Friday, April 12, 2019

An Excerpt of 'House of Souls' by E. Reyes from Devil's Hill: An Anthology

An Excerpt from "House of Souls" from Devil's Hill: An Anthology by E. Reyes

The Kilbourne House stood vacant and occupied with the very same furniture purchased by the owners who left the place around 1991. The home was on the north side of Devil’s Hill, deep in the pines. Not much was known about the home except for an infamous triple suicide; the way the previous, and last tenants, departed.
A group of rap artists who called themselves “Devil’s Hill” had rented the place to record a new album. Devil’s Hill consisted of three men in their mid-twenties by the names of Michael, Rex, and Don. They weren’t your basic rap group who made your basic rap music. Devil’s Hill made horrorcore/alternative/rock music. Their lyrics depicted topics such as death, killing, serial killer homage, Satanism, anti-Christianity themes, dark humor, and depression. The music on their last two albums were described as Eminem and Cage meet the black metal scene in Norway at a horror film festival. Rex handled the production (guitar, drum kit, piano, bass) while Michael and Don wrote their own lyrics respectively. The group wanted to experiment more on their new album, House of Souls, with more singing than rapping, and more atmospheric and avant-garde sounds. All tracks would be darker and scarier than previous efforts. They wanted to completely abandon the heavy rap sound they were feeling was getting too corny to make. Mainstream rap made it difficult for people to take their music seriously. It was time for a big change.
Even in today’s climate, with more focus on women’s rights and downplaying of violence and offensive themes in music, Devil’s Hill did extremely well in sales, streams, views, and sold-out shows. It was no wonder why because they used shock value and pushed it to the next level. And that was why they were planning to record their new album in the Kilbourne House.
Michael rented the home from a realtor that couldn’t sell the house if it was the last one on the market. The poor guy had even tried selling it to Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures, but he declined after taking a walk-through with his crew. He claimed that he saw things that would make it extremely unsafe for him to stay in or record an episode for his show.
When an article about the incident was published online, Michael was intrigued. He had no idea that a real haunted house existed back in his home town of Devil’s Hill. He called up the realtor, the realtor tried to sell it to him instead of rent it, but he was happy either way to get some income for the home he reluctantly purchased. And if this new Devil’s Hill album did well, maybe he could sell the house to one of their fans. 
Michael wanted the total package for the new album. It had to be October whilst recording and writing, it had to be the three of them exclusively—no friends or groupies, and they were to live inside of the home until November 1st. All three of the members agreed, Michael paid the realtor a month’s rent ($1050), the realtor took care of electricity, gas, and water, and they traveled from Los Angeles, CA where the band now resided to go to Michael’s hometown for the House of Souls recording sessions.

October 5th

Michael parked his black Kia Soul inside the garage of the Kilbourne House. Rex, sitting on the passenger side, quickly got out of the car to study the surroundings. Don was in the backseat, asleep. He had took two Vicodin and downed it with a wine cooler; the guys always gave him shit about drinking girlie drinks.
“Wake up, handsome! We’re here!” Michael shouted to the backseat. Rex slammed his door, waking up Don.
“Huh? The fuck?” said Don, waking up with a chin full of drool. He plucked his headphones out of his ears and stretched and yawned.
“We’re here, man! You ready to record some great shit?” Michael beamed.
“Hell yeah. Let me wake up first.” Don combed his dirty blond hair back with his hand and opened his door. The garage stank of carbon monoxide; it almost smelled terribly fresh. Don wrinkled his nose and started walking out. 
Michael came out of the garage and was looking around like a kid in a candy store. The pines were tall, green, and beautiful. The scene reminded him of a death metal interview he once watched on VICE. The floor was littered with pines—fresh and dead, and the air was much colder than in Los Angeles.
“Dude, this house is pretty fuckin sweet. I mean, it looks haunted as hell, but it looks rad,” said Rex as he snapped pictures of the front of the home with his phone.
The Kilbourne House was a faded white going on yellow. The curtains in every window were old and yellowed. It was a two-story home. The house sat quiet and ominous; it radiated a bad feel that Michael was totally oblivious to. 
“Holy shit, this house is sweet, Michael. Perfect place for a ghost movie or a slasher flick,” said Don. 
“Right?” Michael smiled. “I have a good feeling about this, guys. We are on the brink of recording our best fucking album. I feel it.”
Rex put his phone down and looked at Michael. “This place doesn’t creep you out?”
Michael frowned. “Of course! But I love being creeped out! You getting scared, Rex? Huh?” Michael play-boxed Rex and hit his arm.
“Nah. I’m just saying, Mike. I get the creepy vibes. But if we’re determined to record some avant-garde, horror cinema type shit, I think we hit the jackpot, man.” Rex smiled.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Michael took out his phone and snapped pictures of the pines. It was already late evening, so the sky was a beautiful October orange. “This place is beautiful.”
Don yawned again and stood next to Michael. “Since we’re in the middle of where the Blair Witch most likely hangs her broom, how are we going to eat?”
Michael put his phone down and put an arm over Don’s shoulder. “Not to worry, Don. I had the realtor dude stock the fridge with food and drink. Gave the fucker an extra G for that. And, since we can’t have anything delivered out here, I had him drop off three boxes of pizza from Dario’s right before we got here!”
“That’s what I’m talking about,” said Don. “Let’s get our stuff and head in. I gotta take a piss.”
“I get the best room! Calling it now!” said Rex as he ran to the Kia Soul.
“Alright! Let’s get the bags and go in!” said Michael, following his friends.
When the three friends went to the car, a curtain upstairs opened for a few seconds and then slowly closed. It was the room that Don was going to occupy for the time being.

