Logbook of Terror : Milo’s Yard

“Milo’s Yard” 

Every year Milo’s Halloween decorations grew more elaborate, ambitious, and horrific. Milo’s yard had become so scary during the month of October that all the neighborhood joggers and walkers rerouted their familiar paths to avoid that peculiar house until November came and the terror was put away for another year. 

Halloween night was especially dreadful, so much so that none of the adults would come within a block of Milo’s yard. Only the children were brave enough to go, and yet still, only the bravest would return, their faces ashen white, their eyes deep pools filled with dread. And the children who weren’t so brave, the ones who were called The Lost, the ones all the neighbors whispered about during the months that followed Hallow’s Eve, they seemed to somehow disappear; they would enter Milo’s yard and never return as if their own fear kept them trapped there forever. But, everyone knew that Milo had the best candy. There was no candy like it anywhere else in the whole neighborhood, and no one could ever figure out where it came from. It was beyond delicious. It was legendary. It was worth the risk. 

Milo checked his watch – it wouldn’t be long now. He surveyed the yard and smiled far and wide at his creation. Gargoyles leered from every corner of the roof. Phantoms hoisted on unseen wires and pulleys flew back and forth above the headstones, zombies, witches, and ghouls that filled the front yard. Lights burning orange and purple lit the scene. Two meandering rows of glowing skulls illuminated a path that weaved its way through the yard to the front door. Wireless speakers hung hidden in the trees, waiting to come to life and proclaim their fearful song.

Milo hurried into the house. He powered up the six fog machines. Three minutes later dense fog began to fill the yard. Excitement and anticipation filled Milo’s soul. He pressed the play button on the stereo. As his favorite haunted house tape echoed out into the gathering gloom, Milo sat in the dark of his front window and waited for the trick or treaters to arrive. 

***

Chase Cabrini stood with his parents and little sister at the top of the hill, just up the street from Milo’s house. “You know we can’t go with you, son, it’s just the way it is,” Landau Cabrini said to his oldest boy. 

Chase had just turned eleven and was teetering on the edge of adolescence and the loss of childhood wonders. He looked up at his father. “It’s alright, dad, I’m not scared.” 

Landau looked down at his boy. His eyes filled with empathy. He knew the kid was full of shit. 

“Alright, son, we’ll wait here for you,” Chase’s father said. 

The small family stared down the street toward Milo’s yard. Horror music wafted up the hill, carried along on the ever advancing fog. Chase took three steps before he turned back and glanced at his family. He grinned and then trotted away and disappeared into the mist, his black vampire’s cape flying in the wind behind him. 

***

The fog seemed to clear a bit as Chase neared the house. He could hear odd, unearthly voices underneath the music, inside the fog. He felt eyes on him. His shoes hit soft earth. He was there. He was in Milo’s yard. He stopped and took a breath, taking in the sweet aroma of the fog. A cool wind chilled his skin. He gazed into the fog and saw the lighted path that led through the cemetery and to the front door. Chase felt his nerve start to shrink. The door suddenly seemed so far away. His dad was right after all; he was totally freaked. “Shit…” Chase muttered to himself. He stood still and listened and hoped to hear the reassuring voices of other children coming down the hill but there were none. He was all alone in Milo’s yard. 

Peering through the fog, Chase saw the front door creep open. He choked down the lump in his throat and began to walk. 

The front door seemed impossibly far away. His ears burned hot with fear. His eyes watered. His hands trembled. Leaves crunched under Chase’s feet as he walked the path. He felt fingers and hands brush across his back. Strange creatures beneath the gloom breathed hot breath onto his legs and nipped at his toes. Chase’s eyes darted around, searching for the monsters hidden in the fog. Two zombies lunged at him, one from either side. An ancient black cat tore at his pants leg. A coffin lid moved and a mummy rose up into the fog. A sudden banshee shriek tore the air behind him. Chase jumped and bolted straight for the door, his heart racing out ahead of him. He tripped and stumbled on to the porch. He looked up and there was Milo, standing in the doorway, staring down at him with a devil’s grin. Chase straightened up and cleared his throat. “Trick ‘r Treat,” he squeaked out. 

Chase held out his trusty plastic pumpkin bucket. Milo smiled and dropped a handful of candy in. “Why don’t you go ahead and try a piece now?” Milo asked the boy. 

“Sure…!” Chase said, his face beaming with eager joy as he reached into the pumpkin. 

At first bite, the candy didn’t seem all that special, but then something happened. The flavor changed. The chocolate coating somehow seemed indescribably delicious. Chase felt a wild euphoria sweep over him and he cooed like a baby. His eyes went limp and numb. 

“This is delicious,” Chase said through a full mouth. 

“Good…” Milo said. “Have another.” 

So Chase stood on Milo’s porch and ate another and another and still one more. And Milo dumped more candy into the plastic pumpkin bucket. Chase’s feet felt light. Pure happiness flooded through him. He couldn’t feel the porch beneath him. He looked down and saw that he was floating. He began to laugh and Milo laughed along with him. Chase dropped his trick or treat pumpkin and flapped his arms. He felt his teeth grow into sharp fangs. He drew his cape up around him and floated out into the fog of Milo’s yard. 

“I love it here!” Chase exclaimed. “I never want to leave!”

