By Emily Guettler
The house on the hill, otherwise known as The Brynmor House, had been there for ages. The sides that had once boasted a beautiful brickwork pattern were now decorated by a combination of moss and ivy. The bushes and trees had surrounded the structure and given the house a trapped look. Grass grew between the cracks in the driveway, and a baby oak tree had sprouted a few years ago in the middle of the sidewalk leading to the front door.
No one knew why it was called The Brynmor House, and after a time the people forgot about why it was there. It was on the outskirts of town, away from just about everything. Occasionally, when a new person moved into the village, they would ask, “What’s with that house?”
Even the oldest people in the hamlet didn't know the best way to answer that question. All they knew for sure was that someone had lived there once, which to the newcomer was pretty obvious. So some villagers made up stories, spooky stories. If a newcomer had kids, the other children in the town would dare them to go into the house.
In truth, there was nothing really special about the house. Nothing strange had ever happened there, at least not to anyone’s knowledge. The only unique thing about it, as far as the down to earth people were concerned, was that nobody lived there, and nobody had, at least not within living memory. That was why there was quite a stir amongst the townspeople when the Harmons moved in.
Little Johnny saw them first. It was a Saturday, and most people were sleeping in. However, Johnny was a morning person and he was already up and playing with his toys when he saw the moving van pull into the driveway of the Brynmor House. He was puzzled, but his seven-year-old mind quickly moved on from the strange occurrence.
Mr. Roberts, an older man, was out getting the newspaper when he saw the vehicles (for by that time, a silver truck had joined the moving van) sitting on the driveway and people buzzing about them. He was sure he was seeing things until his neighbor came out to pick up her newspaper.
“How long do you think they’ll stay?” his neighbor, Victoria, asked, bending over to pick up her paper. Mr. Roberts shrugged.
“I guess we’ll find out,” he replied. “The real question is, do they know how long that house has been empty?”
“And how long has that been?” Victoria asked. She was a younger woman and didn’t know much about the village lore. She was old enough to not have been subjected to the younger boy’s scary stories, but too young to have been involved in any real discussion.
“As long as I can remember, and as long as my father could remember.”
“Huh,” was all Victoria responded with.
Both neighbors went into their separate houses and called their friends. Soon most everyone in the town was aware of the people in The Brynmor House.
No one brought the new neighbors any casseroles or cookies that day or the next. As to whether or not the people who lived there cared, no one knew. The family hadn’t even come down to the village. The kinder members of the town said they were just getting settled in, but everyone else determined that they were people who preferred the company of themselves and the strange things that happened in The Brynmor House.
So when, three days after they moved in, the family of four came into town, everyone either ran away and hid their children or watched them from a distance. Only the bravest of them all, an older boy named Evan, dared to go up to them.
Evan had been planning to find a way to visit the family in The Brynmor House ever since he had first seen the cars in that overgrown driveway. He approached the mother in the grocery store as she was checking out some frozen pizzas.
“Hello,” he said, “My name is Evan.”
The mother turned around and saw him standing there. She smiled warmly at him. “Hello Evan,” she said, her voice neat and intelligent-sounding.
“How have your first few days here been?” Evan asked, his voice prickled with curiosity.
“Busy actually. There is so much to do in that house. It’s beautiful, but it's been neglected for so long that it’s fallen into awful condition.”
“I’m sorry to hear that Mrs.…?”
“Harmon. Well, I must go find the rest of my family. I have this feeling that they are in the candy section, despite my instructions to get cans of soup. My husband has no willpower and neither do my kids.” She sighed.
“Well g’bye then.” Evan told her as she walked away.
That was the only contact any of them had with the Harmons. They came out of their house every day at 10:00 a.m. sharp in the following months. They were always purchasing books for the daughter or buying groceries. When they were seen up close people reported that their faces were pale and their fingers fluttered nervously.
No one was surprised by this. “It’s that house,” the townsfolk told each other wisely, and although nobody was sure what it was that did this to them, there were some theories. It wasn’t until a new book came out that they really knew. It was entitled The Haunts of the Brynmor House by Thomas Harmon.
It was a frightening book that told of strange things that happened in the house on the hill at night. It mentioned moaning voices and unexplained brushes against cold skin. It spoke of faces occasionally appearing in the shadows of the night, and items disappearing only to reappear days later in a different spot.
Adults glanced fearfully up the street at the Brynmor House and parents walked their children to school every day. Some of the people living in the village moved away and their houses never sold. Despite this, the Harmons were seen every day, at 10:00 sharp, either in the bookstore or the grocery store with shaking hands and pale faces.
On November 1, the day after Halloween, the Harmons were nowhere to be seen at 10am. No one missed them, but everyone was scared. Halloween was the best time for the haunts and spirits to roam freely and if something had happened to them then, they were one of the spooks now. They had not moved away. Their truck was still in the driveway and their Halloween decorations were still up, although they had moved overnight.
As the decades passed, the Harmons dissolved into another scary story, but anyone who went to the library could still find a dusty volume entitled The Haunts of the Brynmor House by Thomas Harmon.
Lit. Mag. Staff
Table of Contents
~"Sonnet" by Pavan Dayal (Poetry)
~"The Five Performers" by Javier Flores (Poetry)
~"Don't Forget to Remember" by Jillian Wolstromer (Fiction)
~"Waterfall" by Tianna Perry (Poetry)
~"Bipliophile" by Ye Yee Mary Song (Artwork)
~"In the Dark?" by Maya Tisdale (Poetry)
~"Outcast" by Michaela Gathings (Poetry)
~"I am Woman" by Oluwajoba Ogun (Poetry)
~"Enigma" by Serena Wooten (Fiction)
~"Robbery on the Dusty Road" by Emily Guettler (Fiction)
~"Seasons and Relationships" by Kaylee Kalaf (Poetry)
~"Lullaby" by Caitlyn Doan (Poetry)
~"The Crown" by Olivia King (Fiction)
~"Skull" by Ye Yee Mary Song (Artwork)
~"Dying Ugly" by Maya Tisdale (Poetry)
~"The Haunts of Brynmor House" by Emily Guettler (Fiction)
~"Swamp Town" by Samuel Asabor (Fiction)