Later That Night

After the guys picked their rooms, dropped off their bags, and set up their recording equipment in the well-lit, non-creepy basement, they went upstairs and ate the rest of the pizza. The pizzas were shaped like pumpkins and the toppings were shaped into a jack-o’-lantern face.
They ate in the living room. There was no cable or WiFi, so Michael had put on one of his ten Blu-ray horror movies he had brought on the trip. Luckily, the realtor had brought in a flat-screen TV and a Blu-ray player. The guys were watching House of 1000 Corpses as they drank beers (Don drank a wine cooler) and gobbled the festive pizza.
“So why is this place haunted?” asked Rex with a mouthful of food. He sat on the carpet, back against the sofa. 
Michael sipped his beer and said, “Suicides. Triple suicides.”
“No shit?” Don asked. 
“No shit, my friend. It was a teenage girl and her parents. The Kilbournes. That’s what the locals call this place—the Kilbourne House.”
“How did they do it?” asked Rex.
“Well, the girl hanged herself. She tied her dad’s belt around her neck, tied it to a bar in her closet, and…you know, hanged.”
“Which fuckin room was that in?” Rex asked seriously. He looked scared and impatient for an answer.
Michael laughed. “Not your room, dude. Don’s.”
Michael and Rex started laughing.
“Oh, that’s nice. I get the room with a dead teenage girl? Sweet.” Don shook his head and sipped his wine cooler.
Rex laughed along with Michael. He bit into his pizza. “What about the parents?”
“After finding their daughter dead in her closet, the parents were really depressed. The mom sat in the bathtub and slit her wrists two days later. The very same bathtub is still upstairs.”
“That’s fuckin nuts, man,” said Rex.
“I don’t believe in ghosts, dude. And if I saw one, I wouldn’t give a shit. I’d asked them how dope it is to be dead,” said Don.
Michael looked over at Don. “You alright, man? You haven’t been depressed in a while.”
“I’m good, dude. I’m good. I’m just saying. I don’t have to be depressed.” Don smiled and shook his head.
Michael nodded and drank his beer. Don was known for his bouts of severe depression. Michael took note in his mind to keep a close eye on him. Last time he became severely depressed he had slit his wrist with a broken beer bottle and had to be rushed to the hospital.
“What about the pops?” asked Rex.
Michael grabbed another slice of pizza and sat back. Captain Spaulding was smiling on the TV. “He blew his brains out. He grabbed his shotgun, stuck it in his mouth, and blew his skull to Heaven. Well, on this ceiling.” Michael pointed directly up. “Right here where I’m sitting.”
Rex looked up. “Holy shit. You can still—you can still see that shit, man!”
The ceiling was a faded keepsake of Samuel Kilbourne’s blood. It was more gone than present, but there was definitely a splatter stain on the ceiling.
“That’s wicked,” Don giggled. “I once thought about going out like that. But I was going to do it with my friend’s Desert Eagle.”
Michael squinted at Don when Don was unaware. He wasn’t acting like his normal self.
“Anything else happen here? I hope not. I know we make some crazy horror music and shit, but I don’t want to stay up all night thinking I’m going to see some ghosts or something.”
Michael laughed. “If anything else happened, I’m not aware of it. I looked online. Those were the only murders that happened here.”
“So how is it haunted? Like, who lived here and experienced some shit? We’ve been here for, like, three hours and I haven’t—”
Footsteps ran across the floor upstairs. Four steps in total, and then it stopped.
All three of the guys looked up with wide eyes.
“What the fuck?” Don laughed. “Was that for real?”
“Hell to the nah. Were those footsteps?” asked Rex.
“I think so, man. Wow,” said Michael. He still had his eyes to the ceiling. “I guess they heard us.”
“So much for sleeping,” said Rex.

October 11th

The recording process for Devil’s Hill’s House of Souls album was going great. Rex was producing some of the best music of his career. He was experimenting with new sounds and noises. Michael and Don were approaching the project open-minded and with less rap and more creepy singing.
No other paranormal activity took place other than the footsteps on the first night of their arrival. But that was about to change soon.

October 16th

What started off as easy and almost effortless recording sessions turned into one fit for TV cameras for a reality series.
Usually inseparable, Don and Rex started to argue. Their arguments were over little things such as piss on the toilet seat, soda bottles left without the cap back on, music playing too loudly, and rehashed arguments and problems that took place years ago.
In the middle of it all, Michael was baffled by the ongoing drama between his two group mates. They had never had trouble recording prior to their sessions in the Kilbourne House.
Michael was spending most of his time writing lyrics while Rex started to keep his headphones on 24/7; walking around with his laptop and making dark beats on GarageBand.
Don, on the other hand, was growing more and more depressed. He spent most of his time in the room where the teenage girl hanged herself. He played music on his phone, drew weird and creature-like drawings on his notebook, and made poems about death. The House of Souls album was no longer a concern for him. He also drank more wine coolers and started contemplating suicide.

