The Mansion by Steven Zokal
(Song by Manchester Orchestra)
We went out at midnight. The rain plastered our car making our eardrums go numb from the thundering of what seemed to be a million tiny drummers tap-tap tapping falling from the sky. The trees on both sides of the road seemed to be slowly intertwining with each other, arching over the street making a tunnel of darkness that could extinguish a lit match.
“Alright, we’re here. Get the shovels,” Danny said. I got out of Danny’s black Chevy Trailblazer and looked up at the sign that read, “Mansion Cemetery: Closed to those unrelated to the deceased”.
“Erik what the shit are you waiting for? Get the goddamn shovels; I’ll break the lock.” Danny got out a pair of bolt cutters and went to work, breaking open the lock. We walked through the cemetery struggling to keep our shoes on as each step made it seem we were sinking further and further into the ground.
“Just a bit further Erik, c’mon don’t lag behind!” We climbed up a hill, which once was covered in green grass, now only to be disfigured with sloppy thick mud. Upon reaching the summit, there stood a tombstone with the name “Andrew J. Hall: 1800-1851” engraved in it. “Okay this is it. Let’s get to work.” I handed Danny a shovel and we began digging. Shoveling through mud was like trying to empty a bottle of molasses, near impossible. My knuckles were bone white and my hands numb from the rain soaking through my skin. We dug for what seemed like days until we finally heard a loud thud and the splintering of wood.
“Fuckin’ finally; help me lift it will ya?” Danny asked me. We opened the mud stained, soaked wooden coffin and witnessed the putrid unmistakable scent of death.
“This is fuckin’ disgusting Danny…what are we even looking for?”
“A map shithead…a map of the inside of his mansion.”
“Why do we need a map for the inside of this dudes home? Can’t we just walk around?”
“Found it! C’mon bro let’s get out of here and get to this guy’s house. It’s just down the street.” We got our shovels and ran as fast as the mud would let us back to our car and drove to Andrew J. Hall’s mansion. Somehow, it seemed to be just getting darker as we loomed closer to The Mansion. We arrived at the gates and a sign that read in all caps “KEEP OUT” greeted us.
“That’s some cliché horror movie bullshit right there. Let’s go Erik” Danny was always like that, nothing could scare him. I remember when we were kids he would force me to go with him into haunted houses, brotherly bonding I guess. I would see him literally laugh in the face of zombified clown while I stood behind him trembling in fear. Anyway, we broke the lock and walked up to The Mansion. The mansion that once was a grand Victorian style home has now been slowly engulfed by Mother Nature. Wiry, twisted ivy sprawled down the porch pillars, while moss seeped up through the floor. The once pearl white brick was now chipped and grayed out like an old man’s hair. We walked up to the door with its wide window panel broken and its once emerald green door decayed into a dark brown, and pushed it open.
We closed the door behind us and it became eerily quiet. We didn’t hear the pounding rain, no rustling from the wind. It was complete solitude. “Ok Danny we’re here. Now can we go?” I asked. The look he gave me reminded me the way our Dad would glare at us when we asked for ice cream as kids even though we just put up a tantrum. “No way…we’re gonna find it.”
“Find what exactly? You haven’t told me shit all night. What’s going on?”
“I didn’t want you to think I was crazy-“
“As if trespassing into a cemetery and degrading a man’s grave wasn’t crazy enough, c’mon…spill it.”
“Ok, ok…Jesus. There’s some legend that states Andrew J. Hall buried his fortune within this mansion, but no one has been able to find it. The map we got from his body-“
“Was the map to his fortune? But why hasn’t anyone else tried this already?”
“Looks like we need to find out.”
We walked up the old, oak-wood stairs and through the first door we saw. After we closed it however, something queer happened. The house groaned, sounding like old bones trying to move after being dormant for too long, we thought it was just the wind blowing from the outside so we ignored it and looked through the room.
“Oh shit!” Danny exclaimed.
“What is it? Oh, my…-“I threw up on the spot, Danny opened the closet door within the room and it was half decayed human body. The rotten smell of flesh invaded our nostrils making our eyes water.
“C’mon Erik let’s go!” We ran out the room out into the hallway except the staircase we came from wasn’t there anymore. It was just a solid wall.
“What the actual fuck…what’s happening Danny, I’m freaking out we gotta go.”
Danny opened the map and realized the orientation of the map had changed.
“Erik this wasn’t a map to his fortune…this was a map to get out of his house. Everything rearranges after you enter a room.”
“Well, how do we get out?”
We ran through the corridors and rooms closely reading the map until we finally found our way out.
We never came back.