Subject Location: South Carolina
Ken Fisher had been an insurance salesman, but work had dried up. So, when he decided to enter the seminary, his family went along, and not everyone liked it. When his wife Linda saw the house they were going to rent in South Carolina, she fell in love. The old Southern farmhouse was like something out of another era. Curiously, the previous tenants of the house were still moving out when the Fisher family arrived.
As Ken's stepson Matt looked around inside the house, he found a curious padlocked door. Who padlocked a door that was inside the house? Matt asked one of the former tenants about the room. The woman's uncle had committed suicide in there. She asked that it be kept locked out of respect. As the realtor showed Linda the house, she informed Linda that the owners wanted a very large rug left in place in one room. It was an odd request, but Linda accepted it and went on. When the realtor showed Linda around the yard, Linda found a rock by the door of one of the outbuildings. When she tried to move it, the realtor yelled, and told Linda to not move that rock under any circumstances, and the kids shouldn't play in the old building.
Matt decided to help the old tenants with their things, just to expedite the situation. When they were finished, the woman told Matt that they should be careful in the house, that it was full of death. Freaked out, Matt couldn't figure how to tell his family.
That night, Matt watched the doorknob in his bedroom turn. It was late. Nobody else could have been awake. Finally, the door burst open. Matt was freaked, thinking something was going to come in. Nothing did. Tense and terrified, Matt walked to the door and looked. There was nothing there. Afraid his family would think he was crazy, Matt kept it to himself.
Linda was washing dishes after her seven children had eaten. As she watched through the kitchen window, the kids played in the yard. Cherie loved playing with her brother, and they were kicking a ball around the yard. Everything stopped as the ball went through a hole in the outhouse. Ken had to move that rock to get in, however. Linda tried desperately to get him to not go in, but he didn't hear her. When he moved it, a burst of wind came out of the building. It knocked Linda back. There was no way it could have been the weather. What had Ken just unleashed?
That night, Linda felt as though something wasn't right. As she went to check the front door, in the corner of her eye she caught sight of a man hanging by a noose from the tree in the front yard. She opened the door and ran onto the porch, only to find nothing in the tree. What had she seen?
Because of his schoolwork, Ken wasn't able to spend much time with his family. He was often having eleven- or twelve-hour days. This strained his relationship with Matt, who had to step up and be the man of the house in his stepfather's absence. Matt helped his mother with the chores, from cleaning the gutters to going through closets and other secluded areas of the building. In one room, Linda found a collection of skulls and other creepy charms that made her very uncomfortable. As if the ghosts Matt saw weren't enough to make anyone uncomfortable.
One day, Matt decided to get to the bottom of things. He asked his friend James to help him get into the padlocked room. As James got the screws out of the doorframe, Matt's mind raced over possibilities for a room where a man committed suicide. As they opened the door, a rush of cold air came over them. Considering it had been hot outside, it didn't make any sense. Dust and cobwebs covered everything. James and Matt exchanged a look as they both began to smell fresh cigarette smoke. Nobody in the Fisher house smoked. Where was it coming from? A loud bang interrupted their exploration. They thought they were alone in the house. James and Matt crept up the stairs, and discovered that all of the upstairs doors were closed. Matt was shaken. They always kept the upstairs doors open. Always. James suggested it was a draft, and they went back downstairs. As they were going back down, that same loud crash reverberated through the house. Matt looked, and the doors were all open again. How was that even possible? Had the padlock on that door not been to keep people out, but to keep something else in?
Linda loved her peaceful evenings after the kids were in bed, even though she often felt a bit on edge. One night, as she was closing up the house to turn in, she began smelling cigarette smoke. It was coming from upstairs. She followed the scent, and found it was coming from her room. When she got to the bedroom door, she was shocked to see a man standing in front of the window, smoking a cigarette. When she reached back to flip on the light, the man was gone.
Linda and Matt finally opened up to each other about what they'd seen in the house. Matt's jaw dropped at her story of the smoking man. They realized there were ghosts in the house. As they sat there assimilating the information, jars began flying across the room, shattering against the walls. Cherie had terrifying nightmares that night about an older woman. The Fisher family was under attack.
Matt began researching the history of the house. A man had hung himself in the front yard. A young girl had fallen down the stairs and broken her neck. Suicides, accidents, all kept happening in Matt's house. Every story Matt found seemed to match a ghost they'd seen. Was there a curse on his house?
The entire gloom was broken by a surprise birthday party for Matt. It was nice for the family to spend time together, but Ken was increasingly troubled by what was going on in the house. He was, however, also impressed by the development he'd seen in Matt's character. For his birthday, Ken gave Matt an old-fashioned straight razor.
Matt went to try the new razor. As he was standing at the sink, he noticed something moving. Out of the drain came a spider resembling a tarantula. There were more on the toilet. More came out of the drain. Matt hated spiders. He was trying to scream, but couldn't make a sound. He finally managed to get out of the bathroom, and the spiders disappeared. Matt decided that he needed to do something about whatever was in that house. He went to see Pastor Jimmy.
Pastor Jimmy told Matt that he needed to anoint the house with a special oil. Matt was nervous, but with Linda reading from the Bible, they anointed each other, then anointed every point of entry to the house. They even anointed the chimneys. As Matt was walking across the roof, to the last chimney, he felt a presence crushing him. When he finished the last chimney, hornets began gathering around him. He was allergic to hornet stings. Matt's swiping at the hornets eventually caused him to fall from the roof. He was okay, but that was the last straw. They had to leave. They packed up and moved.
Matt and Ken returned to clean the house and make sure it was presentable. As he was cleaning the room with the large rug, he discovered a reverse pentacle underneath the rug. The symbols around it suggested a decidedly darker form of witchcraft. They couldn't finish cleaning that room. A few minutes later, a shiny silver Cadillac pulled up. Somehow, they knew it was the landlord. Out of the Caddy stepped an unnaturally beautiful blonde. Two other equally beautiful women followed her out of the car. The blonde walked by Matt and Ken as though they didn't exist, and went into the house. When she returned, she was obviously angered. She was annoyed that there were no spirits in the building anymore. She told the other two that they'd have to have a séance to bring the spirits back. When she turned back to the men, Matt was stunned to find that the blonde had considerably aged. He wondered if he was looking at the realtor, at the previous tenants. He had no doubt that he was looking at practitioners of a darker magic.
The family moved out, never to return. Sergeant Matthew Brown served two tours of duty in Iraq. He knew that what he'd endured in that house had prepared him for anything.