October 17th

Michael and Rex were in the basement working on a new song. It was two in the morning, and a light rain was coming down outside. The house became incredibly colder. The heat was on, but it wasn’t doing much for warmth. Don was in his bedroom upstairs, having a conversation with someone.
“Why the fuck is Don even in the group anymore? That fucker hasn’t been laying down any vocals, man. You’re the only one writing and recording,” said Rex as he finished laying down guitar riffs on his laptop.
Michael sighed, leaned back in his chair, and put both hands on his head. “I think he’s depressed, dude. Like, way more depressed than before. I’m getting worried. He doesn’t leave that room. And last night, I swear I heard him talking to someone. And I highly doubt he was on the phone. He was playing music on it.”
Rex shook his head. “He’s been getting on my damn nerves. Like, how hard is it to not act like an asshole?”
Rex put on his headphones and started listening to the track. Michael saw him go from bobbing his head, to frowning, to looking scared. Rex immediately took off the headphones and said, “What the hell?”
Michael dropped his pen on his notebook. “What is it?”
“Bro…it sounds like someone is crying during the whole intro to this song. You can hear it from the left side of the track. It’s very low, but hold on.” Rex put on the headphones again and played the track from the beginning.
Rex hit the space bar on the laptop and dropped the headphones on the desk. “Yup! It’s definitely someone crying, man. I took off the music, increased the volume on the voice audio, and, yup. Watch, check it out, bro. I got fuckin chill bumps.”
Michael got up from his chair and put on Rex’s headphones. Rex told him he was going to first play it with the music as it was, and then without the music.
The song, titled “Sunday Death Blues”, started off with very sad and gloomy guitar riffs that hit the very border of horror movie soundtrack. Right at the six-second mark, Michael heard what sounded like a woman sobbing on the left side of the headphones.
“Holy shit.” Goosebumps crawled all over his body. “Play it without the music.”
Rex muted the music track and started the song from the beginning. At the six-second mark, Michael heard the crying again, but much more distinct and louder. The woman sounded in complete distress. The crying ended right at the 50-second mark; it just stopped abruptly.
“Holy…shit, dude.” Michael took off the headphones and handed them to Rex.
“You know what that means, right? That shit came from the mic,” said Rex. 
The microphone used to record vocals was set up in a small closet on the opposite end of the basement. Rex and Michael both looked over at it.
“Dude…we’re keeping that shit. An actual fuckin ghost crying? Dude…that alone is going to sell the album by itself! I know skeptics are going to say it’s fake, but fuck that. We know it’s real. And I will swear it on everything and anything,” said Michael as he sat back down on his chair. “But one thing’s for sure, I’m not recording in that fuckin closet tonight.” Michael and Rex both laughed.
“This is some real scary avant-garde shit.” Rex muted the crying and started working on piano keys for the second half of the song.
Michael felt excited about the EVP they captured without even trying to. House of Souls was destined to be a monumental and groundbreaking album in any genre of music, period. They had an actual spirit crying on a song.
While Michael and Rex worked on the song, the door of the closet used as a vocal booth started to creak open slowly. 
The ghost of a young woman peeked out from the bottom. She had blonde hair in a pixie cut, black around her sunken eyes, a bloody mouth, and she was crawling on the floor. She was wearing a white muscle shirt that was ruined with dirt, dried blood, and other fluids. Her wrists were bruised from the shackles she was held prisoner to.
After being held prisoner by the tenant who lived in the home before the Kilbournes, and enduring torture and rape daily and nightly, the poor young woman killed herself by biting her wrists, severing her veins and bleeding to death. The man who held her prisoner buried her in the backyard once he found her lying in her own blood and filth. 
The sick bastard committed suicide a week later after seeing the ghost of the young woman appear at the foot of his bed. She was gnawing on her left wrist and laughing as blood gushed and splashed on the man’s bed sheets. The man sprang up from his bed screaming, went to his Station Wagon inside the garage and started it up, got a hose, and sucked on carbon monoxide.
The ghost slowly peeked her head out of the closet and watched the two men for a couple seconds. Her white eyes were wide with wonder and curiosity. She slowly reversed back into the closet and shut the door.
“Did you hear that?” asked Michael. “It sounded like a door closed or something.”
Rex paused the music and said, “Huh?”
Michael got the chills and looked around the basement. He suddenly had the feeling that someone was watching him.
“Um, nothing. I just asked if the track’s sounding clean.”
“In the words of a great hip hop physician by the name of Andre Young a.k.a. Dr. Dre, ‘Hell Yeah’,” said Rex.
They both laughed and went back to work.

Read the rest of the story in Devil's Hill: An Anthology available on eBook and paperback!

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