This story originally appeared in Stupefying Stories 1.9, which was published in 2012 and is now out of print.
“You want to sell? In this market?”
“I just don’t think this is the house for us,” said my wife. She sat across from me at the kitchen table, nursing a cup of tea.
“You could have mentioned that before we took out a twenty year mortgage.”
“That was before we knew about the… problems.” The kitchen table quivered at the word.
“Yeah, and before we sunk thousands of dollars into repairs. Not to mention all the time I spent renovating. Where was ‘I just don’t think this is the house for us’ when I was installing those fancy European faucets you insisted on having?”
“We can take the faucets with us.” She sipped her tea.
“Can we take the bedroom’s fresh paint with us? Can we take Jimmy’s treehouse with us? Can we take the refurbished basement I slaved away at for hours with us?”
“The basement is what caused this mess!” It rumbled, as if to prove her point.
“Don’t get mad at me. How was I supposed to know it was on top of an ancient Indian burial ground?”
“If you had just been a little more careful—”
“I know, I know, I wouldn’t have enraged the dead.” I rolled my eyes. Like it was my fault—it’s not as if you learn how to avoid disturbing the supernatural in shop class. “If you want to blame someone, blame the real estate agent.”
“Speaking of which, did you talk to him?”
“Yes, and—” I paused to let a bloodcurdling shriek from the attic fade. “And he said that since we already signed the contract there’s nothing he can do to get us out of it.”
“And you just accepted that?” My wife sighed and moved to the chair next to me. She wasn’t trying to smooth over the argument with physical intimacy, it’s just that her old chair had begun to float.
“I was going to argue, but my phone started screeching Satanic prayers so I had to hang up.” I ducked as the chair zoomed over my head.
“See, that kind of inconvenience is exactly why I think we should sell!” She grabbed the chair as it made a second pass. “Do you mind?” she said to it. “We’re trying to have a conversation here.”
“I’d rather put up with a little inconvenience than lose a lot of money.”
“A little? I don’t call being woken up every night by the restless wailing of the dead to be a little inconvenient.” She tried to wrestle the chair to the ground as she spoke.
“You’ll get used to it. Remember when you couldn’t sleep through my snoring?” I stood up to rearrange the letter magnets on the fridge. They were spelling “LEAVE THIS PLACE” again.
“The neighbours won’t! Do you have any idea how many complaints we’ve got?” The chair broke free and flew into the living room.
“So? The Johnsons never mow their lawn, the Browns’ dog digs up every garden on the block, and our house emits the howls of the damned. Nobody’s perfect.” I opened the fridge to grab an apple, but all the fruit rotted beyond recognition before my eyes. I settled for a beer.
“Oh, come on. That isn’t the same and—” There was a crash from the living room. “And that better not have been my grandmother’s china!”
“Or what? Am I the one flying around the living room?” I sat back down and opened the beer. Dozens of worms crawled out of it.
“You’re the reason our furniture is possessed! Look, even if we can tough this out, what about the kids? Jimmy’s too young to be hearing some of the language the undead use.” My wife took another sip of tea, then made a face and spit it out. “Ugh, it turned into goat’s blood again.” She poured it down the sink.
“We can’t shelter Jimmy forever. He’s going to have to learn what those words mean sooner or later.”
“But he doesn’t have to hear them from a vengeful spirit! Last night one told him it was going to ‘suck the marrow from his bones’ before it ‘dragged him into the depths of hell.’ That’s awful!”
“Don’t be melodramatic. I’m sure Jimmy’s heard ‘hell’ before.”
“There were other words I don’t care to repeat. But more importantly, our son was threatened!” She got up to pour a fresh cup of tea, but the water started boiling with such ferocity that she was forced away.
“Well, maybe it will toughen him up. I was bullied when I was a kid, and it helped me in the long run.”
“Were you bullied by ghosts?”
“And what about Susan?”
“What about her?”
As if on cue, Susan shouted down the stairs. “Mom! Dad! One of the wraiths keeps threatening to ‘fill my womb with countless maggots!’ I’m trying to study!”
“Well, you just tell it that you’re in charge of what goes in your body!” To me she said, “a thirteen year old girl has enough to worry about as it is! She shouldn’t have to deal with wraiths, too!”
“Why not? Maybe it will give her a little perspective. Her junior high school drama seems awfully trivial in comparison, right?”
“You’re unbelievable.” The haunting moans of a hundred dying men punctuated her sentence. The dying men moans always took her side.
“Now it’s telling me ‘my body is a fragile vessel that will soon decay, leaving my soul exposed to an eternity of perpetual torment!’ I have an algebra test tomorrow, you know!”
Billy joined the conversation, too. “Mommy, what does ‘eviscerate’ mean?”
“I’ll be right up, you two!” My wife sighed. “Be honest with me. Is this really about the money, or are you just being stubborn?”
“You’re damn right I’m being stubborn. This is our house, we paid good money for it, and I’m not about to abandon it just because a bunch of whiny Indians got their graves desecrated. I’m not going to be that petty when I die.”
“Will you at least look into having an exorcism performed? It might help.” The curtains caught fire in response to the suggestion. My wife doused them.
I didn’t reply until visions of our grisly deaths stopped being projected into our brains. “Forget it! We’re trying to save money here—have you seen how much exorcists charge? Besides, this will all blow over. They’ll get bored of haunting us and go hang out in an abandoned amusement park or something.”
The lights turned blood red, the stove roared with a searing heat, the sink spewed entrails and a swarm of locusts appeared out of thin air.
“BORED?” said a booming, disembodied voice that shook the entire house, “WE SHALL NEVER BORE OF TORMENTING YOU. EVERY DAY OF YOUR PUNY LIVES WILL BE FULL OF AN AGONY SO PURE YOU WILL PRAY FOR A DEATH THAT WILL NEVER BE GRANTED. FOR AS LONG AS YOU INTRUDE ON OUR SACRED LAND YOU WILL KNOW NOTHING BUT SORROW AND THE TRUE MEANING OF PAIN.”
My wife said nothing. She just looked at me with her “I told you so” expression.
“Alright, alright! I’ll call the agent and tell him we want to sell. Are you happy now?”
She nodded. The entrails stopped spewing, and the locusts vanished.
“I hope you understand just how much money we’re going to lose.”
The fridge magnets arranged themselves into a crude taunt. I stood up to scatter them, and got nailed in the back of the head by the flying chair.