. "Wanna go see what's in the other rooms?" he asks hopefully, but he already knows what the answer's going to be.
A gust of wind hits some of the wood paneling, creating a sick moan. "SHIT!" Andy frowns, breathing through his teeth "YES!"
"You do? GREAT!" Daniel exclaims happily, already bounding into the room that used to serve as the kitchen area. "Eeeww, wonder if they left any food behind. Bet it's nasty..."
Andy storms upstairs, looking around, "Alright you sons of bitches, come out!"
True to the house - the refrigerator has been removed. Virtually nothing edible remains, but some dried 'vomit' looks like a few people tried to survive off the wilderness, and got very, very sick in the process. "Wow, look at this, this is nuts," Daniel exclaims, taking a few cellphone pictures and then scanning every corner of the room. "I don't think there's anyone left in here," he tells Andy. "I honestly don't. Unless they walk on 4 legs."
Andy opens one of the doors and sees a mannequin, which makes him scream like a girl. But a quick flashlight on it shows it's just a 'bust' used for the technophobes to make their clothes from the earth. The growing their own cotton did NOT go well as the garmet is half-finished and very, very moth-eaten. Meanwhile, about a mile away, Spike's tired eyes widen slightly, thinking it's time to get up, but it's only 2:30. He thinks for a second, check on Daniel and Andy? Then he yawns and falls back into slumber.
Daniel does jump a bit when Andy screams, but he quickly recovers and does some more serious exploration as he sees the half-finished garments. "Everything in this place is totally checking out, just as the story said," he remarks in amazement.
Andy thinks... "There's...there's a basement."
In another room, there is a creepy collage of magazine cutouts of President Clinton, President Bush, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. All of which have crude 'targets' on them. A full descent into madness going on.
Andy asks meekly "Did they go insane in this house, or did the HOUSE make them insane?"
"...Oh my god. OK, we have to go there. Let's go," Daniel exclaims, and he eagerly tromps down the stairs, looking around for the egress to the lower level. "This place has been a total freak show since we got in here. The basement is probably the best part."
As Andy asks which came first, the house or the insanity, Daniel shrugs and wagers, "We'll never know for sure, will we!"
Andy creeps down the steps with Daniel. They finally reach the basement. In black letters, the basement door has the writings 'RAPE ROOM - KNOCK BEFORE ENTERING'.
Andy whispers "You sick bastards!" Andy shakes his head "No...No - we're...I think we're done."
<<OOC Spike says, "Editor's note - the writing was someone who had a very crude, cruel sense of humor. No sexual assaults were had though -" >>
"You have got to be kidding me...rape room??" This even grosses out Daniel. "...I think they're keeping money down here, or something else valuable," Daniel decides, "Because they're trying pretty hard to keep people away. I still think we should look in there."
Andy says in a tone like Daniel may have about 6 years ago when he had to have ear drops for an ear infection that hurt like blazes.
"Ok..." he says meekly.
"I'll go first," Daniel offers, thinking Andy's being a good sport for humoring his curiosity for this long without leaving. He tries the basement door to see if it's locked. The basement looks like it could have served as the basement in 'Silence of the Lambs' - two shallow graves look like they were built. But what are they hiding? Bodies? Money? Nothing? Daniel bites his lip, shining the maglite on the 'grave' area to see if worms are there. If they are, even HE'S out of here.
Andy whispers "no one's here..." every time he steps down.
A yellowed piece of paper is pinned to a post near the shallow grave. Reading: "Burial instructions: Take my body, drop me in. NO EMBALMING. FUCK THIS WORLD. THIS HOUSE WILL ABSORB ME. THAT IS MY FINAL WISH' - WW.
Andy mutters "What if they come back? What if they're coming back RIGHT NOW?" He looks at the yellowed paper.
After seeing the paper, Daniel takes a photo of it & the basement. "OK. Game over, man. Game. Over. Let's go." The limit. He's just bumped up against it.
Andy nods. "Yup! Yup!" He clears the steps in 3 leaps and runs out the door. Daniel follows suit, not in a panicked run but going pretty fast for all the equipment he's carrying around.
"Wait up, I'm the one with the flashlight!" Andy runs out of the house, he gets a few steps and trips... on an arm! It's bony hands grasp around Andy's ankle - and squeezes! Andy shrieks out on pure terror. An arm...OR a twisted array of branches. Andy starts kicking and thrashing at the bones, "GET OFF!! GET OFF!!!"