“And you’ll never have to!” Milo said with a huge smile. “You can stay in my yard forever and ever and have all the candy you like.”  

“I’m a real vampire now!” Chase shouted as he perched on the limb of a withered old tree, enshrouded in fog, and waited for the next trick or treater to come by.

Logbook of Terror: Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Assylm

Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum, WV

Despite my loathsome misgivings toward any address with the words “lunatic” and “asylum” in its name or description, I agreed to visit this dreaded famed and supposedly “haunted” locale to investigate. I may sound like a cynic, a non-believer, but the truth is that I believe too strongly and that is why I despise such a place as this.

I know beyond any doubt that it is indeed cursed, that even its bricks and mortar waver in an unearthly trance –caught between worlds- and that I chance becoming infected with the lunacy myself.  For madness lingers, defying death, living on past the mind in which it once dwelt. It is in the walls, in the decomposing rot that lines the ceilings, and surely in the lonely apparitions who wander the dank, cob-webbed corridors of this derelict monument to insanity.

I could feel the terror building in my chest even as I approached the massive gothic structure, its peaks looming high above me in the West Virginia sky, looking down with a mocking sneer. Yet, even with the horror filling my bones, I entered this grand monolith to the wreckage of malformed minds. I simply could not help myself, for I had to know what lies behind the veil of sanity, and the tickets to the overnight ghost tour for which I had registered were apparently non-refundable.   

An hour after my entry into the asylum, I found myself on the fourth floor. Dusk had traversed the bridge into night. My senses had registered to the gloom which surrounded and enveloped me and I let the shadows wrap around me like a comforting blanket. Thankfully, I was in the company of a small group of fellow believers, the “tour group”, who walked the halls with me in a shared reverential fear. We whispered among each other as we listened for the moans of the trapped souls, staying close together, hoping for a glimpse of the otherworldly; even as we dreaded its presence.     

We took watchful steps along the corridor. Our eyes darted nervously back and forth. Even in the dank cold, sweat pricked my skin. The gloom thickened. A lonely laugh echoed down the hall. We halted, our small group frozen where we stood. Again, seconds later, the laugh, high and thin, filled with bleak mirth. Another laugh darted out behind us. Heads spun in different directions. Then, a moan, a dirge of confused sorrow and fear, rang out of the last room on the left.

Photo by Amanda Norman

My hands trembled. A cold breeze cut through me. I saw my own breath. It formed a ghastly image near my face, a visage with a demonic smile which hovered within arm’s reach. The image grinned at me, and, as it faded, whispered my name. I twirled and screamed, and I saw that I was suddenly, utterly, alone.

I called out for my fellow paranormal seekers. Answers in the form of moans and giggles from the rooms lining the hall were the only answers I received. I stumbled backward. Pale figures in glowing white gowns shuffled out of the rooms, through thin doorways, turning toward me, their faces fluid, contorting, their expressions waxing and waning between grimaces and grins. They held their arms out to me, beckoning me to them. Closer and closer, the spirits floated and whispered my name. How did they know me? Was I once one of them in another life? Their contorting mouths opened wide. The ghouls screeched in unison. Black, horrid clouds of insanity poured forth, filling the air, surrounding me, pressing in, holding me close.

I fell to the floor, calling out for help with the dark pouring down on me and the dead whispering my name, over and over, picking at my mind, slicing at my soul. The dark, the madness, the whispers, the laughter, the cries –make it stop! Make it stop! Make it stop!! I wailed in the bleak and the black and the dank and the dark.

Hands on my shoulders shook me awake. Or was I ever asleep? I opened my eyes. I was in the center of the fourth-floor hallway. The odor of urine and disinfectant drifted over me. A fly buzzed over my cheek. Harsh fluorescent lights beamed down on me. The faces of two nurses filled my vision. I slid back on the slick, tile floor, retreating in horrified confusion.

One of the nurses smiled at me. “Now, how’d you get out here again? You know you aren’t supposed to be in the hallway.”

I mumbled, attempting to explain. Somehow, my words scrambled and didn’t come out right. Why can’t I speak?!  I shouted something unintelligible. My eyes watered with horror.

“Now, now, don’t you be afraid,” the other nurse says. “Let’s get you back to your room.”

I cried out as the two asylum nurses hoisted me from the floor. My legs went limp and they dragged me through the corridor, all the way to the last room on the left. I groaned in protest, attempting to explain. Why couldn’t they understand that I wasn’t a patient? Why weren’t they listening to me?

***

That was last week or maybe last month or last year, I can’t be sure. But I am sure that I must find a way out of this godforsaken abode. Every day more patients arrive. I now share my room with five others. The nurses rarely walk our hall and whenever I see one I plead my case for release, telling them in the plainest of terms that I was never meant to be in this place, I was just a visitor! In my earnestness I often grab at their arms, hoping to impart my sincerity and the dire nature of my situation upon them. They look at me with disgust in their eyes and yell at me to leave them be and to “stop yammering.”

This written communique may be my last hope. I was able to smuggle it into yesterday’s mail, addressed to our San Francisco headquarters, and it is my most sincere prayer that a fellow staff member will read my account and take immediate action, for I know not in which dimension I now reside, but I believe with all my heart that the skills and imaginations and divinations of the ones in our organization will once again rescue me from certain peril. Godspeed you addicts! You are my only hope!