diary of a professional antagonist
Shite Night in a Ghost House
Research is something I don’t take too seriously, especially when writing a horror script which involves a bunch of sadist ghosts out for revenge from the cruel spirits that crushed and stole their young lives. I’ll admit now that this was a low point in my writing career, a necessary evil in order to get in good with a director on the rise who in all honesty was a hack that somehow managed to get financed without problem on every daft idea his colon conjured up. So, I took the offer of knocking out a quick draft which came with the clause of spending a ‘night in a seriously creepy old house in the country’… this was supposed to help me get in the right frame of mind and draw on the energies betwixt the four walls, instead of making me feel like I was in an episode of Scooby-fucking-Doo as I drove the rental out there.
On arrival my gut tightened. Someone was having a laugh at the expense of my pride. There were no windows or doors in the bastard, and it was huge, and sitting up on top of a hill, and it just so happened to be windy and wet as fuck. The surrounding area wasn’t much better, crappy old storage shed the other side of the hill next to a big old marsh, some looming forestry on the nearby mountains, old stone walls and the one neighborly light that was visible at least a mile away extinguished almost immediately. I took the sleeping bag, a pen and notepad (pointless), two bottles of whisky from the trunk, the jumbo bag of chips and the now damp ‘steak and cheese’ footlong I bought a few hours earlier and made my way inside. The whole place was gutted, nobody had lived in it for decades and the stench of rat piss, decaying wooden beams and mould only made me thank God even more that I had the good sense to bring two bottles and not one.
Part confession at this point, I’ve this really bad habit every time I enter someone else’s home, it’s more a compulsion that comes from who knows where, probably some primal ancestor – the long and short of it is, I piss somewhere in the house, I suppose marking terrain or just planting a familiar scent of myself that enables me to relax. In a normal house it’s usually just a squirt in a potted plant or on the towels in the bathroom. In this glorified cave I decided to go all out and with a full bladder let loose everywhere, making sure I hit every room. Once I’d shaken out the last drop I found the least breezy corner, climbed into the sleeping bag and hit the bottle hard.
It was around midnight and I had to piss again so I staggered about until I made it outside. As relief was washing over me I checked my cell. Text message from the director. I’d been getting hourly updates since noon, random facts about the house, who lived in it, what they did, why nobody lived in it and how they died. Turns out I was staying in the ultimate cliché movie house (this guy had no imagination) – the Dad was a loner type butcher, heard voices, chopped up his doting wife and kid, buried their body parts in the floor boards, then turned a shotgun on himself and blew his head up into the chimney as he set fire to his clothes. Laughable. Returning inside, I stubbed my toe on a board as I crossed the threshold and sight of the blood dripping from my toe onto those filthy, tetanus infested floorboards was the final straw that riled me so bad my bowels loosened. Revenge was in order.
I found the fireplace, unloaded an unmerciful spray then fashioned a makeshift fire from twigs, leaves and set the whole lot off after siphoning some gas from the rental – I wasn’t going to waste whisky. I was nicely into the second bottle by three AM and decided more gas and a voodoo dance was in order. The spirits must have taken hold of me because I ended up spiraling around the old shit-hole letting the remaining fixtures, grout and window frames have it with my trusty baseball bat. I fucked that place up good but ended up knocking over the vat of gas and fire spread from room to room. Five minutes later and the whole place was ablaze but it didn’t matter, there was nothing inside aching to catch the flames, run rampant and help it go epic and so, disappointingly, within an hour it was dead, just like my second bottle. At least I’d got some warmth out of it while it lasted but was in need of more so I threw caution to the wind and wandered back inside.
Nothing was going on outside other than that one light on the hillside blinking on for a few minutes then vanishing again, just like my self esteem. My buzz was begin to die and bring a death all its own to my head so I tried to distract myself and started to break the floorboards just to rid myself of the cretinous text plot that was supposed to bring entertainment to the night. After wrecking a few rooms and finding nothing resembling bone I checked the charred chimney stack. Fine, there were some scars in the cement that may have been caused by buckshot but I was aware of a concept called ‘wear and tear’ so ruled it out. I’d hit the wall, boredom, hangover, cold, miserable, resenting my desperation for bringing me to this point and the darkest hour of the night was reaching pitch black. Then a text blinked in from the director which unsettled me.
The land had once been an Indian burial ground, I sighed. The family who took over the land had left no will so ownership went back to the natives. The area was declared sacred and no removals were allowed unless authorized by some descendant chief in their council. The absent bodies had been moved, to the storage shed at the back of the house. The chief had written an account of the tragedy, self published it, sold the rights to my director for pittance and approved my stay for one night. I didn’t sigh… I said ‘fuck’ instead. The director told me to be sure and check out the storage shed before I left. I was already drawn to it, hypnotized in my hammered state, having pissed and shit and desecrated and shed blood on sacred ground – I had to see what was in there.
It took me a full twenty minutes to baby-step my way to the door, despite it being a thirty second walk, tops. The door was already cracked open. I reached out and gave it a gentle push. My eyes squinted against the darkness inside, searching for shapes and then, something presented itself. It looked like a mound of soil. A drop of urine ran down my leg as I stepped closer. Then I heard a noise behind me and spun around. On top of the hill were three silhouettes. A man. A woman. A child. The man was holding a shotgun. In the dark I’m sure I was glowing white. And then he started to make his way down toward me. I ran like a fucking rabbit. That’s right, hopping on all fours, waiting on the blast and hoping my death rattle would at least be somewhat acrobatic and impressive.
It never came. I toppled into a patch of briars and landed face first in the marsh and the man pulled me out before I sank and drowned. He didn’t look anything like I expected. First off he was alive. He was also a native Indian, so was his wife and kid. They looked pissed. After I’d cleared the muck from my ears I realized he was the aforementioned chief who had been alerted by the neighbors on the other side of the hill after they saw the house take to flames. I protested innocence but all that got me was the butt of his shotgun in the mouth. He dragged me to my rental and unloaded on the windshield and the rearview, telling me I’d be hearing from his lawyer and that I’d be personally liable for the restoration. I told him he “was out of his fucking mind” and got another jab of the shotgun in the forehead before haphazardly toppling into the rental and swerving like a lunatic as I made my escape.
An hour down the road I decided ignoring the persistent calls from the director was a good idea. I realized that this low point would sink me so deep I would never getting a writing assignment in the western world ever again, so I did the only thing I felt was sensible. First I threw the cell into a lake, then once the rental prematurely ran out of gas I shoved it off the side of a cliff, moved city and had my name changed by deed poll. There was a momentary grumble of the incident in local news but nobody really gave a shit. The director took the blame, had to fork out for the rental (cheapskate hadn’t opted for insurance) then got his dumb ass blacklisted by trying to make that daft horror story without official permission from the shotgun wielding chief – he had changed the idea but seemingly not enough to convince the judge. Last I heard he was working toilets in a casino as part of his community service.
Unscathed, the road was clear for me to re-enter the business. I decided to do it right, return home, play by the rules and lick the right arseholes until that first big sale dropped. Two years later here I am – still desperate, still drunk, still pissing in rooms.