"Andy, sssh! Stop panicking, you'll wake up my Dad. C'mon." Daniel takes out his utility knife, and 'stabs' the branches a few times, cutting them away from Andy's leg. "Just stay with me, I got the light. We're going back right now."
Andy sees what they really are - branches---just branches. "Jesus!..." He nods, feeling a ton more humbled, and a bit envious of Daniel.
"It's OK, that place WAS freaky. You were totally right." Daniel murmurs quietly as they approach the ridge from the opposite side, and once again the forest closes in around them, forming a dark canopy. In the hand that isn't carrying the flashlight, Daniel has a chunk of wood he's decided to keep from those rogue tree branches. "That was some shit."
Andy nods, regaining some composure, "Glad I was along...*huf...huff* to keep you from freaking out." He says in a jittery tone.
This makes Daniel smile. "I'm glad you were there, too," he says. It's quiet for a while, the only sound being frogs, crickets, and cicadas.
"So... they wrote that - just to scare people off, you don't think...they REALLY used that room to like...commit rapes? 'cause I heard a lot of cults do that."
"I have no idea if they raped anyone in that place, or made weird suits, or threw up on the floor...but it sure looked that way to me from what we found," Danniel admits.
Andy gulps and says "Some adventure, huh?" his voice jittery. "It was amazing. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat," Daniel says excitedly. Clearly, he takes after his mother when it comes to high adventure.
Probably much to poor Andy's relief, they emerge from the woods and back onto the footpath to the camp. "Now we gotta be quieter," Daniel whispers. "Dad's a light sleeper."
GAME: Spike PASSES a DEXTERITY roll of Average difficulty.
Spike continues to snooze.
Andy whispers to Daniel "I liked his friend - he seemed really cool."
Daniel nods, and smiles...saying nothing until he's gone past Spike's tent, and silently enters their own, unpacking his gear the moment he's back inside. "He's one heck of a doctor. I thought Bryce was gonna die, but Dr. Steen cured him," he mentions as he sorts out his equipment on the floor of the tent.
Andy lies down on his sleeping bag, imagining the disfigured, inbred, anti-technology, but somehow extremely intellectuals are going to craw after him and Daniel. Andy scoffs, "Yeah...TRY falling asleep after that."
For a moment, Daniel lays there, wondering if Andy's going to pull a Steve, and make things a little awkward. "...Think of this, too -- it mighta been a big setup. Someone mighta broke into that house, and set all that shit up just to scare someone."
Andy shakes his head. "If that's true...someone has a REAL effed-up imagination."
"Yeah, definitely. Oh..." Daniel presses the light on his LED-watch, and it shows the time as 3:15 am. "That took longer than I thought." Daniel is doing something over by this sleeping bag. Sounds like a knife scraping against wood.
Andy looks up, "So, is that guy...Trailbreaker giving us a ride back? I hope so, since there's enough room to lay down, 'cause I'm NOT going to sleep now."
"Heh...yeah, he'll be here to pick us up," Daniel says. "I'm not too sleepy yet, either, so just talk at me if you want." *scrape scrape*
Andy continues to stare up, at nothing in particular. "My dad would never do this." He looks up, "I know... you say he can be a hardass and a bit of a dork sometime...but seriously, you are SO lucky to have a mom and dad like you have. My mom... she does her best, but I know she gets stressed and tired a lot."
"I saw her before we left, and you're right, she does look kinda stressed out," Daniel says sympathetically, as he carves the hunk of wood in his hand into something else entirely.
Andy looks over at Daniel "What the hell are you doing?"
"Well, Dad gave me this utility knife," Daniel says, "And this wood looked to be like...something I could do something with. I've never done woodworking before, but I saw some pieces that the Native American kid did at the school's art festival last month...and I talked to him, tried to find out how he made those totems. I'm not making a totem, before you ask," Daniel adds, grinning. "But I wanted to see if I could do this."
Andy scoffs "Nerd..." before trying to fall asleep.
"Heh." Daniel grins in amusement, whittling away, which Andy might actually find is a peaceful white-noise sorta sound, after a while. Better than listening for footsteps outside...